Our process helps uncover issues and articulate values. Successful organizations look the way they sound. They use scalable systems of foundational language and design to enable success. We help build these transformational systems. Our work is driven by values and creativity.
Work isn’t just about product. It’s about how you do it. And just as we strive to make good stuff, we are interested in being a better company. We’re proud to be a Certified B Corporation®, among the over 2,200 leaders of the global movement of people using business as a force for good. Additionally, we are putting our work in a global context by using the United Nations SDGs as our guidepost.
Adam bought a perfectly good 20-year-old Volvo. He took it mostly apart. He spent three times its value upgrading parts. He watched endless hours of YouTube figuring out how to put it back together again. He intended to drive it to Alaska and back. The car made it to Alberta (should have replaced the transmission, too). Adam left it in a parking lot and took off in a rental. Here is what we learn: 1. The journey to the journey is more valuable than the journey itself. 2. Don’t get too attached to your stuff, it all breaks down. 3. Some people can learn to do any damn thing.
Responsibilities: Creative Direction, Identity Design, Brand Strategy, Naming, Photography, Website Design, User Experience
She turns the corner, new shoes hitting the sidewalk in perfect rhythm. She straightens her blazer and looks up. Chin high. A picture of poise. “There She Goes” plays quietly from her Discman, echoing her confident early-summer buoyancy. You open the front door, feeling a little unkempt. You reach for a handshake. She extends a teenaged hand holding a business card: Anne Dean. Founder and president. Babysitters club. You exhale, “thank god, come in.”
Responsibilities: Naming, Copywriting, Research, Brand Strategy
Austin is at a rest stop in North Dakota, deeply disheveled. He’s been listening to Rumi on audiotape for three days straight. He is standing next to the restroom blankly reading the visitor’s information under the flickering bulb: “moose are generally slow-moving and sedentary unless startled. At which time they can move quickly, running up to 35 mph.” Still blank, he turns (a little startled) to see an actual moose snuffing the trash a few feet away. The moose notices him. Austin’s instincts kick in. His right hand forms a variant of the “hang loose” sign. He stares deeply into the eyes of the animal, arm extended, hand twisting slightly. A vague, didgeridoo sound comes from his throat. While his eyes are those of the mystic, the rest of him is full Crocodile Dundee. The moose stands transfixed for a moment before wandering back into the prairie, occasionally stopping for a tuft of grass.
Responsibilities: Copywriting, Research, Naming, Website Content, Brand Strategy
It is 1995. Even Flow is playing on the garage radio. It is 4:30 AM, still dark. I grab a weedeater and spare spool of line. The groundskeeper hops in the Gator cursing. I sit down next to him, and he peels out in reverse. We tear across the back nine as he points and hollers. He jerks the wheel remembering something. Still mostly asleep, I slide across the bench seat and out onto the wet green. Once I came to a stop, I remember thinking, “man, I gotta get a different job.”
Responsibilities: Naming, Sustainability, Copywriting, Business Development, Research, Brand Strategy
Close your eyes. It is 1999. You are in a coffee shop. A record store. A guitar shop. You have on a flannel shirt. Levi’s. You are contemplating dying your hair fuschia. You have just taken a gig as an extra on High Fidelity. It is the culmination of everything. It is perfect. You don’t even have to shave. You imagine yourself having a couple Rolling Rocks with John Cusack. Maybe even Joan. Now, open your eyes. You are Chris Jackson. You are a designer, a father. Same shirt. Same jeans. But the Cusacks are just a memory.
Responsibilities: Creative Direction, Identity Design, Brand Strategy, Naming, Research
In grade school, Emily told you about the “kick me” sticky note someone had slapped on your back. When you gave yourself bangs in high school, your friends assured you they didn’t look so bad. Emily told you the truth: they’ll grow back. Coming from someone else, this candor might have been bewildering. But Emily isn’t someone else. Because when you bring your Italian beau home for Christmas after a semester abroad and Emily tells you she likes him, you’ll know for certain that you’ve made the right choice.
Responsibilities: Human Resources, Account Management, Bookkeeping, Office Management, Sustainability
You know the doppelganger memes where there is a famous person next to an old picture? Well, there is a painting of a utopian community in the colonies and next to Hawthorne is Evan telling them they are being too conservative. There is an image from a Detroit labor union, a Kentucky mine strike. There is an image from a civil rights march. At every turn Evan is urging his comrades towards compassion, towards the common good, and, goddammit, he is urging them a hell of a lot further left.
Responsibilities: Digital Project Management, User Experience
She opens her closet. It was a study in monochrome. There are a dozen or so white shirts next to suits ranging from dark grey to black. Beneath them are corresponding shoes. Heels, but modest. The sort of shoes you wear to church. She makes her selection, continuing her routine. She fixes her hair. Something understated. Next, she puts on makeup. The goal is to make it look as natural as possible. She practices her smile. It is an empathetic smile. Or half smile. The lips smile, but the eyes are sad. It is comforting, but a little hard to master. As she buttons her jacket and looks one more time, she hears her mother, “Jenny! Did you take the eye shadow from the cadaver makeup again?” She replies, “No, mom. Of course not!” Then she walks down the stairs ready for work. Opens the door. Sad smile. “Please come in. I am so sorry for your loss.”
Responsibilities: Identity Design, Brand Strategy, Research, Sustainability
There are some people who can intuit inanimate objects: a car engine, a bicycle, an HVAC unit. They are technicians who border on the metaphysical. Kaiser is like that with plants. He has a sense of them, a knowledge passing knowledge; as if he communes with them. Some attribute it to his Mennonite forebears, some to his general chill demeanor. Either way, if you are in a meeting and his eyes glaze slightly, don’t be offended. Look around the room. You will see the plants tilt toward him as if he were a south-facing window.
Responsibilities: Identity Design, Website Design, Brand Strategy, Research
A few out-of-context snippets from Diane Keaton’s Wikipedia page making me think she and Kate might have a psychic link:
+ Women can bear the dramatic weight,
+ A journalist and feminist.
+ Baggy pants and fedora hats.
+ She is just what she needs to be:
+ Every shade of pride and panic,
+ A grace that makes it stick,
+ A sorceress at blending,
+ So wise it frightens.
Responsibilities: Copywriting, Naming, Research, Brand Strategy
He wakes up early, stowing his tent in the canoe. The soundtrack is all birds and the whistle of coffee percolating over a fire. He’s paddling from Cincinnati to Louisville to lobby for the inclusion of the Ohio River in the National Water Trails System. Where most people see an obstacle, a thorn in the side of convenience and city planning, he sees the lifeblood of two cities. He sees rich history and the delicate hamfist of erosion. Something worth protecting. He sees a long weekend and the chance to do a little bit of good for his fellow citizens.
Responsibilities: Business Development
Two things you should know about Will: He is a good friend and loves to eat. The evidence I submit is Chili Day. It starts early. Get the fire going. The ceremonial pot. Each friend brings ingredients: chocolate, tomatoes, hand smoked chilies, venison. As the chili cooks, they eat. Biscuits, sausage, donuts, coffee. Friends come and go. Ingredients are added. And, snacks: chips, pretzels, beer cheese. Lunch rolls around. More friends. Sandwiches, cookies. Now, you probably think you would eat chili on Chili day. You would be wrong. You anticipate eating chili on Chili Day. You eat chili the next day during the Super Bowl. When you have more friends over.
Responsibilities: Business Development, Brand Strategy
A little known fact about the Coach is that he can’t resist a cookie. Someone will bring in a box. One person will get up to get one and the Coach thinks, “cool, I’ll have one.” The problem is that he thinks that each time someone gets up to have one. Then he has to have some chips so the salt and oil balances out the butter and sugar; and then he has to have a cup of coffee; and then a beer to balance that; and then a jog. It is a vicious cycle, but the Coach owns that cycle.
Responsibilities: Account Management, Business Development, Brand Strategy
His friend pointed down to the adolescent alligator easing out of the pipe in a dry culvert. “You wouldn’t wrestle that thing.” Filled with energy drink and testosterone, Zack took off his shirt and smiled that smile. Pinning it and holding its mouth closed was surprisingly easy. Lying there bragging, the horror of the situation sunk in. He could pin it, but he couldn’t let go. Alligators are fast. He remembered a tip from an Animal Planet show. He rolled over, feeling the sandy gravel on his back with the alligator on top of him. He cradled the animal. Just him and the alligator rocking for what seemed like hours. Two lessons here: Alligators fall asleep when on their backs. And watching TV always pays off.
Responsibilities: Identity Design, Website Design, Brand Strategy, Research, Animation, User Experience
1. Great work is built on trust. You must give trust to receive trust.
2. Research before creation. Know your subject.
3. Ask questions. Listen to understand, not to respond.
4. Do not create and analyze at the same time.
5. Go where you need to go to generate new ideas.
6. Make it smart. Make it memorable.
7. Quality is in the details, not the materials or the tools.
8. Complaining solves nothing. Worrying solves nothing.
9. Learn from failure.
10. Nothing is sacred.