Workspace: Naked Communications

Naked Communications is a strategic communications group with offices all over the world, including London, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo and New York.  Naked believes that everything communicates, so brands have to be more than just advertising – things like packaging and retail environments, and even how employees dress and behave, all say something about a brand.  Naked helps their clients figure out how all of these channels can work together to solve a communications problem, and then partners with specialist agencies to help execute the strategy.  For them, it’s all about starting with the problem rather than a prescriptive output.  Behance caught up with Johanna Beyenbach and Heron Preston, strategists at Naked Communications, to discuss how their work environment promotes collaboration and productivity.

Building a creative environment in a non-traditional format was a key objective that guided their decisions.  Johanna explains, “When we opened in New York three years ago, we set up shop in a SoHo loft instead of an office space.  It’s a very relaxed setting, and we all sit together at the same table.  This creates a very collaborative and open environment – we overhear each other thinking out loud or having conversations all the time, which makes it easier for us to chime in with an idea or insight. There are many places in our office for getting our ideas down instead of just esoterically talking about them, though.  We use chalkboard walls, corkboards and an intranet, all for sharing ideas and resources amongst each other.”But sometimes, the actual physical environment isn’t enough.  Johanna says, “It’s that, combined with the Naked culture. There is nothing more stifling and uninspired than feeling like you’re being watched.  Here, we can leave the office for a walk around the block or a museum visit and not feel guilty about it.  We’re always encouraged to do whatever will inspire us and make our work better in the end.”

Another growing pain we went through was that as we hired more people, we lost track of who was good at what.

Like all successful companies, Naked faces many growing pains as they become more established.  Heron explains, “We’re a lot bigger than when we started out, but we’re still in the same space that we got three years ago.  Because of this, everything is a bit more crowded and chaotic.  We had to find out the hard way that whatever we wrote down on the walls would get erased unless we acted on it quickly.  The cool thing about this ended up being the healthy sense of urgency to do something with our ideas while we were still inspired, instead of letting them sit.”

Going on a hiring frenzy in this business environment is a luxury problem.  Heron offers some insights on the growing number of new additions to the company.  “Another growing pain we went through was that as we hired more people, we lost track of who was good at what.  To solve this problem, one of our strategists came up with a system to collect and distribute everyone’s skills to the entire office. An open source template was put on our corkboard for people to fill in with what they were best at and had past experience in.  Now we have a constantly updated digital version that everyone has access to.”

For last pieces of advice, Johanna and Heron leave this for us as fodder.  “Immerse yourself in a different world. Leave your comfort zone. Some of our best ideas have been born out of side projects that have nothing to do with marketing. Think about ways that you can draw relevance and inspiration from other walks of life, cultures and industries. You might have a lot more in common with them than you think.”

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