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toa-heftiba-195458Rather than creatives operating independently of each other, with the right management solution, you can bring creative agencies together resulting in a collegiate response with greater transparency, cooperation and return on investment. The process I apply is led by the needs of each client, but the underlying principles are the same: to spread best practice, improve efficiencies and raise the profile and quality of creativity across the organisation.

It was while advising Land Securities, the name behind some of the most ambitious developments in London, that I instigated a roster of design consultancies and copywriters, and remained involved in its management and evaluation. I am a firm believer that roster creation is only the first step. While it’s vital to get the best mix of talents on board, it’s just as important to put in place the right processes to manage relationships and motivate people to produce ever higher standards of work. After assembling the group of creative specialists, we met regularly to share work in progress and be briefed on Land Securities marketing plans, strategy and brand vision. The result was greater knowledge-sharing, improved efficiencies and a real sense of collective endeavour.

Land Securities’ creative output was widely reported as having turned property marketing convention on its head and proved equally effective from a sales perspective. In two years, Land Securities won more creative awards than any other company and was voted one of the “Hot 50 people making a difference in design” two years running in a Design Week poll, as well as being named Design Week’s “Client of the Year”.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF), the UK’s number one heart charity, has enjoyed similar success with this roster methodology. Key to success was the introduction of an agreed design-agency management process and the creation of a structure whereby roster agencies could meet on a regular basis – an invaluable way to share skills and experience, and raise creative standards across the board. In organisations where project managers might not have a design background, such as at BHF, I’ve found that the development and delivery of a ‘Commissioning Design’ workshop has helped educate, whilst also providing a template to support ongoing creative commissioning. This process has made a lasting difference to the way BHF works.

“The design roster helped BHF fully realise their creative potential and work in a more efficient and effective way”, said Louise Kyme then Head of Design at BHF. As with Land Securities, BHF were similarly voted one of the “Hot 50 people making a difference in design” in a Design Week poll and Design Week Benchmark’s “Client of the Year” in 2012, really highlighting the value and impact a cohesive and structured method of working with multiple agencies can bring to all types of business.

stephanie-mccabe-24621My consistent experience is that well managed interaction between agencies nurtures healthy competition and the sharing of a company’s marketing strategy means everyone gets an appreciation of the bigger brand vision. Managed well, a roster can deliver value for money, creative excellence and raise the profile of design and a sense of pride within any institution.

Like any large organisation, BSkyB faced challenges when it came to coordinating creative work, sharing knowledge and maximising resources. They took the step to introduce a year-long creative programme for their online design team as well as their established external agencies. Charlotte Briscall, then BSkyB’s Head of Design, Internet Products and Services, said that as a result, the business benefited from “a leaner and more coherent roster” and “the quality of the design work increased threefold”. What’s more, the creative programme generated a real buzz throughout the organisation, which led to a number of BSkyB’s internal marketing and strategic leaders asking to take part. The value of a collective sense of pride amongst everyone involved in a roster shouldn’t be underestimated; from engagement to productivity it can bring much to a business.

Visionary clients with a real commitment to creativity can deliver truly exciting and lasting results through their roster.

As my client Christine Ayre, Head of Corporate Design at King’s College London said of the value of having a smoothly-functioning, collaborative design roster, is that it “consistently delivers great creative results – raising the profile of good design and raising the creative bar”. And that’s a recipe for success.

About: Jan Casey

With over 25 years’ experience in the creative industry, Jan Casey has substantial expertise from both a business and consultancy perspective.  As board director and shareholder at Lambie-Nairn Ltd she was responsible for the development and direction of multi-disciplinary teams.  As an independent design management consultant for over 15 years, she has delivered a unique set of skills, combining her experience as a brand consultant, project director, business advisor and coach.  Clients include Sainsbury’s, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Royal Mail and Pentagram.

W: jancasey.co.uk

Image credits: © Verne Ho | Unsplash.com

Image credits: © rawpixel.com | Unsplash.com

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You cannot do ‘growth’ on creativity alone

dsc_4330-editToo many agencies focus on the quality of their work and creating a great working environment, but the reality is that your agency will never grow without an equal commitment to the commerciality of the business.

Nick Howe of Uniform summed this up nicely when he said, “In order to grow you need to nurture all three areas of the business in EQUAL measure:

 

  • Creativity
  • Culture and
  • Commerciality”

Organic growth happens by accident – and it can easily be reversed by events outside your control. To achieve sustainable growth it needs to be decided on as a defined aim of the business. And once you make the decision to grow, you need a very clear plan.

(Read more about the Uniform growth story here.)

The plan

io1-20160607101452908Your plan has to be flexible – to deal with issues like clients putting projects on hold, or key staff getting ill – so it needs to be constantly updated.

Trevor Cairns, CEO of LOVE, joined the agency four years ago after heading the UK business of Nike (a client of the agency). He has brought with him structure, commerciality – and most importantly, a plan.

Says Trevor, “I re-launch the plan every six months. I have an in-depth version for the Board, a version for the senior management team, and a top-level one for the whole team. It means that everyone knows the direction of travel, and it puts context around all our decisions so that all staff can understand why we are doing specific things.”

In 2012 Uniform decided to make a concerted effort to grow. They had the right mix of people at the top – the three founders plus two others on the Board – to cover the “3 C’s”, and put together a clear plan on how they would achieve their goals.

Radically, they decided to cut their client list in half, but at the same time widening their scope of work so they were able to deliver more work for the clients they kept. They re-introduced R&D to the business and invested heavily in developing their culture and processes. They built new services and worked hard to find the best talent to deliver the services.

They raised £1/2m in grant money and bank funding (which the directors personally guaranteed), and invested a further £1/2m of profits back into the business over the following three years.

Both Love and Uniform have similar basic plans for the years ahead – which Trevor at LOVE summarised as “20:20:20”. Aiming for 20% annual growth, a 20% profit margin and having no client contributing more than 20% of their business. But as Trevor emphasised, “Our plan is a guide, not a rule. Don’t risk your culture by doing soul destroying work just to get from 18% to 20%.”

Make decisions based on your plan, and act quickly.

growthHaving a business plan makes the hard decisions easier to make. The plan is the filter through which all decisions are put through:

  • Do we hire this person?
  • Do we chase this type of work?
  • Do we let this person go?

These decisions are all made easier by asking if they fit with the plan.

Letting people go is never easy, but having a plan makes it clear earlier when people are not right, or if the business cannot sustain someone in that position. One wrong person can have a negative effect on the whole business.

paul-bw-2It also justifies difficult decisions with clients. “Don’t be afraid to sack a client,” says Nick “they have to be profitable.” Another DBA member, Exesios headed by Paul Brammer, admitted that once they got their systems sorted out they discovered that their largest client, who was taking up 50% of their time, was only contributing a tiny fraction of their profit. Losing the client suddenly freed up so much time for other, more profitable, clients.

Proactive recruitment

The biggest single thing that both LOVE and Uniform did when they started on their route to growth was to change their recruitment model. In the past they had tried to win work, then find the extra staff quickly in order to fulfill that work. The speed at which you have to recruit means that you often recruit the wrong person – you are just trying to “get the bodies in.” Changing to a proactive model iss key.taxi_website2015_team_inpage_brian_mansfield_desktop

Brian Mansfield, Chairman of Taxi Studios in Bristol, backs this up. His rather succinct mantra is “hire slow, fire fast.” Constantly looking for good people, and hiring them when you find them, protects your culture because you are not panic-hiring. But if you get it wrong, you have to act quickly.

While Nick Howe acknowledges that many might see proactive recruitment as a gamble, he preferred to think of it as “investing in people.” LOVE hasn’t had a problem finding work for their new people. Trevor explains, “Saying you have a creative director specialising in packaging, or experiential, makes winning work a lot easier than trying to convince a client that you can skill up and hire a team if they give you the work.”

Develop your staff

growthIn addition to recruiting good staff, a key way to maintain your culture is to develop existing staff and grow them as the company grows. Uniform identified that on their planned growth journey they would quickly reach a time where they would need a middle management team to manage the day to day running of the business. They identified six staff in the business who they felt had what it takes, did a skills analysis, and produced a management team development programme to skill them up. The programme consisted of internal mentoring, external training courses from the DBA and D&AD and in-house training with consultants running bespoke courses, again organised by the DBA.

“Plans have to be flexible,” said Nick “two of the six didn’t work out – they were less interested in the management side but because we had such an open and honest dialogue this was identified early enough for us to develop career paths for them in the creative areas they loved.”

“Change makes people nervous,” says Trevor, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Love have managed to maintain a recruitment rate of one person a month, to allow the last person to get settled before the next new person arrives.

Uniform’s growth has changed the balance of their agency somewhat, with a much stronger focus on new business (from one to four people) to bring in the amount of work needed, and client servicing (from two to nine people) to build relationships with existing clients – all part of the plan to do more work for their existing clients.

Practise what you preach

growthIt is very easy to fall into the trap described as “the plumber with the leaky tap” where everyone in the agency concentrates on producing great work for the clients, but no one thinks about their own brand. Nick Farrar, MD and owner of Workbrands says, “You have to look after the day-to-day stuff – the infrastructure to make your agency run smoothly” and, “look after your own brand and marketing.” The inference is clear – how can you advise clients if you don’t practise what you preach? Look after your own brand. There is nothing wrong with commissioning another agency to do your website if you don’t have the best digital skills in-house. And don’t be too proud to ask for advice – whether that be from accountants, friends in other businesses or mentors.

Be true to yourself and enjoy

growth

And finally, Merle Hall of Kinneir Dufort, says you have to be true to your values and enjoy what you are doing. She quotes Jim Collins’ Hedgehog concept principle #1 “ Do what you are most passionate about.” After all, if you are not enjoying it you can’t do it brilliantly. This authenticity at the heart of your business will allow you to “do great stuff” – which allows the growth to happen.

DBA Expert Ralph Ardill argues that the most important “client” for every agency is their own business. Agencies should set up a “Project You”, put time and a budget against it just as you would a paying client, and commit to it as you would your most important client. Read more about Ralph’s “Project You” ideas here

Recommended reading

The following have been suggested by members for those looking to make a step change in their business:

“Win without pitching” by Blair Enns

“Small Giants” by Bo Burlingham

“Good to great” by Jim Collins

“Building design strategy” ­by Thomas Lockwood

“How to run a successful design business” by Shan Preddy

You can find more examples of agency growth in these case studies:

Nalla

PATH

Uniform

Image credits: © Redwall | Dreamstime.com

Image credits: © Les Cunliffe | Dreamstime.com

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Designers, jones knowles ritchie, were asked to create the bold and brave design that would get Hippeas noticed. The brand positioning and design idea were both inspired by the brand’s unique name and its immediate phonetic reference to the hippie movement. The design language needed to avoid clichés, yet speak directly to a modern generation of ‘hippies’ – those in search of a healthy lifestyle that has a positive impact on the world and communities.

jkr-hippeas-1The design was created around the graphic of a smiling ‘Hippeas face’ to instil positive perception in its buyers at the shelf. A chickpea for the eye is a quirky way of hinting at its main ingredient and each flavour has a different colour for the tongue.

The branding went beyond the design, jones knowles ritchie developed Hippeas’ identity, personality and tone of voice, which tell the story of its socially-conscious ethos. Irreverent humour that builds on the hippie movement appeals to today’s savvy consumer market and words and phrases such as ‘power to the peaple’ and ‘peas and love’ have become part of the brand vocabulary.

Despite an increasingly saturated snack food market, Hippeas managed to break through with an unprecedented product launch. Not one retailer that Hippeas approached refused to list their products.

Having only been trading for six months, they managed to gain listings in 16,000 stores in the UK and the US, with the likes of Whole snackingFoods and Starbucks amongst them.

Beyond the launch, jones knowles ritchie has helped Hippeas to develop its social missions and initiatives. They now partner with Farm Africa on a joint initiative, ‘Food for Good’, where Hippeas supports farmers in Ethiopia to grow themselves out of poverty and build a more prosperous life for their families. They are also embarking on a three-year journey to fund and develop a fair trade, self-sustainable chickpea farming community in Ethiopia. The brand’s commitment to improving the lives of farmers and Ethiopian communities is paramount to its vision.

Hippeas won Gold at the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards.

Judged by business leaders and entered jointly by client and designer, the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards recognise and reward designs that have had a tangible, measurable impact on business success. The Call for Entries is now closed. Email awards@dba.org.uk to express your interest in the 2019 DBA Design Effectiveness Awards.

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An aroma for change

ScotchBoasting such a rich history and a beautiful story, Buchanan’s still wanted to retain its powerful brand but with a fresher, more contemporary look for its range.

forceMAJEURE got under the skin of the brand to unearth the real story of James Buchanan, a well-regarded philanthropist who established the company. They visited the Dalwhinnie Distillery to discover the archives and bottling facilities and draw more from its history. These insights formed the inspiration and basis for the range’s new brand, bottle and secondary packaging design.

A homage to heritage

Four key elements were focused on to bring out the heritage. First, they took inspiration from the original label, which featured a legal document outlining the contract to supply whisky to the House of Lords. Second, they chose to adopt a canteen-shaped bottle that has long been a symbol for sharing as they mirror the WW1 water canteens. Finally, they wanted to include the James Buchanan seal that represents quality and authenticity, and the colour green, which harks back to the lush green landscape of Scotland.

With these ideas in mind, a new design was created. They used his signature and stamps to act as a seal of approval for every bottle. A new cap mechanism was added that literally breaks the seal to create a ritual experience. An ingenious embossing of the family crest at the back of the bottle can be seen from the front. These all create a premium feel and look, uplifting the brand.

While the new bottles have a contemporary vibe, the clever instillation of Buchanan’s history elevates its heritage and gives the brand extra weight and importance.

Aged for success

Scotch

Following the redesign, Buchanan’s has been reinvigorated. It has seen a 23% increase in value in Mexico and a 52% growth in value in Colombia in the space of a year. In the US – the largest market for the brand – value growth is up 9%. Overall, brand value has expanded by 20% and an 8% increase in volume in key markets has been seen.

Importantly, brand distinctiveness has increased by 20%. This has helped it to receive more interest and demand from both customers and consumers alike, which has allowed Buchanan’s to enter new markets and has driven further penetration.

 

About the Design Effectiveness Awards

Buchanan’s won Gold at the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards.

Judged by business leaders and entered jointly by client and designer, the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards recognise and reward designs that have had a tangible, measurable impact on business success. The Call for Entries is now closed. Email awards@dba.org.uk to express your interest in the 2019 Design Effectiveness Awards.

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Main Content

Jules candidly explained how The Clearing had traditionally found it very easy to talk about how wonderful their work was, with the dialogue following a very linear process:

– ‘We were given this challenge’

– ‘We came up with this fantastic solution’

– ‘These were the results (increased sales / brand recognition etc)’

– ‘Didn’t we do well?’

She told me they had a tendency to talk about how much of a challenge the agency was presented with, and therefore how amazing the agency is for having grappled with, and overcome, those challenges. They are not alone; it is a scenario that is pretty common in the design and branding sector.

pensRecently though, The Clearing has completely changed the way it thinks about its work and what they do for clients. Says Jules, “We have reassessed how we do new business pitches, how we write our credentials, how we articulate everything about what we do.”

The light bulb moment for Jules and the team was their attendance at the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards ceremony in March. The ceremony is a showcase of wide-ranging examples of transformational design and it made them think; “what impact have we had on our clients’ businesses?”

The complexity in a rebranding project can lead you to forget that, actually, it all boils down to how you transform a business. The impact is not just found in the roll-out and increased sales; whilst the outcome is less about the development of a brand architecture and more about the change in the business itself.

“What goes into a project is complex, but the outcome needs to be simplified”, suggests Jules. “There is a beautiful simplicity in saying ‘Because of our involvement something different happened to that business’ – it takes away all the design and branding jargon.”

The new mantra at The Clearing is “What did we do? And did it make a change?” The aim being that they can confidently say of their work with past clients: “As a result of working with us these businesses changed.” They are able to talk to clients as business partners. As a partner capable of fixing more than just a particular project-focused need, one that can transform a whole business.https-cdn-evbuc-com-images-31718910-102399855273-1-original

This shift in perspective is being translated across the agency – The Clearing’s team are in the process of rewriting everything, including their website, to reflect their new found simplicity.

“This may all sound obvious, but it is something I feel very passionate about,” says Jules. “Our industry has a tendency to over-complicate things to maintain an air of “magic creativity” and promote how we solve complex challenges. We now think differently, and it has changed our business for the better.”

 

With thanks to Jules Griffith, Marketing Director, The Clearing.

The Clearing is an independent branding agency of approximately 25 staff based in Clerkenwell, London. Founded in 2010, they were named the UK’s best branding consultancy at The Drum Network Awards. They joined the DBA in 2015. 

Image credit: © Rawpixelimages | Dreamstime.com

Image credit: © Nikkytok | Dreamstime.com

Image credit: © Gary Woodard | Dreamstime.com

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The increase in complexity of client demands and the continued search for transparency has transformed the art of account management.

Historically speaking, activities such as return on investment analysis, client profitability and efficiency reporting were all tasks reserved for the agency finance team alone. Nowadays as an AM, you are having to deal with these requests at the helm and often require answers on the spot. Your skill set has had to expand from largely relationship building attributes to include much more analytical and finance orientated tasks, adding meaningful input where the client sees value.

In addition to these varied reporting requests, you also have to deal with managing the delivery of a far greater breadth of offerings across a number of channels, as well as the stress of tightening client budgets and, more often than not, justifying to client procurement how the agency adds value. Couple this with managing internal agency functions such as looking after a team, providing direction on specific resource allocation and ensuring adequate capacity planning and it can all get a bit much!

The direct correlation between client satisfaction and efficient client service means the more complex client management gets, the heavier our reliance becomes on accurate and timely information being available to adapt to client demands. Given the amount of effort required to ensure the availability of this information after the fact, it often becomes tiresome to prepare and removes us from working on the things we love about the job and those things genuinely making a difference for our clients. Double entry, the manipulation of dumped data in Excel and pulling together comments from various different systems are all unnecessary additions to the daily workload and run the risk that you’ll lose control of the data. But there is a solution.

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As my colleague, Les Parry Managing Director of Pegasus Systems, alluded to in his article for the DBA last year “The Importance of Information”, one of the magic ingredients to achieving seamless access to job information is to ensure everything is in one place and one place only, your core system.

With the right system in place, job level and client related information should be ready at the push of a button at the end of the process. This will put you firmly in control of your data, whilst the headache of using Excel and multiple other tools to prepare estimates, create revenue forecasts, allocate resources etc. will be a thing of the past.

Performing a review of your job management processes is often the first step to making any clear changes for the better – something we at Pegasus Systems ensure is completed during the implementation phase of introducing a new system. This provides you with a full understanding of what information you’ll need to ‘get out’ and therefore importantly what needs to be inputted first, so that when required, you’ll seamlessly have all the information you need.

With your data for the 2017 DBA Annual Survey now submitted, and the Report eagerly awaited in a few months, it’s an opportune time to ask ourselves how we can best use this internal information to win more business, make our current clients more profitable and gain meaningful ground on the war against unnecessary admin this year.

Partners for the DBA Annual Survey Report 2017

pegasus pegasus

Pegasus provides a specialised marketing services software solution focused on exceeding our clients’ expectations, developing the system with our user base and building long term relationships through innovation and exceptional client support. Our clients include all major international groups, plus a growing number in the UK with notable agencies such as JKR and Droga5 amongst them. Supporting over 130 clients with 6,000+ staff globally in London, New York, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Japan. We are a private staff-owned company with over 30 years focused solely on the advertising and communications industry. All directors are previously agency FDs, all client service and product delivery staff have worked in agencies in senior financial roles. Our in-depth understanding of agencies’ processes is our strength!

About: Daniel Hogan, Consultant, Pegasus Systems (UK)

Daniel Hogan is a CA qualified Consultant at Pegasus Systems UK with an extensive history in operational and financial management of Advertising, Design, Creative and Digital agencies. He specialises in agency platform transition management and is committed to growing the presence of Pegasus in the UK.

Not a DBA member?

If you are interested in benefiting from access to the DBA Annual Survey Report – the most in-depth benchmarking report in the design industry, analysing the fees, salaries, utilisation, income, recovery rates, benefits, and trends of DBA members – please contact adam.fennelow@dba.org.uk for membership details, or take a look at our membership benefits.

Image credit: © Stevanovicigor | Dreamstime.com

Image credit: © Bakhtiarzein | Dreamstime.com

Image credit: © Frannyanne | Dreamstime.com

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The new Directors appointed to the DBA’s Board are:

Aileen Geraghty, Managing Director, 999 Design London

Vicky Bullen, CEO, Coley Porter Bell

Nanna Ulrich Gudum, Vice President, Design, LEGO Group (co-opted to Board in October 2016 and formerly appointed at AGM)

The Directors reappointed to the DBA’s Board are:

Jim Thompson, MD, 20.20 and DBA President

Erika Clegg, Founder, Spring

Jeremy Lindley, Global Design Director, Diageo

Details of the full Board can be found here. 

The DBA is the design industry’s trade association and champions the transformative power of design, promoting its strategic and economic value to business and government.

Against an unparalleled backdrop of political and economic challenges as the UK moves towards its exit from the EU, the government must continue to grow its recognition of the vital role the UK design industry plays in our nation’s competitiveness.

British design is not only world leading, but is also central to the economy, helping to drive innovation and improve productivity. The design economy alone contributes 7.2 percent to the total UK economy and currently employs more than 1.5 million people. Design impacts all sectors of the economy and touches every aspect of our lives through the products and services we use.

For the future prosperity of the UK and ongoing growth of the design industry, the DBA is focused on securing support and recognition for the sector in the government’s long-term plans so that design is rightly seen as a major contributor to the British economy in its own right, as well as a driver for growth in terms of both commercialising innovation and manufacturing.

Says DBA CEO Deborah Dawton, “This is a vital time for our industry, which presents both opportunity and challenges. Our highly experienced and dynamic Board of Directors, drawn from leading design consultancies and design-driven businesses, play a fundamental role in developing the strategy by which the DBA will continue to drive design ever further up the agenda in business and government over the coming years, as well as developing the frameworks by which we can support the industry to keep pace with change as the sector grows its influence and impact. We are delighted to welcome our new Board Directors whose extensive experience will be vital in this important, industry shaping work.”

Aileen Geraghty, MD 999 Design London

image002-convertimageThe impact of design on business has never felt more relevant – it’s the lifeblood that helps differentiate – so let’s use these difficult times to drive it up the agenda and convert the unconverted. I’m looking forward to the journey.”

Vicky Bullen, CEO Coley Porter Bell

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“As we head towards Brexit the DBA will play a key role in helping our industry face into the path of change, and with 30 years in the industry, I am looking forward to bringing my experiences of adapting and changing to the table. The battle for talent will also continue to intensify – we need to attract and keep great talent. The DBA is a strong voice to government and is uniquely positioned to emphasise the need for funding and support to ensure our industry continues to thrive.”

Nanna Ulrich Gudum, Vice President Design LEGO Group

Nanna Ulrich Gudum“During my 20 years at LEGO, my focus has been on attracting and retaining international design talent and building a strong innovative team with a global creative mindset – experience I believe to be highly relevant to the DBA membership in growing their own businesses at this time of change for the UK, and which I am happy to share with the DBA network.”   

Image credits: © Carlosphotos | Dreamstime.com

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Main Content

What put the sparkle back into this classic?

orangina-line-up-a-72dpiClever and stunningly effective design; design that was about best practice evolution rather than radical reinvention and which unlocked Orangina’s playful personality and heritage, reawakening a forgotten icon.

The new positioning and sophisticated livery by BrandMe harnessed the brand’s equities to communicate a premium and vibrant personality. Orangina no longer competes on price, emotional value has been built back into the brand and consumers are willing to pay considerably more for the soft drink – over 60% more for in fact, in the case of their slimline can multipacks.

There’s much to learn from LSR’s design investment and its pivotal role in restoring Orangina to its iconic status and premium positioning.

Now, more than ever, design is a sound commercial investment. In an increasingly complex world where customer experience is everything, design can elicit the response you want in your consumer. It is the common denominator in businesses whose products and services stand up and out from the crowd.

At the DBA we’ve been rewarding designs that have had a tangible and measurable impact on business success for over 25 years through our Design Effectiveness Awards. In the words of one of the Awards’ judges, Dragons’ Den’s Deborah Meaden, “There’s been a huge change in the way the businesses that I deal with see design. It used to be the kind of money they couldn’t afford to spend. It’s actually fast becoming money that they know they need to spend. It needs to take priority because when you don’t have good design you don’t sell a product.” It’s as simple as that.

Take a read of Orangina’s Gold winning DBA Design Effectiveness Award entry, along with all of the Bronze, Silver and Gold winners go to effectivedesign.org.uk

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Main Content

user“Everyone knows designing a website around its users is essential,” but says chosen agency, Thompson Brand Partner’s Rachel Cook, “I’ve not seen anything like this early, entirely integrated user involvement in other client projects. Young people truly affected everything, from choosing their agency, leading and approving content, feeding into wireframes, voting on naming and terminology use, selecting the direction of the illustration style. It’s incredibly comprehensive.”

NHS Leeds South & East CCG and Thompson are to be applauded for their agile, user-centric approach and solution: MindMate’s design, content and language were shaped by young people all the way through, ensuring it deals with the most extreme sensitivities in a way that relates rather than patronises, makes sense of the help and support available, and critically engages its audience.

It’s a stunningly effective design: since launch, MindMate has smashed targets, inspired the sector, created an ambassador programme and become a template for other CCGs.

Physically winning the MindMate project involved an initial chemistry meeting with the client and a young person; the shortlisted agencies then had to carry out three practical workshops with young people before Thompson was chosen.user

“Whilst this user-centric process undoubtedly means that more time and money will need to be spent on user engagement, it pays dividends by helping you to make smart decisions, quickly, and therefore cost-effectively,” points out Cook. “No matter how in touch we think we are with our audience, you can’t ever really second guess your users. We never failed to be surprised about what they felt worked and what didn’t.”

The process, she adds, can also help the client “to reassure stakeholders that they’re taking every precaution in ensuring the success of the project.”

userThis level of deep understanding of the customer is helping one charity innovate in the retail space, enabling it to grow at a tough time for the charity sector. As a result, World Vision UK is trailblazing the way non-profit organisations think about face-to-face fundraising.

With the help of retail design consultancy The Yard Creative (TYC), the international children’s charity repositioned sponsor acquisitions away from the mass market and focused on a specific post-demographic consumer with a proven high lifetime value – (defined in summary as) affluent women aged 40-60.

“By putting the donor at the heart of the fundraising activity you begin to understand more than just the demographics,” says Steve James-Royle, co-founder of TYC, whose ‘Story Shop’ concept for the charity has helped deliver child sponsorship acquisitions 65% above target for the charity through its unique and rich customer experience.

Research had revealed the potential synergy between premium shopping centres and the desired target market, but high-end mega malls were refusing entry to World Vision due to the negative perception of charities’ traditional face-to-face fundraising.

userThe insights TYC gained from the customer research identified the need for emotion in retail. “The target audience can see through the average marketing spin of everyday,” James-Royle says, “What they want is meaningful connections.”

This focused TYC on the emotional connection needed to convert potential sponsors. They adopted a creative, retail minded approach, moving away from an intrusive fundraising experience that repels, to an enjoyable, immersive, technology driven, retail led experience that potential sponsors openly choose to engage with and TYC engaged the target audience throughout to understand how they would react to the design.

The Story Shop was born: designed as a mid-mall retail kiosk with the look of a specialist vintage store – customers can explore the interactive drawers at their own leisure to read the story of World Vision. The experience not only resonated deeply with the identified customer, but also gained the trust of wary landlords. “We involved them throughout the whole concept design process and enabled them to input,” says James-Royle, “They then did their bit to ensure World Vision was seen as a ‘retailer’ and that it would be good for their business.”

But there’s no resting on their laurels for either of these initiatives – both agencies are now involved in the next generations of the projects. “It’s vital that MindMate stays up to date, both as services and advice changes,” but also says Cook, “to keep talking to our users so we know what they need.”

No matter how much you think you know about your audience, it’s always worth digging deeper.

MindMate and The Story Shop are both winners in the 2017 DBA Design Effectiveness Awards.

Image credits: © Convisum | Dreamstime.com

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