The Designer’s Notebook

Building Community – Olympic Style


Creative Marketing

The recent Vancouver 2010 Olympics was quite a ride for just about anyone Canadian. We’ve seen an Olympic result that is record setting and hard not to be proud of. We indeed owned the podium. Canadians banded together in a way I’ve seldom experienced – The most notable example of this is the absolute avalache of “Canada” branded apparel appeared on every street corner, office lunch room and crowd shot on TV. I’d like to see the margins that the Bay gained for the last month. The pandemonium at the local Bay store was astounding. I’m pretty sure I got the last zip-hoodie in Red Deer and have been offered money in the street for it.

There is some incredible lessons to learn from the 2010 Canadian Olympic experience. We want to belong – to a nation, a team a sport – to something that inspires us, even as customer of a great company.

So what does that have to do with Graphic Design in central Alberta? A lot when you really get into it. Marketing is becoming more and more “social”, not just the tech kind with tweets and diggs and flickrs, but people want human contact. Let’s think this through:

  • The Bandwagon feels good. It’s better than walking by yourself. Some of the greatest defining moments happen when people act together. Most of these in Canada relate to hockey, but as a culture we are a bunch of gee-whilikers overly polite people – who happen to become ferocious animals in the arena. Paul Henderson’s goal against the Soviets still resonates close to FORTY years later. As a people, Canada stuck it to the Reds, it was OUR goal.
  • People attach themselves and sometimes their personal identities to “their” brands like Nike and The Gap – so they can piggyback on the performance or urban chic of the brands. Do you have the same pants as me? Good we can hang out…
  • The latest “Fad” ad during the superbowl has the power to change everyday language. What greater impact can you imagine for a 30 second spot than having your hookline integrated into modern slang? Think about “Where’s the beef?” or “Wassap?” These were simple ads, yet they will still impact people today if you merely say the phrase. (F)ads have the ability to become symbols of community.

But what does that do for  us peasants here in Red Deer?

When buying drywall there last winter I noted that Consolidated Gypsum is absolutely awash in branded swag. Every drywaller in Central Alberta who shops there has a complete “CG” wardrobe. Need notepads? Got ’em? Hats? Yep! Tools? Lots! Branded Underwear? Maybe not so much, but I bet they’d get it for you if you asked.

They have created an army of people wearing their hats and using their tools that sell for them. It’s not as exciting as the Gold medal Hockey game that finished a couple hours ago, but I reckon it’s pretty exciting for the boss at Consolidated Gypsum. It’s a perfect example of creating a community where you are at.

That’s what all companies should be trying to do.To me that’s “social” – building your own “community”

A final word on the Olympics

Aside from the roaring crowds adorned in red for two weeks in a symbol of patriotism rarely seen, the opening and closing ceremonies did something amazing. At first blush, I was a little turned off by them. But then I realized what they had done. They captured the collective personality of Canadians – by telling stories. Some have fireworks, some are powerfully industrial. Canadians are storytellers and comedians. A pageant that stuck me as so odd at first almost brought me to tears. It truly made me feel Canadian.

Let’s get started!

We’d love to talk with you about your company and where you want to take it.