A roundup of need-to-knows, industry expertise, and exclusive resources, along with details of the direct support the DBA can provide to your design business.
Read more >>
As a qualified Non-Executive Director with the Financial Times’ Post-Graduate Diploma, Adrian has 30 years’ experience as a Director/Leader in design firms including Landor, Siegel & Gale, Further, Ziggurat and Uffindell.
Adrian is an accredited member of the DBA Experts Register.
Over the last thirty years, tangerine has become one of the world’s leading design consultancies. We’ve created some of the most iconic products and customer experiences for some of the best-known international brands.
Our work has transformed consumer’s lives, companies’ performances and even whole markets:
From the very beginning, we’ve tried to help businesses see beyond the obvious, to offer fresh thinking on what really matters. We’ve enabled CEOs and other seniors to recognise the value of design and the benefits it can bring to their organisation.
We understand that consumers want to buy into an experience. That crowded lives mean people increasingly seek simplicity and clarity rather than variety or complexity, but they also put a high value on style and meaning. They, like our clients, demand the very best design experience.
Our recent work with airline Cathay Pacific is a compelling example of how we built our client’s understanding of the importance of design to deliver the best possible experience for customers and create brand differentiation that added value to the business.
What began as a request for a design team to redesign the trim and finish on their new A350 aircraft interiors became an opportunity to radically improve economy class comfort through a unique seating design.
Using our considerable industry experience and expertise, we approached the chosen seating manufacturer and convinced them to change the design of their headrest to radically improve the passenger experience.
The new, unique invention proposed was to create a proprietary designed six- way headrest that increases lateral support to improve sleep. The result was heralded as the biggest upgrade to long-haul economy in 2017, leading media outlets to hail Cathay Pacific’s new economy class seat is a “tiny revolution”.
Over the years, success for us has been about learning, evolving and adapting to new circumstances, but without ever losing sight of the goal; to create ground-breaking innovation and design that makes businesses profitable and consumers happy.
HSBC is a huge organisation, operating in over 70 countries and territories. My role touches globally across media, businesses, propositions and cultures and I need to stay connected with them all. Over the past year of looking after the brand I’ve found that most people throughout our company are sincere natural problem solvers who want to deliver impactful creative work.
This enthusiasm from colleagues at times spill over into design and the brand. That is usually when my phone rings. Our brand is worth over 20billion dollars and protecting and raising awareness of the brand is a key part of my day-to-day routine. Being an agent for the importance of design is a key part of it. However, I’ve quickly found that what being an agent for design actually means for a global brand is quite different than what it means when managing a smaller one.
Sometimes it actually means letting go a little and just guiding the momentum that others are producing to a positive outcome. With digital becoming more and more important, I was aware that, like many other brands, ours would need to evolve for new spaces. A good example of this are the tiles that represent the App on your mobile. They’re much smaller and need to convey a lot more information. Our existing design approach and use of the logo just didn’t support it.
Like many brands, we’re innovating in the digital space at breakneck speed. I had many teams around the globe developing products and engaging agencies with an entrepreneurial spirit and the best of intentions. However, they had varying degrees of understanding of design and the brand their products were a part of.
So began a project of global collaboration. Working with the products owners, a team that manages our digital customer experience, creative agencies, as well as our internal in-house design resource – we created a design system that was flexible enough to accommodate our many (many) needs, but consistent enough that it looked like it was all coming from one brand, HSBC.
Once the guidelines and templates had been developed, we’d gone from an organic design approach, where some solutions were better than others, to one smart design system for the brand globally.
Two different animals.
Designing a brand and designing within a brand are two different animals. One of the biggest challenges during this project was to arrive at a design system that both celebrated the modern, innovative space we were moving into while still making sure we were taking the HSBC brand along with it.
After working with my colleagues and their agencies, we were finding that the solutions were innovative, but lacked a connection to the brand. The final solution actually came from an in-house designer in our office in Hong Kong. While it was his deep understanding of our goals and the brand that guided him, I don’t think his designs would have reached their final successful system without that injection of fresh thinking the agencies brought to the project.
Maybe it does take a village.
I’m used to hearing (and using) the saying ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’. However as this project evolved, the value that each voice brought was obvious. I had to let go of that old saying and focus on keeping the solutions true to the brand, keep everyone thinking about the integrity of the design and take advantage of the good ideas coming from different places.
I won’t lie, it can be a challenging mix to manage – and I suspect I have a little more grey hair now. However, business and marketers that bring the customers insight alive in the brief, an in-house design team, well steeped in the brand, as well as external creative agencies to challenge the status quo, resulted in a design system that was more considered and creative than if any one of them had done it on their own.
‘I have to admit – we tend to think all this marketing and design is a bit, you know… waffly’
The opening words of our opening call with the two MD’s of Dolphin, the UK’s leading premium washroom supplier, in the Summer of 2015. They were on the phone, so that meant something – but it was clear that the value of design was something that we were going to have to prove.
Fast forward to 2017, and the picture’s altogether different.
Why? Perhaps most importantly, we reassured the team at Dolphin with the simple truth that our businesses – both owner-operated, and both stuffed to the brim with talented people who care passionately about what they do – shared a simple set of values. We established a partnership between peers.
Real relationships. Fairness. Care. Integrity. These values, enacted by all, quickly aligned us around an exciting and single-minded design challenge – to create a brand world for Dolphin that befits their products and their customer service.
We got to work, surprising and delighting the Dolphin team at every juncture;
Design excellence: The beautiful patterns of the company’s namesake leant themselves elegantly and simply to a new brand identity and architecture, giving differentiation and meaning to the products and services Dolphin offer, transcending everything from product packaging, to brochure ware and on-site signage.
Insight and expertise: A stunning new website – optimised for mobile – gives architects the access to the product range and speccing tools they need, when they need them, making it easier than ever for Dolphin’s most important audience to engage. Its function matches its form too – an easily manageable CMS will make future updates and product launches simple, and a full analytics dashboard means the team can analyse who’s using their site and how. In the first quarter, enquiries through the website rose by 225%, bounce rate decreased by 68% and time on site increased by 117%.
Intuition and empowerment: Finally, we unlocked perhaps one of Dolphin’s most potent forces – their people – to take proud ownership, and serve as energised and powerful ambassadors for their new brand; which was, for the first time, a worthy marque of their passion and integrity. This internal launch included everything from a beautiful illustrated book of values, to a VIP launch event in which the team assembled and signed a collective commitment to their brand, and each other; a celebration of their business today, and an excited toast to the future.
All told, it’s work we’re incredibly proud of – and work that reflects a journey we walked together with our clients. Proudly sat at the centre of our logo is our first business value; fearless creativity. This work and this journey is a wonderful show of it in action.
As we opened with their words, we’ll do our friends at Dolphin the courtesy of letting them close:
“Initially, we were healthily sceptics about the potential value of branding. Today, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Taxi to other owner-operated businesses for their dedication, attention to detail and passion for what they do.“
It’s not uncommon for clients to approach us asking for a logo or packaging design. But being the sticklers that we are, our first step is to ask why. We know our clients will always know more about their business than we do. But we’re there to listen, learn, and work with them to move their business forward.
Developing close relationships, collaborations and partnerships with our clients gets us truly under the skin of a project to understand the business challenge behind it. And it’s only then that we’re able to figure out what’s really required and deliver beyond brief – not only the requested logo or packaging, but a brand that’s rooted in an authentic and distinct point of view – with a compelling brand experience to boot.
These days though, brands not paying any thought to the experience are on a fast track to becoming a commodity. It’s the experiences that drive connections at an emotional level beyond the rationale of price and performance. And in turn, these connections drive behaviour, advocacy, and loyalty – the foundations of any great relationship between a brand and its consumers. Clearly, it goes without saying, that to resonate with an audience, you’ve got to get creative. Therefore to do something worthwhile and genuinely effective, it follows that the best brand experiences are those that are designed.
Over the past 25 years, we’ve uncovered some of the secrets to securing this type of commercial success through design. We’ve learnt how design can influence consumers through Biomotive Triggers® – radical sensory marketing techniques, developed in collaboration with Bradford University School of Management. In effect, we’ve been using the principles of neuroscience to decode effectiveness and how primal responses to external stimuli can be used to trigger positive action in consumers.
Take Andrex for example. We made an emotional connection with consumers in a category that takes three seconds to shop. The year after the rebrand saw an all-time record in revenue, alongside a three-year high of net sales value and operating profit.
Working alongside Saucy Fish, we realised people weren’t confident cooking or serving fish. We needed a ‘tell it like it is’ name and simple graphics to overcome the product challenge and to inject the category with some personality, attitude and innovation. The result? Saucy outperformed the market norm three times over and became a £40m brand in just two years.
But the final word – we’ll give to Challs International.
“We’ve worked closely with Elmwood from the initial Design Council initiative in 2004 to strategically reposition the Buster brand; creating a vision and compelling brand proposition that has engaged both retailers and consumers alike. When you don’t have huge above the line budgets, you need to invest wisely. The principal focus of our investment for 12 years has been using the power of design to cut through at the point of sale, and that has been absolutely pivotal in making Buster the No. 1 brand.“ Graham Burchell, Managing Director, Challs International
In these disruptive times more than ever before, it is about learning to live with doubt and insecurity but never shy away from doing what you believe in, even if this means making mistakes. The thing about mistakes, only you can say if you learned anything from making them, some people don’t give it a second thought.
With this in mind, sadly there are still too many smart people in the creative business that are held back from achieving their potential by the fear of failure and not always their own self-fulfilling fears, but other people’s.
For me it’s always been about blending naivety and experience so finding a place – that agency to learn, that team of like minded people to succeed – to make those mistakes and to fail is more critical in challenging times when there appears to be no right or wrong answers.
As we enter the new year and even deeper into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or 4IR there is no point in adopting a siege mentality and minimizing risk as the knock on effect will hit your creative bottom line and you will sink into blandness and mediocrity.
The facts are that a lot of agencies and great start-up businesses were born during tough economic times. They didn’t decide to dig in and see it through. They decided to turbo charge their vision and business strategies and hold the creative mindset in spite of nervous colleagues and clients.
They had the confidence to go out and hire the creative talent that might well rock the boat and challenge positions unlike a lot of people who fool themselves that they can handle the star players who have that extra edge about them, but soon convince themselves when in a crises real or imaginary that there is no place for them.
Don’t dig in. Tough times and challenges help to create the opportunity space to take advantage.
Change leadership. Some leaders stall and hesitate while others seize the moment to take the space and go to the front.
The right mindset. Having a mindset or culture of creativity and innovation can improve your position more quickly.
The more challenging and disruptive the times the more creative and innovative the requirement so new solutions are discovered and discussed.