February 28th, 2015 - Brand

A world obsessed

Confession: I am obsessed with the dress.

I can’t get enough. I Google it every few hours to see what colour it’s going to be (blue and black for the moment). I read my friend’s Facebook posts, devour what the media and neuroscientists have to say and, yes, I know what colour Rob Lowe and Julianne Moore think the dress is.

I particularly love the stir the damn dress has caused.

As Jonathan Mahler of the New York Times says: “The Internet, and social media in particular, are known for accelerating and accentuating divisions. In a sense, the dress debate was no different. It, too, hinged on a matter of perception. Only in this case, the polarization wasn’t ideological, or political, or racial. It was physical, based on how our brains were processing visual information. And it was harmless.”

Obsessions aside, the dress debate highlights some serious communication lessons.

While an obvious one is the power of social media as Mahler states, what’s less obvious is why this particular social media post took off the way it did.

Everyone wants to make connections, to take campaigns viral, to gain mindshare. And the dress did it overnight without trying. Why?

I think it’s because a) it wasn’t a contrived sell b) it was a simple concept and c) there was built-in controversy over something so very personal … how we each perceive the world.

I’d hate to live in a world where we all saw things the same. But, because we don’t, I’d suggest it’s important to constantly remind ourselves that our perceptions are almost always different, so we must communicate effectively – through authentic messaging and various mediums – to find common ground.

So while we know now that the dress is, in truth, blue and black, I say the one clear finding from the great dress debate is nothing is black and white.

PS. If you haven’t heard of “The Dress” have a look: http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-31659395

With gratitude,

Shannon Larkins

Inspired by a little blackcoffee

Some of my favourite moments are spent in search of something beautiful while I drink my first cup of coffee and hear the house wake up. From there I move on to the paper and the news of the day. In this space, I’ll share some of those inspirations.

Now that's some good advice

Articles, snippets, or videos that highlight what to do and what not to do in the always changing world of branding and design. 

By Seth Godin @ sethgodin.typepad.com

'Connect to' vs. 'Connect'

An organization might seek to 'connect to' its customers or constituents. Connection is a form of permission, the ability to deliver value to the people who request it. Vertical connection creates the ability to communicate and delivers a barrier to entry. Most online stores are connected to their customers. Most freelancers seek to connect to their clients. Most teachers work to connect to their students.


Shannon Larkins

Founder, Blackcoffee Studio

Over the course of 15+ years, Shannon has grown Blackcoffee Studio out of a love for building brands and reputations. She serves up Blackcoffee as a morning ritual while caffeinating clients and readers on the regular. You can find her at www.BlackcoffeeStudio.com


Blackcoffee Studio

Blackcoffee is a premium brand development agency, offering luxury brand experience to clients at home in Calgary, Canada and around the globe. Brands create experience, set you apart from the competition and drive growth. Anyone can bulid a business but only the exceptional can create a brand. Are you ready?

Shannon Larkins

Shannon Larkins

Hi I’m Shannon, founder of Blackcoffee Studio. A former reporter, spin doctor and politico, I now focus on using my powers for good.

I create mighty brands for clients and share their stories with the world. I’m also rather addicted to my nutty family, dogs with pushed in faces, Mexico and of course coffee … black.