This Week’s Top Brand Storytellers: Raw Design, Grateful Dead

Each week, Pilot brings you a roundup of the best—and occasionally the worst—examples of brand storytelling in the business. Here are our top five picks this week from around the world:

All friends are equal

Even icon design is susceptible to gender bias. For years, Facebook’s “friends” icon showed a prominent male figure cutting off a more submissive female silhouette. Well, Facebook changed that this week by giving man and woman equal prominence on its website. Facebook realized that if it wants to portray itself as a platform that celebrates equality, especially given the role female senior executives like Sheryl Sandberg play, it needs to show it through all elements of the platform—including icon design.

Grateful Dead: greatest b(r)and of all time

The Grateful Dead, who have just wrapped up their final “Fare Thee Well” tour, encouraged fans to record shows and trade tapes, relying much more on live shows than selling albums. The constant concerts allowed Deadheads to connect with the band beyond the music. The concerts also gave rise to the Deadhead lifestyle. Deadheads coined their name themselves and began selling the iconic tie-dye t-shirts at Dead concerts in the 70s. The Grateful Dead understood the value of allowing the fan to have a say in the band’s music and lifestyle, which created an unwavering loyalty to the band—even 50 years later.


Raw Design, a Toronto design and architecture firm, invited artists to paint two old warehouses in the city’s Lakeshore East district. The event is a metaphor for the transformation taking place in Toronto’s east end. Moreover, the approach recognizes the critical role citizens play in defining the city’s brand. Brands aren’t built in isolation; they aren’t passed down ceremoniously from the mountain top by benevolent corporations. People need to accept them, interpret them, shape and re-shape them. Artistic contributions are a good way to do this because it involves the community, but also leaves a lasting impression—a painted warehouse—to spark discussion around the brand.

Friends over dividends

Girl Scouts chose to accept a transgender girl in to its Western Washington troop, despite a donor pulling out $100,000 due to this action. The troop leader of the chapter crowdfunded to get community donations to make up for the $100,000, and promoted her efforts through a now-viral video to show that Girl Scouts’ first mission is to accept all girls. Girl Scouts remained true to its values, even at a time when it would have been financially safer to ignore its roots.


The Los Angeles Times is the first publication to hire a reporter to cover Black Twitterthe part of the Twitter where black issues are discussed. Black Twitter has created hashtags and discussion around crimes against black people, including the shootings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown and #BringBackOurGirls for the 276 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram. The Times’ mission is to impart important information to its readers. With the rise of Black Twitter, the Times understands the need to be more aware of what’s happening within the African-American community in order to cover the most current events in all parts of the country. The investment into Black Twitter shows its commitment to all of the public—not just a select group.