Panama City Beach, Florida
Growing up, I always hated returning to school and face the proverbial writing of a “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essay. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy writing, but the essay was always extremely redundant. My father worked in the carpet industry, and he always got a two–week vacation around the July Fourth holiday. Without fail, we would pack up the car with my parents, all five kids and a bounty of new vacation clothes from Sears. The preparation and journey were always the same. Once we crossed the Florida state line, my father would pull into the same liquor store to purchase a bottle of liquor. A couple of hours later, we would check into the Barney Gray Motel, and my siblings and I would be changed into our bathing suits and into the kidney shaped pool in no time. While there, we would visit the two amusement parks, order ice cream from the ice cream cone shaped parlor, and abandon our swim suits for the big night out at Captain Anderson’s. This vacation scenario played out year after year, so I could basically carbon copy my back-to-school essay.
Old World Panama
Fast forward to the summer of 2013, and once again, I found myself in Panama City. This time, however, it was Panama City, Panama in Central America. When I posted on Facebook that I was excited about visiting Panama City, I received many comments about the “Redneck Riviera.” I attempted to explain that I would be in Central America to no avail. Upon arrival, we spent the first few nights in the old town, Casco Viejo, at a wonderful small boutique hotel, Las Clementinas. This quaint, six-room inn was classic old world Panama, and the service was impeccable. While there, we explored every square inch of the old town, and I was inspired with their mammoth restoration efforts. They are rebuilding, brick by brick, and the process and architecture were stunning. Casco Viejo is a fascinating combination of decay and resurrection, and I can’t wait for a return visit to see the progress.
New World Panama
After a few days in the historical district, we moved across the bay to the new city – the opposite of Casco Viejo. The architecture, activity and building boom reminded me of Dubai. Everything was modern and new, and every square foot was under construction. We spent four nights at the new Trump Ocean Club, an architectural marvel. The hotel was very contemporary and well designed, but we missed the personal service of Las Clementinas. We also had a great time in the modern city, but it was the total opposite of old town. However, I was inspired to see the Panamanian’s valiant efforts to restore and preserve Casco Viejo while simultaneously developing a bustling, contemporary skyline in the business district. Since returning, I have been pondering the dichotomy, and I am beginning to have some clarity.
Grant Design Collaborative’s New World
Shortly before visiting Panama, Grant Design Collaborative held an offsite retreat at Reynolds Plantation on Lake Oconee. In addition to some great team building and fun, we decided to embark on a strategic brand roadmap for ourselves. After 17 years of creating and implementing sound brand strategy for our clients, it is now time to position Grant for future success. As I have been thinking about the process, I couldn’t help referencing my Panama experience as a metaphor for our work. Like Casco Viejo, we are well known for our classic and timeless design, and we are constantly striving to improve our work. However, our recent work in brand strategy has effectively repositioned classic brands for the modern business world. For me, this is a beautiful juxtaposition, and I look forward to defining how Grant Design Collaborative will continue to employ classic graphic design and sound strategy to build powerful brands in the modern business world.
Bill Grant, President and Chief Creative Officer