Leading regional business accountancy firm uses visual communications to tell its story
Duncan Plante & Company is a leading and well-established business accountant and taxation consultant based in Tamworth NSW who recently turned to visual communications to engage clients and employees.
“Guy Downes has brought a new perspective to our business. His visual communication work has not only engaged our team, it has also provided our clients with a much clearer understanding of our role and of our commitment to them. Guy’s work has really let us ’see’ and focus on our business priorities”.
Duncan Plante, Partner & Founder, Duncan Plante & Company
Duncan Plante & Company wanted to shine the light on how they deliver value to their clients thanks to their higher quality service and quality assured work. At the same time, they were also looking for ways to keep employees actively engaged in the company strategy, their mission, the firm’s best practices and where they were headed together as an organisation.
People process visuals 60,000 times faster than text (3M)
Set against the backdrop of a fast-paced work environment for employees and a client base dealing with increasing levels of information during their working day, the challenge was to find effective communication techniques that could quickly engage, educate, align (and entertain) employees as well as clients.
With many people’s preference for visual learning, visual communication was at the heart of a layered campaign to gradually build visual assets that could overcome the challenges and issues the company faced.
What did we do? The levels of the layered campaign were as follows:
1. Company strategy workshop: using graphic facilitation techniques and posters, we drew out the company thinking on current direction, successes, challenges and key priorities for the future.
Using graphic facilitation posters for the team report back
2. Messaging session: using the strategy workshop as springboard, we defined the language that quickly and easily describes the company, how it is different and how it benefits its customers (think: ‘Elevator pitch’)
3. Defining the company story: combining ideas, insights and information gathered from the strategy workshop and messaging session, we developed a unique story on ‘why we (Duncan Plante & Co) exist, what we do and how we do it’ to help people understand the value the firm brings and to give the team a unique way to remember and retell it.
4. Company Journey Map: we used the most important elements from the workshop, messaging and company story as the foundation for developing a Journey Map, which uses a themed picture (full of visual language, metaphors and images) to highlight the direction, priorities, best practice, values and vision of the company in a quick, engaging and compelling manner.
Duncan Plante & Co Journey Map: engage, inform and align using a picture
5. Refreshing the company logo and website: with all the momentum and information from phases 1-4, there was an opportunity to renew the company website and refresh the company logo so that it truly reflected the leading edge and dynamic work the company was doing and the strides the team was making. We engaged Alison Quodling, graphic designer, to rework the logo and visual identity and we brought in Acclipse to build an eye-catching, professional and effective website.
The new home page with refreshed logo and design
6. Video scribing – bringing to life the Duncan Plante & Co story using animation: Video scribing is the art of translating audio content, such as a speech or presentation, into a hand drawn video animation. In this case, we wrote, recorded and cartooned a speech by Duncan Plante about Duncan Plante & Co. All in all, the icing on the visual communication cake! To watch the video, go to the company homepage.
Recording the audio for the video scribe animation
Filming the video scribe animation - lights, camera, draw!
Anittel uses graphic recording to draw out business ideas
Shares its vision with key stakeholders using a company ‘Journey Map’
I’ve recently been working with Anittel, a national IT and Telecommunications company, using visual communication to help them create a common language and catalyst for both internal and external business communication.
Following a period of expansion and acquisitions, which brought together new team members, skills and cultures, Anittel’s CEO, Ilkka Tales, and senior management team were keen to visualise their collective thinking to help identify key opportunities, focus areas and ideas that could drive the business forward.
As a visual communication consultant, I was brought in to work on two specific phases.
Phase one – graphic recording: firstly, to graphic record a senior leadership workshop where the new company leaders gathered to discuss ideas and thinking around the company priorities, opportunities and challenges.
My graphic recording posters in the background of the leadership team workshop
Phase two – Journey Map creation: secondly, to use the most important ideas from the graphic recording content as the foundation for developing a Journey Map, which uses a themed picture (full of visual language, metaphors and images) to highlight the direction, priorities, values and vision of the company in a quick, engaging and compelling manner.
The Anittel Journey Map in full colour
An express train and journey theme was chosen as the creative concept for Anittel’s map. Key elements along the track and dotted throughout the landscape acted as visual metaphors for the most important elements that must be acted upon and remembered if the company is to achieve its objectives.
The Journey Map was coloured in phases, moving from B&W to full colour in stages, to help focus the map’s ‘story teller’ on key initiatives and in their order of importance. The coloured phasing also helped to ‘build’ the company story as the Journey Map was explained and re-told.
The Anittel Journey Map in simple black & white: the point where the storytelling starts
The first phase of colour appears on the Journey Map and sparks the story and picture into life
The second phase of colour appears and shifts focus to the next key company initiative
The story continues as the picture begins to fill with more colour and the story moves to a new section
The Journey Map picture and story continues to unfold, helping the viewer/audience get a visual snapshot of the organisation's priorities
The Journey Map's visual language helps to build a common communication platform for engagement, understanding and sharing the company vision
The Journey Map act as a daily reminder of the company vision and how to get there in a creative, easy-to-understand and engaging manner
How Anittel used the graphic recording posters:
The posters were on display at a Board Meeting to build a better understanding among Board members of the senior team’s views on the company, key initiatives, issues and opportunities.
The posters were digitally photographed and included in a Powerpoint presentation so that the ideas and discussion captured at the senior leadership workshop could ‘live on’ in the business well after the event.
Graphic recording helps capture conversations as they happen so people can stand back and 'see what they mean' as well as the discussion 'bigger picture'
How Anittel has been using the company Journey Map:
The senior leadership team presented the Journey Maps to their teams nationally and shared the ‘story within the picture’ to introduce a common platform on the business’s main objectives, challenges, priorities and how they would navigate its future journey.
All employees have been given the Journey Map either as a screen saver or as a desk-side poster to act as a daily reminder of the company vision and how to travel towards success.
The senior leadership team has regularly used the Journey Map in meetings with external stakeholders to share the ‘big picture’ of Anittel’s vision in a quick, engaging and creative way.
“Guy has really helped us develop a common communication platform that lets us share our company story with all types of people. The Journey Map has been fantastic for employees to picture our approach and journey ahead. We also use the Map when talking to key external stakeholders, such as partners, investors, suppliers, to introduce them to the ‘who, what, how and why’ behind the company. The project has been invaluable for us as a communications tool for staff and customers.” Ilkka Tales, CEO, Anittel
Drawing business ideas using words, images and colour can help make the process of communication clearer, quicker and more visible to a key audience. This can be useful in business settings when it’s important to sell an idea or proposal in a fresh yet compelling manner – and grab attention (and maintain it) all in the same strike.
I recently did some work with a leading public affairs specialist using exactly this method. Their team were giving a critical presentation to the senior management group of a large services company and they wanted to steer away from the usual approach of text-heavy PowerPoint or Word proposals.
You’ll note that exact names and content in this post have been replaced by ‘Lorum ipsum dolor’ to maintain confidentiality – but the underlying point is clear. Pictures help capture people’s imagination, engage conversation and help draw attention to a business story.
Some other areas for consideration:
The presentation and the proposed business strategy within it became clearer and ‘to the point’ by using a bespoke picture. The senior management team could see ‘the bigger picture’ with all the content on one sheet of paper, as opposed to multiple slides;
The picture also allowed the team to engage and interact with the key decision makers in conversation around the table, as opposed to losing them in PowerPoint slides where ‘we talk, you listen’;
The drawing followed a tight brief and was executed by hand and carried a visual ‘river’ metaphor that was relevant to the audience and presentation theme; and
Each member of the senior management team was given a copy to refer to during the conversation, to take away as a ‘leave behind’ or to circulate with colleagues (in both hard copy and digital format) so that the content could ‘live on’ beyond the initial meeting.
Thanks to an introduction from Ogilvy PR Singapore, I was introduced to their fantastic Premiere Global Services (PGS) local team. PGS had recently introduced The InBox Series as a one-stop resource website where Marketers can subscribe and receive monthly white papers on Email Marketing. Using their own Campaign Accelerator Email Solution, electronic direct mail (eDM) campaigns were ran to promote the series and website, alongside other mediums for a multi-channel marketing approach.
I was tasked by the PGS Singapore marketing team, led by Jasmine Lim, to work closely with them to create an infographic that would illustrate the benefits of how the Campaign Accelerator Email Solution helped to promote the series and website. PGS will be using the infographic for internal and external marketing purposes.
Using the word ‘accelerator’ as a starting point, I developed an infographic design based on a Grand Prix theme that could house the textual information PGS wanted to include. I also worked closely with the design team at Impact Employee Communications to include the digitized text on top of my tailor-made and hand drawn illustration.
In early 2009, I was given the great opportunity to sit down with John Studdert, managing director, Ogilvy PR Australia, and Daniela Filer, an Associate Director from Impact Employee Communications (an Ogilvy PR Worldwide company), to chat about how we could bring to life John’s idea to visualise his 2009 company kick-off presentation along with his strategy and vision over the next year.
I went away and started brainstorming, sketching and meeting regularly with John and Dani. The illustration you see above is the final result and it was used internally across the company and with clients to share the company’s future path for 2009.
The main theme I came up with was a ‘Tour De France style cycling race’ and every element of the illustration has a meaning to help tell the Ogilvy PR Australia company story, challenges, opportunities and vision. It received a very positive response and has helped to clearly communicate the company vision at a glance and in a fresh way.
Ogilvy PR Journey map: desk art and comms tool
In addition, interestingly, the illustration and journey map started to appear independently and unprompted on people’s desks. The illustration started to evolve on its own, which was very exciting. Staff started to print out colour copies as daily reminders of who Ogilvy is, what the company is aiming for and where it is going. In short, it has become a simple but powerful internal communication tool that tells the company story.
Ogilvy PR Journey Map: a daily reminder of the company vision