• Rebrand: The Vancouver International Film Festival


    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.


    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?


    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.

    Artboard 1 copy


    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.”


    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.


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




  • The legacy of D.H.E.

    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.

  • Jane and Steven Join the Board of A Better Life Foundation


    In Support of our Community

    Jane and I founded Cause+Affect at the East end of Water Street in 2004. Since that time, we have moved through four separate offices never more than 100 steps away from the Gassy Jack statue. While we now live North Vancouver, much of our history and our identity comes from the streets of Gastown and the amazing community that makes up the Downtown Eastside.

    It is with that in mind that we are excited and honoured to take Board positions with A Better Life Foundation (ABLF). This young, scrappy and innovative organization has a wonderful duality of empowerment and support. It not only provides meal programs to those most in need, but also employs many that have barriers keeping them from traditional forms of employment. Their work at ABLF builds skills and provides socialization and education as well as the chance to be part of something.

    The organization is run by Mark Brand, a friend who we have come to know well over the years. His care, drive and charm have garnered a significant amount of attention. Our support for him is based on what we see as an authentic need to put his talents towards making positive change. 

    We have joined the board along with a number of others who share our passion for this community and together we feel confident that we can help Mark and his team grow ABLF into a significant charitable organization. One that is built on integrity, guts and hard work. 

    ABLF would eventually love your support, but for now, your respect and curiosity is a great start.

    To open the door for that process, we would love for you to join us at the next Greasy Spoon dinner on April 26 at Save on Meats. Chef Trevor Bird from Fable Kitchen will fuse fine dining and diner food to deliver a four course meal to remember. Proceeds go towards the hunger solutions part of A Better Life Foundation. 

    We hope to see you there.

    – Steven Cox

  • Creative Director Steven Cox joins Board of CPAWS-BC

    CPAWS-Grizzly-BearJane and I have been in Vancouver since 2003 and have become more and more entrenched as Vancouverites each year. So it is with honour and pride that I share the news that I have joined the Board of Directors for the British Columbia chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – more commonly known as CPAWS-BC – a non-profit, grassroots-based conservation organization devoted purely to protecting Canada’s wilderness in our public lands and oceans. 

    My connection to the natural world was grown over the summers of my youth that I spent on an off-the-grid island in Lake of the Woods in Northern Ontario. A long standing family asset, this 30 acres of wilderness was incredibly unique and my extended family formed a conservation society to manage and protect it. It was both the repeated connection to this wilderness and the sense of responsibility for its protection that had a profound impact on me and my concept of our role as Canadians. 

    In my estimation, CPAWS is one of the most significant environmental organizations in Canada. Since its founding in 1963 it has helped protect over 400,000 square kilometres of threatened areas. As a Board member, I have the privilege to apply the same strategies we employ at Cause+Affect to help cultivate an organization’s culture and share it with their audience to help grow CPAWS’ funding and impact and help it find its place among from the many other excellent ENGOs out there. 

    For more information about CPAWS-BC see their website, volunteer, donate or join us at any of our upcoming events out in the wilderness or in Vancouver’s only geodesic dome…..

    Explore BC’s Sea of Glass

    Wednesday, March 23 at the TELUS World of Science

    200 metres below the surface there live reefs built by fragile glass sponges that cover more than 1,000 square kilometres of sea floor and rises eight storeys in some places.

    Join CPAWS and international scientists to discover the mysterious world of BC’s Glass Sponge Reefs on Wednesday, March 23 from 6:30pm – 9:30pm at the TELUS World of Science.

    Get tickets

  • Introducing the new PechaKucha Night Producer: Becki Chan!

    PechaKucha_Vancovuer03As you likely know, we at Cause+Affect have relinquished control of PechaKucha Night Vancouver. What you may not know is that we were as in the dark as you about what would happen next!

    Many groups and individuals applied to PechaKucha Headquarters in Tokyo for the right to produce this landmark event. We can’t imagine their decision was easy, but it only makes sense that they selected…….

    Becki Chan!!

    Becki Chan is a multidisciplinary designer working in jewellery, public art, interior andspatial design. She’s a maker of things, an event organizer and overall busy, creative person.

    She’s also a previous Cause+Affect team member, a great friend and was a key part of the team that produced PechaKucha Night Vancouver for five years before moving to Toronto to serve as the lead spatial designer at Bruce Mau Design. Now she’s back and ready to shake things up with an event and audience she knows intimately.

    We don’t know exactly what she has planned, but we know it will be great. To hear the breaking news and continue to keep up with everything PechaKucha Night Vancouver, sign up for the NEW newsletter at And the new Twitter account.

    We’ll see you at the next PechaKucha Night!

    Congratulations, Becki!

  • 2015 Year in Review. Our Top 9.


    Is it too late to be retrospective?

    Well we’re doing it anyways. It’s important to look back at what we’ve done to figure out where we’re going (those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it). And while we didn’t realize it at the time, 2015 was a big one.

    Here’s our top 9 of 2015 in no particular order.


    1 – The Final year of PechaKucha Night


    All good things come to an end. After eight incredible years of PechaKucha Night, we decided to let it go. But not before we produced three of our biggest events to date.

    In February PechaKucha The Musical! brought three diverse musical acts and ten speakers to the stage to celebrate the local music industry in all its facets. Chin Injeti brought the house down and everyone to their feet to close out the night with a huge feel-good jam.

    We closed the year with two events in two months. First in collaboration with the City of Vancouver in September to imagine “Our Green Future” and then in partnership with Emily Carr University of Art+Design in October to look at how the forces of creativity shape us.

    And that was that! On to new things.


    2 – Tides Canada rebrand


    We feel like we’ve been through thick and thin with Tides Canada, so it was a moment of pride to see the launch of their new brand identity  to represent their methods and values on a slick new website designed by Briteweb.


    3 – The Modo Brand evolves into the 21st Century


    Another longtime client we’re proud to be associated with. Three years after we created the Modo brand to put the carsharing co-operative on the map in Vancouver, they’ve expanded throughout the Metro region and into Victoria! We worked with their entire team to sharpen their brand to match their evolution and saw it break into the 21st century on a new website and app developed by our friends at Invoke.


    4 – Citystudio 


    CityStudio revolutionizes city building by revolutionizing how we educate the next generation of city builders and citizens. We helped them define what they do (which isn’t easy when you’re charting new territory!) and designed a brand that represents connectivity between schools, city hall, our neighbourhoods and communities around the world.


    5 – Fighting for social change with Pivot Legal Society and The Canadian Drug Policy Coalition


    We supported two important social change organizations behind the scenes this year.

    Pivot Legal Society uses the law to address the root causes of poverty and social exclusion. You may know them from landmark cases for sex workers’ rights (Canada v. Bedford) and homeless rights to public space (Drug War Survivors v City of Abbotsford). We were honoured to help them shape their core brand story to explain what they do, why they do it and who they do it in the simplest way possible.


    For the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, we helped define key messages and designed assets to help them fundraise in advance of an upcoming UN meeting to address the dangerous faults of our current system of drug prohibition.


    6 – Odd Society Spirits continues to experiment


    The inventive team at Odd Society Spirits released several new spirits this year that lived up to their mandate to experiment with local ingredients and traditional distilling methods.

    We had a lot of fun designing the labels and writing copy for Mongrel, a whisky-like moonshine drink that isn’t aged in a barrel; East Van Aged Vodka, a whisky-like vodka that IS aged in a barrel; and Salal Gin, a west coast take on a British favourite — sloe gin.


    7 – Me Too tackles the stigma against mental health for VGH


    “Me Too.” Two simple words that can mean all the difference to someone with a mental health issue, which is one in five Canadians. We’ve all experienced something or know and love someone who has.

    Which is why we are glad for the opportunity to work with the the VGH/UBC Hospital Foundation to name, brand and help promote the ‘Me Too Conversations’ event series to tackle mental health stigma through storytelling.

    Register for the next event on Wednesday, January 13. Free admission.


    8 – Starting a dance mob at the Social Purpose Real Estate Conference for Vancity


    We conducted a ‘Future Laboratory’ at Building Opportunities: The Social Purpose Real Estate Conference to lead conference-goers through exercises and conversations to help define the movement to develop a more socially and environmentally real estate model. We also instigated a dance mob to demonstrate what movement building is all about.


    9 – Core and The Finery


    We expanded our services into the US with major work in Nashville. We completed the rebrand of Core Development for Mark Deutschmann and his team and moved on to brand a major multi-phase development, The Finery.


    What’s up for 2016?

    • We can’t wait to share what we’ve been cooking up with new clients like Metro Vancouver Regional Parks and the Vancouver International Film Festival — two organizations that define the culture and environment of our communities.
    • Stay tuned for the launch of a new brand for a Whistler hotel.
    • And we’re moving into a new office space! We remain within the three-block radius of Gastown (our comfort zone), but will be moving into a new space in the Garage on Water Street in February. Office-warming party to be announced.


    Happy New Year!

  • Goodnight, PechaKucha Night


    Dear friends of PechaKucha Night,

    We started PechaKucha Night in Vancouver in 2008 to bring people together. At the time, Vancouver lacked a vehicle for self discovery. There was just not enough awareness of the amazing people doing creative things in and for our city.

    Now, almost 8 years on, we have produced 38 Volumes and put almost 500 different speakers on the stage in front of over 35,000 people. To our surprise, the series has grown a committed following that verges on cultish. 

    As PechaKucha Night grew, dozens of new community events sprouted throughout Vancouver. There is now no shortage of places to go to hear about the wonderful things happening in our incredible city.

    Given our long run and the new cultural landscape of the city, it is time to pass on the PechaKucha torch and give someone else a chance to bring fresh new people and ideas to the stage.

    We’re not done creating experiences that catalyze our city’s creativity and culture. That’s what we do. That’s who we are. But we started PechaKucha to fill a need that is now well served and it is time for us to focus on something new.

    To be the first to know about it, sign up for the Cause+Affect newsletter.

    We have informed PechaKucha headquarters in Tokyo of our decision and offered our help in selecting our successor. If you’re interested in taking the reins, please contact Johnny at PechaKucha HQ.

    We look forward to watching this event evolve here and around the world, and will continue to support the many other great community events that surround us. 

    It has been an incredible ride and we cannot communicate how much it has meant to us and how touched we are by those of you who enjoyed it along with us. 

    Thank you to all our speakers. Thank you to all our musical guests. Thank you to all our partners, venues and volunteers. And most of all, thank you. This event became what it was due to the love and support of our community.

    From Steven and Jane and everyone at Cause+Affect, this isn’t goodbye. This is ‘see you later.’

    It has been our pleasure.

    We filmed many of the more recent events. If you want to relive the magic, check out our Vimeo page.

  • Building a Movement for Social Purpose Real Estate

    Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 1.15.10 PM

    Bodies gyrated. Arms flailed. Hands clapped. Hips swayed. Some more in time with the beat than others, but everyone was moving in some way. It was a familiar scene for a wedding reception.

    Except this was an industry conference. Not the most likely setting for such a display.

    How did this happen?

    Like with all movements, all it took was one crazy dancer to start things off.

    One lone wild dancer is an anomaly. It’s uncomfortable. Out of place. But what happens when another dancer joins? And then another? And then a few more?

    Pretty soon you’ve hit a tipping point and then the crazy dancers are the majority. It’s awkward to not join.

    Now we had a movement.

    With the help of some brave volunteer dancers, we had demonstrated the basic principles of movement building and broken the ice at the opening party of the 2015 Building Opportunities, The Social Purpose Real Estate conference.

    Sure we could have explained what a movement was, but it’s one of those big open concepts that’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. Or better yet, experience it.

    The Movement Potential of Social Purpose Real Estate

    The topic of social purpose real estate is a compelling one for us. We come from architecture and design backgrounds and have a lot of experience on all sides of the real estate development process with all sorts of players, so we see the need to undo the formula and develop a more socially and environmentally committed business model.

    Our role at Building Opportunities was to help the diverse group of players in this growing sector unearth the culture that defines and unites them.

    When a conference is designed for “anyone interested in sustainable community development, cutting edge financing of real estate projects, efficient operations, quality workspace and innovative shared services for the nonprofit sector” you know you’ve got a broad group to bring together.

    We wanted to find the common thread between these interests and the people behind them. We wanted to help transform this from bunch of good ideas practiced in isolation to a movement.

    Our major tool for this was (in addition to the dancing flash mob) was the Future Laboratory.


    The Future Laboratory Findings

    We set up shop as a live engagement experience throughout the conference. Conference goers could join us at anytime and go through some of the activities and conversations we go through with our clients when we help them define their organizational culture and build their brand.

    After two days, we presented a closing plenary on the status and the future of the social purpose real estate movement and how it could become a movement.

    Or, as As Lucy Lau put it in Vancouver Magazine  “though the range of industry professionals who attended share a common drive for collaboration, there are systemic barriers—rooted in access to resources—facing a number of social-purpose real-estate developers. A need for a shared platform for data was voiced—critical in securing partnerships as traditional sources of financing become less readily available.”

    How do you turn that into a movement? We closed the conference with these guidelines….

    How to Build a Movement

    1.  Be open, courageous and creative

    2.  Nurture relationships. It won’t always be easy.

    3.  Be the norm, not the niche

    4.  Lead followers and follow leaders

    5.  Create remarkable places

    6.  Always remember that Misfits will lead the future

    We are grateful to Vancity for presenting us with this opportunity and especially Kira Gerwing who had the vision and guts to let us take the concept to this more daring place.  The leadership of SPRE (Social Purpose Real Estate) and NCN (Non-profit Centres Network) have formed a tremendous partnership with a lot of potential to create a shift in the ways we live, work and play in our cities.


  • Modo’s Bold Brand

    Modo Van

    We designed the Modo logo over four years ago in a rebrand process that turned the Cooperative Auto Network into the Modo we know today.

    It was a big jump for the Cooperative Auto Network, which began – and stays true to its roots – as a grassroots sustainability and community-building organization. At that time, there was even an internal struggle about whether we should put the logo on the cars or not. There was a sense that by displaying the brand we were somehow “selling” Modo and compromising the values of the organization.

    Four years later and Modo has grown in vehicle number, awareness and, most importantly, members. And it remains true to its values in thought and action.

    In this time, Modo’s brand has come to symbolize its culture, beliefs and service to the community.

    The photo above is of our latest branding for one of their cargo vans.

    Clearly, things have changed.

    This kind of brand boldness is such as amazing departure from where we began. It shows how confidence grows as organizations learn to embody their own unique culture and take pride in the symbolism of it.

    There are more bold moves to come from Modo, such as their merger with the Victoria Car Share and their launch of new digital tools.

    We can’t wait.

  • CLOSED: Cause+Affect wants to hire a Senior Project Manager. Is it you?

    Cause+Affect is  looking for a unique person to lead the project management of all brand and strategy work within our company.

    You, definitely:

    • are better at what you do than anyone else you know
    • have 5 years experience leading projects in an agency environment
    • are looking for small team to take a key role within
    • can jump from macro to micro without noticing
    • are comfortable telling people what to do, even those more senior than you
    • know a ton of people and would naturally develop business opportunities
    • appreciate the creative process but know deep down in your soul that your skill lies its facilitation

    You, maybe:

    • are working within a large agency and feel that you are not given the responsibility that you deserve
    • left your previous position as the work did not reflect your values
    • are getting back into possible employment after a break for kids or a business venture
    • are currently running your own thing but are tired of the grind and are looking for new allies
    • are thinking about moving to Vancouver or have just landed
    • are in a non-creative company and feel that your soul is slowly dying a little each day

    The role will work directly with our Creative Director and Head of Strategy

    75% Project Management + Account Management
    • Scope of work and formalization of project specs
    • PM throughout entire production process (strategy, identity, engagement)
    • Project reporting (timelines, budget, scope/change requests, post mortems)
    • Process (documentation, standards, efficiencies, etc)

    15% Ops/Finance
    • Monthly financial reporting (profitability, cash flow)
    • Budgeting/forecasting
    • What projects are profitable and why
    • Identify areas of growth, trends, risks
    • Payables/Receivables

    10% Office/HR
    • Office Equipment
    • Supplies and Suppliers

    Desired Skills & Experience
    • 5 years experience managing brand, advertising, design, web projects
    • Proven expertise and systems knowledge for project management
    • Proven financial forecasting, budgeting and management
    • Usual Suspects: Pages, Numbers, Excel, Keynote, Google Docs
    • Knowledge of Adobe, basic HTML, or other creative/technical skills a bonus