Why Marketing is Integral to Surviving Economic Downturn

A few years ago, we published the blog The Importance of Marketing in a Downturn Economy, a title very similar to this one. The Oil and Gas industry had just crashed, businesses were struggling, and Alberta was in a full-blown economic crisis. Most large-scale companies in the industry attempted to survive by laying off thousands of employees, and many small businesses folded completely, regardless of industry. Times were hard, and while we may not be in as large of a crisis right now, the current state of the economy has some entrepreneurs and business owners thinking about keeping costs down.

Despite learning from the ongoing ebbs and flows of the economy, businesses always seem to fall into a pattern of cutting their marketing budgets when times get tough. While cutting excess spending to keep afloat is crucial during tough times, research (and experience) has shown us that cutting all marketing initiatives will do more harm than good in the long run. Business owners often feel marketing is the easiest expense to let go of because it doesn’t demonstrate immediate return on investment (meaning they feel the business can survive without it for a while), and it doesn’t seem as important as other factors such as employee retention and business development. What they fail to realize, though, is that ensuring that marketing stays as an integral part of the operation will pay off in the long-term, helping to save jobs, fortify your brand’s presence, and ultimately bring in new work.

In tough times, marketing is often viewed as an expense when it should be considered an investment. Maintaining a strong brand and communication with audiences sets a business up to appear strong in the public eye. During times of hardship, taking a step back to re-evaluate if your marketing efforts and brand are still aligned with your organizational goals and values will help you visualize the future rather than put out immediate fires.

Ensuring you have the right budget to continue marketing in a downtown can also help your business do a few other things in times of uncertainty:


Strengthen Your Brand

While it may seem like a challenging time to strengthen your brand as there is less work and, in turn, less money flowing in, think of this time as an opportunity. It is a chance to reassess your “why.” Remember what brought you into this business in the first place. Your business provides some sort of value and solution (otherwise, it’s not the economic downturn that’s causing you trouble), so take advantage of the time you have and go back to the drawing board. Work with your staff on marketing efforts to communicate to your audiences the value of your brand – showcasing who you are and what you believe in in a consistent and sensitive way.

Stand Out from the Crowd

Cutting marketing in times of hardship is a common practice. Many businesses see it as the only way to avoid complete annihilation (however untrue that may be). While everyone else plays it safe, this is your opportunity to stand out from the crowd when others are no where to be found. No matter what the situation may be, continuing to invest in marketing will appear as a sign of continued strength in the public eye. So, while your competitors are hiding, you’re staying top of mind with potential customers.

Maintain Transparency

We often say that people do business with people. With so much choice and information out there, consumers, whether B2B or B2C, are looking to do business with brands they can trust. Continuing to support marketing efforts while your business lays off valued employees and loses business may seem like poor optics, but in fact, it’s the opposite. Being honest with your audiences (both internal and external) and showing that you are still thriving despite setbacks shows strength, and during times of crisis people are looking for signs of strength.

Your business will take a hit in an economic downturn – that is inevitable. The key is to not succumb to fear and go into panic mode. Understanding the benefits marketing is bringing to your business will allow you to reassess its importance. Marketing is integral to survival, but it is likely you will need to reassess your spending to become even smarter about your marketing efforts, enabling you to adjust as needed. However, identifying where to allocate marketing costs effectively is not easy. Luckily, we’re experts. We’re here to help you in your time of need and find the best way to bet your brand out into the open without losing it all.

Need a hand? Give us a call.

So Long 2018, You Were One To Remember!

As 2018 draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on the wonderful opportunities and experiences this year has brought us. To say the WJ team had a great year would be an understatement – in truth, it was INCREDIBLE! These past 365 or so days were filled with passion as we created new work for existing clients and welcomed new ones to the WJ family. We continued build our relationships and share our knowledge within the community, always striving not only to grow ourselves but give back where we can.

As we finish our 15th year in business, it’s been humbling to see how far we’ve come. 2018 has been one of our strongest years yet – we added an array of clients to our portfolio, eight new members to our team as well as two new satellite offices in Red Deer and Grande Prairie. At WJ we’ve made it a habit to look to the future and invest in our business as a way of bettering ourselves, and it has worked in our favour. In the spirit of bettering ourselves, we celebrated another Innovation Day at WJ – a day when our entire team from all offices got together to share marketing knowledge and bring new and fresh ideas from a variety of perspectives. We are truly grateful for all of the incredible people who are part of our WJ family, especially the clients and team who choose to work with us and make us stronger every day. You have made us who we are, and we thank you for that.

The past year, we also saw some amazing moments and milestones come our way. This summer, we witnessed our value system come full circle when the WJ logo emblazoned a chuckwagon tarp at the Calgary Stampede. It was in those few minutes, when our driver, Jordie Fike, raced his team of thoroughbreds around the track, that we knew we here at WJ were on the right track too. Seemingly foreshadowing big things to come, we also had the pleasure of working with the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce and Westerner Park to rebrand the Canadian Finals Rodeo and bring awareness of its new home in Red Deer. To close off the year, we were honoured with a nomination for the ATB Small Business of the Year Award. These are just a few moments that have made 2018 one for us to remember forever.

Throughout the year, we continued to build our community with the power of knowledge by releasing yet another edition of the WJ magazine. We also hosted regular WJU sessions in all our home cities to help share valuable strategic marketing information with marketing professionals and business owners alike. We will continue to do so in 2019. As we mentioned, marketing is our passion, and we will always be in the business of making our community strong.

In summary, 2018 brought incredible momentum to WJ and we cannot wait to see what the next year has in store for us. Together as one team, we will continue to better ourselves and our community, and embody the values upon which WJ was built on. They have taken us this far, and they will continue to propel us forward.

We know you’re also looking ahead to 2019, so let’s work together and create something remarkable this coming year. Give us a call.

Lean In – the Women of WJ

You may have heard the recent news around WJ – Morgan Bell has been appointed our new Director of Operations! The team could not be more proud of Morgan, who started at William Joseph nearly three years ago as an Office Manager and has applied her incredible knowledge, talent and work ethic to growing her career. Having seen the business triple in size and grow its portfolio exponentially, Morgan has been an integral part of William Joseph’s growth and her passion for her career is inspiring to us all. A natural leader, her team-driven attitude and desire to make the company the best it can be made her the clear choice or such an integral role.

Morgan becoming the first female director at WJ got us thinking about the incredibly talented women on our strong team. William Joseph has always been an advocate for equality in the workplace, and we are incredibly proud of strong female presence in our office. From the recent graduates who bring their fresh perspective of marketing to the table, to the working mothers who demonstrate incredible dedication and work ethic both in the office and at home, William Joseph would not be the strong, growing company it is today if not for them.

Our team is no accident – we carefully select each and every employee based on knowledge, experience and ability to fit into our ‘work hard, play hard’ culture. We’ve chosen to surround ourselves with strong people who are working toward a common goal of building something great and having fun while doing it. We appreciate the women at William Joseph and their commitment to ‘leaning in’ and bringing their talent to the business. You truly make the world go ‘round.

WJ Magazine Issue #4: A Letter from the Editor

A letter from Ryan Townend, CEO of William Joseph:


The greatness of your company has many measures: profits, return on investment, client retention, awards, or even stakeholder feedback. But, as time goes on and the world changes, the ultimate measure of your company’s enduring success is its legacy. What has your company done for the community? How have you made an impact? How have you made the world a better place?

For William Joseph, our answer is that we give back. Embarking on each year with a resolution to be the best company that we possibly can be, we are using this issue to focus on non-profits and charitable giving. Philanthropy and giving back is something we believe truly makes a company successful. It is the reason we get out of bed in the morning. For us, “that would be a nice thing to do” has become more than an idea, but a way of life. It’s one that permeates our daily lives and is deeply ingrained in our corporate identity and culture.

For myself, community means working to make the world a better place. Coming from a relatively small town, I’ve always known that my home helped shape who I am today. After fifteen years as CEO of William Joseph, I consider it a privilege to support my community and those who aspire to make it even greater by giving back.

This philosophy isn’t just good for the soul – it’s also good for the bottom line as well. More than 90% of consumers would switch brands to one that openly supports a great cause, and more than 85% of Millennials (one of the most powerful consumer groups today) connect their purchases to the responsible efforts a company is making.

At WJ, we have built a community around our business. The people involved – clients, coworkers, family – feel as though they are part of what we’re doing. The WJ community is a big piece of what has made us successful.

Community represents the family that surround you at the dinner table, the town you’re from, your staff, and a group of clients you call friends. We have been honoured to partner with and support many clients across Western Canada which work to make the world a better place. We worked with Kids Cancer Care to brand and implement the Big Book of Care campaign.  This campaign speaks for childhood cancer charities across Canada, operates as a resource to share the story of childhood cancer, and offers easy links to the donate pages of regional childhood cancer charities. For years, we have worked with STARS, a non-profit that provides rapid and specialized emergency medical care and transportation for critically ill and injured patients, to deliver compelling event brand strategy services for fundraising events. We have also worked with all four hospital Foundations in Saskatoon – something which my team and I are extremely proud of.

We also engage our community on a daily basis. With a passion for helping entrepreneurs grow and be successful, we sponsor multi-year initiatives which support innovation and technology, including the Tundra Acceleration Centre for Entrepreneurs (ACE), the SPARX Energy Innovation Theatre and Pitch. Whether it is client meetings, lunch and learns, networking events, WJU seminars that we host across Canada, or sharing a day in the life of WJ through interesting posts on social media, we share our knowledge. We learn in return, and we enjoy doing every bit of it.

As William Joseph and the number of clients we work with grows, so does our understanding that a loyal, energized community is the greatest asset any brand can have. We make a point to build our community both online and offline. Our Calgary staff spend every lunch together playing bocce ball (if you happen to be on a lunchtime walk around Eau Claire and see a group of people standing around in the bushes, that’s probably them). The WJ team has been an equal participant in working to make the world a better place. When it comes to building community, leading collaboration, and making a difference, I can think of no better example than my team.

In our fourth edition of WJ Magazine, we go in-depth with team WJ in the community and industry, including client features, WJU highlights, and an interview with Erin, Senior Strategist and WJ’s non-profit marketing guru (see our last blog on how to be strategic with your charitable giving).

Building a community doesn’t happen without a lot of effort. It requires a mindset, an appreciation for others, and a “you succeed, I succeed” mentality. I consider William Joseph – our staff, clients, and partners – as one shared entity. We work to represent the actions that build community. We make connections, build trust, get involved, and give back together.

You only have one life to live. Make it a good one. Make it your legacy, your company’s legacy, and one you would be proud of.

The two most important days for your company are today and tomorrow. Make them count.

Making an Impact – How to be Strategic with Charitable Giving

Every year, Canadian organizations donate to non-profits as a way of contributing to the well-being of communities locally, nationally and internationally. Successful businesses see charitable giving as a central piece of their business model, and begin setting aside budget and planning charitable giving strategies at the very beginning of the year. While the holiday season is over, and your team is likely settling back in to regular business operations, it’s never too early to start planning.

Here are just a few tips on how to create your 2018 charitable giving strategy:


Look at your company’s vision, mission, values and overarching goals. It makes sense to support a cause that aligns with your corporate mandate, so look broadly and find a cause (or multiple causes) that are important and relate to your business. A great way to choose a cause is to, together with your internal team, think about the change you want to make, the impact you want to make where and to whom, and the results you want to accomplish. Then, choose a cause and support an organization who is doing exactly that.


You should conduct a full audit of any initiatives, campaigns or organizations your business has previously supported, and decide whether you’re committed to continuing to support them or not. If you’ve supported previous charities that have effectively stewarded your giving contributions, you don’t have to stop supporting them or their cause. You can also always donate to multiple charities that align with the impact your company is trying to make.

As mentioned above, prior to choosing a non-profit you would like to support, you should also conduct an audit on them as well. The Government of Canada provides a list of charities which can help you determine whether a non-profit if registered, revoked, etc. to help you make better giving decisions. Other than asking around to other businesses who have directly supported the charities you’re interested in helping, you can also do a preliminary web search to ensure there aren’t any additional concerns about misuse of funds or fraud. Ensure you support a non-profit who will put your dollars to work, and not put them towards their own overhead.

Keep in mind, you don’t have to pick just one non-profit. Bolder Giving, a US-based non-profit, recommends using the 50/30/20 rule. This means focusing 50% of your giving on one or two select charities, keeping 30% for community gifts, and keeping the remaining 20% for “impulse gifts,” such as unplanned donations to support disaster relief.


Strategy is the necessary foundation for any successful initiative, whether that be a marketing plan, business plan, communications plan, or charitable giving plan. While clearly communicating a company’s goals and objectives, a detailed strategy can also help demonstrate to internal stakeholders that all donated dollars are being put to good use.

Now that you’ve done your due diligence in choosing a cause (or several causes) to support, you should develop a yearly giving plan based around the strategic insight you gained from your audit. Treat any charitable donation as an investment decision, no matter how big or small the amount is. Planning all of your charitable giving, while leaving a little wiggle room for impulse gifts, will help guarantee your donations aren’t just seasonal, but are a year-round effort to support a cause your business is passionate about. It will also give you a great jumping off point for next year’s charitable giving audit, and will help you adapt your strategy to be even more impactful in the years that follow.

Here are some informative charitable giving fast facts, according to Stats Canada (2011):

  • In 2010, Canadian financial donations that individuals made to charitable or non-profit organizations totaled around $10.6 billion
  • As people age, the amount of their donations tends to increase
  • People who volunteer more tend to donate more
  • In Canada, donors in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan give more
  • Women are more inclined than men to give to organizations in the Health sector
  • One-third of Canadians donate in response to canvassing at a shopping center or on the street
  • Donors’ perceptions of how organizations were using their money seemed less positive than in previous years. When asked in 2010 why they had not given more, 37% of donors said they agreed with the statement, “you did not think the money would be used efficiently”, compared with 33% in 2007. This perception tended to increase with age.

While many relate more money with making more of an impact when it comes to charitable giving, this isn’t necessarily the case. To make an impact, it’s not about the amount of money you give, but how well you strategize your donations.

Like many of our clients and other businesses, we at William Joseph are committed to strengthening the communities where we live and work. This means we are dedicated to supporting likeminded non-profits who spread hope and make a positive impact, locally and beyond. Organizations such as STARS Air Ambulance, Kids Cancer Care Foundation and Alberta’s Promise, just to name a few, are on the top of our list. Find what you’re passionate about, make it stick, and make a difference.

While you have probably just got back to the office after the holidays and don’t have creating a giving strategy at the top of your priority list, plan before the busyness of the year takes over. It’s a New Year. Be a “New You” with a calculated giving strategy that aligns charitable giving with your business goals.

WJ Magazine, Issue #3: A Letter from the Editor

A letter from Ryan Townend, CEO of William Joseph:

Just imagine.

Fifteen years ago, I had a vision to create a marketing agency grounded in strategic thinking and praised for creative genius. Even though we started with very humble beginnings, our passion and desire for success was great. This is how all entrepreneurs start.

Over the years, we landed amazing accounts that trusted us to achieve their business and marketing goals. I remember when we started working for the Jubilee Auditorium of Alberta… Wow, our first “big” client. I was awe-struck to see our creative up in lights. As time passed and our ambition grew, hard work and dedication paid off as other “big” accounts and innovative partners joined our agency. Shell, Chevron and BHP Billiton gave our agency great credibility in the energy sector. CBC’s Centennial branding gave us national exposure. Marketing Magazine acknowledged our success, and named us one of Western Canada’s up and coming agencies. Each big win propelled us to the next level. Our client’s success was our success, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without them. Thank you to all our great clients that took a chance on us, and made our agency a part of their success.

In celebrating our milestone, I think it’s also important to recognize that it’s not all been sunshine and roses. Our agency has experienced several recessions that left our client base scared to invest in marketing. We felt this on our bottom line. The digital landscape has changed, and nowadays, social media can make it all look like a business is thriving and everything is fantastic. You may see smiles, bold colours, positive messages, and yet, what you don’t see is how much that person or business is going though. I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. The one thing I’ve come to realize is that it is important to embrace the ups and downs, because they’re normal. We’re all in this together and you’re not alone. Having a strong support system to weather the storms is critical to make it through the rainy days. Perseverance is key. The best advice comes from my mom: “Just keep going. You don’t know how close you are.” In that sense, thank you to everyone that continues to believe in me, and in William Joseph.

We’ll either find a way, or make one. This has been our philosophy, and we stick to it. Our team has grown to include a group of passionate, talented, bold professionals that are some of the best in the industry. Their passion for marketing, for our agency and for our clients is what makes our agency shine. Our people are our culture. Our culture is our brand. A big thank you goes out to everyone that has worked for William Joseph over the years and the team that I have today. Without you, I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) want to do this. I am so proud of you all.

Being true marketers, we also know the importance of standing out in the crowd. To be a success, we must always be authentic to who we are, and be confident enough to boldly tell our stories. At William Joseph, we make a point to tell our story. We launched our own speaker’s series called WJ University. We created our own magazine to educate people about our industry, WJ Magazine. We speak at events on marketing and entrepreneurship, write blog posts and articles published in business magazines, and are a marketing expert on Global TV. More importantly, we recognize that our community has supported us throughout all of our endeavours, and we make a constant effort to give back through sponsorships and donations. Thank you to the incredible community that has supported my business. I hope we are doing you proud.

So, here we are. Fifteen years later. We still have relationships with people we met the very first day we opened. Our clients have become our friends. Our agency is a leader in the community. In our latest issue of WJ Magazine, we highlight some of our favourite projects, from day one right up until now, and some of the lessons we’ve learned along the way.

As much as I enjoyed this trip down memory lane, I look forward and imagine the infinite possibilities the future brings. William Joseph finds inspiration everywhere and our creativity knows no bounds. There is no telling how far we can grow together with our clients. What do you imagine for your company? How soon will you make it happen?

Ask yourself:

If not now, when?

To download issue #3 of WJ Magazine CLICK HERE.

Client Spotlight – GlobalTroxler

GlobalTroxler is the exact example of a successful, bustling organization that is not resting on its laurels because they are prospering. They recognize the importance of continuing to keeping marketing initiatives ramped-up, and not allowing their success to effect their efforts. When GlobalTroxler came to William Joseph in 2016, they expressed the need for a new website. Their goal was to ensure optimal functionality for users, while maintaining a sleek look, consistently with the GlobalTroxler brand. William Joseph and GlobalTroxler worked together to achieve their goal in a timely-manner, and the result was a a high-functioning and aesthetically-pleasing website launched in early 2017. We sat down with a member of the GlobalTroxler marketing team, Denon Wilgosh, to gain more insight on their approach to marketing.

Tell us a little bit about GlobalTroxler!

GlobalTroxler sells, services, and rents the industry’s best equipment and supplies for survey, GNSS, geotechnical, environmental, construction, materials testing, and locating professionals. With over 10 years of experience we are committed to providing customers with the best experience possible through comprehensive product support and competitive pricing. We service what we sell.

GlobalTroxler has been in business for over 10 years. Did you recognize the importance of marketing from the get-go, or was it something you slowly ramped up?

GlobalTroxler always recognized the importance of marketing but, like many small businesses, we needed to reach a certain size before we could justify allocating resources to it.

What has been GlobalTroxler’s approach to marketing, and how has that changed as the company became more successful?

GlobalTroxler has approached marketing with the mindset of “no dollars wasted”. In other words, we want to ensure that every dollar we spend has the potential to create a tangible return in the form of leads and/or sales. It is because of this that we have focused all our efforts on digital mediums that are measurable and targeted. Some examples include our website and the use of LinkedIn advertising.

Now that we have seen success through digital marketing channels the challenge is to identify where to focus next. We have decided that attending as many tradeshows as possible, so that our customers can see and interact with the people behind the digital messages they receive, will provide us with additional brand recognition and trust.

GlobalTroxler rents, sells and services products that aren’t everyday items for the general population. Do you think this makes marketing challenging, and if so, how do you rise to the challenge?

We think that in some ways it is more challenging to digitally market B2B than B2C. For starters, main stream social media sites/apps tend to be tailored towards individuals (besides LinkedIn) and their personal interests outside of work. This is amazing for companies trying to sell their products to individual consumers but not so amazing for us as a company trying to sell our products to another company.

Because of this challenge the only social media we are present on is LinkedIn. It provides information that is highly targeted and allows us to interact with key decision makers using blog posts, product offerings, service information, and more.

GlobalTroxler has a marketing team in-house. How did you come to decision that you needed a partner to supplement your marketing efforts?

Sometimes it just makes sense to bring in a partner for tasks that can be completed much faster by a specialized individual.

What were you looking for when you were choosing your marketing ally, and why did you ultimately decide William Joseph was the right fit?

Firstly, we are looking for someone that takes the time to thoroughly understand our business before completing any creative work. Secondly, we want a marketing ally that treats us the same as their other clients regardless of budget. Our current marketing manager completed an internship at William Joseph and because of his pre-existing relationship could confirm that William Joseph met and exceeded the previous criteria. It was an easy choice.

The word “innovation” is a popular buzzword right now. What do you think makes GlobalTroxler “innovative” and stand out amongst its competitors?

Our website is more innovative and current than our competitor’s sites. We have plans to incorporate online training on the website as well as a client portal so that customers can find what they need when they need it. We are primarily focused on improving user experience and have some other ideas in the works as well.

What are GlobalTroxler’s thoughts on social media?

Inadvertently touched on this in question 4, but as a B2B company we don’t feel like it holds as much value as it would for a B2C company. The only social media we use is LinkedIn.

Are there any marketing tactics that you don’t see the value in when it comes to your organization?

Print ads, sponsorships, direct mail. The cost of these mediums can be high and it can be difficult to measure return properly.

From a technology perspective, what are some challenges GlobalTroxler’s marketing team faces?

With a smaller marketing team, it can sometimes be difficult to manage the content of a website with 1000’s of products while simultaneously trying to develop, design, and manage day to day marketing activities.

Calgary has been dealing with a downturn economy the past few years. In a slow economic climate, organizations often face budgets cuts, and scale down their marketing. Do you agree with this course of action?

No. This downturn provides the opportunity to get the most out of your marketing dollars.

What are GlobalTroxler’s next marketing steps?

Targeted search ads and SEO. We want to make sure that customers are finding us when they are searching for specific products and services. In terms of a broad goal we want to keep building our digital presence and come up with ways to separate ourselves from our competition. A long-term goal that we have is to find a way to reward customers through some sort of loyalty program.

Letter from the CEO – Establishing Authenticity

At William Joseph, we check our egos at the door and come together as one unified team to help our clients achieve their business goals. Authenticity is at the heart of all that we do, whether we’re crafting a digital strategy or designing eye-catching creative. Our success as an agency is fueled by our clients’ success; helping our clients tap into their authenticity by defining what sets them apart is at the core of our strategy. In a society where the see and be seen mentality reigns supreme, authenticity is more important than ever.

Today, the world is at our fingertips. We’re afforded more opportunities than ever before to explore new interests, contemplate new ideas and blaze our own trails.  In the landscape of information-overload, it’s easy to get lost in the noise, losing sight of what’s important to us and who we are. Living an authentic life that aligns with our values and interests is no easy task, but with confidence and conviction, it’s what sets us apart as individuals. Everything from how we dress and how we communicate to our interests and our hobbies helps shape not only how we define ourselves, but how the world sees us.

The ways in which we cultivate our identity, through our words and our actions, informs a sense of authenticity in both our personal and professional lives. Trust is a shrinking commodity; over the past few years, studies have found that younger generations are far less trusting than their elders. For millennials, trust is not assumed, it must be earned. Being authentic on all fronts is crucial in developing this sense of trust. It’s no surprise then, that in the way businesses project themselves, authenticity is more important than ever.  Defining what makes you and your business unique – what sets you apart from the crowd – is the first step to creating authentic, honest connections and presenting your business in the best light.

In our next issue of the WJ magazine, which will be published later this month, we delve a little deeper into the importance of defining your brand in both your personal and business life. We look at how first defining your strengths and crafting a core vision for you and your business can guide your decision-making process, motivations and goals.  By ensuring that every choice you make is aligned with these core values and ideals, you’ll establish authenticity, build brand equity and win loyal followers along the way. After all, people love brands that are authentic.

We also take a look at the top digital trends to embrace this year. Today’s influx of digital technologies creates endless possibilities to connect with others and build genuine, long-lasting relationships. The digital world promotes transparency, which is why it’s so important to project your business in a way that resonates with your audience, authentically. Knowing how and where to begin can be a challenge, but aligning with marketing professionals who live and breath the digital sphere can help propel your business to success. Connecting with your customers online will not only generate leads and sales, but is also a powerful vehicle for your ever-important brand-building.

A strong, confident brand will help inform why you do what you do and ultimately your corporate culture. I know that for me, the personal brand I’ve cultivated throughout the years has helped inspire the culture in my agency. We’re big personalities here with even bigger heart, and our office culture helps inspire everything we do.

Please watch out for the latest issue of our magazine, as I hope that our passion for both our clients and the work we do for them is conveyed through its pages. This year, let’s make building and projecting our best, authentic selves – whether in business or in our personal lives – our focus. Let’s connect as people and do good business.

Inspiration. Where do you find it?

People ask me this all the time. Where do you find your inspiration?

The simple answer is: online.

Since we now live in a fast-paced digital age, what inspires us is easily accessible through a variety of devices. Be it at work, at home, or on the move, inspiration is just a click away (and a given in our industry).

But that is the simple answer.

But the truth is, it’s not a question of where inspiration is found but rather how inspiration is found.

It is in how we view the world that the greatest inspirations are found. I know it is cliché to say, look at the world through the eyes of a child, but to me, it’s true. When we re-discover the world with a pure sense of awe and intense curiosity, inspiration can be found everywhere and in everything –as long as we are open to it.

One vivid memory from my childhood, is hearing the wind rustling the leaves of a large tree in my grandparents backyard on a warm fall afternoon. I was in awe of the sound, delighted by the movement and astounded by the colours and textures. It was as though the tree had to come to life in front of my eyes. I found myself just sitting there, mesmerized and amazed.

I recall climbing the tree just so I could see the world from that perspective – to gain a new view, a new perspective of the same tree. I wanted to know what did the tree feel? What did the tree see?

I have carried this sense of discovery with me throughout my life. This sense of curiosity and awe in the world inspires me daily.

A few years ago I started Project 365 (a project inspired by numerous flickr groups). The goal of the project was to take one photograph a day of anything that captured my interest, imagination or heart. Not only was it a great way to learn the landscape of my then new country, Italy, but during this process I found myself taking a different way to work every morning and  also a different way home from work every night, just so I could explore and discover. It became part of my routine (or lack thereof). I found myself looking differently at everyday objects that I took for granted and had passed by repeatedly without a second though. I even found myself leaving my comfort zone more willingly, which is where I think the greatest inspiration can be found. As you can imagine, after a while I found it very difficult to only take one photo a day. The world is full of new experiences, beauty and inspiration.

Here are a few examples of the photos and the original writings from 2008 during Project 365.

Originally I was thinking of doing a self portrait to start this project off but when I arrived at work this morning this was just outside my door. It was beautiful, large and had the most incredible colors that changed depending on what angle you looked at it. If you look close enough you can see my reflection in its shell (or external skeleton for those keeping count). What a great way to start off the 365!
This is the elevator button in my building. I never take the elevator, I am a little afraid of it, tonight was no exception. However when I reached the top of the stairs and went to enter my apartment I happened to look back at saw this. It was actually quite exquisite. Mind you I will probably never dare to press it but I will always remember it.
Sesto Rondo Metro Station on my way to work this morning. This station is my life line to Milano, I take the metro everywhere. I never imagined that life without a car could be so liberating! (However I still miss riding a motorcycle).
This morning at around 10:30 we had a storm like I have never seen before in my life. The sky was so dark it felt like it was 10:30 at night and even tricked the building into turning all the external lights on. Out of curiosity I went out side just to a have a look and when I looked up this is what I saw. It was beautiful. The streaking orange color of the rain as it passed the light almost looked like little comets and the reflection against the building was amazing! I stood out in the rain to take this picture and got soaked. It felt great! The rain was so warm and so refreshing. All my colleagues looked out the window, I am sure in utter confusion, as to what exactly I was doing. After taking this picture I stood outside for a couple minutes more to feel the warm rain on my skin and on the tops of my feet. I was wearing sandles and the the rain felt wonderful on the tops of my feet and on my toes. What a great morning!
This is a late night staple of mine. Usually when I come home from work late, like I have been doing all this week, this is a fast a quick meal I like to prepare. I get a lot of comments on what and how I cook and prepare things, so this is a before and after shot of my dinner tonight. It is kind a Giasone/Milsy blend of miso soup. Hot peppers, garlic, sweet red onions, eggs, tofu, green onion and a few herbs (all fresh). Add some miso soup powder (not so fresh) boil and you are done. 5 min. What I have to smile about today: Re-discovery of a great song all by chance. http://www.youtube.com/wat ch?v=nhSc8qVMjKM What I have learned today: Sometimes the most frustrating things can be the most rewarding in the end.
Sunset in Sesto. My father pointed this out to Mom and I as we where on the balcony talking and watching all the people below in the streets. It was very peaceful and tranquil. We all admired the vast colors painted across the sky by the sleepy sun. What I have to smile about today: Spending the entire with my parents. In the market, visiting over lunch/grappa/cafe, taking a walk in Sesto and eating delicious gelato! What I have learned today: How much I adore spending time with my parents.
Walk home from work. After a rough day at work I went for a much needed aperitivo. We tried a new place as it seems we almost always do. I enjoy not knowing where we are going or where we will end up. We just walk, talk and when the mood strikes we eventually stop. It is great! This is a picture of one of the many roads I walk down on my home form work. Almost each and everyday I try to find a new way home. What I have to smile about today: A friendly conversation with Pastore on whether Mexico is in North America or South America and whether Vin Diesel is Dutch or American. We even asked the Bar owners and other patrons, I am sure they all thought we were crazy. What I have learned today: I like not knowing what is around the corner.
Self-portrait. Originally I was taking a picture of my orchids on my balcony however when I turned to the right I saw this on my balcony wall. I thought it was kinda cool so I took this picture instead. Perhaps tomorrow the orchids. What I have to smile about today: The warmth of the sun. What I have learned today: Sometimes enough is enough.
Café dopo cena. Tonight I relaxed after dinner with a café. It was nice quiet evening at home catching up on a few things and just relaxing. This is a coffee maker my parents bought me when they were here. It makes unbelievable coffee. Every time I have a coffee I think of them and the market where they bought it. It is a great thought to have! Thank you Mom and Dad for your generosity. What I have to smile about today: A simple evening at home. What I have learned today: You get what you pay for. Coffee has improved 10 fold with this coffee maker.

Che Guevara – the story behind the photo.

Barack Obama’s HOPE posters recently became a topic of discussion in a class I did on propaganda posters. The HOPE posters were done in a similar style to traditional propaganda posters of the past and was made by Shepard Fairly. Fairey came under a lot of controversy and battled a copyright infringement lawsuit over the poster. Fairey gained financially from the sale of the posters and shirts derived from a photograph in which the photographer was not credited and did not receive any royalties from the sales of Fairey’s goods.

Image by Mannie Garcia
Shepard Fairey’s Hope poster


This made me look into the background of the Che Guevara image. Che Guevara’s image was widely used and reproduced in a similar fashion in posters and many other retail items.  Wondering if the photographer of the iconic image was compensated for the many items his image has been reproduced on I found the background story quite interesting. It also sparked my interest in the difference between the views and attitudes from a socialist society with those from a capitalist background.

Alberto Korda in front of his iconic Che Guevara image.

The iconic picture of Che Guevara was taken by Cuban photographer Alberto Korda. Alberto Korda’s image of Che would become a symbol of revolution and rebellion and would be reproduced many times. There are numerous posters, shirts, hats, mugs and even key chains that have used his image. Despite all the wide spread use Alberto Korda has never received any royalties from its use nor did he seek out any financial compensation*. This allowed mass reproductions of the picture and garnered profits for many. Such a stark contrast to the use of the Obama image and how monetary gain put an abrupt stop to its further use.

Korda believed that not limiting the use of the photograph would rapidly spread the image as well as the ideals of Che to a broader audience; he couldn’t have been more right.

Korda died on May 26, 2001 leaving the world with a breath of photographs and one of the most popular images to date. His iconic image of Che Guevara is considered to be one of the most highly reproduced photographic images in the world.

I found it so interesting to see how the socialist attitude of Korda’s allowed his image to spread and generate wealth for many. I thought that surely the man who took the image would be well compensated for its use and live off the royalties from the sales it generated. I was surprised to find that was not the case. Instead I was intrigued to know that the background story of the picture matched the ideals and views of the man it portrayed.

* There was one instance where Che’s image was used by Smirnoff to promote their beverages and that was the only time that Korda disputed the use of his photo. He was said to have received $50,000 from Smirnoff as a settlement, which he later donated to the Cuban health care system.

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