March 29, 2008

The Adventures Of Johnny Bunko

I don't usually lead with the title of a book I haven't even read but this one is too good to pass up. I heard an interview just now with Dan Pink (new to me but well-known to the readers of Wired Magazine, I believe) who was plugging his new book The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, a career guide delivered in the popular Japanese comic-book manga style.

Dan told us how almost a quarter of items in print in Japan are in manga, and readers aren't confined to the teenagers who typically choose this form in western countries. Nor is the style confined to amusement. Books on topics as wide-ranging as How-To guides, business education, history books and political tracts appear in manga.

This struck a real chord with me. Regular readers will know that over at Islandbridge, we use Kevin McSherry's illustrations to help bring our own business offering to life (in fact, that's Kevin's 'Jack The Giantkiller' illustration playing a blinder at the top-right of this blog). Recently, I've been trying to push this further and have been exploring with my colleagues over at Create Design the possibilities of using imagery to capture how a company might picture itself and its brand.

It seems the world is a-buzz with this thinking right now. A recent Fast Company article, The Napkin Sketch, describes how a number of companies in the US are looking to the depth and warmth of hand-drawn diagrams and doodles to help capture strategy and process.

I believe there are great opportunities in going this route - and not just as an antidote to the awful clip-art that litters our reading and viewing material. I'm not quite ready to campaign on the streets for this but I am going to do all I can to encourage our own customers and collaborators to consider using illustration (in the broadest sense) to breathe a little life into how we capture important discussions, ideas and messages.

I'd love to hear from you if you know of other places we might look for inspiration and resources. Let's see if we can't do what Kevin's pictures do for our business and draw a crowd of business people eager to bring their brands and businesses to life through illustration.


Anonymous said...

Interesting post - I agree that the use of such cartoon imagery is increasing. Hugh Mac Leod's popular Gaping Void blog is another good example - he doesn't just draw “cartoons on the back of business cards.” Mac Leod also writes about marketing and advertising, drawing from his experience in the wine trade.

Gerard Tannam said...

Thanks for the pointer, Alex. I hadn't come across Hugh MacLeod before and enjoyed his recent interview with Shel Israel which he carries on the Gaping Void blog. Seems from the 'Social Gestures Beget Social Objects' argument that there's a whole philosophy emerging around both the hand-made and social media. I can't get my head into it just now - too early in the morning even for me - but certainly something I'll want to get back to soon. Maybe it's something we can cover over at The Persuaders on one of our next outings?