From Boxer to Fighter

 

In 2000, Martin Kace, former president of Joe Boxer, was hit by a felled tree, which severed his spine and sent him into a coma from which he miraculously emerged, although forever paralyzed. Subsequently, he decided to found a design and branding firm specializing in fighting for good causes.

EMPAX is that firm and this is what it does. First, it identifies a cause: “At Empax, we work exclusively for the good guys. We usually work for clients, but sometimes we just fly on our own when we feel that a cause is not (yet) being properly addressed,” says Kace. Then it develops the concept/brand: “We believe that framing an issue and engineering the experiential space around it is what makes the issue stick. We use some science and psychology with a little bit of art and magic to figure out the soul of the organization or cause, and make it into a story that’s relevant to the people who should care and take action on it,” he adds.

President Shimon Peres of Israel asked EMPAX for a portal that would enable him to connect to the Israeli public on environmental issues in a strong and meaningful way. This was accomplished through a brand (above, right) and website. For Vice President Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, whose mission is to urge people to adopt behaviors that can help solve the climate crisis, EMPAX created a website (below) that contains hundreds of tips on everyday actions people can take.

Kace has also made EMPAX into a hothouse for designers. EMPAX’s recruitment message reads, “Do you have a good eye (or ear) and believe, like we do, that creative talent can be used for more than just selling more stuff to people that they don’t really need? Empax…uses industrial strength creativity and technology to promote important causes and organizations. Not only will you be remunerated; you’ll also love coming to work in the morning. We guarantee it.”

 

 

Branding | Change | Entrepreneurship | Social Advocacy

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

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