The Alberta Party’s Big Idea Night (and new brand)

Earlier today the Alberta Party unveiled its new logo and brand package. I’ll admit that I wasn’t an immediate fan of the new logo. Putting speech bubbles inside the provincial shield feels more obvious than clever, at least at first blush. I’ve been thinking about it though, and I actually kind of like how direct it is. The logo conveys its message in a clear and very to-the-point fashion. And I do have to admit that the speech bubble element itself is rather smart, as Chris pointed out:

My favourite part of this brand strategy, is the “Speech Bubble”.  The pull-apart element of the logo will become part of how our supporters will be able to make this brand their own. The number of ways that this can become personalized to each member, constituency association, community or neighborhood, are endless.

As I descended the steps at the Shaw Conference Centre tonight on my way to the Big Idea event (I attended as media), I passed a number of volunteers wearing black tee shirts featuring the new visual identity. Set against a dark background, the new logo is definitely attractive. The fonts used are Avant Garde Gothic Bold and Book.

Here’s how the Big Idea Night was described on the Alberta Party website:

Join us for an evening of fast-paced, fun, thought-provoking and inspiring presentations from our members, supporters and friends. Do you have a great idea for our province? An innovative way of doing something? A vision for Alberta in 20 years?

Think “mini-Pecha Kucha”. Each speaker got five minutes to share their “big idea” with no time for questions (but plenty of time for networking afterward). The speakers tonight were, in order of appearance:

  1. Dennis Lenarduzzi – Logo
  2. Everett Smith – Vision 2031: Rewarding civic duty & community service
  3. Danielle Klooster – Community culture by design: Penhold on purpose
  4. Connie Jensen – A few tips for a proactive campaign
  5. Lisa Maria Fox – Brining public to policy
  6. Glenn Taylor – This is my voice
  7. Jesse Row – My big idea
  8. Wade Ferguson – Welcome to Vermillion: accelerating innovation in sustainability

It just so happened that one of the first people I ran into at the event was Dennis Lenarduzzi, Associate Creative Director at Red The Agency. He’s the man behind the new logo, and he shared with me that he was particularly excited to see people using the logo in new ways already. He was also the first presenter tonight, and I thought he did a great job discussing the “common ground. common sense.” slogan and other new brand elements. He emphasized that the logo is for all Albertans, not just the Alberta Party.

Alberta Party Big Idea Night
Dennis Lenarduzzi

Everett Smith talked about his vision for Alberta, and focused on volunteers. He suggested adjusting taxes to reward Albertans that volunteer. Danielle Klooster talked about community culture, and had an intriguing slide labeled “Bad Stuff in the ‘Burbs”. Connie Jensen suggested Alberta Party members should organize their own “Concerned Citizens for Democracy” groups. She also said she wants to see 40+ seats go to the Alberta Party or she’ll be disappointed! Lisa Maria Fox talked about policy and the public, and spent a bit of time discussing deliberative democracy, crowdsourcing, and other ideas. Glenn Taylor started off by talking about Shane Koyczan and how his poetry slams had inspired him, then he left the stage while he showed a video of Koyczan’s “This is my Voice”. Jesse was a good speaker and had some interesting ideas, such as an American Idol or Star Search-like competition for selecting candidates. Finally, Wade (who’s last name I didn’t catch) talked about Vermillion Canada.

Alberta Party Big Idea Night Alberta Party Big Idea Night

Remember I said to think mini-Pecha Kucha? Tonight reminded me of PKN in both style and content. There was definitely a range of presentations – from solid, on-point ones like Dennis’ to totally-ignoring-the-concept ones like Glenn’s to pitches like Wade’s. I didn’t feel overwhelmed with big ideas. In that respect, I found the evening a little disappointing. Of course it takes guts to get up in front of a crowd and talk for five minutes, so kudos to the presenters for that.

That said, what other political party is embracing this kind of approach? It may not have been perfect, but the Alberta Party’s Big Idea Night is exactly the kind of thing I’d like to see more of. I hope they do it again (after learning from tonight’s experience, of course).

Alberta Party Big Idea Night

Tonight’s event was the kickoff for the Alberta Party Leadership Convention which takes place all day tomorrow at the Shaw Conference Centre. You can learn more about the candidates here and you can follow along on Twitter using the #abpleader hashtag. You can see the rest of my photos from the evening here.

The Alberta Party’s Big Listen

It’s hard to believe that nearly two months have passed since my Big Listen experience, but such is life. I meant to write something about it a long time ago, but that obviously didn’t happen! Given that the Alberta Party’s policy convention took place this past weekend, I thought now was as good a time as any to finally write something.

At the end of September, I took part in a Big Listen event. I was invited by Elaine Hyshka, VP of Communications for the Alberta Party. I’m interested in politics, obviously, and as a result I had some knowledge about the Alberta Party, but I didn’t know anything about the Big Listen process. I was told the evening would be “simply a gathering of friends to talk about their experiences, concerns and hopes related to living in Alberta.” Thankfully, that’s what it was.

The session was moderated by Michael Walters, the Alberta Party’s Provincial Organizer, and I can say with certainty that he made the evening for me. Michael is a gifted “people person”, and I thought he did a great job of facilitating our discussions. He got the Big Listen process started in March, and guided the team toward holding 100 Big Listen events reaching more than 1000 Albertans by the end of September, something they achieved.

The first activity was to break off into pairs to talk about our Alberta story. I was born here in Edmonton, but actually grew up elsewhere, primarily in Inuvik, NT. I came back for high school and university and have been here ever since. I think it’s interesting to consider why we’re here. Before I was old enough to decide for myself, I lived in Alberta because my family lived here. Now that I have the ability to go elsewhere, why do I stay? It was an intriguing way to start the event.

Next we got to the heart of the evening. We had three main discussion points. The first was to share some of the pressures we’re feeling here in Alberta. The next was to share our hopes and dreams for Alberta. And finally, we were asked to share what about Alberta we’re thankful for. All three were really enlightening and generated some great discussion. A really common pressure seemed to be the inability to share opinions about potentially controversial topics here in Alberta. Economic diversification was a common hope for the province. And most people agreed that Alberta’s future looks positive, so long  as we stay focused and take advantage of the opportunity before us.

That, in a nutshell, was the event. It was a small part of a much bigger process. Here’s how it works:

The event I attended was on the left side of that picture, and this past weekend’s policy convention was on the right side. All of the Big Listen events contributed toward draft policy that was ratified at the convention. The specific policy resolutions will be posted to the website this week, but here are some of the highlights. I thought Dave Cournoyer’s quote summed up the whole process quite nicely:

“This weekend demonstrated how Albertans with different political backgrounds, or no political experience at all, can work together to develop meaningful and positive goals,” said new Alberta Party member, David Cournoyer. “It’s not about leaning left or right, it’s about moving forward and ensuring the province achieves it’s full potential.”

You can read Dave’s closing remarks from the convention here, and he’s got some great photos from the weekend here.

It is my understanding that this process will continue, and that there will be additional Big Listen events in the future. As party President Chris LaBossiere said, “The listening isn’t done – in fact, it won’t ever be done.”

Adam Rozenhart, who was also at the Big Listen event I attended, recorded some of it for The Unknown Studio. You can listen to that here.

You can keep up with the Alberta Party on Twitter, Facebook, or their blog.