I just had a wonderful evening with CEOs from some of New Zealand’s best companies. The group was brought together by Better By Design to visit some of the USA’s best Design-led and Innovative companies. It’s going to be an amazing week, challenging I am sure, but an interesting thing happened tonight: if you like, a small distinction became clear to me.
There I was talking to Diego Rodriguez a partner at Ideo, a brilliant design company, and Perry Klebahn a consulting associate professor at Stanford Design School, two great people who were truly gracious in the knowledge they shared. To be honest, I was little in awe, I wanted to launch into the Queensberry story, to sell what we do and why what we do matters, but I got stuck.
The first reason was, my normal story is an IT-led one, and I was in Google, Facebook and Apple territory so that was going to be hard to get anyone excited about us. The main reason however was I don’t really care about that anymore. Sure IT is an enabler, but it comes at what we do from the wrong direction.
We make tens of thousands of albums a year, all in New Zealand and every single one different. Not a little different, completely different. Like this one by Johannes van Kan of Virginia and Richard’s wedding in Barcelona.
This was a truly special event, set in a beautiful church and the story carefully captured and presented by a very talented photographer.
So why don’t I care about the technology any more?
Well of course I still do. It’s an enabler, but what I care about more is the fact that, unlike the people we met at a printing exhibition last week, we aren’t bragging about having taken all the people out of the manufacturing process. In fact we celebrate the fact that people are crucial to the process. Have a look at this video, and listen to the talk about it on blogs and around twitter, and you realise that there is a yearning in people for ‘things that are special’, items ‘made for them’ and for objects ‘made with love’.
We do this – this is Queensberry – and I am incredibly proud of it. We make albums for royalty, celebrities and the not so famous. And in that moment when we make your album, it is the only one that matters to us.
And why am I scared?
I’m scared for two reasons. It’s easy to get caught up in the technology, and I must admit I am one of the worst. I love my iPhone 4, and in fact right now it looks like Apple threw up on my desk. I love sharing and I love watching my friends and family through Facebook when I can’t be with them.
But I am also scared because in our desire to share, I think we forget to ‘remember’. Throwing images on Facebook is great, but if history is any guide it is unlikely that Facebook will be around when our children or grandchildren are wondering where they came from. I don’t really care if it’s an album you store them in, but people need to take more care of how they bring these images through the different changes in technology.
I’m even more concerned that people start to highlight what’s precious. A DVD of images is great, but how does anyone know which people and memories are most important? Your wedding day is precious, it’s a carefully staged and choreographed event. Everything is perfect, but sadly with too many people their memories fade as quickly as the flowers, because they don’t care about the photography until it’s too late.
Fortunately Queensberry is ok, we have a strong brand and our core message is simple, and heard by the people who get us. We are storytailors, it’s not our job so much to tell you how to tell your story, as to help you tell it the way you want it to be.