Will Burns



Agencies: Wieden, Goodby, Arnold, Mullen, Boathouse, Leonard-Monahan, HBM Creamer

Forbes Blog: The importance of creativity in modern branding.

Unleash Creativity Blog: Scientific studies that help us unleash our creativity.

College: Hamilton College

Most Valuable Skill: Knowing a great idea when I see one

Favorite Color: Sky blue

Favorite Book: Trinity, by Leon Uris

Favorite Band: The Beatles

Favorite Movie: American Beauty

Favorite Cocktail: Martini, Plymouth Gin, stirred, dry as the dust bunnies under your bed, with a twist

Favorite Quote: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” - John Lennon

Favorite Moment: Receiving this slide signed by Paul McCartney (click image to enlarge)

It was a thrill to realize my musical hero, Paul McCartney, actually signed a PowerPoint slide I wrote on his bahalf. The partnership led to the “This is Paul” campaign for Fidelity, as seen below.

“This is Paul” TV

“This is Paul” Print

Will Burns standing in front of wood paneled walls on Nantucket.

Will Burns

Founder, CEO & Creative Director of Ideasicle, Brand Consultant

It's always been about ideas.

Anyone who has worked with me knows that I love nothing more than either coming up with, or witnessing the birth of, a great marketing idea. Seriously, I get the chills. So it’s no surprise, I suppose, that I'm channeling my energy and experience into a unique and entrepreneurial endeavor like Ideasicle, where ideas are all we do, consulting with brands about their “brand ideas,” and working to understand human creativity a little better through science.


In 2010 I founded the virtual idea-generating company, Ideasicle, and serve as Creative Director. At about the same time, I became a Forbes Contributor. But for over 20 formative years before that I criss-crossed the country experiencing the best agencies in the world.

I learned as a pup from the creative greats, David Lubars and David Baldwin, at Leonard/Monahan in Providence. I've witnessed the magic of Jeff Goodby at Goodby Silverstein in San Francisco. I was immersed in the culture of unabashed creativity and attitude of Wieden & Kennedy in Portland, OR. I’ve seen ghosts in the old "mansion" of Mullen in Wenham, MA. I felt the power of an agency startup with Boathouse in Needham, MA. And I won over $1 billion in new business billings as head of business development at Arnold in Boston.

All the while meeting what would one day become my team of Ideasicle Experts, nearly all of whom worked at one of the agencies I worked at in my past. And all the while shaping my point-of-view on branding and brand ideas.


I have had hands-on experience with such amazing brands as Microsoft, HP, Titleist, Purina, Paul McCartney, Polaroid, Volvo, Progressive Insurance, Fidelity, RadioShack, Tyson Chicken, Umbro, Miller High Life, Stanley Tools, AMD, Staples, CVS, New York Times, Warner Music, Constant Contact, Vistaprint, AMD, Lowe’s, RetailMeNot, SharkNinja, and many more.

Through my branding experiences one thing has become clear: a company without a galvanizing brand idea is a company forced into random acts of marketing.

Sometimes I speak.

About the science of creativity at  Vitamin T , Boston, MA.

About the science of creativity at Vitamin T, Boston, MA.

About the virtues of virtual ideas at  WW Partners , Toronto, CA.

About the virtues of virtual ideas at WW Partners, Toronto, CA.

About channeling the brand at  IHAF , Boston, MA.

About channeling the brand at IHAF, Boston, MA.

I have guest-lectured at the College of Communication, Boston University for years and speak at marketing conferences around the country - e.g. American Marketing Association (Dallas), The Magnet GroupIn-house Agency ForumWorldwide Partners, Liberty Mutual's In-House Agency, Vitamin T, Smith & Nephew, and more.


Improving Creativity Using Science - I love doing this one because it reviews many of the fascinating scientific studies I've come across in my research into creativity for my Unleash Creativity Blog. Nearby is a video of a webinar I did for the In-house Agency Forum (but it's much better in person and I've added to it quite a bit since then).

Don't Just Brand The Channel; Channel The Brand - another fun one built upon a theme I hit on over and over on my Forbes blog, and that is that the best brands all have a singular idea that inspires everything they do. In this talk, I explain the theory, show some great examples of "channeling" the brand and then conduct a live group-exercise to prove my point.

Increasing The Odds; Pitch Tips - I spent 7 years doing nothing but pitching business at Arnold Worldwide and won over $1 billion in new billings. You could say I learned a thing or two. With this talk - really just for ad agencies - I share all my secrets, all the things you should be thinking about along the arc of a pitch to increase the odds of victory. You can see many of these tips on my Tumblr blog, but it's much better in person because we can put the tips into the context of your unique agency, do detailed Q&A, etc. 

Sometimes I write.

about the science of creativity. (click image to view):

about branding, advertising and the importance of having a powerful “brand idea.” (click image to view):