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© Carrie Osgood | CLO Communications

As a culture, we like boxes. We like classifications. We like it when we receive a specific diagnosis of personality traits that enables us to confidently express our strengths and have clarity for our weaknesses.

Many of us participate in a variety of multiple-choice questionnaires that somehow manage to magically define who we are. I’m a sucker for those tests, mostly because my computer-manufactured conclusions tend to be amusingly all over the place. They are consistently inconsistent, especially with the left-brain/right-brain designations.

Interestingly, I have yet to take an online test that defines me as both-brained. I am always either extreme right-brained or extreme left-brained, depending on how the questions and answers are presented. More often than not, my genuine response tends to be a variation of “both,” “sometimes,” “it depends,” “none” or “all of the above” — most of which are rarely options. …


While related and frequently overlapping, these two specialties require complementary strengths and skills.

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Businesses frequently combine Marketing and Communications into the same position (aka “MarComm”). As a result, many people falsely assume that Communications and Marketing are interchangeable words meaning the same thing. They don’t.

Sure, they both fall under the umbrella of Outreach and Engagement, requiring strong written and collaborative interpersonal skills. They also share the common goal to inspire target markets to take action. However, these two critical roles in business can veer off in alternate directions, requiring different outlooks, priorities, strengths, skill sets and vocabularies. Clearly not one in the same, both are required for success.


How their visual messaging enhanced my understanding of the conflicts of today

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Girls in the Bogside district of Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland © Carrie Osgood | CLO Communications

During my recent visit to Derry-Londonderry and West Belfast in Northern Ireland, I learned a tremendous amount while walking around to view the politically charged street murals of the past and present. Through potent visual messaging, they fervidly expressed the ideologies of the two sides of the region’s continually evolving conflict. It struck me how the most radical views that breed war repeatedly share the same character traits, as chillingly echoed throughout the political discourse of today.

Before my visit, my understanding of the late 20th century period of sectarian violence known as The Troubles was that it was an ongoing battle between scrappy Irish Catholics who wanted a unified Ireland and police-backed British Protestants who wanted to remain within the United Kingdom. The city name of Derry-Londonderry exemplifies the lingering state of the conflict. …


Content Dictates Form – Less is More – God is in the Details – all in the service of Clarity, without which nothing else matters

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Quotation from Finishing the Hat by Stephen Sondheim

One of my greatest creative influences is the legendary composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim. Throughout my 20+ year career, I continually defer to his core principles to lyric writing, as they apply to the foundation of crafting all forms of effective visual and verbal storytelling. My thoughts on how these principles apply to communications design:

Content Dictates Form

Automation and templates can be useful and efficient, especially with online communications. Unfortunately, they can also detract audiences by homogenizing content and diluting messaging.

When using templates, it is important to customize your materials so that each image and piece of text appears to have been created specifically for that delivery method. Inadvertently projecting poor craftsmanship, like bad crops, cut-off statements, and fuzzy, distorted images (among other examples), can be instant turnoffs to a prospective new customer, client or referral. …


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(Top) The Montezuma Castle, a former railroad-era luxury hotel that is now the centerpiece of the Armand Hammer United World College of the American West (UWC-USA). (Bottom) The church in Uppertown and the painted landmark on the road to Montezuma © Carrie Osgood | CLO Communications

My recent journey down memory lane reminded me why being distinctive and consistent is essential when crafting creative communications that resonate with target audiences.

I was born and raised in Las Vegas, New Mexico, the largest town on the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains that’s an hour’s drive from Santa Fe. My hometown is a pretty eclectic place for its small size of 14,000 residents. It has two primary town centers with coinciding rival school districts. West Las Vegas includes the Old Town Plaza (as featured in such movies as Easy Rider and No Country for Old Men), while east Las Vegas was a major stop along the Victorian-era cross-continental railroad (as featured in the original Red Dawn film). …


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INDIGENOUS: Tamatekapua Meeting House (Maori) • Rotorua, New Zealand © Carrie Osgood | CLO

Reflecting on 20 years of history while retracing the steps of my past

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Coventry Cathedral in 2018, Coventry, England © Carrie Osgood | CLO Communications

During my recent return visit to Great Britain, I couldn’t help but continually feel history’s transformative impact over the past two decades since I lived in central England.

In the mid-late 1990s, I attended the University of Warwick, on the border of Coventry, a West Midlands industrial city, and Warwickshire (pronounced War-ic-sher), the historical, pastoral home-county of Shakespeare. While I have been back to London and the UK several times over the years, this was my first visit retracing the steps of one of the most illuminating and transformative periods of my life.

Coventry and Warwickshire are the opposites of English life. When my parents would tell Brits while traveling in the UK that their daughter was living in Warwickshire studying Shakespeare, the reply would always be something positive like “Oh how lovely! What a delightful opportunity!” However, when they said that I was living in Coventry, my parents were surprised and amused when they continually received the exact opposite response, along the lines of “That’s horrible! Why would she live in such a wretched place!” …


Visualizing how we grow from a beginner to an expert – from enthusiastic aspiration through the slump of arrogance and defeat, to the ascent toward lasting success

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Often times a story begs to be expressed through the integration of visual and verbal means. This infographic I created exemplifies how designing language can enhance its understanding.

I often share this visual with my students when they are learning how to push though the struggle of creative crisis – which is one of the greatest lessons learned in art school.

When applying it to business, this graphic helps illustrate who I’m able to best help. Those with the openness to learn and grow tend to be either beginners learning the tools of the trade or those who have survived the slump with humility. These masters have learned to embrace their strengths while confidently acknowledging their weakenesses. …


From women’s health to sexual assault, genuine support sparks the essential warmth that diminishes the darkness, helping us all.

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© CLO Communications

One of the most beneficial ways to help victims cope and recover is to offer the simple act of support. When one feels traumatized and powerless, a sincere act of positive support provides encouragement and empowerment to overcome what can at times feel like insurmountable obstacles. …

About

Carrie Osgood

creating connections that educate & inspire | consults via https://clo-communications.com | visual + verbal storyteller | pulitzer-nominated journalist

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