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Get action-ready for Alert Level 3

22 Apr 2020 by Mike Tisdall

From Tuesday 28 April we are moving to Alert Level 3. While many things will be the same – like working and learning from home - there are some significant changes. The week ahead is about ‘getting ready’ for the...

get action-ready for alert level 3 mike tisdall
from tuesday 28 april we are moving to alert level 3. while many things will be the same – like working and learning from home - there are some significant changes. the week ahead is about ‘getting ready’ for the move to level 3.
over the last month, we’ve done a good thing in new zealand, something that few countries around the world have achieved. before getting fixated on more restrictions and further hardships, take a moment to pat yourself on the back for keeping you and your family safe. you’ve helped new zealand get covid-19 under control – we should all feel very proud.
we’ve been home for four weeks now, and many of us have been hanging out for the end of lockdown. but the move to level 3 will mean little change for most of us. we’ll be spending most of our time at home, and in our bubble, for at least three more weeks. prepare yourself for it. talk to your family about it. think about what has worked well over the last month and how can you do more of this? what new things do you need to keep everyone active, engaged and motivated?
and with at least three more weeks to go, what new skills can you learn?
the exploring rules are relaxed a little allowing us to go ‘regional.’ the ability to go for a walk or run at the local beach or park will be a relief for many. for others, just going for a drive will be a relief. (start the car this week – making sure it’s ready to go for next week!) make a plan of the local places you’ll visit and what you’ll do while you are there. how will you get there safely and maintain your social distancing while you’re there? planning will help build up the anticipation.
the biggest change at level 3 is the wider economic activity in which we can engage. what will that mean for you? are you happy to go back to the supermarket or other stores that were closed during lockdown or would you rather keep getting things delivered? what are the non-essentials you’ve been hanging out for? order them this week to be delivered as soon as your favourite retailers are up and running again. getting in there early will reinforce that things have changed.
while the move to level 3 helps business in general, for many it will bring little change. for forestry, construction and retailers with online shopping, the move will be a welcome relief. think about your clients that will potentially be better off at level 3. what support can your business give them to help the transition and rebuilding processes? what about businesses, like restaurants and takeaways that are still restricted? are there ideas, products, services or support you can help them with?
while level 3 still excludes socialising, there is now an ability to extend your bubble a little. neighbours, close friends and family are the obvious first consideration. if you’re living alone, create a bubble of people in a similar position. agree to catch-up regularly (and exclusively!). think about the kids. can you include one of their friends in your wider bubble so they’ll be able to have play dates at each other’s houses? what a difference that would make to both kids and to parents!
while we are getting ready to make some changes, we can’t forget the importance of staying safe. in fact, with more contact we need to be even more vigilant. don’t forget to wash your hands regularly, check for symptoms and above all, get tested early if there is even the slightest chance you’ve been exposed to covid-19.
this time will pass and it will be over before you know it. the key thing is to look after yourself and your family and to stay connected with your friends and colleagues.

Planning for Level 3

15 Apr 2020 by Mike Tisdall

As we move into the tail end of the 4-week Covid-19 lockdown, with many promising signs, we start to think about what happens next and how we’ll adapt to it.   The four alert levels help us with our...

planning for level 3 mike tisdall
as we move into the tail end of the 4-week covid-19 lockdown, with many promising signs, we start to think about what happens next and how we’ll adapt to it.
the four alert levels help us with our planning. we know what an extended level 4 looks like but what would you need to do to stay in lockdown for longer? what if we went back to level 3, or level 2? what would change and how would you cope? this could see you, or some of your family, back at work or at school but maybe not everyone. how would you manage this? use the alert levels to work through the likely scenarios. make a plan of how you’ll approach each of them. this process will help you feel more in control and be prepared when the government announces what’s next.
while we have some hope that the end is in sight, it’s important to remember that many people are still feeling stressed. now isn’t the time to stop communicating. in fact, it’s the time to step it up. stay in touch regularly and keep offering all the support you can. and that applies to you as well. if you’re feeling the stress of isolation and the impact of the wider crisis, keep reaching out to friends, family and for professional support.
lockdown hasn’t been all bad, has it? we’ve learned to work from home more effectively and to connect with each other in new ways. there’s is no reason to not keep going with some of our new practices. make a plan for what the ‘new normal’ could look like. for example, keep having regular virtual catchups (and drinks) with colleagues and friends. keep buying groceries online. zoom your customers rather than flying or driving to see them. work from home more regularly.
it’s only natural to worry about what happens next. you’ll have many questions and concerns. will it be safe to go back to the office, to the supermarket, the mall or to get back on public transport? don’t let the volume of your fears consume you. write them down and talk to your family and friends about them. as the government announces what’s next and how we’ll get there, tick your concerns off. then only deal with the one or two you don’t have satisfactory answers for. make a plan for them.
this crisis has impacted businesses in different ways and will create uncertain times ahead for many. for some, the focus will shift from long-term growth to short-term survival mode. think about your work and how priorities may change. most businesses will be focused on getting their revenue back up as soon as possible, reducing unnecessary expenses and ensuring they have cashflow to keep paying their rent, their staff and their suppliers.
how can you think differently about what you do, and how you do it, to help your employer and your own job security?
while you’re thinking about your work and how priorities will change, think about your customers as well. what is likely to be different for them going forward? how can you help them recover faster? if need be, just ask them – they’ll thank you for thinking of them. supporting their success will help your business succeed and this will help you get through as well.
one of the positives to come out of the covid-19 crisis is the way we’ve united and supported each other. many of your friends, families and colleagues will be facing the same uncertainties as you about this next phase. some will be worse-off, looking to re-establish their business, their health, their employment and their finances. how can you help? it could be as simple as giving them advice and contacts, assisting with jobs around the house, carpooling to reduce the need to use public transport or taking the kids for a bit so they can focus on rebuilding their business or finding work. start by asking them how you can help.
this time will pass and it will be over before you know it. the key thing is to look after yourself and your family and to stay connected with your friends and colleagues.

#Insight Easter

09 Apr 2020 by Mike Tisdall

Easter this year will be like no other. Let’s celebrate it in a uniquely creative way. Unleash your creativity and the kid within. Here’s some cool ideas and links with instructions and recipes.    Give...

#insight easter mike tisdall
easter this year will be like no other. let’s celebrate it in a uniquely creative way. unleash your creativity and the kid within. here’s some cool ideas and links with instructions and recipes. 
give them a go and then share them on social media using #insighteaster so we can see them too.
1. paint easter eggs: you can keep it really simple and draw easter eggs and then make them multi-coloured or you can decorate real eggs. easy to follow painting egg instructions can be found right here
2. bake your own hot cross buns: hot cross buns are delicious and it’s a shame we only have them once a year. learn how to make them with the kids and have them all year round. here’s a great recipe from one of our favourite kiwi cooks, chelsea winter.
3. make a collage bunny: you’ll need a bunny shape – draw this on cardboard or paper and cut it out; tape; glue and things to decorate with – pens, paint, colouring papers, glitter, coloured papers, tissue paper, old wrapping paper and anything you have around the house.
once the bunny shape is ready, start decorating. use a mix of colours, textures, bits of material and stick them on. then use pens and paint to add more colour. what’s most important is that you have lots of creative fun.
4. plan an  easter treasure hunt: a great way to keep kids (and adults) entertained over easter is to create a scavenger hunt – with easter eggs or any other treasure. here’s how:
• plan your route – start inside and then get everyone outside before bringing them back home with the last clue.  
• decide on the items you want people to find on the hunt.
• write and number the clues for each location:
   - use hints or riddles to identify the next location.
   - the clue could be a picture, like a tree in the garden or the letterbox.
   - create puzzles to solve to find the next location including word search clues, scrambled letters and general knowledge questions.
• add in some surprise rewards to keep everyone excited and engaged.
and here’s a whole lot of other fun ideas to get you creative over easter
• make fairy-bread.
• dress up a pet (or yourself) as the easter bunny.
• use old socks to make bunnies puppets.
• make chocolate in the shape of bunnies.
• sing oma rapeti:
         oma rāpeti, oma rāpeti
         oma, oma, oma
         oma rāpeti, oma rāpeti
         oma, oma, oma
         piko, piko, piko, piko, piko, piko
         toro, piko
         toro, toro, toro, toro, toro, toro
         piko, toro
and finally check out this page on the good housekeeping site for 44 more ideas.

Keeping up the momentum

07 Apr 2020 by Mike Tisdall

Last week we focused on getting your routine up and running. As the third week of working from home kicks off, the focus is keeping the momentum going through to Easter. Here are some more practical tips and tricks...

keeping up the momentum mike tisdall
last week we focused on getting your routine up and running. as the third week of working from home kicks off, the focus is keeping the momentum going through to easter. here are some more practical tips and tricks to help you remain focused and engaged.
you may be starting to go a bit stir crazy and, at times, be feeling overwhelmed by the stream of bad news. there are lots of online blogs from qualified mental health professionals with some good ideas on how to look after yourself. the key recommendations coming through are to exercise daily, stay connected with your loved ones, switch off the noise and misinformation of social media and to focus on things you can control. one of the best recommendations is to ‘give yourself a break’. don’t put too much pressure and unrealistic expectation on yourself. these are stressful times, very few people will perform at the level they did before.
as we are less busy during this third week, time will become one of our big challenges. it will seem to pass slower and a sense of monotony may set in. make sure you keep yourself busy with a mixture of work, home and personal things. develop a list of things you can do and refer to it whenever you’re not sure what to do next. rather than thinking about how to get through the day, break the day into chunks and just focus on getting through the next few hours.
most businesses are finding things are slowing down as their customers and clients are doing, and spending, less. whether it’s external or internal customers, make sure you’re keeping in touch with them. actively look for ways to add value to their activities. think about the sorts of things you can do that will help make their life easier – things you would have done for them in the past if only you’d had the time. the way we support our customers over this period will shape our relationship when things return to normal.
you’ll find many in your team are feeling the same and are facing many of the same challenges as you. touch base, compare notes and give each other suggestions on supporting customers, looking after your health and other work and personal matters. keep in touch with your customers, suppliers and regular work contacts. ask how you can help and help where you can.
it’s only natural to think about the health of the business and whether your job is safe. cashflow and revenue are the biggest challenges facing business at the moment. think about the things you can do to help. this could be ideas to save money, new product or service ideas, ways to help out customers in troubled times or ideas to get customers to spend more or to pay quicker. helping the business get through these troubled times will make you feel you’re doing something positive to achieve a good outcome for the business and for you.
easter is nearly upon us and there’s no doubt it will be very different from any easter we’ve experienced before. make celebrating it a focus for the week. a positive celebration will do you good. this could be easter activities with the family like painting eggs or making hot cross buns together. think about your colleagues as well. what can you do to wish them a happy easter in a novel way? and this extends to your customers and suppliers: send them an email or ecard wishing them a good easter.
while it’s too early to know exactly when the lockdown will end, it’s not too early to start thinking about what will happen when it does. when you go back to the office what will the priorities be? what will you do differently? are there things – such as sales tools, procedures, job descriptions, promotions, diversity and inclusiveness or values initiatives - that would help you hit the ground running? get started now so you are ready to go when the time comes.
this time will pass and it will be over before you know it. the key thing is to look after yourself and your family and to stay connected with your friends and colleagues.

Establishing a routine when working from home

02 Apr 2020 by Mike Tisdall

As week two of working from home settles in, it’s time for a few more practical tips and tricks to help you remain effective while still balancing the many demands on your time and wellbeing. While last week was...

establishing a routine when working from home mike tisdall
as week two of working from home settles in, it’s time for a few more practical tips and tricks to help you remain effective while still balancing the many demands on your time and wellbeing. while last week was focused on getting everything sorted – your workspace, technology, access to files, etc – this week is more about establishing your routine.
decide what time you’ll start and stop work each day and when you’ll take breaks. chances are the family are home as well and the kids are possibly on their school holidays. they all need, and deserve, time with you too. schedule this in. a good schedule will help with your mental wellbeing, frees up guilt-free time with the family, and ensures everyone understands when you’re ‘at work’ and when you’re ‘at home.’
think about how much time you spent getting to and from work every day. how can you use this time in more rewarding ways over the next few weeks? exercise? write? paint? make music? learn a new language? bake? master a new hobby? watch all eight seasons of game of thrones?
start with all the meetings you would normally have with your clients and your team. set them up as zoom, microsoft teams or skype meetings and invite everyone so it’s in their diary as well. then think about adding in some extra meetings to make up for the usual face-to-face interactions that happen in a typical week. keeping your meetings going helps to maintain a sense of normality, ensures you stay connected with your key people and breaks up the monotony of your day.
one of the things you’ll miss most about the office is that regular social interaction with your colleagues. discussions at the photocopier, in the kitchen and just around the office every day. to ensure this still happens, schedule coffee breaks to catch up over zoom and chat and keep friday drinks going – get everyone to grab their own drink before ‘hanging-out’ virtually to end the week’s work.
for many, last week was the first time they did zoom or microsoft teams meetings. for others, it was the first time on a facebook hangout. now you know how it works and how easy it is, find out what more you can do with it. have a play. change your settings and backgrounds, set up alerts and set up groups. all these platforms have help functions and there are many youtube tutorials.
make a list of all the people you interact with on a normal week. this includes your team, your clients, your partners, your suppliers and your stakeholders. make a point of checking in with each of them at least once over the week. in times of isolation we all need to talk and connect more, definitely not less.
we all have stuff at work (and at home) that we’ve been meaning to get around to but just never found the time. clean out your desktop and directories of old files. write up those procedures you’ve been meaning to for a while. set up mailing lists. sit down and make a list and over the next few weeks, as you’re wondering what to do next, go back to the list and pick one. better still, try and tick one off a day.
this time will pass and it will be over before you know it. the key thing is to look after yourself and your family and to stay connected with your friends and colleagues.

Home is where the . . . office is!

28 Mar 2020 by Mike Tisdall

  So here we are in lockdown while we wait out the Covid-19 uncertainty. While the concept of working from home is nothing new, implementing it nationwide for an extended period of time is, and it may take...

home is where the . . . office is! mike tisdall

so here we are in lockdown while we wait out the covid-19 uncertainty. while the concept of working from home is nothing new, implementing it nationwide for an extended period of time is, and it may take some time to adjust to this new normal. 

this is the first in a series of posts to help you settle in to your new routine.

find a workspace away from distractions. rather than setting up on your bed or the sofa, get a good supportive chair and flat table surface at the correct heightforearms and thighs parallel to the floor, etc.

without your usual morning commute, the transition from your pillow to your computer can be difficult. set your alarm to the regular time, make (or go get) coffee, and regular work clothes. routines help us adapt to being productive at home.

without the usual in-office routine it’s easy to lose focus or burn out. sort your next day schedule the afternoon before. this will help you dive straight in the following morning.
be flexible if you need to, but commit to an agenda outlining every task and stick to it.
include breaks in your schedule. it can be easy to get distracted and forget them. use your breaks to get away from your desk. go for a walk outside or spend time with others who might also be in the house. also pick a finishing time each day and stick to it as if you have a bus or train to catch.
working from home might help you focus in the short term, but it can also make you feel cut off from your co-workers. use instant messaging and video conferencing tools to stay connected with the team. however, avoid social media. while important to stay in touch, it can also be a distraction especially now! switch off alerts and resist the temptation to check in during the day.

your motivation will naturally ebb and flow throughout the day. when you’re working from home, it’s all the more important to recognise when you’re at your best and plan your schedule accordingly. do creative tasks when you’re ‘hot’ and save admin for those times when you’re feeling less energetic. if you’re slow to get started in the morning, use that time for solitary tasks. save phone calls, online meetings, and other collaborative work for when you’ve officially 'woken up'.

many of us will have limited workspace that we’ll need to share. if others are at home such as roommates, kids, siblings, parents, spouses, and dogs (well, maybe not dogs) make sure they respect that just because you’re working from home it doesn’t mean you’re free to socialise. let them know your scheduled break times and make it clear you are not to be disturbed inbetween. however, human contact is important so make sure you take the time to talk to someone during your breaks especially if your work is mostly solitary.
when you’re in your own home, it can be tempting to spend time preparing a nice breakfast and lunch for yourself, chopping and cooking included. don’t use precious minutes making your food during the day; cook it the night before. preparing food ahead of time ensures you can use your meal times to eat, and that you aren’t performing non-work tasks that spend energy better used at your desk.
this season will pass, take care of yourself and check in with your team mates regularly to make sure you can have fun, sound off, and stay on task!

10 things to consider when creating engaging office environments.

17 Mar 2020 by Mike Tisdall

Moving into a new space is a fantastic opportunity to consider how to use the environment to engage key audiences like customers and important stakeholders. Their experience at your office will help reinforce what...

10 things to consider when creating engaging office environments. mike tisdall

moving into a new space is a fantastic opportunity to consider how to use the environment to engage key audiences like customers and important stakeholders. their experience at your office will help reinforce what they know about you and how they feel about your brand. just as importantly, office environments play an important role in shaping culture, strategic alignment and effective communication with your people. the environment becomes the canvas for working more effectively as an organisation.

the following are 10 starters we often talk about with clients when planning the brand and staff engagement layer of their office fit-out.


1.     user journey

start by identifying the key journeys through your space. where will visitors enter? what will they see first? do they go to reception and then a waiting area before being taken to a meeting room? what are the opportunities along this journey to tell your story?  

the same questions apply to staff. when they come out of the lift, where will they go? lockers? kitchen? their desk?  what will they walk past? what are the places they will visit during the day? most people will visit the photocopier, the kitchen, the watercooler and the toilets. these spaces are all opportunities to tell and reinforce your story.


2.     your brand story

for external audiences the public facing side of your office environment is a great place to tell your story. this could be information about your history and evolution, your business, your purpose, your brand promise, your products, your customers and your service proposition. use the journey identified above to layer your story so that each one builds and reinforces the earlier one.


3.     strategy & culture

the office space is also a great way to engage your staff in the business. visually express key culture messages that reflect what matters around here. demonstrate and reinforce your values in bold and proud ways. reinforce diversity, inclusiveness and other elements that are core to who you are. use the environment to reinforce who the customer is, key products and customer touchpoints. demonstrate the important things everyone needs to do to deliver to customers. show your people in action, especially when your team is located in many places and/or where the core business is conducted elsewhere. 


4.     navigation & safety

don’t forget the importance of helping everyone in the business know where to find things – bathrooms, kitchens, elevators and exits. create a system around naming meeting rooms and congregation spaces that make it easy for people to find and remember them. use the environment to communicate core health and safety messages in ways that relate to how people use the space. for example, wellbeing messages about looking out for each other in spaces where people meet. 


5.     multi-experience

some messages are about reminding people about the things that matter and we use the space for regular repetition. other messages require more engagement. these may require digital experiences – like video and animation - where sound and movement help increase engagement and memorability. others involve audiences doing and experiencing things to become more involved. this is where interactive displays, ar and vr could come into play. and while you’re at it, think about places for staff to engage back – things to comment on; places to write, draw and express themselves; even places for them to take photos to post on instagram. an engaging office environment will have a mix of these.


6.     personality

most office fit-outs use neutral colours generally for hard (and expensive) surfaces like walls and floors. use colour, texture, movement, typography, photography, art, plants, soft furnishings and interesting objects to bring the space to life. the office environment should reflect your personality, your energy and the people who work there. while there is an overall personality, also think about zones where the tone may need to change; for example, quiet reading and working areas vs active socialising spaces.


7.     use what’s available

most modern office spaces are open plan and are surrounded by a bank of glass. the available walls for communicating are limited. you have to use what you have and this includes ceilings, floors, stairwells, pillars, lockers, partitions, meeting rooms and even the bathrooms. there’s always a clever way to hang or project something where other options don’t exist. lighting and sound also become important storytelling dimensions in these spaces.


8.     design consistency

you can usually see far into the distance with most open plan offices meaning they can become visually cluttered. have a clear – and single-minded – design idea, supported by a cohesive tone and feel. be clear on your colour palette, fonts, graphic and photographic styles and stick to them. otherwise you could be adding to the noise.


9.     noticeboards

build-in ways to keep people updated about the everyday things that are happening in the business. electronic noticeboards in and/or by lifts, in kitchens, bathrooms and by photocopiers are great (and cost effective) ways to tell people about an upcoming event and to celebrate international women’s day, maori language week and other similar milestones. they reduce the cost, clutter and ugliness of lots of posters stuck up all over the office.


10.  durability

offices spaces are living environments. make sure that all materials are hard-wearing and can be changed out or updated in an easy and cost-efficient way, when necessary. think about portability as well - moving things around provides opportunities to freshen things up and to keep staff engaged with your space.

office fitout, brand alignment, work environment, environmental experience,

What will improve integrated reporting?

27 Feb 2020 by Mike Tisdall

For those companies seeing the benefit of structuring their annual report along ‘integrated reporting’ lines, the latest move by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) is interesting. The...

what will improve integrated reporting? mike tisdall

for those companies seeing the benefit of structuring their annual report along ‘integrated reporting’ lines, the latest move by the international integrated reporting council (iirc) is interesting.

the <ir> framework was published eight years ago. and it has stood the test of time so well that it hasn’t been updated in that time, despite constant reviews. but that’s about to change.

there’s no doubt that reporting systems have evolved since then, along with perceptions of what businesses should be doing and saying. there is some strong consensus now around the importance of capitals beyond the purely financial. as a result, most companies can see the wisdom of the thinking behind integrated reporting. within this context, <ir> has solidified its role in changing the way companies think, plan and communicate their value creation.

the revisons being mooted in no way conflict with the intent and philsophy inherent from the beginning. and by ‘mooted’ i really mean three key themes around which market feedback is being sought. as lisa french, the iirc’s chief technical officer, has said:

“the iirc has learned a great deal from the application of the <ir> framework by around 2,000 businesses in over 70 countries. while the feedback is that the <ir> framework is a robust tool that has stood the test of time, our <ir> business network participants and others in the corporate reporting system have been clear about where they believe minor modifications and clarifications will enhance the effectiveness of the <ir> framework.”

if you’ve ever grappled with a value-creation business model, or struggled with the difference between outputs and outcomes, for example, then your views will be valuable. 

have a read of the questions and submit your answers here

iirc, integrated report, , framework

Reviving and Revising Moments of Truth

20 Aug 2019 by Mike Tisdall

Moments of Truth  is one of my go-to strategic tools when advising clients on customer-centricity, or more grimly, when trying to analyse and attempting to reverse a company’s fading fortunes. What...

reviving and revising moments of truth mike tisdall

moments of truth is one of my go-to strategic tools when advising clients on customer-centricity, or more grimly, when trying to analyse and attempting to reverse a company’s fading fortunes.

what surprises me almost every time, though, is that most business managers haven’t heard of it. 

so, first, a brief history

the concept is most associated with jan carlzon, a former ceo of sas (scandinavian air services). he became leader of the airline at a time of deep recession and identified that the only differentiator he could call on to succeed was an impeccable customer experience. he calculated that in a single flight of a few hours, a traveller would only experience a few short minutes that would affect their emotional response to the whole experience. these were the moments in the customer journey that made or broke brand perceptions. from memory, they were check-in, boarding, meal service, disembarking and luggage retrieval. each of these contact points was a defining moment – a ‘moment of truth’ – because it is in the moment and at the point of this ‘snapshot’ that a traveller decides whether to use the service again. carlzon did all he could to develop staff management of these moments, with astonishing success for his airline, which eventually became one of the most admired in the industry.

the concept has, of course, been used across many industries since. 

how do you apply the thinking?

it’s such a sound and powerful concept that it has as much value today as ever. as most marketers know, no matter what marketing fads and new technologies come along to seduce and distract us (and gobble increasing shares of our marketing budget), the fundamentals of human nature and core marketing principles are still critically relevant.

the process involves detailed analysis of your customer journey, and insightful mapping of those points along the journey that are your company's moments of truth. of course, different businesses and business models may well have a longer list of moments, and many businesses may have more than one customer journey to trace and map. but the principle remains.

thirty years on, what are the new opportunities?

well, the principle hasn’t stood still. twenty years after carlzon, in 2005, proctor & gamble chair, president and ceo, a. g. lafley, opined that that there were three different types of moments of truth: 1. pre-sale, when the customer is looking at and researching the product; 2. when the customer actually purchases the product and uses it; and 3. post-sale, when customers provide feedback to the company, and their friends, colleagues and family members etc. and in the era of social media, we all know how influential that can be.

and in the digital age?

enter amit sharma. sharma started working with walmart in 2006, designing the next generation multi-channel supply chain network, then joined apple in 2010 where he drove all aspects of the shipping and delivery experience. eventually, he left apple to start his own company, narvar, which focuses on the after experiencethe period of time from when the customer buys a product online to when he receives it. that can be as short as two hours with amazon’s new expedited delivery program, or several days, or even longer. it is that gap which is where this new moment of truth lives.

from here, i’ll let forbes writer, shep hyken, take up sharma’s story (edited for brevity):


in the online world, retailers drop the ball after customers click “buy.” customers don’t know when they’re going to receive their package. they might be able to track it on the fedex page, but there’s no branded moment or cohesive experience. this creates a gap in the experience.

once the customer hits the “buy” button on a website, the company may send an ‘order received’ or ‘order shipped’ notification but most companies now turn the order over to a carrier like fedex or ups. not only is there the lack of a branded experience, there’s no control over the outcome.

if the shipment shows up late, whose fault is it? it may the shipper’s fault, but who does the customer call? not the shipping company. the retailer usually steps up and apologises, and then works to right what went wrong, even though it was totally out of their control.

that gap is sharma’s concern. the company loses control over the process. but, more importantly, there is nothing to control the customer’s emotions during that time. what can you do to reinforce that the customer made the right decision to buy the product and do business with you? how can you boost customer confidence and avoid buyer’s remorse?

this is an opportunity to add value with a branded moment.

for example, a customer buys shaving cream through an online retailer. in addition to the notice that the product has shipped, the company can now provide suggestions on how to best use the product. maybe it’s the middle of winter and the company sends a link to a video on how to protect your skin against dry and windy weather.

or perhaps the customer just bought a workbench from a specialist online hardware retailer. shortly after the purchase, the customer would welcome a video on how to put the workbench together, the space needed, the tools required, etc.

both of these are examples of a branded experience that happens while the customer waits for the merchandise to show up. innovative companies such as nordstrom, sephora and rei, who really understand customer journeys, are now capitalising on this new moment of truth.


carlzon’s original principle of finding and perfecting the moments of truth in the customer journey is as sound and useful today as it ever was. and extending the concept to today’s more holistic full user journey is the intelligent new iteration.

for me, it’s a concept that i still use today as much as i ever have. and reading how sharma has extended the theory to the online shopping age, i have now sharpened one of the better implements in my toolkit.

strategic marketing tools, marketing, moments of truth

Interim Reports – the unintended consequences

28 May 2019 by Mike Tisdall

So, listed companies no longer need to publish an Interim Report. Great: less work, less cost. But if that means you’re communicating with your retail shareholders and other stakeholders at only 12 month intervals,...

interim reports – the unintended consequences mike tisdall

so, listed companies no longer need to publish an interim report. great: less work, less cost.

but if that means you’re communicating with your retail shareholders and other stakeholders at only 12 month intervals, then houston, i think we have a problem.

how big the problem is depends a bit on your share register: instos vs retail shareholders. you’re no doubt talking to your institutional shareholders regularly – they’re probably making sure you are. but for retail shareholders, a year’s gulf can be very wide. absence probably does the very opposite of making the heart grow fonder.

radio silence equates to ‘don’t really care’. it disengages. it risks halting loyalty. they may not back you when you suddenly need their support. or they may not hold their shares.

it can lead to ignorance - your shareholders not keeping up with the exciting things you’re doing. and if they don’t keep up, the share price may not either.

if those are the unintended consequence of dropping the interim report, what can be done to mitigate the downsides?

find another way to talk to them mid year or more often . . .

keep the communication lines open in one way or another: keep sending the interim report is one option. but others include sending the report without financials. or a newsletter. or a newsy magazine. and those are the physical ways if you don’t care for trees that much.

but an email newsletter is probably your best avenue. that way you can communicate to all selected stakeholders, not just shareholders. and you get to talk to all your shareholders, not just those very few who have opted in to receive your report in the past. an email newsletter can engage pretty well if it’s crafted by someone who knows about messaging and design. the trick is to get your headline messages across in the email directly, and provide secondary and support messages with links to fuller stories on your website for those whose curiosity you’ve managed to pique.

can’t really do the above without a quality email database of course, so you may need to negotiate hard with your share registry to obtain what you need. or they may offer to organise the mailing for you. but in that case, i strongly recommend you take strict control of the messaging, design and html building rather than leave it to them . . . horses for courses.

interim reports, investor communication, stakeholder communication

6 insights on Integrated Reporting from Ravensdown

16 May 2019 by Mike Tisdall

Guest post on Ravensdown’s Integrated Reporting journey by Gareth Richards, Group Communications Manager To listen is to learn  Every human being can recognise is when they’re being listened to. ...

6 insights on integrated reporting from ravensdown mike tisdall

guest post on ravensdown’s integrated reporting journey by gareth richards, group communications manager

to listen is to learn 

every human being can recognise is when they’re being listened to. 

for me, having been involved on a three-year journey with ravensdown, i think that’s the place to start. and perhaps can be summed up with a question: how much does the process of listening form your strategy?  

not just listening to people like our neighbours who are concerned with dust, noise and their property values. but listening to the signals that alert any business to opportunity and risk. listening to the sceptics and antagonists who may have a grain of truth in what they are saying. listening to the story your own people tell when they are asked what your company does and why they are here.  

so let’s talk about our integrated reporting journey and the ravensdown’s story . . .


the changing role of ravensdown

founded in 1977 as a buying co-operative, the company was set up by farmers to scour the globe looking for mineral fertilisers and nutrients to import and manufacture. for 40 years, this enabled farmers to grow food for animals and humans that became the envy of the world. 

but in 2017, it was clear that the co-operative was much more complex than a simple import-and-process model. it had adapted to its environment. its advisors were seen as critical parts of the farm teams  - fertiliser is farming’s second largest expense. and our highly qualified consultants advising on environmental mitigation became the fastest growing part of the business. new technology was bringing new precision and traceability so the right amount of the right nutrient went in the right place. 

instead of being seen only as a fertiliser manufacturer, we needed to be seen as the farm nutrient and environmental experts. that was who we really were. but like all integrated reporting journeys, ravensdown’s started with “why we are here”.  

and through the normal, maze-like process with lots of blind corners that most companies go through, we found our way out of the maze and with a sharply focused purpose:

enabling smarter farming for a better new zealand 


the integrated reporting journey

for the past three years, i’ve worked with the cfo, internal auditor, leadership team and board, and our design agency, insight creative, as we’ve moved closer to integrated reporting. i thought i’d share six insights about the experience with you today. 

as a comms guy, stories are my meat and drink. i started doing this job before corporate social responsibility became a thing, but i knew things had really changed when the head of our audit and risk committee told me that the stories in our integrated report had to be punchy and relatable. it felt like all the advice i’d been giving corporate finance people for 20 years was being played back to me!   

so… six insights. good news. we’ve already covered one of them!  

1.    the power of listening 


2.    starting with why  

starting with why (simon sinek) means thinking broadly about the intersection and combination of capitals that you impact and that impact you. we look for connectiona joining of the dots.  

for example:  profit becomes an outcome not a purpose. value becomes the lens with which to view the entire business. risks become more specific and manageable. the forward view comes into focus. 

it takes time! and it’s hard. we must have changed our business model diagram 25 different times and that in the first year alone! 

in terms of reporting, instead of listing every concern a stakeholder has, we share how we’re going about learning what matters. 

instead of listing every action we’ve taken, we highlight which aspects of our strategy relate to those things that matter. 

once you’re understanding what’s important to your stakeholders and business, are clear on your purpose and ideas on how to progress towards that, now you come to the question of how are you going to demonstrate progress?  what are you going to be reporting on? 


3.   choose the right targets

we all know the phrase “what gets measured gets managed.” that’s a lot more catchy than my version: “what gets publicly disclosed as a target that is comparable over time, receives sustained focus”.  

this has proved a challenge across the three years we’ve been trying - board and leadership team need to understand the implications and possible unforeseen consequences of declaring a target to the world. it would be easy to do badly. 

closely related to number 3 is…  


4.    get the right data

most of our targets and data sets were by functional silos where specialist managers report upward. but the data that’s easiest to find is not often the right data. we had a lot of financial data but nowhere near enough non-financial data. the holy grail is the integrated thinking that’s needed as you consider integrated reporting and the report itself. 

an integrated measure is harder to conceptualise and but worth persevering with… 

in our case, an example is the strength of a superphosphate granule. this is impacted by operational or procurement choices, by training and handling protocols, by capital investment in processing machinery and storage sheds. we report on this as a material indicator (its value relates to reputation and environmental impacts – a dusty granule is bad for neighbours and for farmers spreading near waterways). 

we started with the rear view mirror approach to quality and then we could move on to the forward view of targets around improvements. 

5.    look to leverage

  • in the first two years, our online report went from a pdf on our website to our own microsite, that’s also a link at the bottom of all staff’s email signatures: a good way to encourage staff to read and understand! 
  • managers go through the print document with their teams and every employee gets a copy with a personal letter from the ceo.  
  • the website is optimised for phones and contains videos and other animations you can’t get from the paper document. 
  • this year much of the compliance related information will be on the website, so the document doesn’t blow out to a hundred pages. in fact, the digital domain frees up the printed format, so it can break conventions of a typical looking annual report. this year we will also be sharing the site a lot more via linkedin, twitter and facebook and we will be making the site more sophisticated in terms of structure.  


i’ve saved the most important for the end. and that is all about how you make a start…

6.    just make a start!

there are 19 parts of an integrated reporting framework so it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  

but the key thing is to make a start and build momentum. it’s like getting on a roundabout. doesn’t matter where you get on or where you are on the ride, but that you’re actually on board and have changed your perspective.  

we knew that we weren’t aiming for a fully-fledged, quality assured integrated report from year one. it was more the spirit of integrated reporting we were going after. we called them stakeholder reviews for the two years. this year we will call it an integrated report. but like any good journey, we’re still learning and gaining clarity. 


one thing we are clear on. our reporting is a process of establishing trust. through transparency, disclosure and frankness. 

we can’t be scared of a bad result. better that performance gaps are identified than accusations of cherry picking or green washing. 


the benefits of <ir> to ravensdown that we've already seen

  • increased understanding of value creation
  • created opportunities 
  • reduced silo thinking in the business
  • great morale – especially ahead of criticism e.g. from activists…  
  • longer term and aspirational thinking
  • innovative
  • improving what is measured – better reporting


gareth richards, ravensdown







integrated reporting, getting started on integrated reporting, , insight creative, ravensdown, gareth richards

Integrated Reporting: Connectivity of Information

02 Apr 2019 by Mike Tisdall

It’s one of the core principles of an Integrated Report (<IR>). But many clients seem to think it’s one of the hardest. We’ll get to that in a minute – but spoiler alert: it isn’t really. First,...

integrated reporting: connectivity of information mike tisdall

it’s one of the core principles of an integrated report (<ir>). but many clients seem to think it’s one of the hardest. we’ll get to that in a minute – but spoiler alert: it isn’t really.

first, let’s consider why the <ir> framework considers it an important principle. basically, it’s because it’s really not that useful to look at material issues in isolation. there are interdependencies there whether you’ve noticed them consciously or not. and if you can surface these connections and the trade-offs between issues, it becomes easier to understand just how they affect each other. which in turn influences decision-making.

and here’s that easy way to get started that i alluded to above: in my experience, even if an organisation hasn’t been through a formal integrated thinking process, threads naturally occur and it’s just a matter of using fresh eyes to look at the tapestry to find the sometimes not-so-obvious synergies. because – credit to your leadership - there’s usually a strategy at play and you can join the dots if you look closely enough. 

and while this isn’t as good as being crisply intentional in strategy activation, at least it gives you a place to start if you’re embarking on an integrated reporting journey in an organisation that hasn’t yet got a level of maturity in its integrated thinking.

most annual reports contain some form of case studies these days. they’re used to illustrate a strategy in action and provide proof points for directional statements. analyse your case studies. you may be surprised at how many of them tick more than one of your strategy boxes, and impact more than one of your stakeholder groups or desired outcomes.

once you’ve identified them, surface them and actively join the dots. explain how the examples deliver on your strategies or help you towards a stated kpi goal. different case studies can deliver to different goals of course, but you will probably find that some actually deliver to more than one.

here are a couple of examples from watercare and vector which illustrate how we’ve actively helped the reader connect case studies to more than one of the business’s goals and strategies.


note how each of these case studies reports back to watercare’s stated strategic goals (highlighted by the red boxes):


so, look closely at your in-market activities. you may be surprised that they meet more than just commercial objectives. and take another look at your stories about your people, the environment and the community – you may well find that each meets more than one of your stated strategies.

having got to this point, you can now start to be more intentional in your non-financial planning, goal setting and kpi measurements. before you know it, integrated thinking will be happening in your organisation.

integrated reporting, connectivity, going the dots, non-financial reporting

Integrated Reporting: Don’t aim for perfection. Just get in the mood and go.

19 Feb 2019 by Mike Tisdall

I see too many clients hesitating to get on the integrated reporting bus. Often because they perceive that there’s a lot of internal change needing to happen before this is possible. Sometimes it’s because...

integrated reporting: don’t aim for perfection. just get in the mood and go. mike tisdall

i see too many clients hesitating to get on the integrated reporting bus. often because they perceive that there’s a lot of internal change needing to happen before this is possible. sometimes it’s because they’re waiting for leadership and board to make such a far-reaching decision. but equally often it’s because they don’t know quite where to start. this article is designed to help you conquer all of the above and get started on the journey anyway.

certainly, if the aim is for a fully-fledged, assurance-quality integrated report, then a lot of ducks need to be lined up, and the board needs to make an active and mindful decision.

but here’s the thing: the <ir> report is not an absolute. so you don’t need to tick all their boxes to get started. even if you use the framework as it is intended – as a framework – to guide your approach, you’ll be on the bus. personally, i spent too long thinking of the <ir> principles as ‘must haves’ in total. i’ve since learnt that while this comprehensiveness is an end-game goal, it’s the ‘notion’ that has the most power. and the iirc (international integrated reporting council) themselves will applaud you for just starting on the journey, because they know you’ll only get better from there, over time.

i have <ir> clients that don’t call their report an integrated report but are starting to apply some of the core principles to their approach. they know that when they grow up they want to be a ‘real’ integrated report. but they also know that this is a game that you can’t master overnight.

so think about starting the integrated reporting journey as <ir> on trainer wheels. perhaps you can’t yet join all the dots between the various action streams to cross-credit cause and effect. perhaps you haven’t quite got the board across the line yet. but those things aren’t a barrier to applying the integrated reporting lens to your report.

so, where to start

the following are very subjective views on what principles you should include in order to start on the journey. a purist may well disagree – after all there are a whole 19 requirements in the <ir> framework, and some are more onerous than others. but what’s important here is the spirit - and in the spirit of ‘extended external reporting’ and using some the framework ideas in <ir>, here’s where i’d be thinking:

  1. tell the story of how you create value over time. this shows you understand your business drivers, how your business model makes money and has the right impacts on people and planet. if you do that right, the story should be unique, separating your company from others you’re competing with – for capital, for talent, for distribution, for consumers.
  2. purpose beyond profit. as soon as you start thinking about the impacts you’re having beyond money-making, somehow the ground shifts and you start thinking differently about business. the really strange thing is that the research shows that companies that think more broadly and apply systems thinking to their entire operation, end up making more money and lowering their cost of capital. go figure, but the facts speak for themselves.
  3. risk. being aware of future, potential, latent risk is the first step towards resilience to it. that’s making your business sustainable. and that’s my definition of ‘sustainability’. whether that’s competition risk, supply chain risk, talent risk, climate change risk – if you’ve got a plan to mitigate it, you’re more likely to survive. your capital providers, talent pool, suppliers and consumers tend to like survival.
  4. future focus. closely linked with risk, but also looping in opportunities, looking ahead and having clear strategies to optimise on both provides comfort and trust.
  5. strategy. lay out your core plan. what activations are you planning to achieve your purpose, mitigate risk, minimise harm, assure future sustainability, meet your stakeholders most important needs, and make the desired profit. belief equals trust.
  6. materiality. i have a far too simplistic view of materiality, i acknowledge. but where possible, i like to keep things simple. the big benefit of knowing what your stakeholders hold as most important means that you can focus your strategic plan around those – and here’s the free set of steak knives: you only need to report on those, keeping your report concise.
  7. connectivity. now we start to get a bit more woolly, and some things you do over there may be hard to prove affect what happens over here. but others are much easier to connect. if sanford don’t look after the ocean environment and fish stocks, for example, they may have trouble with their product volumes in a few years with kick-on risks in talent acquisition and regulatory controls among other fatal problems. so where you can show multiple impacts on your business strategy from a particular stance, initiative or policy, join the dots in your report.
  8. frank and balanced. openness and transparency is what’s expected now, whether it’s an integrated report or not. the whole notion of ‘extended external reporting’ is to build trust in the organisation through disclosure and transparency.

if you believe you can tell a story around most of the above eight points, then you’re well on your way to being able produce a report that’s in the right spirit. over the years, your company’s thinking will mature, the performance data will become available, your thinking and reporting will become more sophisticated, and one day you may feel comfortable to label your report an integrated report.

don’t wait until you can tick all 19 boxes before you start. use the <ir> framework as a principles touchstone and to shift your mindset, and get going at whatever level is right for your company.

integrated reporting, getting started on integrated reporting, , insight creative

Flying high

25 Oct 2018 by Mike Tisdall

Taking a deep dive into understanding our client’s businesses is always one of the most fascinating part of our jobs. Last Thursday Gabe and Holly were lucky enough to spend the morning with our lovely clients at...

flying high mike tisdall

taking a deep dive into understanding our client’s businesses is always one of the most fascinating part of our jobs.

last thursday gabe and holly were lucky enough to spend the morning with our lovely clients at airways. for those of you who don’t know a lot about airways, they provide our air navigation service and are responsible for monitoring and controlling the air traffic to ensure all aircrafts are travelling safely between airports in new zealand domestic and oceanic regions. their air traffic controllers are constantly in contact with the pilots arriving and departing new zealand.

after a work in progress meeting they headed over to the operations centre where their enculturation started.

as holly tells it, they were given a comprehensive overview: “did you know the airspace they control covers 26 million square kilometres  including the pacific and tasman oceans which extends from the south pole to 5 degrees south of the equator?!“

they learnt about the ins and outs of air traffic control, flight path management, the different stages of flight and procedures that follow each. they were tutored in the different flight maps and charts and got a solid understanding of what’s involved in air traffic control training.

“these were all demonstrated to us when we visited the operations centre. no work station can be left unattended and a full handover must be given before a team member can be dismissed.”

here’s one person from the team monitoring the aircrafts flying into auckland. 

holly continues: “from there we ventured up into the control tower where we had a full view of the runway and where three air traffic controllers were stationed. each controller was managing a different stage of flight and were busy chatting with the pilots. typically the training to be an air traffic controller takes 12 months, but with my 2 hours of training, the team felt i was qualified to at least put on the headphones and listen to the conversations!"


airways, client enculturation, insight creative

What exactly is 'brand'?

09 Oct 2018 by Mike Tisdall

It’s just one of those words, isn’t it? So open to interpretation. So dependent upon the predisposition of the listener or reader. Even after all these years in the branding and communication game, there are...

what exactly is 'brand'? mike tisdall

it’s just one of those words, isn’t it? so open to interpretation. so dependent upon the predisposition of the listener or reader. even after all these years in the branding and communication game, there are still plenty of client folk out there who hear ‘brand’ and think ‘logo’.

in my blog post on brand lingo, i talked about all the branding terms that get bandied about and attempted to lock down some logical definitions the help differentiate one from the other. but even the word ‘brand’ itself means different things to different people at different times. i alluded to that in the opening paragraphs of that earlier post, where i let slip my most favourite of definitions, jeff bezos’ “a brand is what people say about you after you leave the room.”

but over the years, i’ve actually quietly been collecting quite a hoard of definitions of the word. some of them are actually really good, others not so much. and from my select few favourites, i tend to pick the one most relevant to the client discussion at hand that will help them move their thinking forward in the most appropriate context.

the best ones, like bezos’ ‘after you leave the room’, have a go at deflecting thoughts of ‘logo’ and ‘visual identity’ to something a lot broader that captures the total sum of parts ethos.

here are a few more that i can find myself nodding to:

“a brand is a promise. it’s a promise that your company can keep. and you make and keep that promise in every marketing activity, every action, every corporate decision, every customer interaction.”

“a brand is an authentic reflection of the company’s true vision.” 

“a brand is the organising principle of how a company operates and communicates.”

“part art, part science, ‘brand’ is the difference between a bottle of soda and a bottle of coke.”


“a brand is really a way of remembering what something is like for future reference. something you value. something you feel attracted to.”


beyond the above succinct one-liners, i’ve also collected a few slightly more fulsome narratives that help give boundaries to the word ‘brand’.

“the brand is the character, style and purpose that serves as the foundation for your business, like the roots of a tree. you have to stop thinking of ‘the brand’ as a layer of polish that makes your brand pretty.”

“businesses often think about branding after they’ve built the core of their business, when the branding should have been the core of the business.”

and a series of sage phrases from brand strategist, matthew fenton, out of chicago:

“think ‘experience’ not ‘branding’, and your branding will get better.”

“branding is not about logos, taglines or heartstring-tugging ads – they are merely coats of paint.” 

“brands are built in the doing, not the saying.”


what’s your favourite definition of the ‘brand’ word? 

if we can narrow the frame of reference, individual words can actually mean what we think we’re saying. just don’t get me started on ‘sustainability’!

brand, branding, brand definition

Brand Lingo – let’s speak the same language

07 Aug 2018 by Mike Tisdall

Despite the fact that I deal with the term ‘brand’ on a daily basis, the irony is that I have a love/hate relationship with the word. And that’s because whenever a client uses the word, I have to stop them and...

brand lingo – let’s speak the same language mike tisdall

despite the fact that i deal with the term ‘brand’ on a daily basis, the irony is that i have a love/hate relationship with the word. and that’s because whenever a client uses the word, i have to stop them and ask them what they mean when using it because it means so many things to so many people. do they mean their logo? do they mean the brand colour? do they mean the customer experience? or are they using the word in the fullest sense of what i like to think the word really means – in jeff bezos’ words: “what people say about you after you leave the room”. 

and there are so many nuances within all that. so let’s have a look at some of the branding terms that get bandied about and define what they mean, how they describe slightly different things, and where they sometimes overlap:

brand equity
this is the commercial value of all associations and expectations that people have of a brand based on all their experiences with, and perceptions of, the brand over time. that sounds very academic, but think of it as the reservoir of goodwill that a brand can rely on, as long as the reservoir remains full. if people think highly of a brand, it enjoys positive brand equity, but when a brand consistently disappoints enough for people to talk about avoiding it, then it has negative brand equity.

the great thing about positive brand equity is that a company can charge more for a product under that brand; or introduce brand extensions so that the company can sell a wider range of products under that brand.

brand image
brand image is the sum total of perceptions resulting from all the experiences and knowledge someone has had of the brand. it is the impression of the brand in a consumer’s mind.

brand associations
anything a consumer brings to mind, consciously or unconsciously, when presented with the brand. these associations could be organisational, product related, symbolic or personified. they can include awareness, accessibility, value, relevance, differentiation, emotional connection, preference, usage, loyalty and vitality. for example, when somebody says kfc to me, i think of the colour red and an old southern american dude.

brand positioning
this is the way the brand is perceived comparatively within a given competitive set in the consumer’s mind. so it's all relative - a relevant differentiation is the most important aspect of brand positioning because it allows your brand to ‘own’ a distinctive position within your target customer's head. 

the brand’s brand position should be a function of the brand promise, and may relate to quality, innovation, leadership, value, prestige, trust, safety, reliability, performance, convenience, concern for customers, social responsibility, technological superiority etc.

brand essence
this is the heart and soul of the brand – a brand’s fundamental nature or quality, usually stated in two to three words. it’s often emotional and intangible and so speaks to the heart more than the head. examples include nike (‘innovation and inspiration’), southwest airlines (‘freedom’) and volvo (‘safety’). this is powerful stuff!

brand promise
sometimes called a brand value proposition, a brand promise is your brand telling the world what to expect from it. it states the differentiated benefits that are relevant and compelling to your consumer – they can be functional, experiential, emotional or self-expressive.

brand personality
basically, it’s a bunch of adjectives that describe the brand, such as fun, kind, safe, sincere, sophisticated, cheerful, old fashioned, reliable, progressive etc. it’s something to which the consumer can relate because, more often than not, it’s a set of human characteristics attributed to a brand name.

brand identity
this is where we get a bit closer to the stereotypical 'brand = logo' ignorance. your brand identity is a combination of sensory components that create recognition and represent the brand promise, such as what it looks like, what it sounds like, and sometimes, even what it smells like (think peter alexander or lush retail stores).

brand portfolio
the mix of brands and sub-brands owned by an organisation. these brands can sometimes be related in a ‘branded house’ configuration with overt connections to each other, and, conversely, they can be part of a ‘house of brands’ where the various brands aren’t obviously related to each other at all. basically, when you’ve got a handful of different brands or sub-brands, you need to start thinking about how they relate to each other or not. and most likley what you’ve currently got is some degree of chaos brought about by the legacy of past management decisions, some acquisitions along the way and some competitive realities involving strong brand equity situations that you dare not meddle with. and that’s where some ‘brand architecture’ planning can prove life-changing. see below.

brand architecture
brand architecture is a system that organises how a family of brands relate to one another. it indicates how many levels of hierarchy there are, which brands sit at which level in the hierarchy, which relate as brand/sub-brand, and which remain independent of each other.


and that's a good place to end, as brand architecture opens the door on another whole raft of branding jargon which we can perhaps take a look at when we’ve all had a lie down and a cup of tea. in the meantime, hopefully the above list and descriptions will help you separate the different notions in your mind, so that when we talk, we're talking the same lingo.

branding, brand essence, brand architecture, brand promise, brand identity, brand personality, brand portfolio, brand positioning

Sticking to your annual report timetable

03 Aug 2018 by Mike Tisdall

I’ve just spent two full days with about 20 annual report preparers on an integrated reporting training course. In amongst the learning and sharing experiences about preparing content for integrated reports, it...

sticking to your annual report timetable mike tisdall

i’ve just spent two full days with about 20 annual report preparers on an integrated reporting training course.

in amongst the learning and sharing experiences about preparing content for integrated reports, it became very clear that the internal process of herding the various cats within the organisation who are responsible for their own pieces of content can be a harrowing experience.

as annual report producers, we feel it hugely when clients don’t meet the contract that is the agreed timetable. currently we have 15 annual reports progressing their way through our artwork studio, and managing the logistics of typesetting and design turnarounds and checking all the changes accurately is an enormous challenge at the best of times. but when the client is late with their content – and more than one coincides in that regard – the pressure goes on us to catch the timetable up, and that’s usually physically impossible (although we always try our damnedest!).

"it became very clear that the internal process of herding the various cats within the organisation can be a harrowing experience."

and so i couldn’t help but have empathy with the individuals on the course. their task is a thankless one, often. and their demands on others in their organisation are often dismissed as less important than their own work and thus ignored. and because these contributors are often many levels senior to the poor content co-ordinator, the imbalance of power plays out very visibly.

occasionally companies will even outsource this co-ordination – and often writing – to a short-term internal or external contractor. well, if an internal employee has no clout, then you can imagine how well demands from some hired help is accepted (or not!). one attendee even told me of last year’s contractor whose contract wasn’t renewed this year because his efforts to deliver to the timeline were not taken at all well by those whose job it was to deliver content but failed to do so on time. and now the internal employee is being treated in much the same way. and this is from a major new zealand company who should, quite frankly, know better.

these projects are a massive undertaking for any organisation. but they’re not a voluntary exercise. companies don’t do this because they want to. they do it because they have to. and they need to do it to the best of their ability because so many critical people will form their views of the company – and make critical decisions on the company – as a result of the stories that are told, the future picture that is painted, the risks and opportunities that are highlighted, and the strategies that management are activating to achieve the company’s goals.

that’s no small thing.


so what’s required to grease the wheels for these projects?

first, leadership. the c-suite needs to send clear messages that the process is important to the business, important to the board, and set clear expectations that those contributing must meet their deadlines. often the target for this message is the members of the leadership team itself, so it falls to the ceo to make his requirements vividly clear.

second, the project co-ordinator. this role needs a loud and strong champion - his/her manager and department head. that manager also needs to set clear expectations and fiercely defend and support the project co-ordinator, taking the internal battles on personally if required to reset the tone. the project co-ordinator also needs a certain personality: dogged, persistent, strong, resilient, and yet always professional and polite. they also need the appropriate level of seniority and maturity to achieve the goals.

and finally, the internal process. there are a host of elements to be brought into play here. perhaps an initial meeting of all contributors where they are educated on the intricate and highly inter-dependent process, where domino effects can easily jeopardise the vital end delivery. perhaps a shared online project management system where every contributor’s role is mapped, tracked and monitored, and visibility is such that peers can see who’s letting the side down, whether it’s in content delivery or meeting their deadlines through the iteration and checking part of the process.

but in the end, it’s about the corporate culture. the working together. the seeing internal clients as ‘clients’ that need to be serviced just like external clients. and culture is established by the company’s senior leader.

it starts and ends right at the top.

image: the japan times / roger dahl
annual reports, timetable

SDG Bingo

14 Jun 2018 by Mike Tisdall

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) are great, so why are they making me feel uncomfortable? They set wonderful global targets to ‘ end poverty ,  protect the planet  and  ensure...

sdg bingo mike tisdall

the un sustainable development goals (unsdgs) are great, so why are they making me feel uncomfortable? they set wonderful global targets to ‘end povertyprotect the planet and ensure prosperity for all’ over the next 15 years. they’re resonating with our clients and matching non-financial activities to sdg icons is a highly discernible trend in our recent annual reports.

and so nearly every integrated or sustainability report that we work on today includes a smattering of sdg icons. 

in fact, almost every day i see evidence of an almost exponential ramping up of fervour about the sdgs. only last night i was at a seminar on charity fund-raising and one of the key strategies put forward by the speaker was the sdgs – in this instance by framing a funding application towards a company’s need to tick an sdg box or two.

"nearly every report that we work on today includes a smattering of sdg icons."

so, why do i feel uneasy?

perhaps it’s because i’ve been through the greenwashing era – a time of ‘band-wagon-jumping’ when some companies overstated their environmental credentials to be seen to be doing the right thing.

perhaps it’s because i get the sense that some companies are just being a tad too quick to jump on the sdg bandwagon. it’s actually pretty easy to ‘re-badge’ existing csr efforts to fit the sdg formula at a ‘lip service’ level.

perhaps it’s because i like the intent of the sdgs so much that i’m concerned about them being devalued by cavalier use.

but most of all, i think it’s because i believe that absolute authenticity and transparency works much more effectively than superficiality of badging. both because companies are rewarded for their honesty in the long term, and because in this age of social media, you'll be found out pretty quickly. the integrity of the use of the sdg icons comes when the depth of strategy and activity is genuinely driven towards improving the underlying goals in the lives of the people the company touches.

"i believe that absolute authenticity and transparency works much more effectively than superficiality of badging."

for me, the integrity test is to assess your strategies and operational initiatives against not just the name on the icon, but on the description that accompanies it. take ‘decent work and economic growth’ for example. does providing jobs and offering a wellness programme really ‘promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all’ when roughly half the world’s population still lives on the equivalent of about us$2 a day? read the actual wording around this particular sdg here - particularly the goal 8 targets section part way down the page - and you’ll see what i mean. in reality, are you only taking credit for solving a first world part of the problem? are you addressing the goal right through your supply chain?

and that’s only one example. i encourage you to read the wording accompanying all 17 goals before you tack your colours to these particular masts. you might well find that your association with some of them is trite, trivial and verging on overstatement.

"let’s not play sdg bingo to see how many boxes we can tick."

let’s not play sdg bingo to see how many boxes we can tick. let’s be authentic in our sustainability activities and how we report on them.

unsdgs, sdgs, sustainable development goals, corporate reporting, integrated reporting, sustainability reporting, csr

Storytelling for the Charities sector

03 Oct 2017 by Mike Tisdall

The charity sector in New Zealand is facing new reporting standards with the gradual adoption of Statement of Service Performance (SSP) in addition to the traditional financial reporting. RSM New Zealand, an...

storytelling for the charities sector mike tisdall

the charity sector in new zealand is facing new reporting standards with the gradual adoption of statement of service performance (ssp) in addition to the traditional financial reporting.

rsm new zealand, an accounting and audit firm with a leadership position in the not-for-profit sector, held a seminar in mid-september to coach management in the skills needed to meet the new requirements, report beyond financials, and optimise the telling of their story.  

insight’s founder and strategist, mike tisdall, outlined some key tools to help these organisations structure their thinking, understand their audiences, plan perception shifts, and simplify and clarify their key messaging. using mainly corporate best practice examples, mike was able to show the audience how storytelling can reach out to both hearts and minds by capturing the soul of the organisation, painting the vision and supporting the big picture with facts and data to indicate progress towards the goals.

examples from the corporate world included mercury, vector, sanford, auckland airport and ravensdown. but insight has also been applying these storytelling principles to selected nfps for a number of years, and shared a series of award winning reports for stand children’s services (previously children’s health camps) to show how the principles can easily make the transition from corporates to charities.

mike tisdall, storytelling, reporting, not-for-profits, charities sector, statements of service performance

5 Secret Sauce ingredients for an authentic annual report

01 Sep 2017 by Mike Tisdall

Telling your story powerfully is central to brand strategy, and when Mercury rebranded last year, their annual report was one of the first vehicles off the rank. Now winning the accolade of ‘Best International Annual...

5 secret sauce ingredients for an authentic annual report mike tisdall

telling your story powerfully is central to brand strategy, and when mercury rebranded last year, their annual report was one of the first vehicles off the rank. now winning the accolade of ‘best international annual report’ in 2017’s global arc awards, the report reinforces our assertion that annual reports are one of a company’s most powerful brand positioning assets.

it is now the key lens we look through when discussing investor communications with clients - because the annual report has become so much more than an investor communication. one ceo briefed me last reporting season that he wanted his annual report to be his new 'international calling card' because he had such a new and different story to tell. we delivered that in august.

when this 'corporate repositioning' trickle trend started to turn into a rapidly flowing river lat year, i asked myself whether the annual report was the right vehicle for this task - wondering whether a corporate profile and website upgrade wasn't the more appropriate approach. and then i realised that the annual report is being seen as the 'ultimate corporate profile' - because it has the gravitas, the stamp of corporate authority, signed by the board itself to send the strongest possible signal that this is who we are.

in august we launched two other reports with perception-shifting goals. the first was for vector - a report that signficantly changes the game in terms of what business they're in. and the second was ravensdown's first integrated annual report - taking a highly authentic approach by lifting the shrouds and exposing their soul. another report that will shift people's perceptions of the company.

we first saw the power of this 'brand soul' expression in the first integrated report we produced for sanford in 2014. the respect for sanford accelerated rapidly over the weeks and months following publication. the perception needle shifted demonstrably and people looked once again at the company and saw it with fresh eyes that matched its fresh leadership. this report too went on to win many awards, locally and internationally.

so what's the secret sauce here that has made these reports really 'work' for the companies behind them?

  • first, it's leadership. like all such things, it starts right at the top.
  • second, it's authenticity. these companies don't try to pull any wool. they embrace the notions of corporate citizenship, shared value creation and 'doing the right thing' and have embedded these values deepy within their company cultures. it ain't ever lip service. it's genuine behaviours, their core belief systems, the way they naturally think. and more and more, it's about transparency - believing that honesty and openness will win out over any concerns about feeding strategies to competitors. they've come to realise that a competitor might be able to copy a strategy, but they can't copy the 'package' of authenticity that gives it true differentiation. the companies are simply organised this way, from the top down. and they hire the right people who think incredibly responsibly. at the end of the day, it's about 'trust'.
  • third, the companies' strategies and visions are exceptionally well conceived and thoroughly thought through. they're elegant in their cohesion, with no hint of hedging bets, commercial dilution or dissonance.
  • fourth, the visions, values and implementation strategies have utter clarity and are very simply articulated - internally (critically important) as well as externally.
  • fifth, they work with us to clarify and amplify that articulation and adopt powerful storytelling techniques - both visual and voice.

we've shared our stories about vector, ravensdown and this year's mercury reports elsewhere on this website, but by way of explaining the above theories in practice, here's a little background about how we went about last year's mercury report that has just been judged last year's best international annual report by arc. 

the 2016 annual report was the first major publication following their rebrand from mighty river power, expressing everything the new brand stands for. it set the tone for how they wanted to be perceived from that day forward.

because the brand shift from mighty river power to mercury was so visually striking, our challenge was to not spook investors about the change but to clearly show continuity while boldly illustrating everything had changed under the new brand. no easy ask.

we made the new brand the hero, unfolding the brand story over the opening three spreads. showcasing the visual identity and positioning the brand as a new expression of their ongoing customer-led business strategy was key. 

a new strategy spread and business model diagram were introduced to tell the continuing investor story in a fresh way, more aligned with a more dynamic retail-led brand. magazine style case studies were used to showcase the brand story in action, highlighting how the core aspects of the brand manifest themselves every day in 'what matter most.' 

see our full case study in our work section

arc awards, best international annual report 2017, mercury 2016 annual report, insight creative

How much is design worth to the NZ economy?

02 Aug 2017 by Mike Tisdall

A new study by PWC released last week calculates design's economic contribution to New Zealand is $10.1 billion - yes, that's BILLION. Approximately 4.2 % of the country's total GDP. The research reveals that if...

how much is design worth to the nz economy? mike tisdall

a new study by pwc released last week calculates design's economic contribution to new zealand is $10.1 billion - yes, that's billion. approximately 4.2 % of the country's total gdp. the research reveals that if design were treated as an individual industry its contribution to the new zealand economy would be larger than agriculture and on a par with retail trade ($10.6 billion), and food, beverage and tobacco product manufacturing. the sector also provides approximately 94,200 fte design positions in new zealand, roughly 4.4 per cent of employment.

the value of design report was commissioned by designco, a consortium which comprises massey university’s college of creative arts, the designers institute of new zealand, otago polytechnic school of design, nzte, aut’s school of art and design, the auckland co-design lab, callaghan innovation and victoria university’s school of design. 

finance minister stephen joyce expressed his excitement in his forward to the report: “design is a powerful tool of the modern, interconnected world,” he said. “it is a key component of innovation, turning great ideas into services and products that consumers want to buy and use, it can help ensure that public services are user-friendly and more efficient, and it can help make cities more attractive places for citizens and skilled migrants to live and work. in short, these design-led firms are contributing to new zealand’s success as a diversified, resilient and growing economy.”

professor claire robinson, pro vice chancellor at massey's college of creative arts and convener of designco, was even more succinct. “there is a strong correlation between national prosperity, economic growth and a thriving design sector,” she said. “international evidence confirms that design leads to more competitive firms making and selling higher value products and services."

among designco’s recommendations for future actions are:

  • treasury to develop a national design strategy in collaboration with the new zealand design sector.
  • establish and fund a body similar to the uk design council responsible for the strategic coordination of design in new zealand, bringing together the design industry, research and education.
  • establish a programme of business support for the use of design by smes, similar to the nzte better by design programme.
  • increase targeted funding support for design-led service transformation in the public sector.
  • widen the current conceptualisation of stem to include creative arts subjects such as design and creative media production, and increase the efts funding for these subject areas.
  • establish a dedicated research fund for design researchers to access, and infrastructure to support the allocation of funds (separate from science, health or arts funding).

you can see the value of design report in full here.




design, economic contribution

Big Ideas start small

24 Jul 2017 by Mike Tisdall

In the June issue, CEO, Steven Giannoulis, tells NZMarketing magazine that 'good design should always deliver business results for the client'. In NZMarketing's research for the prior issue of the magazine, marketers...

big ideas start small mike tisdall

in the june issue, ceo, steven giannoulis, tells nzmarketing magazine that 'good design should always deliver business results for the client'. in nzmarketing's research for the prior issue of the magazine, marketers expressed their frustration at an industry generally more interested in winning creative awards than truly helping the client - something steven had been on the receiving end of when he worked client-side. this is part of the reason he does everything he can to ensure that the work that insight develops actually drives value for the client.

click the image to read the full article.


ideas, driving value

The Value of Reporting Bad News

06 Jul 2017 by Mike Tisdall

Guest Columnist: Craig Fisher of RSM Hayes Audit   "Funders want to see failure" This may initially seem like a strange statement from people who on behalf of their organisations have invested considerable...

the value of reporting bad news mike tisdall
guest columnist: craig fisher of rsm hayes audit


"funders want to see failure"

this may initially seem like a strange statement from people who on behalf of their organisations have invested considerable sums of money with an express desire to achieve successful outcomes. and even more so when you learn and appreciate the very detailed assessment and due diligence processes that these particular funders undertake before making any decision to fund a charitable initiative.

hence the statement appeared worthy of pondering and some unpicking. the rationale behind my enlightened funder friends' statement is that theyare realists. by virtue of being human and part of the world we all get to "enjoy" a range of experiences every day. any experience is intrinsically valuable, and especially negative ones. but only as long as one is aware of it, and then able to objectively analyse it to seek to understand what happened and why.  and then most importantly; to take some remedial, corrective, or different action in the future as a result.



we learn more from our mistakes than our successes

this is a life lesson well worth learning. we would all like a life where everything progressed smoothly and to plan. but sadly that is just not realistic. (or at least not in the world i and all the organisations i deal with live in!). mistakes or failures can often be painful, soul destroying experiences. as with most painful things it is generally human nature to do our utmost to avoid them. and this includes trying to not even think about them to avoid re-living the pain mentally. but such avoidance (and let's be honest; some of us have got very good through years of practice and experience at avoiding confronting painful things) is actually a lost opportunity. 

our failures, mistakes and other challenges in life when things haven't gone to plan are actually a gift. if they haven't killed us and our organisations, then they represent a fantastic opportunity for learning. 

modern start-ups and software development also provide useful learning with the concept of "fast failure". recognition that you are likely to need to try lots of different things before you succeed. hence, it is best you do this as quickly and inexpensively as possible. 

how does all this apply to organisational reporting?

i've also been thinking about the value of reporting bad news in the context of the requirement for service performance reporting. this new requirement for registered charities in new zealand is already impacting tier 3 & 4 charities and will be impacting tier 1 & 2 in the not too distant future. the service performance reporting essentially requires them to report what they set out to achieve, and what they actually achieved. 

when you consider that this reporting is intended to, and i believe will, become a key communication vehicle to stakeholders, there is a natural tendency to want to present one's organisation and its experiences in the best possible light. after all, who doesn’t like to get dressed up when they go out in public.

but have you ever read what you were expecting to be an informational report, whether it be from a corporate or a charitable organisation, that just read like a marketing or promotional tool? i'm sure you have and i am equally sure that your reaction to it was fairly similar to most people - our natural scepticism tends to kick in, and we often quickly discount the truth, or the value of the information. 

for this reason one of the qualitative characteristic requirements for service performance reporting is "faithful representation".  this is attained when information is complete, neutral, and free from material error. neutrality is the absence of bias. hence for service performance information to be neutral it needs to report on both favourable and unfavourable aspects of the entity's service performance in an unbiased manner. 

so back to my enlightened funder friends; they are realists and hence they want to see the real story. they will not "mark organisations down" just because they show some bad news as well as the good - as long as it is clear that the organisation has got value from their negative lesson and hopefully can improve their future experiences as a result. 

so don't be afraid of bad news. there is nothing wrong with it as long as it can be explained and contextualised, and the organisation can show what it has learned and hopefully will do differently as a result in future. 

interesting resources

if you want to explore this topic further, the following link from a coffee chat with a be accessible team member and founding member of the fail club may assist you in further peeling the onion of failure: 


learn more about craig fisher here.
transparency, reputation, trust building, reporting, bad news

More international awards

22 Jun 2017 by Mike Tisdall

At the Australasian Reporting Awards held in Melbourne on 21 June, two of Insight's clients were recognised for their successes. Sanford The  2016 Sanford Annual Report  won the Integrated Reporting...

more international awards mike tisdall

at the australasian reporting awards held in melbourne on 21 june, two of insight's clients were recognised for their successes.


the 2016 sanford annual report won the integrated reporting category and a gold award. it was also a finalist for both the sustainability reporting award, and the supreme report of the year.

here are a few of the judges’ comments:

“an excellent, well rounded application of the integrated reporting framework, with a good balance of narrative, tables, graphs and stories making the content reader friendly.” integrated report award

“for such a large complex organisation organisation, this report presents a picture of simplicity.  the coverage of areas of material interest to sanford stakeholders is exemplary.” gold award


nz super fund

the 2016 nz superannuation fund annual report won a gold award and the public sector governance category. the supporting annual review microsite was also a finalist in the online reporting category. this repeats their success at the 2016 awards.

ara, awards, annual report, integrated report,

Airways appoints Insight Creative as their design agency

12 Jun 2017 by Mike Tisdall

We're excited to have been appointed as Airways Corporation's design & digital agency after a rigorous competitive pitch. Airways controls all domestic and international air traffic across 30 million square...

airways appoints insight creative as their design agency mike tisdall

we're excited to have been appointed as airways corporation's design & digital agency after a rigorous competitive pitch.

airways controls all domestic and international air traffic across 30 million square kilometres of airspace in new zealand and over the pacific, handling over 1 million air traffic movements a year.

but what's a little less known in nz is that they are renowned globally for leading innovation and development in the aviation sector, with 780 staff delivering air navigation and air traffic management consultancy and training services in over 65 countries!

it's going to be a fascinating and fun journey . . .

airways, insight creative

Tamaki Regeneration drop in a big box

16 Mar 2017 by Mike Tisdall

Our client, Tāmaki  Regeneration Company, really want people to know what's happening in the Tāmaki , Glen Innes and Panmure area. So they've dropped a big box into the neighbourhood that opens next Monday. ...

tamaki regeneration drop in a big box mike tisdall

our client, tāmaki regeneration company, really want people to know what's happening in the tāmaki, glen innes and panmure area. so they've dropped a big box into the neighbourhood that opens next monday.

the container will move around within the tāmaki community - to community events or neighbourhoods breaking new ground. when open, the box will be manned by tāmaki representatives and the inside features detailed information regarding new housing developments, the story of tāmaki and what regeneration means, as well as a timeline, progress and future projects. and a touchscreen featuring interactive maps.

the container is powered by solar panels and includes a retractable awning to ensure it can operate in all weather conditions. our design is bold and bright, and on message: tāmaki is an awesome place to be!


tamaki regeneration, marketing, community engagement

It's international women's day . . .

08 Mar 2017 by Mike Tisdall

. . . and we enjoy the talent of a wonderfully diverse - and international - group of women.   ...

it's international women's day . . . mike tisdall

. . . and we enjoy the talent of a wonderfully diverse - and international - group of women.


insight, diversity, international, women

Something special for NZSO’s 70th

07 Mar 2017 by Mike Tisdall

The first ever concert of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) was held on this day in 1947. 70 years on and they are still going strong, attracting the cream of talent from New Zealand and around the world....

something special for nzso’s 70th mike tisdall

the first ever concert of the new zealand symphony orchestra (nzso) was held on this day in 1947. 70 years on and they are still going strong, attracting the cream of talent from new zealand and around the world. globally applauded and grammy-nominated, yet they still put all their passion and energy into entertaining and delighting kiwi audiences right round the country. happy birthday nzso, you make us very proud kiwis.

nzso has been a client of ours for three years and we are delighted to have helped them tell their brand story, grow their ticket sales and attract new audiences. they represent the pinnacle of creative excellence, inspiring us to lift our game to match theirs.

so what do you have on your 70th birthday? cake of course and our team were pleased to be a able to celebrate with them, presenting them with this special hand-made card designed exclusively by our creative director, brian slade.

nzso, 70th birthday, congratulations

Massive success on the world stage

18 Jan 2017 by Mike Tisdall

When Graphis recognises your work as world class and publishes it in their respected biennial book, you know you're doing quality work. And we've been there a few times before over our 40 years. But to see six of...

massive success on the world stage mike tisdall

when graphis recognises your work as world class and publishes it in their respected biennial book, you know you're doing quality work. and we've been there a few times before over our 40 years.

but to see six of our projects in one book, with five golds and one silver - well, even we were feeling pretty good about what we come to work every day to do!

(with thanks to sanford, ebos, stand children's services and vital healthcare property trust for entrusting us with you communications).


graphic, annual reports, gold winner, insight creative

Inside Out Branding

03 Nov 2016 by Mike Tisdall

The November issue of Idealog magazine features quality branding advice from our CEO, Steven Giannoulis. Some particular gems: "Making the brand rhetoric true has wide-reaching implications, requiring a review of...

inside out branding mike tisdall

the november issue of idealog magazine features quality branding advice from our ceo, steven giannoulis. some particular gems: "making the brand rhetoric true has wide-reaching implications, requiring a review of everything from organisational design, culture, sales practices, products and services and operational processes." and "in many ways, developing an appealing brand and sales story is the easy bit. making them true is how brands go to that next level in creating enduring value."

click the image to read.


Silver for Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei

18 Oct 2016 by Mike Tisdall

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei's 2015 Annual Report suite has been awarded Silver in the 2016 Best Awards among an elite field in the Ngā Aho category. Ngā Aho is the Network fo Maori Design professionals who partner with...

silver for ngāti whātua Ōrākei mike tisdall

ngāti whātua Ōrākei's 2015 annual report suite has been awarded silver in the 2016 best awards among an elite field in the ngā aho category.

ngā aho is the network fo maori design professionals who partner with the designers institute of new zealand to award design that reflects a clear understanding of who we are and where we are in our unique corner of moana nui a kiwa, the pacific ocean, and that results from meaningful collaboration. 

a full case study tracing the communication strategy and creative solution for this project can be viewed here.

overall, insight creative achieved four finalists in this year's best awards.


ngati whatua, best awards,

And we win again, and again, and again and again

11 Aug 2016 by Mike Tisdall

NZ may not be doing too well in the Rio Olympics, but Insight is winning golds, slivers and bronzes where it really matters: the New York based international Annual Report Competition (ARC Awards). Gold: ...

and we win again, and again, and again and again mike tisdall

nz may not be doing too well in the rio olympics, but insight is winning golds, slivers and bronzes where it really matters: the new york based international annual report competition (arc awards).

gold: sanford. the best combined annual and sustainability report in the world (they don’t have an integrated report category yet):


silver: nz super fund. with no gold awarded, it's still the best pension fund annual report in the world:


silver: stand children's services. the second best charitable organisation annual report in the world:


bronze: auckland international airport. the third best airport management annual report in the world:

this is effective design that is driven by the collective collaboration of our strategists and creative talents. you can read in depth case studies on the gold and silver winners here on this website. to help you find them easily, we've collected them together for you right here.



arc awards, design awards, annual reports

Awards, awards and more awards

22 Jun 2016 by Mike Tisdall

Last week's Australasian Reporting Awards (ARA) resulted in massive success for every one of our clients who entered (all two of them!) But 100% success is still 100% success. And as Insight is the common denominator,...

awards, awards and more awards mike tisdall

last week's australasian reporting awards (ara) resulted in massive success for every one of our clients who entered (all two of them!) but 100% success is still 100% success. and as insight is the common denominator, let's draw this achievement to your attention.


nz super fund

not only did the 2015 nz super fund annual report receive a gold award (one of only four new zealand companies to receive a gold), it also won best of two categories in the special awards:

winner, governance reporting - public sector, and

winner, online reporting - public sector

and all this on top of last month's win as best annual report in the 2016 asia-pacific excellence awards

view the printed report case study here, and the online version here.


sanford limited

our sanford integrated report also made a big impact at the awards, also winning a gold award, and also taking out a total of three categories in the special awards:

winner, sustainability reporting award - private sector

winner, integrated reporting

winner, ara hong kong sustainability award

view our case study on this integrated report here.


congratulations too, to the only other new zealand company to win a special award: watercare services (sustainability reporting award - other).








ara awards, sanford, nz super, winners

Trends in Annual Reporting

06 May 2016 by Mike Tisdall

We often get asked by our clients about what the trends are in annual reporting. Sometimes I wonder why, because most actually stay on their conservative paths. But some brave few follow through and strive to find...

trends in annual reporting mike tisdall

we often get asked by our clients about what the trends are in annual reporting. sometimes i wonder why, because most actually stay on their conservative paths. but some brave few follow through and strive to find more effective ways to communicate with their shareholder base.

some of the trends currently playing out have actually been quietly influencing reporting for a few years now, but others are quite new a little more radical.

the greatest shift is that because the structural rules are now so few, it has become possible to approach every company’s report with a blank sheet of paper and create a unique plan that is bespoke to the company’s situation, needs and philosophies rather than the straightjacket of what most companies still sense that an annual report should be, based on historical tradition.

let’s whip through some of the more notable trends. and then, if you want to know more, you can download the more detailed white paper that explores each of these trends in more detail.



  1. first principles: it's about the investor brand, at its core. the report is merely a component in a much bigger strategic year-long communication plan, which in turn should be designed as part of a longer-term investor brand plan. all annual reporting decisions should align back to this touchstone and not be made in isolation.

  2. anything goes. now that regulations no longer dictate a prescribed format, what each company does for their annual reporting depends on the company, its view of the world, its appetite for best practice communication, its register make-up, its size, what its peer group are doing - and most commonly, the proportion and influence of its retail shareholder base vs its institutional investor base. because the legal requirements really only apply to the financials and compliance components, the opportunity for communicators is to approach how they choose to tell their investment story in many different ways.
  3. integrated reporting (see in-depth blog lost on integrated reporting) is making traction and more new zealand companies are actively exploring this to some degree. it requires a major change in thinking. but transparent reporting of all material issues, and their future effect on the company's longer-term outlook, are factors that will grow in importance and become more and more expected, whether labeled as integrated reporting or not.
  4. storytelling continues to mark the best practice reports - the back stories, the human impact, the strategies, the emotional connection. but not all companies agree that this approach is appropriate to them.
  5. online is important, but there are many ways to skin that cat. but the important point to register is that online is a 'pull' channel: people have to make the effort to go there for it to be effective.
  6. the opt-in gap is a real one. the percentage of shareholders who opt in to receive a copy of the annual report averages around 10% of the shareholder base internationally. the company must decide whether the 'push' channel necessary to plug the 90% gap of unengaged shareholders is a viable one for them (i.e. a printed/mailed shareholder review/ annual report/ newsletter), or whether that investment doesn’t provide a meaningful return.

 for a more detailed explanation of the above brief summaries, download the full white paper here.


Insight into Integrated Reporting

28 Apr 2016 by Mike Tisdall

Insight into Integrated Reporting If you’re in the field of investor relations, the jungle drums have probably already informed you of the impending avalanche of ‘Integrated Reporting’ (referred to...

insight into integrated reporting mike tisdall

insight into integrated reporting

if you’re in the field of investor relations, the jungle drums have probably already informed you of the impending avalanche of ‘integrated reporting’ (referred to internationally as <ir>).

it’s early days, but because of the many listed clients we work with, we’re in a pretty good position to watch the trends play out and see where the patterns lie. in fact, we’ve now produced two integrated reports, for sanford. 

because the subject is gaining some buzz, there’s every chance that if your ceo doesn’t raise the question, someone on your board will. the temperature was raised in the last couple of weeks by the visit and speaking rounds of paul druckman, the london-based ceo of iirc (the international integrated reporting council). paul spoke publicly at the university of auckland, a sustainable business council breakfast and met with influential government ministries. i also had the privilege of spending a couple of hours with peter privately.

paul druckman, ceo, international integrated reporting council


how quickly will we see local listed companies diving into producing fully-fledged integrated reports like sanford? it’s hard to tell, because of the mindset shift required, the amount of work to measure what the framework requires you to measure, and boards’ perceived liability over future-focused utterances on value creation. 


just what is an integrated report?

the new <ir> framework urges companies to turn a spotlight on how their strategy and business model creates value over time. 

companies are encouraged to tell a clear, concise story to investors about future prospects, taking into account all the resources and relationships used by the business, not just the financials. this way, investors and other stakeholders will be able to determine if the business model is resilient over the medium and long terms. 

adopting a holistic approach to reporting expects you to report on the connectivity of all these resources, relationships and financials; for example, divining the non-financial impacts in $ terms in the medium and long term - a big challenge for most companies. in this regard, an integrated report differs materially from a siloed triple bottom line report. the <ir> evolution breakthrough comes when you can report on the interdependencies between them and the future likely affect on value.

fundamentally, it flips the question ‘what impacts does your business model make on such things as your people, your community and the environment?’ on its head: to answer the direct opposite question: ‘what impact will those factors have on your business in the short, medium and long term - and therefore, what are you doing now to mitigate or leverage them?’


is it good for business?

there is much to commend the <ir> framework.  

the shift in thinking applied to how you communicate to your stakeholders will improve what you report, making it more meaningful, believable and future focused because it prompts companies to think about their reporting in a ‘joined up’ manner. 

but perhaps the greatest benefit is that it drives board and management to look at their whole business through this much more integrated and holistic lens. they’re finding that this can lead to stronger cross-functional communications, more productive dialogue among employees at all levels across business activities, and more meaningful dialogue with external stakeholders. 

those who think deeply about such things expect that the payoff for companies that do this right will be lower cost of capital.


how does it relate to sustainability reports?

while <ir> is principles-based and provides a good practice framework, sustainability reporting generally abides to the more rules-based and usually audited gri process.

elements of both financial reporting and sustainability reporting would be included in an integrated report if the information is relevant to how your organisation creates and sustains value. this would require assessing the connectivity and interdependencies between your business model, the context in which you operate, and the resources and relationships on which you rely and that you affect. 

companies that are already collecting quality metrics on their environmental and people impacts for csr reports will find it easier to make the step up to integrated reporting because much of the data will be at hand to tell a connected story.

but a separate detailed sustainability report may still be required, depending on the degree of complexity involved in what you report on. 

some companies, such as sanford, have decided that their integrated report should combine all factors and be a single source of transparent information.


what does it all mean for you?

the decision to pursue an integrated report is not for the faint hearted. it requires a major commitment for a total change in internal processes and business view to be meaningful. 

it requires you to really work to identify what’s material to your business in terms of value creation over time. that means consulting stakeholders broadly to ascertain material issues, and having enough information and data to be able to talk clearly about the impacts that your operations have on all your inputs (financial, manufactured, intellectual, human, social, relationship, and natural).

it requires an 'integrated thinking' approach to your business before you can realistically report in an integrated way.

it requires a clear explanation of your business model, and how it adds to or subtracts from your various inputs to result in your various outputs.

it requires you to expose your strategies and the expected impacts that these will have on your future value creation. many boards find this challenging.

and it expects you to report on the interdependencies of all your activities, how they interact and how that interaction will affect your performance over time.

our sense is that certain types of companies/sectors will feel more need or pressure than others to move in this direction. companies with the highest sense of responsibility to think about their business in this way tend to come from those industry sectors that rely on or affect natural resources, such as energy companies, mining and resource companies, and food harvestors. however, the degree of difficulty in measuring, reporting and mitigating their impacts also means that the journey takes more time. in reality, we are seeing more integrated reporting activity coming from from entities with less environmental impact, and arguably more people/society impact, such as banks and property companies, probably because the material impacts are easier to identify and measure – or, more cynically perhaps, aren’t as sensitive to negative publicity from their disclosures.

many companies will simply find the process too challenging or will find it hard to find the roi given the lower material impact of their business activities.

but while the hurdles may constrain your ability to produce a bona fide integrated report, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t be reporting to your stakeholders about your responsible citizenship and how those initiatives are likely to affect your business in the future. and if you can demonstrate that the initiatives are good business practice that also increase revenue or save cost – or sustain your social licence to operate - then ‘win-win’ is a winning message anyway.


our sense of the immediate future

we’re not convinced that the current ‘hot topic’ buzz will turn into a wholesale shift to integrated reports in the short term. we believe that many will feel the pressure, explore the topic, discuss with their boards, and delay until it makes more sense for the organisation.

however, where there’s smoke there’s fire, and we believe that the thinking processes inherent in the <ir> framework will influence and infiltrate what you report – and over time, more components of the framework will be fulfilled. 


want to know more?

we are always available to help and advise on your stakeholder communication needs. speak to your account director or call me direct on 09 919 6002.

the sanford case studies on our website provide an insight into what these projects entailed. you can also view their 2014 and 2015 reports here and here.


this video inteview with paul druckman does a great job of outlining the principles and purpose of the movement towards integrated reporting.

the <ir> framework guidlines can be downloaded here.



mike tisdall
insight creative founder and strategist


integrated reporting

Spirit of ANZAC

20 Apr 2016 by Mike Tisdall

  This Thursday 21st April and Friday 22nd April, our client the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra continues to commemorate the centenary of the First World War in a special concert of remembrance and...

spirit of anzac mike tisdall
this thursday 21st april and friday 22nd april, our client the new zealand symphony orchestra continues to commemorate the centenary of the first world war in a special concert of remembrance and thanksgiving. inspired by three very different aspects of the conflict: gallipoli, mortality, and the challenging aspect of desertion. three moving pieces feature in this performance that is reflective, stirring, frightening and beautiful. 
the design for this signature event in the orchestra’s calender features a solitary poppy, focused, vulnerable yet resolute. in honour of each individual anzac life lost.
tickets for these concerts are available from ticketek (wellington concert) and ticketmaster (auckland concert).
nzso, anzac, concert

Yet more evidence of our effective work

03 Feb 2016 by Mike Tisdall

Our 2015 NZ Super Fund Annual Report has been named winner of the Annual Report category in the Asia-Pacific Excellence Awards 2015.   The Awards honour outstanding achievements in the fields of PR and...

yet more evidence of our effective work mike tisdall
our 2015 nz super fund annual report has been named winner of the annual report category in the asia-pacific excellence awards 2015.
the awards honour outstanding achievements in the fields of pr and communications.
“the annual report of the nz super fund is a best practice example of transparent, comprehensive reporting by a sovereign wealth fund. it features clear explanations of complex financial information; consistent benchmarks; and a strong creative theme that illustrates the fund’s purpose. case studies provide insights into investments and events, and an online microsite complements the full report.”
congratulations to the nz super fund communications team and to our own team who worked on this project.
nz super fund, asia pacific excellence award

McKinsey's four elements of design-driven culture

21 Oct 2015 by Mike Tisdall

Building a design-driven culture It’s not enough to just sell a product or service—companies must truly engage with their customers. A recent research paper from McKinsey suggests how experience design can be...

mckinsey's four elements of design-driven culture mike tisdall

building a design-driven culture

it’s not enough to just sell a product or service—companies must truly engage with their customers. a recent research paper from mckinsey suggests how experience design can be embedded in your organization:


really understanding the customer:

this means going well beyond understanding what customers want to truly uncovering why they want it. design-driven companies turn to ethnographers and cultural anthropologists to gain insights on empathy. they want to know exactly what motivates people, what bothers them, and where there are opportunities for creating delightful experiences.

bringing empathy to the organization:

make sure the right people with the right skill set are in the right place. that means a chief design leader is at the table where strategic decisions are made. he or she must bring the customer’s point of view to business decisions, translate business goals into customer-friendly initiatives, and build a culture in which employees think about how what they do affects customers.

designing in real time:

a “braided” approach to business combines design, business strategy, and technology. these functions should work together to make decisions, ensure that the designed journey aligns with the business strategy and is delivering value and keep customer experience a top-of-mind issue.

acting quickly:

good design is fast. that means getting a product to market quickly, which depends on rapid prototyping, frequent iteration and adjustments based on real customer feedback. in a design-driven culture, companies are unafraid to release a product that is not totally perfect. that means going to market with a minimally viable product, the better to learn from customer feedback, incorporate it and then build and release the next version.


see the full mckinsey insights article here

Why design is more than meets the eye

21 Oct 2015 by Mike Tisdall

From NBR, Friday 16 October Design was never about making products more attractive. It’s now treated as a way of thinking: a creative process that spans entire organisations, driven by the desire to better...

why design is more than meets the eye mike tisdall

from nbr, friday 16 october

design was never about making products more attractive.

it’s now treated as a way of thinking: a creative process that spans entire organisations, driven by the desire to better understand and meet consumer needs.

last week’s design institute awards attracted around 1000 industry participants yet the dominant impression was that their potential is being wasted. noel brown, an awards judge and a director of design firm dna, says the majority of companies still use design only as a tactic.

“not many and very few really big businesses are joining all the dots and using design strategically,” he says. “at the heart of being better is really understanding your customers, understanding them so deeply you can predict what they will value, respond to and, of course, buy. gaining this insight and then imaginatively delivering on it is design.”

mr brown speaks for many who say strategic use of design means organising the business around the goal. “they have to alter the way they control risks, the way they invest and the way they manage,” he says. “the design process doesn’t fit neatly within corporate lines of control and the design mind-set doesn’t run on straight lines. it is always challenging – and uncomfortable.”

mr brown co-convened the best effect category, which was judged for the impact of design on the business. the winner, menswear chain barkers, was a standout example. “in some commercial difficulty they radically redesigned the way they do business, with the wants, needs, dreams and whims of their customers firmly in mind,” mr brown says. “their clothing, stores, communication and more have been reimagined to win and hold the heart, heads and wallets of their customers.”

another example is powershop, a winner at previous awards. a start-up launched by meridian energy, it set out to make people care about the energy they used, how it was generated and where they bought it. “they started by really understanding what would move people from their indifference,” mr brown says. “several years down the track they have a strong, loyal and growing base of customers who go so far as to monitor their power usage regularly on their mobile app and change when and how they buy to optimise financial and environmental savings.”

design stories always mention steve jobs, who created the world’s most valuable company with what he called “magical design.” when he died, “people wanted to know what this design thing he did was,” says kleiner perkins caufield & byers design partner john maeda, who was interviewed by mckinsey for a recent research paper. “how is that the advent of mobile is fundamentally changing the need to think about design, the interaction and the experience in a substantive way?” he asks, adding somewhat cryptically: “if you think about design adding value, a lot of what people don’t understand is that sometimes the best design consultants will tell you not to design it.”

design, as you will have gathered, can be hard to define. but an evening spent with a thousand others seeing hundreds of examples provides one answer: you know when you see it.


nevil gibson, nbr

oragnisation design,

"The definition of what excellent graphic design can do'

13 Oct 2015 by Mike Tisdall

Enlightening article in today's Quartz Daily on logo designer, Michael Bierut, under the headline: 'Michael Bierut is the definition of what excellent graphic design can do' You can read it here . ...

"the definition of what excellent graphic design can do' mike tisdall

enlightening article in today's quartz daily on logo designer, michael bierut, under the headline: 'michael bierut is the definition of what excellent graphic design can do'

you can read it here.

Our views sought on the new bank notes

12 Oct 2015 by Mike Tisdall

Insight's Creative Director, Brian Slade, was recently asked by StopPress for his erudite views on the design of New Zealand's new bank notes. See what he had to say here .  ...

our views sought on the new bank notes mike tisdall

insight's creative director, brian slade, was recently asked by stoppress for his erudite views on the design of new zealand's new bank notes. see what he had to say here.


design, bank notes

IBBY Congress wins Best Award

12 Oct 2015 by Mike Tisdall

Congratulations to our brave client, IBBY Congress 2016, for their Bronze Award in the 2016 Best Awards Small Brand Identity category. They allowed us the creative freedom to develop a cut through brand, website and...

ibby congress wins best award mike tisdall

congratulations to our brave client, ibby congress 2016, for their bronze award in the 2016 best awards small brand identity category.

they allowed us the creative freedom to develop a cut through brand, website and promotional material to attract delegates to the 35th international congress on children’s literature – the first time ever in new zealand and only the second time in the southern hemisphere.

the creative approach recognises that the tyranny of distance dictates that the congress has to sell not only the congress, but also the bucket list chance to visit new zealand.

you can see the marketing case study here. and the website case study here. or visit the full website itself here.

Kermadecs programme results in success

29 Sep 2015 by Mike Tisdall

Today, at the United Nations, John Key announced that the waters around the Kermadec Islands would become one of the largest ocean sanctuaries in the world. Just over 5 years ago we started working with PEW...

kermadecs programme results in success mike tisdall

today, at the united nations, john key announced that the waters around the kermadec islands would become one of the largest ocean sanctuaries in the world.

just over 5 years ago we started working with pew charitable trust to make this happen. we knew that the first step was to raise public and political consciousness around the uniqueness and fragility of the waters above the stunning kermadec trench. 

our goal was to make the invisible visible, bringing the beauty of the kermedecs to the forefront and reinforcing with politicians and other influencers the importance of preserving this naturally beautiful landscape. 

that programme kicked off with a rallying visual identity, an awareness building website and a scientific symposium at te papa - all designed to focus informed attention upon this unique natural cornucopia on our doorstep. the lobbying pressure was kept up with a whole lot of marketing, promotional and lobbying material. and then we developed the next phase of the programme with a view to creating a 'long and enduring tail' to this campaign - working closely with pew, we arranged for a group of new zealand artists to hitch a berth on an nz navy frigate following the kermadec trench up to raoul island. their resulting inspiring works have now travelled the length and breadth of new zealand's leading art galleries, creating more awareness and drawing more attention to this exceptional place and its vulnerability, and are now working their way around the world.

the programme followed the classic aida behaviour change formula: raising awareness of the kermadecs, arousing interest in the area's specialness, stimulating desire to protect it, and finally prompting the action we have seen announced this morning.

we are exceptionally proud of our work and the role it has played to achieving this incredible result. we believe we have made a significant contribution to our client and to our environment.

read more about the work we did on our website case studies:

a place to visit in your imagination - the kermadecs website

visual feast to fuel deep conversation - the kermadecs science symposium




kermadecs, lobbying, design

Christchurch: you can see the momentum now . . .

14 Sep 2015 by Mike Tisdall

We’ve worked with the team at CERA & CCDU for over 4 years now. We've seen first hand how hard they work for the people of Christchurch - and just how tough a challenge the rebuild actually is. They truly are...

christchurch: you can see the momentum now . . . mike tisdall

we’ve worked with the team at cera & ccdu for over 4 years now. we've seen first hand how hard they work for the people of christchurch - and just how tough a challenge the rebuild actually is. they truly are great bunch of people whose efforts mainly go unrecognised or are undervalued, so it's great to see a document like this one that really brings home the huge amount they’ve actually achieved. it's equally great to see some of our work included in this timely milestone document

cera. christchurch rebuild

It's raining Gold!

27 Aug 2015 by Mike Tisdall

Insight has been awarded two Golds in the New-York based ARC Awards – considered the Oscars of the annual report world. World’s Best Airport Management annual report for 2014: Auckland International Airport (...

it's raining gold! mike tisdall

insight has been awarded two golds in the new-york based arc awards – considered the oscars of the annual report world.

world’s best airport management annual report for 2014:
auckland international airport (click for case study)

world’s best pension fund annual report for 2014:
nz super fund (click for case study)

the nz super fund report also won gold in the australasian reporting awards (ara awards).

naturally we're proud as punch of the respective teams that worked on these two projects, including our clients who enabled us to do such winning work!

arc awards, awards, nz super fund, auckland international airport

Insight scores five of the Best

19 Aug 2015 by Mike Tisdall

The 2015 Best Awards finalists have been announced and we’re thrilled to have scored five finalists in five different categories: Business Communication: 2014 Stand Children’s Services Annual Report Small...

insight scores five of the best mike tisdall

the 2015 best awards finalists have been announced and we’re thrilled to have scored five finalists in five different categories:

business communication: 2014 stand children’s services annual report

small brand identity: ibby 2016 international congress

design communication: new zealand symphony orchestra 2015 season marketing collateral

colour award: new zealand symphony orchestra 2015 season marketing collateral

self-promotion: ‘pause’ christmas video


design, awards, best awards

How design impacts sales

19 Aug 2015 by Mike Tisdall

Steven’s latest article in Idealog (August 2015) goes back to the marketing basics of AIDA: attract Attention, arouse Interest, create Desire and inspire Action. Today you’d probably call it a user journey: the...

how design impacts sales mike tisdall

steven’s latest article in idealog (august 2015) goes back to the marketing basics of aida: attract attention, arouse interest, create desire and inspire action. today you’d probably call it a user journey: the path that a person needs to take from the first time they come across your brand if they are ever going to convert to a purchase. steven explains the relevance and role of design to this foundation notion.


Two key websites go live

11 Aug 2015 by Mike Tisdall

Insight launched two important corporate websites on Friday 7 August. Property for Industry’s new website builds solidly on the down to earth brand story, personality and muscular visual identity that we created and...

two key websites go live mike tisdall

insight launched two important corporate websites on friday 7 august.

property for industry’s new website builds solidly on the down to earth brand story, personality and muscular visual identity that we created and launched early last year. it’s a highly complex site made to appear very simple to users, with distinct user journeys for their two separate audience groups. a data rich site, the intelligent back end database makes updating a plethora of property information a one-point-entry, dynamic exercise. the site elevates video to a key role in the communication toolkit of the site.

fletcher building re-work was a timely temporary upgrade while a full site re-vamp is meticulously planned. two quick fixes were employed: the first to make the site responsive and allow the content-duplicate separate mobile site to be retired – now fletcher building only have to update one content management interface; and the second, to redesign the home page completely to move it from static to newsy, topical, interesting and much more dynamic. it allows rapid deployment of important new stories and enables video content as well – all in a much fresher design.


pfi, fletcher building, website

Still carbon neutral after all these years

22 Jul 2015 by Mike Tisdall

Insight Creative has been officially carbon neutral now for seven years. In the last 12 months we reduced our emissions by a further 13.9%, resulting in total emission reductions since 2008 of 37.5%. The purchase of...

still carbon neutral after all these years mike tisdall

insight creative has been officially carbon neutral now for seven years. in the last 12 months we reduced our emissions by a further 13.9%, resulting in total emission reductions since 2008 of 37.5%.
the purchase of carbon credits has offset our largest emission contributor, which is, as always, our air travel to service our clients around new zealand and australia.

carbon neutral, sustainability, environment

Fletcher Building comes on board

23 Jun 2015 by Mike Tisdall

Fletcher Building, New Zealand's largest listed company, joined Insight's enviable portfolio of clients in May 2015. Already, we're well into projects for their corporate website and annual reporting programme. ...

fletcher building comes on board mike tisdall

fletcher building, new zealand's largest listed company, joined insight's enviable portfolio of clients in may 2015. already, we're well into projects for their corporate website and annual reporting programme.

fletcher building

Insight judges the TVNZ Marketing Awards

18 Jun 2015 by Mike Tisdall

CEO, Steven Giannoulis, has been selected as a judge of the prestigious TVNZ Marketing Awards for 2015. He says: "Entries have to describe the business strategy and objectives, the marketing strategy and all the...

insight judges the tvnz marketing awards mike tisdall

ceo, steven giannoulis, has been selected as a judge of the prestigious tvnz marketing awards for 2015.

he says: "entries have to describe the business strategy and objectives, the marketing strategy and all the tactics they put in place. they have to document the insights/research which lead to the campaign approach. and they need to supply tangible results against targets – sales charts, brand awareness monitor scores, click-thru data etc. judges are not provided the creative outputs (and we are encouraged not to refer to them) to stop us judging the quality of a campaign on how much we like the visual execution.

"there’s some amazing work and some incredible thinking which i have found very inspiring.

"two key learnings:  (1) a well written entry makes all the difference – there were some amazing entries but they just didn’t sell what made them great campaigns. i have over 50 campaigns to judge, so don’t make me have to work hard to find out what you did and if it was any good; and (2) they need to have a very clear and direct connection between the business challenge, the insights into the audience, the marketing/comms strategy, the key messages, the channels selected and the big campaign idea.

"votes are in and i have a full day next thursday to review the finalists and hand out the ribbons! i feel like an x-factor judge."


judging, marketing awards

The Evolution of the Ports of Auckland brand

02 Jun 2015 by Mike Tisdall

While the Ports of Auckland are currently embroiled in a public standoff over wharf extension into the Auckland Harbour, there's still no doubt about the short- and long-term economic impact the Port has on our city....

the evolution of the ports of auckland brand mike tisdall

while the ports of auckland are currently embroiled in a public standoff over wharf extension into the auckland harbour, there's still no doubt about the short- and long-term economic impact the port has on our city. and their visual identity needs to operate by the rules of commercial necessity too. and so, in mid-2014, we embarked on an evolutionary update of their logo, colour palette and typography to keep them fresh and contemporary. creative director, brian slade talks about the process and the lessons for other companies looking to refresh their visual identities in this article in the may/june edition of marketing magazine. you can read it online at stoppress here.


ports of auckland, brand refresh

Major law firm gets a rebrand

02 Jun 2015 by Mike Tisdall

May saw two exciting developments for law firm, Meredith Connell. First, government announced that the firm had retained the warrant as Auckland's Crown Prosecutor after a lengthy - and much delayed - assessment...

major law firm gets a rebrand mike tisdall

may saw two exciting developments for law firm, meredith connell. first, government announced that the firm had retained the warrant as auckland's crown prosecutor after a lengthy - and much delayed - assessment process. and second, the firm's bold new brand was launched. it's difficult to be different in the higher echelons of new zealand law firms, but meredith connell were determined to express an explicit point of view and powerfully differentiated personality. you can see a full case study on the 'work' section of this site, and also have a look at the new website we launched as part of the new brand launch:



brand, meredith connell, insight creative

Cross channel communication for Mighty River Power

16 Apr 2015 by Mike Tisdall

Hot off the press . . . this stakeholder newsletter for Mighty River Power was designed for screen and print from the get go. Seamless communication.    ...

cross channel communication for mighty river power mike tisdall

hot off the press . . . this stakeholder newsletter for mighty river power was designed for screen and print from the get go. seamless communication.



mighty river power newsletter, online, print

Workplace graphics to 'live' in the brand

16 Apr 2015 by Mike Tisdall

To design, produce and install signage in Transpower's new Auckland Office in time for their opening day meant we only had 15 days from briefing, through design to installation. By knowing our clients brands intimately...

workplace graphics to 'live' in the brand mike tisdall

to design, produce and install signage in transpower's new auckland office in time for their opening day meant we only had 15 days from briefing, through design to installation. by knowing our clients brands intimately through long working relationships, at least the design part of the project becomes easier . . .

IBBY Congress website goes live and gains instant plaudits

06 Mar 2015 by Mike Tisdall

In less than 24 hours, this is the feedback received on the new IBBY Congress website that went live yesterday morning. The following is mostly from NZ so far, but some of this is from countries like Switzerland,...

ibby congress website goes live and gains instant plaudits mike tisdall

in less than 24 hours, this is the feedback received on the new ibby congress website that went live yesterday morning. the following is mostly from nz so far, but some of this is from countries like switzerland, scandinavia and moldova!

see the site here.

feedback re ibby congress website

  • congratulations and huge thanks to mike and his team. we simple could not be at this stage without his patience, ‘insight and creativity’. we, storylines and ibby congress planners, are very fortunate to have had his expertise and willing support.
  • how absolutely wonderful, rosemary. thanks to mike and you for all the work that has made it one of the most wonderful websites for a conference i think i have ever seen!
  • wow
  • looks absolutely great – very clear and easy to access! a huge well done, mike and team. congratulations.
  • fantastic rosemary – a huge milestone! will be sharing a lot – just saw it (and liked it) via frances on facebook!
  • just brilliant!
  • well done to mike and his team. have just cruised and perused the site and it is fabulous indeed.  the look, the feel, ben’s illustrations, the enticing content, relating both to the conference and to nz as a destination.
  • i agree! it looks really wonderful and the initial ideas still stand up superbly well. if i was 24 hours away i would want to come! (and the nz video has given me a great big lump in my throat … true pride! ). thank you rosemary, libby and all. thank you mike, it is brilliant!
  • brilliant! congratulations to mike and his team. very easy to navigate and looks great
  • looks wonderful – congrats to mike and his team. and to rosemary and libby for creating such compelling content.
  • ditto. great job by mike and his team and supported by the committee
  • completely gorgeous! how could anyone resist!
  • beautiful! enticing, one would hope
  • joining chorus of compliments for the website – looks fabulous, clean, user-friendly and very appealing. well done, all folks involved – especially to mike, who i gather has had something to do with it!
  • thought you might like to know that it has gone out internationally. and my facebook post has been picked up by friends in australia and japan so far. amazing job, rosemary
  • i have been exploring the website further and it is really excellent! the information is clear, comprehensive and easy to find, and the design is so clear and fresh. yes, it is fantastic! (ibby international president, lucerne, switzerland)
  • congratulations! on a beautiful, easy to navigate, interesting and fun congress website. (ibby international coo, lucerne, switzerland)
  • the website looks fantastic. the nz page with the 10 must see places looks great.

The many faces of Ngāti Whātua

19 Jan 2015 by Mike Tisdall

In 2013, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei restructured their organisation into three entities: Whai Rawa, the commercial arm; Whai Maia, the community arm; and the Trust, the overarching custodian of the people’s interests...

the many faces of ngāti whātua mike tisdall

in 2013, ngāti whātua Ōrākei restructured their organisation into three entities: whai rawa, the commercial arm; whai maia, the community arm; and the trust, the overarching custodian of the people’s interests today and for generations to come. and we produced the first round of three annual reports to articulate what each of the entities stood for, addressing each distinctive audience while representing the hap's unified story across all touch points.

following on from those inaugural reports, the 2014 reports reflected growth and development within the organisation whilst incorporating the notion of a wind of change. while some new elements have been added, the three new reports strongly maintain a visual language continuity from the design approach established the year before.

Insight announces new CEO

24 Nov 2014 by Mike Tisdall

Steven Giannoulis has been appointed CEO of Insight from 1 December 2014. Steven is currently Strategic Development Director. Steven has been with Insight since 2011 but his association with the company, as a...

insight announces new ceo mike tisdall

steven giannoulis has been appointed ceo of insight from 1 december 2014. steven is currently strategic development director.

steven has been with insight since 2011 but his association with the company, as a client, goes back over 12 years. this background has been invaluable in attracting new business, delivering top class business-focused communications strategy and in understanding clients’ expectations from a design agency. steven has over 25 years’ experience leading numerous brand, marketing, product, communications and client service teams for organisations such as tower, nz lotteries, and ing. he has an mba as well as a business degree majoring in both marketing and management. since arriving at insight, steven has constantly displayed his leadership qualities, gaining the trust and respect of his peers, the board and clients.

after 38 years of establishing and leading the business, mike tisdall has decided to step down as insight’s managing director. he will continue to champion the growth of insight as both a member of the board and also as part of steven’s senior leadership team.

mike tisdall founded insight in 1976 and has led its growth to one of new zealand’s leading design agencies. today insight is a multi-national, award-winning design communications agency that works with many of australasia’s largest corporates, government departments, smes and charitable trusts.

with a strong leadership team in place, good governance through the board and a clear vision and strategy to move the business forward he feels now is the right time to introduce new leadership.

mike will remain in the business, managing the company’s financial, reporting and operational functions while also working across a number of key new business, marketing and client strategy initiatives. he also maintains his majority ownership of insight.

Insight maintains its carbon neutrality

08 Oct 2014 by Mike Tisdall

We have just received our annual Greenhouse Gas Assessment for the financial year ended 31 March 2014 from our auditors, Pangolin & Associates, and have purchased the carbon credits required to ensure we remain a...

insight maintains its carbon neutrality mike tisdall

we have just received our annual greenhouse gas assessment for the financial year ended 31 march 2014 from our auditors, pangolin & associates, and have purchased the carbon credits required to ensure we remain a carbon neutral member of our clients' supply chains.

our total emissions were up 10% on the previous financial year, with the greatest increases coming from our  growth-driven additional computer workstations and flights, but we used a little less power, fewer hotel rooms and taxis and less waste was sent to landfill.

 a better indication of how far we’ve actually come is to compare this result from the 2013/14 year to the year when we started this assessment process: 2007/8: our emissions have dropped 12.6% over that period despite adding the wellington office to our physical footprint:


we continue to actively strive to minimise our footprint, particularly relating to the largest contributor: air travel. where possible, we continue to utilise our video conferencing facilities while always considering the best option for our clients and their projects.


sustainable, carbon neutral

Charming new website for the IBBY Congress

25 Aug 2014 by Mike Tisdall

With New Zealand hosting the 2016 IBBY Congress (International Board on Books for Young People), the oganisers needed to start generating some interest well in advance. With most prospective delegates coming from...

charming new website for the ibby congress mike tisdall

with new zealand hosting the 2016 ibby congress (international board on books for young people), the oganisers needed to start generating some interest well in advance. with most prospective delegates coming from the northern hemisphere, getting the commitment to attend was a potential barrier to financial viability. so leaning on the exotic pull of a visit to new zealand - tugging at the 'bucket list' opportunity - was the decided strategy. future iterations of the site will focus more fully on the attractions on the congress itself. but for now, an engaging and innovative one-page site that focuses on the tourism pull of new zealand has been designed to raise awareness, pique interest and encourage forward planning.

view the site here.

ibby, congress, website

Vista floats

20 Aug 2014 by Mike Tisdall

Vista is the last of a hectic run of seven IPOs we've handled in the past 5 months. A massive push on quite an unprecedented amount of this kind of work saw this project finally come home. A full on and...

vista floats mike tisdall

vista is the last of a hectic run of seven ipos we've handled in the past 5 months. a massive push on quite an unprecedented amount of this kind of work saw this project finally come home. a full on and effective visual document that is smaller than the average a4 finished size.

ipo, vista entertainment group

Two spaces after a period: Why you should never, ever do it.

16 Aug 2014 by Mike Tisdall

This Slate article unpacks why typography states that everyone needs to quit with the two spaces to begin a new sentence. The dreaded double space was an advent for the  typewriter age, two spaces were required...

two spaces after a period: why you should never, ever do it. mike tisdall

this slate article unpacks why typography states that everyone needs to quit with the two spaces to begin a new sentence. the dreaded double space was an advent for the  typewriter age, two spaces were required as the font used was always a monospace font, which meant words  l o o k  l i k e  t h i s . monospace fonts are exactly as the name describes, uniformly spaced letters. while a wide letter like an m fit in the allowed space comfortably, an i will have a lot of room on either side. because of this, an extra space was necessary to indicate that a new sentence was beginning. which is totally reasonable, typewriters.

but we don’t use them now. people put a lot of effort into making sure that the kerning (the spacing allowed between individual letters) is perfect. the computer age has allowed for highly dynamic kerning, some letters interact well with other letters and poorly with some. take for example “lt”. see that the top of the t hangs over the bottom of the l? compare that with “le”. even though the t should create an awkward space between it and the l, it knows to come closer together to allow for visual consistency.

and when you double space after a full-stop you’re thumbing your nose to all that wonderful innovation.

plus it looks ugly as all hell.

sorry if that’s all super nerdy, but really i’m not sorry. typewriters were a blip on the radar, and they adapted the double space for legibility. now everyone needs to drop the double space for legibility.

read aaaaaall about it right here:

Do you need an Investor Brand?

28 May 2014 by Mike Tisdall

If you're a stock exchange listed company, investor perception of you as an investment is crucially important to encourage ownership, and help underpin share price. Well built, an Investor Brand can give your share...

do you need an investor brand? mike tisdall

if you're a stock exchange listed company, investor perception of you as an investment is crucially important to encourage ownership, and help underpin share price.

well built, an investor brand can give your share price resilience

an investor brand won’t stop the market panicking, but it should help investors make more informed and rational decisions about how they perceive your stock, and it should ensure that your stock is more resilient in the face of market panic.

what is a ‘brand’ anyway? and why does the concept apply to investment?

before we go any further, we should perhaps consider what a brand actually is, and why the notion applies to the ‘investor’ part of your business as well as the marketing side. a brand is more than a product, and more than a logo. one of our favourite definitions is: a brand is what people say about you after you’ve left the room.

so, it’s the set of value-associations linked to your name. in the case of marketers, that translates into higher margins. in the case of investors, it translates into stocks that are more accurately valued and that are more likely to be directly associated (by recall) with your strategies. investor brands carry a greater degree of familiarity for investors. people feel they understand them and where they’re going.

a strong brand creates space between you and other stocks competing for the investment

it differentiates the value of what your stock offers from that of your competitors. so it’s about your stock’s overall reputation and profile, and it’s about ensuring that your stock is chosen over another investment options in the same or another asset class. equally, when markets fall, it’s about having the information and awareness in the marketplace that minimises your downside.

to help achieve that, churchill pryce ir suggests that a robust investor brand needs to have associations and present messages to the market that are:

  • meaningful
  • concise

  • comprehensive and

  • compelling

Web apps vs native apps

14 Mar 2014 by Mike Tisdall

For those interested in the debate around whether native or web apps are the best approach, this article is very interesting. It argues in favour of web apps, but gives good insights on strengths and weaknesses of...

web apps vs native apps mike tisdall

for those interested in the debate around whether native or web apps are the best approach, this article is very interesting. it argues in favour of web apps, but gives good insights on strengths and weaknesses of each. worth a read.

trends, design, apps

Web Design trends for 2013

07 Feb 2013 by Mike Tisdall

Here’s an interesting and easily skimmable article on where web design is heading. Some ‘design’ stuff and a wee bit of more technical stuff, I reckon there’s something relevant in here for anybody looking at...

web design trends for 2013 mike tisdall

here’s an interesting and easily skimmable article on where web design is heading. some ‘design’ stuff and a wee bit of more technical stuff, i reckon there’s something relevant in here for anybody looking at reviewing their online presence this year.

such things as:

  • mobile first design
  • infinite scrolling
  • whitespace & minimalism
  • natural design elements
  • big photography
  • cleaner source code
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