Where’s Ed when I need him?

I just got home from the offices of Thodos Dance Chicago, where I was doing my best to come across as a branding expert. (I suppose putting on the tiara that was on the conference table didn’t help my credibility any.)

In all seriousness, I’m very excited about this strategic planning project I voluteered for through the Arts and Business Council. And I think they think I know something — helped in great part by the two other volunteers on my team.

About a year and a half ago, I paid my $100 and did the half-day orientation on a Saturday autumn morning to become a certified “Business Volunteer for the Arts”.

A few months later, AB&C’s e-newsletter had a posting for Thodos Dance, asking for people to help them with a 5-year strategic plan. I raised my hand, and soon we had a “match meeting” with the founder of the organization, the board president, and the two other volunteers who I’d be working with.

We met as a group a couple times, but for a variety of reasons, nothing ever got off the ground.

Almost a year later the AB&C contacted me about starting the project again. I agreed. And I was paired with two new teammates.

So in January we had another “match” meeting with Thodos, then did a SWOT analysis meeting in February. Tonight we presented recommendations, and one of those is defining their brand essence/positioning/central idea. Things seems to be gaining speed.

Ed, I could really use your help right now.

While I was at my first agency job, Ed and I were the ones tasked with interviewing cross-sections of people from companies/organizations to figure out what the real story was. We did this for several colleges, a precision farming software company, and who knows what else. We traveled the backroads to small towns like Farnhamville and Lindsborg, and not-as-small-towns like Bartlesville. We talked to presidents, janitors, students, farmers and whoever else we could get our hands on.

In each instance, after two days straight of one-hour interviews back-to-back, we were pooped and mind-boggled. Then some sort of bolt would strike Ed about two weeks later, and he’d show up in my office with some crazy line that was both brillant and a big “duh” all at the same time. That’s what great brand essence statements are — the truth, uncovered.

Of course the best part was that Ed appreciated good food and great wine. McDonald’s, though dear to my heart, was never an option. (It was several years before I could admit to him that I’d hurled after dinner two different times because I ate too much.)

And he was most amused with my inability to set the car thermostat in one place for more than 45 seconds.


1 Response so far »

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    […] been involved with Thodos Dance Chicago for the past couple years, most recently working on a branding assignment. I’m really excited about the brand positioning we came up with: Inspiring Expression. And […]

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