Home > COM530 > Be Proactive- Avoid Negative Groundswell

Be Proactive- Avoid Negative Groundswell


There’s a well known format in the art world referred to as creating designs by using negative space. Note the image above is either a vase or 2 male profiles depending upon your point of view. Usually, such designs are created intentionally to focus on the power of negative space.

Some companies have product lines that play with ‘negative space’ as well. By negative I mean, watch out Mr. Businessman, you may be damaging the environment or using child labor!

Particularly vulnerable to watchdog scrutiny these days are clothing manufacturers. Outdoor clothing, for instance, requires lots of labor-intensive sewing and the use of waterproof, chemically prepared and exotic, man-made materials. The former is dependent on Asian labor while the latter tempts environmental damage. Companies like this have to be prepared for some very bad press as they can easily be attacked from all sides.

Do companies with these products try to stay out of the limelight avoiding the potentially damaging rumors of social media and blogs? You bethcha they do. But, I found one company who is facing ‘negative space’ head on and like the example of the vase/profile above, actually draws attention to the possibility of complaints. They’ve just found a way to head off that argument before it even starts.

Patagonia, the high-quality, outdoor clothier, decided a long time ago that their activities in the world could cause serious footprint damage. Dependent on far-away Asian labor and exotic, chemically-treated, waterproofing systems, the potential for some very bad word of mouth for them is endemic.

So, what did they do? They created a wonderfully interactive website called The Footprint Chronicles. Their mission is clearly stated:

…we’re keenly aware that everything we do as a business…leaves its mark on the environment but everyday we take steps to lighten our footprint and do less harm.”

Note how they do this. You select a product and they show a world map and all the places in the world that were affected by the design and manufacturing of the product. Each spot whether in China or California or the 80 countries in which they work has videos and descriptions of steps they are taking to lighten their environmental and social footprint.

So well done and beautifully interactive- a proactive way to let the ‘negative space’ complete the company’s overall mission. Nice job, Patagonia!

Categories: COM530
  1. andersj
    October 7, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    I always enjoy your posts. In addition to providing compelling content, you are doing a good job highlighting elements through using links, pulled quotations, bold type and illustrations that attract the eye and the attention.

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