Apex of the litany of transcribed forms of written thought - this is "A," apotheosis of origins, but one of the most ancient characters, in form and symbol. In those times, and referenced to now, "A" is apogee. "A" is ox.
"A" is the most powerful character, the most imbued with substance, at the head of all priorities as the ox - hammered from the bronze age, among the Semitic clans and scratched in the early marks of the Egyptians, northward to the Phoenicians, westward to Crete and Greece, on to Rome, through the Etruscan tribes.
"A": rendered with the inverted head, horns pointed skyward; "A" / Ox is survival. Ox is food, engaging the soil and many other utile expressions to link this marking to living. And, at the center of myth, the ox is the solar bearer, the carrier of the sun, the planter of heavenly stars, the stalwart bearer of wisdom. But interesting it is, that in all, this single triangular and crossed gesticulation, we know merely as the beginning of our alphabet, initiates the lineage of 5,000 years to the very center of survival, coupled with mythic mystery. "A," apex, the alpha and aleph of opening, "A" = alive.
Can a brand be bipartisan? In the spirit of getting along, let's point our fingers back at ourselves and attempt to find common ground. Between heart and hype, truth and theory, products we need to deliver and those we just want to create, there is a thread that weaves us together, a need or desire that unites us as a company of people, a market of customers.
So, let's bring sales and marketing to the table and make them shake hands. After all, price and function, image and identity all have their place. And let's get the product development and customer support teams in on the fun. The product can have all the bells and whistles and actually work too! It just may be that the most successful brands are those that can reach across party lines to deliver solutions that benefit us all.
Communication and consensus. One of the key roles of an Account Director is to facilitate communication between the client team and the design team, and then back to the client team and, well you get it. It's a continual communication chain. Keeping the lines of communication flowing freely helps to ensure that everyone is informed and on the same page when we are coordinating efforts for concept refinements, updating project schedules, managing budgets and so forth.
Communication is also essential for a team to arrive at a consensus of opinion. Girvin's strength is our ability to achieve alignment among key decision makers. We are adept at designing decision-making processes for executive teams and using facilitation skills to gain consensus on business objectives. This, in turn, helps our clients achieve the desired outcomes that the brand strategy and the creative design development activities must address. Our process is very collaborative and it is completely scalable, customized to fit the specific needs of our clients and their project initiatives.
And that brings us to another favorite word: cool.
Delilah DeMille, dynamic designer with deep décolletage, dainty derriere and delightful derring-do, dined on her Delmonico delicately deviled and distributed on Delftware. In Des Moines to do a deal, never deterred from delinquency or the daily double, Delilah deliberated the days doing. Dairymaids decry Division D's detergent design? Disastrous data - declining dividends! Delilah denounced dairymaid's description. "Do dairymaids deserve such devotion?" Desirous to delight Division D with de novo design, Delilah dallied with decorative drawings, delineated daffodils, developed dahlias. "Damn! Do it with a dodecahedron!" Delilah declared. Dilemma deciphered, Delilah deserved a decadent dacquoise. Delicious!
Day duo, Delilah discussed drawing upon dodecahedrons to defibrillate Division D's detergent design. Division D deduced dodecahedrons do delight dairymaids! Delilah, done with Division D, donned her deerstalker and double-timed to Delta's Dash 8 for departure. Day done, deserving distinction Delilah demanded a dacquiri.
"Energy is eternal delight" according to William Blake. I concur with this petite literary gem. Like so many things in life, you've got to have some to get some more. Even little doses of energy are contagious. And there are many ways to express it - enthusiasm, curiosity, interest, aptitude and even friendship. It spreads. It's viral.
Never fear, you don't need a flu shot for this one. And, the good news is there is no way to build up immunity. Catch it and you're likely to experience momentum and a stockpile of attractive results. Give it away freely and often. What you get back may surprise you.
Someone once said "If you can't have fun with a problem, you'll never solve it." We forget this simple principle as adults but children seem to have it all figured out. It is truly the secret of childhood. A child's "job" in the classroom, on the playground or in their bedroom is always, yes always, about fun first. It doesn't matter if it's a math problem or an origami fish puzzle, they really get nothing accomplished if it isn't any fun.
The business of design is fundamentally about problem solving and generally pretty grown up stuff. It can be serious and even weighty at times, but it's a mistake to believe that fun and serious are mutually exclusive notions. In fact, as this unattributed citation suggests, "we're at our best, the answers come faster, the solutions are sharper, when we remember that fun comes naturally." It's instinctive, already there, waiting to be had. So have fun with it.
Growing. I believe that the strength of any organization lies in its ability to grow. Not merely to grow in terms of size, revenues, scale of operations or groupings of offices, worldwide. But rather, I'm looking for and fascinated by organizations that are like organisms, which reflect their humanity and connectedness. Rather than machines, they are strings and weavings of humanness.
They start as a single cell - an idea of one - and grow to a confederacy of ideas, a culture of explorations, interacting and exchanging expressions÷and thereby growing. They might fall ill, as happens to all, but what happens in their attempts to get well? How do they go about it? Is it merely a wandering trial of cures? Or is it hardy and aggressive in its pursuit of health? Is it a contemplative observation or a scientifically administered biopsy?
The turnings and growth - from flourishing to foundering and out again to vigor - is a particularly interesting point of examination in the resilience and vitality of corporate culture. Authenticity and soul searching - meaningful examinings of honest intention, vision, dreams and values - will need to be absorbed as functioning aspects of this organic (organ-based) system. Soul and psychic movement drive change. Not merely more writing, but integrated nervous and cellular action.
With any passion, there is pain. With any pain, there is transformation (a necessary step beyond that plateau of experience). And, in it, growing pains. And in this growth, striding forward, the organism looks onwards - facing forward, not back...
"H" is for hunch. That gnawing sense of intuition. It itches at your nose. It hovers around your peripheral vision. Waiting for you to turn quick enough to catch a glimpse. Frank Capra said, "A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something." Despite all the analysis and data - sometimes it's best to go with your gut, make that great leap, and achieve something great.
Intuition. Ethereal in concept, yes. And, it's a palpable force that can light up a life. Some believe it's innate ability. Others contend it can be cultivated. While I can't answer that question, I can qualify my own relationship with its mystery and majesty.
For me, intuition is the gift of knowing in advance - sensing before you can see a picture clearly, hearing before the music starts and long after it stops. In a simple way, you can think of it as emotional muscle memory.
There are familiar physical, concrete examples of the same idea. Remember the feeling of having practiced a dance routine or any athletic skill over and over and over again to the point that you didn't have to think about it any more? It's like that. Your body knows when your mind is ready. Then the performance begins. You are fully present, in the moment. There is no consciousness of effort as you are in the flow.
And still many ignore the messages and lessons intuition offers. As with any capability, "use it or lose it" applies. I feel intuition is a gilded invitation to approach all things with the wisdom of experience and the open heart of a beginner.
"J" is for jargon. "Eliminate jargon," bids any professional style guide worth its weight. Don't we wish? Webster's includes a few choice definitions for jargon; the first, "confused-unintelligible language," the second, "the technical terminology or characteristic idioms of a trade or profession." Not necessarily mutually exclusive in my experience.
What's your take on the issue? At the risk of getting excessively granular, I have compiled a user-friendly list for your own perusal. Not all cutting-edge or even current but enough to generate buy-in for my targeted workplace manifesto. I invite you to remove this jargon from your word stock or, at most, employ judiciously in your daily dealings. CLICK HERE to add your favorites. And remember "The truth will set you free, but first it may thoroughly irritate you!"*
*Susan Scott, from Fierce Conversations
Let's kick ass. Feels good, doesn't it?! Admit it, there is a time and place for being aggressive, putting away the kid gloves and just going for it. Creaming the competition, excelling at the game, putting things in order. Firmly. Kicking the deadweight out, or upstairs if appropriate. And enjoying it.
Grin and bear it? No thanks! Let's get in there and kick some bootie! And when we've accomplished what no one thought we could, let's kick up our heels. Kick back and enjoy our successes. And here's the kicker: we can go back to being the accommodating nice guy and Miss Goody Two Shoes tomorrow.
L is for "link." You just clicked on one!
Consciously or subconsciously, links shape our experiences. On the Web, we make choices about which links we want to follow - to get more in-depth information, to see related topics, sometimes even to follow an interesting tangent!
With its perpendicular axes radiating from a single point, "L" as a capital letterform suggests both choice and relevance - two things that make the Web link such a powerful tool.
In a less literal sense, links make our experiences meaningful. "Oh, this reminds me of÷", "This relates to my÷", "I get it!" These are all reactions to "making the link."
We love discovering, defining and reinforcing links - enriching experiences for our audiences as well as ourselves.
To reach a market, you need a message. Something that gets above the mundane, that separates your target from the masses. At Girvin, we believe this message should be more than a statement of function and benefit. In fact, we believe your message should closely resemble a marvelously told story, told around the campfire that is your brand. Magical, memorable and masterful, the message is perhaps what matters most.
"N" is for new. Don't we all love something new? Something bright and shiny and untouched. So much of our effort is spent in the search for it...or at least, a twist on it. New experiences, new worlds, new sights, sounds and tastes. Will we ever run out of new? Design is all about the new: a fresh color, a created set of type, a concept plucked out of the air, a name imagined. Will our collective creative juices ever run dry? Never. For the great thing about humanity is our endearing self-centeredness and our ability to believe that our own creations are new by virtue of the fact that we created them.
"O" is physical. It's the open mouth. Its sound is what the mouth suggests. Make it, breathe and out it comes..."O!" Opening and exhalation, it is the sound of "Oooooooo." And it's been gestured to in further lustrations, mostly...sexual or complexly sensate. For in the "O" is an array of portals.
"O!"..the book. "O," the French character of lascivious intentions (and explorations). "O," the symbol of the Ring of the Gotterdammerung. "O," the Ringu of Japanese cinematic horror. And "O" is always about surprise - that overwhelming sensation of too much, too soon, too...."O!" And that's what we are looking for: "O!" That surprise of discovery and experience - too much sentience, too soon the quickening, too magnificent the envelopment. It's "O." In the endless circling, it's never-ending. The Ourbouros of captivation; it's a winding moebius strip, rolling forever. And you'll never forget it. It's engineered that way, imagination spread wide, in one grand "O" of revealing and unfettered expansion. Oh baby! "O": we love it...
Flashback to high school marketing class...the four "P"s of marketing? Product, price, placement and promotion. Professors told us if we mastered these elements, marketshare would be ours for the taking. Well, here's another "P" to add to the "mix" - personality. The personality of a brand speaks volumes to consumers. Is your brand fun and playful? Or is it professional and safe? What makes Geico insurance different from Allstate? It's not all about features and prices. Want to make a lasting impression with customers? Consider the fifth "P."
Questioning is one of those never-ending sagas for us. We never stop questioning the nature of what works, what's real, what's valuable. More than 12 years ago, one of our exploratory models for accelerated brand development was originated - we call it BrandQuest®. We had a Fortune 50 client, along with a grouping of Fortune 500 brands, launching a new technology in six months, trying to surprise (then galvanize) the high tech / RISC chip computing market. Except for the fact that this group, in a real manner of speaking, competed with each other.
So we had to bring them together to arrive at a positioning for the new chip and do it with everyone feeling good about it. Back then, the model for BrandQuest was based on a facilitated workshop of Girvin / client talent, pooling together mindstorming in a disciplined manner to achieve record results, in record time. Q.U.E.S.T. was abbreviated as:
Question: Ask the question of direction and goal.
Understand: Do your homework on the competition and the market - even the cultures of the clients. Know it all!
Explore: Create team workshops to think new ideas, define approach and establish personality and an aligned marketing plan.
Strategize: The best way to launch this inventive group thinking into the brand and market.
Tactics: Create the operations to do it!
In all that time, and with countless quest programs under our belt, it's still an experiment, still a question for how could it be better - and really - how could it be entirely customized to create something perfect for our client and their needs. It worked then. It's working now. And will continue to, because in our evolving need for speed and relevant content, questions never cease. To amaze...
Real. Real life. Reality. What an interesting time this is in the life cycle of entertainment. Admit it, if you own a television, you have been inexplicably drawn to watching at least one of an endless parade of unscripted dramas. Suddenly, ordinary people become infamous and elevated to celebrity status for simply "keeping it real." There is a certain appeal to watching reality television. The unpredictability of human nature makes for compelling entertainment. But, how real is it, really? Reality television shows are not shown in "real time." We're simply viewing what the producers and directors want us to see after they have assembled hours and hours of footage, or after they have created situations that require people to react before they have a chance to self-edit their words and actions. "Inspired by actual events" would be more accurate.
So, how do we keep it real at Girvin? First of all, we are passionate about getting to the core of the business proposition and identifying ways to connect with the target audience. Rather than observing, we roll up our proverbial sleeves and dig in. Part of being serious about our clients' success is not being afraid to take chances and risks. Whether it's developing new processes for uncovering the essence of brand or creating a full spectrum of design concepts, we understand that what our client's need is a reality check on what makes them different and unique - and real.
Shimmering. Sleek. Soulful. Seductive. These are all qualities a great story delivers. The form of the letter "S" is a perfect map for the very idea of storytelling. It all starts with an invitation, a beckoning call to come into the scene. That first stroke, the opening line, begins somewhere interesting and specific. It introduces the premise and takes you for a glorious ride around curves you can't see past, yet feel compelled to pursue with vigor and speed. Keep going. Don't stop seeking. Where? What now? And next?
Like any great piece of literature or live presentation, the writing process begins within. The idea precedes the action. The intent shows up before the script emerges. So it is with brands. Built from the inside-out, the best brand strategies come from the core of company culture. Not sound bites and carefully crafted campaign messages. I mean real content based on the values shared within and between communities that spill out in imaginative and meaningful ways to clients, customers and other constituents who have a reason to care. Those stories captivate. They draw people near. And keep them coming back for a lot more.
Try it. You might like it!
Time comes, time goes. In the passage of time, memories are stirred, quickened or relaxed. "T," the sound of Teth, in Hebrew, or Tau in Greek, is symbolic of the whole person, the standing figure - and, in the ancient rendering, the serpent is entwined in the circling of knowledge, as part of this vision. And in experience design, it is, in our work, reaching to the whole person, in the context of time and what is meaningfully retained that is valuable.
Any brand reaches the whole person, it stretches to the psyche, it captivates the emotion, it magnetizes the senses in their entirety. Brand, in its fire, is an enchantment; its warmth draws the story out, extends it to the listeners and their memories are concretized, in time. They are re-Minded. It's not merely a gesture of one touch, but multiple contacts and connections, linking deeper into memory, leaving mnemonic trails that linger.
And in this webbing, the person who experiences this integration is drawn back, anew. Again and again, in time. It's brand rhythm - a controlled beat - and we, in partnership, set the composition of the music.
From "U" to "Us" and back again. Our passion is about making things resonate for our clients. It is not about what we like or want, but about what is exactly right for each of you. We offer our Utmost. We are Unswerving in our pursuits. We strive for an Unique approach. We look for the Ultimate solution.
"U" is the shape of satisfaction. It is an enthusiastic grin. It's what we are here for: you.
"V" is the letter associated with two words fundamental to building a strong brand: Vision and Values. A vision statement is the articulation of the organization's desired future state. When it is clearly and thoughtfully defined, it provides inspiration for employees and serves as a beacon for the organization - ensuring everyone in the organization is working toward the same goal.
Values are the basic tenets of an organization and complement the articulated vision. Typically ingrained in the company's culture, values serve as the guiding principles of an organization and do not change over time. In combination with a mission statement that provides the organization with a day-to-day sense of purpose - vision, mission and values set the strategic direction for an organization.
The word "value" also has meaning for brand development from another perspective. Value is the raison d'etre for marketers. Every product and service is purchased based on the perceived value it provides. When we visit a store or buy a product, we believe that what is being offered is valuable to us in some way. Business leaders think of products and services in terms of "value propositions." As marketers then, we have an opportunity to have a richer dialogue with customers when we reach beyond features and functionality and speak to the value we bring.
Words. Light and political, provocative and lyrical. By themselves, in pairs, strung together to make complex ideas simple, easy, inspiring. How rewarding, to reach into someone's mind and say in just the right way what they meant to say, or wanted to say, or couldn't say! Deep down, our minds are already made up, and we're really just searching for the words to express those motivations, emotions and preferences. In just the right...what's the word?...eloquent, human, straight forward way.
As a mark, this is one that is among the easiest to make and signifies much in the vocabulary of symbols. To our trade of communicating, its meanings are deeper. In gentle openings of exploration: if one doesn't know how to read or write, it's a perfect gesture to signature. Make your mark here. And to being here, "X" marks the spot to treasure and hidden findings in any language and for cartographers of all levels. To obliterate: "X" it out. "X" is the ancient representation of two hands: one above the other, outstretched = 10.
Adding to these opening expressions, the symbolism of this character "X" was first epitomized in the latter part of the 1700s, as representing the "unknown quantity." In French documents of this time frame, "X" expressed emissaries who were..."unnamed." Still, there are deeper transparencies and layerings for us. "X" is planar, it's the cross-section of portals, both to its visual manifestation - one stroke over the other articulating axis - and beyond to what it can mean in showing the mark of the intersection.
For thousands of years, the crossroad has been a place of supernatural power. Here, guardians stand. Spirits roam. Hung men hang. Edicts are posted. Warnings erected, distances outlined, directions pointed. Conceptually, it is the portal of all portals, through planes of experience. And herein is the point of relevance for us. The "X" makes concrete the practice of bringing together disparate points - the inbound / outbound roads - to a touchpoint of unity÷that mysterious place of contact in which our clients intersect with relationships of commerce (etymologically, deriving from the same root of communications and community), to express magic. And imagination. That's where we work. At that portal...
""Y?" Because we like you. We like to work for you, to help you build your business, the projected value of what you do, what you offer. We invest in our connection, our relationships to you and your teams. Our work is all about relationships - building ours to you, yours to others. Creating tools that reach and interconnect - it's the place we play. We've had the pleasure of connecting one to one, one to one hundred. One group to one billion. Our relationships, in their inherent construction and cultivation, are about building and extending the circle of one to another, to another, in creating meaningful community. And in community, there is commerce. We like it like that.
Not surprisingly, "Z" was the last addition to the alphabet we now use. It was the seventh letter of the Semitic alphabet, but was dropped by the Romans since the sound was not used in the Latin language. If not for a few stray Greek words that crept into the Roman language after they conquered Greece, the "Z" may have fallen into oblivion. But it survived and has gone on to express some of the highest levels of energy and aspiration.
From this letter we have such delights as zest, zeal, zany and zoom. The zebra is the most outlandishly dressed creature on the planet. Zucchini grows with abandon in backyard gardens. And "Zounds!" is ever an expression of amazement and joy.
As a letterform, it is elegant. As a sound, it is playful. This last letter of our alphabet is at once the beginning and the end. We all start with zero and build from there. The zenith is the highest point. And zeta signifies the finish - the completion.