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OrgCentric Formed to Serve Nonprofit Organizations

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

I rarely use this Blog to make personal or professional announcements, but I am so proud and excited by this news that I’ll make an exception. As of today, I’ll be a principal in a new venture called OrgCentric, a company created exclusively to serve nonprofit organizations and deliver expertise across three inter-related disciplines – strategy, branding, and communications. More information about OrgCentric can be found at the OrgCentric website.

With offices in Washington, DC and New York City, OrgCentric will be a partnership of two respected and accomplished firms – IridiumGroup and McGill + Partners – that have served more than 200 leading nonprofit organizations and commercial companies. Through OrgCentric, the collective experience, creative energy, capabilities, and resources of the two parent firms will be focused on delivering innovative, best-practices solutions to meet the strategic, branding and marketing, and communications challenges of member organizations, associations, foundations, charities, and institutions.

Principals of OrgCentric are: Frank McGill, Chief Strategy Officer; Dwayne Flinchum, Chief Branding Officer; and Gary Dolzall, Chief Communications Officer. A team of 13 professionals with expertise in strategic planning, branding and visual identity, communications and messaging solutions, media (digital, social, mobile, print, and event) channel integration and monetization, Web and interactive design, and marketing systems will provide a valuable and highly tangible resource for the nonprofit community.

“Our firms, working collaboratively, have had the privilege of effectively serving a wide range of leading nonprofit and member organizations,” said McGill, “and the formation of OrgCentric demonstrates a further commitment to and, as our new name conveys, a singular focus on assisting and serving nonprofit organizations.”

OrgCentric’s three aligned and inter-related disciplines are:

  • Strategic Planning: OrgCentric helps organizations develop an energetic vision; define organizational missions, goals, and objectives; map a scalable approach for tactical implementation; and establish metrics to measure success.
  • Branding and Visual Identity: OrgCentric brings brand attributes, messaging, visual identity, and marketing elements into alignment to demonstrate the values, brand promise, and tangible benefits of an organization.
  • Communications: Through communications audit, strategy development, and integration of channel and platforms, OrgCentric helps optimize member and constituent engagement, increase advocacy and policy impact, and enhance communications and media contribution to non-dues revenue.

 

I invite anyone who would like to learn more to email, call or even make plans to meet. Follow us @orgcentric and like us on Facebook. I’m enthusiastic and eager to continue my work on behalf of nonprofit organizations, to ensure that their strategic plans, brands and communications are relevant and best-practice applications.

 

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Reinventing the Media Experience Through Advances in Technology

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Jean-Marie Hullot

The New York Times has a very capable and impressive coverage of the media industry through reporters like David Carr, Stuart Elliott, and David Pogue. The April 24 blog post by Nick Wingfield makes an excellent point: The user experience in media, especially apps, is shifting dramatically and quickly due to continued advancements in technology.

He cites Jean-Marie Hullot, a computer scientist and a longtime associate of Steve Jobs at Apple and NeXT, who is blending genres with his company, Fotopedia. One of the apps features a coffee table-like experience and includes more than 3,000 breathtaking images of American National Parks. But this app also aims to encourage travel and facilitates planning for the reader. It allows users to see a map for location and compose a travel itinerary using the dramatic photos of glaciers, geysers, waterfalls and other natural wonders. The company does not charge for the apps, but rather hopes to generate revenues based on advertising.

Steve Jobs introduced the iPad in 2010. Immediately, Hullot chose to quickly shift from his original plan of building an online photo encyclopedia to creating iPad apps. “I said, O.K., we have our consumer story,” Mr. Hullot recalled. “When it comes to doing photo-books for a new generation, I said we have to own this space.”

I love that Hullot has interlaced the commercial aspect with the “wishbook” aspect of media. Traditional media companies recognized long ago that this combination was the desired end game, but could not find a way to navigate out of the conventional editorial-sponsored-by-advertising model. Now, that idea is shape shifting into a complete user- and buyer-focused model. See the image; desire the product; and find easy, integrated ways to purchase the product!

Interactivity is the name of the game — but it’s not to be confused with digital. These new apps are highly interactive, encouraging a unique experience between the participant and the product.

It’s a fascinating outcome that the iPad has allowed developers to create hybrid apps that don’t fit neatly into one genre. Today, iPad books, can experiment with sound and video or even include games to add to the user experience. Storybooks for children have seen the earliest, most dramatic adoption of these new inventions.

Even games like karaoke are transformed, as innovative apps take advantage of new opportunities never before afforded to media companies. Today, there are apps that can take notes, make recordings, translate languages, monitor and manage household items like groceries, and even assist with gardening.

As technology continues to evolve, we’ll soon turn on our computers — be it mobile device or tablet — to watch a news broadcast and decide we want to purchase the necktie or shoes of the anchor — and actually be able to easily do it.

Former Apple Executive Blends Genres With iPad

TrendHunter: 13 Innovative iPad Apps

 

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Crazy Mad Nostalgia

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

cover mad men eraIt’s almost impossible for many of us to think about chauvinistic advertising of the 1950’s and 1960’s and not think of Don Draper and Mad Men. Taschen has just released a two-volume showcase, ‘Mid-Century Ads: Advertising From the “Mad Men” Era’ (Taschen, 720 pages, $59.99) Taschen.com In recent years, we don’t seem to be able to get enough of the culture. To some degree it is certainly due to a fascination with the show, which has stirred a kind of resurgent interest in the post WWII days of high living, promise, glamour, and a sense of nationalism. It’s almost as if an entire nation moved into a collective consciousness for the first time, likely through the advances in communications, specifically television at the time.

The print ads that were curated for this massive two-volume book are a testament to that zeitgeist, a compelling snapshot of an era where marketing communications began to define and represent the mores of the day. And it reminds us of how much our culture has changed, what is acceptable, and what isn’t. Suffice to say, it’s been written about ad nauseam, so I’ll post some of these visual treats which pair clever, albeit socially inappropriate images and copy.
Taschen’s Shows Off The Best of Mid-Century Advertisements Photo-Op: Ad Infinitum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Big Data, New Visual Opportunities: The Age of Information Arts

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Communication Manifested as Tangible Image: Aaron Koblin’s New York Talk Exchange illustrates real time text and internet data flowing outward to other cities.

I was recently speaking with an accomplished commercial photographer about how the industry has changed. The market for corporate and editorial photography has been commoditized — as almost everything has been — by technology. On top of everything, agencies like Corbis and Getty have been purchasing whole catalogs and smaller photo agencies over the past decade. As they have aggregated into Goliath holding companies, we have witnessed firsthand how our power to negotiate on behalf of the client was compromised. They demand payment on their own terms and set their own pricing; they even have discovered new revenue streams from surcharge fees to the small, independent photographers whose images they represent. It’s been so frustrating that at times I considered writing to local Congressmen and asking for an inquiry into antitrust violations.

One of our designers recently found a new agency, Image Brief (imagebrief.com), which takes a different approach. Seeking to bypass traditional agencies, this company inverts the process, so instead of developing a website resource with millions of images and allowing users to search, they allow an agency or anyone who creates an account to post a need by subject matter. Photographers all over the world can monitor the boards and then send their submissions to that contact.

In my 28 years, imagery has evolved dramatically. Illustration was once a viable, relevant way to communicate ideas visually. I recall sitting at lunches and dinner parties at the Society of Illustrators, a venerable institution once frequented by members such as Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parrish, Frederic Remington, and James Montgomery Flagg. Mark Twain and Andrew Carnegie were among the luminaries attending as guests during the golden age of illustration.

Society of Illustrators

By the early 1990’s, it was apparent that photography was considered a more appropriate, immediate and cost-effective way to represent content in corporate marketing as well as traditional editorial products. Many of the products that IridiumGroup created in those early years relied heavily on photography, which had a feeling of urgency and authenticity. Illustration began to seem too “poetic” and required too much thoughtful interpretation for commercial marketing products.

In recent years, video has dominated branded literature and increasingly traditional editorial properties like The New York Times online. That trend will continue to follow an ever-increasing bandwidth, but also threatens to lose its relevance simply because of the incredible amount of message/content clutter. I recall a magazine editor asking me if I thought they should publish cartoons; the answer was simple: If they are appropriate to the audience, yes — but only if they are also good. In coming years, the same will hold true for video.

Most recently, I’ve witnessed the resurgence of information graphics as entry points to engage the reader and add understanding to the content. We’ve been applying various styles and techniques to reflect the brand identity systems of various clients, and the approach has been well received. Art for the sake of art can be compelling and inspirational, but as it turns out, creative art concepts that also have important referential meaning can help communicate critical data.

Images are becoming sources of information more than ever before, and they’re expected to perform at a higher level. A client-side manager at a large private foundation recently asked for an unexpected, unusual approach: Create information graphics that tell a story, a narrative — ones which incorporate no data points whatsoever. It’s a fresh perspective. In fact, why not let an information graphic take the place of opening art altogether? The evolution seems clear: Hook the reader faster; be more efficient and require less space; be less about emotion or feeling, but rather embed factual intelligence into the art. Ultimately, after all, isn’t that our jobs as visual communicators — to create understanding out of information?

This weekend, The Wall Street Journal had a great article about infographics as contemporary art:

Making Data Beautiful

We read all the time about the proliferation of demographic data from social media, a phenomenon termed “Big Data.” We now live in the era of big data, and so isn’t it appropriate that art would reflect that overwhelming aggregation of facts?

Humans process information 17 times faster using sight than other senses, according to one Danish physicist, as reported in The Wall Street Journal. People like Aaron Koblin, a data-driven digital artist, are reinventing the medium. He studies everything from cable-box data to text message patterns and creates a “design story” from the raw data, distilling information into visual expressions. “You can turn data into rhythms,” says Mr. Koblin, whose work is in MOMA. “CNBC has a constant rhythm, really local. But CNN is really event-driven—and you get these crazy spikes.” On text message art, he shared more. “You really understand a lot about cities from flows, when people are awake and doing what things at what locations,” says Mr. Koblin. “And you can say, people in Brooklyn tend to get up later than people in Manhattan.”

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DWAYNE FLINCHUM
Founder & President,
IridiumGroup Inc.

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