Ron Burrage has led design teams at Disney, was the first creative director at Cranium, Inc and while at Procter & Gamble, was at the helm of design efforts for many of the Company’s billion dollar brands. Today, Ron has the sweetest job on earth, leading design for The Hershey Company. He tells us why…
I have the sweetest job on earth because… Besides the fact that my office literally sits on the corners of Cocoa and Chocolate Avenues, I am privileged to work on brands that consumers have made part of their lives for over 120 years as well as create the new brands that will hopefully be part of the next 120!
In my design career I am most proud of… watching students in my classes transform into designers, and designers who worked on my teams transform into the design thought leaders of today.
My time at Disney taught me… the power of story-telling and character motivation. It applies to everything from Mickey Mouse to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. It also taught me the importance of relevance. Keeping iconic characters and brands top of mind while maintaining their legacies is a really hard task for designers. You could easily go down the path of a trend and alter a story that has taken decades to build. Sometimes that is a great thing, sometimes it can destroy an icon.
When making the leap from hands-on designer, to design leadership I wish I’d known…to not try to jump in to solve problems for the people I hired to do the hands-on work. I found myself in conflict with some amazing creative talent. When I started to look at the work through the lens of “it’s not good work” vs. “it’s not good work because I didn’t do it,” my relationships, and the work, got infinitely stronger.
Being a fearless creative is… believing in your convictions without being too stubborn, proud or precious to accept that great creative ideas can come from anyone. Being fearless is also having the courage to fight as hard to ensure work you don’t believe in never makes it to your consumer.
A brand’s heritage should… inspire innovation by looking to the past and leave a legacy for those that will come after.
I’m inspired by… music, theatre and running. All take me to places in my head where I find my best ideas.
I wish I’d designed… The Printing Press.
I’d tell my younger self… chill out and enjoy what you’re doing right now.
I’m most looking forward to… the day we no longer have to prove the strategic value of Design. It’s just Design.
The Hershey Company is a member of the DBA. Ron will be speaking at the DBA’s Design: driving transformation in business event on 12 October in London. Find out more and reserve your place.
About: Ron Burrage, Senior Director, Head of Global Design, The Hershey Company
Ron is creative brand story-teller with 25 years experience in consumer products, brand identity and experience design and development. He’s led design teams at Disney creating merchandise collections for Disney’s California Adventure, Disneyland Park and the Walt Disney World Resort. He was brought on as the first creative director at Cranium, Inc., the fastest growing independent toy and game company in the U.S., helping to expand their reach into the world of publishing, toys and licensing. While at Procter & Gamble, he was at the helm of design efforts for many of the Company’s billion dollar brands including Old Spice, Secret, Gillette, Olay, Pantene and Head & Shoulders.
Today, Ron has the sweetest job on earth, leading design for The Hershey Company.