Critter Cabana is family-owned pet store with two locations in northwest Oregon. The Johnsons built their business over the last couple of decades based on their love of animals and their dedication to fostering healthy relationships between pets and their owners. Locally popular, their stores have been very successful and their customers are enthusiastically loyal.
But over the last few years the pet industry has been increasingly painted with a broad brush – especially around the subject of “puppy mills”. This label refers to unscrupulous operations that breed dogs in volume with little regard to avoiding genetic weaknesses or providing a healthy environment. Although Critter Cabana never buys puppies from puppy mills, it was often being unfairly lumped in with pet stores that did.
The Johnsons had a story to tell about the integrity and diligence that goes into how they source and care for the puppies they offer and the resulting customer value.
SenseMaker Studio was able to bring that story to life in a short, animated video that shows empathy for the customer’s challenges and tells the real story of what to expect when buying a new puppy from Critter Cabana.
But lives are complicated, so the challenge is to prune the many possibilities down to a vital few and then tie them all together in a simple way that is easy for people to follow. SenseMaker Studio developed a prototype to do exactly that, using the metaphor of an animated timeline.
Of course, I wanted to pick an interesting topic to try out this new idea, so I focused on the early life and career the late actor Don DeFore (who happens to be my father-in-law). The prototype is just a short test video but, by keeping the timeline moving forward and presenting the information in bite-size pieces, this style can support a much longer video for events such as a graduation, retirement, or even memorial celebration of a whole life.
When SenseMaker Studio embarked on a mission to create an online course for developing critical thinking and sensemaking skills, we knew we would be trying to communicate some very abstract ideas. That required that we develop a clear and concise narrative style, supported by a simple visual design language.
The course itself is still under development but the feedback we’ve received so far on the prologue video indicates that we are on the right track:
“WOW! I’m really impressed! I need to take your seminar because as you very clearly communicated, the world is a confusing mess and I can’t make any sense of it.”
“Sounds like a really cool course … I think the video is very clear about what someone might learn and the reasons why they should.”
“Special kudos for your graphics, they really do a great job of visually explaining what you are talking about. Simple and easy to follow and kinda cute (in a good way, not an annoying way). Somehow, simple forms explaining complex ideas make those ideas more accessible to folks like me.”
(You can sign up to stay informed about this course here.)