1. We are all people
Nobody owns anybody. Clients buy our services, not our souls. We employ people, we don't buy permanent rights to their talent. We do not tolerate bullies inside our business so why would we tolerate them outside? Be rude, be abusive, be toxic and you will be fired, wherever you sit.
We are humans and we design for humans who have relationships with our clients who are — yes — also humans. The minute anyone forgets this, why we do what we do, and who we do it for, either assuming superiority or putting anything but the integrity of the relationship first, then the whole system falls apart. Being decent, being respectful and being honest is a good start point for any endeavour, and this works in all directions.
2. Death to mediocrity
This is not as good as it gets. Everything, everywhere, can always be improved upon. There is no limit to how well you can do, or to how much you should expect. Let go of the limits and go further.
We over-benchmark our work, measuring ourselves against the greatest who've gone before us, and asking ourselves how we'd improve upon what they achieved. This is not arrogant, it's open-minded. We may not be able to do any better, but we're going to try. We have one absolute priority: the quality of our work, and we navigate budgets, timeframes, expectations and politics to allow for this. If your first priority is anything but quality, please don't call us.
3. There is no future
We design for now. What matters to people, what's possible, what we believe in — now. Anyone who tells you what the future will look like with any degree of certainty, then sells you something pre-emptively designed for it is a false prophet. They're gambling with your money and scared to address the world that exists in front of their faces lest they be proved wrong. We ignore trends because by the time it's named you've already missed the opportunity it (theoretically) presented. Your opportunities and your problems are here today, so deal with them today. If you don't, you have no future.
We create work designed for today so it'll still be alive tomorrow, not having to be redone because it was faddish, vain, under-developed or otherwise flawed. We then iterate our work so it remains good. This predicates a move away from project-based branding work, and that scares some people. But it's necessary if we're to start tuning our brands to stay meaningful in a world where the pace of change is itself accelerating.
4. Go hard and go home
Design is not a job, it's a way of seeing the world. We're cursed by the fact we're always working, whether in bed, in the shower, in conversations we should be listening to, or in hospital.
So we must make space for good design AND for the life that fuels it. There'll always be occasions where someone needs to stay late, but we don't do it by default. We turn up, we work hard, then we go home at a reasonable hour. If we're here late night after night there's systematic problems that'll be fixed, whether it's ours or our client's. Better balance, better work.
5. Never do the devil's work
We do not, nor ever will, work for purveyors of death, supporters of abuse, deniers of science, or those who've been proven to flout the law. Branding is effective, and we will not put money in the pockets of those making the world a worse place simply so we can line our own.