The D5 Process: A Tried and True Approach

Most advertising and marketing agencies have some sort of approach in place for how they work with their clients. The key is having a proven process that’s easy to understand and works for a wide range of initiatives to find a solution quickly, efficiently and effectively. Ours is called the D5 process. It was established in 2005 when I joined the agency and has been enhanced over the years to better facilitate branding work, campaigns and projects across mediums and industries for brands navigating the modern marketplace.

The Origin

In the early 2000s, I worked for one of the biggest agencies in the world. Our largest client at the time was Intel. During this period, most companies had established some sort of online presence, but they were just starting to figure out how to better optimize their online footprint, which had likely gotten unwieldy, and fast. Up to this point, websites were static pages of information — they weren’t very sophisticated yet. And as an enormous company, Intel owned and managed millions of these disparate webpages all over the world for different geographies, departments and products. As such, they tasked our agency with a massive project: The ONCE Initiative. At the time, this was rumored to be the largest website project of its kind.

The ONCE Initiative

ONCE was an acronym for One Net Customer Experience. The purpose of this initiative was to move Intel to a dynamic, content-driven site that appropriately represented the brand in a uniform manner and with centralized control. This project required hundreds — possibly thousands — of people to align efforts to ultimately deploy a streamlined site that could support all of Intel’s business needs. To attack this monster project, our team first came up with a specific process that could be followed by all the separate teams on parallel paths to lead to one unified solution.

For me, this experience solidified that a well-defined process had the power to simplify even the most complex marketing challenges. It also taught me that establishing a legitimate process could allow an agency to better productize the solutions it could provide to clients.


When I joined in a leadership role at what is now GYK Antler, my first priority was to develop a strategy-driven process for our agency that would be best suited for integrated marketing approaches and could be appropriately scaled for clients of varying sizes. Beyond the process itself, we also understood the importance of getting a cross section of stakeholders from the client side to participate along the way — the executive-level decision makers, key team members with knowledge that would allow the agency to do the job well, and the people who may not have been active in the process or execution but still needed a seat at the table to help facilitate approval.

We ended up creating and implementing the D5 process — named for the five phases that start with the letter “D.” It’s important to note this is an iterative process and is more circular than linear. We’re able to adapt it as necessary to keep up with the times and to best serve a client’s needs. The D5 process has enabled us to develop brands and campaigns for clients as varied as PayPal, Timberland, Cedar’s, Sweet Baby Ray’s and others. Here is the process in its simplified form:

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A Proven Method

The D5 process brings order to chaos, providing a framework for the logical progression of any partnership. More importantly, it’s a tried and true approach that’s rooted in experience. Ultimately, the D5 process allows us to do more than advertise. It allows our clients to achieve their business objectives and continuously improve their marketing performance — which is precisely what I envisioned happening when we implemented the process here at GYK Antler.

Travis York is the President and CEO of GYK Antler, a modern marketing agency for evolving brands. Travis also co-founded GYK Antler’s in-house, Emmy-winning video production arm, Big Brick Productions. He’s also the CEO of Iron & Air, an internationally distributed media publication about motorcycles and the places they take us. Iron & Air was acquired by GYK Antler in 2016. Travis also co-founded YORK Athletics Mfg., a performance footwear and apparel brand continuing his family business legacy that started in 1946. He’s also an investor and advisor for Noble & Cooley, a 7th generation high-end custom drum company played by the most badass musicians on the planet. He stays involved with the community as the President of the Board of Directors for the Rock On Foundation, and as the Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for Stay Work Play New Hampshire.
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