Creating for a Cause with Quicken Loans

Creative and design teams tackle veteran and chronic homelessness.

by Vanessa Dewey

posted on 07-10-2018

Since its inception, Quicken Loans has been committed to helping veterans. As America’s largest home mortgage lender – and one of the largest VA lenders – the company has helped countless vets on the way to their dream homes. But still, many veterans find themselves with no home to call their own.

That’s why Quicken Loans recently announced a new partnership with Community Solutions, a national non-profit dedicated to ending veteran and chronic homelessness. As part of the Built for Zero initiative, Quicken Loans will support 60 communities across America — including the company’s home base of Detroit – in addressing this important problem.

It’s all part of the Quicken Loans Community Fund, the philanthropic arm for the Rock Family of Companies. “We get up every day and think about how to not only deliver for our clients, but how to deliver for our communities as well,” explains Helen Johnson, VP, Strategic Investments, Quicken Loans Community Fund.

“Nobody knows housing like we do, so the issue of veteran homelessness really resonated with us,” says Rob Frappier, Content Strategist for Quicken Loans. “It’s something where we think with our efforts, we can really impact a positive outcome.”

Quicken Loans works hard to foster an environment of innovation and collaboration for team members. With over 300 individuals on creative teams across the Family of Companies, the Creative Jam’s environment was the perfect way to unite all these various groups and enable them to experiment and generate new ideas together. The Jam was also unique in that it was geared toward solving a problem that affects communities across the country.

“We were tasked with this idea of solving a huge problem — ending veteran homelessness,” says Sean Pavelshyn, creative strategist for Quicken Loans. “The Jam is a playground; it’s a sandbox where we can work through challenges and help move our initiative forward.”

To set participants up for success, the day began with training on some of the latest Adobe creative tools. The participants were then divided into teams and given three hours to brainstorm, develop and tweak design ideas for an awareness campaign promoting the fight to end homelessness. At the end of the challenge, teams presented their ideas to an audience and panel of judges, who voted on their favorite projects. The Jam concluded with expert speakers who shared their own experiences and offered motivation.

Engaging in friendly competition

Participants anxiously awaited tackling the design challenge. “What we’re discussing is how do you reach out to people who are homeless?” says Tracy Gabrys, UX designer for Quicken Loans. “Figuring out those challenges in a digital space is quite tricky. We’ve really got to reach out to a community who doesn’t have the same access as we do.”

Having the chance to brainstorm with outside team members proved to be successful. “Mixing up the team members took people out of their day-to-day environments and, sometimes, that’s where you get the best creativity,” says Casey Hurbis, Chief Marketing Officer at Quicken Loans. “I saw seven or eight examples of organizing campaign ideas, tactical solutions, social programming, and stunts to support the project and help solve veteran homelessness.”

Benefiting from the results

Following their three-hour work block, each team presented the final project designed to raise awareness around the issue of veteran homelessness. The projects were judged both by the audience and by a third-party panel of expert judges, including Hajj Flemings of Rebrand Cities and Brand Camp University.

“The quality of the projects in the three hours that they had together, and the thoughtfulness in how they considered the people that they were solving the problems for, was remarkable,” Haji says. “You could really get a strong sense of the participants making a real human connection.”

“The designers did this incredible job of depicting how their ideas would live in existing public spaces across the Detroit community,” says Helen. “We can take that and run with it. There were so many solid plans and ideas and ways to take action on this big issue.”

“There is a real way to solve the issue of homelessness, but to get people to believe, you really have to change their hearts. You have to change their minds about the issue,” Rob adds. “That’s why this is a great creative challenge for our team. Creative problem solving is something that we excel at in Quicken Loans and throughout our Family of Companies.”

Discovering new tools and workflows

“Some of the motivation for the Creative Jam is what I actually call creative inertia,” says Adam Pratt, member of the Creative Cloud for Enterprise team at Adobe. “We have the opportunity to introduce creative teams — in this case the team at Quicken Loans — to new apps and workflows. The goal is to equip them with the tools they need to shake off their creative blocks, get out of the rut, and free them up to do their best work.”

One of the Creative Cloud apps that really caught the attention of Jam participants was Adobe Dimension. “We want to be quicker, faster, and better than our competition,” says Dante Wilkins, designer at Quicken Loans sister company dPOP. “With Adobe Dimension, we’re going to be able to change the way we do our business. It’s going to give us that edge that we need not only to be really great for our clients, but also to be really creative and quick within our team.”

Design is a thread that ties — in communities, in workplaces, in our everyday lives. “When we looked at the designs at the end, no one took this for granted,” says Helen. “People really poured heart and soul into it, as well as their skills. And not that it was a surprise, but it was beautiful to see.”

Topics: Creativity, Creative Inspiration & Trends

Products: Creative Cloud, Spark