“How to make your business a better version of itself”

[A nice piece of ‘signalling’ we did for Rackspace etc.]

Nice to see Harvard Business Review confirming what gapingvoid has been telling clients for years: that language affects the culture (and therefore the bottom line) of your business.

This includes art, of course. From a language point of view, it’s a form of signalling.

This is why hip and with-it companies hire grafitti artists to cover their walls, it’s why old-time lawyers like art about horses  or golf:

They’re all a form of sending a message indirectly.

This is also why Zappos [a very individualist, bottom-up kind of culture] encourages everyone on their payroll to fill their cubicles with as much weird and funky office art as they can (everything from proper paintings to rock posters to kids’ drawings to snow globe collections): it sends signals to the team that they encourage “weird & funky”; that they like people with a strong sense of individuality working for them.

Traditional advertising does this as well, of course. I’ve always maintained that a good ad campaign’s biggest long-term impact is how it affects the client’s culture internally, how it changes the way client sees itself.

Like the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns once wrote, “O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us, To see oursels as ithers see us”*.

That’s what good art does: gives us that power to see ourselves better, gives us the power to be a better version of ourselves.


[*”Oh would some power have the gift to give us, to see ourselves as others see us!”]


  1. Och aye Hugh!

    The “better version” of ourselves is always there, waiting to be revealed as we drop our masks of conformity… Good art (and good cartoons) shakes it all loose! Happy New Year!

  2. I’ve wanted to say something similar to what Gerald said – the better version of ourselves is there, if we just have the courage to let it out!

  3. I always encourage designers to let their creative side run free when working on tasks, I find it delivers the best work from them. Great article.

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Hugh MacLeod is a genius.  Genius.

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His work acknowledges the absurdity of workaday life, while also encouraging employees to respond with passion, creativity, and non-conformity...   MacLeod’s work is undeniably an improvement over the office schlock of yore. At its best, it’s more honest, and more cognizant of the entrepreneurial psyche, while still retaining some idealism.

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