Joshua Schipper
Video/Digital Content/Graphic Design Producer
July 11, 2023 // Diocese

86 Creative Founder Reaps Fruits of Vocation

Joshua Schipper
Video/Digital Content/Graphic Design Producer

Jacob Laskowski knew that he had a talent for effective communication and a passion for sharing the truth and beauty of the Church, and since his college years working as a missionary for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), he has seen the fruits of his vocational journey nourish his faith and the faith of others.

His brand agency 86 Creative recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of its 2013 founding, today boasting a laundry list of notable services to the various ministries, nonprofits, and apostolates within the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and beyond.

Laskowski said that, ultimately, “it’s all about helping all of those groups and organizations know who they are better so that they can express and communicate their missions more effectively to the right audiences that they’re trying to reach.”

Before he founded the agency, Laskowski was a missionary for FOCUS, and he says that he has always had a passion for communications and marketing. “When I worked with FOCUS, it was kind of a new spark to do that for the Church specifically. I did that work for FOCUS at their headquarters in Denver, and then when I moved to Fort Wayne. That’s when I started 86 and realized there was a call there to do what I was doing for FOCUS, but for more ministries and apostolates in the Church.”

While at first the work he was doing at 86 Creative was more secular, he began to pursue more clients within the Church. “I really just took it to the Lord to find out, ‘Is this the right thing? Do I need to continue pursuing the work that I’m doing with 86? Or should I leave it and find a place for me in the Church?’”

Through ample prayer and discernment, he realized God’s call for him to work for the Church through 86 Creative. “It became like a true vocation — that I knew that I was doing exactly what God had wanted me to do in my own giftedness and provide that to the Church.

“Every project I’ve been able to do has been more than just work. It’s been a prayer and a discernment with each organization I work with, of revealing the true story that they have to share, and doing it in a creative way that they hadn’t been able to do before.”

Some of the agency’s more well-known clients include Exodus 90, the USCCB, and Our Sunday Visitor (OSV).

“OSV, in particular, was great because they’re local, so I was able to go down there a lot and have a lot of great strategic meetings with them. And the nice thing about that is that it was really exciting to be involved in their rebrand because they hadn’t really had a rebrand since the start of OSV. And so, as they were transitioning from Our Sunday Visitor to becoming more, you know, the acronym OSV, and knowing the tradition that they had with their 120-year-old brand, that was a challenge and an adventure to figure out, ‘How do I communicate this effectively in a visual identity that elevates the work and the mission that OSV has done for over a century, but also bring it into the 21st century in a way that says it’s still relevant today and helpful and all-encompassing?’”

He went on to say that building a symbolic logo for OSV to use that would build visual identity and brand unity across their platforms makes the organization’s offerings “fit together as a family: like everything belongs.”

But why is building a cohesive and clean brand important? Laskowski believes that ultimately, everyone is attracted to beauty. But, while Christians possess the “greatest story in the whole world,” somewhere along the line, the Church forgot how to tell that story in a captivating and beautiful way.

“Part of the work that I get to do is bringing back that beauty in a way that our modern culture understands.”

After observing modern, popular brands and people’s response to these brands, Laskowski realized that not only should the Church brand itself in a similar way, but that the Church should be the best at doing so. “We love brands. There’s a lot of brand loyalty that people have to Apple or to Nike or to Netflix. Those companies obviously value how they look and how they present themselves externally. So, if those organizations care so much about it, there must be something [there].”

Laskowski’s work for the Church extends beyond 86 Creative. He serves on the board of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association. He also helped Father Patrick Hake to build a new brand for St. Peter Parish in Fort Wayne in order to not only welcome new parishioners, but also to help people see beauty in the Church: in the liturgy, the architecture, and the truth that Catholics believe.

“There’s so many more stories to tell, and I really hope I get a chance to be a part of crafting as many of them as I can.”

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