For a great example of how a leading design firm has built its brand, opened up opportunities and engaged its team through a thought leadership campaign, it's worth looking at the very fast train project from Hassell.
Hassell is a large architectural design firm with 900 staff and 14 studios in Australia, China, South East Asia and the UK. Over two years, the firm allowed up to 15 of its designers to work on a concept for a very fast train that could travel at 400km/h between Sydney and Melbourne – one of the world's busiest transport corridors. That meant it was a huge commitment of time and resources for the firm.
In mid-2011, they unveiled their work – an amazingly detailed and considered piece of design in its own right, but also a piece that suddenly made Australians realise that such a service could be possible. Eight million people a year move between Sydney and Melbourne. Instead of a carbon-consuming flight or a 10-hour drive or train trip, they could move between those two centres in just three hours and in comfort.
While the relevant governments are still debating whether such a service would be feasible, the firm says that releasing the concept – which to me is pure thought leadership; a big idea well articulated – has already delivered numerous benefits. They include winning high-profile media coverage, holding events with politicians and clients, invitations for its designers to talk at international conferences, and new conversations with companies building very fast train systems in other markets around the world.
To see a video of the concept go here.
For some of that media coverage, see this article.
And for Hassell's original media release, go here (scroll to 8 June).