In 1500, a Venetian painter and printmaker named Jacopo De’Barbari drew the first-ever aerial map of Venice. The map was extraordinary for a few reasons:

  • It was the largest print ever made. At 4′ x 9′, the map had to be printed on six sheets and pieced together.
  • It offered a view never before seen, because there was no one vantage point in or around Venice that could provide such a view.
  • It included both large-scale geographic information and minute details, such as doors, windows, and even chamber pots (10,000 of them!).

How did de’Barbari draw his bird’s eye view of Venice when manned flight was still three centuries away? He used the work of several different surveyors, who climbed bell towers throughout the area and drew what they saw.

Of course, the surveyors’ views were all drawn from different perspectives. De’Barbari was faced with the challenge of integrating them into a cohesive view. His skill in doing so enabled his contemporaries to see the city of Venice in a new way. It literally gave them the big picture view that had been lacking.

What does De’Barbari’s map have to do with corporate communications?

Organizations are made up of departments and functional areas that may have very different objectives and perspectives on how they should communicate with constituents. Successful corporate communications incorporate all these viewpoints into a cohesive approach that employs an overarching strategy, consistent messaging, and a coordinated use of media. Like the surveyors’ drawings that helped De’Barbari assemble his map, each department’s view is essential in constructing a comprehensive picture of the organization.

Your Web site is an example of a central communications channel that should, like De’Barbari’s map, combine information from multiple sources into a cohesive vision of your organization. De’Barbari blended several visual perspectives into one; your Web site might blend several voices into one.

The effort you spend collaborating on a cohesive approach to communications will go a long way toward providing a view of your organization that is unavailable anywhere else—one that incorporates the “big picture” and all the details constituents need to understand what you do, what you offer, and why it’s important to engage with you.

Contact us for help developing an artful integrated approach to your corporate communications.

Note: De’Barbari’s map was part of the exhibit “Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, and the Renaissance of Venetian Painting,” at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in 2006.