Strategy + Design

Two complementary forces coming together to engage your customers, investors, staff and stakeholders.

First we listen. Next we think. Then we design. Delivering results that accelerate your business.

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Results-driven. Case studies galore.
Our work is our advocacy. These are just six of the many case studies on this site showcasing our work and the results we deliver for clients.
NZ Post 2019 Integrated Report
NZ Post 2019 Integrated Report
Rebranding The Sir Peter Blake Trust
Rebranding The Sir Peter Blake Trust
The maunga of Tāmaki
The maunga of Tāmaki
Victoria University of Wellington Undergraduate Recruitment Campaign 2018
Victoria University of Wellington Undergraduate Recruitment Campaign 2018
Mercury’s augmented reality Waikato River experience
Mercury’s augmented reality Waikato River experience
Starship Wonderful Forest
Starship Wonderful Forest
Victoria University of Wellington Undergraduate Recruitment Campaign 2018
Victoria University of Wellington Undergraduate Recruitment Campaign 2018
Tamaki Regeneration Company Branding
Tamaki Regeneration Company Branding
Our Expertise. What we do best.
So much more than your name, your logo or visual identity, a brand reflects what you stand for and how you want to be perceived.
So much more than your name, your logo or visual identity, a brand reflects what you stand for and how you want to be perceived.
The best brands are built inside out, effectively engaging and aligning staff perception and behaviour with strategy, culture and performance.
The best brands are built inside out, effectively engaging and aligning staff perception and behaviour with strategy, culture and performance.
We approach digital from a communication, not technical, perspective, engaging audiences online with brand-aligned experiences that are intuitive and rewarding.
We approach digital from a communication, not technical, perspective, engaging audiences online with brand-aligned experiences that are intuitive and rewarding.
Your communication and marketing programmes should be driven by clear insights, engaging audiences towards the desired action.
Your communication and marketing programmes should be driven by clear insights, engaging audiences towards the desired action.
Multi-disciplined physical and digital experiences engage your audiences, reinforcing your brand and culture to drive perception, awareness and behaviours.
Multi-disciplined physical and digital experiences engage your audiences, reinforcing your brand and culture to drive perception, awareness and behaviours.
Good investor communication is much more than just reporting. A clearly communicated long-term investor brand helps you attract, grow and retain investors and capital.
Good investor communication is much more than just reporting. A clearly communicated long-term investor brand helps you attract, grow and retain investors and capital.
Blog Posts. Thought-leading insights.

New Integrated Reporting Framework introduces meaningful new features

22 Jan 2021 by Mike Tisdall

Yesterday, the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) published the first revisions to the <IR> Framework since it was first published in 2013. This has been the culmination of two years work and...

new integrated reporting framework introduces meaningful new features mike tisdall

yesterday, the international integrated reporting council (iirc) published the first revisions to the <ir> framework since it was first published in 2013. this has been the culmination of two years work and extensive consultation with 1470 individuals, including yours truly, in 55 jurisdictions.
 
the most fascinating outcome has been how fit for purpose the original framework was. given the passage of time, the light touch that resulted is remarkable. and good news because we don’t have to learn yet another change in our way of reporting.
 
the changes that have been made are really more about making things clearer and more actionable than anything else. all aimed to make the quality of reporting better. a couple of the tweaks really move the ‘integrated thinking’ and ‘reporting’ aspects forward a notch.
 
there were 22 issues that the consultation uncovered and that have been addressed. and only seven of these are ‘significant’.
 
the most pertinent of these for most of us are the changes to the value creation model (vcm). and this relates to distinguishing clearly between outputs and outcomes. most global reports have conflated these, probably because of confusion. have a look at the new version of the diagram:



in particular, let’s hone in on the business model component:



the first points that the changes make a lot clearer:

  • outputs and outcomes are very different concepts. and both are important because it’s the outcomes that actually impact on value
  • while outputs can directly affect outcomes, so can your business activities. they revised diagram conveys this

the second point to note:

  • the diagram now reminds reporters that outcomes should be considered not just in the short term, but also in the medium and long term

the third point to note:

  • it now reinforces the need for balanced disclosures. this speaks to the quality, credibility and integrity of reporting information. this means acknowledging and candidly communicating some areas in which value is eroded or simply preserved rather than just created. and declaring negative outcomes along with the positive.

this can often be about trade-offs between the capitals, e.g. by increasing profits or providing improved customer benefits, you may perhaps create adverse outcomes for the environment or society.

integrated reporting has always encouraged us to disclose the lows as well as the highs. now the investment market globally is demanding it for their quality assessments. the revised framework now really spells that out clearly. the end-game benefit to reporters is that quality and transparency of information leads to better capital allocation and lowers the cost of capital.
 
beyond the vcm, there are two more areas where the global market requested greater clarity.  

  1. qualitative and quantitative information. the framework now reminds reporters that disclosures are most effective when they have a blend of narrative and metric indicators – the indicators providing the support or evidence and a basis for comparison while the narrative provides the all-important explanation and context.
     
  2. simplifying the statement of responsibility. a bit of a technical change, but the purpose is to lower the reporting burden while not sacrificing the quality of the report. it recognises that integrated reporting is a multi-year journey and that perfection is not achieved in year one. so it lowers the responsibility on directors in particular in terms of what their sign off promises.


the future of integrated reporting is clear
there is no doubt that integrated reporting has now reached global tipping point. the principles are now visible in almost every report we see, even if they’re not purporting to be integrated reports. in particular, the notions of reporting on the things that really impact the business and its stakeholders (materiality), of value creation, of short, medium and long term planning, of the importance of non-financial information, and of connecting that non-financial information to the fortunes and health of the business – they’re obvious in every report now. and that’s a direct legacy of integrated reporting. and given the global feedback on the <ir> framework and the very few changes resulting, it’s a way of thinking that we can say, with confidence now, has stood the test of time.

click here to see the full new <ir> framework.

integrated reporting, framework, value creation model

The Sanford Integrated Report Journey

26 Nov 2020 by Mike Tisdall

It seems that wherever we turn in corporate New Zealand, the Sanford integrated reports are held in the highest esteem and the benchmark that other companies measure their integrated reporting progress by.  We...

the sanford integrated report journey mike tisdall

it seems that wherever we turn in corporate new zealand, the sanford integrated reports are held in the highest esteem and the benchmark that other companies measure their integrated reporting progress by. 

we have produced all seven of the sanford reports, starting in 2014. (and prior to that, their annual and sustainability reports since 2008.)

the 2014 report was a breakthrough. it really set a high threshold for what integrated reporting could and should be and put corporate new zealand on notice for what future reporting expectations would be.

it’s a great time to look back at the journey. sanford’s ceo for the past seven years, volker kuntzch, elected to seek a change of direction. this retrospective is as much a tribute to his visionary and care-centred leadership as it is a tale of the evolution of sustainability reporting in new zealand.

the early reports

when volker briefed us to produce the 2014 report as an integrated one, we had little experience in the genre. we knew some rudimentary principles and looked at two or three australian examples, but to be frank, were completely underwhelmed and felt they taught us nothing.

it was time to take a deeper dive to really understand the crux of this new way of thinking. the penny-dropping moment was when the ceo of the iirc (international integrated reporting council) visited new zealand. he encouraged us to stop looking through the lens of the impact that sanford had on things, and start thinking about how those things might impact on sanford’s business in the long term if not planned for and protected. once we looked beyond the one-way corporate citizenship thing, we were able to see the virtuous circle and what a game changer this was for business and the world.

sanford proved to be the perfect client to apply this to. the most immediate and lasting impression of hearing volker’s philosophy was the authenticity that was being nurtured within sanford – his genuine care for people and the environment in particular. you could feel the soul of the company under his leadership, and that sense has continued, only today there’s a lot more embedded structure around it. and that philosophy will, in turn, protect the sanford business for decades to come.

from the beginning, we knew that soulful storytelling was the key to sharing this authenticity. so rather than merely report data about what they were doing, we chose to dig deeper and frame a more emotive, connecting story.

our first report was titled ‘how we see the sea’. and it set the tone for the new way they deserved to be perceived.

we continued storytelling journey in 2015, seeking once again to convey the grounded authenticity we found in sanford, and embed that understanding. with reports that are content heavy, as these reports are – close on 120 pages – we strive to layer the communication, so that the core tone and messaging are conveyed at a glance, while those that want evidence have plenty to provide that assurance.

2016 – 2020

as we all gained more experience in integrated reporting, our learnings enabled our reports to become more sophisticated and the messaging more specific while never veering far from that intrepid seafaring core. 

the value creation model journey

a great measure of increasing understanding of integrated reporting is the sophistication and depth of one of the central and defining elements: the value creation model. 

back in 2014, our understanding of what they were meant to convey was fairly superficial and the resulting first attempt, while clear, was very simplistic. 

in 2015, we made it more engaging through illustration, and it is this version that seems to have set the benchmark if imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery. we now see versions of this illustration in many new zealand integrated reports.

as for sanford, they’ve evolved too. as they’ve become more meaningful with the gradual inclusion of more data, the space for illustration has become somewhat constrained. but we’ve endeavoured to retain the visual engagement while ringing the changes to keep it fresh.

     
2015

 
2019

 
2020

openness and trust

ironically, one of the aims of integrated reporting is conciseness. but when one of your communication objectives is transparency and clear differentiation within an industry that suffers from a corporate trust issue, then full, open disclosure and over-communication is a valuable positioning tool. as sanford has seen success in this defining positioning strategy and trust rapidly build, they have been able to reduce the page count noticeably in the last two years. but openness and transparency have never been compromised.

awards speak to an enduring quality

sanford have been recognised every year of their integrated report journey. over a dozen international awards, from the new york-based arc awards to the international graphis awards to the more regional ara awards, thrice winning best integrated report, twice winning best sustainability report, and twice being a report of the year finalist. and this year, the inaugural nz integrated reporting award winner.

as the years have gone by, our immersive knowledge of both the spirit and mechanisms of the integrated reporting framework have grown exponentially. but the dive into the deep end for sanford was the trigger that sparked our admiration for the extraordinary business power of integrating reporting and our desire to go deeper and deeper to better advise new zealand businesses no matter where they are on the journey.

integrated reporting, annual reports, sustainability reports, sanford, insight creative, value creation models

The arcane alchemy of strategic design

03 Nov 2020 by Mike Tisdall

Insight Creative makes quite a play of calling itself a  strategic  design agency. But what is strategic design? And is it the game changer that we like to think it is? I’ve always been seduced by great...

the arcane alchemy of strategic design mike tisdall

insight creative makes quite a play of calling itself a strategic design agency. but what is strategic design? and is it the game changer that we like to think it is?

i’ve always been seduced by great design. if i had my time again, i’d strive to be a great architect. it’s the power of the aesthetic to uplift, to inspire, to affect your feelings. great design still has that effect on me, as does great music. all very ephemeral but powerful nevertheless.

ever since i founded insight 45 years ago, the aesthetics of what we do has been a vital component. but i quickly learnt that the look is only the vehicle. it’s the idea behind the aesthetic that’s the difference between whether a design works or not. it’s what it does, the affect that it has, that’s the point of all this. and as i got closer to business, the more the importance of that resonated. i set out to find the formula that rationalised the ephemeral. but of course there is none. you can’t bottle it.

i remember briefing designers back then, saying ‘it’s got to be right first, then we can make it beautiful’. 

i didn’t recognise it back then, but what i was saying was ‘the design we produce has to be strategic design’.

so, with the benefit of a much older and wiser outlook, what does ‘strategic design’ look like to me now? it’s design practice that sits at the nexus between corporate strategy and design thinking. its goal is to merge the business objective with creative solutions that move beyond just aesthetics. solutions that capture the imagination, captivate an audience, inspire. but that also shift perceptions, make a train of thought clear, solve a problem, persuade, and drive action.

there’s an alchemy at play here. the strict discipline of rational business thinking in a lyrical dance with intuition and sensibilities. that’s where the magic lies. and that’s precisely where my entire career has been centred.

while that word ‘rational’ sits naturally with the business thinking side of the equation, there has to be a similar discipline when approaching the creative execution. it’s where the left brain and right brain play trade-off. where science meets the arts. where the actuary marries the artiste.

and that’s where the creative strategists in our organisation sit. constantly balancing the tension between logic and comprehension on one hand, and soul and sensibilities on the other. conducting the orchestra to bring diverse mindsets together in harmony.

and how do we go about that? ah, that’s the arcane enigma of strategic design. but it sure takes strong discipline and some inner turmoil. we can’t give all our secrets away but we can tell you where it starts: 1/ a critical analysis of a brief and what success means, 2/ an in-depth understanding of the audience and what drives their perceptions and behaviours, and 3/ looking beyond the obvious for optimal solutions that engage hearts and minds, and that drive interest, desire and action.

and when we get it right – that’s pure gold!

strategic design, design in business, effective design
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