1. Guiding Principles

TLDR: A foundational brand strategy should inspire your team, identifying the north star that drives the business and the essential principles that define its character. By way of illustration, this list presents our core values and context for putting them into action.

1. Be human

Above all else, our clients are people. Our first priority is considering their well-being and committing to the success of their businesses. Empathy is the core of living well and design that matters. When we invest in relationships, treating ourselves and others with compassion, we can minimize misunderstandings and achieve great things together.

2. Almost anyone can learn almost anything

Our experiences have shaped the things we know and drawn the boundaries of the questions we ask. With enough opportunity and time, however, dedication and practice in unfamiliar territory can transform to mastery.

3. See potential

A good brief has tight constraints when you see opportunity instead of limitation. If a client or colleague shows interest in something unfamiliar, be a resource that supports their growth. See the best in each person and situation — through this simple act of faith in one another, more often than not, those around you will rise to the occasion.

4. Grow together

Empower others by sharing the things we learn. Our clients come to us because they need help. Empower them and future-proof your practice by generously facilitating understanding without judgment. Just as critically, we build our team to be leaders in their field of expertise, supporting education and professional opportunities — even when these may take them on new adventures elsewhere.

5. Be a generous guide

How fortunate we are that so many incredible people have blazed the trails we walk and left notes for those that follow. Share your knowledge and provide context with great documentation. Take the time to explain the process and you set everyone up for continued success — not least of all those intrepid explorers who share the quest for great design.

6. Listen between the lines

In the words of Joan Didion, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” As an outsider to the narratives of those around us, we have a great vantage point to observe the often critical things that go unsaid — the assumed, the omitted, the justified. Consider the thinking behind someone’s story and a world of complexity awaits.

7. Pursue understanding

Be curious. Ask questions. In relationships as in work, each encounter can teach us something new as well as put our strengths in action. Meaning does not stand still and the work we do presents a series of moving targets. To be responsible stewards for our clients, our world, and our own individual spirit, we must never go a day without asking, “why?”

8. Work to be understood

It’s not what you say but what others hear that counts. Remember this and we will be both kinder toward others and more compassionate toward those ideas they may find unfamiliar — perhaps we may also find the patience to explain ourselves more thoughtfully and so find our inevitable commonalities.

9. Be bold, be true

Live with the confidence that hard work and knowledge provide, balanced with the humility of a beginner’s mindset that reminds us of the infinite horizon of things to learn. To be authentic is to live free from pretense. When we make space for the best in ourselves and celebrate differences in others, our work overflows with the exuberance of feeling whole.

10. Craft is care

Excellence and quality are foundational to the way we move through the world. We live by the details. Everything we create results from thousands of tiny decisions, each one an opportunity to be present and focused. We treat each client with the same care we would ourselves because our responsibility to one another requires no less.

11. Design with purpose

It’s not just how a thing looks, but whether it works. Begin with purpose — from the simple need for clear communication to the imperative to support worthwhile causes. Spend your time and team resources well by making things that perform. Ask questions first so that if it won’t work, we don’t bother.

12. Play, seriously

Play opens our minds through lateral thinking and the joy of discovery. When we sneak up on a problem we find creative solutions rather than the anxiety of confronting obstacles head on. Design is important and we treat it as such — what better way to respect our duties than by performing them with pleasure through a sustainable approach? Humor reminds us that we can have fun while doing great work that matters.