25 Jul, 17 / post / Strategy
What’s in a name?
According to Merriam-Webster, an iconoclast is someone who bucks the norm, someone who challenges settled beliefs (which, back in the day, typically meant religious or political institutions). Today, however, iconoclast is a term often linked to some of our biggest changemakers or nonconformists, people who challenge current thinking or rules to establish new ways of interpreting theories or work. Think Frida Kahlo, Little Richard or Elon Musk.

When I was brainstorming about my business’ brand and had fallen deep down a Google rabbit hole, I came across a Harvard Business Review article called “How Iconoclasts Think.” In the HBR piece, neuroscientist Gregory Berns discusses how iconoclasts may think differently than others, leading these individuals to, “[do] things differently in ways that other people say can’t be done.” Berns points to former general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, Branch Rickey, as his personal hero and example of a modern iconoclast. Rickey was at the helm of the baseball team during World War II, a time when many of the major league’s players were drafted and left teams struggling for talent. Rather than watch the league continue to decline, Rickey looked past the day’s racial discrimination and encouraged the signing of Jackie Robinson – one of the first African-Americans to play in the majors. (Robinson is of course an iconoclast himself due to breaking down social barriers throughout his career!)

Applying this innovative approach to communication is at the heart of ICONOCLAST. After working with charities and non-profits for more than a decade, I see their marketing and PR in a new light. Often facing challenges like multiple audiences and competing campaign goals — not to mention very practical limitations like budgets and tapped out staff teams — I see these hurdles as to something to work through and with. Personally, I’ve also taken some alternative routes when it comes to my profession and education. I dropped out of high school at 16, deciding to work full-time in beauty and men’s retail for several years. On a whim, after almost five years out of school, I decided to apply to Conestoga College’s Public Relations diploma program and was admitted based on equivalency scores that showed I could handle the program’s demands despite not completing high school. After graduation, I put my post-secondary schooling on the backburner and went into my first professional non-profit marketing role.

Now 10+ years into my career, I recently decided to give university a try and am in my second year of Mount St. Vincent University’s Master in PR — the first student in the program to be admitted without an undergraduate degree. So, I guess you could say I’ve been able to maneuver obstacles, instead finding my own way to achieve goals. And calling back to that HBR article, it felt apt to incorporate my buck-the-norm values and way of thinking into the look and feel of my communication business. It’s an enthusiasm and perspective I carry into every client partnership and project, and one I hope to share with you, too.

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About the author
Katrina Fortner
As the founder of ICONOCLAST, I love telling and sharing the stories of the charities and non-profits I work with, and I want to change the way organizations connect with their communities - without compromising budgets, timelines or their stress management!