How to turn your business into a teaching business


By Andre Campbell

Learning gets to the heart of what it is to be human – it gives us the power to re-create ourselves. For organisations, learning is fundamental too - it enhances their ability to grow, create and change.

For two decades HR professionals have been perfecting the ‘learning organisation’ but a commitment to learning is not enough. To lead the market you need to reinforce your position as a thought leader and the best way to do so is to teach.

Wolff Olins has always embraced the idea of teaching as a way to learn, from our founding partner, Wally Olins, who believed you expand a market by sharing your trade secrets, to our latest venture Kitchen, a school for ambitious leaders.

Earlier this month our Head of New Thinking, Robert Jones, facilitated a breakfast conversation between HR professionals and entrepreneurial types to explore the value of the teaching organisation. We invited the renowned publishing house Faber & Faber and colleagues from Wolff Olins to share their insights.

We kicked off by discussing why organisations should consider teaching in the first place. Quickly, the discussion gravitated towards how online learning is fueling further demand for learning in the workplace. Organisations can draw inspiration from massive open online courses (MOOCs), which have been successful in mobilising large audiences, eager to learn. MOOCs provide a great opportunity for organisations to lift the lid on what makes them great, whilst sparking new meaningful conversations with consumers and strengthening relationships with B2B clients. Building a teaching organisation is a new and potentially lucrative revenue stream.

Internally, employees have the opportunity to stretch their thinking, rekindle pride in their work and build entrepreneurial fiber. Teaching can help retain talent and open the door to more diverse and surprising talent through a new touchpoint dedicated to sharing expertise with a wider audience.

Theory is great but what are the realities of building a teaching organisation? Jason Cooper, Founder of Faber Academy shed light on this issue by discussing his team’s ambition to teach creative writers. Over the past 6 years the Faber Academy has remained lean and profitable by selecting teachers from it’s editorial department and authors it has published. Faber Academy’s offer is simple, ‘feedback and validation for aspiring writers’. A chuckle erupted when Jason shared the excitement learner’s felt when they visited Faber offices to learn. Many long-term fans, presented with an opportunity to go behind the scenes.

Ellen O’Connor, Head of Learning and Development at Wolff Olins followed with five learnings on how Wolff Olins went from a culture of learning to culture of learning and teaching. Ellen shared the value of:

1. Senior patronage & leading by example

As our CEO Ije Nwokorie says, ‘Very few leadership skills rank higher than the ability to teach. One that does is the ability to learn. At Wolff Olins, our success depends on leadership not being a position but rather behaviour. It is the only way we can push the boundaries and help our clients do amazing things. For this, the ability to teach, and more so, the ability to learn, is invaluable if we are to stay relevant and ahead in a rapidly changing world.’

2. Teaching, sharing and learning is part of Wolff Olins’ vernacular and embedded through our coaching framework.

3. Constantly encouraging and supporting each other.

4. Providing a clear understanding about what people get out of teaching. Reinforced, through reviews and personal plans.

5. Being intentional but patient.

Ellen concluded by introducing Melissa Andrada, co founder of Kitchen, our school for ambitious leaders. Built from the spirit and expertise of Wolff Olins, Kitchen offers classes ranging from one-hour webinars to full day workshops. Teachers are sourced from within Wolff Olins, where they design, test and deliver classes.

Melissa said, “Teaching enabled my colleagues to raise their profile and gain new skills. Simultaneously, our customers gained new skills, greater confidence and practical tools.”

We wrapped up by discussing how we could all build a teaching organisation. Things we heard were:

 That brand plays a vital role by giving organisations permission to develop a teaching offer - both inside their organisation and from the marketplace.

Where possible, hiring teachers from within presents great benefits. A useful tip for finding teachers is to tap into the passions of colleagues by asking what they do outside of work.

When building a teaching organisation employees should be prepared to challenge their organisations culture, as contradictions with the core business are likely. Building the case for the advantages of sharing trade secrets with a wider audience was viewed as important.

Developing a unique learning style through experimentation can make your teaching offer stand out. We considered blended learning, a combination of face-to-face and online learning as a model for creating richer learning experiences.

We concluded by acknowledging that the learning organisation is alive and well but teaching organisations can help activate and accelerate the learning process.

Andre Campbell is a Brand and Social Innovation Specialist at Wolff Olins follow him @andre_campbell​

Out and about in London

Dirty Rotten Socials - Design Like You Give a Damn from Matter&Co on Vimeo.

Wolff Olins were out in force last Thursday and pretty much had London covered! Two of our Creative Directors were over in the East End giving an awesome talk to 500 folks for Glug London. Meanwhile, another group of us were curating ‘Design Like You Give a Damn’ as part of the ‘Dirty Rotten Socials’ series with The House of St Barnabas and Pioneers Post in Soho.

Both events gave us a chance to champion two things close to our hearts – collaboration and social impact. At Glug we were able to share not just our work, but how we’ve worked with many other co-conspirators and specialists to make things otherwise impossible possible. And at Design Like You Give a Damn we worked with some outrageously talented people on how to tackle some of the most challenging social issues of the day.


Big thanks to The House of St Barnabas, Pioneers Post and Glug for inviting us to take part and also to our 5 brilliant speakers who participated in the Dirty Rotten Socials event – here’s who they are and the topics we tackled:


James Auger, tutor at RCA Design Interactions and co-founder of Auger Loizeu asked how can the predicting capabilities of online data be used for social good?

Nat Hunter, co-Director of Design at the RSA asked how we can have new shiny things without ruining the planet?


Steven Johnson, the founder of collaborative change, asked how we can improve empathy and awareness of mental illness?

Chris McGinley, Senior Research Associate at The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design asked how we can redesign retirement so it becomes a meaningful and exciting opportunity?

Finally, Joss Bailey, consultant at BOP and visiting scholar at the V&A asked ‘How do we protect our cities from the ravages of global capital and ensure they’re for everyone?’ Here’s something she wrote following the session. 

Lots of great discussion and content to share…just figuring out how best to do it, so let us know if you want to learn more.

Tweet us @redfishnat @mhirror @stevenbjohnson @JocelynABailey @PioneersPost @SairahAshman 
@WolffOlins @HoStBarnabas using the hashtag #rottensocialsdesign

Four good reasons why universities need brands


By Robert Jones

It’s the league table season. Universities are once again congratulating themselves on going up, or agonising about going down, or scared of the institutions biting at their heels. It’s a strange world, in which universities are obsessed with each other, rather than looking out at the world. They’re scared of losing their traditional place in the tables, rather than jumping at new roles in society.

Yet if you look outwards, the future’s never been brighter. There are four huge academic goals open to every university – to raise the academic bar, to play a greater role in shaping society, to reach millions more who are hungry for knowledge, and to find new ways to answer humankind’s deepest questions. But all depend on – among other things – brand. Not on logo or slogan, but a more modern and intelligent version of brand: the idea you stand for in people’s minds.

First, the best universities can raise the academic bar – by enlisting the best students (and the best faculty of course). But this means standing for something that future students actually want. And increasingly that’s about value: what will I get back from the money and the time I put in? Universities need to be useful in people’s lives, not just in a monetary sense: they need to offer an amazing exchange of value that goes beyond knowledge for fees. Today’s university recruitment campaigns belong to an old world of state institutions, often selling through alumni testimonials: they need to be sharper, more provocative, more challenging.

Second, the best universities can play a much bigger role in shaping the world. They can be the powerhouses of society – moulding, rather than being moulded by, public policy. The monastery was the powerhouse of the agrarian world. The factory took that role in the industrial era. Now could be the age of the university. But universities need to stand for something that suggests the essential role they play in society. They need to be the convenors of today’s most urgent public debates, and the democratisers of the best new ideas.

Third, the best universities can reach millions more people who are hungry for knowledge, through the power of digital to spread content freely, and more importantly to get people learning from each other. But to do this, universities need to stand for innovation in education, as well as tradition – or they will become increasingly sidelined. They are, like it or not, content businesses, but they too often come across as backward-looking and impenetrable institutions – symbolised by obscure heraldic imagery – rather than contemporary digital platforms.

Fourth, the best universities can move much faster to answer humankind’s deepest questions – not on their own but through partnerships with other organisations, public and private. Many of today’s intellectual questions are too complex to be solved by isolated institutions: what’s needed are ecosystems of knowledge. But to accelerate this, universities need to stand more clearly for openness and experimentation, and not to come across as closed institutions, speaking their own language to people like themselves. They need to be happy to share their brands.

Britain’s top ten universities already have a brand – either an implicit one, developed over centuries, or something newer and more deliberate, like UCL’s ‘London’s global university’. But are these brands ready for all of today’s opportunities? And few of the other hundred universities have any kind of brand at all. Now’s the time for them to look outwards, look to the future, and nurture a clear, shared sense of what they want to stand for in this decade and the next.

Robert Jones is Head of New Thinking at Wolff Olins and visiting professor at University of East Anglia. 

Image via MIT.

Five questions with Nadra Shah

This interview is one of a series of interviews with inspiring women by our global COO Sairah Ashman.

Nadra Shah is Director of Development at The House of St Barnabas, a charity that supports London’s homeless back into work through their unique employment academy, which operates at the heart of their integrated not-for-profit private members club in Soho. 

What are the most significant shifts influencing your business?

As a relatively new business - but one with a big ambition - it is important for us to speculate to accumulate at this early stage of our growth. We do this both to stay ahead of the trend as a private members’ club and also to be innovative in our fundraising. This can mean some awkward conversations with our Board. Charities in the past have been risk averse, we are quite the opposite.

We will also be closely watching what happens in London when Universal Credit is rolled out, the feedback from other areas of the UK has not been great to date.

The introduction of Social Investment Tax relief could have a huge positive impact on the sector – we are really optimistic about how this could benefit the organisation.

What do you see as the key growth accelerators for you over the next 12 months?

The continual growth of our cultural platforms as a mechanism to grow outside the four walls will be a massive game changer for us. We are about to launch our first festival Art Social 14, which is supported by the Arts Council. This is an important step towards growing our Employment Academy in to the creative industries.

Cause collaboration and partnering with like-minded social enterprises is also important. It will be interesting to see the impact of how using the club at The House of St Barnabas as an incubator for idea generation and direct action on social issues will have. 

We’ll also be expanding our Employment Academy – securing the right employer partners will be instrumental for us branching out and also discussing how we roll out apprenticeships within the hospitality sector.

Above all we need to be continually curious and never sit back to enjoy the moment for too long – there’s too much round the corner to accomplish!

What role do you see brand playing in helping achieve your goals?

It will be one of the primary reasons that we are a success. It is essential that our members, supporters and partners believe that The House of St Barnabas is a brand in which they can invest their values. However the real difference will be living and breathing our brand values; authenticity, integrity and creative philanthropy are great buzz words but making choices that underpin those values and turning down opportunities that don’t will be the linchpin to our success. 

We are now at the phase of reaching out to find brand partners. We are a charity, a business, a social enterprise and a cultural platform so positioning ourselves is no mean feat, however we know that finding a brand to align and grow with us will mean that our future as a sustainable business driving real social change in London will be a reality. 

Exciting times.

What or who inspired you in the early years of your career?

I remember a very early encounter with the people that set up Belu and was intrigued by the whole idea around business and social conscious.  To be honest it really didn’t make sense at the time but it must have resonated because I have since sought out projects that play a tangible difference in changing people’s lives.   

I would also say my drama school teacher, I trained as an actress. I have since found that having strong improvisational skills has meant that I have bluffed my way through many a situation on the pretence that I knew exactly what I was talking about.

What advice would you pass on to others just starting out?

Never lose the passion and the reason why you are doing what you do. I have actively chosen to only work with people that I like and who inspire me. A heavy dose of straight talking doesn’t you do any harm either but chose your counsel wisely.  

Believe you can be the difference. It sounds like a cliché but if you think your input isn’t worthy then it probably won’t be regarded as so. 

The House of St Barnabas presents Dirty Rotten Socials in partnership with Wolff Olins and Pioneers Post. 

Sairah Ashman is global COO of Wolff Olins. You can follow her @SairahAshman

We’re hiring: Lead Strategist (based in London)

If you see yourself as a game-changer and have a brilliant mix of imagination, logic, resilience and a special talent to make things happen then Wolff Olins may be your perfect fit. If you feel that others - inside our organisation or in client organisations of as many as 100,000 people would follow your lead, we would love to hear from you.

Currently, we’re on the lookout for a strategy team member at our mid level.  

Our Lead Strategists are the drivers of our biggest accounts. You’ll be helping to shape the pathway of our biggest projects and you’ll be responsible for managing and delivering large workstreams within those projects. You’ll have the chance to continually grow as you will be offered sizeable challenges whilst also being supported by our learning and mentoring culture.  As a Lead Strategist, you are en route to becoming one of the leaders of Wolff Olins, both commercially and culturally.

You may already work in the world of brand consulting, you may work in a single sector, or in an entrepreneurial venture. You need solid business know-how, true creative flair and an ability to not just re-define the purpose of an organization but to re-tune its culture, processes, products, services and end goals accordingly.

We work across all sectors – technology, finance, government, professional services, arts and non-profit and we hope you would be up for some sector experimentation too. Unusual mixes of experience and expertise is inherent to our approach.

It is also our hope that you share our philosophy. We’re committed to transforming existing markets, creating new markets, to helping businesses and organisations responsibly grow. And the responsibility bit is important. We put positive social impact at the heart of what we do.

For more details, please contact Xander Hough (HR Manager) by email with Lead Strategist as your subject line.

Sweat the big stuff

By Camila Grey

What kind of toothpaste do you use? Which side of the fridge did you return the jam to this morning? How many emails did you flick through and ignore? Do you know for certain? Can you really remember? Do you really care?

Routines make life easier. They’re reassuring, consistent and comforting. They get us through the days. From the little things like the time we get up, to bigger things like the meetings we attend and the way we interact with each other, having a proven way of doing it just makes logical sense. Right?

“Relentless work can also be a form of laziness, because it is work that is comfortable and familiar to us, that we know how to do. And it allows us to avoid the truly hard work and bigger questions about our present and our future: What shall we become? How must we change?”

Who said this, do you think? A great philosopher? A wise, grandfatherly type on his deathbed? An unnamed source on a “Cool Quotes” board on Pinterest? Actually no, it was Arthur Gregg Sulzberger the chairman of The New York Times.

I’ve been slowly working my way through the 97 page New York Times Innovation Report since it leaked last month. It’s high drama akin to reality TV. Reality corporate existential crises are my jam because - like the Kardashians - it always comes down to people. Whether its in a large organisation or a private jet, how people navigate the regulated normality of everyday life to achieve a wider, less tangible ambition for the future is gripping stuff.

Maintaining his Yoda-esque proclamations, Sulzberger also said this, “We need a mindset shift that allows us to invest in things we think are important simply because we think they’re important”. Shift we must, indeed. Here at Wolff Olins, we’ve been working with a client who - like The New York Times - were so busy focusing on their day-to-day, they didn’t know how to begin to focus on their wider goals. They could see their future but not their place in it. Facing EU legislation, changing consumer expectations and new, nimble competitors, it’s no wonder that everything felt important. Our task was to guide them in how best to break it all down, prioritise investment and define a roadmap for transformation.

Making large-scale shifts in these types of organisations can’t happen overnight, nor should it. Of course we helped our client to define their vision and identify their objectives, but we also developed a series of small-scale projects that would signal change and kick-start an ambitious transformation. In short, we enabled them to sweat the big stuff by doing some useful small stuff.

Habits, rituals, routines. Behaviours, processes and structure. They all add up to something eventually. For us lot trying to live lovely, happy lives as well as big organisations looking to thrive in an uncertain future, finding the time to sweat the big stuff now and then is vital. Doing so reassures us that those little things are not only comforting but also meaningful, and that they’re getting us somewhere. “It is easier to do trivial things that are urgent that it is to do important things that are not urgent”. John Cleese said that one. Pop philosophy and a wafer thin mint, anyone?

Camilla Grey is a strategist at Wolff Olins London. 

From ME to WE?

By Sairah Ashman 

I imagine we’re all pretty familiar with the Quantified Self movement by now and perhaps it’s already helping you sleep better, exercise more regularly and bore everyone with your latest stats on Facebook. So what happens when we make this a communal activity and use data monitoring to inform our broader living arrangements? 

Well, we’re about to find out. NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress in collaboration with property developers are creating a “living laboratory” at Hudson Yards in New York. This 28-acre site will incorporate accommodation, retail and other commercial activities. Roof tops will be fitted with satellites and wireless sensors will be attached to anything that can be measured in a useful way…including residents who volunteer to be involved anonymously. Things like traffic flow, pollution and even how many steps its residents take each day will be recorded and analysed. So why’s this interesting?

Well think about it for a minute. Would it be useful to know that if you left your home at 8.03 in the morning your journey time and stress levels would be much lower than if you left at 8.17? What about if you suffer from hayfever and could find out which route would stop your commute from becoming a sneeze-fest. Or if adjusting street lighting throughout the day reduces crime. Or see in real-time how your personal energy consumption is affecting the entire community…essentially easing into the principle of collaborative consumption with all its many possibilities.  How much of your data would you freely share on this basis and what would you look for in return?

And what happens when the community starts to adjust its behaviour in response to what it’s learning? What happens if those changes improve health and well-being? How much would you like to be part of a community like this? How much would you pay to live in such a place?  What happens when brands enter the fray? Foot fall will be able to detect which stores generally, and which offers or brands more specifically, are most attractive. Retailers will become more responsive, brands will learn your preferences and offers will become far more targeted. As a would-be resident, who would you like to be responsible for your connectivity, your health care or your retail requirements in these community orientated bubbles. 

If cities are the major driver of economies, then living in a city continuously taking the pulse of its community makes sense at a macro level and a micro level. On paper at least, it offers up the tantalising possibility of creating healthy economies and healthier more responsive environments for its residents. Could this be your idea of nirvana or an infringement on your personal space? And is it going to happen whether you like it or not anyway?

As a social scientist, the reality of being to able install surveillance and sensors anywhere you like creates exciting pattern recognition possibilities, as well as various ethical concerns. As a brand advisor, it creates interesting opportunities for companies and brands to find their place in an astonishingly data-rich and driven environment. And to figure out what feels like an equitable exchange between all the parties involved. Something we’ve been thinking about for a while and capturing through a report series, The New Mainstream.

In essence, what happens when we move from the quantified self to quantified communities? Are we ready to move from ME to WE? I’d be interested to hear your views.

Sairah Ashman is global COO of Wolff Olins. 

Wolff Olins welcomes The Space


The Space, a new creative online platform to showcase the most exciting new digital art, was launched today with the support of artists and tech stars from across the world.

We are proud to have worked with The Space on its new brand. Working within an incredibly tight timeframe we alighted on a simple idea using universally available components; the font Arial, and blue – the colour most closely associated with Internet via hyperlinks. The simplicity of the identity system mirrors the democratic and accessible philosophy behind The Space. It is versatile, efficient and easy to implement but allows for endless forms of animation, play and experimentation.

The Space is where art can meet everyone and everyone can meet art. Like the rest of the digital world, The Space is not constrained within a white cube instead it’s an endless digital landscape that will continue to grow and grow, shaped by the art that sits within it. It’s like a famous landmark that is within everyone’s reach and its collection changes with every visit. Our work reflects that boundless and limitless nature. 

The four core elements of the identity – letter form, colour, name and call to action, (‘this is The Space’) - come together to make repeat patterns that can be animated, rescaled, reshaped and activated by artists, artworks and audiences.

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and co-founder of the Open Data Institute said, “Artists wake us up to all that happens in the world, The Space can make that happen on the web.”

Digital artist and Creative Director of the Data Arts Team at Google Aaron Koblin is excited to see the concept of digital art being challenged and hopes The Space will further bridge the gap between art and technology: “We live in an exciting time where technologists and artists are increasingly coming together in a new creative age. Together they’re helping to define a new digital world. I look forward to seeing how The Space will challenge the concept of what ‘digital art’ is, and what art can be. Hopefully it will give a voice and platform to artists and technologists from around the world and foster some amazing collaborations between the worlds to bring them even closer together.”

For more information visit, The Space and The Space’s open call for artists


Must purpose be good?

By Robert Jones  

‘Must purpose be good?’ It’s a summer evening in a Victorian library in the Science Museum in London, and I’m on the panel at a seminar called ‘Purpose Matters’, organised Hall & Partners, the research agency. Of all the questions we’re asked, this is the best.

It made me think hard about this ubiquitous buzzword ‘purpose’. Every company seems now to have one. There’s even a book now called The Purpose Economy. But has the idea become valueless? Is it just management feelgood? Once we’ve defined our purpose, can we all sit back and congratulate ourselves? Is ‘purpose’ just the latest version of ‘vision’?

I’m a believer in purpose. I’ve always felt organisations do better when they have a purpose beyond profit. And it’s always been in the DNA of Wolff Olins: we’ve always wanted to help our clients make the world a bit better. But a few recent things have got me worrying.

First, does purpose really help in external communication? When British Airways started using its purpose explicitly in advertising – ‘to fly, to serve’ – its low-cost rival EasyJet countered cheekily with ‘to fly, to save’ – which neatly captured what people actually want. So is purpose always a turn-on for customers? No.

And some of our younger digital client companies are just puzzled when we push them about their purpose. We don’t need a purpose, they say, we just need to be clear what our platform helps our users to do. So is purpose always essential to get a new product off the ground? No.

Second, is purpose powerful enough inside organisations? Tesco, like many companies that have been hit by criticism recently, has defined a purpose: ‘to make what matters better, together’. But as a customer, can you feel it in the stores? No. Is it helping the company grow? Judging by last week’s sales figures, no.

Several of our clients have excellent purposes, and believe in them, but everyday life gets in the way. Under shareholder pressure, managers understandably go for safety, sameness and revenue, rather than risk, difference and principle. So does purpose – even in those organisations that believe in it – drive decision making? No.

What this all implies is that purpose, on its own, is not enough. And in fact purpose statements, on their own, don’t motivate people, any more than vision statements used to. Mantras help, but it’s the climate that surrounds them that makes the difference.

Externally, purpose needs to become softer, broader, more diffuse: a climate that you could call attitude or angle or even obsession. Unilever’s excellent Jane Buck, a fellow panellist at the Science Museum, calls it ‘point of view’, like Persil’s view that dirt is good. It’s something you can share with customers rather than throwing it at them. It might even be a question you debate with customers.

And internally, purpose needs to become harder – an honest operating principle, or a bunch of them. We can still learn a lot from the Quaker companies, like Cadbury or Clarks, whose founders weren’t philanthropists but tough businesspeople who saw purpose and profit feeding into each other, in a virtuous circle. Organisations now need to talk explicitly about the ROI on ‘purpose’, and to help their people make decisions that are neither idealistic nor rapacious: decisions that make money by making a difference. And if your goal is simply to make money, that’s fine: that’s your purpose.

So the answer is purpose doesn’t have to be good. Externally, it’s not a great idea to boast about your high-minded purpose, about how good you are. And internally, it doesn’t work to pretend to be driven by goodness, to be a kind of NGO, when you’re a profit-making company. Purpose isn’t enough: what’s your point of view? And what are your operating principles?

Robert Jones is Head of New Thinking at Wolff Olins and a visiting professor at UEA.  

Three Learnings on Moving the World

By Melissa Andrada 

There are so many important causes in the world – and positive social impact is what drives most of us at Wolff Olins. It’s why I joined. Many of those causes don’t get the attention they deserve. Animal protection is one of them.  

This is why we’ve spent the past two years collaborating with World Animal Protection (formerly called the World Society for the Protection of Animals), a global nonprofit organisation with a big ambition to end animal suffering. For over 50 years, they’ve been protecting the lives of millions of animals. Although they make  this level of impact they aren’t known on the street. In fact, research showed that only 7% of people surveyed across the world were aware they existed.

How can you motivate people to end animal suffering if people don’t know who you are? How can you move more people to protect animals?

This is what we set out to solve with our partners Collette Collins, Deputy Director of Communications and Pippa Rodger, Director of Communications leading the way. 

It’s been an amazing journey – that’s really just starting.  We thought we’d share a few of the things we’ve learned, and how you might move the world for your cause. 

1. Start with The Why

Animal protection is a hugely important global problem, so how can we get people to care?

Start with purpose – start with what matters to them. The purpose we helped World Animal Protection articulate was ‘We move the world to protect animals’, now the driving thought behind not just their communications but their culture too.  

There’s a great TED Talk by Simon Sinek on how great leaders inspire everyone to take action by starting with The Why. In this talk, Sinek shares the Golden Circle, a simple yet powerful visual tool for sharing your story. It puts The Why at the center with The How and The What radiating outwards.

We used this tool to frame the story of World Animal Protection and uncover the purpose, looking at:

The Why: Why do we exist? Why does this matter?

The How: How is what we do different to what exists? What makes us special?

The What: What do we do that no else does?

2. Tools for action

The worst fear of any brand team is for your work to sit in unread strategy powerpoints and unused guideline pdfs. Almost everything we create begins with the question, “How can we make this even more useful?”

To that end, we helped them build a set of useful tools for making the story real in and outside of the organisation. Because we view workshops as a change methodology, we facilitated workshops with people across the organisation – from their global leadership team to fundraising, from human resources to communications.

Some of the work we’re most proud of includes helping the organisation shape their culture through  the  Four Moves – a tool that articulates the behaviours and actions needed from everyone inside the organisation to move the entire world to protect animals. Because we know that culture eats strategy for breakfast, our work is only as good as what people inside World Animal Protection believe in and the actions they take.

The most visible tools we’ve created are around the name and the visual expression. We first recommended changing the name to World Animal Protection. Names are incredibly powerful. I remember one of our principals – Sam Wilson – saying to another client, “Your name is just one of the many tools in your arsenal. Make sure it works hard for you.” Their former name – World Society of Protection of Animals, often shortened to WSPA – wasn’t too long and often a barrier to achieving their ambition of ending animal suffering.

There’s a lot of noise in the world. Not only do you need a simple and memorable name; you need a visual expression that cuts through. Working closely with the internal team, design director Dan Greene designed a simple visual expression to make it easy for their people to create new things – whether it’s for the website, the office walls or a high level disaster management conference installation .

While these two things might be the most visible, as Collette Collins said “Our brand is so much more than our new name and logo.  This is about embedding our purpose into everything we do, so no matter where we are in the world or what we’re doing, people will know who we are, what we stand for and be inspired to join us”

3. Real change takes time

In a world driven by the startup ideology of ‘lean and fast’, it’s important to remember that while it is important to test, try new things and act, that real change takes time – and is hard.

While our original project with World Animal Protection has ended, we’ve continued working with the organisation – from learning to acting as a sounding board to their management team as well as running design clinics.

Like most people when you’re trying to shift mindsets – inside and out, you need to be patient. You need to constantly equip people with tools to help them act.  You need to be prepared to evolve your story, to change as the world changes.

Melissa Andrada (@themelissard) heads up Kitchen from Wolff Olins, a school for ambitious leaders who want to build businesses that change the world. Melissa also is a lead strategist at Wolff Olins. World Animal Protection was her first project in the London office. She feels incredibly lucky to have collaborated with such an amazing team.

Thanks to Project Lead and Strategy Director, Richard Houston; Account Management Coach, Beatrice Vears; Design Director, Dan Greene; Designer, Rosie Isbell; and of course our friends at World Animal Protection – Collette Collins and Pippa Rodger.