Oursafety.info is a unique project for us, as its lion’s share was created in March 2020, during the total lockdown. The streets were empty, you could only leave the house alone, special shopping hours for seniors were introduced, service points were closed and the number of customers in shops was radically reduced. People under 18 were not allowed to stay alone in the public space. Hotels, shopping centres, hairdressing salons, offices and restaurants were closed. Even access to forests, parks, boulevards and beaches was limited and borders were closed. The whole world held its breath, and so did we. But the stagnation lasted only a moment and, for the home-office team of Rio Creativo, the first weeks of the pandemic became the most intense project period in years. We were pulled out of this temporary standstill by Charles Kasprzak who appeared in Rio along with an idea for a universal graphic system for COVID-19 prevention.
The coronavirus pandemic has been a really strange time for us all. We are facing, and will continue to face, fear and uncertainty about our own as well as our loved ones’ health, about our jobs, about the future. We had to change the way we function every day, reorganize our work, education and childcare. Crises are always a test of interpersonal relations, including those with clients. We do not know when we will go back to our “everyday life” and whether normal life as we know it will return at all. We cannot predict how the situation will develop, we do know, however, that we succeeded in creating a unique project together.
And despite the fact that currently individual countries are defrosting their economies and significantly loosening the restrictions, the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is still developing dynamically. The number of infected people is increasing, which paralyses both social and economic life around the world.
We have been keeping a close eye on the situation and following the development of the pandemic worldwide. Based on the experience of other countries, as well as on reliable sources (such as WHO, Ministry of Health), we know how important it is for everybody to know the safety rules.
That is why we created a complete collection of information on coronavirus prevention, including hygiene rules and daily procedures. These materials may become an effective weapon in the fight against the pandemic, protecting not only the company’s crew but also the local community. We have developed and implemented a system of over 50 graphics and pictograms, translated the instructions into the language of visual communication to make them understandable for everyone.
We also created an employee package containing safety information, the most important contacts and procedures, masks with instructions for use, and even colouring books for children bored with quarantine. The packages could be distributed in physical form to the employees or sent via email.
Oursafety is addressed to people responsible for public life as well as those in charge of production plants, factories or shops.
The materials are available at www.oursafety.info, where they can be downloaded and printed free of charge.
Drawing on our own experience, we developed recommendations concerning the formats, materials, methods of assembly and infographics. We also recommended supporting local businesses by commissioning the production and assembly locally.
The first company to use the system was Milarex – a food processing plant employing almost 2000 people. The procedures introduced and the educational campaign helped to continue production when, a week before Easter, two employees were diagnosed with coronavirus. Early implementation and documentation of the procedures ensured that a minimum number of people had to be quarantined, and the educational campaign contributes to the fact that to this day there are no new cases (as of 18.06.2020).
As we are writing this post, life seems to be returning to normal and the restrictions are being lifted – despite the increase in the number of infections. We must learn to function in the pandemic-stricken society and nobody knows how long it will last. We believe that by following the rules, we reduce the risk of infection and have a real impact on human safety.
We already know about dozens of companies, institutions and educational establishments throughout Poland that use the Oursafety infographics. This list includes schools, kindergartens, carriers, institutions, hotels, gyms and private businesses. The system is universal so it can be used in any place where interaction between people takes place.
We are doing this project pro publico bono. Infographics are available in 6 languages now, but in the future there will be over a dozen of them, including Asian ones.
The originator of the educational campaign and the owner of the www.oursafety.info website is Charles Kasprzak – a visual communication specialist and a member of the board at Milarex.
If you have any suggestions or in any way want to help develop Oursafety – write to us.
If you had to divide your company, which would you keep: the money, the production hall and equipment or the earned brand? The last one? Great. Companies have their know-how and equipment, but brands are in consumers’ hearts. Their substantial intangible value is in our minds. Brands are a cultural phenomenon and, if properly engineered, they are unique. How is it possible, though, that most brands bend over backwards to become indispensable and still stay behind, while others are simply strong and stand as if next to the overcrowded market, enjoying the position of a leader. This kind of success doesn’t happen by accident. Let’s have a closer look at it.
We often fail to notice a very common phenomenon of brand manifestations, which can be observed in three areas of emanation:
The product of these three areas is the brand essence, which answers the question why a brand exists. Simon Sinek in his book „Start With Why” explains that organisations have no problem answering the question WHAT they do. Some can say HOW they do it, but only a few can say WHY. Before it becomes an icon, each brand needs to find its own path, its WHY. And that’s when branding comes to the rescue, as it’s the first one to demand the answer to this question. Branding requires a clear statement of what a brand is and what it is not. Further, branding is about creating, constant amplifying and delivering of the brand promise. The best brands are crushingly consistent. Every aspect of what they do and who they are reflects their very essence. That’s why branding needs to be determined first. The question of who the brand is needs to be answered before we come up with marketing methods, tools, strategies or tactics. While marketing can evolve and respond to current market trends, branding stays the same. It is the reason we love brands because it answers questions about the deepest sense of their existence.
Designing brands and working on their development is a responsible task. Being aware of the depth and complexity of the mechanisms shaping them is key in our field. Especially today, when constant change, flexibility and ability to adapt define what effective brand management means. The time of old, rigid rules for making a brand stand out has gone by. The range of tools at our disposal poses new challenges in front of us. The other side of the agency-client relationship has also re-evaluated its goals and methods. Clients have become more demanding and aware. That’s why branding will never again be individual work. Each stage of brand creation and the development of each of its aspects need to be a result of teamwork. Because brands are for people, and people should be the ones to design them.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution
In Rio, we are well-aware of the importance of teamwork and we especially accentuate its role in branding. The diversity and multidimensionality of our tasks make each new project a challenge. Its effective execution often depends on a novel take on a problem at hand. Brand creation is a process, which undergoes constant transformations. As a result, we cannot rely on the patterns and mechanisms developed over time. And this approach, which allows for different clients and business fields, led to creating a unique collective. Each day we learn how essential and effective the involvement of the entire team can be in the branding process. This engagement lets us verify our ideas before we perfect and implement them. This way, our projects get the chance to mature, which is extremely productive in terms of image-building.
A strong team gives you a competitive edge
In our work, we strive to satisfy our clients’ needs, execute their vision – and we do it for a purpose. To do so we need not only intuition, talent and subtlety but also abilities such as analytical and strategic thinking as well as courage. We must remember that the real strength of a team lies in the diversity of its members, not the similarities between them. More points of view and diverse thought trajectories are a straight way to increased creativity, bolder ideas and, in time, groundbreaking solutions.
By having different interests, opinions and outlooks on the world, but working together, we are able to inspire and motivate one another. Each and every one of us has a different approach to the topic at hand and is a specialist in a slightly different area of expertise. All the above elements are a huge asset and give our projects the necessary depth, which makes it easier to stay above water and reach the target audience.
It’s more interesting this way
Setting aside the strictly professional aspects, working in such a versatile environment is simply more fun and interesting. We can surprise one another and learn something new every day. By building relations we broaden our horizons and learn to listen – which, in time, gives us the ability to screen our ideas and more confidence in their execution. In such an interesting environment, we also tend to be more alert and keep our minds sharp, which facilitates creative work.
Let’s build a team
In the process of assembling a team, a beautiful portfolio and the panache and scope of the projects listed on the candidate’s CV are not as important as the kind of person they are and the way they think. The biggest asset candidates can contribute lies in the new elements they bring to the team.
Michael Jordan was right when he said that „talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships”. There’s a rule which says that if you persuade the crowd, you will persuade individuals, and it rings especially true for branding. It’s better to do it in a team – and a good one.
In the welter of information and descriptions of branding one definition feels particularly close to our heart – the one presenting branding as a process of imparting meaning, which helps a brand build relationships. These relationships are most important to us in the process of building a strong brand, at every level of our work.
Brands have a hard-knock, busy life these days. They constantly have to:
However, the network that needs to be created in order to achieve this goal is getting ever more complicated and ambiguous. To establish order, the message must be simple, coherent and clear, which qualities need to be treated as pillars in brand identity building. Arguably, a communication based on such principles facilitates getting through the immensity of information we are being bombarded with every single day. But a strong and simple message is not enough to guarantee engagement and brand attachment.
Is there anyone who hasn’t bought a product which disappointed, used a service that proved over-hyped or voted for a politician who had promised far too much to remember it all? Creating their image, brands can’t afford such slip-ups and negligence. That’s why we always give our clients this piece of advice: be honest, because it is the only way to succeed and remain credible.
Engagement is a reward for honesty
Brands which communicate in a natural way with their target audience are understood better – and it is the clear language that gets the customers hooked on the story we want to tell them. Branding is all about creating relationships – and the best results are achieved by building them on an honest foundation. Here are some examples:
Adventure is a private primary school, where education is construed as a journey, an expedition in the search for knowledge. For the school’s founders and teachers, learning is an adventure and they do their best to make it just that for the students. All activities – both compulsory and extracurricular – are instructed in an original, unconventional way so that they attract students’ interest, prompt them to ask questions and seek solutions on their own. When we started collaboration with Adventure, we felt their authentic enthusiasm for working with children and the students’ energy proved infectious during our visit there. We sensed the kids’ potential and decided to tap into it. We reached a conclusion that if students are at the centre of the Adventure school, which promotes an active attitude among its pupils, then their active participation in the process of image-building seems obvious.
Children received from us carefully prepared cut-outs and were asked to arrange them into images which they associate with learning, school and adventure. The collages created in this exercise became the axis for the school’s visual identity. The solutions worked out in the common effort were spot-on and quickly earned the approval of both teachers and parents. And the children, who actively participated in the process, strongly bonded with the new visual image of their school.
The ultimate proof validating the direction we chose was the fact that children, along with their chaperones, dropped by our office on more than one occasion. Several weeks after the project’s completion, they popped in to say ‘thank you’ and show their appreciation of our work, which was a very special reward to us. Such good reception would not be possible if not for the honest and open collaboration model, which drew on the school’s philosophy and thus naturally emphasised its character.
Another example based on honesty is our last project. We were asked by a large company operating on the medical market to create an umbrella brand which would integrate all activities connected with education, prevention and diagnosis of diabetes. The problem is grave as, with 550 million diabetics worldwide forecast for 2030, diabetes will be the 7th cause of death. The spectrum of people who are affected or are at risk of the disease is very broad. The greatest challenge was creating a spacious message medium, which would be able to reach people very different from one another.
We were sure that we didn’t want to suggest a project resembling same-old, traditional, „medical” solutions, as those tend to deter rather than encourage people to familiarise themselves with the content. The key assumption was creating a flexible tool, which would naturally adapt to the communication it carries and the target audience it is to reach. And that’s how ”We Care” was developed.
The main task of the brand is to inform that understanding the essence of diabetes and awareness of the risks carried by the disease can prevent or at least control it so that it doesn’t pose any threat. It will allow the affected to enjoy their lives, fulfill their dreams and passions, relish every day, every moment.
„Honesty is a very expensive gift. Don’t expect it from cheap people.”
These two projects along with our previous experience confirm that the best results are produced when we work with our clients instead of working for them. Substantial engagement in the process on the part of the partners is an investment in mutual trust. Honesty in shaping the relationship is of exceptional value as it influences every project by enriching it with a very important, intangible value. Warren Buffet once said: „Honesty is a very expensive gift. Don’t expect it from cheap people.” The same can be said about brands. That is why it is so important to us to build an image on the basis of an honest, specific message.
Now try to achieve that! Though it seems simple and natural, it poses much trouble and requires quite some time… But when at the end of this bumpy road you sigh: „Why didn’t we think of this earlier?” – it means that we have achieved our goal and that is how we succeed.