Monthly Archives: November 2015

The Brand By Any Means Necessary Chronicles

Volume One: What’s in a name?

It’s the question that always comes up on early sales calls: What do you do at Owen Jones? Our one line answer is this—we do whatever it takes. From a straight-up sales perspective for our agency, we’ve recognized for years that this line has a level of ambiguity to it that makes it hard for many a CMO to quickly reach for their company checkbook. That is, until they’re faced with a complex problem for which they can identify a desired outcome but not a direct path to get there.

If we can agree that everything at an organization has the potential to affect the internal and external brand experience, then it stands to reason that every brand-related project will come with many layers, tons of context, and a complex human and political landscape to navigate.

We do not fear ambiguity at Owen Jones. We are energized by it. We avoid assumptions purposefully.

We’ve built giant styrofoam carrots. We’ve made short films. We’ve done interior design. We’ve co-written mission-critical, company-wide letters for CEOs. And, yes, all the other stuff that you’d typically expect from a creative agency.

It’s often said that a smart business develops a good product or service, works out the most efficient means of creating it and then repeats the process. The Owen Jones take on that process is backwards:

We repeatedly figure it out. New. And for brand influential projects, it’s different every time.

Brand, we say, by any means necessary.

Here’s a recent example:

A few weeks ago, a multinational bio-tech firm came to us with a challenge: they’d expanded their campus facilities with a new building specifically designed to promote new styles of working and collaborating. They showed us the design. We agreed; very cool, very unique, especially for their type of organization. The success of the facility, we all felt, would be driven by how closely the employees embraced the design intent of the physical space.

Any infrastructure designed for human use and interaction requires a wayfinding system. In this case, you don’t start with the aesthetic design of the wayfinding system and then create the language that drives the naming conventions for that system.

Oh, you ask, so this was a naming project?

Well, sort of. The final output was to be a language and naming convention that supported the design intent of the new space. But the more important deliverable was increased employee engagement with that spatial design intent.

No, we did not create a naming structure for the space.

What we did (and will continue to do) is coach the employees on how to go about doing it themselves. Doing it themselves meant spending time considering the design intent of the space, which gives them ownership of their new work home—all done in the spirit of the new space: collaboratively, creatively and inspired.

Owen Jones’ ECD Peter Dean, ACD Tess Donohoe and Executive Producer Kate Grenadier led the session last week. We can’t show you the client’s proprietary information, but we can show you the agenda. It set the stage for a day-long workshop that was part theory, part how-to, part intellectual stimulation and all Owen Jones.