Twenty/Twenty mentoring: don’t just take our word for it!
We’ve brought together a variety of quotes from previous mentees whose businesses have directly benefited from Twenty/Twenty across the years.
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“The experience has been more worthwhile than I could’ve imagined.” Stewart Steel, Digital Director, Good Creative
“My mentor was brilliant, and gave so much more than I expected. As a sole owner in the business, I don’t have peers with similar experience so it was brilliant to draw on his wealth of knowledge.” Ian Johnston, Owner, Quinine
“Having a design industry mentor has hugely benefitted my business. We’re more confident and clearly focused on what we want to achieve.” Dan Moscrop, Owner, Them
“Finding someone who is in the same industry but has an objective viewpoint on you and your situation can be invaluable. I don’t think you even need to go into it with a major business ‘issue’ to deal with. The chance to share war stories with someone that’s seen it and done it is worth the time in itself.” Stewart Steel, Digital Director, Good Creative
“My own agency Spring was emerging from a brutal recession into a new normal, and to receive guidance from Jim (Prior, CEO of The Partners and Lambie Nairn) was the equivalent of being taught chess by a Grand Master!” Erika Clegg, Co-Founder, Spring
“I’ve been hugely impressed by the calibre of the mentors on the programme. I thought the DBA would have good people, but didn’t expect many of them to be real industry names I’ve heard of and hold in extremely high regard. My mentor has been a perfect match for me both professionally and personally.” Dan Moscrop, Owner, Them
“I feel so privileged that I am a part of the DBA, and that we have access to it in the UK. My mentor has 30 years experience in the industry, and this just doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world. The support the DBA offers is amazing.” Ian Johnston, Owner, Quinine
“You spend so much time thinking about how to please your clients, and not nearly enough time focusing on the business itself. My mentor was able to put everything into perspective – being reflective yet forward focused at the same time. As he had distance, he was able to bring observations and points that I would never have seen.” Ian Johnston, Owner, Quinine
“It was great to have someone spend time completely focused on our business and the challenges we faced.” Andy West, Director, MultiAdaptor
“Mentoring has been a bit of a catalyst. Once you see small things start to change, due to action you’ve taken, you build the confidence to tackle larger issues. These increasingly larger tweaks begin to hugely effect the outcome of your business.” Dan Moscrop, Owner, Them
“It was good to just have someone to really listen to you about your frustrations, or to get a business decision reaffirmed.” Andy West, Director, MultiAdaptor
“Having this programme specifically tailored for the design/creative industry not only benefits agencies of all sizes but also means that clients will see a step change in the quality and effectiveness of work delivered by the more robust agencies.” OwenTurner, MD, United by Design
Having a mentor with a vast wealth of experience, who helps you better understand the opportunities for your business and to tackle your fears in a supportive, exploratory way can help you take firm control of your agency’s future, and deliver transformational results.
The deadline to apply for Twenty/Twenty 2018 is Wednesday 15 November 2017. Read more and complete your application here.
The DBA Twenty/Twenty programme has helped me learn fast from someone who really understands the design industry.
This is my second time on the programme. The first time I worked with Andrew Eyles (CEO / Co-Founder of Bluemarlin). It was transformative and helped me understand how to move StudioLR from a design studio to a design business (which just so happens to be called a studio).
This time round I’ve been fortunate to be paired with Myles Pinfold (Founder and MD of WPA Pinfold). Myles has been sharing with me his experiences of how he built a successful design business. Having Myles as a sounding board has boosted my confidence to make changes (and in some cases the confidence not to), which keep me focused on moving forward.
We also asked our Design Director, Dave King to join the programme. Dave is developing himself to take the step up to Creative Director and is working with a London based CD. He tells us the confidence he’s gaining is invaluable and he’ll soon have all the tools in his kit to make that step.
Be prepared … for blood, sweat and tears because a good mentor will challenge you. It’s not easy, but that’s what gets results.
The bottom line. Yes, financially we’ve had our best years since we started the programme, but the real value is in how we approach our business now. There’s a confidence and understanding in who we are and where we’re heading.
If you’re thinking about it, get your head up from the day-to-day and go for it.
DBA Twenty/Twenty pairs rising industry leaders with established design pioneers for a 12-month one-to-one mentoring relationship. Applications for the 2018 programme are open until 15 November 2017 so why not think about what you need right now, or what you can give. Find out more and apply.
Image credit: Francesco Gallarotti | Unsplash
Marcos Luiz | Unsplash
As the DBA’s CEO Deborah Dawton told Warc.com this week, “In today’s world, delivering aesthetically beautiful design is not enough. Effective design is what matters and clients are looking for the evidence of an agency’s effectiveness before taking the plunge. In a saturated market, evidencing your design effectiveness is a way to stand out and prove your credentials.”
The best way to powerfully evidence the value of your work? Winning a DBA Design Effectiveness Award.
As the new Call for Entries for the 2019 DBA Design Effectiveness Awards launches, I thought I’d give an overview of some of the changes to the entry process this year, along with tips for success and details of the support you can access.
An ongoing strategic review of the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards is happening throughout this year (and beyond) to ensure all elements are truly reflective of the industry in today’s world.
The overwhelming response to the review of the Awards has been that design businesses and the businesses that commission design love what it stands for. The rigour attached to it, the judging process, and the prestige attached to a Design Effectiveness Award win, are all highly valued. The review has a long-term approach and we are carefully developing the scheme across the next few years, starting with some changes to the entry process this year.
Here are two key changes you should look out for:
— Note that the entry format no longer asks for art-working of the entry PDF. Only shortlisted winners will be asked to do this when they are notified of their win.
— For 2019, entries must not state the design agency or in-house design team, as entries are now anonymised.
You can read further details about the review and the changes introduced this year here.
“We have always placed a high value on the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards because of the hard measures of success on which they are judged, but also because they recognise the necessary spirit of collaboration and partnership between client and design teams on which all successful projects depend.” Craig Wightman, Chief Design Officer, Kinneir Dufort
Download the Entry Pack 2019 for full details, along with advice and guidance on how to write a strong and compelling entry. The Pack includes a list of suggested metrics you could use to monitor your design effectiveness. It also provides some suggestions around other influencing factors that can help you provide the judges with the relevant market context around the design and build your case by tackling it head on and evaluating why the results were linked to the design solution used.
Be clear on what’s required. We see lots of entries where agencies go to town on describing the design solution in terms of the creative rather than what it set out to achieve. What we want to hear is how the solution addressed the requirements set out in the brief – and of course we want to hear about the results attributed to the design solution.
“Be clear on your objectives, be clear on the results, be clear on how design led to your results. Don’t make it hard for the judges to see the value.” Chris Linnet, Chief Product Officer, Typeform.com & previous DBA Design Effectiveness Awards judge
Context is really important. A 50% uplift in a small business in one sector may not be as impressive as a 2% uplift in a large business in a different sector. Percentages are OK, but if you can, back these up with the actual figures that sit behind them, even if you only include those figures in the ‘Confidential – not for publication’ version of your entry. Give the judges some context for your figures – what is happening to the market as a whole? The ‘Confidential – not for publication’ version of your entry will only be seen by the judges, and only after they’ve signed a non-disclosure agreement.
“Don’t underestimate the importance of setting the scene of the market and baseline position.” Nikki Marsh, Director of Customer & Digital, Leeds Building Society & previous DBA Design Effectiveness Awards judge
Take advantage of the support we offer. On 20 September at 3pm, you can hear directly from DBA’s Chief Executive, Deborah Dawton, on how to enter into the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards and learn a snapshot of how to make your business consistently effective in design. Register for the webinar here.
And throughout the next few months, pre-booked consultation calls are available with a member of the DBA team. A very limited number of Design Effectiveness Surgeries are also available with DBA CEO Deborah Dawton. For details about both of these and to book your place email email@example.com
Get started now. The entry deadline is 5pm GMT 30 November 2018. That seems a way off yet, but early preparation will aid the process and give you the best chance to put together a really strong entry.
Photo by ShareGrid on Unsplash
One of our Junior Designers, Liv Beresford-Evans told me over coffee recently how much she missed the ‘peer-to-peerness’ of university. Starting at Taxi Studio is probably no more daunting than at any other agency of 50+ people. We’re a pretty relaxed bunch that work hard and laugh lots. But as a Junior in your first year of employment, when everything around you is changing, the cravings for familiarity are strong.
So, although Liv felt totally supported in the studio with teams made up of Mids, Seniors, Design Directors and Associate Creative Directors, there was a longing to kick around design problems with a bunch of people at her level. And having spent time teaching in Higher Education, I could picture exactly what she was missing – that joyful collaboration of peers that get your references and finish your sentences, allowing you to speak your mind and relax just that little bit more.
“Well” I said (with my greying hair and desire to go home just as they are going out) “it’s often better to ask forgiveness than permission” (and then because of said grey hair) “why don’t you make a plan of what this could be and share it with the relevant people”.
So Liv enlisted the three other Junior Designers, a Junior Creative Strategist (and latterly our new Account Executive) and together they came up with an idea that literally blew the minds of our management team. Kate Lenton, our Managing Director, welled-up with pride as they took them through their presentation and Spencer Buck, Creative Partner and Founder said he’d “been waiting 15 years for something like this to happen!”.
And just like that ‘Jun1hr’ (pronounced juni-hour) was born! A junior-led initiative to get together and work on a broad range of projects, using one lunch hour each week to bounce ideas, craft skills and contribute new perspectives.
“Everyone at Taxi Studio has got behind us when we suggested Jun1hr. We’re fully supported and feel like they’ve put a ‘halo’ around us all to protect what we’re doing but at the same time allowing us to grow together.” Kira Gardner
There has never been a better example of Steve Jobs’ phrase ‘why hire good people and then tell them what to do.’ We had hired good people. We knew we had something pretty special with this group, but the surprising thing was their exemplary levels of proactivity, initiative and commitment.
“It feels so lovely working with a bunch of such talented, encouraging positive people who are always there to support you and steer you in the right direction.” Lily Papadopoulos
It was always one of their initial intentions to swoop in on a project and dedicate one hour to solve a creative problem. Six people across the trinity of Strategy, Design and Client Services working on a task for an hour is six hours brain power, meaning some concepts born in Jun1hr have been good enough to make it through to client presentations, and carefully selected smaller projects have been worked on in their entirety. Jun1hr has enabled the group to work on a broad range of projects, experiment with new presentation styles, research techniques, and generate creative ideas with less pressure.
“Jun1hr is like having a catch up with your best mates whilst cracking out some top-notch ideas at the same time! Its relaxed environment with an emphasis on not being precious about what comes out of it allows our creative juices and minds to flow a bit more freely!” Liv Beresford-Evans
Even better, the Jun1hr effect hasn’t just benefitted the Juniors – it’s spread throughout the company and continues to do so. Various people across the business have already stepped forward to help, running sessions on visualising and hand lettering, with more subjects in the pipeline.
“With Jun1hr I’ve been able to really test myself, quickly build strong relationships with members of the team and develop my account management skills. Many of the highlights of my short time at Taxi Studio has been within these hours surrounded by this great bunch. I’m so proud of the team!” Harry Dipple
With a quarter of Jun1hrs already behind them, they’ve just presented their first quarterly review and had Team Taxi in stitches (as well as in awe of what they have been able to achieve).
“As a junior, it doesn’t matter if you have the least amount of experience and knowledge. As long as you have the drive, you have the same opportunity as anyone else at Taxi Studio to come up with an award-winning idea.” Andrew Hodgkiss
Our juniors have fearlessness running through their veins and are the very embodiment of what makes Taxi Studio special – a bunch of smart people fulfilling their creative ambitions by sticking their hands in the air and owning what they do. Proving that leadership isn’t always top down.
The unabridged version of this article can be found at Taxi’s website.
Ensure your junior staff have the business skills needed to complement their creative prowess. Take a look through our training workshops and share the opportunities with your talent. With workshops in presentation skills, leading creative teams, effective project management and more, there’s something for everyone. Discover what’s on this autumn.
Images supplied by Taxi Studio
Think about it. You are truly a very different consumer than other members of your family and your closest friends. Your demographics, psychographics and even your Amazon purchase history don’t define your relationships with brands such as Pepsi. You are unique and your relationship with Pepsi, for example, needs to reflect that. Adding to that, your every consumption experience with Pepsi can also be very different. Sometimes you bring it to a laid-back barbecue in a friend’s garden, and other times you serve it at an elegant cocktail party. Shouldn’t the brand experience reflect that hyper specialised, truly unique engagement? And if it did, wouldn’t your relationship with Pepsi be stronger and deeper? Could this be the “tipping point” between your choosing Pepsi over Coke every time?
Needless to say, the confluence of fast, affordable digital design, digital printing and next day logistics now makes it highly possible to customise every package to every single consumer and their every consumption experience. And that will most certainly change our relationship with all our brands. We no longer will want Pepsi, we will want OUR version of Pepsi for right now.
However, if marketing has taught us anything, it proves that just because something is possible does not mean that all of us will want it, nor be willing to pay more for it. If the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal has taught us anything, its lesson is that some of us do not want to have our personal information used against us to influence our purchase decisions. And now with the EU GDPR regulations in effect, privacy has become paramount for many of us.
And yet, Newton also proved that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every group that wants to hide their preferences under a security blanket, there are others who want brands to engage with them, and who want to even lead that discussion. These folks know what drives their brand affinity and would like to take an active role in shaping it.
What if the brand used algorithms to inform the design of every individual package, shaping it to every individual purchaser’s preferences? What if when you ordered Pepsi on line, its package first came up on your screen with an identity informed by your preferences? What if you could shape those preferences again to customise it to your current mood or the consumption experience? A little more sporty for that BBQ or a lot more sophisticated for that drinks party. Would that deepen some consumers’ relationships with the brand? Would you be willing to pay a little more for that customised experience? And importantly, would it force brand owners to transfer control of their brand’s identity to the 100 million?
I believe that a balance can be structured where the consumer can control the brand image and yet never allow it to exceed that which is ‘on-brand’. For example, there will be a most- masculine and a most-feminine execution of the brand image. There will be most-playful and most-sophisticated boundaries. And there will also be assurances that the brand never veers too close to a competitive brand’s identity. No Spenserian scripted Pepsi logos and no red backgrounds for example. This way, the brand message can be customised and yet remain authentic and ‘on-brand’.
But if we give control of the consumer experience to consumers, what role does the designer play in this exchange? Here is an interesting question. I see the designer having a much broader and as important role in this process as they have ever had. It will be our responsibility to create the primary brand image and then set the boundaries of its evolution. We will create the images that define ‘the most masculine’, ‘the most feminine’, ‘the most playful’ and ‘the most sophisticated’ and all other extreme, but still acceptable, executions of the brand. It will be our responsibility to create the ‘sliders’ as consumers scroll between these parameters. It will be our responsibility to create the templates upon which consumers can play. In short, we will not create the one identity but the canvas upon which the 100 million hyper customised and yet ‘on-brand’ identities will be created.
And that will be a much larger design initiative than just creating the single brand identity. It will require insight and foresight to determine what will motivate every consumer profile. It will require discipline to determine how far the brand parameters can be pushed without going off brand’. And it also may well require ongoing ‘curation’ of the resulting imagery – analysing the result of combining a number of ‘acceptable’ elements that just don’t work together, plucking these ‘off brand’ anomalies out of the mix. To me I believe this to be a much more involved and on-going process. It will require a design eye on the brand at every moment of its evolution, and that could well be more engaging and fun for some of us.
Help determine how it might best work and what traps we, as an industry, need to seal tight before we even begin the journey. It’s a brave new world in need of brave design leadership; leaders who are comfortable with relinquishing some control of the design process to those we are designing for. It will require next-gen design leaders who can walk that balance of ‘re-ordering chaos’ and keeping all of its results ‘on brand’. And ultimately it will require designers who seek to make the consuming community a bit more ‘design literate’ and encourage them to express their own unique relationship with the brand under the watchful eye of the design leader. That’s a future I look forward to.
Connecting with your wider community can take many forms. When DBA member Mr B & Friends moved their office from Bath to Bristol they decided they needed to contribute more to the local economy. They developed a roster of local supplier businesses they rarely deviate from.
Simon Barbato, CEO of Mr B & Friends explains “We felt there was a need to put some corporate social responsibility into our thinking and demonstrate that we want to be a meaningful organisation within the business landscape in Bristol. We have an operating budget of £2.5m a year and so support the circular economy in Bristol by spending it locally.”
For agencies like Spring, based on the Suffolk coast, community work is at the heart of their ethos as they cement their reputation as one of the most active businesses in the community. “Springers”, as staff are known, are encouraged to volunteer for local projects and get half days off so they can participate in on-the-ground support for voluntary organisations undertaking everything from painting to gardening.
The agency sees itself as an organisation that can help facilitate action – by getting stuff done.
Read more about the importance Spring places on community in their own words here.
On Teesside, Better is a brand agency that believes they have a responsibility to the next generation. Better is deeply committed to supporting the High Tide Foundation and invests heavily, both as a business and as individuals, in its growth. MD Mark Easby has been a trustee of the Foundation for over four years and helps drive the strategic growth, programme delivery and scale. This includes sector driven Work Experience programmes built around a number of sectors including Creative, Digital and Media, as well as the development of a pilot for a Creative and Digital Cadetship. The programmes delivered through High Tide not only provide real life work experience, they also offer genuinely unique and life-changing opportunities for young people.
Mark Easby, MD, Better says “It’s fantastic to see the impact these programmes are having with our graduates now going on to begin apprenticeships and further study, many within STEM, creative and digital areas. That’s the real magic of High Tide, seeing the Teesside spirit grow and come to life through the achievements of our young people. At Better we build world class brands right here on Teesside with a team of people born, bred and trained in our region, so using our agency skills to support High Tide’s brand development, marketing and membership growth is very rewarding. We’re very proud to be members of High Tide and I am personally honoured to be a Trustee of a Foundation that’s making so much difference to the area we love and inspiring the next generation of talent.”
Sometimes some ideas can snowball. Thompson Brand Partners are based in a residential area in Leeds and have always felt a part of the community. For Owner and Creative Director Ian Thompson, this engagement is “simply good citizenship and it stops you feeling separated and in a different world to everyone else around you.” Three years ago Thompson Brand Partners helped to found a community cinema with the express wish of getting elderly local residents, many of whom have lost their partners, out at least once a month. Three years on and they sell out every month with 150 visitors.
Ian explains “It’s strictly old school but with new technology. We deliver a proper big screen experience with good sound and a proper screen and projector. But we have an interval, so people can mingle and we’re happy for people to take their drinks into the auditorium. The fact people now expect it, is really the key to its sustainability and we really enjoy being involved.”
Political events over the last couple of years have demonstrated that political strategists had lost insight to the hopes and fears of people outside the patch. Spring launched the HyperlocalEverywhere Network in response to this, supplementing our own regional footprint with a network of community engagement specialists across the UK, generally in the less well-trodden zones of political focus.
When you need to deliver behavioural change – whether you are launching a brand, or pulling a hospital or school out of special measures – you want to focus on the smallest possible community. It ensures your message is clear, your budget is well spent and your chances of success are raised. That’s essentially hyperlocal, and we have our own community insight methodology HyperlocalEverywhereTM which is used for information gathering and ongoing engagement with these communities.
Sometimes people in their professional roles underestimate people in their “target” role, and this is something we are cautious to avoid. To mitigate this, we work on a voluntary basis with communities, ensuring we understand them as living, breathing human groups, not data. This ranges from contribution to regional economic growth programmes to on-the-ground support for voluntary organisations, giving our team four half days off a year to paint, pour tea, chat and garden – in other words, anything that isn’t what they do for a living.
On a strategic level we ensure participation in the conversations about change. We support the West Midlands Women’s Voice, which is a network of senior women working to ensure the West Midlands Combined Authority embeds equality in its strategy. We contribute to New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership’s thinking on economic opportunity, talent retention and inward investment. We have advised Cabinet Office communications teams on community insight. These and other activities help us to maintain the ‘big picture’ thinking that’s vital to ensure our commissioned community work has appropriate legacy as well as immediate impact, and to allow us to build up a tapestry of projects which combine to support change.
On the ground, as well as the kind of sleeves-rolled-up volunteering that keeps us in the real world, we also support small businesses that might not be able to afford our services with skills workshops, allowing them to create networks at the same time as learning best practice and future-gazing. We put aside budget to cover a small amount of pro bono work – for example, we are currently working with a boxing club that goes out of its way to support young people who are showing signs of disengagement, since they won’t be able to provide that service if they can’t survive commercially.
On which note, one piece of advice I would give to any agency that wants to start to deliver its own community outreach is – set a budget. Doesn’t matter whether you set this in pounds or percentages, but be clear. It’s much easier to say “No” if you can relate it to a budget, and also to ensure you select the best projects for your skills and experience. As an industry we know our tendency to see the work as the reward, but your own sustainability is essential if you are to carry on supporting your community.
The world of work is changing. Rising costs of living increasingly mean we’ll all be working for longer. Our always-on culture means that the working day never quite ends. Equality in the workplace will, eventually, seep into equality of caring responsibilities out of work. This means that, inevitably, the lines between work and home will become increasingly blurred.
The positive outcome of that is many more of us will decide that, in that case, work can happen in places which afford a better quality of daily life. Community is where character can be found, where the generations come together, where daily life has its own rewards; and so increasingly we will find ourselves part of that. Contribution is essential for belonging – enjoy it!