THE WAR OF ART Imagining new tools and platforms to spark conversations, captivate attention, and build coalitions at a scale that impacts important global issues.
What tools spark conversations and give political artists leveraged impact?
“If today I choose to make films it is to remind myself first and foremost that there are a lot more important things than films,” says filmmaker John Gianvito. Inspired by the 1967 omnibus film, Far From Vietnam (Loin du Vietnam), Far From Afghanistan is a project that brings together some of the boldest, most politically-progressive US filmmakers. The final version, completed in 2012, also includes contributions from filmmakers throughout Afghanistan. Together they explore issues of shared responsibility, history, and memory in a concerted effort to help accelerate resistance to war.
Forward Mapworks (with John Bruce serving as the project’s platform producer) worked with the Far From Afghanistan team to shape an innovative approach to coalition-building and distribution, resulting in the creation of a groundbreaking online, limited edition, works-in-progress screening event called “The October Edition”. A coordinated effort of email outreach and earned media placements (including this FastCompany piece), resulted in nearly 10,000 unique visitors during the 7-day online screening event and a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign. The event not only raised funds and awareness, it also enabled Far From Afghanistan to form new strategic partnerships with NGOs and humanitarian aid organizations worldwide.
BEYOND THE CHOIR Navigating delicate ecosystems to map high leverage paths for welcoming a full spectrum of participants to grow diverse and resilient communities.
How can branding affect uptake on inclusion advocacy?
Established author Ann Thompson Cook and Reverend Cedric Harmon had a vision of creating an online platform for welcoming all people on the full spectrum of sexual preference and gender identity within communities of faith. Cook and Harmon understood the need for careful branding and outreach strategies in order for their mission to succeed.
Forward Mapworks partnered with these social entrepreneurs to refine the brand identity for the launch and growth of ManyVoices.org. Through interviews and creative exercises that explored the psychographic dimensions of their intended audience, Forward Mapworks mapped the delicate ecosystem of welcoming LGBT within faith. A deep understanding of semiotics allowed for the design of a brand guide, including the development of a succinct value proposition, tagline, key language, and messaging practices. Forward Mapworks also created the blueprints for short- and long-term market engagement, including social media outreach, strategic partner coalitions, and the design of video testimonials building toward an eventual transmedia platform.
LOCAL MOTIVES Supporting an entrepreneurial vision for vitalizing small town merchants and strengthening local living economies by providing a new choice for consumers in the gift registry market.
How can small business compete and thrive in virtual marketplaces?
Entrepreneur and local living economies advocate Allison Grappone has big plans for small town merchants. In 2012, she launched Nearby Registry, an online gift registry platform for independent retailers and service providers. By leveling the playing field and giving newlyweds, expecting parents, and other gift registrants a choice to support small businesses, Nearby Registry strengthens local economies by keeping discretionary gift spending, well, Nearby.
Forward Mapworks lended early-stage support, including tactical launch design, growth trajectory planning, financial modeling, pricing refinement, staffing methodology, and product development strategy. Having adopted a whole-systems approach to business planning, Nearby Registry successfully secured top honors and seed funding in the 2011 Manchester Young Professionals Network New Hampshire Start Up Challenge competition.
Triangulating the shifts occurring within the durable surfaces market to create a high-performing sales organization that understands the needs of customers.
How can we achieve our sales goals in a tumultuous economic climate?
IceStone manufactures durable surfaces made from recycled glass and concrete. After growing at a rate of 100% annually for its first five years, the organization experienced a sudden and dramatic drop in sales revenues. Unable to pinpoint any internal causes for the performance gap, Forward Mapworks conducted a whole-systems review of the company's market landscape and sales processes. Findings indicated seven key leverage points that would offer IceStone opportunities to improve both the volume and predictability of revenues -- ranging from channel partner program design to internal sales process adjustments to sales software workflow changes. In the end, President & CEO Michelle Gibson had this to say about her experience:
"When an economic downturn presented our business with new and complex challenges, Forward Mapworks strategists designed unique visual maps, tools, and programs that were instrumental to how we navigated a crucial moment in our company's evolution. Responsive, high-touch, and genuinely devoted to our success, Forward Mapworks is our go-to partner for innovative, insightful strategy."
A FAIR SHARE Mobilizing local participation in a national movement with new social tools that extend the reach and impact of oral storytelling traditions.
How might advocacy within social networks build a movement?
Fair Trade USA established the initiative Fair Trade Towns to ignite and shepherd local fair trade programs across America – town by town. Their objective is to leverage the capacity and desire of local stakeholders interested in fair trade by bringing clarity and utility to the many aspects of the movement.
Forward Mapworks partnered with Free Range Studios during their design of a new Fair Trade Towns website working to fuel nationwide participation by both with new and existing towns. Forward Mapworks identified contextual storytelling elements that functioned as gateways to new and deeper engagement with fair trade issues, products, and processes. Through a careful segmentation and profiling of audience constellation, Forward Mapworks designed positioning and social network outreach strategies that optimize a storytelling approach for effective peer-to-peer advocacy. Similar to the time-tested value of the oral tradition of sharing experiences, meaningful online social sharing sparked community growth with dozens of new Fair Trade Towns joining the movement.
HOME, SWEET HOME
Shaping the brand identity for a new national campaign aimed at making homes safer and more energy efficient.
How should we brand a national effort to make homes safer and more energy efficient?
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Weatherization Plus Health initiative is a national effort to enable the comprehensive, strategic coordination of resources for energy, health, and safety in low-income homes. When the National Association of State Community Services Programs (NASCSP) was tasked with implementing the project on behalf of DOE, clarity, collaboration, and timeliness were the challenges at hand. By providing ways to make homes safer and more energy efficient, many Americans, especially low-income families, could be happier, healthier, and more economically self-sustaining. Forward Mapworks partnered with Free Range Studios to shape the brand identity for this new clearinghouse of information and hub for partnership facilitation – Weatherization Plus Health. Through asset mapping and deep positioning analysis, Forward Mapworks honed a clear strategy for the new brand platform, and designed a marketing plan that acknowledged the complexity and temporal nature of the currently evolving landscape of policy and funding. Careful consideration of the leverage points involving partnerships, utility, motivation, and perception optimized plan details targeting nimble tactics for cost-effective and immediate impact.
WASTE NOT, WANT NOT…
Designing recycling system interventions that can secure and stabilize the supply of primary raw materials used to manufacture award-winning, earth-friendly countertops.
In what ways might we secure high quality, cost-efficient input supplies?
IceStone manufactures durable surfaces made from recycled glass and concrete. Growing at a rate of 100% annually and having achieved Cradle to Cradle Gold certification, the company turned its attention to the sourcing of its primary input -- glass cullet. Contamination risk and aggregate shortages have the potential to adversely impact production by causing irregularities in the flow of input materials... and with order volume growing at record rates, this is a chance IceStone cannot afford to take.
Forward Mapworks began by charting the recycled glass landscape, examining the connectedness of collection methods, processing technology, quality standards, and supplier relationships. By understanding the linkages between these elements, we uncovered new and innovative opportunities for IceStone to close the loop on waste while reducing production risk and improving the flow of source materials.
DEMOCRATIZE THE SUN Navigating the intricacies of project finance, tax code, rebates, securities regulation, and solar PV technology to make profitable solar arrays a reality for regular folks.
Is it possible to fund profitable solar electricity with community investments?
Tangerine Solar develops photovoltaic installations by matching local micro-funders with community institutions that want clean power. In order to create a project plan that could be efficiently redeployed in communities across North America, Tangerine needed to intimately understand the relationships between photovoltaic technology, project lending, securities regulation, tax code, community dynamics, and renewable energy incentives. To make the promise of community solar a reality, they partnered with Forward Mapworks.
By exploring the connectedness between stakeholder values, legal frameworks, and financial regulations, we developed a project finance simulation tool. By setting system conditions in the simulation model to mimic real-world conditions on the ground, Tangerine can use the tool to fine tune their development model for any solar project in any jurisdiction.
PROPERLY GROUNDED Exploring opportunities to incorporate modern sustainability and social responsibility practices into the core values of a well-established distributor.
How does sustainability align with our values and strategic imperatives?
Industrial Electric is a global stocking distributor of wire and cable products with a fanatical commitment to customers. Having observed a trend in corporate sustainability beginning to take hold within its industry, IEWC engaged Forward Mapworks to reconcile the emergence of this movement with the core values and strategic imperatives that have guided the organization since its inception, some half a century earlier.
The partnership began with an audit of the company's environmental and social sustainability performance, to set a benchmark against which to assess future progress. Next, Forward Mapworks outlined an observed natural adoption path for organizational sustainability, and mapped this adoption path over IEWC's stated organizational goals and objectives, creating a customized sustainability adoption plan, accompanied by a capital project evaluation process.
ABOVE THE NOISE Telling stories that stand out in a cluttered media landscape to engage audiences and invite participation, with measurable results and positive behavioral change.
How can emerging media provoke meaningful behavioral change?
New media studio Indicant produces short-form episodic fiction that engages audiences on contemporary social and environmental issues in fresh, provocative ways. Recognizing the inertia continuing to build around emergent content formats and alternative online distribution channels, they saw an opportunity to reach viewers on new levels that could yield widespread positive behavioral change.
To begin mapping this effort, we first examined the historical landscape of education entertainment and social message marketing. By understanding the nature of para-social relationships, we gained insight into the critical system conditions that catalyze effective storytelling. We then worked with Indicant to reconceive sponsorship models, distribution processes, feedback metrics, and dialogical community-building that, when integrated, resulted in a message-optimized storytelling platform.
FUEL FOR THE FUTURE Leveraging employee enthusiasm for sustainability to catalyze critical cost-saving initiatives and measurable efficiency enhancements.
How can employee empowerment create critical operating efficiencies?
This client is considered among the most environmentally and socially responsible airlines in the world, with a proactive employee base that develops many of the organization's most effectual sustainability initiatives. Nevertheless, airlines today face fierce competition and risks associated with volatile oil prices, making operational efficiency a strategic imperative. Recognizing the passion and initiative within its ranks, we were asked to find ways to empower employees while maintaining a focus on efficiency.
Working alongside an established internal team, Forward Mapworks conducted interviews to better understand the epicenters of employee enthusiasm about issues of sustainability. Having identified key internal influencers and first mover groups, we scanned for overlap between employee enthusiasm and their functional efficiency mandates. Once revealed, we assisted employees in the development of suitable metrics and communication strategies to ensure the success of their newfound sustainability opportunities.
GARAGE SAILORS, UNITE! Mapping the vast network of buyers and sellers engaged in the reuse economy, and finding ways for Main Street to transact like Wall Street.
What influences reuse instead of net new consumption?
The Reuse Network connects a diverse array of vendors and consumers of reusable products, making it easy for them to find one another and transact. As an early-stage venture, The Reuse Network had limited resources with which to launch and grow its brand. In order to make sound decisions about how to grow, it would be critical for the organization to understand the psychology of reuse, and identify the leverage points for successful entry into initial markets.
Forward Mapworks surveyed both the consumer and vendor landscapes to identify relevant segmentations of participants, based on their market behaviors. With a wider view of each constituent's needs, the Reuse Network could facilitate new connections between previously disconnected participants, creating net new value without net new consumption. The systems mapping that followed revealed that unexpected successful transactions formed a strong positive word-of-mouth loop. When paired with social web tools in its online community, this could slingshot the company's early adoption.
THE RIGHT ROUTE
Gathering intelligence on corporate responsibility activity in the enterprise network equipment industry and structuring decision models that prioritize initiatives for maximum competitive advantage.
How is demand for corporate responsibility influencing our competitive landscape?
3Com manufactures equipment that acts as the communications backbone for global enterprises. In this competitive market, the energy efficiency of networking devices has become the latest in a long line of competitive contests. Anticipating demand for progressive corporate responsibility, 3Com commissioned Forward Mapworks to scan the industry for competitive movement and indications of customer demand trends with regards to more holistic organizational sustainability.
We began by conducting a high-level benchmarking audit to identify 3Com's current performance across an array of organizational sustainability metrics. This was followed by research on recent customer buying behavior and competitive posturing in sustainability. With this information in-hand, 3Com leadership was poised to enact a strategy that prioritized initiatives by market demand, competitive advantage, and relative internal performance.
Architecting a platform for sharing and learning about diversity and community that propels people to improve relationships with others.
How can transmedia storytelling engage audiences in positive behavioral change?
For ten years, Active Voice has worked to harness the power of film, television and multimedia to spark social change. By designing tools like learning modules and discussion guides, and by programming local events with strategically aligned partners, Active Voice leverages media properties creating ways for individuals and communities to engage more deeply with stories.
Recognizing a gap in the landscape of American narratives of immigration integration around currently unfolding stories, Active Voice teamed with the Because Foundation to produce the feature documentary film "Welcome to Shelbyville". The film is an unbiased observation of the intersecting lives of immigrants (recent and more settled), and long-time residents of Shelbyville, Tennessee.
Through extensive stakeholder engagement and relationship mapping, Forward Mapworks, in partnership with Free Range Studios, provided content strategy and platform architecture for Shelbyville Multimedia, the online hub of the transmedia campaign. Forward Mapworks also crafted strategy for social network advocacy and partner alliances to attract, retain, and engage audiences, capitalizing on the film's broadcast via PBS Independent Lens and ITVS.
Interpreting complex client objectives and translating them into actionable design directives, setting client and creatives on a shared path to measurable success.
How can whole-systems strategy ensure the success of design projects?
Award-winning DC and Berkeley-based design firm, Free Range Studios, are storytellers known for game-changing work such as “The Meatrix” and “The Story of Stuff”. The default mantra, “If you build it, they will come,” does not apply to websites, videos or other online/offline messaging platforms. On average, a person is bombarded with 5,000 messages per day. The job of connecting an organization’s value proposition with its target audience is a complex task today despite a wealth of communications technology.
Forward Mapworks partners with Free Range to provide the strategic foundation on which to build successful communication platforms. Our whole systems discovery, mapping, and program design optimizes Free Range project strategies by identifying ecosystems, segmenting and profiling audiences, revealing leverage points, refining measurable goals and positioning, creating key messaging, and clarifying design directives. Recent clients include: Remapping Debate, an online journal; Many Voices, a resource for welcoming LGBT in faith communities; Fair Trade Towns, a project of Fair Trade USA; Active Voice’s Shelbyville, A transmedia campaign for immigration integration; NoVo Foundation’s initiative Move To End Violence, and Weatherization Plus Health, a project of NASCSP and the Department of Energy.
Fine-tuning a brand story to maximize target audience exposure, impact, and engagement amidst a prime moment of national recognition and heightened public awareness.
How can effective story-telling leverage big moments to engage new markets?
The Vancouver Observer is an online journal helmed by journalist-turned-publisher Linda Solomon. Based in Vancouver, BC, their reach is increasingly national and international, with readership doubling in the past year. Outside of the corporate conglomerate media landscape in Canada, the Vancouver Observer has an unfettered commitment to reporting diverse perspectives and telling stories that matter.
When Solomon sought to carefully focus the brand identity by aligning core values, goals, and key messaging, Forward Mapworks facilitated a Rapid Burst Discovery session with the entire Vancouver Observer team, jump-starting the process with deep, participatory co-creative force. Through a series of creative exercises and iterative ideation, the Vancouver Observer successfully refined their brand story to leverage the spotlight cast upon their organization as winners of the 2012 Canadian Journalism Foundation’s Award for Excellence.