The Tool Builders

We humans are ever the tool-makers, the most opportunistic of animals who unceasingly seize upon possibilities and transform them into useful things. Archeology teaches us that our earliest attempts at creating tools proceeded slowly with long intervals between harnessing fire, creating the wheel, and shaping crude implements from stone. But as we gained confidence we gained speed, shaping new tools from existing ones.

How many tools do you think are created every day in our modern world? Perhaps we cannot even know.


Internally, we do not always keep pace with our tool-building. Our minds, our emotions, our goals, our impulses to act – these and other internal attributes are not always lined up with our choice and application of tools. Sometimes our actions are inconsistent with what we say we want to achieve. Often new tools, such as mobile and social technologies, require new things of us, yet internally we have not kept pace. This explains why we can be attracted to a particular instrument, only to misapply it. While initially we might blame the tool, usually we come around to realize that we simply misused it. The lesson is: We apply tools best and act most effectively when inner and outer are squared up.

So it goes with a brand. Your brand is a tool – optimally an impactful instrument that communicates, conveys value, and evokes feelings and responses in close alignment with who you are and what you stand for in the world. Like other tools, your brand is only effective when it authentically reflects you and your organization – when it and your inner drivers are in alignment.

Misalignment arises with the incongruence between identity and action. For example, I’ve observed the headlong rush into mobile by individuals and institutions who apply hard-won lessons from their administrative, IT, or ERP backgrounds. I’m sure these lessons are valuable in those contexts. But are they equally applicable in mobile? Because mobile requires a quite different mindset – one that understands and values most the end-user perspective. And how much do same pre-mobile perspectives take into account the crucial element of conveying a powerful brand to the end user? Inner understanding and commitment congruent with good mobile are essential to creating successful mobile experiences.

Our model and our promise

At Designing North, helping you make this alignment is our passion. We have a model and a methodology to help you align who you are with your brand to create the optimal outcome for you and your clients.

Our model, stated briefly, is this: We begin with the inner – be – your identity. Who are you? What is your mission? What are your values? What promises do you make to your customers? We help you build a brand to reflect this. Your identity determines what you do (your actions, coupled with the way you undertake them). We help you understand, perhaps even disclose new aspects of, yourself and we help you select, develop, and apply the right tools to execute upon your brand. The resultant actions you take will determine what you have as a result, or the outcomes you get. All of this is strongly reinforcing. Perhaps you realize you have an identity that needs to change. We help you determine the nature of the change and how to get there from here. If you have a team environment, we can help build collective agreement and commitment.

This is our brand promise to you: We care deeply about this alignment, understand the challenge of matching inner with outer, and know how to help you to achieve powerful results.

Yes, we shape our tools. But our tools also shape us.

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