I’ve had a couple of coffee dates over the past week with folks wanting to pick my brain about Logosphere Storysmiths—what we’re up to, how and why we formed the business in the first place, and the kind of work we’ve been doing for our clients. These conversations have given me the opportunity to take a step back from cranking out stories and strategies for our clients and try to articulate some answers to the big questions of Why? and How? that underpin our work.
First, our origin story: By the time Quinton left Minnesota Monthly magazine in late 2016, I had been hustling as a freelance writer for a few years, building up a base of business writing clients in addition to working on journalistic assignments and pitches for a range of local and national publications. Quinton had just spent three years witnessing the challenges of the print magazine world from the inside. He’d become convinced that joining me in the self-defined, scrappy, uncertain, but empowering world of self-employment would provide at least as much security and stability as another job in the publishing industry, if not more.
So we decided to throw our lots in together, figuring that together we’d be more formidable than either of us alone. Rather than compete with each other as independent freelancers in the same field, we’d capitalize on our existing trust and symbiotic working relationship and form a team—a two-for-one package of a writer/editor (we both take turns in each role) that can can crank out high-level, strategic, sophisticated writing more efficiently, in greater volume, and with greater precision and polish than any solo freelancer out there. We headed out to a local cocktail room one evening, filled several journal pages full of brainstorming for a name for our new business, and Logosphere Storysmiths was born.
Logos: Greek for word, reason, or plan
Sphere: An area of interest, activity, or expertise
Storysmith: A skilled and practiced architect of stories (A word we invented, because that’s what word folk do)
We’ve both read the writing on the walls surrounding the media industry. Spoiler alert: it’s ominous, as evidenced by the recent mass layoffs at Vox, Buzzfeed, and Vice and by this quote from outgoing Mic publisher Cory Haik: “Our business models are unsettled, and the macro forces at play are all going through their own states of unrest. If anyone tells you they have it figured out, a special plan to save us all, or that it’s all due to a singular fault, know that is categorically false.” The world is changing, and if you’re a coal miner, a trucker, or a journalist, it’s time to take a good, hard look at your options.
But Quinton and I share a stubborn love for the form of magazine-style writing and reporting, the longform exploration of a profile subject or a trend or idea. Ultimately, we’re seekers, and we both do our seeking through writing, as do the best essayists, journalists, and those who were born with the particular karma of processing the world through words.
When deciding what kind of writing services we wanted Logosphere to offer, we instinctively shied away from using the words “marketing” or “PR.” Not that there’s anything wrong with those things. But we wanted to see if we could make a go of it by focusing on the thing that really lights us up—the exploration and articulation of truth. Would we do catchy slogans, inventive naming, and eye-catching copy? You bet. But we knew that our skill in excavating nuance and complexity—and then distilling it into clear and compelling words and stories—represented a unique offering in the existing market of copywriters, ad agencies, and PR firms. We wanted to lean into the thing that set us apart: namely, a deep, cellular aversion to bullshit.
Two years in, we know without a doubt that we’re onto something. The skills we gleaned (and continue to hone) through our individual journalistic and creative work translate to the business and nonprofit worlds better than we could have imagined. We approach our clients with a full arsenal of deep curiosity, an intuitive understanding of audience, and a strategic sense of how to reach that audience with stories that center their needs, questions, concerns, and aspirations.
Whether in keynote speeches for leaders and influencers; case studies and white papers that illustrate value propositions with color and clarity; or branding exercises that help teams achieve lightbulb moments around identity and purpose, the combination of strategy and artistry we offer has proven to be wildly effective for our clients.
Our first two years of business have been a rapidly escalating experience of education, adaptation, and experimentation—with gratifying and exciting results for ourselves and our clients and partners. We can’t wait to see what the years ahead bring. If you’re interested in learning more about what we do, and how our storytelling work can help you or your organization cut through the noise and reach your desired audience, we’d love to hear from you.
Mo is the co-founder and principal of Logosphere Storysmiths.