We sell simple tools for communications and engagement and have been doing it now for 25 years. We had a consistent brand image for 20+ but then decided to shift and now we are faced with the perplexing problem of shifting again. I am guessing that this is a common problem but also asking for some perspective and dialog, since what we do is about communications and engagement. (Can you see the paradox there?)
Stay tuned if you want to receive a free engagement toolkit!
My trademark is Square Wheels®. And started out using this image as an engagement and development tool in the context of,
“How might this illustration represent
how organizations really work?”
The original image, with so little context, works wonderfully as a Rorschach test, in that people projected their beliefs onto it and the responses from a group of people were pretty amazingly diverse and creative. It always worked to generate great ideas about issues of the things that did not work smoothly and the Round Wheels that already existed and could be implemented. The year was 1993 and the image looked like this:
This wagon rolled forward for a LOT of years and lots of miles, with me presenting sessions in almost 40 countries and initially selling transparency-based books and then powerpoint illustrations as toolkits for change, motivation, etc. It got me to be known as, The Square Wheels Guy.
But more recently, things happened and we started shifting over to using LEGO® blocks and Technics people to represent the themes and ideas, creating various scenes and frameworks that continues today and have moved into our other product designs and toolkits that continue to evolve.
Those images and scenes anchor to the same metaphor but represent themselves this way:
And we think this is a big improvement. The goal of showing the image is to generate active involvement and diverse thinking about how things work and what things might be done differently. The key points are quite obvious and people project their thoughts about their workplaces onto the visual.
These conversations around what it might represent as an organizational reality tend to focus on people, engagement, active involvement, innovation, leadership, motivation and similar. They are about issues, opportunities and implementation. They are about innovation and best practices and collaborative dis-un-engagement.
And we package a number of very simple toolkits as well as an online course so that supervisors and team leaders can learn facilitation skills. We have also used the LEGO scenes to create some stop-motion videos, which are easy to do and which would be much harder with line art.
This is NOT rocket science, to show an image and generate a discussion. It is a powerful but elegantly simple tool to generate real discussions about perceived workplace issues.
In our efforts to broaden exposure, we engaged with an organization to sell an Icebreaker toolkit around this theme to their customer base, which is different than mine but very congruent. It is a framework for collaboration and co-marketing that seems to have no downside.
As the two companies discussed this Icebreaker possibility, her staff came up with the idea of using a different representation of the Square Wheels® theme and suggested using an image that looked like this:
So, I am faced with a marketing decision with a variety of factors.
- Does the above image represent an improvement or is it simply a dilution of my intellectual property?
- Is the image itself going to generate better discussions about organizational reality and issues and opportunities, since it IS a very different scenario and has different features.
- Is the last image going to get the positive reactions from discussion participants like the first two does?
And another set of questions:
- If you were to change the latter image, how would you change it to improve its effect in generating engagement and ideas?
- Which image do you personally prefer and why?
Your thoughts on the above would be most appreciated, and if you share a useful informative considered opinion or idea as a comment, I will send you a free toolkit to play with,
For the FUN of It!
Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Scott and Dan Stones built The Square Wheels Project as an LMS, sharing tools and training to support Disruptive Engagement in the workplace.
Visit The Square Wheels Project at www.TheSquareWheelsProject.com
You can reach Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org
Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Company
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO® Group®
© Performance Management Company, 1993 – 2017. All Rights Reserved.
PMC has no affiliation or relationship with The LEGO® Group®
Please Note: The offer of a free Square Wheels Toolkit is limited to the first twenty (20) people who share a relevant and useful comment about the image dilemma and its resolution.
Also published on Medium.
I don’t connect w/the 3rd (newest) illustration in the same way as I do with the original or the Lego version. The 3rd one is confusing because of the uncertainty with the characters in red that are blended w/the characters in black. It only makes me wonder what that’s supposed to mean; it doesn’t make me think about how that applies to my organization. Additionally, there’s something ‘off-putting’ about both the black and the red color choice used for the characters and the black base that the scene is shown on as well. I also much prefer the use of the wagon in the first two illustrations as opposed to the blue truck. The blue truck is very dominant while the wagon doesn’t stand-out anymore than other pieces in the illustrations, which makes it carry no more importance than the ‘people,’ or wheels; so its not distracting in that sense. Sorry, but I’d stick w/what you’ve used in the past.