The Looma Project

Episode 04

The Looma Project

Episode 04

with Ned Brown

Ned Brown, Chief Creative Officer at The Looma Project

Listen on

Today we ask

How can we bring humanity into commerce?

Stories are compelling, life-giving narratives that shape the way we see the world and ourselves. When our stories are based in authenticity, it stands out amongst a filtered landscape focused on showing the glossiest elements of stories.  In this episode we talk with Ned Brown, the chief story officer at the Looma Project. The mission of the Looma Project is to make commerce both more responsible and more human through storytelling. 

In sharing maker stories, The Looma Project amplifies the voices of producers to showcase their products and impact the point at which consumers are making decisions. In this episode, we explore the question “how can we bring humanity into commerce?”

Show Notes

In this episode we utilized some of the audio from The Looma Project’s videos. These videos include Goose Island and Cackalacky

You can learn more about Ned and the team at The Looma Project at 

This podcast is brought to you by the team at The Cultural North. It’s produced, scored, and engineered by Ethan Gibbs. Written by Beau Walsh and Kaley Herman. You can learn more about our passion for bringing peoples about into action through web, branding, and film by visiting our website at


Beau: This is the about page, a podcast by a group of web makers who explore the connection between what we’re about and what we do.

with Kaley Herman

Kaley: could you actually turn down, uh, their voices in my headphones a little bit?

Beau: Aaron Johnson,

Aaron: Hey, can you just turn Beau and Aaron down and me up please?

Beau: and me Beau Walsh.

Beau: I could just talk really low the whole time. Welcome to the about page

Beau: And in this episode, we discuss the question “How can we bring humanity into commerce?”

Beau: Grocery stores are lined aisle to aisle, packed with thousands of items from hundreds of brands. Each one of them competes for your attention. Working so hard to get you to notice them. And it’s pretty rare that we try something new or switch from something we’ve had since we were a kid. Because at the end of the day it’s just rows and rows of different colored boxes bottles and cans.

But what if there was a bright-eyed man named Page Skelton with a genuine smile telling you about his special sauces called Cackalacky?

And I had this idea for this sauce. I made it with sweet potatoes and chili peppers and secret spices. And one of my buddies is like, Hey man, pass me some of that caca Lackey.

You know, we love music. We love the outdoors. We love cooking. We love food. The name caca Lachie seemed to embody all of that. No matter how good or bad your day may have been, this is a little ray of sunshine.

Ned: He’s just a goofy guy and he’s got his products. it’s really, really simple. There’s no kind of marketing, advanced marketing. it’s just a camera trained on him, 30 seconds of him being him. And you love him and you want to try these products.

Beau: That’s Ned Brown

Ned: I’m the chief story officer at the Looma project Looma for short, we’re a startup out of Durham, North Carolina, 

Beau: and their mission is

Ned: to try and make commerce both more responsible and more human.

Beau: And in striving for that mission, they’ve come to find that there is a profound change in our buying habits when we understand what the brand is about, the faces behind it, and the values that drive them every day.

Ned: And so our first product, which is called loop aims at doing just that, um, we have, uh, a network of smart tablets that are installed at shelf in grocery stores, primarily in beer and wine at the moment, but other sections as well, then they play short films that are deliberately very human centric, um, and, uh, education based.

To try and inform shopping decisions and connect people to people, producer and consumer.

The origin of the Looma Project

Beau: Looma was first started in 2018 by its CEO, Cole Johnson.

Ned: it was sort of a dorm room project. Uh, he was inspired by sort of the farmer’s market effect, where when you purchase something, you have that human interaction you have, uh, Been interfacing where you can trust what you’re buying, because it’s coming from someone that you’ve met and you can learn about it.

You can get a recommendation or you can, um, learn how to cook it, uh, as it were. And he just, he had this brainwave of essentially trying to scale that and leverage technology to scale it because you can’t have people in, in every section of every grocery department doing that. Um, and so Luma came about essentially in that way, he tried to figure out how to get these tablets installed and tried to figure out what kind of storytelling could, could convey that kind of human connection.

Beau: Now just like Looma pulls back the curtain to reveal who is behind the great products we come across in grocery stores, today we get the opportunity to do that with Looma itself by getting to know Ned.

Ned Brown’s Story

Ned: So I’m, I’m a Brit originally British blood, uh, but I have a bit of a country hopping journey. Um, my parents are both English, one from the north one from the South. And when I was about four discovered this program and took part where you essentially swap jobs and swap homes with another family. uh, where you could essentially travel and immerse yourself in different cultures, but that kind of retain your profession.

And so we spent a year in Croton-on-Hudson in New York.

Beau: And then they lived in Mexico City for a couple years, 

Ned: Colombia for the bulk of my childhood, um, in Cucata and Cali

Beau: And then in his sophomore year of high school he moved to Kazakhstan

Ned: and I finished high school my last two years in Aleppo, Syria, uh, which was, I covered three countries in my four years of high school, which was really shaping for me.

Beau: Then he ended up all the way up in Minnesota for college and that’s where I met my wife and we moved out to Boston.

Ned: you know, we would probably benefit from a warmer climate where we can be outside more days of the year and we set job alerts in a few different places. Ended up seeing the Luma one, um, down here in North Carolina.

 And I was just struck by Cole, our CEO and his kind of clarity of vision and the innovative approach that he was taking.

Beau: Our stories are one of the pieces of our About Pages. And I have to think that Ned’s upbringing around so many different cultures seemed to have given him a deep care and understanding of people and their unique journeys.

Ned: but I think the sort of the interest in story. And then my story about story, it was just, you know, I was always drawn to different forms of media. Um, I, I, you know, when I was in a band in high school and we would record and mix our own music and then design the album covers and try to sell those, which in retrospect, was it a little bit entrepreneurial all be it failed.

Um, and the same with writing, we used to do sort of, uh, I was also be involved with the school newspaper and that kind of thing. Uh, we’d come up with our own publications, my friends and I try and flog them on the, on the playground for a buck or two. Uh, so I think I’ve always had that kind of background interest in, you know, embarrassing home movies that I w I wouldn’t share now.

Um, but I found my way to it professionally in Boston, um, at a master’s in multimedia journalism, which was kind of new at the time where it used to be very traditional, uh, either print or broadcast split. And this was innovative when I was there. Uh, and it basically taught you how to tell, to tell stories in different media forms. 

Uh, and so that kind of led to a bit of everything I wrote journalistically for a bit, uh, did a bit of web design, a bit of photography and ultimately kind of specialized in, in video and film production. It tended to be sort of a research-based, kind of mini documentary, editorial style film that was interview narrative driven. Um, and so I kind of gained this, this love for that specific type of storytelling and putting people first, um, and that ultimately led to my interest in Luma.

Beau: On The looma project’s website, they have a video about their story. They happen to be pretty good at that sort of thing.

But it’s in that video that Cole talks about the distance between the producer and the consumer and how it has grown since the industrial revolution, to the point where we don’t actually know where the things we buy come from.

And that leads to their big goal of amplifying humanity in purchasing.

The role humans play in powerful storytelling

Ned: the core of our storytelling philosophy is that the of a human matters so much for how a piece of content is perceived. You can create a really incredible piece of content. But if it doesn’t feel like it’s being delivered by a real person who you can trust or who are you, who you can see, then it’s not going to be perceived as authentic. It’s going to be perceived as commercial and potentially manipulative. 

Some brands are very, very used to advertising in a certain way, and it might be resistant to unearthing those kinds of more human, maybe vulnerable, maybe imperfect stories. Um, but our hypothesis, our core hypothesis is that those pieces of kind of real human experience sharing that is going to be much more effective than traditional commercial advertising as shoppers have become more savvy and also as just humanity has left the grocery store in general. There are fewer human interactions. You don’t know where your stuff is coming from. What’s in it.I’m, I’m a huge craft beer nerd. You know, back in the day I would try things blindly and I didn’t have much money back when I was doing this. When I first started tasting beers in my twenties and it was really deflating.

It was really disappointing to pay five bucks for a fancy looking beer. And then, um, just not like it one bit. Uh, and these days, I think that it’s a lot easier. You go to your phone, I got to be beer advocate or, or wherever to, to get kind of a sense of how good it is and what it tastes like. I think that that’s, that’s great and that’s part of it and something that we’re also seeking to incorporate into our educational content, but I want someone to root for as well when there’s a hundred or 150 offerings right in front of me.

Beau: That idea, of wanting someone to root for, is also really strongly embodied in their project for Goose Island Beer Company

A story of Goose Island Beer Company

Ned: Um, so yeah, there’s collaboration with goose island. Um, the film is called, uh, how lost pallet found its flavors. And lost pallet is the name of one of their products and basically one of their employees, named Johnny had melanoma. I believe it was and was going through chemo. He lost his sense of taste.

He asked you can make a hazy IPA with mango and cinnamon, which were the only two flavors he could taste after going through chemo.

Beau: That’s the president of Goose Island talking over clips of Johnny floating on his back in the lake, stacking photos of his treatment process, and of course, eating mangos.

You have this beer that was supposed to be almost like a Memorial. And now it’s this beer that tastes like victory.

Beau: And that’s Johnny as he walks healthy into his house and puts a case of his beer, Lost Palette, into the fridge.

Ned: And so, you know, we tell a story in 30 seconds and it’s one of those that you weren’t actually ended up producing a, a 20 minute version of this because you want to know more, but in 30 seconds, it’s incredible how you can get across both a very strong, emotional component.

Rooting for Johnny and loving the fact that these brewers were doing in his honor and then at the same time, learning about the product. And this is a hazy IPA of which there are many to choose from, but this one has mango added and it’s got mango added for such a cool human reason. So I just, I just loved that as an example.

Yeah. Once we can start proving this to brands very clearly and objectively, I think brands will start producing more of this content in some brands already are, but if we can impact kind of that shift, then we’re going to end up with a landscape that is much more human and much more informed and therefore responsible.

How can we amplify humanity in purchasing?

Aaron: It’s, it’s that personal connection that you get from a local market, you know, you walk into a farmer’s market and you’re buying product from a person. So when you think about the humanity of a retail exchange, a big box store is completely removed. You know, you don’t know necessarily who grew the, the lettuce that is on the shelf that you’re going to buy the fresh lettuce.

Beau: And often the physical person representing the store in front of you doesn’t benefit personally from your purchase right then and there, right 

Aaron: it’s not direct,

Beau: not making a commission. They’re not, it’s not something that they personally made and then sold to the company and that, you know, so so, there is a lot of humanity removed even from there. 

Aaron: Yeah. 

Kaley: Yeah. And I’ll even spend more money on a product that I know some history behind, rather than a product that is just on the, on the shelf.

Because part of that for me is whether it’s, like meat or eggs where it’s like the treatment of the animals. Cause I would never be a vegetarian, but I’ll spend more money knowing that the company is trying to be more humane and treat animals with respect. Um, and it’s the same for spices or like fruits and vegetables.

Like I. You know, it’s not like, oh, I 

Beau: they treat the vegetables with respect?

Kaley: They’re respectful to the vegetables. They say, oh, well, thank you for your service. Um, but in the way that they’re growing the food or being able to like go to a farmer’s market and obviously, you know, can’t spend hundreds of dollars on groceries every week, but in the areas that I can be more intentional about knowing that in spending more on something that it’s actually going to someone because of the way that they, because of the way that they are able to produce the product.

Beau: And I think this is where, where this story thing really comes into play and getting to know those specific people who are selling the product, because if you’re walking through a store and you see a product, you say, I want to succeed by getting that product. Like, I want something in my life to change by getting that product. Um, and so I’ll have some level of success, whether it’s eating the food that I want, or, you know, getting the computer I want. 

But when you get to know the person behind it, then you want them to succeed as well. And it becomes, and this kind of goes back to the history of transactions. It becomes, Hey, I want to succeed whatever it is I’m looking for. I want you to succeed in whatever you’re looking for. So let’s have a fair trade here. 

And when you remove that and just becomes about myself, I think that starts to breed a consumeristic, uh, self-focused society. And so bringing it back to the people that you’re buying from and not just wanting to take something from them or get something from them, but you actually start to desire their success.

That’s I think a really powerful next step in common. 

Aaron: And if I’m going to make the decision between. A product that I know nothing about, but it serves my needs and a product that I have someone telling me a story about it and about the people that are involved in it. Um, if, if, if the price difference is negligible, right? If you’re looking at $10 for the, the non-story product and $10 and 50 cents for the story product, I’m probably going to buy the, the story product.

Kaley: Well, and I’ll even take that further of, uh, so I read the book locally laid and for like our book club and after that, because, and I’ve always been interested in, um, where I’m spending my grocery dollars and what that means for companies and treatment of health, of the animals and food.

And yes, if the peppers are treated with respect, um, but I’ve, I have not bought the 99 cent dozen eggs in probably three years now since reading the book, because I know the story and they are more expensive than you could get at a grocery store. But especially when it’s like that level of price difference know, it’s not $4 or 400 it’s 99 cents or four 50. I’ll buy those eggs every time.

Aaron: Right? Yeah. Because you know this story and that that’s what he’s coming to hear is how do we get back to that scenario where you’re not in a s and you’re not in front of the person, right.

They don’t have a book that they wrote about their story. How do you get that human to human connection back into those transactions?

Drawing out a company’s authentic core values

Ned: So we, we work with a network of filmmakers and part of our onboarding process for the filmmakers is to talk about these values. And we’ve coined a few phrases for it, but the one that really resonates with me is authenticity of intent in in production. So I think if, no matter the level of talent or the number of hours agonizing over messaging or visuals, if the films delivery is perceived as being commercial, people and shoppers are really savvy these days and they can opt out generally of ads if they want to.

And so if you’re authentic in your intent of educating or connecting, rather than making a sales push, then I think you’re going to be perceived as such. If you’re running down your kind of marketing checklist and trying to package it as an advertorial kind of, um, interview driven piece, people are gonna re kind of sense that, and, and identify it and tune out.

I think there there’s some huge corporations that have, have started to wear their values on their sleeves. And I think it breeds greater loyalty. You’re obviously going to lose some people, but I think you’re going to gain people to, um, who appreciate the transparency.

I think I, when I came into this job even had a bias towards um, you know, small brands, if I’m always going to choose the underdog over the big corporation. And one of the learnings from my experience here is you get to know someone, you know, their story, you know, the things that they’re doing within the company, um, that might be pursuing dreams of their own, you know, social causes or, um, amplifying great things that the company is doing.

Um, and that’s a big part of what we consider educational content too. Within our films is we encourage brands to, to talk about their values and to show in story form how they exemplify them.

And so the way, well, to break it down from, from sort of a basic philosophy and policy standpoint, we require human protagonists. They can’t be actors because we believe that that authenticity is going to drive engagement and connection. Um, we also require that films are conducted in and in an interview fashion that the VO is driven by interview rather than a script for the same objective.

Um, but we’re pretty much open to any, any protagonist of any sorts, as long as they’re real. And as long as they’re prepared to be authentic on camera, rather than, um, kind of repeat back rehearsed muck.

It, it really. It gives you a level of connection in the same way that we’re trying to connect through the tablet. I think just being exposed to people and being exposed to the people within corporations gives the corporations, um, a lot of personality and a reason to support and, uh,

And so, in my opinion, my stance on it is that both retailers and brands have a responsibility to inform because ultimately consumers are going to go digging and you don’t want people, um, Finding out after they’ve made a purchase, that the organization they they bought the product from, uh, doesn’t align with their social values.

 I’m the person who is resistant to ads. I get annoyed by most types of advertising. I don’t want to be advertised at. And so product advertising in particular feels to me like the most, at least traditional product advertising is the most kind of annoying and commercial of that variety. And so it took me a while to wrap my mind around how we could really execute this in a way that supported our mission.

Should corporations talk about their values?

Aaron: So the way that I look at it, if I have a product or service that’s going to make someone’s life better. Right. If I, and if I believe in that, then I actually have a moral obligation to do whatever I can to get that product into that person’s hands.

And so is it manipulative to use an emotional connection of having someone actually, well, in Luma’s case, on a digital interface, on a shelf, educating someone about the ways that they can use the products that I offer, I don’t think that’s manipulative. I think that’s fulfilling our moral obligation to give them as much information as possible to help them to make that decision.

Beau: Well, that that brings up the question of, is it okay for companies to use values and, um, ideas as a way of generating interest in their product, um, and spreading those values. and, 

And it’s, has been in the top of my mind, because one time I was watching a, uh, commercial and it was this really beautiful commercial, 

Um, all about farmers and the stories and the interest of, um, in, you know, in the work that they do. And I was sitting with a friend who was like, uh, wow, this is really awesome. And then it finished and put up a logo at the end and she immediately went, oh, come on. And all of a sudden it was, she, she went from I’m, I, this is appealing to my values to, oh, this is just a corporate ploy for money.

Um, even though she agreed with everything in the commercial. And I disagree. I think companies should use their platform to spread the values that they, that they want to see in the world. Um, and, and it can be so much more of a, when you have that platform and you can use it to sell chicken, or you can use it to sell chicken and spread values.

Why not both.

Aaron: I think it turns people off if it’s not an intentional campaign, like if you have never, ever espoused those values before, and then all of a sudden, you just come out with this beautiful commercial that has all these deep, meaningful values and, and, and vision and what you stand for and what you stand against. And, and then you just pop up your logo. People are like, what? But if you have a whole campaign, like you start and then continually do that. I think the brand, it’s a very intentional branding decision of like, this is how we’re going to communicate ourselves.

And if it’s just one thing completely random and separate from the rest of your marketing or advertising campaign, then it feels really, really inauthentic.

Kaley: And that’s always really interesting to me, even when a company starts branding something, as we put, we pay the workers, a living wage, and I would rather see that commercial when they’re five years in and they’re actually able to say, this is a living wage and it’s what those workers have said is a living wage and we’ve paid them more than what that is.

And I think if you have values that you’re not able to fully live into, there’s no point in using that as a marketing campaign. Like it should be used once it’s, Hey, we’ve been doing this for a long time and this is everything we have to back up those values.

Aaron: I think it crosses a line if you are telling a story that is not true. You know, Hey, we treat our workers with respect. They’re given a living wage. We, we do these practices to make sure that, you know, we’re, we’re abiding by environmental standards or whatever the, the vision is that they have for their company. And they’re telling that story. It’s one thing. To say it, but if it’s backed up and if it’s true, then that’s even more compelling.

If it’s not true, that’s where you get into the manipulation side of it. Like if you’re touting, your brand is made in the USA and you’re doing all these things that are wonderful for workers in the United States and, and helping all these things. And then it turns out not to be true. Well, that’s wrong.

And so the, the, uh, element of authenticity, even when he was talking about it, you know, like what’s the authenticity of the protagonist in the, in the film that they’re using,

are they conveying it in an authentic way? Are they telling a real story?

How the Looma Project makes story that is data-driven

Ned: so w we have a few different programs, but I’ll talk mostly about our flagship, which is we call our maker stories. Um, and our, so our two primary objectives with our maker stories are to establish some kind of an emotional connection, which we try to do through a human protagonists, get to know the person behind your product, and then establish some kind of differentiation, which is aimed at kind of informing and educating a shopper.

Because they have so many different types of products in front of them. Um, they haven’t tried many of them and we trying to help them make a decision at the point of decision. And so it’s, it’s sort of a, a matter of, uh, unearthing stories and narratives that, uh, that achieve those two goals.

And so we’ll have a discovery session with brands. Um, And once we’ve kind of nailed down the main narrative thread, we will engage a filmmaker and get into kind of the nuts and bolts of pre-production, um, shoot. And then something that’s really unique to Luma is the kind of the revision and optimization process.

We, um, have come up with, uh, an algorithm that we use to try and kind of make that process more data-driven called story IQ, It breaks every film into 30 plus film variables. So we split out across four different pillars 

Beau: The first of the Story IQ pillars is the protagonist with variables like memorability, likeability, and authenticity of delivery,

Then there’s message which dials in its differentiator strength, simplicity, and Brand appeal.

Then storytelling. How is the narrative arc, the overall cohesiveness, and the emotional strength.

And finally, the visuals. Focusing on the variables of the product recognition, the visual memorability, and the sense of place.and we have those variables scored by a panel. And then the panel generates a report that we can share back with filmmakers and they can take a look at those four pillars and individual variables and say, okay, the visuals are really strong, but the storytelling is a little weak or the protagonist is really strong, but the visuals are weak. Um, and then they can focus their attention on for the second round on, on the areas of weakness.

Ned: But I mean, I could see the general concept applying to pretty much any, any form of creative. I don’t think you could have um, creative work, completely scientific. I think it’s still going to always be driven by art, but there are ways of potentially optimizing, um, and making more efficient processes by, by making a data-driven.

But the idea is to really be able to kind of both fuel our process and find efficiencies in our process by, by using data.

And then also improve the performance of the films by learning what really resonates with people and optimizing the films to kind of match those things.

Storytelling in web design through photography

Aaron: so I think that’s really powerful to think of how, how do we best utilize the technology. We have to allow this person to tell their story in the most effective way, because I think some of the people they work with are selling, um, with beer and wine, or they do like sauces or, you know, whatever, whatever they’re selling, they might not naturally know how to tell their story.

Kaley: And I think that’s even something we’ve talked about a lot, uh, so far is what is telling your story to people.

And utilizing technology in their own experience to say, Hey, this is what’s going to really resonate with people. And this is how you can better, um, show what your product is so that people connect with it.

It’s kind of what we had talked about earlier of manipulation of, you know, is that, is that being manipulative or is that just having that understanding of how do I tell this in a way that’s compelling? Yeah.

Beau: As web makers, this is why stock photos are so heartbreaking to use sometimes. Um because I think when it’s just putting faces in for faces sake, um, feels inauthentic and it feels uh, and and I’m curious, you know, too, I’d be curious to hear it from a user’s perspective because I think people can see through that.

They can see, you know, I’ve seen that face before for a totally different company or that person’s very generically colored shirt looks like it has had other logos on it before. I don’t know. 

Um, but stock photos tend to be fairly soul crushing because they’re they’re, they tend to be soulless. they’re not the faces behind that company.

Aaron: Yeah I, I, I agree with you. I don’t think people have as visceral of a reaction as you do. Um, but so I, I don’t think on the negative side they have as visceral reaction as you do, um, to people on from, from stock photos and things like that. However, I do think the positive that you gain from using actual people that are part of your company.

I think the gain that you get in bringing that element into your website is it far exceeds um, what, what we would say is a positive outcome. Um, I think you gain much more by adding personal people than you lose by putting stock photos in there.

Beau: So Aaron, you have a big philosophy that, that photos of products and architecture, need people in it.

Aaron: Yeah. Um, I’ve visited with a few architects and, and different builders and home builders and contractors and things like that. And one of the observations that I’ve made in, in their websites as we’ve been looking at them is the fact that they have these tremendous amazing facilities that they’ve built, whether it’s commercial or residential, there, there are some stunning architecture out there, but it lands flat because it doesn’t actually show someone enjoying it.

So imagine the power of an image for an architecture firm say they’ve designed an amazing deck on the back of a house that overlooks a lake and they have a picture on it.

Um, and, and there’s like a fireplace on it, and there’s a huge, a wonderful sitting area and things like that. Now there’s two options for that photo. You can take a picture of the deck and even if it’s at the golden hour, right, the sun is setting behind it over the lake. It’s beautiful setting and it’ll be an impactful photo, but how much more impactful and how much more desirable does it make if you put the family on the deck enjoying it for what it’s worth. Right. So you put the family on there and it, it introduces that human element of it’s not just a structure, but it’s a structure that has a purpose and that has a use.

Beau: Do you know, what’s interesting is that If I, if, if I just had one human in a, in a architecture. photo, I just could place myself in that person’s position and I’d be by myself, but then this idea of interacting in a location Um, and becoming, you know, the, the experience isn’t the location itself, but the experience that you have with others in that location, um, that creates a much more deeper sense of, of heart for me for that.

Kaley: Well, and also when you’re looking to buy something and having it as someone who they’re actually the one using it rather than, oh, this is a, a stock photo now that we hired models to take in this setting. That isn’t great as it is. If you have people it’s really important to have people there who are actually using the space and having those interactions, because you do understand that.

And I think that the distinguisher there is I would rather have a photo with no people versus a photo with stock people 

But the best option is the people who are actually using the space.

Beau: The worst scenario for me is when a company uses stock photos to represent their employees.

If you’re if you’re using stock photos to represent your customers, I think that makes sense. But when, you know, recently we were looking as a team at a, an example website, and as we kept scrolling, we were seeing the same people. Throughout the site too. And it was talking about this is our team and stuff like that.

Um, but as, as we kept going, we started to realize that they were stock photos of the team interacting in an office because then as we kept going, we were noticing, oh, this is a totally different office. Oh, these are different people. Like, it was definitely a series of stock photos of the same group of people.

And that just got so creepy and uncanny of, of, you know, it, it suddenly became like a dystopian, uh, corporate entity, um, just because we weren’t getting the real faces behind it. And, and and it was pretty veiled. Like they were trying to make it look like that was them. I lost complete trust for that company when I realized that 

Aaron: Yeah, there was no, there was no connection at that point or they had lost connection to any connection that had been built was then just fractured.

So yeah, to me, the whole point of putting imagery and putting people in it, it isn’t to make the brand look good. It’s to make it look authentic and, and to show that. You can have an emotional connection to us as people, you know, like, like, um, Ned talks about bringing humanity back in of that, that personal connection to those people.

What does this shift in commerce look like?

Ned: Yeah. So one of the most appealing parts of this role and company is the potential to shift the way that brands advertise and the way that advertising has done it, obviously we’re, we’re really early in our journey, but I think what we’re trying to do is prove our hypothesis, that content with a real human connection, and that is genuinely aimed at educating and informing rather than making a sales pitch.

 And I love that what we’re doing is kind of chipping away to try and reframe advertising as something that can be really driven by the shopper’s perspective, shopper experience.

Let’s um, create content that will educate, inform, help, make decisions, and potentially bring back some of that humanity and introduce them to real people rather than have to make decisions on the basis of packaging.

Beau: Our world is set up in a way in which producers will produce, competitors will compete, and buyers will buy. But the thing we often forget is that each one of those are just people. Humans that have stories, values, and vision, that often overlap with ours.

And THAT is the About Page. Whether you find it in this podcast or in the corner of a website, or in the deeper questions you ask those you meet. About pages shape the way we think about our actions and even more important, our identities.

Because when that mindset is adopted, commerce becomes more than an exchange of money for goods and services. It also becomes a universal language, a global conversation about what matters most in this world.


Beau: You can learn more about The Looma Project and their work to amplify humanity in purchasing at

This show is brought to you by the team at the cultural north, a design agency in Duluth, Minnesota.

It’s edited and scored by Ethan Gibbs and written by Beau Walsh and Kaley Herman. You can learn more about our passion for bringing peoples about into action through web branding and film by visiting our website at

And thank you for listening! We’re still a very new podcast. So any amount of sharing, reviewing, and rating of our show, wherever is convenient, is a huge help for us.

You can also learn more at