News Archive - September 2014 View All

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Volvo takes a pass on auto show circuit

September 29, 2014
Brand is instead focusing on refreshed perspective on marketing, public relations

In a move that might surprise some, Volvo Canada announced this week that they would not be taking part in auto shows in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver next year, as part of a new, long-term brand strategy.

Vice-president of marketing and PR Margareta Mahlstedt told me that the brand is backing up its new products with a refreshed perspective on marketing and public relations.

Mahlstedt sees little long-term branding value in the auto show format, where show visitors stream through a booth without any meaningful immersion in a brand’s values.

Instead, the company is embracing a philosophy called “the Volvo Way Forward,” which aims to “engage in a deeper way with the customer, for a longer period of time.”

This is not the first time the auto show circuit has been shunned by an auto manufacturer in Canada.

Most notably, Porsche stepped away from auto shows in this country for the 2009 season, instead focusing on drive events where potential buyers were invited behind the wheel.

The strategy paid off for the German brand, as it experienced recordsetting growth in the years that have followed.

Immersing the consumer in the rich culture of Volvo is part of Mahlstedt’s plan moving forward, although she is not quite ready to reveal the types of events the company is planning.

“We are looking for partners that are reflective of the brand to create opportunities in Canada,” says Mahlstedt, adding that exposing consumers to the Swedish brand’s culture is a key element to its growth in the future.

I was employed by Volvo at a time when everyone involved with the brand was passionate about Volvo. During the years while the company was owned by Americans, the passion seemed to vanish both from the products and the company.

The executive tells me that under the current Chinese ownership, Volvo has a unique level of autonomy, which is enabling global management to rekindle that passion internally.

The hope is that the Volvo Way Forward will allow consumers to reconnect with the brand as well, when they announce their first events within the next month or so. CarCostCanada offers 5 smart tips for drivers It may still be summer officially until Monday, but in most of our minds, that season came to a close when the kids went back to school.

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SolarShare grows as ‘green bonds’ heat up

September 17, 2014
A small Toronto co-op is tapping into the huge appetite for green investing by letting individual investors buy into solar projects across Ontario.

SolarShare has raised $5-million in the past three years from about 700 “members,” who in return get a stake in a portfolio of rooftop and small ground-mount solar projects. The co-op members get a guaranteed 5-per-cent annual return on their bonds, which can’t be cashed out for five years.

This week, the co-op is cutting the ribbon on its 25th project, and its biggest so far, a 600 kilowatt rooftop solar installation on a mixed-use commercial building in Brampton.

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Letter perfect How to add flair to your home decor with beautiful type

September 08, 2014
There’s no polite way to put this, but it’s true: Typography nerds – those lovers of all things lettering – tend to be huge snobs. They turn up their noses at poorly spaced or ill-conceived letters the way a wine aficionado might grimace at an off bouquet.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing – and it’s not just because they are fussier than the rest of us. It’s because they’ve obsessively studied the subject and appreciate the look of a perfectly proportioned typeface that is well balanced, properly set and evenly tracked. Beautiful type is like a symphony for the eyes, whereas fugly fonts (we’re looking at you, Staccato) are like daggers to the retina.

This discernment seems to be spreading beyond the world of graphic design. Despite the long-lamented death of the printed word, people seem more curious than ever about the physical form of our language, especially when it comes to accessorizing their living spaces. Words and letters have been elevated to an art form, gracing the interiors of our homes and offices, living rooms and lives like a fine painting or photograph. The writing, it seems, is now literally on the walls, but not always as intelligible text – sometimes it’s just a giant A or Z reclaimed from a vintage sign and recontextualized as a stylish objet. If incorporated with care, they look sharp and unexpected, even sexy.

It’s possible that our collective fascination with fonts is a direct result of computer programs like Microsoft Word. Seriously. When we were all trying to change the default from the ubiquitous Times New Roman, we pulled down the font tab and realized how many other options are out there, from Arial to Verdana.

More likely, though, it’s because type touches something that makes us uniquely human – the deep-seated need to communicate. After all, the roots of typography go way, way back – beyond the invention of the printing press in 1450 to cave drawings and quills and letters hammered into stone. Its history is codified in type itself.

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