Sunday, February 28, 2010


This word conveys much of what is important today in building organization’s brands. We’ve looked at many aspects of our core values with a view to position the company and define meaningful references that stand for who we are.

Along the journey growing the organization the people concerned about having a positive impact in the market can look to the drivers of authenticity to build a robust and sustaining brand.

I’ve come upon the seven key drivers of authenticity in my research for this post and I felt it would be apt to touch on gordongroup’s depth of authenticity aligned with each of these drivers. I’ve been preaching authenticity as one of our core value propositions so here I will substantiate why we’re authentic.

How does authenticity fit into the organization is authenticity a function of the culture or is it more an element of the product we deliver? Authenticity for me effectively extends across both of these areas.

7 Drivers of Authenticity

  1. Originality The extent to which your brand has bought something new and different to the market. We bring new things to the market that drive our clients business bottom line and enrich their stakeholder relations this may include an integrated turnkey campaign in both English and French to produce a magazine. Clients outsource the entire value chain to us including the advertisement sales, design, production and distribution.

  1. Personal Utility This extent to which your brand delivers real utility to users that they feel they can’t live without. On many occasions our team acts on mission critical and time sensitive communications products. This response to our client’s requirements has achieved consistent positive results. Developing strategy and preparing identity frameworks for real estate developments or executing on Federal Government online programs for example G8 conference communication ensure our clients get the support they need toward successful outcomes.

  1. Declared Beliefs The extent to which your brand stands for more than just making money. We’re design centric we deliver design to our clients that is aligned with their aspirations to be represented authentically. This belief is evident in the trust extended to us across our multi disciplinary platform from publishing to digital solutions to documentary filming Design is a core construct of our thinking and delivery.

  1. Sincerity The extent to which your brand tries hard to not let people down. Sincerity cannot be faked our clients validate our sincerity by coming back year after year. This fact is proven with over twenty years of partnership with individual clients.

  1. Familiarity The extent to which your brand is well known by everyone. Our focus for the last couple of decades has been primarily toward our client’s mandates. Celebrating your organizations success and putting it out there is a constant investment. We have about five market facing regimes including Frontline Market representatives, Proposal writing and administration, Stakeholder engagement and Call Centre outreach, Account management on repeat business and Partnership and alliance building with organizations that wish to leverage their offering in concert with gordongroup. We can always do more to build familiarity.

  1. Momentum The extent to which your brand has an aura of becoming more popular. Growth for me is the best indicator of momentum. Growth can be on the bottom line but more important growth is about the people and relationships within the organization and externally out in the market. We build relations weekly, which are exciting and are driving momentum.

  2. Heritage The extent to which your brand has a relevant and engaging story. We bootstrapped the organization and built it on margins over twenty years. Our client’s stories are rich with meaning and we thrive on telling their stories. All these years have made us pretty good storytellers. We work at not becoming complacent or settling for the status quo.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

travel since the founding…has fallen into three categories

Travel from place to place has been one of the rewards within the brand business.

gordongroup has acted in the interests of clients who have stakeholders in distant lands and require our specialized expertise to be deployed to those locations to get the story.

This has been an upside of the business an aspect of the enterprise that has led to many experiences, expanding my understanding and appreciation of the world. Individuals looking to pursue career opportunities in the brand business may have to step up and accept travel as a required activity in the role they perform.

My retrospect of travel since the founding…has fallen into three categories.
Our primary travel driver has been adventures for Aboriginal Organizations.
Federal Recruitment brand building and thirdly travel focused on Investment Management and branding of Real Estate Development.

In summary we launched a ‘Stay in School’ campaign for the Cree School Board in the early years. These timeless products can be seen at Cree Grand Council Montreal Headquarters adorning the walls still on display today. Fred Cattroll and I were sent to all the Cree Northern Communities in Quebec to enshrine visuals of Elders and Leaders with Cree Children. I’ve been back to Northern Quebec on numerous occasions that first excursion triggered many successive travel opportunities.

Aboriginal Business Canada deployed us to travel nationally to cities across Canada to shoot Aboriginal business leaders. The clients at ABC saw the Cree “Stay in School” Posters based partly on that we were engaged to represent the Federal Governments support to private aboriginally run organizations. We captured stories about enterprise's led by aboriginal people. Yellowknife, Rigolet, Hobbema, North Vancouver and most of Canada’s major cities from coast to coast were visited on tours to enshrine successful profiles of aboriginal business leadership.

We developed national campaigns recruiting officers for work in Federal prisons. These tours involved stopping at Kingston Ontario entering Millhaven, Collins Bay and Frontenac institutions and other prisons. Contracted by Correctional Service Canada we met people gathered their stories and staged photo documentation. We built compelling and authentic recruitment campaigns to attract people into Canada’s prison system. We journeyed to federal prisons in the west including Edmontons MAX prison we stopped at that provinces women’s prison and the Hobbema aboriginal minimum security. While in the Hobbema prison we took part in a sweat lodge with inmates and an elder. Each of these trips extended experiences around the core objective. I could not have known about the sweat lodge event prior to getting to the prison grounds.
Some of the faces of people locked up inside the prisons etched memories that to this day I recall. I remember departing from Collins Bay depressed from the experience. The extreme contrast of a world where freedom is taken away took time to shrug off. I gained a profound respect for the people who make their living and career working within these environments.
(my deceased father "Bill" Charles William Chitty ran Collins Bay and Joyceville as director concurrently)

The Leadership Network a Federal Agency deployed gordongroup experts to profile people across Canada who came from a myriad or career roles dealing in innovation and unique jobs in support of the federal governments operations and programs. This successful campaign led to the Department of Justice producing a comparable outreach campaign in support of their recruitment strategies. We photographed and wrote extensively stories about successful lawyers nationally. Often one job leads to another.

In the last decade gordongroup’s leadership in building brands and executing campaigns for real estate or developments had us traveling and stopping at cities across Canada profiling residential buildings (assets) for Pension Funds investment. These engagements included tours across Canada from Halifax to Victoria and most cities in between. Alje Kamminga used our brand leadership “identity framework” to profile and script the stories about these assets. He experienced the Helicopter trip with me from Bentall Investment Management’s back yard at Burrad Inlet Vancouver British Columbia.

Vancouver Residential Asset

Upon our night return from Victoria to Vancouver aboard the helicopter we witnessed a clear sky over Vancouver hovering and spiraling down into an ocean of brilliant city lights across the horizon and up the mountain side of North Vancouver descending into this illuminated sea onto the heli pad. A remarkable sensory experience forged into memory as a great opportunity and supported by our client who extended their trust making it possible. Today the client is leveraging our stories and visual content from those travels. The web solutions online stand as contributing to the assets stability and growing investments nationally.

“The Big Island” Research for Doctor Tom Eshelmans book Kona Diaries led us to Hawaii. A remarkable example of far reaching opportunities in the Brand and design business. We spent ten days researching a fiction novel loosely based on our clients family connections to Hawaii. The trip included our principle writer Andrew Muir and our web developer Gary Roberts.
Gary our IT guy at the time used remarkable charm and persuasion skills to some how manage to join the excursion to Hawaii. The experience to that hemisphere brought great understanding of history of Polynesian culture within an American State.
Dr. Eshelman extended good will in support of his quest for a romance novel.

United Arab Emirates, Dubai came onto our radar since we had successfully branded real estate assets across Canada. We were behind two of the largest real estate transactions in the National Capital Region NCR. Those deals included the Bentall Investment Management Limited acquisition of the Luxury tower 50 Laurier from a Montreal Developer on the residential side. We also worked under engagement with Oxford branding Constitution Square III. A commercial tower in Ottawa that had not been built but was planned to go up once a covenant was signed. Both properties used gordon know how to eventual successful completion. With all the bench expertise in Canada we developed relations with Arabic speaking agents in the UAE . This opened the door to travels to that part of the world. The market timing was off for any measurable upside but we have been witness to many benefits pursuing that international market.

Brand building, storytelling and travel. Building partnerships while providing integrated value for clients who want growth in their unique investments.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What’s holding you back?

CIRA oversees the dot-ca Internet domain on behalf of Canadians. After 10 years in business, the organization recently logged just over one million dot-ca registrants. In 2008, they set a goal to double that within two years. CIRA relied on gordongroup to develop a marketing framework that would make it happen.

Through analyzing CIRA’s brand strategy, we quickly understood the need to develop a brand framework that would allow dot-ca to achieve commercial success. Extensive qualitative and quantitative research led us to recommend that CIRA be positioned as the “shop” and dot-ca as the product.

gordongroup clearly differentiated the two brands and created a well-defined strategy to drive business over the coming years. This strategy capitalized on CIRA’s core marketing tool—its website.
After analyzing hundreds of pages of content, we created a new site architecture and design, developed interactive elements, and integrated a customized Content Management System. Finally, we created print advertising to drive traffic to the site.

gordongroup untangled a complex brand challenge and helped CIRA convey the unique value of dot-ca to the world.

A clear brand strategy will open new doors and pave the way to growth.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A good strategy for remaining vital and building relations in the design and brand business.

Multi disciplinary = competitive advantage
Over the last twelve months we’ve seen many breakthroughs and met some interesting challenges. When I look back I take some comfort knowing this year personally has been one of the best on record from the point of view of client relations, nature of assignments and opportunities.

None of this would be possible of course without the people who are on my team and arrive at work on a day to day basis contributing to the growth and vitality of gordongroup. We also benefit from the contingent support of many talented professionals who play an integral role on unique assignments that are underway on behalf of our clients.
I will make reference to a few exceptional developments worth shedding some light on here that have been defining changes in the companies evolution over the last year.

My background and training was in design back in the eighties. The organization started as a design boutique in the central business district of Ottawa. At that time we attracted many clients in that era who required print products. Today we’re a multidisciplinary organization with different units working collaboratively on our clients mandates. 

Our units today include Design which I believe is an overarching function of all our areas of activity Writing, Project Management, Engineering / Digital media, Stakeholder engagement and Sales. These six units are positioned with strategic planning at the forefront of execution and as market driven entities responding to ongoing and new projects weekly.

We’ve grown into a multi disciplinary organization because we recognize that our market is constantly changing and that clients aspire to have new and different forms of tools for their conversations with their target audience’s or for their brand building.
One area that we’re excited about is our Direct Marketing Unit. This operation is headed by a leader who is a professional managing large scale outbound call campaigns. 

Thomas Krayer is behind this discipline contributing as part of our team, building new client relations and managing his team of committed communications professionals. We built the unit under sponsorship agreements with clients delivering publications and subscriptions campaigns. This area of service has become integral to our clients bringing them value through stakeholder engagement. 

We recently aquired a 2000 sq.ft office condo in the recently completed Westboro Station complex here in Ottawa Canada. We bought this state of the art facility to support the ongoing growth of this enterprise. We watched our esteemed associates depart from our headquarters to their new office space. The transition took some adjustment since the energy and buzz that these committed and dedicated individuals brought every day to gordongroup suddenly felt like it had been vacuumed out and left the premises.

That energy of course is being channeled at the team's new space. Their witnessing exponential growth and great new partnerships and client relations.

Documentary Film Producing and Directing is a discipline that requires very unique and different skill sets from Direct Marketing activities. The essence of what our business is about today is providing meaningful outreach solutions and brand building tools to our clients. We’re recognized for being able to identify the best talent from within our staff or networks to effectively meet the high standards our clients have come to appreciate and expect from gordongroup.

Documentary Filmmaking today is now integrated as a core function of our multi-disciplinary offering.
We’re sponsored to do a four episode historical feature series on the James Bay Northern Quebec Cree. This project has been described as a once in a lifetime opportunity. Our team both internally and externally is now on the home stretch bringing one of the four episodes to completion. Its been a remarkable example of trust extended to us from our clients. Gordongroup is recording history for the Cree for their future generations.

Design Boutique to Multi-Disciplinary Agency. Adding talented people and offering core services that clients want. A good strategy for remaining vital and building relations in the design and brand leadership business.

Happy Valentines day!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

From Jeremy Kuzub who wrote...

I noticed this neat angle on Google - it shows a lot of insight and thinking into their own product and is the fruit of some enlightened self reflection I think.

Why do people use Google? They follow that question to the human side of things and uncover the real value that they offer to people and articulate in a way that is fitting of their brand image. Be neat to hear what you think!

Feel free to forward,


Bob on Brand writes...

I took a look what is evident as you say is the Human side and how "search" is arguably an extension of our senses. We can have an information feast could be a snack, decadent meal, desert or some other form of consumption. I think its also cool how the interface design google created back when they first launched is essentially the same today. The site design has brilliant functionality credit to the people in their day who envisioned and engineered the largest archive ever.

google is a new phenomena by comparison to old distribution technologies ie: TV, Radio, Telephone. Marshall Mcluhan who was famous for the slogan "media is the massage" had an acute ability to define how these old medias changed human habits or defined impacts technologies played on our senses.

I recall he described TV as a hot media where anchors or commentators would do better job of conveying the news message if they used a more calm restful approach because this would result in a better capture by listeners/viewers of the broadcast. Wolf Blitzer it occurs to me is a hot commentator "highly wound up character" within a hot media this seems to me is an example of why the show "the situation room" is so hard to settle into. The broadcaster in these scenarios I believe is doing a disservice to the viewer. It's not long before the remote button channels away. Trouble with the format when the emotional amperage is so highly wound the sensationalism dilutes the essence of the news value.

Mcluhan made many fascinating observations about technologies the other apt reference he defined was "the global village" It would be great to hear a Mcluhanist prophetic explaining what this new form of media means, looking toward the future.

From a design perspective I think we're witnessing a major democratizing of information available to everyone. Including information that has varying degrees of value.
I see a new conversation emerging and its about design and making information meaningful.

Design of information and related technologies / process's will be paramount to competitive advantage and sustaining vital and progressive organizations. Eventually design will rank higher and emerge to the forefront. People recognize design value today as a core driver for changing perceptions, gaining market share or building Obama, iphone, Target, gordongroup ....

Jeremy of course you already practice engineering with design as a primary construct of your brilliant solutions. This is evident in the interactive web based learning modules you produce on behalf of the federal governments aerospace investment.


We're fortunate to have clients who partner with us in extraordinary design.

Your thoughts?


Investment Management Leveraging Design to get Leases Signed