Tuesday, November 30, 2010


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Sunday, November 14, 2010

On the Explosion of Well-Meaning Advice

I'm normally a happy guy. I love people. I laugh a lot. 

Perhaps it's my advancing decrepitude that prevails when it comes to explaining my grumpiness about certain things in life. Maybe I'm just getting happy about bitching. But truth is I am becoming increasingly, effervescently, joyously pissed about stuff. 

Top of my list has always included the tongue-wagging, well-meaning comments that begin with the words "you should" or "try to"...

Well-meaning advice has always been all around us in form of friends and relatives ("Dear Abby" always seemed to be very sufficient when things needed to be aired out of the community) and up to now we've learned to deal with this type of information with kindness and politeness (if not the occasional gnashing of teeth).

But now the web is rampant with advice. Oh joy. We now have self-professed life coaches, business consultants, health experts, attitude adjustment therapists, coach coaches and gurus galore.

Thanks to the internet, we don't have to depend on mere family, community friends and wide variety of news services for well-meaning personal advice. We now have access to a myriad of so-called 'experts' on various topics including: parenting, divorcing, business dealings, web SEO, web site optimization, sexual competency, social media, what to eat, what not to eat, what causes cancer, what didn't cause cancer in the past but now does, how to slim down, how to bulk up, how to reduce debt, handle debt, get out of debt, build a nest egg, how to Feng Shui your home, what facets to buy for your bathroom, how to interview someone, how to prepare for an interview, how to prepare a résumé to get an interview. We know, through these learned sites and blogs: what exercises to do, what exercises not to do, how to act, how not to act, what wine to drink with whatever you're eating, what movies you should watch, what people to watch, what food to eat, what food to watch, how to 'properly' handle bereavement, how to deal with homesickness or possible alcohol, psoriasis, relationship, insomnia, anger, or procrastination problems... I'm just touching the tip of the iceberg here.

I could go on.

But then I'd be giving advice.

Rant over...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Through The Observing Glass

"When you read Alice in Wonderland, you will find yourself trying to make sense of an illogical story. Alice, the key character, also experiences similar frustrations. But in the end, she emerges wiser with the learning involved in each situation. Everyone faces absurd choices in life. If you shrug off these choices as anomalies to your perfect life, you gain nothing. But if you try to learn from these absurdities, you will gain a lot of wisdom." Simran Khurana

Been doing a lot of thinking, researching and back-and-forth chit-chat recently about the effectiveness of stories: the age old method of learning, predating even Aristotle's discovery of logic. Wisdom, legend and truths mired in fables have been passed down from generation to generation even before the written word.

Today, modern cognitive scientists and behaviorists are finding a new effectiveness in a very old communication technique.

Neuroscience has concluded that the human mind works much, much better when a subject is broached through a story. They are apt to identify with the main character, get wrapped up in the overall subject matter and ultimately come to their own conclusions.

As cognitive scientist Mark Turner puts it, "Story is a basic principle of mind. Most of our experience, our knowledge and our thinking is organized as stories."

Minimizing inhibitions to communication. An age old issue. Whether it be in a formal presentation, writing an ad or a casual conversation, we all might take a clue to this age-old technique of erasing the confrontational nature of discussion by simply engaging our recipient, telling a story and giving our correspondents the ability to come to their own conclusions.

The Duchess: You're thinking about something, my dear, and that makes you forget to talk. I can't tell you just now what the moral of that is, but I shall remember it in a bit.
Alice: Perhaps it hasn't one.
The Duchess: Tut, tut, child! Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Weekend Mystery of the Missing Socks

The age old phenomena. Missing socks syndrome. We search laundry baskets, closets, around the washer and dryer, in the fridge, under the dog's bed... Many have tried to solve or explain the quandary. No one seems to have the definitive answer but some have some views.

Survivalists contend that socks are the 84th thing to go missing after the world as we know it ends (1st are generators). Interesting certainly, but I think that's a topic for a whole new post.

Missing "single" socks. Gone after an innocent exercise in washing. There are those who claim that the dryer is a harvester of alien intelligence, that aliens are amongst us and are curious as to the use of such objects and take samples in order to study them. Being superior beings (without sock knowledge) they are selective in their sampling and that would explain why the remaining sock is always the left one.

Moralists would explain that socks become dirty over time and because they are trapped in a life of sin and depravity, devoid of morals, they deserve to 'disappear'.

And, my favourite, that there is a Sock Ring, a criminal entity who captivate wayward socks for nefarious purposes. Perhaps to make them do their evil deeds.

Finally, we have those who propose that there is a quantum mechanics reason behind it all:

"The first modern attempt to explain the fundamental questions of laundry involved the decay theory. The decay theory states that the quantity of socks in a load can be expressed as a decreasing exponential function of time which is analogous to radioactive decay (see equation 1).

Nt =N0*exp(-pt) (1)"

I don't get that one but maybe you will. If so please explain to me. You have my email...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Rebranding Process... Back To Business

My life for the past while has largely been taken up in this rebranding project. What an adventure! The above is where the client started off (their old identity) and below is where things are heading...

A ton of research and many details have led to where we're at now. Let me give you an overview of the story.

The challenge is to position this community credit union in the marketplace as a state-of-the-art alternative, supporting it's traditional client base while positioning itself for new business. In examining alternative banking experiences, the major differentiation was clear that this client is a local entity, centered on the community and, as a credit union is a caring banking experience where the members are the owners. In short, this is a beneficial banking experience (without a head office in a distant city) where people know you by name and not just as an account number: with competitive rates and superior customer service.

Above are preliminary layouts for a full page ad, web home page and web banner. These are used to demonstrate how the new identity can be portrayed in concept layouts and how the benefits can be incorporated into a call to action.

Additional collateral for the presentation include stationery, signage and billboard/bus shelter advertising. But this will give you an idea as to direction.

Corporate rebranding is a long, involved process that takes into account not only a logo and tag line but a look at how the total communications package strategically focuses on benefits - consistently across all media over the long term... and it takes months if not years to fully integrate itself into the public consciousness. This is just a start.

Would love to hear your feedback on the approach!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Pie Story

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