Tools of the Trade: Dino de León of Advantage Unified Commerce

By Kyle O'Brien 

Tools of the Trade is a new AgencySpy feature to help highlight the many tools that help make advertising and marketing folks successful. The tools can be anything that helps people perform at their top form, from a favorite drafting table to the best software program to a lucky pen, a vintage typewriter or a pair of headphones.

Next up is Dino de León, executive creative director at commerce agency Advantage Unified Commerce.

Dino de León poses with his sketchbook of the moment.


What is one tool you use all the time at work, and how does it inspire your work?

An old school, analog sketchbook.

Why is it your favorite?

Sketching is a whole brain action for me and allows me to capture information and ideas at the same time. A mix of hand drawn doodles and notes, most meetings and all projects have a page or three in my sketchbook. By drawing what I am thinking and hearing, I can visualize and chart out multiple paths—and keep a log as things inevitably evolve. I carry my sketchbook more than my laptop. So far, it has never had a battery or connection issue.

How did you acquire your tool or hear about it for the first time?

I acquired the habit in art school and carried forward after graduation. I also use digital concepting and visualization tools—iPads, online whiteboards, etc.—and had whiteboard wallpaper at my last half dozen offices. I still come back to the personal relationship I have with my sketchbooks.

How does it help you be successful?

The act of sketching taps into my conscious and unconscious mind. I am thinking, doing and listening, but at the same time there is part of my mind that is free to connect mental dots. Simply put, it creates a fertile environment for ideas.

Does it have sentimental value?

In a way, yes. I go through about one or two sketchbooks a year, so looking back is like scrolling through a highlight reel of former agencies, collogues, friends, clients, successes and failures. The back pages are where I stick old visitor’s badges and most have a colorful collection of stickers on their covers.

Do you think your tool could go TikTok viral?

It is the opposite of TikTok. Instead of concise, clever cultural vignettes, my sketchbooks are a semi-endless series of wormholes filled with meandering thoughts and ideas about a semi-endless number of topics. Overwhelming and unorganized and ongoing. Wait, now that I think about it, they are pretty much the same thing.

We want to know what tools you use to make you successful. If you’d like to contribute or know someone who would want to be featured in Tools of the Trade, contact and fill out our survey.