Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.


Polling for Innovation

Business Week's Top 20 Innovative Companies List is lame. No doubt the companies listed are notable ones, and perhaps they have been innovative in how they communicate their brands, or improve their products to match consumer trends. But I am not a big believer in polling for answers to questions of innovation. I would like to see at least one unknown or small company on the list that has used creative innovation in what they do or in the way they do it. As it stands, this list could easy be the Most Influential Companies, Wealthiest Companies, or most Popular Brands by namesake. Snore.


Like a Kid at Christmas

Two months away and I am already excited about the Marshall McLuhan Festival of the Future. He is the man who coined the terms “The Medium is the Message” and “The Global Village”. McLuhan intelligently discusses many issues relating to our world, like the relationship of advertising and media to our society, and he encourages the reader to be participatory, to complete the thought he begins.

More than any other writer, he seems to inspire designers. Many of his books have been turned into graphic enterprises by superstar designers like David Carson.

Last year I could only make it to one or two events because I had house guests, so this year I can’t wait to really dive in. Did anyone make it last year? What event did you go to? Did it inspire you or make you reflect upon how our society is evolving?

The Me Factor

Great post on Canadian Entrepreneur about the headlines that draw the most attention and why this small study applies to marketing.

Think you're going to sell your service because of its inherent value? Think again. Unless it appeals to basic human self-interest, move on to the next idea.

Did I mention that our logo designs make you look ten years younger?


If You're Not Blogging...

Olgilvy has a new guide to blogging for the executives on your list.... If anyone's read it, I would love to hear your opinion.

Thanks to Johnnie Moore for the link.


The State of Graphic Design in Toronto

The new T.O. rebranding and the decision to go with a New York based design firm has given me cause to really look at graphic design in Toronto. It seems that here in the great white north we have a tendency to resist beginning trends of our own and instead we simply adapt trends generated elsewhere. We all know Swiss modernist, Bauhaus, American, but what is Canadian graphic design? Have we authored any aesthetic movements of our own? Toronto is an international city and one of the most multicultural cities on earth. Perhaps our amalgamation of different international trends is Toronto’s aesthetic contribution to the world.

The typography scene is definitely an area in which Canadians have excelled. Rod McDonald’s redesign of Canada’s first typeface, Carl Dair’s Cartier, is a phenomenal undertaking and inspiration for graphic designers in Toronto. Vancouver’s Robert Bringhurst is arguably one of the world’s foremost authorities on Typography. Toronto was home to TypeCon 2002.

If we can take our success in typography, use our voice as a multicultural city, and exploit the obvious well of talent in design, I see no reason why graphic design in Toronto can’t become the next harbinger of aesthetic style which Tokyo and New York strive to imitate. I feel we are already well on our way. There is already no reason to go to New York for the rebranding of our fair city with our enormous talent base, let’s make it unthinkable.

It Doesn't Take a Psychic...

Being at home sick on Wednesday, I was surfing around and came across a Montel Williams (shut up) episode featuring the psychic, Sylvia Browne. (I know, I know.) Of course, the audience took turns asking her questions about loved ones who have passed on, and she reaffirmed their belief that the person still walks with them, etc...The usual psychic stuff.

One question in particular that struck me was from a young woman in the audience who asked, "When will this dark cloud that hangs over me leave?" She must have repeated the question five times before Ms. Browne answered her.

"Stop talking about it," she responded.

The woman looked stunned. Finally, an answer rooted in common sense.

The more your focus on the bad things in your life, the more you will find your life influenced by the negative.

Yesterday on True Talk, Tom wrote a really eloquent post entitled 'Fake It 'Till You Make It,' an expression made popular by Alcoholics Anonymous.

The premise is this - You don't have to believe wholeheartedly in something before you begin. The important thing is just to begin. The more you reinforce the positive aspects of you and your business, for example, the more the clouds will start to lift.

Good advice for anyone.


Random bit of silliness

I give you, the ideal job wizard.

Apparently, I missed my calling...

Aleah, Your ideal job is a Bearded Lady in the circus.

click for another prediction

Companies borrow box office brands

It's always fun to watch how companies incorporate the latest blockbuster movie into their own ads. It's hard to deny the influence of 'Lord of the Rings', 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' and the series of Harry Potter films on consumers.

Cadbury World, anyone?

Considering the target age for most movies and the average age of the new consumer, how can you go wrong mixing the two?

Rick used to ask new clients if they could pick one movie that summarized their business, what would it be? Movies have a mesmerizing, far reaching impact on all of us, young and not-so-young.

What movie would you use to represent your business?


I'd like to teach the world to... protect trademarks

Indian photographer faces suit over Coke billboard

BOMBAY (Reuters) - An Indian photographer has been threatened with legal action by beverage giant Coca-Cola Co. for displaying one of his photographs -- depicting water shortages against a backdrop of the company's ubiquitous logo -- on a giant billboard.


Know the Game You're Playing

I was perusing a poet's blog I like, and came across this brief article about pop / rock stars who have had their book of poems published (much to our dismay).

It's all so obvious, that without the name to back them, these books would be tripe at best. Some of them are so painfully bad, there should be legal consequences.

Take our dear Mister Billy Corgan, once of Smashing Pumpkins fame...

A twixt the twine and flowers divine/Devise the deign in this copper wane/Aghast the mask of ripping change/As I lie, aloft amongst the highest paid
The moral of the story: Don't just do something because you can. Do it because you must, because everything in your being says go. Oh, and ask for some feedback.

The Wheel, Reinvented...Really!

Frogblog led me to this great new concept - the non-inflatable tire. Cool.


'Tis Better to Have Loved and Lost?

Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty has been the focus of a healthy dose of praise and skeptism.

Lauren's post on Feministe sums up the battle between "enlightened messaging" and bottom-line motives.

I can’t decide about the campaign. On one hand it is refreshing to see women outside of the Hollywood norm being represented with respect and presented with a considerable deal of sexiness and attractiveness because of/despite their unconventionality... On the other hand this campaign smacks of the old “Girl Power!” theme in which we are sold beauty products through messages of feminine empowerment.

The overall message seems to be that women are entitled to “feel beautiful.” By buying Dove products, you too can reach your full potential.

The concern is based on the fact that a company is using a powerful social issue to their advantage. The argument is - is that so wrong? I don't know.

What do you think? Should businesses try to use social commentary to sell?


Yellow the Bold

Yellow trumps the other colors on 2005 - the new orange perhaps? I have seen the trend in fashion and in the dyed tresses of style junkies.

For me, yellow has always felt dated - the yellow siding of clapboard houses, the faded yellow of my grandmother's kitchen walls, the "tie a yellow ribbon round..." - so much that the sight of yellow makes me think of the 50s.

According to Tim Manners' article on Fast Company, yellow is oh so much more than the inoffensive cheery hue we've grown accustomed to...

"Yes, yellow. As in Yellow Pages. Mello Yello. The wimpy color that means "slow down" when you're in traffic and "back down" when you're in a fight ("The sun's not yellow, it's chicken," quoth Bob Dylan) has a game going these days. Thanks, in no small part, to Lance Armstrong. It's amazing how a back-bench hue like yellow could become cooler than blue and bolder than brown with a doubtful push by an incredibly famous bicycle guy with a great story to tell, not to mention a certain proclivity for obscure verse." more ...
Where have you seen yellow?


Fire Difficult Clients?

the [non]billable hour bravely tackles the subject of whether or not to continue on with bad clients.

Here's the list of "fire-worthy" traits. Run the other way if you see them coming.

  • THE DISILLUSIONED consistently expresses disappointment with your work even though it is of good quality and conforms to spec.
  • THE SUSPICIOUS consistently expresses a lack of trust, disdain for your work, or questions your integrity.
  • THE CHISELER consistently complains about your bill, even though it conforms to the estimate they agreed to.
  • THE SOMETHING-FOR-NOTHING consistently increases the scope of the project but refuses to pay for the additional work.
  • THE SLOW PAY consistently pays invoices late.
  • THE MONEY PIT consistently is unprofitable.
  • THE CLINGER consistently makes unreasonable demands regarding your availability.

This is not the full list - the original post can be found here.

Something to be learned from this.



Our well wishes and condolences to those who lost friends and family in today's UK bombings, and to those who survived this nightmarish event.

Here's hoping focus and clarity of vision is maintained at this G8 conference.

Still hanging in...

We are finally in the new office - a fairly smooth relocation overall. I hope everyone had a great holiday.

It's always interesting, moving to a new neighborhood, taking in the idiosyncrasies of the place and the distinct flavors, smells, colors. Toronto is a cornucopia of cultural diversity, and you really feel it when you move to a new area. Each neighborhood is truly its only little world.

Calls are starting to happen again, despite a brief struggle with our phone provider. New contacts are being made...slowly. It always takes a little while to be accepted into a new place - like any relationship, working relationships rely on trust and it takes time to establish a solid presence.

More soon.


Happy Canada Day / 4th of July

Have a great weekend, friends!!

If things seem slow around here, we aren't recouping from too much sangria - We are actually in the midst of relocating. Photos of the new space and more to come next week...

Wish us a smooth transition.