Photograph Your People To Look Like Architects, Not Bankers
As just mentioned, photography is key to setting the tone of a firm. Paying for professional photography is worth every penny. Often photographs make architects look more like bankers, or, on the other end of the spectrum, images often look like they were taken on a mobile phone and feature people sitting at cluttered work stations wearing plastic smiles.
Work with a photographer who understands that architects are artists, and that the images and their backgrounds need to reflect that.
Better than headshots are photographs in-situ. In office photos give a sense of the firm’s culture, atmosphere and style. But please don’t feature your office if, well let’s just say, if your lobby has green carpeting that could be mistaken for indoor putting green practice (yes I know a firm like this).
Photographs that are taken at project sites are my favorite. While these images tend to need a wider angle than a tightly cropped headshot, they’re wonderful for placing on the web to highlight work in a way that feels more alive than typical project images, which tend to be people-less.
Use Thought Leadership To Establish Deep Expertise
The most significant way to establish differentiation is through the promotion of thought leadership. By thought leadership I’m referring to deep expertise as presented through speaking and publishing.
Each individual in your firm has some kind of unique, deep understanding of technical, aesthetic, process or design issue. Maybe your firm is set up to get multiple projects in multiple locations through the construction chute quickly. Can your Project Manager write or speak about how the firm’s project management is set up for expediency? Is there some new form of communications technique you’re using to boost team effectiveness like GoToMeetings or collaborative document development through Google docs?
Maybe there’s just no one better at understanding the right mix of materials for creating historic mortars. Or one of your professionals recently returned from a study trip to Paris where their more stringent and longer established sustainability requirements yielded ideas for new techniques.
Whatever the expertise, speaking and publishing about that is critical to getting above the fray of vanilla profile descriptions. Pertinent articles can be posted for download on web profiles. In proposals or SOQs, talk synopses or article reprints can be excellent added resources in an Appendix if space allows.
Here’s a challenge. For the next 2 days, carry a small notepad and pen with you throughout the day. Any time you express something about work that you feel you deeply understand, or that you have a very strong opinion on, write it down. See if you can’t come up with ten ideas that you would be well qualified to speak or write about. This is the beginning of creating a thought leadership campaign that will establish differentiation.