Interviews

Keith Jones, co-founder of Brandvan on the importance of actions

Keith Jones shares the motivations for starting Brandvan- a mobile content marketing studio (the “van” in Brandvan) for Canadian nonprofits – and how his childhood and adolescence impacted his career path. 

My job in a nutshell is…

I run a strategic design consultancy called Keith Jones & Good Company. We are idea cultivators, helping grow mission driven brands that make a positive impact in the world. Good Ideas, Good People and Good Work – this is our Good Company. I’m pretty lucky that I get to help some of Canada’s biggest organizations build brands, spaces and campaigns. When I can, I take on personal projects like Brandvan- actioning ideas that push the envelope and challenge traditional thinking.

I started Brandvan because…

I started Brandvan with Vickie Hsieh, she works full time at a digital marketing agency called Major Tom and brings a robust experience in digital marketing, strategy and client management to the Brandvan team.

We started Brandvan because the world is ready for it. Polarizing politics, environmental extremes, the solopreneur economy, the information age are creating a catalyst for a movement. We’re all being called to do a little more. As we leave behind the industrial revolution and embrace the information age – we have the opportunity to help shape the world we want to leave the next generation. And I think it should be a ‘gooder’ one.

As a seasoned creative, I’ve got a niche skill-set, an understanding of how branding and communications work. I’ve spent the past 15 years building and launching some ‘great’ brands so now I want to build some ‘good’ ones. By rallying my friends and their friends, we can not only bring value and awareness to Good People and Good Groups, and Good Businesses, but we can do it at scale.

Brandvan is meant to educate and inspire corporations to embed purpose into their model, but also the new generation of independent consultants, freelancers and future students.  

I think we live in one of the greatest countries in the world, but there is still challenges we face as a nation. We’re hoping actioning this idea will help shift the responsible consumer movement. The public, organizations and or youth have the power to lead us into a better tomorrow. Brandvan is here to show them anything is possible.  

My experiences helped me get to where I am today because…

Everything in life has something to teach us. I’m a country kid – I grew up helping my dad making, creating and problem solving with can-do attitude. When I got a bit older, I found success and passion in two somewhat opposing fields – hockey and art. Studying art taught me visual methodologies, creative thinking, patience and dedication. Where as hockey fostered my skills in the art of practice, sacrifice, teamwork and eventually leadership.

After college, I worked with a handful of great agencies and in-house design studios with some of Canada’s biggest brands. Launching pro sports teams, rebrand major telcos, and building spatial graphics for one of the countries largest office transformations programs. This diversity of experience as both a lead and support role has helped prepare me for the next stage in my career. My own consultancy & Good Company.

My first job ever was…

My first job ever was working around my parents house and farm. From the earliest age, my parents instilled a solid work ethic by compensating me for after school and weekend chores vs. giving me an allowance. It taught me not only the value of money, but responsibility and an appreciation for the things we consume.

Most people don’t know that I…

Most people don’t know that I’ve been inspired by the compact living lifestyle for a long time. I was contemplating living out of a sailboat a couple years ago. But it’s hard to make the world a better place in the middle of the ocean – plus I don’t know how to sail. So for now, we’ll stick with the Brandvan in Canada for a couple months.

(1) Be impeccable with your word;
(2) Don’t take anything personally;
(3) Don’t make assumptions; and
(4) Always do your best.

The best piece of advice I ever received was…

I’ve had a lot of great friends, colleagues and mentors that have taught me so much, so it’s really hard to have one great piece of advice. Right now, I have 6/7 sticky notes on my studio wall. The first few are the from the book titled The Four Agreements: (1) Be impeccable with your word; (2) Don’t take anything personally; (3) Don’t make assumptions; and (4) Always do your best. The sticky notes are a visual reminder to help me and my consultancy stay the course.

“Actions triumphs ability.”

My best advice to people who want to make a difference is…

To begin – take a pause in your life to find out what drives you, what your purpose really is. Once you know that direction, set your compass & start moving in that direction. It’s the hardest part, but having the wheels in motion will get you on road to discovering places you didn’t know existed taking routes less traveled. Actions triumphs ability.

Interested in following the journey or getting your nonprofit some free advice? Tweet and follow @thebrandvan or like on instagram @thebrandvan

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