At VideoAmp we’ve recently been spending a considerable amount of time thinking about and documenting a new, core set of brand values that succinctly describe who we are, why we’re here, and how those values drive every aspect of our lives and our work. Today we’re going to focus on how we built a people-first culture and how we live it from a company-wide design point of view.
Real talk… Every company regardless of size and shape works tirelessly to manage, maintain and develop its brand. VideoAmp is no exception. Also, every company loves to tout its most important core values and tell you this is how we live, and this is how we think, and what we believe, yada yada yada. Yet for most employees, the core values are just a list of bullets on a slide deck meant to be forgotten or words printed on a handy business card-sized piece of corporate swag.
And now I get to the part where I tell you, “We’re different!”
And you immediately think, “Bullshit!” (I mean… I would.)
And who knows. Maybe, you’re right. You sure as hell shouldn’t just take my word for it. You need to make that decision for yourself. To find out if a company’s values and people-first culture and design approach are real and not just marketing hype, you need to look at every single aspect of that company. How its employees carry themselves, the words they use, how the products feel, the sound of the pitch, post-purchase support. You know, basically all “the things”.
And now you should respond using the immortal words of Billie Eilish, “Duh.”
But today is an exciting day both for me and for VideoAmp. We really have been working hard to sincerely understand who we are as a company, and today I get to start talking about that work and how everything ties together into building our people-first culture. We’ve been diving deep on who we are, why we’re here, and how what we produce reflects our industry, our customers and ourselves. It’s truly deep stuff and is the kind of brand conversations and design inspiration that I love.
So, are we bullshit or not? The decision is yours. Right now we’re going to start your evaluation process by diving into just one of our new brand values that very much impacts all of our design work every day, “People First”, and how that drove our culture.
Being “People First” is a value that is near and dear to my heart for a number of reasons. If there’s anything spending 25 years doing digital product design and UI/UX work has taught me, it’s that if a product doesn’t work for the very real human on the other side of the screen, it just doesn’t work.
I very passionately believe we don’t design products; I believe we design innovative methods by which people can live more productive and fulfilled experiences. Ultimately, I believe we design systems and tools that bring real, measurable value to people’s lives every single day. And this is how our people-first culture started.
Sure, we design screens. We design color systems. And we design UI paradigms. We also leverage traditional User-Centered Design principles, understand human factors, conduct both generative and evaluative research, and do all the other standard ‘buzz-wordy’ stuff. But all of that means absolutely zero if the tool or the platform doesn’t directly and positively impact the life of another person every single time he or she touches it.
Marie Kondo says it best, and I think it goes well beyond those old books or that ratty T-shirt you should’ve thrown out years ago. Just because we make enterprise software doesn’t mean a product can’t “spark joy.” And if it’s not really, truly, delivering you value and benefit every single time you touch it, toss it. It’s just a product. It’s gotta be about you (hence why the people-first culture approach) – not about the product.
Having a people-first culture and design approach isn’t just for product design. I also believe that we have a very real responsibility to think about the human on the other side of our marketing communications and interactions as well.
I guarantee that you receive too many emails, you have too much work on your plate, and you do not get enough time to spend doing the things you love with the people you love the most. I also guarantee you spend too much time in meetings and having inane conversations with salespeople that continuously say the same things every other salesperson says.
From this angle, a people-first culture and design approach mean not wasting your time. When we design marketing materials or pitches we believe we have a responsibility to keep it short and be respectful of your day. We want to show you the value as quickly and communicate as succinctly as possible (Remember that “No Bullshit” reference at the beginning? It holds here as well.)
We don’t tell overly complicated stories. We don’t design over-blown materials or experiences. And we don’t do “design” for the sake of design. Our most important job is effective and efficient communications, and we take it very seriously.
You’ll even see our people-first culture and design approach if you come to any one of our events. The Design team takes incredible pride in thinking through every single detail from the email invite to the location to the follow-up. Why? Basically, because time is the most valuable resource we all have, and if you choose to spend it with us, we owe you the best, most thoughtful and most valuable experience we can provide.
It really is part of our DNA.
By the way, it’s not just the people on the outside we’re concerned about. 100% of the people-first culture and design approach extends to our internal communications, corporate marketing, our organizational structure, even our decision making processes – basically everything.
From a design point of view, we take the same stances on the quality and effectiveness of our communications, processes and materials we deliver internally as well as those we deliver externally.
Internal newsletters and presentations are held to the same standard as external. We push the quality of our internal corporate swag to retail levels, and we survey and do the research internally on the effectiveness and perception of our work in the same ways we do externally.
People aren’t just customers on the other side of the screen, they’re our colleagues, they sit next to us all day long, and we have a responsibility to bring joy, purpose and meaning to their worlds as well.
I swear it’s not bullshit.
The bottom line on our people-first values (whether culture or design approach) is an acknowledgment that life, in all aspects, is really about people. It’s not about software or enterprise platforms or technology. It’s people doing everything they can to be as effective, productive and fulfilled as possible every single day, and a reminder that we have a responsibility to help all people we encounter fulfill that mission.
Frank is a design leader with a passion for blending inspired creativity with bleeding-edge technology. As VideoAmp's Head of Design he is responsible for honing VideoAmp's brand aesthetic and driving the company's core brand values across marketing, product, and sales.