Visualizing the Unknown

At Bigwidesky, we often get asked, “So, what is it you guys actually do?” Many times, the answer to this question lies in a fifteen-minute in-person conversation.

There are infinite ways to approach a problem and solve it. Bigwidesky helps companies facing transformational crises. We do this by guiding them into the unknown, identifying challenges, and giving them tools and strategies to deal with both obvious and hidden problems.

In other words, it’s complicated.

When we redesigned our website, we knew we didn’t have the benefit of a 15-minute in-person conversation. More likely, we had 2.5 seconds to make a visceral impact and hopefully be memorable enough that they might recall our name.

Adding another layer of complexity, we wanted a metaphor to describe the big, abstract crises that leaders are facing – something that would be compelling, relatable and would resonate with people across different backgrounds, industries and experiences.

Creating a Brand Narrative

So, how would we visualize this unknown? How would we depict these massive, overbearing crises that impact a company’s existence in an uncertain future? For thousands of years, humans have relied on archetypal narratives to help describe abstract ideas. The hero’s journey shows up across cultures and throughout time. It’s a relatable narrative that doubles as a roadmap for facing change. We know that narratives serve a dual-purpose of conveying information. The stories of ancient cultures often functioned as navigational instructions that could be passed down through generations.

Meet Alex, he’s a business leader facing change and navigating uncertainty.

We developed a series, called Crushed By the Machine, with a hero, Alex, who represents a business leader navigating a changing landscape. Alex must lead the team through organizational crises and make the business more human.

Navigating Crisis

The crises that businesses face can truly feel crushing, or at least daunting, mentally consuming and oppressive. They’re problems that keep leaders up at night and threaten their company’s existence. It could be that the company isn’t growing. Or the employees aren’t aligned and happy. Or the expensive systems that have been implemented aren’t being used effectively.

In the three crisis scenes we depicted, the figures are the size of ants, while the objects that represent crisis are massive. At the same time, we wanted to show that the solution to overcoming these situations requires vision, collaboration and a human-centered approach.

Falling Up by Shel Silverstein

We drew our creative inspiration from stories that captivated us as children. The whimsical and minimalistic black and white illustrations of Shel Silverstien and Saul Steinberg inspired us to stretch our imagination in how abstractly we could depict crises. The monsters of Maurice Sendak influenced our characters.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

The imagination and wide-open possibilities of these childhood story books connected with how we orient our approach to facing business challenges. Yes, the crises faced by leaders today can be overwhelming and the stakes are high — but often fear limits the presented choices. When facing these challenges, instead of backing into fear and limiting possibility, we can choose to face the unknown with an openness that allows us to widen our available options.

Through the visualization of these crises and the hero’s journey, we hope to offer another way at viewing the problem and widen leaders’ perspectives.