Saturday, April 25, 2009

Iberoamerican Design Exhibition

If you're into design and are around Madrid, it's worth visiting the Design Exhibition at Madrid's Matadero. The exhibit features design flair from Spain and Latin America: advertising campaigns, fashion, posters, brand identities and more. Here's a short review.

Brand identity:
Fundación Lil
ian Thuram

Mario Eskenazi, Mexico

Diego Feijóo, Spain

"Solo hay una raza, la humana, hasta que todos lo aprendamos"

The vision and values of the former French World Cup winner's Lilian Thuram Foundation are so strongly integrated to the visual identity, that they need little further introductions.

It's worth paying a visit to the foundation's web site — check out how the various components of the visual identity (names from different countries on top of silhouette faces of all shapes) come together in the form of an introductory animation. Note also how the visual identity plays out on different segments of the site too.

Poster design:

Immigration is an issue that raises strong feelings in Spain. Most of the immigrants come in search of a better life across the Gibraltar from northern Africa. Depending on your point of view they're either "welcome" or "unwelcome".

Elman Padilla, Honduras

Poster design:
Carson in Panama

For the typography buffs out there, here's a little treat for you from a well-known surfer-turned-designer.

David Carson, USA

Poster design:

"Sin amor, no hay revolución"
is a famous quote from Che Guevara decorating this poster.

David Criado, Bolivia

Saturday, April 18, 2009

2009: The European Year of Creativity & Innovation

"The European Year of Creativity and Innovation aims to raise awareness of the importance of creativity and innovation for personal, social and economic development; to disseminate good practices; to stimulate education and research, and to promote policy debate on related issues. During the year there are many seminars held related to the topic at the European Parliament."

Finntastico got the chance to take part in one such seminar at the EU Parliament in Brussels. The seminar, Imagine. Create. Innovate. was organized by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) Hannu Takkula, Finland and Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, Germany.

Among the the speakers were Tuula Teeri, president of the new Aalto University, Charles Hampden-Turner, a renowned scholar and consultant on culture, creativity and innovation as well as the author of the best-selling book Riding the Waves of Culture, Vesa Kangaslahti, Assistant Professor at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University and Liisa Välikangas, Professor of Innovation Management at Helsinki School of Economics.

Q: How many blondes does it take
to change a light bulb?

The afternoon seminar was extremely stimulating as the title of the seminar already promised. Many ideas and thoughts were floated about ranging from how humour can be used to stimulate creativity to the way the current economic crisis should be seen as an opportunity to innovate.

According to Liisa Välikangas, who focused on discussing the relationship between humour and creativity, the best metric of innovation was whether "you laugh together". She went on to point out how British Airways was a company that took its humour particularly seriously, referring to the appointment of Paul Birch as a "Corporate Jester".

The logic for the argument, she went on to proclaim, was that the best way to change the mindset and encourage some lateral thinking was to simply "crack a joke". Laughter takes us by surprise and that's when innovative breakthroughs can be achieved.

The Finns might be onto something.
But no, it's not Nokia this time...

Cross-functional teams have long featured in the academic discourse on creativity. But as Hampden-Turner pointed out, universities have traditionally done the very opposite: different fields of knowledge have been divided into different departments.

Tuula Teeri gave an example of a venture that breaks the mould—the new Finnish Aalto University. The University, named after the internationally renowned architect-turned-businessman Alvar Aalto, is a merger between the Helsinki School of Economics, the University of Art and Design Helsinki and the Helsinki University of Technology.

Currently branded as the University ”where the science and art meet technology and business”, Aalto University is one of its kind and definately worth checking out in case you're in the search for a Uni where to do that Masters you've long been thinking about.

“It is not the strongest of species
that survives, nor the most intelligent,
but the most responsive to change”

Charles Darwin

While debating the many ways we can become more creative, many of the presenters also noted how factors out of everyone's control often stimulate innovation: people get creative when they have no alternative.

By no surprise, the prevalent economic crisis often featured in the seminar. Hampden-Turner and Kangaslahti mentioned the example of the US car industry and how it is under pressure to innovate for the first time in many decades.

Those were the highlights of what was a very fruitful seminar. If only the MEP's had time to reflect and sit down for more than 15 minutes at a time...

A slide from Hampden-Turner's and Kangaslahti's presentation

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why do nonprofits need branding?

You might not think about it, but your not-for-profit organization is indeed a brand. If you would like to be succesful, here's why we feel it's about time you started thinking about your organization as one.

What is a brand?

Most not-for-profits are reluctant to think about themselves as 'brands'. And if they do, the tendency is to see it being the name, slogan, logo, font or colour. But those are just some of the visual cues of it that meet the eye.

So lets first take a step back and try to get to grips with the concept of a brand to fully appreciate why it's so important.

What does it then consist of?

You could think about it this way. The name, logo, font, colours and images are like the tip of the iceberg and should reflect what lies underneath: what unites your members or your volunteers, what makes you special, what makes you valued, and what do people actually experience when they use your brand.

Internally branding is a way of uniting your board, staff, volunteers and members behind the same cause – your values, vision and purpose. At its best your brand is a guiding organizational principle that steers your not-for-profit and helps you become more effective and innovative.

Externally your brand is a marketing tool that, if articulated and designed appropriately, evokes the desired feelings in your audience, helps you raise your profile, and create trust in the minds' of your donors. But for your brand to be effective, you obviously have to be able to deliver on your promises. Hence the focus should be on getting the internal brand right first.

Why it's the time to get serious about it

Whether you like it or not, your not-for-profit is a brand. But the question is, are you effectively branded? Most not-for-profits involve enthusiastic and dedicated people, but is the brand explaining to the outside world what can be experienced as part of it?

There has been a huge increase in the number of charities and other types of organizations going after a limited pool of funds, members and volunteers. However, many not-for-profits are struggling to define and differentiate themselves in an increasingly homogenous market. As the economic crisis only deepens, the pressure is on the not-for-profits for becoming more creative and innovative in order to survive the challenges ahead.

But long before the latest global financial crisis, the not-for-profit sector has been shaken by some big changes. While many not-for-profit organizations have grown reliant on government funding, most governments have slowly started to shift the responsibility of financing them to the private sector in an overall attempt to encourage social responsibility.

The corporate donors, however, are much more business-like in choosing the not-for-profit organizations to collaborate with. They understand that a well defined and consistent brand is a sign of reliability and efficiency. Not just that, but they are keen to support not-for-profits with brand recognition.

To attract members, volunteers and funding in this new era, today’s charitable organizations need to be able to articulate their values, vision and purpose with clarity and communicate these effectively to the various audiences in a unique, exciting and consistent manner.

Although branding has been traditionally perceived going against the ethos of most not-for-profit organizations; it nevertheless is the art form which enables today’s charities to respond to the changing world around us and become more innovative and effective.