Today I got a piece of direct mail. Instead of throwing it out into the recycle bin, I am keeping this one for good.

It’s the first official printed piece from my alma mater, Princeton Theological Seminary, with its new logo mark on the envelope in the return address area.

princeton theological seminary new logo

I’m keeping it because it was an honor and a pleasure to work on the project to rebrand the entire institution – and that included this brand-new identity mark.

Princeton Seminary new logo
Countless hours of strategy, discussion, revisions, meetings over fonts and colors went into this mark alone. And that’s only a portion of the branding and digital media project.

It’s a celebration of over a year of work together with my creativity disruption compatriot and collaboration partner Jason Locy, founder and creative director of FiveStone. Jason is brilliant at design. I believe when we team up for strategic brainstorming and plan development, we are able to bring out excellence in design.  And when we talk about deisgn, it isn’t just visual.

There is a difference between brand, identity, marketing, and advertising. I’ve been meaning to write about how and why these aren’t all the same, although people mix them up or collapse them into one “thing” all the time.

The point is that it has been an honor to work with a team at Princeton Theological Seminary that understands the need to do proper brand excavation and start from the very foundation.

Not all communications teams understand that if you want to make a significant impact and change in direction in your overall branding and messaging experience you need to make sure everything is in alignment, with intention, and built with an aspiration for longevity and timelessness.

It’s why one of the first things I teach coaching clients is the importance of discipline in strategy. Frameworks like my SWAT lens for communications plans help us stay disciplined and focused. But it first starts with our posture and approach to the work.

princeton seminary logo

 

We have been able to produce a full brand system for the Seminary that provides structure for the diversity of use cases as well as flexibility for the internal communications teams to apply the brand to future needs as they arise.

 

princeton theological seminary website

The new PTS website we launched is a complete overhaul. Go take a look!

It’s a new digital experience that hopefully everyone will agree is light years ahead of where the former site was previously situating the institution for every audience that came into view of it.

Everything will eventually change on campus going forward. All the standard stuff like stationary and business cards, printed collateral, signage, even the embossed seal that is applied to diplomas. It’s a lot! And the fruits of our work will be utilized for years to come if not decades.

It’s client work like this for a historic and prestigious institution that keeps you on your toes because you want to do your best work.

And it is a good reminder regarding all the other projects on the roster — that our team needs to approach all creative execution that we provide for our clients with excellence. A good question for our team is: is what we are doing displaying the honor it is for us to steward another organization’s brand and messaging?

When a client hires you, they are trusting you. Many people are too casual about that. Click To Tweet

I’m proud of our work for PTS because I feel that we have given our hearts and minds to the project — we have made decisions throughout the project as if it was for us personally.  It all came our great because we have felt all along that it is an honor that they chose to work with us.

How much of your daily work are you executing with this type of posture?

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2 Comments

  • Ryan Holck
    Posted October 7, 2016 8:37 PM 0Likes

    I’ve found it difficult to “display the honor” of working for someone who doesn’t see the process but just wants the job done and as cheap as possible.
    How have you helped clients to recognize the value and necessity in this process?

    • Kenny
      Posted October 15, 2016 12:41 PM 0Likes

      Ryan,
      Your comment makes me immediately think about that well known trifecta – fast, good or cheap, you can’t have all three!

      One lesson I learned early on working in an ad agency was a critical one: always give the client what they want and what you’ve agreed to. And then share with them the opportunity to take a different path (listen to you).

      It does sound like the relations is structured in a way that you are seen more as an executor vs sector expert. It is a classic issue with consulting: hired hands vs trusted advisor are two completely different things.

      One suggestion I have is to publish – as a blogger, as an author (Kindle brooks are an efficient way to “be published” and gain the authority trimmings that come with it), as a podcaster, as a guest/interviewee.

      Making sure to publish thought-leadership in the specific areas you want to influence can do wonders over time if you are willing to make that investment.

      There is power in publishing because of where content producers sit within the content ecosystem triangle (I will share more on this in an upcoming blog post).

      This has helped me in the past make claims about certain approaches and then use the publishing reinforcement to sway opinion and overal sentiment.

      At the end of the day, I would try to find the empathetic connection on why/how the output of your work is seen, and then strategically use publishing to help influence a shift in that perspective.

      Hope that helps or better, I’d love to hear your reaction to these thoughts.

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