How South Africa’s leading advertising agency uses Names & Faces to stay connected

Marina Pape
May 15, 2020
Head of Marketing

That ‘ideas can come from anywhere’ is one of the guiding principles at King James – an award-winning advertising agency in South Africa – and having a Names & Faces employee directory is one of the ways they have been able to put the principle into practice, encourage collaboration, and protect the company’s culture as they’ve scaled.

King James
: Johannesburg and Cape Town
Directory categories
: Department; Region; Company; Clients; Upcoming Birthdays
Data source: Google Sheet
Favorite feature:
Company & Client info per person

From ‘disastrously ugly’ PDF to fast, visual tool

The reason King James adopted Names & Faces in the first place was to solve a growth problem. They had a tradition of manually producing a printed PDF directory of who was who in the building which MD, Taryn Walker, describes as ‘disastrously ugly, time-consuming and increasingly unwieldy to produce’:

“We signed up for Names & Faces at the time we took on two really big clients and had explosive growth in terms of the number of people we added to the building. To maintain your culture at that growth level is extremely difficult."

Adopting Names & Faces allowed King James to build a flexible, digital employee directory, from data in a Google Sheet, and keep it up to date (without printing a page).

“We’re a big agency but someone forgot to tell us.”

The agency’s culture is what Taryn cites as making King James really special. It is defined by seeing people as humans, not employees, with everyone encouraged to bring their whole self to work. A practical example of this: all staff are encouraged to have a side hustle.

“Creativity is a human product so if you don’t make it possible for people to show up fully at work you block creativity.”

Image: Some of the King James team at the Cape Town office
Some of the King James team at the Cape Town office.

When it comes to the work, their commitment to creative product is unwavering. Part of their cultural bedrock is that ideas can come from anywhere which is a principle they try to live and breathe. Names & Faces plays a key role in this:

“Someone can be sitting in the activation agency in JHB, have an idea for Santam – a client of Cape Town - and quickly find the right person to talk to. It makes it possible for people to get in touch easily with those other teams and live out our core principle of ideas coming from anywhere.”

Taryn explains that if you have powerful ideas that speak to human truths – and put them at the heart of what you do – the remaining work is to bring together the right people to translate those ideas into different channels and disciplines.

“Names & Faces helps everyone at King James to connect because it helps you find who you need to. It has enabled more integrated sharing of ideas across teams.”

A tool to help navigate the agency’s group structure 

King James is a group of companies comprising of the main agency in Cape Town as well as King James Digital (services and platforms, digital comms and social); King James Data & Media; Proof (procurement and print production); HammerLive (events) and Atmosphere (PR). 

These entities sometimes come together in a ‘black box way’ to serve a client through-the-line while other times brands are clients of just one of the entities within the group. 

“The Company & Client fields in Names & Faces help everyone to navigate the multiple companies within the King James Group and find who they are looking for to share an idea.”

Image: King James at the Loeries in 2018
King James at the Loeries in 2018

Farewell phonebooks, hello connection

Names & Faces is available on both mobile and web – and King James have high usage for both platforms. With a lot of staff working consistently at their desks, it’s easy to keep Names & Faces open in a tab and access it that way. And it serves as a phone book – nobody stores work numbers on their phones anymore. 

New joiners are encouraged to sign on as soon as they start to be able to connect with the right people and know who’s who in the building. Names & Faces gives instant access into the King James world:

“It’s always on, ready access to everyone in the building. We tell new people to sign up and say: ‘There, go, that’s King James’ “.

In closing

We’re delighted that Names & Faces has served King James for three years and counting and look forward to bringing out new features and UI details to drive even more connection into the future. 

We’re proud to serve a growing number of the world’s best advertising agencies with world class directories - including AMV BBDO, Goodby Silverstein & Partners and Ogilvy. If you’d like to get a directory for your company or agency, get in touch.

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