It took about 10 years of my friends telling me ‘You have to watch the West Wing, you’ll love it.’ for me to take their advice. I know the first West Wing was shot in 1998 and the final one in 2006, so I am about 15 years late to the party. But a couple of months ago I got the box sets and before I knew it I was on to series 6. I got to admit, my friends were right- what a show! Packed full of drama, great personal and political stories and from what I understand- a reasonable insight into what life is really like inside the White House.
What I like most about the West Wing is the culture within the organisation, the human tales – the energy, the sense of purpose, the sense of unity. I must admit it reminded me very much of my time at Alfa Romeo nearly 10 years ago. Awake at 6AM, in work for 7AM, incredible energy, incredible passion, fierce debate, a little bit political. You seldom left before 7PM, you’d regularly still be around at 9, midnight and beyond was never out of the question. It’s probably the hardest I’ve ever worked and it was a combustible mix of passion, energy and chaos fuelled by espresso of course. Working hours were horrendous, pay was incredulous but it’s one of the experiences I look back on with the most fondness. I think it’s why I’ve enjoyed The West Wing so much. One is design, the other politics but the fundamental attributes of passion and a clear ‘sense of mission’ is evident in both.
Alfa Romeo and the President of the United States are two very emotive causes. Its crystal clear what you’re working for, the sense of mission is evident and these organisations have people that put the cause before their own needs.
Not because they have too. But because they want too.
It’s the invisible force that drives people to do better that I’m fascinated with- finding it, unlocking it, releasing it and letting it grow to let companies do better, to let people do better. To outperform the market. It’s evident in sport too. I was fascinated and delighted that Iain MacRitchie, chairman of Hobbs, at a recent dinner agreed with my question that companies could use sport teams as examples to endow their people with a sense of pride in the organisation. If you play for The All Blacks or Manchester United, you play as much for the jersey as you play for yourself. I have friends that work for companies such as Nike who are endlessly reminded of what it means to work for such a great company as well as being aware of the company values, vision and culture.
This sense of purpose.
This sense of cause should be at the heart of every organisation. Brand communication has a true role to play. To communicate a vision, you must firstly have a vision. It has to come from the management team. The people at the top must understand, live it and buy into it before anybody else can. Thereon in afterwards, it’s about telling and re-telling that story – to staff, to clients, to prospective clients, to suppliers, to investors. Getting buy-in from each of the individual stakeholders is what will propel your company forward. It will be the invisible force that enhances sales, client loyalty, client satisfaction, productivity and overall happiness in the workplace. It will be the passion that fuels new thinking and innovation.
We are officially launching a service – initially for large law firms- called Loft Legal. Long term, we’ll work with other service providers. We know that most top firms have a culture, but all too often it is hidden away. We intend to bring it out and turn it into something that can motivate, educate and inspire people to do better. Everybody knows what they do in a professional services firm and how they do it. But many just need to be reminded a bit more often, why they do what they do. Call it the ‘invisible force’ or the ‘West Wing effect.’ Given the right place, it can help to drive your company forward.
Creative Director of the loft.
Benedetto runs the creative design consultancy, the loft. Based in the centre of Glasgow, the loft creates emotionally engaging brand identities.
Benedetto began his design career aged 9, sketching cars in the loft bedroom of his parents house. Even then he realised some eternal truths. Alfa Romeos are infinitely cooler than Ferraris and always have been. Time has only hardened this opinion. Since then, he has been on a journey taking him from his hometown in Kilmarnock to Coventry, studying car design aged 17, three separate spells in Italy followed where he interned, worked & freelanced for distinguished design companies – BeeStudio, Alfa Romeo, Honda Advanced design & Stile Bertone.
Setting up his own business was a natural step for somebody as independently minded as Benedetto. The loft was set up in 2008 and offers a comprehensive branding and communication service to its clients. The company combines a deeply analytical approach into the clients culture and commercial targets before engaging in creative design work to build emotive brands.