Clarity First Newsletter, September 1, 2017

Clarity First
A notebook about how we work and learn and love and live.

This week, here in the U.S., the human and environmental disaster that is occurring in Texas dominates our consciousness. We will all be dealing with the implications and aftermath for years to come. For now, I’m finding some comfort and a lot of inspiration in the stories of the thousands and thousands of good Samaritans who are responding to the immediate human tragedy with selfless, show up and do it, volunteerism. Dave Pell, the editor of the daily NextDraft, one of my mainline reads, summarized some of these amazing stories in his essay A Real President Addresses Texas.

Each of us has tools for helping to change the world in a better direction.

Speaking of showing up as a compassionate person, the Dalai Lama has laid out a strategic plan for harnessing the good in each of us. There are three steps: First, gain inner composure. Second, follow an inner rudder toward compassion. Third, act now, in whatever way you can. Daniel Goleman outlines five arenas which the Dalai Lama sees we should be acting now, as they are critical for the future of our world.
Article: How to Be a Force for Good

Cheerios doesn’t have a monopoly on breakfast yellow.

And speaking of swollen rivers, on Monday Amazon assumed control of Whole Foods. For me, this triggered feelings of concern about the diminishing role that smaller brands might play in such a huge and monolithic economic model. So, Cheerios’ loss in the courts provided some reassurance. Our economy is a dynamic system, there is no finish, and, at least for now, we have a rule of law that protects common use of common understanding.
Article: Cheerios Just Lost Its Bid to Trademark the Color Yellow.

Great brand promotions do more than offer discounts. They do things like offer unique weed.

Even as flooding and related calamity devastated giant swaths of the U.S and India, life went on. Netflix, for example, delivered a first-of-its-kind brand promotion this week. At a three-day pop-up event at a dispensary in West Hollywood, they released a beautifully packaged set of cannabis strains, each inspired by one of the brand’s popular original shows. And here we are, days later, talking about it.
Article: Netflix Develops Marijuana Strains Based on its Original Shows

“When you keep being different from everything, changing makes no sense.”

Great ad that touts the fact that Leica has never, ever changed their logo. By inference, they have always, always been unique. By inference, better.
Blog Post: Leica’s Never Changing Brand Identity 

Brands gone wild

“As copywriters and legendary voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft molded Tony the Tiger’s inner life and gregarious spirit, his animated form got swole. By the late 1990s, he was indisputably buff, with bulging biceps and the proportions of a human bodybuilder.” Then the internet showed up.
Article: How Tony the Tiger Became the Most Sexually Objectified Breakfast Mascot

Good web design solves problems, achieves results, and communicates messages effectively.

Here at the home office, we’ve assembled a team that is translating a client’s Clarity Brand Study to a brand new website, in just 60 days. It must, of course, support our identified business objectives, and encourage response to our invitations to engagement. To do so it really helps to understand how the human brain processes visual information. Thankfully, that’s quite predictable.
Article: Universal Web Design Principles That Improve Usability And Conversion


Hindi Zahra’s Wikipedia post draws comparisons of the Franco-Moroccan singer with Beth Gibbons, Manu Chao, Billie Holiday, Patti Smith, and Norah Jones. Yes, and. Yes, she steps with confidence into each of these giant shoes. And, she does it in a voice that is as distinct and groovy as the others. Bow. Hallelujah. Here she is performing her hypnotically beautiful Beautiful Tango.

Images of the week

The portrait at the top of this letter is of Jasper Johns, shot by Irving Penn. The painting is named Three Flags. Johns painted it in 1958. It’s from a soon-to-be published overview of the artist’s more than 60-year career, Redo An Eye. In addition to reproducing many of his paintings and objects, the book will feature images from John’s previously unpublished sketch books. Publication coincides with a major retrospective that will be hung at the Royal Academy in London from September 23 – December 10, and again in the Broad Art Museum in Los Angeles in February 2018.

What’s Clarity First?

If you’re new to Clarity First, it’s the weekly newsletter by Clarity, the consultancy that helps mission-driven companies use their brand – their purpose, values, and stories – as powerful tools for transformation. Learn more.

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