Legistics website wins Davey Award

davey_silver_thumbOur new website for Legistics, Inc. has been recognized with a Silver Award in a major international design competition. The 11th Annual Davey Awards are issued by The Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts. With nearly 4,000 entries from across the US and around the world, the Davey Awards honors the finest creative work from the best small agencies, firms, and companies worldwide (hence the name, based on David and Goliath).

The Davey Awards is judged and overseen by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA), a 700+ member organization of leading professionals from various disciplines of the visual arts dedicated to embracing progress and the evolving nature of traditional and interactive media. Current membership represents a “Who’s Who” of acclaimed media, advertising, and marketing firms including: Code and Theory, Condé Nast, Disney, GE, Keller Crescent, Microsoft, Monster.com, MTV, Push., Publicis, Sesame Workshops, The Marketing Store, Worktank, Yahoo!, and many others.

Many thanks to our visionary client, Legistics – and especially CEO Phil Frengs – who let us take a powerful idea and run with it. And congratulations to our talented team: designer Anat Rodan, writer Emily Hutta, videographers Joel Lipton and Carlos Gutierrez and developer Stephen Slater. Awesome job!

Powerful consumers? Not always.

The ever-provocative Seth Godin wrote this about the power of the producer (i.e. the creator, manufacturer, provider to the consumer):

Producers and consumers

In the short run, it’s more fun to be a consumer. It sure seems like consumers have power. The customer is always right, of course. The consumer can walk away and shop somewhere else.

In the long run, though, the smart producer wins, because the consumer comes to forget how to produce. As producers consolidate (and they often do) they are the ones who ultimately set the agenda.

Producers do best when they serve the market, but they also have the power to lead the market.

The more you produce and the more needs you meet, the more freedom you earn.

And it reminds me of a TED Talk by Thomas Thwaites on “How I Built a Toaster From Scratch”. We live in a world where almost nothing we use, touch, interact with, is something we could actually make ourselves. As powerful as we are as a society, we are pretty incompetent as individuals. We need the producers, and each other.

Inspiring leadership starts with Why

Start With Why bookWhy is it that a company can write glowingly about its specs and features and even its benefits and elicit not much more that a yawn? Why do we meet the promises of our politicians with such apathy? Why are we so focused on convincing and manipulating people instead of inspiring them?

We think we make important decisions rationally, but we almost never do. Instead, we are driven by, and respond to, signals that are difficult to articulate, but powerful when we receive them. And to be effective and meaningful, those signals always start with “WHY”.

That’s the premise of Simon Sinek’s fascinating study of leadership called “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” (Portfolio/Penguin).

You may know Sinek from his TED Talk, which I’ve blogged about previously. His book expands and details those concepts with many examples that go far beyond the few in his video. If you buy his basic premise, that the WHY is the hook that connects us to the brands and ideas we care about most deeply, then his book will flesh out your understanding and give you lots of fodder for your thinking.

I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of Sinek’s writing style. I find him too pedantic and repetitive. But that may also be because this is the kind of book many won’t read cover-to-cover, and he had to include repeated references and reminders to anchor his points. I’ll give him a break on that score because his fundamental idea is so important.

That idea is well worth incorporating into our communications — not just our marketing efforts but our broader role as leaders (and we’re almost all leaders in some sense, but that’s another conversation). We want to start with the WHY. The belief. The purpose. That’s what will enlist followers in our vision. As Sinek points out, Martin Luther King didn’t say, “I have a plan.” He said, “I have a dream.” And millions of people who shared that dream of fairness and equality, who also imagined a world where people were treated like people, thought, “Hey, this guy thinks like I do… he wants what I want.”

Notice that they didn’t say, “Hmmm, that’s an interesting idea.” as if they had never imagined a world like that themselves. King tapped into something that was already there. He attracted the people who already believed what he believed, and then galvanized them to action. They became a movement because of the WHY.

Sinek explains that brands work the same way. People love or hate Apple. But the reason the company has so many rabid fanboys is because they stand for something and are willing to start their communications with that central value. If you identify with their rebellious creativity and obsession with design detail, with their core belief in challenging the status quo and thinking differently (their WHY), you’re on board. And you’ll pay more for it, because it reflects who you are, and meshes with your personal values.

That WHY pulls a company, a leader, a brand, out of the swamp of commoditized, transaction-based competitors. It means you no longer need to offer a lower price than everyone else. It means you don’t need to drive volume with coupons and discounts and sales in a never-ending downward spiral of slimmer and slimmer margins. It means you create products or companies you love and care about, and your customers are people who feel the same way.

That’s why Sinek’s message means so much to me in my own business, and to my clients’ businesses as well, whether or not they’ve read the book. Creating work I care about for people who feel the same way? That’s my dream job. And I bet it’s yours, too.

Grab a copy of Start With Why. And start letting people know what you really value.

Start with Why

Almost 2 million people have watched Simon Sinek’s TED talk on leadership called “Start with Why”, including me (several times). If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and spend 18 minutes finding out about the difference between manipulation and inspiration, and how great leaders understand that it’s not about the What. It’s about the Why.

I’m finally reading his book, and it’s enlightening and engaging. I’ll write more about it once I’ve finished it. but the core idea is nicely summarized right here. Check it out.

Bringing art to your work

The courageous Seth Godin talks about getting out of your comfort zone because it’s not safe. Taking a risk? That’s safer.

44 minutes of enlightened conversation.

Further collaboration with Green Hasson Janks

GHJ King Tut Ad

Our campaign for Green Hasson Janks in the Los Angeles Business Journal continues this week with a new ad in the series featuring Howard Carter, the archaeologist who discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamen in 1922 and his backer and mentor, George Herbert, Fifth Earl of Carnarvon.

Their story has fascinated generations, and is another great example of collaboration, the theme of the ads and the guiding principle of Green Hasson Janks’s relationships with their clients.

The ad appears on the cover of this issue’s list of accounting firms, and is followed by a smaller one inside that adds more to the tale. A QR code directs readers to the company’s website where the complete story unfolds.

Check out the LABJ this week. And visit the Green Hasson Janks site to read all the examples of amazing historical collaborations.

(Here’s a link to the previous post about the campaign, too.)

An abstract approach to brand identity

Green Hasson Janks folder with reflections

Varnished surfaces add surprise to this corporate presentation piece.

We recently finished a presentation kit for the Los Angeles-based accountants and business advisors Green Hasson Janks. Ordinarily a folder isn’t something I’d crow about. But this one’s really special.

Designed as a container for new business presentations, it features an unexpected twist on the firm’s key graphic element — a bold ampersand with an upward arrow known in the firm as the Uppersand. It’s their symbol of collaboration and is featured prominently in all their marketing materials and advertising. (More on that next week.)

We deconstructed the symbol, overlaying copies of it to create beautiful abstract shapes where the solid portions overlap. As you open the folder, these shapes resolve into the actual ampersand which is fully revealed on the three-panel interior.

GHJ Folder animationThe effect is enhanced by the overall velvety matte aqueous coating which plays against the mirror-gloss finish of spot UV varnish. That high shine reveals the full ampersand as the abstract graphic elements merge. This coming together to create a powerful whole is, of course, the whole point. It’s a message that’s subtly alluded to by our visuals, and strongly stated in the text.

Kudos to our senior designer Kevin Consales for this beautiful concept, to ColorNet Press for the meticulous execution, and to Green Hasson Janks for the courage to try something powerfully different as an expression of their brand identity.

New FreeAssociates site

Come on down! We’ve launched our new and improved website today. And we’d love to share it with you.

We invite your comments and suggestions. Thanks for your interest, your support and your friendship. We can’t do this without you.

LightBulbHand

Serving clients with Fierce Love

Flaming HeartMichael Bungay Stanier is a business coach who puts out a tiny daily email that you can read in 30 seconds. It’s called Great Work Provocations. The e-blast starts my day with a challenge or a bit of encouragement, and I really enjoy it when it pops up in my In Box.

Today’s provocation was:

My goal is to serve people with Fierce Love.

Love, in that I want them to succeed thoroughly and utterly.

Fierce in that I won’t let my own fears and cowardice stop me in doing what it takes to help them get there.

How about you?

This concept of “Fierce Love” has been coming up a lot for me lately. As a marketer, as a designer, as a consultant, what do you do when  you see a stubborn client heading down a path that you know will undermine their goal? Do you fight, and risk being thought of as a prima donna? Do you comply, and risk the final product not working? Where’s that balance? Should it be balanced at all?

Work is a partnership, and hopefully it’s a loving one, full of shared goals and good intentions. But fear — of internal political pressures, detached decision makers who purposely stay apart from the process, frayed budgets, frayed nerves and looming deadlines — can undermine months of hard work and thoughtful problem-solving.

Bringing Fierce Love to the relationship seems to me to be the very best thing you can do for both your business partner and yourself. If the love provides direction, and the fierceness helps you get there, then Great Work is often the result.

Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear what you think.

Introducing the re-thought, re-targeted, re-designed AbilityFirst Magazine!

Newly redesigned AbilityFirst MagazineJust in time for Labor Day Weekend, meet the new AbilityFirst Magazine.

Two years ago we designed the publication as a semi-annual replacement for the Southern California-based non-profit’s annual report, and supplemented it with a second issue mid-year. We primarily targeted donors and corporate sponsors, so the distribution was narrow and the cost per issue was relatively high. It was well-received, but it always felt more like a corporate brochure than a “real” magazine.

A few months ago, AbilityFirst asked us to take another crack at it, to see if it could become more magazine-like and engage a broader audience. We were thrilled. We made the publication larger, suggested they incorporate their sponsors’ advertising, and energized the  pages graphically. My colleague Ted Bickford pushed to make it more dynamic. Our wonderful designer Anat Rodan was inspired to make it even more beautiful and lively. And our client AbilityFirst let us run with it, encouraging our efforts and championing the result.

The first issue is about to hit the streets, exposing to a wider and more diverse audience the amazing work AbilityFirst does with developmentally disabled kids and adults.

But guess what? You get a sneak peek at the newly transformed AbilityFirst Magazine right now.

Let me know what you think.