- Human beings don’t act, they behave and managing a brand is a lot like directing a film. Everyone, be they an entry-level employee or the CEO, has a role to play and a brand’s success hinges on their ability to be authentic.
I first heard the phrase “find the stone” from my directing teacher, Francine Parker, while getting my MFA in Film from the Art Center College of Design. Francine had a reputation for being a ball-buster and she didn’t disappoint. But her militant approach demanded that you knew what “the f’ing point is” at all times. And so should your brand. The stone is the essence. It is the one central, unifying force that, like a stone dropped in water, will radiate energy throughout an organization.
- Finding the Stone has evolved from a concept I first learned in film school into a dynamic branding philosophy whose orthodoxy is that behind all things there is a reason why. The methodologies used to discover the stone have been refined, improved on, and reinvented over the years to incorporate the best practices of other experts in the industry like Simon Sineak’s Golden Circle.
The end result of the finding the stone process is brands emerge with a cohesive vision and unifying message that team members rally around and external marketing can promote.
- Finding the Stone - Case Study
- The first stage in the Finding the Stone process is called the gathering. The objective is to learn as much as we can about a brand’s culture, competition and customers. When I was at Cubic, we had the opportunity to pitch Senior Star Living, a regional player in the senior housing industry. It was during our initial strategy session about how to pitch the account that I recommended we adapt "FInding the Stone" into an approach to branding to differentiate ourselves from the competition.
Perhaps it is because of my background in film making, but I often prefer to conduct interviews myself when appropriate. The man in the video below is Jimmy. He had been living alone after the death of his wife and the insights we got from he and his daughter were invaluable.We showed the video during the pitch and once the client had seen the part starting at 1:25 where Jimmy is talking about his wife, we had them. They knew from that point on that we had walked in their shoes and knew how tough a sell they had.
- The video turned a long-shot opportunity into a win for the agency. However, we still needed to Find the Stone. We knew from our initial research the crux of situation hinged on what we dubbed at the time “conflict resolution.” The tension between Seniors and their Adult Children.Senior Star agreed to a brand retreat and flew in their executives from around the country. After a weekend of complete brand emersion, I was tasked with coming up with the solution. The turning point came when I was reminded of the famous scene from Ingmar Bergman’s classic, The Seventh Seal, where the main character, played by Max Von Sydow plays chess with Death. This brought about the realization that while it is natural for us to fear death, if we wait for it, we miss out on life.
- The video below was shown during our presentation of the new brand to the client. Admittedly, I still cringe at the quality, but the emotion was there and it was a huge success. Senior Star went on to trademark Engage Life and it became the driving force behind their brand utilizing it in everything from collateral material to employee training videos.
- Senior Star was the single largest client Cubic had during my time at the firm and the revenue the account generated sustained a significant portion of Cubic’s growth. Over the years we produced advertising initiatives in Print, TV, Outdoor, Radio, Online, Direct Mail. All of which driven by Engage Life.