Category International

Finding Meaning Naturally : An Interview with Jeannette Hanna

Jeannette Hanna is one of the brightest brand strategists I have known in my professional career. We first met when I interviewed for a position at Spencer, Francey, Peters in Toronto. My impression of the company was a smart, laser-focused company integrating organizational design, brand strategy and identity systems. Jeannette had a lot to do with this impression presents herself as thoughtful, infusing intelligence into conversations about the purpose and focus of branded systems. She is also an American that has become a cross-cultural translator between two countries that often are seen as the same (Canada and the United States).

Since the first time we met, Jeannette is now part of Trajectory, a brand consultancy that continues to create sustainable brands in a world of commoditization. Strong intellectual scaffolding around purpose, goals, and actions is what Jeannette thinks and consults about. These efforts led her to co-author Ikonica, A Field Guide to Canada’s Brandscape, the first systematic look Canadian brands and their cultural distinctions. Hanna’s thesis in the book – that culture, commerce and community mores are highly inter-dependent – transcends the Canadian context.

Surfacing the Issues : An Interview with Itu Chaudhuri

It was a Sunday night, New Delhi time when Itu and I had a Skype video call while he was slowly sipping a cognac.

While it had been awhile some time since we last communicated, we both had the ability to pick up where we last talked like it was yesterday.We first met in 1990 while I was on a Fulbright to India and believe a host at a social event introduced us. From my memory, what drew me to Itu was his thoughtful intensity, ambition and he seemed like a perfect person to have at a dinner party to introduce delightful polemical conversation.

This is no accident. His father is the late Sankho Chaudhuri and his mother, Ira Chaudhuri, a still practicing potter.India in the 1990′s had a small club of graphic designers that all seemed to know one another and we spent many hours at small events with other designers talking about contemporary issues. Itu represents the best of intelligent graphic design. His many years of immersion in typography and communications systems has transformed him into a very articulate practitioner of design in the widest possible sense.

While Itu has mellowed slightly, it is not due to exhaustion, but rather built up experience that allows him to know his roots and build a more sophisticated model of shaping design as a process of discovery that creates meaningful frameworks for specific actions. His firm ICD with his long- time collaborator Lisa Rath is growing and developing a planning offering. This again is no accident and Itu is methodically creating the foundation by bringing on new skills and ways to connect design to larger business and societal issues. The interview meanders between graphic design, systems design and into planning. We surfaced many things that point to a new type of value creation for clients in the sub-continent.