Dear Advisor Partners,
Back in 2008, our now-retired colleague, Deborah Kilcollins, sat with our designers. Big Five’s marketing was transitioning; the messaging wasn’t in line with who we were as a company. Deborah and I sat pondering ideas for hours, days, and weeks. Then, one day, I got a hold of this amazing book by a shirt designer, and it jumped out at me. In the sea of catalogs about high end dress shirts, this one grabbed my attention. The cover was not a model wearing the product, and it wasn’t a flashy cover, rather it was one photo of the founder. That’s it. At the time, I was in a business peer review group with the owner’s son, and he and I got to chat about the inspiration behind their book. I didn’t even have to open the book, though I was even more impressed when I did. It wasn’t a sensory overload or 50 pages about the company; it was a story where I got to choose where my narrative started.
“That’s it,” I exclaimed to Deborah, startled as she looked at me like I had 3 eyeballs. “You startled me! Now what on earth are you talking about.” I showed her the book and repeated, that’s it! “You want our brochure to be a picture of a guy with grey hair and glasses?” No, no, no, I replied, look at the book. Less really is more. It was then that I realized that Big Five was becoming singular minded in our messaging for all the right reasons, and our collateral had to follow. It had to be unapologetically polarizing, either you understood it or you didn’t. The acronym, IYKYK, came to mind. Until this point, we designed brochures that followed the industry mold, passing a vanilla message when our company was anything but. This book was a bold step at a time in the travel industry when few were forward-thinking. As Deborah and I sat with our designers, a vision came together, Edition One, now known as Navigator Series®, was born. Deborah and I looked ahead to 2023 when we timed this book. “You know, if we get this right, edition V can be introduced when we begin our 5th decade of service.” What a brilliant idea, I said, and the vision was solidified.
Fast forward to 2009, the first edition was out and distributed to the market. In the early days, our advisor partners would call us and ask for our brochure. We would send Edition I, which would either elicit excitement or confusion. Was it a brochure or something more?.
I remember vividly attending a consortium conference in Toronto, test-driving the idea of edition I and showing it to a room full of owners and managers. As a force of habit, I called our masterpiece a brochure, to which the consortium head pulled me aside and sternly told me not to ever call our work of art a brochure again. He was right! So radical was the idea of Navigator Series® Edition I, that I lost count of the days of self-doubt, wondering if we had been too bold if we had gone too far to one side of the market.
A few months later, as our collateral circulated into the market, the calls changed from asking for a brochure to sending me pictures of our bold design sitting as a coffee table discussion piece in offices and homes. Again, my fears were unfounded, and those that understood the vision embraced our concept and wished others would follow. As you can tell, we are huge on first impressions, and in a time when brochures were being thinned out or cut back completely, ours was a lesson in forward thinking. Each edition that followed gained brand recognition and acceptance, carrying the message of Big Five that finally matched who we were as a visionary company.
As we enter 2023, Edition V, Deborah’s swan song for Big Five, is published and hot off the press. It is a proud achievement that started from a bold step, and one that serves as a platform for the next five editions.
Enjoy this week’s video and reserve your copy today.