Thursday, December 31, 2009

Designers on Fonts

This typography documentary will be of interest to anyone who wants to understand the world of font design. The presentation features notable people who have invented type that is ubiquitous today.

Very good reference available on itunes for download.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Friends and Photographers

Fred Cattroll’s craft is recording great images of great people His collection of First Peoples images rivals the Smithsonian. Much of his professional focus has been recording Canada’s Aboriginal culture. We’ve had the good fortune working with extremely talented people these relations have opened the door to great adventure and experiences. Fred’s collection of work can be viewed at his online interface.

great photographers great photographers great photographers great photographers great photographers

Ian Diamond

The last year took on new meaning when the leadership of the Cree Nation mandated our organization to record in Documentary Film the History of the James Bay Northern Quebec Cree from the year 1975. We brought together a group of professionals. Ian Diamond was first introduced to me through contacts that knew of his brilliant work and professional photographic abilities.

Dealing in visuals is about striving for the highest possible production values and sourcing content that has timeless quality with strong composition and brilliant lighting. We insist on ensuring the level of work along the value chain phase toward executing designed products for clients is kept at optimum levels.

Ian’s photography easily meets this criteria His signature is a rich collection of northern images diverse and magical. Ian is partnering with us to bring the documentary to the screen. Through his guidance and counsel we’ve been taken to locations as guests that otherwise wouldn’t be accessible. He has offered insight and helped us to gain a better appreciation of the unique attributes of the northern territories and the people living in the James Bay region. Ian has accomplished this through stories and great photographic images. Click on the images to see more.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Algorithm Design Express

Talking about management and how design is an axiom to achieve competitive advantage harks back to the famous line by Thomas Watson of IBM who famously said, "Good design is good business."

A recent book I read on this subject makes some profound observations about the function of design. The “big idea” within the pages is that design today has emerged as a primary component within organization management and structure.

Case studies are offered including the classic examples of course Apple and the iphone market tsunami, Mcdonalds and Target Shopping Centres. Three major enterprises in the USA that use design as back bone to their corporate ethos. Design is a prime construct of their brand evident in all aspects of product lines and user touch points and experiences.

The essence of the book from my review is the formula offered. Readers get a walk through on how new ideas that constantly emerge in business either get embraced and grow or dismissed and written off. After all business is about making rulings on opportunities and avoiding red herrings. Red herrings can be dressed up to appear like opportunities they may attract precious time and money. They may use energy that is better invested elsewhere. Red herrings that take hold in the organization and channel focus have a downside risk.

The three stations of Organizational Management with an underlying design function.





Ideas come through the door (often in multiples) daily the larger the organization the greater number of stakeholders and constituents the more ideas, opportunities, red herrings and business concepts show up for rulings. This becomes an issue of governance for the organization about the determination of what gets support and what doesn’t. These ideas are like buses. Some pass some stop some are milk runs others are express lines. This notion of what to choose and what to dismiss applies to individuals and the paths we follow as well as enterprises.


Defined by Wikipedia:”A heuristic method is particularly used to rapidly come to a solution that is hoped to be close to the best possible answer, or 'optimal solution'. ...”

Once a decision is made to proceed with an idea the metaphorical bus proceeds into the heuristic phase of business management. This is likely a cost to the organization in investment dollars, people, capital expenditures or other resources. At this stage of the journey the ruling has been made to proceed so upside gains or downside risks aside the bus has departed the station.

In the innovation business we deal with a broad spectrum of opportunities that each require their own unique heuristic. We need to be agile and avoid rigid systems that don’t align with our clients aspirations. Experience, great people and great design support building the best alternatives to ensure value gets driven to the client. The more transparency on what the unique heuristic is in support of the clients goals or aspirations the greater the partnership with the client. Design is central to effective heuristics. In my experience the best design solutions result from great partnerships with clients.


The heuristic phase of organizational dynamic often presents complexity. For some organizations executing on heuristics in the interests of advancing the corporate goals is a rewarding lifetime focus. The goal working within the design business is to attain an algorithm for growing the business. The algorithm is a specific set of instructions for solving a problem. Organizations that have moved past the heuristic and implemented algorithms to drive forward generally succeed and have enormous growth potential.

Check out the link The Design of Business! The Author also wrote " The Opposable Mind" another great management read.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Making the Complex Clear

Le Corbusier was the famous French modernist architect. His Savoy house in the countryside outside of Paris is a classic example of how he reduced the form of structure to just essential components. The house design was purposefully structured with no extraneous elements, no decorative motifs nothing that would add embellishments. Le Corbusier’s design philosophy focused on minimalist ideas and elimination of any extras.

He believed that a house is a machine and as a machine the house should not be laden with any elements that otherwise do not support the machine function. He drew these conclusions analogous to how aircraft are designed and built and pointed to how the cockpit of an airplane is fit up with only functional and working controls, instrumentation and features that support the aircrafts performance. The exterior of the aircraft design structurally could not have any additions or parts that were simply for show this after all would impact on how the plane performs. Parts that didn’t contribute to engineering flight on the interior or exterior of an aircraft would not be considered. Le Corbusier questioned why parts would be put on a house if they didn’t contribute to functionality?

We have had the good fortune acting in our client’s interest developing an entire range of aircraft solutions. We’ve produced an arsenal of brilliantly engineered online learning modules celebrating aircraft within National Defense’s asset inventory. Access has been the operative word for this reason. For most people getting “up close and comfortable” with a Globemaster or a CF18 Fighter Jet, a Helicopter or some other defense aircraft asset isn’t an option. Having these great interactive 3D Max. modules online is meaningful. They're educational overviews about aircraft features that define for everyone complex information that is made easy to understand.

Making complex information easy to understand or removing extras that don't support ease of access or performance all contribute to the business of design leadership.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Typography design' query

typography judging panel

Dave from British Columbia asks...
...I just had a Corel advertisement pop up on my interested and started reading, which lead to a link to your company and you, being the designer. I don't want to waste your time, but I've been trying to search for an answer to a 'design' query that has been bothering me for a long time. Your company has been designated as one of the best in the country for design, so I am approaching you and putting my trust in your knowledge and experience. I read that your company diversifies, and includes signage as well as smaller forms of advertising.
I am one of the designers for a sign company in Oliver, BC. and we often have requests for billboards, sometimes a large as 10 feet x 32 feet, which are viewed from a considerable distance, sometimes 500 ft - 800 ft away. Can you tell me if you've ever come across a definite design rule, that states whether CAPITAL letters are more legible from a distance as opposed to Upper and Lower Case letters used in conjunction with each other? A lot of the time I believe capital letters have been used with false understanding, just because they are all larger in height, yet they are all square in shape basically. I'm wondering, by contrast, if the diversity in shape of Upper and lower case letters produces more clarity? Do you know if there has in fact been any studies done on this? I hoping you can set me straight. I would like to offer my customers the best information I can muster so that I can effectively design their signage with better knowledge. I hope to hear your side of this, and perhaps you might even know of a 'source' of literature or web site to refer to on this question. I appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to your response.

Thanks Dave for the great question in response here is a thread to follow ...

from Typophile forum...

Not exactly billboard related, but road sign:
Response to follow once gordongroups esteemed panel of typographers give their rulings..Creative Director Leslie is proven that text set in upper and lowercase letters are easiest to read as our brain recognizes the shape of the word rather than reading each letter individually। Billboards are most often scanned quickly as the viewer passes by so it makes sense to make it as easy as possible to take in the message by setting text in upper and lowercase letters। An exception to this would be if there are only 2-3 words set in all caps to convey a particular tone...Senior Designer Kelly Read - Lyon I think the real issue is the amount of type you are using and how fast you need the viewer to understand it. Billboards usually need small amounts of type and fast comprehension. U & LC will always be easier and faster to read. Going with all caps in small doses can add impact though, should the design call for it (as Leslie says, 2–3 words or so).

I also don't think size of type or its distance from the viewer factors into the question of U & LC vs. caps. The designer should set the type at a size that is readable in either case, whether it's a billboard that is 800 ft. away or a printed piece that is 2 ft. away.

Thanks very much....that adds a lot of clarity to my 'mind' over this matter. Appreciate your time on this...the whole design crew.

Dave Veach
Graphic Designer
Outreach Neon Ltd.
Oliver, BC.,

the thread continues from TYPOPHILE a great forum for typographers ...

Not about the typography but the content:

6 words - 6 seconds

7 words - 7 seconds

That’s an old billboard design adage.




10.Dec.2009 6.30pm


When designing signs I find that lateral space is usually at more of a premium than vertical space for text.

All-caps, at the same nominal size might well be more legible, but U/C characters are generally wider and, excepting ascenders, taller and therefore occupy more area per glyph.

Try setting your text in upper and lower case, then all-caps at the same nominal size, then in upper and lower case, increasing the size until it is the same length as the upper case sample. Then walk away from your samples and see which one becomes unreadable first.



Paul Cutler

10.Dec.2009 6.40pm


Indeed russellm, when I’m doing billboards I print them out at tabloid size, tape them to a wall and get about 10-15 feet from them to judge legibility.



Friday, December 4, 2009

Design On!

Book design for clients is another discipline that we engage in at gordongroup. Over the years a number of important books have been produced these past projects stand out in retrospect as highlights from the project collective of 22 years.

Peter Dorn a book designer from Queens University was my book design Professor during college years. This was an early touch point and an important foundational focus on the fine art of book design. Throw back to 1985 a great friend and business associate Professor Michael Gnarowski was the General Editor of Carleton University Press. He and I enjoy the odd pint to this day and I celebrate the fact that Michael holds the coveted longest client relationship status at gordongroup. Books have been Michael's passion and to his credit he has enshrined many notable titles for important people who require support, commitment, tenacity and knowledge navigating through the publishing trade labyrinth. Michael's love of books is evident in his library and his leading expertise in Canadian Literature. His enterprise Golden Dog Press operates from his magnificent home in Kemptville Ontario. Before I realized it I was on a book design trajectory working with Michael at Carleton University Press. These were early days entering the book design pathway.

We produced the Canadian Centre for Early Canadian text series, numerous academic authored titles and other interesting subject matter over the course of many years. Two important titles funded at the time of the millennium were seminal reference in the form of coffee table books. They included a historical retrospect on The James Bay Northern Quebec Crees and a second history title on The Supreme Court of Canada. (Without my knowing at the time the Cree History book "I Dream of Yesterday and Tomorrow" was the precursor to a major 4 episode documentary film production currently underway today at gordongroup)

Both these major projects stand today as records of our book publishing expertise but more rewarding was the people we met under engagement to produce the products. Two people come to my memory who have now past on but during the brief period I knew them they enriched my life being in their presence working together with them on book design. While engaged with the Grand Council of the Crees a gentleman Bob Epstein played a central role helping us document Cree history. Elders, leaders, storytellers and others from Cree society made unique contributions and gave their perspective to create the manuscript that was eventually published. Bob an incredibly engaging man I recall had a remarkable sense about exploring and digging into subjects to better understand and learn. He impressed me as a great educator.

The Supreme Court book was another brilliant opportunity and intensive study on Canada’s judicial system. I was introduced to Malek Karsh who brought his collection of period black and white photographs from The National Archives for our clients to review and select for their publication design layout. Malek of course was Yousef Karsh’s brother. His diplomacy and gentle personality embraced everyone he met in the Tax Room within the Supreme Court Building. I knew him only by his work previous to meeting him in person. His genius photography today remains legendary he was the founder of Ottawa’s Tulip Festival. Both these great people made a lasting impression on me I'm privileged to have known them. These millennium books designed for our clients bring memories of great relationships and rewarding times in the understanding business.

Kita Szpak one or our senior project managers within gordongroup recently published her inaugural children’s storybook. “Your Special Wherever You Are” The book has great illustrations throughout and engaging prose. This new and great book is a testament to the talent and intelligent thinking that people who come to our organization bring on a daily basis. Publishing has some down side risk today to Kita’s credit she got the book off the Press’s and out into children’s hands. An admirable accomplishment!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bon Vivant!

Many great opportunities arise in the design business we play a central role assisting our clients with conversations that engage their various audiences both old and young. We often enter into opportunities that require visuals. Visuals come in many forms photographs, illustrations, iconic marks, symbols or logos. The business of commercial illustration has evolved with the advent of new technologies specifically software programs like 3D MAX and Maya. The level of realism that illustrators achieve today is remarkable. Visuals and words plus engineering combine all the essential ingredients to making information meaningful.

In my quest for realism and the personification of inhuman objects long before online technologies I went on a pursuit some years back prior to 1995. I met an extraordinary individual Francesco Santalucia. I needed someone who could turn produce into mascots. This was a project for a client’s umbrella organization. Their membership includes produce growers from across the country. This association wanted to launch a kids outreach campaign. We found Francesco in Montreal as a result of his pages in a large hard cover illustrator’s promotional publication. He had the right skills to bring carrots, apples and other earthly vegetables to life. The intent was to make these vegetable products into animated characters that would appeal to young children. The project was a smash hit Francesco's illustration created more demand from children across Canada joining the club then the client envisioned or expected. A great metric and fabulous outcome promoting healthy eating to youngsters while being educated about nutrition.

Francesco was at the office today, we engaged him to render a high realism Maya animated sequence for our documentary film production that is nearing completion. He came to Ottawa to review the details and creative direction with the film director and director of photography (DOP). The relationship lives on and I'm thrilled to have Francesco back on assignment for our clients.

Lasting business relationships contribute to making the business vital. The projects we complete on behalf of our clients bring constant reminders of the upside of collaborating toward positive outcomes and driving the company success. Having dynamic people part of the program is that much more rewarding.

Times shared with Francesco have been great his fabulous work over the last couple of decades enshrined positive memories. His work stands as testament to someone who has unmatched passion achieving excellence in his craft. I believe his core brand is capturing children’s imagination through extraordinary skill in rendering ideas. Check out his site to get the picture.

We’ve become friends. His insight and counsel on matters of business have been great. His creativity, wisdom, and genuine magnetic style and inspirational spirit is evident in his craft and abundant in his personality. I look forward to continuing great times ahead launching brilliant visuals for our clients knowing and collaborating with Francesco Santalucia.

Smoking good Cuban cigars, drinking fine wine and enjoying remarkable dinners with this bon vivant has contributed to enriching many experiences personally and professionally.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Organizational Diagnosis for Brand Management

For effective brand building to be accomplished the first important stage is understanding our clients unique organizational structure. Looking at the organization from the perspective of how all its various parts, constituents and stakeholders align to ensure a properly functioning enterprise is essential step one.

We cannot provide useful counsel on brand for internal audiences or others if we fail to see the unique profile of organizational structure. In retrospect some large organizations like federal departments have expansive profiles with whole communities of employees working interdependently toward defined mandates. Our engagement with Service Canada gave us a genuine understanding of the unique attributes of large scale brand programs. We have engaged with Not for Profits that have a volunteer base who comprise of a core group of stakeholders. This same organization has board oversight, with a CEO who also deals with governance from public regulatory officials, the clients “customers” are accredited organizations registered and legally obliged to utilize our client under the regulatory regime. Other parties contribute to the functioning of the organization all of this toward ensuring outcomes and advancement of the Not for Profits organizational goal. I use this specific example to define for readers the degree to which we have to respond and carefully navigate with all the players toward successful outcomes in brand leadership. The example provided is not unique when entering into new business models and lack of understanding of the make up of the organization prior to launching into brand management is at the consultant’s peril.

A good cross section of clients engage us with less complex management and stakeholder profiles but frequently we do diagnostic assessments of organizational structure and dynamic prior to getting down to essential planning and strategy. We are prepared then to sell the “change”, which is why we’re being paid the big bucks in the brand business. From the outside this missive I hope will provide some context for how our task as experts in brand can have some serious logjams and potential barriers. In most cases the client has aligned the organization as a whole and informed the team that something new is underway this creates less resistance to our involvement in leading the charge.

But here is the scoop or the post point. We encounter new opportunities monthly and annually. The cumulative net advantage from moving from one client on to the next client working on a continuum of brand engagements has been extraordinary. Factor the learning and diagnostic focus done for one company and what you gain from studying that model. Take that over many companies over a decade and you begin to appreciate the big advantage you bring as an expert dealing in complex brand management programs. The understanding and investment as a result of diagnosis of business models over years in the field affords the brand consultant unequalled depth by comparison to staff members or those who have not touched on the variety and expanse of opportunities. The brand consultant’s wealth of experience, great depth and understanding of unique and different business models provides significant advantage to the client who is interested in distinctive, well-defined brand leadership models for their organization.

CBC and other gordongroup Online Enterprise Solutions

Chatting about Social Media

Bruce Spurr unfortunately social media is not the only venue for this type of "alien" reaction to new ideas. We've had several gg clients have similar trouble with branding (consistency across the organization) and creating/mainting new web publishing standards (writing style/multimedia usage, language, and many other issues).

It constantly amazes me that organizations consistently making decisions from fear. Foundational to the precepts of the strategy paradox - an organization acting out of fear fails slowly, while one acting with aggressive positive intention can fail spectacularly OR succeed spectacularly. People would rather "mitigate risk" by failing slowly then taking a chance possibly succeeding. This mentality is becoming more and more common in our society as we seek the immediate gratification (doing nothing means nothing bad happens now).

We do the best we can to help them move in the right direction, but at the end of the day, you cannot force anyone to act.

Robert Chitty Bruce, "fear" certainly drives inhibition and places a lag on leadership in specific areas. Lag presents opportunity for experts to offer solutions to close gaps and support more successful outcomes. I agree as well with your point that social media like brand management is often given much lower priority then other functions in organizations. ie: Financials capital expenditures on assets other staffed functions. My assessment is as follows: Social Media is an emerging brand building tool that has derailed traditional forms of marketing. The transformation has driven much uncertainty people hear more about major failure like mainstream newspapers crashing due to a migration of advertisers out of these formats then best practices and outcomes within online communities. This has people questioning the upside to social media and its stability and suitability for their investments. The good news is we know the younger generation is not phased about any of this and have become practitioners across the board. On the other point about brand management. Clients have to make considerable investment in upholding their brand. I look at what is diluting that effort from my perspective it comes down to shopping to consultants on term basis under the watchful eyes of transparency and tender /procurement. Unfortunately all the good work you produce can get turfed by the next service provider who comes knocking with their low pricing model or limited appreciation of all the value you've put in place. Your Brand Management Champion today leaves and you may very well not have the benefit of that same alignment with the replacement. Many factors come into play. As you know when we partner with our clients we have the most success.

Barb White, The Social Media Boomer Throughout history there has been a resistance to change. Nowadays changes happen so quickly that businesses that do not embrace the changes will find themselves left behind saying 'What happened'

Robert Chitty Barb, I'm interested in your opinion on what the single greatest tactic is to gain "value" through social media.
What is really working effectively in terms of people's efforts and their return on this social media investment. Where is cash being generated for example?

Barb White, The Social Media BoomerA great question Robert. I think that the most important tactic is to have a strategy plan and stick to it. Which social networking sites do your target market hang out? What questions and needs to they have? There is plenty of money being made on social media, but it is being made when people concentrate their efforts rather than spreading ... 

Brad Reason @Robert, people seem to think using social media generates money. It's a common misconception, because there's many 'social media gurus and experts' feeding you false info.
Social media is part network building, part customer back-n-forth communication, part promotion, and part web-presence building and company branding.

Time = money. Social Media is time, and very little money. If you invest the time building your network, your network becomes clients, projects, contracts, and sales.

Robert Chitty Barb, Thanks for your response! We have an opportunity to present a Social Media Primer to specific audiences both youth and business. I can anticipate people wanting to get to the ROI question.
I like how you have distilled the steps very helpful.

Robert Chitty Brad, This new paradigm Social Media is taken on incredible dare I say HYPE. I think people may overlook key elements of successful brand building attempting to decipher the meaning of all of this. For example who is in charge of the Social Media out reach what is the HR management of the media? Is it basic admin. duties or is it with IT or is is with the wordsmith or the CEO. Do the people in charge understand the organizations brand have they got a identity framework thats rock solid and persuasive about their value proposition that everyone agrees on and that will effectively support their brand building. What's the story people want to tell their communities of interest. This has to be factored in as Time and effort=cost. After all isn't this just one component of a variety of brand leadership procedures that need to be managed. I agree with your point that making money from this as a immediate gratification could be leading people to false hopes.. I am grateful for your response to this thread. RWC

Brad Reason I fully agree with you Robert. What you've pointed out is what separates the professionals from the amateurs.
Joe Schmoe with 20000 contacts, a group page, a fan page, and constant status updates is not a social media marketing professional.

Everything you mentioned above is now a new factor. Traditional marketing and branding now needs to be combined with new media, social media, social marketing.
Perhaps its the same people that once were your marketing department... but probably not... It takes a intelligent savvy mind that understands what it means to represent a company professionally as well as understand the concepts of marketing, advertising, and promotion.

take for example, your average company that's been around for 50 years. they have a marketing department. If that marketing team has not brought social media marketing to the table yet, it's time to bring in fresh meat to add them to the team.

Some of it is 'hype' ... but isn't all advertising and promotion 'hype' in the first place? The fact that so many people are believing this 'hype' that social media is working... it has to make you think there's validity to it.

Look past the 'what are you doing?' question on twitter. and look past the 'I have 1000 friends on facebook'
Each of these social media outlets are accessories, tools, extensions of where your brand and company can go.
And most of these tools are free... Why not use them.. and use them wisely.

If you'd like to take a peek at my facebook page, or my linkedin page, or my blog... you may get an example as to how I have used social media effectively to create revenue.
And I'm just one example, doing one niche form of talent. Social media is available for anyone, any company, offering anything.....
and the professionals, who know how to utilize, while making a company look the way it should, are the ones finding the success.

Robert Chitty Brad, I will throw you my linked iN and Friend on FB invites. 
I like the straight goods approach.

Barb White, The Social Media Boomer Brad I totally agree with you, re the new 'guru's of social media, and the large money making claims.It is possible to make money from social media, but for the business world it's more about embracing a new form of marketing and communication. It is becoming an important aspect of marketing and branding, but is not the whole picture. Businesses need to get away from push advertising, and get back to relationship marketing and selling, as well as more transparent communication when things don't go as planned.

Brad Reason Personally, I love social media marketing 100x more than traditional marketing. I used to have to listen to print newspaper sales people try to sell me 5 lines of space for $500.. then hear about how they can 'hook me up'... or I had to listen to BS stats from sales people about why it's so important for me to have my blurb in a magazine.

Now, it's about creating your own worth, connecting with other like-minded people in the same boat who are also creating their own worth, and then supporting each other, finding ways to help, support, and pay it forward. Helping people feels like such a wonderful way to advertise and marketing. It's a great feeling helping out a company that is also wanting to help you out at the same time.

Now, I don't need to listen to bunk stats, and why I need an ad in the sunday paper from a salesman. Now I can send out a message 'hey I need help' and have thousands of people respond with 'I'll help'... meanwhile I can also shout out 'hey, I'm willing to help' and have a thousand people reply, 'hey, I need help'

The money flow and profit is indirect, but the exposure and reputation is very direct. Having a great online presence with a cohesive force of other quality people online is a monumental asset to have.

Robert Chitty Brad, Hey I need help on my blog..
Hope your Online time is prosperous!...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Digitize or Acidify

Books bring knowledge to people. Books contribute to our individual identity and our country's identity. I enjoy having books in our various shelving around the house they anchor our interior living environment with memories, art, stories and other rich and meaningful effects. My boy’s room is a youth library he got the reading gene in his elementary years through structured reading at home and careful support at his school he loves books we’ve helped by investing in his collection. (Chapter’s binging and withdrawal is a dangerous and sometimes costly addiction) Libraries, Archives and Universities as well Community groups and other organizations all stock books in various scales of order. A quick glance at an individual’s book collection confirms much about that person’s individual brand. The same is true for corporate libraries or a nation's collection. Books are part of our extended identity they personify who we are today and offer rich meaning about our past.

The Save a Page Campaign that we’ve developed in partnership with our clients from Canadiana is another extraordinary opportunity that makes coming to gordongroup rewarding. We’re performing an integral role on an important challenge facing Canadians. The challenge we have is the prevention of losing core elements of our national ethos as Canadians due to books falling apart and disintegrating. When books age they suffer from a kind of book cancer known as acidification. The good news is we‘ve entered into a new economic reality. Richard Florida defines it as the creative class where design and innovation married with technology led by people with vision is opening new opportunities. The transition is well underway and much of the workplace horizon has shifted. Books can be saved with a commitment to digitization. Google of course is the king of digitization. The movement to Digitize in Canada is comprised of many people including influential individuals in the Library, Museum and Archival arena. As well a groundswell of focus is building by people in many other sectors. All of this commitment is underway to protect Canada’s heritage through digitization activities. This notion of digitization is a large mandate that reaches across Canada. The intent is to put people to work conducting scanning and preserving activities in a deliberate and managed effort. This sizable task will define an important segment of the labour market in the years ahead.

See to support the movement…

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thoughts on Brand

For those who wish to grow their organization and get measurable results on their bottom line making a commitment to building the brand is a great way to get started. A central idea around how to define brand is thinking about the organization how ever big or small as an individual person. What is the organizations personality? We relate to one another based on character attributes. We attract others or repel others with the signals we send and the body language we exhibit. So using the metaphor of individual personality to define the organizations brand can be a starting point to establishing criteria for what your organization is all about. Look at other metaphors my wife’s dogs have two distinct “dog brands” the Daschund is yappy, small and elongated. And her Border collie is needy, passive and pack oriented. Distinct different brands of dogs some dogs share attributes and some dogs have very different attributes.
Organization brand can be distilled into meaningful constructs if we think of what the personality of the organization is all about. Clients who have engaged gordongroup benefit from our BLM system. BLM stands for Brand Leadership Model. We have developed tools that offer diagnostic assessment of organizational process as it relates to brand. This system helps to establish terms of reference on how to go forward with an effective platform or foundation for brand building. gordongroup looks at the following areas of brand related process.

1. Brand Management
2. The Identity Framework
3. Brand Architecture
4. Brand Building

These four modules effectively capture each key element or paradigm of an organizations brand. An organization with no investment in design standards or stewardship, or governance for that matter will have these conceptual modules in place but may not be leveraging them to build equity or drive investment.
On the contrary smart organizations understand clearly these elements and have made major commitment to foster, support, resource and protect their interests as it relates to these four modules. I’ll provide a brief synopsis on each of the four modules.

1. Brand Management, Successful brand management requires people or persons within the organization to put in place the proper administration to control the organizations brand. A central office charged with protecting the brand against threats, which may include rogue communication by well meaning stakeholders or poor design standard application or even inappropriate customer service. These are very limited examples essentially it’s the “people” tasked with executing and controlling the brand internally and externally out to various markets.
2. The Identity Framework is not the mission, values and vision. The Framework is a well thought out description of the organizations personality starting with the idea of what is the essence of the organization. Many other specific constructs make up the Identity Framework. These constructs are useful to know if you want to develop a meaningful framework to support your brand investment. Getting the framework right often determines the success of the brand. Ultimately the framework needs to be meaningful and persuasive. It also should differentiate. The visual Logo fits in here as part of the extended identity.
3. Brand Architecture, Organizations may have a Parent Brand and a variety of Sub brands or Component brands when planning a BLM one has to carefully diagnose the organization brand architecture to ensure the Parent Brand serves its market properly and is not downgraded by conflicting brands that may be in play. Each brand will need resources and backing to properly align in their market channels. We have seen recently organizations that allow organic growth of sub brands that blur the parent brands prominence and throw a new vector into the positioning of the parent diluting its preeminence resulting in lost equity. Brand Architecture is a critical module integral to many organizations.
4. Brand Building, this is the wide-open big terrain of how you intend to roll out your identity and create a following. Today Social Media has garnered a massive following. Organizations and Individuals create and upload social graphs online in turn use interface utilities to get their brand or personal message across. This effective and relatively inexpensive tactic has taken off and will continue to be an emerging brand building tool. Print is still around as is the telephone. Sponsor opportunities and endorsement opportunities are certainly worth a look. As well as basic networking and interpersonal conversation.

So build yourself a great brand and have fun doing it! Should you want gordongroup’s BLM White Paper modules please drop me a line.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Early this morning I found my way to the new Telfer School of Management building on University of Ottawa's Campus. gordongroup was invited to speak to students about brand, marketing and self promotion. This occasion allowed me to share some of my beliefs and ideas with others. gordongroup has had the good fortune to be partner to the University over the last few years. We started earlier on when we were engaged to do strategic work and launch a rebrand program to support raising the institutions profile. For people in the Ottawa region and beyond the phrase "Canada's University" is immediately recognizable. This apt tag line for a centre of learning excellence in the heart of the nations capital has contributed to building their brand in a meaningful way.

For the last two years we have acted as Agency of Record managing the Universities advertising outreach. Having the privilege to meet people who attend the University in support of their learning effort today was very rewarding for me. The format was arranged with approximately 2 hours of engaging conversation focussed on risk taking, differentiating, goal setting, defining our personal leadership attributes and other core ideas around getting ahead in life. These are shared themes among leaders. The emphasis may shift over time or we may look at these themes with different perspective but for those who strive to forge new ground and believe in making a difference these ideas certainly will support the pathway forward. Oh and one other important conversation point eliminate inhibition!

The profound, thoughtful questions raised demonstrated the passion and drive among the people I was introduced to. Being among people who extended to me a warm and intellectual reception was a privilege and honor. I'm thankful to everyone at gordongroup for the opportunity to represent them to various forums and outreach situations the combined effort of those who have contributed to the companies growth has made it what it is today. We look forward to continued good relations with...
..."Canada's University".

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Times they are a changing

We're heading into winter and we've experienced more then season changes in the last few months. I've been delinquent posting for the last while. The company changed ownership in the summer with our great friend, ally and business partner Mary Dila leaving the triumvirate. She's off on a new path with family taking on new challenges and charting a new course. Partnerships for me have been highly collaborative successful business arrangements. We have now put in twenty two years offering services under the umbrella of marketing (brand) and communications. Partnering with others who extend their great skills, acumen and sensibilities to the program certainly for me has made a big difference in gordongroup's success and vitality. On that note my good friend Howard Whittaker has been with me from the start he has witnessed with me the many trials and tribulations over these years dealing in image and outreach. I believe he is someone who has a passion for the details and the inner workings of the organizations machinery. That highly valued skill is direct compliment to my no holds barred attitude to getting on with things. Earlier on another great influencer and friend Peter Moskos an educator and philosopher joined into the gordon partner compliment. Peter was a remarkable force building the companies reputation as a leader in the writing space. This link brought the essential "words" element to the offering. We've been selling pictures and words now for over two decades. Peter set the foundation for extending his vision out to our internal team and beyond to so many different clients who have come to rely on our experts for their wordsmith excellence. Mary joined the partnership about nine years ago she has been instrumental building the company with class and strategic insight. Partners are a good thing. Whatever happens in the days and weeks ahead my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for having Peter and Mary as partners, friends and great allies in business adventure will always remain strong.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Documenting Neighbours

We're well on our way to having this remarkable story prepared for sharing with the Cree people of Northern Quebec and their future generations. The support from everyone associated on the assignment has been overwhelming. This is a James Bay Cree story told by many participants primarily the James Bay Cree people themselves. A celebration of their leadership, tradition and culture all with the magnificent backdrop of land and waterways they call home. This documentary series reflects an authentic view of a great people whom we are privileged to know and have as neighbour's in the north.