For Your Inspiration: Marian Bantjes

This past fall I attended a conference featuring speaker Marian Bantjes, a Canadian typographer, designer, artist and writer. I first learned of her from TED Talks, where she was classified under graphic design (a topic my eye is always keen to).

Her talk was similar in format and content to what I had previously seen - showing lots of work, old and new, as well as pushing the sale of her book "I Wonder". Generally I dislike these types of ego boosting/sales pitch talks, but her style, philosophy and "wonderment" stayed with me. I found myself reflecting on what she had to say - not only in her words, but in her style of visual communication. There is something quite intriguing and essentially human in her obsessive patterns and handwork, organic swirls, the flourishes and ornamentation. Her emotional approach to design draws you in, by combining formality and structure with an organic fluidity.

So I might originally have scoffed at those attendees who raced to buy her book at the shop outside the theatre (they actually sold out), however weeks later - here I am, with my own copy from amazon.com, which now sits centre stage on my coffee table.


Board Games by Candlelight, Anyone?

Did you ever stop and think about what your environment would be like if all the lights were off? Imagine looking at a global landmark such as the CN Tower encased in darkness?

Well on March 26th at 8:30pm you can experience it for yourself. For one hour, people all over the world will be participating in Earth Hour™ to take a stand against climate change. Started in Sydney, Australia by the World Wildlife Foundation, this now-worldwide event unites us in a 60-minute stand against climate change. Earth Hour™ essentially brings climate change to the forefront and encourages all to think about energy conservation. Washing your clothes in cold water, unplugging anything not in use, keeping your appliances up to date, turning off the lights when not in the room are just some of the ways in which you can do your part!

As an individual, I’ve always embraced conservation and nothing makes me happier than when my passion and my work align! So I am thrilled that BSL is working with Hydro Ottawa to create an ad campaign to raise awareness for this cause.

While we prepare for the big event, we want to know– how will you be spending your hour without power?


Social Media a Good Bet for Your Brand

Recently I gave a social media presentation at a conference in New Orleans for one of our clients’ sales and development partners. The subject: how small to medium enterprises could integrate social media into their communications. As I was researching the presentation, I came across a couple of stunning infographics that summed up some recent demographic research about Facebook and Twitter. A couple of numbers really jumped out at me. On Facebook: 41% of users follow a brand and of those people, 51%
will purchase that brand. On Twitter, the numbers are even higher: of those users (25%) who follow a brand, 67% will purchase that brand.

Imagine for a second we were talking about odds on a horse at a race. Your odds of the Facebook horse winning are one in two. The Twitter horse, two in three. Pretty good odds, I would say.

Put another way, if you attract 5000 people to your Facebook fan page, you may very well sell over 2500 widgets.

The implications for the people at the conference were far reaching and inspiring. First of all, the question for many people became how, not if, they should be active on social media. Fewer than half of all users follow brands on Twitter and Facebook. How do you boost that number? How, and what would they do to attract the right kind of fans or followers, and how do you provide them with valuable information to engage in meaningful dialogue with them?

We discussed all kinds of options – Twitter is great for customer support; Facebook provides a terrific platform for discussion to engage with and learn from your followers, both Twitter (using services like Twitpix) and Facebook provide easy tools for photo sharing, which can be at the heart of great photo contests around the usage of your products.

How would you get people to follow your brand? How would you keep engaging with them?


BSL Helps Alcatel-Lucent Bring their Vision to Barcelona

Ever heard of the expression “PowerPoint on steroids?”

BSL works with a lot of B2B clients, and in the world of business it’s all about the presentation. Every business has a story to tell, and these stories need to be communicated to myriad audiences – clients, customers, partners, boards, tradeshows, etc. For a lot of B2Bs, this story can be complex. It can have a lot of facts, figures and details that while crucial to the plot, aren’t always sexy on the surface.

Alcatel-Lucent approached us about developing a multi-module presentation to be shown at Mobile World Congress in February, the challenges were significant – from a limited timeframe to being able to highlight the features of a revolutionary new product (the “lightRadio” cube) in development.

Integrating video, motion graphics and Flash technologies, the five-part presentation is designed to illustrate the ‘Wireless Around’ world that ALU is helping realize through some pretty exciting 4G innovations, and the successful transformation of many of the world’s largest wireless networks. The BSL video team worked for weeks creating a virtual world that helps bring ALU’s vision of Wireless All Around to life.

We developed the presentation to be shown on a Samsung Galaxy Tablet, as part of a one-to-one interactive demonstration by Alcatel-Lucent representatives from their booth at MWC. This gave presenters the ability to move throughout the booth, while the modular interface allowed presenters to jump back and forth to specific areas of interest to individual customers.

The presentation was officially debuted at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain in February, where Alcatel-Lucent was able to successfully tell the ‘Wireless All Around’ story to one of the biggest exhibition audiences in the world.


NAC Welcomes Canada's Best to the Stage

When an artist steps onstage at the National Arts Centre, a little bit of magic happens. Performing to an audience on one of the most prestigious stages in Canada not only offers a major boost in confidence, but in your career too.

It’s an experience that Simone Deneau, the newly minted Producer of Variety and Community Programming, wants to extend to more artists across the country.

“Getting a break in the arts is what we are all about,” says Deneau. “We think we can help discover the best Canadian talent, and give them the national exposure they deserve and need.”

NAC Presents is a new program focused on showcasing artists who have earned the “NAC stamp of approval”. While many of these artists are most familiar playing smoky bars and lounges across the country, NAC Presents offers a chance to perform in a venue that is not only beautiful and intimate, but also has the high-quality acoustics and production value that only a national stage could offer.

Leading up to the launch of NAC Presents, BSL was engaged in the development of a full brand strategy and visual identity for the exciting, new program. Offering such a unique opportunity to artists across the country, it was important for NAC Presents to make their mark: Canada’s artists, on Canada’s stage. BSL was responsible for the original logo design and corresponding marketing materials for the new brand launch.

“The beauty of performing on one of our smaller stages is that you can hear absolutely everything,” says Deneau. It’s an experience artists are already enjoying – to be the focal point of the audience, rather than background music in a bar. This series will incorporate established Canadian artists into the mix as well.

Over the past few months artists like The Good Lovelies, Anique Granger, Justin Rutledge, Rae Spoon, and Royal Wood have performed sold-out shows to enthusiastic audiences in the NAC’s Studio and Fourth Stage. In 2011 Harry Manx, Paul Cargnello, Patricia O’Callaghan, and Bruce Cockburn are also set to perform.


QNX to Developers: What have YOU worked on lately?

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning, and noticed a friend posting a plea for any talented developers that might be looking for a job. I would have lingered a little longer on it, but all of the good developers I know are spoken for. So I said a little prayer for him and scrolled on.

In this day and age, everyone is after a good developer. They are our modern day heroes. They’re the ones who take all of this magical, mysterious technology and actually make those applications you’re dying for. And depending on the company, they could make a whole lot more than just games for your phone.

Software developers are responsible for powering most of what we encounter every day. From creating special effects in movies, to changing the way we shop online, to making sure our medication is safe to take, to making a plane be able to fly, and even keeping us cool in the checkout line. This world runs on the work of developers.

Imagine working somewhere that actually did all of those things. Sounds a little ominous (like some sort of Head Office of Earth or something) – but it is in fact, a reality. This reality is called QNX, and they happen to power most of the world. QNX Software Systems is a global company based in Ottawa, and develops software systems for virtually every industry – from electricity and television stations to space travel and even the Internet itself.

At this very moment businesses all over town are taking their call for a good developer to Facebook, Twitter and maybe even a few newspapers. But for those lusted-after developers who are looking for more than just the ol’ been there/done that – QNX has good news.

BSL has created a recruitment campaign (launching this weekend) that dangles a pretty juicy carrot over the heads of the area’s most talented developers. Be on the lookout for QNX’s official call to Be Here and Do This. Or This. Or This.