ThinkPlace needed head shots, the executive team and some team-in-action images. Sounds like corporate (stiff poses, awkward smiles, white walls).
And then this: can you capture the culture in our company? Their Executive Designer, Sarah, asked.
‘Culture’ refers to what humans create as a group through ideas and values that are clearly defined.
In company terms, culture represents what a company stands for, (and against), and governs the collective behaviour of the group. Culture frames why we are here, what we are doing, and how we are going to do it.
Bernadette Jiwa is a brand specialist. In her blog The Story of Telling she says that product + meaning = brand. Without meaning, your business is just a commodity.
Meaning is where the juice is. It’s seated in feelings and emotions, and as we know from Simon Sinek, it resides in the limbic part of our brain where language does not exist.
How do you know? I don’t know, it just feels right.
So how do we work out how to create photographs around feelings?
Flesh it out
Normal practice is to do this in conversation with the company visionary or key decision makers. You’ll tell me about your business, what lights you up, where you’re going into the future and the words you’d use to describe your business.
Then we start to arrive at ideas for how to roll it out creatively.
In the case of ThinkPlace, this wasn’t possible to do because the company founder was not available.
Time to do a bit of hunting. Mnnn, let’s see what we can find.
On the ThinkPlace website the USP is ‘We humanise complexity, creating public value through design thinking.’
OK, I need some time here…
Dig a bit further
They work mostly with government, sometimes with large scale private organizations, and non-for-profits – all of whom have challenges with delivering services to their clients. They have a human-centered approach to solving their clients’ complex problems.
They describe themselves with words like innovate, crystallize, change, experiment, improvise, design, rigorous, comprehensive, perspective and harness – very visceral and cerebral words that explain how they get the job done.
At the commencement of their Team Day, Founding Partner John Body (below, right) led a conversation that outlined the company’s big picture goals which included their focus towards preeminence. It was quite inspirational stuff.
Their physical environment plays an important role in supporting the way they work. It’s full of great design elements, lighting and colour. It inspires creative thinking.
Can you see it starting to come together?
The illustration ‘Design Squiggle’ on the meeting room wall represents how they work. The black scrawl of chaotic thinking unravels itself and becomes a straight, simple line, just like a complex problem finding a simple solution.
It acts as a daily reminder to all as to their fundamental reason for existence.
Location, clothing and posing
The workplace naturally made the perfect setting.
They were told to wear what they would wear if they came to ThinkPlace for an interview. What impression would they want to make?
This enabled some personality to come through in their personal appearance.
For the individual portraits it was important to get away from the traditional ‘head-shot’ because this organisation is using out-of-the-box practices.
Each person held their own space in a half-body composition where the viewer could take in a little story.
We played with off-centre composition to create a visual conversation between them, and their space.
Posing was executed to reflect their individual personalities – they come together under the banner of professional, cerebral and design-focused but there is room for individuals to move and be themselves in this company.
They were each asked to nominate their favourite spot in the office to be photographed in. This allowed them to ‘own’ their portrait and for personal expression to come through.
They were encouraged to focus their mind on the fact that they are part of a small team doing extraordinary things and making a difference.
Proud thoughts lead to proud energy which is expressed in subtle ways through posture and facial expression.
The overall environment was very inspired and dynamic, just like them.
As an inspired addition was to capture some atmospheric pictures of the various rooms and individual elements such as the lights, bookshelves, lemons on the table and post-it notes.
What’s your company’s culture? How do you describe your company’s values, essence and personality?
If someone were to describe your business in ten adjectives, what would they say?
If you can get the words out of your head and down on paper, then you can sit back and gain a feel for what your company culture sounds like.
In turn, this will help you to identify the best way to translate that positioning into photographs that then show what you are saying in the visual medium of photography.
For every challenge there is a creative solution.
John, Nina and the rest of the team are really happy with the collection. John is particularly impressed by how well you captured our culture. Also, what is really nice is that everyone looks like themselves. Our space looks great too.
Thanks so much!!’
Sarah, Executive Designer, ThinkPlace
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