Visual Public Speaking

Displaying the words of your organization’s founder or mentor . . . it’s a great form of visual public speaking, an opportunity to convey values and set the mood. It might even stop traffic. Walking in Manhattan recently, I couldn’t help but notice this Design Within Reach delivery truck with its message from Charles Eames: “The details are not details. They make the product.”

Eames wasn’t the founder of DWR, but he helped inspire it. Here’s the story as told on DWR’s About Us page: “Our business started when founder Rob Forbes tried to furnish his apartment with the clean, simple classics he’d come to appreciate while living in London. He discovered that the work of designers like Saarinen, Eames and Bertoia were ‘out of reach’ of anyone who did not know the secret handshake or have the patience to wait months for delivery. There had to be a better way, so in 1999 we bought 20 containers of product, mailed out a catalog and waited for the phone to ring. (It didn’t for 24 hours, until we realized the nighttime answering machine had been accidentally left on.)”

Good stuff, as is this effective poster in a Goodwill Industries store entry, featuring the words of founder Edgar Helms against a background of people helped by Goodwill. Here is their About Us page story (have you checked yours lately?): “Goodwill was founded in 1902 in Boston by Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister and early social innovator. Helms collected used household goods and clothing in wealthier areas of the city, then trained and hired those who were poor to mend and repair the used goods. The goods were then resold or were given to the people who repaired them. The system worked, and the Goodwill philosophy of ‘a hand up, not a hand out’ was born. Dr. Helms’ vision set an early course for what today has become a $4 billion nonprofit organization.”

Goodwill Industries founder Edgar Helms

Goodwill Industries founder Edgar Helms, greeting friends a century later with a timeless message