Tuesday, November 24, 2015

150 Years at Shaw University

Kudos to Shaw University, the US's first historically black college, on its upcoming 150th anniversary. Shaw has obviously put time and thought into a far-reaching campaign. Business anniversary tip: These key elements, highlighted on a dedicated section of Shaw's  website, are worth emulating:
  • Timeline with good photos and visuals
  • Invitation to alums and friends to Share Your Story
  • Events such as a 150 Voices concert, Bear Witness gathering, Founders' Convocation, and gala dinner dance  
  • Blount Street Mural Project in the surrounding community
  • Invitation to donate--straightforward, well-written--a must for nonprofits
The only thing that may be missing is a print component. Is there a book or publication to mark this momentous landmark? I'm especially curious because Shaw has been open to all races, creeds, and genders from Day One, a most unusual attribute for a college founded in 1865. (The photo below shows the class of 1907. My own alma mater, Rutgers College, was founded in 1766 but did not admit women until 1972.) Shaw alums include New York State's first black legislator, Edward A. Johnson (class of 1891), pioneering pilot and flight instructor Ida Van Smith (class of 1939), and Angie Brooks, president of the UN General Assembly (class of 1950). 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How Authentic Is Your Brand?

Consumers say they want 'authentic' items and brands, but what does that mean? Corporate  storytelling plays a big part in backing up those words. The New York Times makes this point: "You could argue that these stories are a reaction against goods delivered by container from China, to be bought at Walmart." http://nyti.ms/1BdFGfA.  

In the bracingly sardonic style that The Economist musters so well, a November 14, 2015 article by Schumpeter states: "Shoppers at Whole Foods can peruse scintillating biographies of the chickens they are about to casserole . . . . authenticity is far easier to pull off when your product has some real-world qualities that its competitors lack. The most striking recent example is that of America's craft beers." http://econ.st/1Oe5LTc (Illustration copyright 2015 Brett Ryder; it appears with the The Economist piece.)

Your brand storytelling develops authentic muscle when it's based on your corporate history.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Stay Tooned for King Features' 100th Anniversary Gift

On Sunday, November 15, King Features Syndicate will celebrate its company anniversary with a fun freebie for US newspaper readers: a 16-page insert featuring KFS strips from Krazy Kat and Popeye to Flash Gordon, Beetle Bailey, Blondie and Dagwood (my personal favorite), Prince Valiant, and dozens more. Business anniversary tip: Could your organization do the equivalent, using its own legacy images and distribution system? 

Better yet, King Features also commissioned a substantial anniversary book, shown above. 

Mainstream cartoons in newspapers have gotten a bit soft in the past decade, but great stuff can still be found in the monthly Funny Times and elsewhere. And, of course, artists/writers such as Alison Bechdel have transformed the genre. Cartoonists with a bite are among the undersung heroes of American culture.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

50 Years of Space History in 20 Pages

While space travel isn't my favorite subject, I'm nonetheless impressed with this 20-page publication covering 50 years of what's now known as the Neil Armstrong Flight Center. It came to our attention as a fellow winner of an 2015 APEX Award. The cover is a bit busy and hard to read, but the interior is organized magazine-style. Business anniversary tip: Test your cover for readability at small sizes.

Per the APEX Awards judges' review: "This special issue, focused entirely on the 50 year history of the Neil Armstrong Flight Research Center, carries a lot of appeal. Interesting spreads, dramatic, well-chosen photos, in-depth captions — and writers and editors who know how to convey often complex technical and engineering subject matter in a very interesting and engaging way — make it a keeper." 

See the whole publication here: Flight Loads Lab at 50. Congrats to creators Jay Levine, X-Press Editor and Christian Gelzer, NASA Armstrong Historian, Jacobs Technology/NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA