Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Quest for Great Storytelling

david & goliath

As the story goes, the story may enhance your brand or unfortunately contribute to a rather lackluster image. The story is an essential component in the eyes of those who you depend on for ensuring stability and growth. Brand after all is about managing the visual and messaging constructs of the organization.

gordongroup is engaged in re-brand opportunities as well as developing identity frameworks and brand building tools for new initiatives. In each scenario we’ve found the opportunities to evolve brands through collaboration with our clients and their stakeholders engaging and beneficial experiences.

Storytelling is an essential element in the process. Understanding some basic principles of storytelling will contribute to more effective brand building.

Creating within our client’s brand story archetypes is a reliable approach to longevity and timeless identity solutions. Often story archetypes exist but remain undiscovered simply because those within the organization are close to the operations they haven’t uncovered the essence of what they are doing that will contribute to success.  Uncovering these elements of brand success is an important aspect of ensuring impact in marketing and outreach. Defining the elements in the form of meaningful stories will not only enhance the brand's market strength but also it will sustain the organization's brand over time. Timeless brands rely on brilliant storytelling.

A key element within storytelling is the notion of “archetypes”. Access remains an archetype that resonates for me because design and effective brand drive understanding for those audiences who you want to influence, educate or deliver meaning toward. This great metaphor, access is a story archetype. Aptly coined by information guru Richard Saul Wurman. He used the principles of building architecture, specifically how people experience architecture. This analysis compared to how people find meaning and knowledge applied to design and information.

But other archetypes exist that can be used among your organizations brand building teams. Techniques that provide assurance the identity will stand out in the market.

A great book that I’ve discovered and referred to on earlier posts, contributes to timeless results is “The Elements of Persuasion”  The authors use storytelling and archetypes as the basis for successful  outcomes.

Archetypes include passion, hero, conflict, transformation and awareness. Obvious storytelling constructs that everyone can immediately recognize. These classic storytelling devices of course are evident and universal, they’re certainly timeless and applied to all age groups and cultures.

Uncovering the organization's unique story archetype is foundational and core to brand leadership. The process of developing the brand’s story absolutely relies on original thinking among those concerned.

Discover the archetypes that define your unique identity. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Among the Dunes in Prince Edward County


Here among the dunes on an extended long weekend after a journey north over the last couple of weeks and a very exciting and engaged roller coaster 22nd year of business operations. In light of the fact so much has happened over the last twelve months it seems apt I use the occasion to try and do a little freeze frame of what has been a memorable and dynamic series of experiences leading to now. 

A remarkable assignment described as " a project of a lifetime" has been foundational to what has made the year great. I'm thankful to many people starting with my clients for extending to me the trust to take this project on. That project is "The Eeyouch of Eeyou Istchee".

This year the doc. film series opened up a modality different, yet in many ways closely related to the kinds of activities and roles we've played since our inception. After all documentary is storytelling. Brand development is storytelling, annual report and publication design is storytelling as is providing rational for symbol design or creation of prototypes. 

Access remains a core ideology of what we do and strong persuasive stories make the notion of access core to understanding and meaning. 

Core to all of this has been the rich relationships that are formed underway delivering the solutions. The relations start with those who contribute daily at our organization. The people around me including directors, project managers, designers, writers, accountants and many others who make a difference with their unique sense of professionalism, dedication and resolve to extend their capabilities to clients.  

Stand out year themes include: 

1.Growing the multi discipline business model specifically film, direct marketing, and digital media. 
2.Relations with clients and staff have proven great. They have extended to me unique and privileged experiences. 
3.Taking stock that the idea to pursue running a company at the age of 27, in turn aligning with a business partner in the early days of growth. That idea at that time with all the downside pressures of start up transformed now into a dynamic enterprise meeting the requirements of organizations who come to know and trust our team. 

Our ideology about making information clear and accessible, combined with engaging top flight professionals to put these ideas into practice remains constant. 

While we've grown the business this year we continue to drive forward by adapting to our clients requirements through innovation and embracing new media solutions and methods. 

 Published on ipad

Friday, October 1, 2010

A great man and hero

Being in the north in the community of Waskaganish brings back many memories. The Cree Community is at the southern end of James Bay where the mouth of the Rupert River flows. I recall a time back in the mid 90’s when we were asked to produce a series of Stay in School Posters for the Cree School Board. The posters were published and remain on view to this day within schools and Cree offices. My long time photographer colleague, Fred Cattroll joined me in James Bay Quebec within the Cree Communities. The School Boards intent producing the design remains to this day one method to encourage youth about the importance of education. We were granted introductions to many elders and Cree Leaders.

They became participants and took part in the project. We needed a location in Waskaganish to photograph children and elders together. An arrangement was granted to locate a set in Billy Diamond’s mother's home in her living room. Fred was able to set up backdrops and find props for those who volunteered. Billy’s mother was photographed with others in the immediate and extended family.

This poster series attracted the attention of many people including a client who after seeing the creative direction and photography sought us to do more work on behalf of Canada’s Aboriginal People for the Federal Government. Later in the nineties Industry Canada engaged us to travel across Canada to photograph business leaders operating successful enterprises. This mandate brought us back to Waskaganish to photograph two Cree legends Albert and Billy Diamond.

Albert and Billy owners of carrier Air Creebec were together at that time in Waskaganish, they granted us permission to have their picture taken in front of their aircraft on the Tarmac. Both Diamond men arrived as I recall on a very cold afternoon with windswept snow streaming over the black runway. A turboprop aircraft was moved into position as part of our set and once that was placed, Fred went to work to enshrine the leaders in visual and written testimony nationally.

Today I’m here in Waskaganish on another mandate for the Grand Council of The Crees. We came here to interview Billy for a series of documentary films that chronicle the remarkable achievements he and others fulfilled on behalf of the Cree nation. An exemplar for people everywhere Billy was engaged and willing to share his memories and thoughts.

We came to know Billy over the course of the last two years. He was an avid supporter of sharing, preserving history and capturing memories from his remarkable forty year leadership

A great man and hero, he passed away on Thursday.

My heartfelt sympathies and condolences go out to the Diamond family.