Jean-Pierre Lacroix is the Founder and President of Shikatani Lacroix Design, an international design firm specializing in creating immersive experiences that connect in the blink of an eye. He is also a registered graphic designer in Ontario, a credential that demonstrates his professional standards and ethics.
As a visionary leader with over three decades of experience in the branding and design industry, Jean-Pierre has helped Fortune 500 companies transform their brands and organizations through his unique “ThinkBlink” process, which combines strategic foresight, design innovation, and consumer experience engineering. He is also an accomplished speaker, author, and educator who has shared his insights and expertise on global stages, in best-selling books, and at prestigious institutions.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- [03:54] Jean-Pierre Lacroix introduces Shikatani Lacroix Design and what it does
- [10:03] The ThinkBlink process
- [12:23] The friction points SLD seeks to address
- [17:22] Jean-Pierre shares SLD’s customer success stories
- [20:51] How SLD has remained relevant for decades
- [23:39] Using insights to drive business growth and change management
- [31:16] How Jean-Pierre manages his creative agency’s growth
- [33:02] How SLD acquired its initial clients
- [35:17] SLD’s hiring process and its key hires
- [41:23] The value of project management tools and moving to the cloud
In this episode…
Building a successful retail business requires significant effort and dedication, but one crucial aspect not to overlook is the value of design. Good design is essential for creating a powerful brand identity that resonates with customers and sets you apart from competitors.
Business design is a powerful tool for creating a unique brand identity, enhancing the customer experience, and driving sales. Branding and design expert Jean-Pierre Lacroix says engaging a design firm that can harness the power of strategically led design is essential for achieving design excellence. By working with experts who understand the importance of aligning design with business goals, you can be confident about your brand representation in a way that resonates with your target audience. From packaging and environmental design to graphics and digital, a skilled design team can help you deliver transformational change that drives business growth.
On this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast, Dr. Jeremy Weisz sits down with Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Founder and President of Shikatani Lacroix Design, to discuss the value of business design. Jean-Pierre explains how SLD helps its clients, the “ThinkBlink” process, the friction points SLD seeks to address, and how to remain relevant as a business.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Second Bite Podcast
- The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson
- The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results by Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, Pat Spenner, and Nick Toman
- The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty by Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, and Rick DeLisi
- Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman
- Fanatical Prospecting: The Ultimate Guide to Opening Sales Conversations and Filling the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Telephone, Email, Text, and Cold Calling by Jeb Blount
- The Win Without Pitching Manifesto by Blair Enns
- Collective 54
- The Boutique: How To Start, Scale, And Sell A Professional Services Firm by Greg Alexander
- “[Top Agency Series] Navigating a Merger and Becoming an End-to-End Digital Partner With Kevin Hourigan of Spinutech” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- ‘[Top Agency Series] Most Valuable Advice When Selling Your Agency With Todd Taskey of Potomac Business Capital” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “Leading with Passion with Gino Wickman Founder of EOS Worldwide” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “40% of all communication is visual, 80% of that is color and shape.”
- “You can’t inspire companies if you don’t provide them with insights on what are the trends shaping the marketplace.”
- “60% of all buying decisions or brand preferences are driven by how we feel, not how we think.”
- “The more you can envision the future, the more you can create a bridge to that future.”
- “There’s no bad idea.”
- “Most companies fail not because their sales are not there, but because their cash flow is terrible.”
- “Stay in the know on what’s happening.”
Sponsor for this episode
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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90x, Atari, Einstein Bagels, Mattel, Rx Bars, YPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk, and many more.
The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.
Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.
Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.
Insider Stories from Top Leaders & Entrepreneurs…
You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.
Jeremy Weisz 0:22
Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of inspiredinsider.com where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. Jean-Pierre Lacroix of sld.com. And JP before I formally introduce you, I always like to point out other episodes of the podcast, you should check out. I did one, JP has been in this industry for several decades. I don’t want to age you, JP. But there was another interesting one, Kevin Hourigan of Spinutech, he had an agency since 1995. JP beat him in this regard. That was a really good one, just seeing the evolution of the online space, the industry and everything else, which we’ll talk about on this. I had one with Todd Taskey, Todd Taskey actually has the Second Bite Podcast, he helps pair private equity with agencies. And sometimes he finds they make more when the second bite than they do on the first. So he basically talked about valuations agencies, what people were working on, and how they can best sell their company. So that was an interesting episode. And he’s got some great guests who have sold their agencies. So those are good ones as well. And this episode is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise25, we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships. And how we do that is we actually help you run your podcast, we’re an easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast, we do the full strategy, full accountability and the execution for the podcast. JP, we call ourselves the magic elves that work in the background and make it look easy for the hosts in the company. So they could just produce the content and run their business and not have to worry about all the other things. For me, the number one thing in my life is relationships, I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I’ve found no better way over the past decade to profile the people and companies I most admire and share with the world what they’re working on. So if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should if you have questions, go to rise25.com You can email support at rise25.com. I’m excited to introduce Jean-Pierre Lacroix and he’s the president of the branding and design firm Shikatani, I got it right the first time Shikatani Lacroix. And their website, you could tell how experienced their company is by their domain name, right, their domain name is sld.com. That, again, probably back in the day, it wasn’t as tough to get something like that as it is now. So but sld.com They started back in 1989 and maintain a focus on the latest and emerging trends. They’ve helped Fortune 500 companies transform their brands and organizations through the unique ThinkBlink process, which we’ll talk about. It combines strategic foresight, design, innovation, and consumer experience engineering. So JP, thanks for joining me.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix 3:14
Well, thank you, Jeremy. And it’s great to be here and share some of the insights that we’ve accumulated over the many years, actually 34 years to be exact. And this is my second company. So I’ve been in the design industry and branding industry for over 42 years. So seen a lot, done a lot, learned a lot.
Jeremy Weisz 3:35
Talk about SLD and what you do a little bit. And if you’re watching the video, you can see I have their website up here you could see the Think Blink, and we’ll scroll through some of the things here we see Let’s Go Raptors, Coors Light, Regions Bank, talk to people and tell them what you do.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix 3:54
Yeah, so we are a brand transformation agency. So we help brands ensure that they remain relevant in the marketplace. And we do that through a very thorough strategic process that’s linked to a great creative and so Think Blink is the foundation of our gestalt. We coined the phrase close to 34 years ago, called a blink factor. And we did that ironically, we coined that phrase doing work for Pizza Hut us and people call that the red roof and that got our attention. And then we started looking at, why do people call it red roof and how why is that important? We found out that 40% of all communication is visual 80% of that is color and shape. So when you think of great brands, like Regions, they own a color and shape, LD owns blue, I mean great brands on a specific color and shape. It helps them stand out and not think back. 34 years ago, the average supermarket had 20,000 products, there are fewer retailers in the marketplace. And if you go now to the supermarket, there’s close to 80,000 products. So think blink in the blink factor is actually more relevant today than it was even then, because consumers are kind of inundated with decisions complexity of choice. And think link is giving that brand a shortcut into the emotion of the customer and into their pocketbook. And I think it is the strategy side of our business where we do strategic foresight, for example, we predicted the pandemic, I hate to say this, but we saw that trend, as part of every year we do the top trends in the marketplace. And in 2018, we predicted the pandemic would be here, we are off by I think six months. Blink is how do you connect that those…
Jeremy Weisz 3:55
What made you predict that?
Jean-Pierre Lacroix 4:11
Interesting, we do a trend scan in the industry, look at what’s trending, some of the issues in the marketplace, what’s in word count, on the website and Google words what is trending upwards, what’s trending downwards. And we’re tracking climate change and impacted climate change. And one of the things that came up was the bird flu and some of the viruses that were growing in some of these kind of hotspots in the marketplace. And we have an office in Shanghai, and we were going to the wet markets, we said, this is just a perfect environment to incubate viruses. And we were not that far off. So that’s the insights, you know, and we do that every year. So if you go to our website, you can see what we predicted last year, see if how accurate we are. I think we’re trending about of the 20 predictions, we get about more than half of them right?
Jeremy Weisz 6:52
Which page? Is it on the blog page, or?
Jean-Pierre Lacroix 6:54
It would be under the under blogs. White papers or the studies we do. We have podcast publications, we’ve written many books. For example, these are white papers, we just finished a major study for the banking industry on DEI, diversity inclusive, both in retail, we did a big study on the customer ideal seamless experience. So we’re very much in our focus, our motto is inspire the future of customer experiences. You can’t inspire companies, if you don’t provide them with insights on what are the trends shaping the marketplace, for example, in the banking industry, they focus so much on digital transformation, they’re missing the mark on driving, what is needed in the marketplace, which is alleviating the customer’s financial anxiety. So advice plays an important role. I’ll be speaking at a conference tomorrow in the banking industry on that. We talked about the circular economy for retailers, that’s a growing trend happening in the marketplace. Again, these are all studies that we asked consumers their input very often will also ask industry leaders give you some insights. And we also do a lot of strategic foresight. So if you scroll down there, there’s one on the future of healthcare, human eyes in the health and wellness clinic where we actually have come up with concepts on what does the future of healthcare look like? What does a hospital look like? What’s happening in the marketplace where you’re seeing a split between a critical health care and we’ll call wellness, health care? And what does that look like in the marketplace? And what’s driving those behaviors? What are the trends driving those behaviors. And so we get right into sharing those insights and those facts and a false a lot of our, what I call engagement models, attract, transact and retain. And we get into designing those, in some cases, we create virtual reality. And we use neuroscience to validate. So it’s not just what people are telling us. But it’s also how they feel about those experiences. Because we know that more than 60% of all buying decisions or brand preference are driven by how we feel, not how we think that just gives you a glimpse, this was actually a wellness chain that we did in China. There are three-story cosmetic surgery, we do a lot of work in the healthcare category, but it gives you a glimpse of our thinking. This is part of our inspire the future and helps us kind of brain where the future could be in these different scenarios. That makes it fun. Picture says 1000 words and if we can visualize something very often that’s what people were able to create. The more you can envision the future, the more you can create a bridge to that future.
Jeremy Weisz 9:50
Talk about the ThinkBlink process. I mentioned it briefly but I’m sure when companies come to you, you have a certain process you’ve honed in on over a couple of decades.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix 10:03
Yeah, so very often a client will come to us with a challenge, we’ve lost relevancy. If I look at M&M meats. A company that invented the frozen food, vertical retail category, were a pioneer in the marketplace for decades, but they lost a relevancy because the consumers, the consumers it was an environment where you were, you went to a counter and looked at the flier pick items in the flier. And so the challenge is that, number one, millennials and Gen Z’s weren’t shopping them. Number two is that they’re all in selling elements are on the flier. They had 40 and 50 products of which 20% to 30% of them are signature items that you can’t find anywhere else. And so think process is, who’s a customer segment were appealing to? What are the key drivers of the category? What are the unmet need states? How do we develop? How do we drive value that isn’t there in the marketplace today? Because you can buy some of these products or a lot of these products at a supermarket? Why would they come to M&M? What is it that would drive them to come to this retailer versus a supermarket? And then we look at the entire customer journey, part of the thinking process, where are the friction points, where are the opportunity to pivot and drive value. And then we take all those insights, customer segmentation, value proposition unmet needs, and then we translate that into execution, which is the Blink factor the Blink, how to connect with consumers in that split-second decision-making process that is highly emotionally charged, it is linking that strategy with the design of bringing them together. And this is a great example of an organization that’s been on the growth path since we’ve done work for them. They’re growing at 20 to 30% a year in a very competitive marketplace. And they’re competing with supermarkets, they’re competing with convenience gas retailers, the competing with online venues. And so how do you differentiate yourself? By providing advice on how to plan meals? I’ve got 10 people coming over for dinner, what should I have? What should I prepare? You know, what’s the portion size I should provide? They provide all those great insights and great product.
Jeremy Weisz 12:20
What were some of the friction points you discovered?
Jean-Pierre Lacroix 12:23
Well, number one is the average consumer, when they’re hosting guests, they really don’t understand, what are the portions I should provide know, how many shrimp should I have? You know, you know, how many advertisers should I provide? You know, what’s the cook time that I need to have all these things because you’re preparing these foods they need to, they need to arrive hot when your guests are hungry. And so we’ve converted these sales individuals, these retail clerks into meal advisors, and really helping the customer map that entire meal, how many guests are you having, do you have food allergies, all the things and then we design the store that starts with appetizers and goes across a vertical categories, but your protein, what kind of dessert you want. And that helps frame the journey with a customer helps eliminate the anxieties that they have on what should I serve, what’s going to go well with what, the pairing of products, and that’s what food market have done a great job, they’ve really focused on those pain points and create an environment that is self-shocked, where the clerk, the meal advisor can guide that customer through that journey.
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