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  • 2016 Year in Review

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    2016 was heads down, hearts up. 

    This last year has been the busiest one yet for Cause+Affect. In fact, we have only just pulled our heads up to look around, and surprise, it’s the end of the year. We’d like to say a big thanks to everyone who has put their trust in us this year, and also those who have helped us earn other people’s. Here’s our top 9 projects of the year, in no particular order.

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    BC Housing

    BC Housing is a Crown corporation that provides assistance to renters, as well as emergency and subsidized housing.

    Over the past few years, BC Housing has been going through some significant organizational changes, transitioning from direct managers of subsidized housing for the most vulnerable, to a leadership organization that empowers a network of experts to find innovative solutions for the delivery of affordable housing.

    Our work with BC Housing focused on cultivating the organization’s internal culture around this evolution, before developing a new brand identity system that better symbolized where BC Housing is today. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the team as the brand roles out, to ensure the organization is connecting with its diverse audience groups.

    Visit BC Housing Website

     

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    Odd Society

    Our longstanding relationship with Odd Society Spirits continues, and this year we were able to finally deliver on their inaugural batch of single malt whisky, named Highbrow. Highbrow begins in the tradition of Scottish methods but with a distinct local flavour distilled from 100% BC grown malted barley. Aside from whisky, we have developed other new branded products that will see the light of day in 2017. Watch this space.

    Visit Odd Society’s Website

     

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    Moresports

    Moresports is a community-driven, collaborative and inclusive approach to give ALL kids a chance to play. As a city-wide strategy, it allies with the School Board, Parks Board and communities to meet kids where they are and turn local youth into coaches and leaders. One of Moresports’ guiding principles is to “include always” so they included us on their team! Together, we have helped the organization develop its delivery model and new brand. We have worked closely with leadership but more importantly, with the kids and youths to create a brand that they’d be proud to be a part of and maybe even wear on a t-shirt.

    View Moresports Project

     

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    Re:Address

    This year, Cause+Affect has been working with the City of Vancouver on the reset of their current Housing and Homelessness Strategy. Over the last 6 months, we have been focusing on developing and facilitating a new strategic process that encourages greater community engagement.

    Rather than the traditional “present and defend” model, where a strategy is produced and citizens are then asked for feedback, we developed a new model; Re:Address, where experts and engaged citizens are actively weaved into the strategic process, allowing the strategy to inform our community, while our community informs the strategy.

    A cornerstone to this process was Re:Address Week and the Re:Address Summit which convened hundreds of people across a wide diversity of topics all centred on improving dialogue around housing affordability.

    A new strategy is expected in early 2017 that will be shared with the public through a variety of different methods of community events.

    Visit Re:Address Website

     

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    VIFF (The Vancouver International Film Festival)

    VIFF is a 35 year-old cultural institution in our city. It’s beloved by locals and one of the largest film festivals in North America. Even with all that success, VIFF became fully aware that their audience was shifting in their needs and the organization needed to adapt along with them. At the same time, VIFF wanted to take the opportunity to better serve the diversity of Vancouver’s filmmaking community, embracing the next wave of technologies used to tell stories on screen, and of course attract more corporate partnerships.

    What began with the restructuring of their organization and the way they communicate, soon moved into a new brand for the festival and the year-round programming they deliver at the Vancity Theatre.

    View VIFF Project

     

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    MeToo

    When one if every five Canadians is affected by a mental illness, it’s important we all speak and hear the words “Me Too.”

    They’re just two simple little words, but they carry so much meaning: empathy, sympathy, understanding and support. They tell us we are not alone. And they are powerful weapons against the prejudice and stereotypes that surround mental health and hold people back from the treatment, respect and dignity we all deserve.

    This made MeToo the perfect name for a new mental illness awareness initiative from the VGH/UBC Hospital Foundation. The brand is led by a event series that brings people with mental illness to the stage to share stories of struggle and success.

    View MeToo Project

     

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    VAHA (Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency)

    VAHA was established by the City of Vancouver as a new vehicle to deliver a variety of housing options with greater levels of affordability for people who live and work in Vancouver. Tasked with providing 2500 new homes by 2021, VAHA continues to develop innovative partnerships with a project pipeline of over 20 sites and 1000 units, with more sites to come.

    VAHA engaged Cause+Affect to help with a new brand and communications framework, as well as to facilitate the engagement of local communities in Vancouver as they look to add more and more homes into our neighbourhoods.

    Visit VAHA Website

     

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    Metro Vancouver

    Our work with Metro Vancouver began with the Regional Parks service area. Cause+Affect helped this passionate group clarify the aspects of their service that mattered most and identify the unique attributes and personality that supported them. An evolved brand was developed to bring clarity and consistency to their communications.

    As a result of this great work with the Regional Parks team, Cause+Affect was recently engaged to deliver a more substantial chunk of work; the development of a holistic and streamlined brand system for Metro Vancouver, that included new identity and service architecture… soon to be revealed.

    Visit Metro Vancouver’s Website

     

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    Our new digs

    And lastly, and maybe most importantly, we found a new home for Cause+Affect this year. Since our founding in 2004, we have always been in Gastown. In fact, our previous 3 offices were all within shouting distance of Gassy Jack…or Six Acres, whichever makes a more obvious location marker. Our new office is no different as its entrance is just off the courtyard of Gaoler’s Mews in The Garage Building at 12 Water Street.

    We are up on the 5th floor with views looking out to the North Shore mountains and rooftops of Gastown. If you are in the neighbourhood, drop by and say hello. We almost always have a pot of coffee on the go.

    Contact Us

     

    What’s Up for 2017?

    We have a remarkable project in progress with the City of Vancouver which we hope will see the light of day next year. Meanwhile, we are working with HFBC Housing Foundation to create a powerful new brand. A 100% packaging-free grocery store very close to our hearts will be launching their new identity in the coming months, and of course the completion of the City of Vancouver’s Housing and Homelessness Strategy is one of our key priorities. Ongoing work for BC Housing, Metro Vancouver, VIFF, and Odd Society will also keep us busy and a very, very new project with BC Hydro appears to be something quite special.

    Here’s to those that continue to make our city better. If we can help, just ask.

     

     

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  • Speakers: Sublime&Ridiculous

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    Sublime&Ridiculous Vol.1 – Speakers Announced

    Thursday, October 27th 2016  (7:00pm – 9:00pm)

    Sublime&Ridiculous is a new event series aimed at providing a dynamic and diverse discussion on topics that are pulled directly from local headlines. Vol.1 focuses on Housing Affordability and is presented in collaboration with the City of Vancouver as a part of the Re:Address week.

    We have assembled an incredible group of speakers who have first hand experience and expertise in the growing challenges of housing affordability.

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    Kishone Roy – CEO, British Columbia Non-Profit Housing Association

    Kishone is CEO of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association where he advocates for the affordable housing sector in BC.During his time at BCNPHA it has doubled in size, seen governments invest over a billion new dollars in social housing, moved it’s offices into an innovative co-location and implemented major projects like the Rental Housing Index and the introduction of new professional designation for the sector. BCNPHA has also undergone a major expansion of their events and education programs and acquired an equity stake in Encasa Financial, a mutual fund company owned and managed by the sector.

     

    Janice Abbot, CEO – Atira Women’s Resource Society

    Janice has been the CEO since 1992, leading the Society through its incredible growth from a single transition house located in South Surrey with a staff of seven to a large multi-service agency with two, for-profit subsidiaries, a development arm and more than 500 staff.

    She has headed up numerous innovative capital projects including Canada’s first multi-unit recycled shipping container housing development, which was completed in August 2013.

    Janice was recognized by BC Business Magazine as among one of BC’s 35 Most Influential Women in 2016.

     

    Sarah Hill – CEO, Greater Sydney Commission

    Sarah is recognised as a leading expert in the field of housing policy, with specific regard to affordable housing. As the CEO of the Greater Sydney Commission, a new, independent organization, she is  responsible for leading the planning of Greater Sydney. Sarah is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Technology Sydney in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building. She was recognized as the Planning Institute of Australia’s current NSW Planner of the Year and also Australian Planner of the Year for 2016. She is also the recipient of two international planning awards including the Mayor of London Planning Award for Excellence and the Royal Town Planning Institute Award for Planning.

     

    David Eddy – CEO, Vancouver Native Housing Society

    David is CEO of Vancouver Native Housing Society (VNHS), a non-profit, off-reserve, Aboriginal housing provider in Vancouver, Canada. Under David’s leadership over the last seven years, VNHS has increased its portfolio by nearly 100% and broadened its mandate from strictly housing urban Aboriginal families and seniors to providing supportive housing for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal homeless people and those at risk of homelessness, housing for youth and for women fleeing violence. Since June, 2012 David has taken VNHS in a new direction of entrepreneurialism and self-sustainability, creating two social enterprises which have received international media attention and acclaim, the Skwachàys Lodge (www.skwachays.com) and the Urban Aboriginal Fair Trade Gallery. (www.urbanaboriginal.org)

     

    Jen Muranetz – Filmmaker

    An accomplished digital storyteller and journalist, crafting newsworthy, original content for video and print platforms, Jen has over six years’ experience producing, reporting, writing, shooting and editing video for lifestyle news and broadcast. She currently works as a video journalist for Simon Fraser University and as a freelancer, creating compelling video and print media for independent clients and online platforms. She has been published in a variety of media outlets, including VICE Canada and Modern Agriculture. As part of Storyhive, Jen is working on a documentary called Better Together which delves into the subculture of co-housing by vignetting some of Vancouver’s most established collective houses.

     

    Kira Gerwing – Community Investment Manager, Vancity

    Kira’s work focuses on enabling the development of social enterprise real estate projects that result in community ownership, affordability, and green buildings. Kira’s work at Vancity stems from eight years of urban planning in Downtown Eastside neighbourhoods with the City of Vancouver. She has a passion for finding creative and engaging ways to ensure everyone’s fundamental right to flourish. As such, her efforts have centred on local economic development: crafting deals that create high-value, positive impact in communities and that leverage emerging opportunities in sustainability sectors of the economy. She has worked on projects and policies for affordable housing and social purpose real estate development, as well as local food, materials diversion, the creative economy, community-based forestry, sustainable fisheries, and eco-tourism.

     

    Ouri Scott – Intern Architect, Dialog

    As one of the first Indigenous women to graduate from the UBC’s Master of Architecture program, Ouri is driven to resolve prevalent, yet often unaddressed design issues that face First Nations people across Canada, and around the world. As a designer, she looks to develop a modern language of architecture that reflects and responds to contemporary First Nations culture. Her most recent work includes an award-winning concept for a net-zero, mixed-use development in Seattle that incorporates renewable energy strategies and intensive vertical farming. As a proud member of the Tlicho First Nation in northern Canada, Ouri works with First Nations communities across western Canada in the areas of community development, traditional knowledge and indigenous governance.

     

    Rowan Arundel – Researcher, University of Amsterdam

    Rowan is a researcher within the Centre of Urban Studies and the Department of Geography, Planning and International Development at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He is embedded within the EU-funded research project HOUWEL and focuses on quantitative research into changing housing careers of young adults, growing housing inequalities and the relationship between labour market divides and housing outcomes. He is in the final stages of completing his PhD. He has recently published on ‘declining homeownership across Europe in the post-crisis era,’ ‘trends in parental co-residence and shared living,’ and has several upcoming publications on ‘boomerang returns to the parental home’, ‘growing inequalities in housing wealth accumulation’, as well as ‘labour market insecurity and the end of mass homeownership.’

     

    Get Tickets Here

     

    Thursday, October 27th 2016  (7:00pm – 9:00pm)

    Vancouver Convention Centre – East

    999 Canada Place
    2nd floor, Parkview Terrace Room

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  • Rebrand: The Vancouver International Film Festival

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    The Vancouver International Film Festival is a 35 year-old cultural institution in our city. It’s beloved by locals and one of the largest film festivals in North America. Even with all that success, VIFF became fully aware that their audience was shifting in their needs and the organization needed to adapt along with them. At the same time VIFF wanted to take the opportunity to better serve the diversity of our filmmaking community, embrace the next wave of technologies used to tell stories on screen, and of course attract more corporate partnerships.

     

    The Restructure

    VIFF’s main branding challenge is that they have become so much more than just a film festival. Not only have they added a significant industry conference to their brand family but also program and operate a theatre year round.

    The work to meet these challenges is still in progress, but it debuted with a strategic restructuring of the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival that will carry on year-round at their Vancouver International Film Centre.

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    To begin, VIFF has expanded the frame to include more diverse experiences. Envisioned as Film+, this strategy adds more talks, parties, exhibitions and workshops to appeal to both those who work in the film industry and the public. These experiences serve as a complement to the film screenings, not a replacement, and are organized around streams which pool the experiences based on themes (and are open for unique sponsorship).

    For example, the Impact stream focuses on films and discussions that spark action and social change, while the Next stream looks at the future of technology as a catalyst for storytelling.

    Much of Next will be built around the VIFF Hub, which roots the festival at the Vancouver International Film Centre and creates a space for the exploration of new screen-based experiences like VR, as well as spot to hear from industry leaders and creators and listen to music late into the night.

    All streams will continue on year-round at the Vancouver International Film Centre as the year round programming becomes more closely connected to that of the Festival.

     

    Discovering Discovery: Defining the VIFF Brand

    Research is always a key part of our process, and it was a particularly substantial part of this project. We interviewed audience members, the local film industry, sponsors, partners and staff. We sifted through reams of reports and scanned the entire global landscape of international film festivals.

    With this understanding, we worked with the team at VIFF to build a brand around a core set of values — what sets VIFF apart? What does it truly stand for?

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    What was cultivated was a strong commitment to home and VIFF’s place in the world. VIFF programs the largest annual exhibition of East Asian films outside of Asia, is Canada’s largest documentary film festival, programs the largest selection of Canadian films in the country and celebrates and support local BC talent.

    As the organization moves forward, it became clear that it wanted to bring more diversity to its experiences, both in audience and experience. As well, it recognized the difference between itself in other festivals in that it continues to celebrate the creators rather than the celebrities. And lastly, VIFF values the content, but does forget about the total experience.

    VIFF is proud of its place on the West Coast of Canada, a unique position that is both separate but connected.

    We call it the edge of discovery.

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    Visually Communicating the VIFF Brand

    Finally we get to the part of the process that most people associate with branding: the visual identity. We really wanted to communicate VIFF’s boldness and vibrancy with its logo, colours, type and graphics.

    “Disassociating ourselves from TIFF, SIFF (or any other ‘IFF’) we eschew the lowercase and carved our wordmark out of a solid mass. By removing the extraneous details, we create a symbol that reveals a unique meaning, but only after study and appreciation. Much like the programming at VIFF, it is substantial, cerebral and rewarding.”

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    We designed a graphic system to hold the brand and to expand the frame as VIFF moved towards film+, which you can see in motion in this trailer for VIFF 2016 we worked on with Post Pro Media with music by Warsaw Sound.

    All of the graphic design work and strategic thinking came together on VIFF’s website. As a major touchpoint for interaction with the brand, it had to be easy to use, memorable and communicate the new brand. It leads with content in the streams right away to greet visitors.

    With a massive film festival comes a huge marketing push and after many hours in front of our computers designing signage, ads and program covers, we looked up and found that our work followed us wherever we looked.

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    Change has come to VIFF and we look forward to what comes next.
    View full case study here.

     

     

     

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  • The legacy of D.H.E.

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    Back in November of 2010 we decided to put a rock&roll band on the stage to open Pecha Kucha Night. It was our 14th show and we thought it would bring some life to the event. Who knew that this decision would bring so much to the future of Cause+Affect. The band we chose was called The Racoons, and lucky for us, they brought along an additional member of the group for the live performance: a trumpet player named Doug Hamilton-Evans.

    Following the gig, Jane had a short conversation with him and it turns out that Doug could write even better than he played the trumpet. Coincidentally, he was also a former student of a wonderful friend and colleague of ours named Brian Hendricks. Brian taught at UVic and in turn vouched for these writing talents that Doug spoke about. That proved to be enough for us, Doug joined Cause+Affect as our “communications guy”.

    His first project was working out brand messaging for Modo leading to a 6 year stint that involved many other local brands including Odd Society Spirits, Tides Canada, Fresh Roots, Pivot Legal Society, Fairware, Integrative, Equilibrium, Citystudio, PechaKucha Night and most recently, VIFF. For these clients, Doug was in charge of writing, ideas, and brand strategy as well as being the nicest guy around. He treated our clients as friends and in many ways became a role model for how we interact with the people we work with.

    Doug created this role himself and has evolved and crafted it over the years. As it turns out, it will be somewhat difficult to replicate. See, more important than just work stuff, Doug’s role included many other things that contributed to what has made Cause+Affect what it is. Crucial cultural decisions like playlists, office locations, how we talked about ourselves, coffee brands, social activities, potential clients, cocktail recipes and alcoholic must have’s, blog topics, holiday literature, and bike riding fashion and accessories were all his “bailey wick”. They will now be at the mercy of the collective.

    This is because Doug is leaving Cause+Affect. He has decided to expand this mind, grow his skills and take in more of what the world has to offer him. He will begin a Masters of Media and Communications at the illustrious Goldsmiths in London, UK in September.

    On behalf of Jane and everyone else who has been a part of Cause+Affect during the reign of Doug Hamilton Evans, we would like to take this opportunity to publicly say thank you. We have accomplished an amazing amount over the past 6 years and you have been a part of all of it.

    London is lucky to have you.

    Now, just before you go, can you post this to the blog….nobody knows how to do that.

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  • East Van Vodka featured on The Dieline

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    We spent a lot of time seeking inspiration and reviewing trends on The Dieline when designing Odd Society Spirits’ bottles, so we’re quite pleased that East Van Vodka has been featured on the most visited website on package design in the world.

    Read The Dieline’s feature on East Van Vodka

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  • Odd Society Launch

    In an intimate gathering of friends and family basked in the distorted reflections of gleaming copper stills, Odd Society Spirits opened its doors for business last night.

    Our longtime friends and clients, Odd Society operate a small-batch craft distillery in the heart of East Van. Fermenting and distilling through traditional methods in small batches and only using 100% BC agricultural products, Odd Society is part of a new era of craft distilling in Vancouver, much like the craft beer revolution we’re currently enjoying.

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    Our Work for Odd Society

    Cause+Affect’s scope of work for Odd Society was broad, as was our creative freedom, thanks to Odd Society founders Miriam Karp and Gordon Glanz. In brief, we were responsible for:

    Odd Society Brand—including name, brand story, logo, identity and website

    Distillery interiors—turning an old motorcycle garage into the physical personification of the Odd Society brand. A place that is unusual, yet welcoming.

    Product branding and packaging design—including naming and copywriting

    See the project page on our website for details.

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    Odd Society Spirits Bar

    East Van Vodka

    Odd Society’s debut product, East Van Vodka, is unlike any other vodka we’ve ever tasted. Made with 100% barley grown in Prince George and malted in Armstrong, it has actual flavours and depth to it as opposed to most intentionally neutral vodkas we’ve tried. And it goes great in Odd Society’s signature cocktails, the Sour Owl and Odd Aviation.

    Read about our first sip of East Van Vodka on our blog

    We designed the East Van Vodka label around ‘Cornelius’ – original artwork we sourced from local artist Shwa Keirstead who we also asked to paint a phantasmagorical imagining of the Odd Society stills that dominates the tasting bar.

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    Upcoming Spirits

    The next spirits from Odd Society will be a small batch of Creme de Cassis made in collaboration with Hervé Martin, the former chef to the Late King of Belgium; Wallflower Gin made with coastal botanicals, and an unaged barley spirit that we call Mongrel.

    Last but not least, Odd Society’s first batch of whiskey is maturing in barrels as we speak. We hope to share a sip or two with you when it’s ready in less than three years.

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    The Where, When and How

    Odd Society’s doors are now open for free tastings, tours and sales. Find them at 1725 Powell Street at the foot of Commercial. Open Thurs – Sun 1:00 – 7:00. They’ll be giving complimentary tours Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 4pm.

    Find batch #2 of East Van Vodka (batch #1 is sold out) in several new liquor stores and restaurants including Pacific Spirits Liquor Store, East Side Liquor Store, Crosstown Liquor Store, and Chambar Restaurant with more coming on board every day. Ask for it by name!

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  • Watch each talk from PechaKucha Night Vol. 29

    PechaKucha Night Vol. 29

    Over 100 cities worldwide united to celebrate the global phenomena that is PechaKucha Night by hosting them in an unbroken chain for over 20 hours on September 20th.  Linking up via Google Hangouts hosted and streamed online, this Global PechaKucha Night was dedicated to honouring the “hidden heroes” that define our individual cities. For  Vancouver’s PechaKucha Night Vol. 29, we decided to explore the hidden heroes of the local film industry.

    For those of you who couldn’t make it – or just want to relive the evening – you can watch each talk on our Vimeo page. Enjoy and share.

    Speakers

    Carl Bessai – Director Raven West Films 
    Carl Bessai is one of Canada’s leading directors of independent film. Based in Vancouver and Los Angeles, he has directed 14 feature films to date, all of which have garnered numerous national and international awards.
    Watch Presentation

    Gwenael Lewis – Creative Director New Document, Videographer at Bocci 
    A filmmaker, storyteller, and design entrepreneur based in Vancouver, Gwenael’s growing obsession for visual story telling came to the forefront while working at Chanel. He has since collaborated with several international designers including Omer Arbel, Marcel Wanders and Maarten Baas.
    Watch Presentation

    Edo Van Breemen – Film Score Composer / Producer 
    A classically trained composer, songwriter, and electronic music producer, Edo’s stylistic versatility and ability to musically interpret narratives in an emotionally compelling manner have made him a go-to composer for a rapidly growing pool of renowned film directors and commercial production houses worldwide.
    Watch Presentation

    Andrea Chlebak – Digital Colorist, Digital Film Central 
    Andrea Chlebak is the Senior Colorist and Director of Creative Services at Central, a boutique post-production facility in Vancouver. Andrea most recently completed the final colour for Neill Blomkamp’s feature film, Elysium.
    Watch Presentation

    Adrien Van Viersen – Illustrator/Filmmaker, Smashmedia Production 
    Adrien’s career as a storyboard artist began with Romeo Must Die, and continued with Dreamcatcher, X-men2, I-Robot, Incredible Hulk, Mission Impossible 4, and TV pilots Smallville, Supernatural, The Arrow, and Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles.
    Watch Presentation

    Simon Barry – Creator/Show-Runner of Continuum 
    Simon has sold Film and TV projects to Warner Bros., DreamWorks, Universal, Columbia, Working Title, CBS, FOX, FX, TNT, USA, and many independent companies. Feature Film credits include the Warner Bros. action thriller The Art of War and the micro budgeted independent Hamlet.
    Watch Presentation

    Kristin Lehman – Actress, Editor of This Fair Land 
    Kristin’s television credits include leading series regular roles on The Killing, Judging Amy, Felicity, Century City, Drive, Tilt and Strange World to name a few. Kristin can be seen playing Detective Angie Flynn on CTV’s primetime drama, Motive, or running her recently launched online magazine, This Fair Land.
    Watch Presentation

    Wayne Bennett – Film Producer, Organizer of Save BC Film 
    Wayne has been a member of the Film and Television community for 23 years.  In 2013, he became actively involved with “Save BC Film” in an effort to educate the public and our Government of the benefits of having an active and thriving Film and Television industry in BC.
    Watch Presentation

    Jesse James Miller – Writer/DirectorProfile Films 
    Jesse James Miller is a multi-award winning writer and director who’s latest critically acclaimed feature film The Good Son: The life of Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini was described by the LA TIMES as “a powerful story of triumph & tragedy”.
    Watch Presentation

    Damien Gillis – Co-Director Fractured Land 
    A Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues – especially relating to water, energy and saving Canada’s wild salmon – working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world.
    Watch Presentation

    Maureen Webb – Co-Founder Project Limelight Society 
    Maureen Webb co-founded (with her sister, Donalda Weaver) Project Limelight Society, a free performing arts program for young people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. They also launched East of Main Cafe, in Chinatown, which donates 100% of its profits to Project Limelight.
    Watch Presentation

    Kevin Eastwood – Producer/Director of Optic Nerve Films 
    The producer on two of BC’s most successful homegrown feature films (the cult favourite Fido, and the Canadian box office hit, The Delicate Art of Parking). Currently directing The Emergency Room – a new series from Lark Productions that takes an unprecedented look inside the emergency room at VGH.
    Watch Presentation

    Opening Band – Brasstronaut
    Emerging in 2008 with their debut Old World Lies EP, the Vancouver based sextet has developed a distinctly unique sound that defies genre pigeonholing.”

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  • Odd Society bottles batch #1 of East Van Vodka

    Yesterday was a good day. Our friends at Odd Society Spirits celebrated the bottling of their very first batch of their very first product – East Van Vodka – and we were lucky enough to be among the first to taste it.

    Odd Society SpiritsAfter over a year of debating names, designing labels, logos and website, writing stories, getting permits, withstanding inspections, installing the stills, building the tasting lounge and experimenting with various distilling techniques and ingredients, the moment of truth had arrived.

    We gathered with Gordon and Miriam, the Odd Society Founders, in their almost complete tasting bar. Above the bar stood a massive phantasmagorical rendition of the glistening stills we could see through the floor-to-ceiling windows to our left. Painted by local East Van artist, Shwa Keirstead, the piece imagines the copper pot and column stills as a mish-mash of various beasts and spirits. Tentacles, feathers, scales, disembodied eyeballs, wispy spirits, fish and fowl make it look like the stills are the result of a fiendish experiment by Dr. Moreau. Definitely Odd.

    Odd Society Artwork

    Gordon, the distiller, poured the vodka from one of the one thousand bottles of batch #1, noted in his handwriting at the base of the label we designed, also featuring artwork by Shwa, this time of a mustachioed owl sporting a pipe and naval uniform going by the name ‘Cornelius’.

    We brought the glasses to our noses. It smelled floral and a bit sweet. There was none of the raw, burning alcohol sensation you normally get with vodka.

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    Odd Society Bar

    We sipped. And it was good. Unlike any vodka we’ve ever had, East Van Vodka tasted smooth and buttery. Made from 100% malted barley, it comes from real substance. Gordon joked that it should be called single malt vodka.

    Naturally, we have a considerable bias here, let alone a vested interest in this being good, but none of us had ever encountered a vodka that you could sip like this before.

    East Van Vodka’s quality is assuring because it’s just the first of many spirits to come from the Odd Society, including Wallflower Gin, a yet-to-be-named whiskey that will be ready in two years and 11 months (it went into oak barrels a month ago), a Creme de Cassis and the Mongrel, an unaged spirit that we can’t legally call whiskey because it won’t spend anytime aging in a barrel, but contains all the locally-grown malted barley and rye that will remind you of it. It may also remind you of moonshine.

    Odd Society Barrels

    Working in our digital age, it’s rare for people in our line of work to see real physical products that you can experience like this come to reality. We have been working with Odd Society’s brand for quite some time now and are immensely proud to now hold something tangible in our hands and feel what was once just an idea now glide across our tongues and down our throats. It feels good.

    Odd Society’s tasting room and distillery on Powell Street – designed by us, built by them – is coming along steadily and will be a beautiful atmosphere to taste and learn about Odd Society’s family of spirits with new licensing laws in place to make these types of rooms more conducive to lingering and learning.

    Odd Society Distillery

    Odd Society expects to open their doors to the public in late October, but look for (and ask for) East Van Vodka at local bars and liquor stores until then.

     

     

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  • Branding for Small Business – Everybody’s Talking About it, Nobody’s Doing It

    Branding for Small businessBranding. It’s like exercise and eating right. Everyone knows the value in it, but few people are actually doing it.

    A recent BC Business Article ‘Why Small Business Needs Branding’ points to research done by American Express Small Business Monitor that found that while 90 per cent of Canadian small business owners see a “unique brand that differentiates them from the competition” as more essential than ever, only 14 per cent of them have consulted a professional branding firm.

    That’s like saying, “I really need to eat better” while going for seconds at the sundae bar. Actually, it’s more like “I should really go to the gym” and then firing up Netflix.

    It got us thinking: why do so few small businesses brand when they know its value?

    Who’s got the money for that?

    As small business owners ourselves, we understand the reluctance to invest in yourself. However, the important thing to realize is that it is just that – an investment. The money you invest into branding will bring you significant returns. It will bring you attention, grow your audience and, most importantly, increase your bottom line.

    In a competitive world, investing in a unique, professionally developed brand is the best way to have your voice heard above the fray.

    Strike while your competitors sleep

    As the article shows, few businesses are actually pursuing branding, despite the recognized advantage. So what better way to gain a competitive advantage than to invest in yourself while your rivals ignore this crucial part of business?

    Branding is misunderstood

    Another reason that small businesses may hold off on branding is they don’t really understand it. We can’t blame them – branding is often viewed as a dirty word attached to some of the worst examples of rampant, uncaring capitalism. More often, people only think of a brand in the aesthetic sense – a pretty logo, a flashy website.

    For Cause+Affect, branding has an aesthetic element of course, but it’s the representation of much deeper thinking and strategy. The branding process should help businesses make decisions about who they are, what they do and how they approach the world. In the end, it shouldn’t just look good. It should influence behaviour. It should stand as a beacon of a business’ personality and reputation.

    Once a small business has gone through a branding process, everyone involved in the organization inside and out should have a clear vision about what it stands for and how it’s different from the competition. A brand strengthens a business model and sets you not only apart from its competitors, but above them.

    Can you afford to engage in a branding process? The question should be: can you afford to not?

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  • Modo adapts brand to celebrate Vancouver Pride

    If we’ve done our job right, the brand identities we build with our clients should represent their values and personality and encourage long lasting relationships with their audiences.

    One of the biggest challenges for our clients in deepening those relationships is maintaining the integrity of their brand as it evolves over time. We talk to our clients about being consistent with their brand both in message and aesthetic. At the same time, we are thrilled when our clients are able to evolve their brands on their own in a way that keeps true to their original values and personality.

    Strong brands are adaptable. They can adopt or work alongside other brands without losing their identity because a great brand is more than just its symbols and colour palette. A brand comes to stand for the beliefs of the organization behind it.

    Modo, the car co-op’s rainbow pride t-shirts are a beautiful example of this.

    pride shirts

    By incorporating the rainbow into their visual identity, Modo didn’t dilute its brand; it enhanced it by being true to its values. Modo is fun, local, passionate, supportive and inclusive and it showed it proudly by embracing pride.

    Plus, these t-shirts look awesome. Get your limited edition t-shirt by emailing Tommy@modo.coop.

    Just in time for the Pride Parade this Sunday. Have fun, Vancouver!

    modo-pride-shirts1

    Photos courtesy of Modo, the Car Co-op

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