The Alchemy of Topology…

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Why Google Earth inspires and the power of the Alchemist Zildjian.

Did you know that in the Ottoman Empire, in the year 1623, alchemist Avedis Zildjian first discovered a method of fusing copper, tin and silver to create unique musical instruments. How on earth did he even get to think like that! From that day onwards the Zildjian mystique has captivated musicians and music lovers alike. And as they say – “It takes so much more than merely crafting cymbals, drumsticks and mallets to fulfill the dreams and desires of drummers around the globe. It takes passion and dedication.”

The sheer enormity of Google Earth vision, their passion and dedication is similar. Truly awe inspiring in it’s aspiration. The stuff it represents is – well – everything, and yet whilst it isn’t quite there you know it will be. The opportunity for more. The optimism of it all. These two business ambitions represent a wonderful metaphor for so much of life. They represent several things that drive us and give great cause for optimism.

Zildjian is one of those images that pervade. Look at its history. I could have used the Coke logo or a million well known road signs to make the point of where we are going with all this. Logo’s symbols are all powerful aids to travel. Interesting to note too that they can change subtly over time. Coke nearly a hundred times. So pay attention. They are the navigation points on our journey through life.


Zildjian quite simply transmits my entire life’s love of music. Remembered like a gunshot to the head every time I see it via one beautifully appropriate logotype. It carries on its wings my memories of places, sounds and the people I’ve met on this journey – it points to safe havens from any personal storm hosted by those who choose to hoist its flag. I’ve chosen it as my example of signage – a symbol of cymbals – that isn’t quite so obvious because that’s my point. Maps are very personal, they are what we interpret and we need to make our own or get very aquainted with one we get fast to avoid driving off a cliff at night.

At Group Partners we build maps and symbols (the brand not the cymbals) as a fundamental part of our work. We combine the power of the symbol and the skill of map making to help our clients drive off cliffs.

We create logical structures – frameworks – within which to populate what we know – for example the continents. We create the spaces between – what we may not know – they represent oceans of opportunity. The linkages between different territories – the roads and routes of connectedness and the symbols, the navigation points. The richness of the buildings, the trees, the land, the resources and the fixtures represent the opportunity and materials we all need to find our way around.

In the 21st Century it is possible to find a map of virtually anything from the inner workings of the human body to the virtual worlds of cyberspace. Therefore there are now a huge variety of different styles and types of map. In our world we’ve taken the idea of map to a new place and apply the ideas to business. This means navigation, orientation, discovery, relationships between things. Often we see the problems associated with different societies and the semantics when viewing symbols or reading maps.

We like to quote the ‘Definition of Definition’ – “The wilderness of idea, trapped within a wall of words” The deadly power of the mindset, the paradigm – and the sad fact that one mans tool for meaning is another’s stick to beat the unaware into submission – dragging him along another path towards the cave of his prejudice. We describe the issue as being about context. We could describe this as the macro issues of competing societies in relation to different worldviews or belief systems (religion)

Our contention is that we need new symbols and new positioning systems. That’s where the new map-making skill lays. Slaying new dragons with better symbols!

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johncaswell @johncaswell

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