December 13, 2017No Comments

We needed this like a hole in the head

This grand old lady we have called home for the last six years, was built in the depression - without conventional reinforcing. We’re talking all sorts of ‘bits’ of steel, including old car axels. What started as a subsidence due to the removal of a tree, has resulted in a major reconstruction.

Now the corner pillar in our office requires rebuilding, so we have moved. Our temporarily address is 16 Beresford Square, Newton, where it is business as usual.

Many thanks to Fraser of GardyneHolt for accommodating us.

November 16, 2017No Comments

Look out for the people around you, you might save a life!

There are people struggling in our workplaces, they don’t reveal their issues, we don’t know their darkest thoughts, their constant anguish, their unrelenting mental pain. Sometimes they leave the office - never to return… ever.

The sad fact is depression is alive and kicking in the workplace, some sufferers are high functioning and may be hard to recognise as depressed. And when someone commits suicide we are left asking why? I didn’t realise, he just seemed quiet, a bit preoccupied, I knew he had issues... but I didn’t think he would do that. 

Sir John Kirwan gave 200 of us this reality check at the recent Nurture Change Conference in Fiji. It was very sobering.

So look around at the people you know, the people who work with you and for you. Reach out to them if they are struggling, you may just save a life.

October 15, 2017Comments are off for this post.

What is design thinking?

Design thinking, human-centred design, “HCD”, customer centred design, user centred design…  all current buzzwords.  But what do they really mean, and are we just paying lip service to them?

If we start by asking what they have in common, it is the idea that we put people at the heart of everything we do as a business.  Sound simple? The concept maybe.  But what does this mean? 

It doesn’t mean that we go and survey all our customers and ask them what they want. After all, the average person would not be able to dream up the concept of a motor vehicle (like Henry Ford) or an iphone (like Steve Jobs and his team). 

But what both Henry and Steve had was a deep understanding of human need. People would have asked for a faster horse, or a more comfortable saddle or carriage, to enable them to travel greater distances, faster and in more comfort.  But by understanding the need, something far better was conceived.

What design thinking (and the rest) provides is only a tool which sets out a process to connect with people.  We also need a mindset that is willing to be open, curious and experimental.  Embracing risk and using it to our advantage.  This is often the hardest part for a business.

But by understanding customers’ hopes, dreams, fears and needs better, a business can design better products, services, experiences and brands to deliver to those needs.  It helps us connect authentically with real people in a meaningful way.  And then you will build loyal customers who will be pulled to your business, rather than you having to go looking for them.

Vanessa Ceelen


October 7, 2017Comments are off for this post.

ellen&company, AUT Business School 2017 Excellence in Business Support Awards WINNER

What a great night we had last night with ellen&company winning the Design and Creative Technology Support Category for the AUT Business School 2017 Excellence in Business Support Awards. We were invited to enter, the process was an enormous undertaking and without wanting to sound cliché, we learned a lot on the journey. The judges said we were the clear winner and it was refreshing to see a female management team.

Through design-led thinking we define our clients' unique story and turn it into a powerful tool for growing a business. We are working alongside a number of New Zealand businesses as they continue to increase their global market share. This award is as much about them as us. We are very pleased that the judges have recognised this contribution, and as they said deserving of this award.

We are very happy to talk to more businesses about how this works.

To see more on ellen&company click here

To see the other winners and photos from the night click here

August 21, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Game of Thrones fans sure to love IKEA SKOLD rug

When head costume designer Michele Clapton revealed that Game of Thrones actors wore IKEA SKOLD rugs she handed the Swedish homewares store a marketing opportunity on a plate (pardon the pun).

IKEA quickly released their trademark instructions on how to make your own GAME OF THRONES CAPE.

Smart Marketers!

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Creating your IKEA SKOLD rug cape

SKOLD rug $79

IKEA SKOLD rug $79

IKEA's Vinter Skuldervarmer

IKEA's Vinter Skuldervarmer

1. Cut a hole for your head in a $79 SKOLD rug

1. Cut a hole for your head in a $79 IKEA SKOLD rug

2. Pop the SKOLD rug over your shoulders

2. Pop the IKEA SKOLD rug over your shoulders

3. Now you are to ready to take your vows!

Now you are to ready to take your vows!

4. Voila!


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July 19, 2017Comments are off for this post.

What’s in a naming poll? Nothing if you are British and everything if you are Swedish.

What’s in a naming poll? Nothing if you are British and everything if you are Swedish.

Back in early 2016 the Brits were asked to name a research vessel with ‘Boaty McBoatface’ emerging the clear winner. BUT the National Environment Research Council dumped the winning name. In the end “it did not reflect the credibility of the organisation and its $3.6m artic explorer”. Instead ‘Sir David Attenborough’ was chosen.

The Swedes have regurgitated a British name that is firmly rooted in British humour (Monty Python), given the Brits a slap and run off with the IP.

And now we have the NZ Navy asking the public to design a badge for HMNZS Aotearoa. Public polls and competitions take an enormous amount energy, are expensive and are often for nought. Take the cost of our flag referendum, not counting the collective time of all who entered, put this in the hands of branding experts and we would have the right result at a fraction of the cost.

So why do people think naming, creating a logo or designing a flag is easy and that anyone can do it? These things are created using research, strategy and deep creative thinking and should be left to the experts who have the tools and experience to achieve the right result.

Done well they add value, create loyalty and bring a significant return on investment.

June 19, 2017Comments are off for this post.

A finalist in AUT Business School Excellence in Business Support Awards.

ellen&company selected as finalist in AUT Business School Excellence in Business Support Awards.

Recognised for excellence in the Colab Design and Creative Technology Support category, ellen&company will join finalists across 11 categories at this year’s awards.

“It is very exciting to be recognised as a finalist in these Awards. This recognition reinforces the value our design led thinking adds to our clients bottom line,” says Mary Davy, Creative Director/Owner, ellen&company.

Now into their twelfth year the AUT Excellence in Business Support Awards are the only national performance measure for New Zealand business support organisations. AUT Business School Acting Dean, Professor Kate Kearins congratulates all the finalists in this year’s awards.

“We value our connections with businesses big and small who make the difference every day in supporting other businesses. We salute the individuals who inspire excellence,” says Kearins. 

Winners of the eleven category awards and the supreme award will be named at a gala dinner on 4 October.

May 5, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Annual Reports don’t have to be a headache

We know Annual Report time can be painful: they have to be just right and you’re already busy on the work that drives next year’s results.

Introducing Annual Report pain relief from ellen&company.

Take these reports, designed with a focus on accuracy and efficiency for our client Vista Group.

Vista is a New Zealand success story, and they didn’t get there by being flashy or uneconomical. We created a flexible design that is customised each year, cost-effective printing that looks a million dollars – but importantly isn’t – and the proofing processes required to ensure they not only look right but are.

If you have an Annual Report or design issue we could help fix, we’d love to talk.

Contact us if you would like us to send you a copy. Phone 09 281 5591.


Contact Us

We would love to hear from you, let's sit down over coffee.

Phone : +64 9 281 5591
Email :

L1, 8 Kent Street, Newmarket
Auckland 1023
PO Box 8480, Symonds Street
Auckland 1150

Phone : +64 9 281 5591
Email :

L1, 8 Kent Street, Newmarket
Auckland 1023
PO Box 8480, Symonds Street
Auckland 1150

Phone : +64 9 281 5591
Email :

L1, 8 Kent Street, Newmarket
Auckland 1023
PO Box 8480, Symonds Street
Auckland 1150

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