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0You’ve been a mentor twice. Tell us what you learned from the two journeys.

Jonny: “Both experiences were insightful and valuable. As a mentor, it’s not just about industry experience, it’s also about general life experiences – it helps when navigating situations similar to those you’ve gone through. You’re able to share your approaches and learnings from a relatable example.

The first time I mentored, within three months of our mentoring journey my mentee lost his job, but out of this we turned our relationship into long-term coaching. I thought about how else I could help him, introduced him to networks and we focused on creating some new options. No matter what the situation, you can use the time productively and positively to re-orient around your mentee’s needs.”

Jonny: “My current mentee is in a completely different situation. He has a smaller business – an agency of a dozen people – and he’s focused on stimulating growth and resolving the pressure of business growing pains.

He really helps me to help him, by providing a briefing email ahead of our sessions, including the top three things he wants to achieve out of the meeting and how he wants to take his business forward after each stage – this gives every discussion a clear sense of objectives. Importantly, it gives me time to digest, process and be more thoughtful about how to guide him.

It’s critical that as a mentor you understand the challenges your mentees face in the industry and how this impacts them as a person – it’s worthwhile knowing that you’re making a positive difference to their life as well as their business.”

Top tips

Here are a couple of tips Jonny recommends mentors give their mentees from the get-go, to ensure it’s a mentee driven process:

– Give some thought to what you want to get-out of the process long-term
– Lay down an agenda for the programme itself

 

And his advice to mentors: 

– Give people the opportunity to raise things. If your mentee isn’t particularly forthcoming, try to think things through and make things relatable to the person you’re mentoring.

 

Upon reflection, what impact has the programme had on yourself and the way you conduct your business?

Jonny: “It opens your mind to a different way of doing things.

Both my mentees have been running businesses in the same sector within the industry, but have faced very different scenarios – this pushes the mentor as much as it does the mentee. I’ve got loads of value out of the discussions I’ve had with my mentees, where we’re trying to solve an issue that they’re facing, but I end up discovering ways to apply the solutions we’ve come up with to a challenge I’ve been pondering. It’s like a reverse flow of positive stimulation – forcing up issues you didn’t consider as high priority.

It’s good to have friends in the industry – the mentees you work with who are running businesses are highly committed and they are inspiring people – it’s a pleasure to have the luxury of time with them.”

Why did you decide to apply to the Twenty/Twenty mentoring programme?

Jonny: “I’ve worked with the DBA for a long time, and after going from a corporate big scale agency to beginning a start-up and developing my own business, I felt that I’d reached a point in my career that being able to connect with other business leaders would be really beneficial.

I also wanted to help people who may have been in a similar situation to me now looking for support, which I felt able and ready to impart.

There’s a strong sense of community in the industry and the DBA is a great enabler of this. I value what the DBA do and wanted to be a part of it. The Twenty/Twenty programme also struck me as a good new source of inspiration and insight from fellow counterparts.

You’ve got to look at being a mentor or a mentee as an opportunity – you should grasp it while you can and no one else does it the way the DBA does.

It’s a pretty low investment as a mentor with very high developmental benefits and reward.”

events-mentor-1-167x167DBA Twenty/Twenty mentoring

DBA Twenty/Twenty pairs rising industry leaders with established design pioneers for a 12-month one-to-one mentoring relationship. Why not think about what development you need right now, or what insight you can give back to the design industry. Find out more and apply.

 

Deadline for applications is Friday 22 November 2019. 

Image credit: 

SH Lam | Unsplash

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Main Content

image-assetIt’s been over three years since your first Twenty/Twenty experience and just over a year since your second. How have the two compared?

Andy: “I’ve had entirely different experiences with two different mentors, but there’s something to be gained from each one. You have to come in with a really open mind and hold onto the little gems of wisdom that will become vital in the future.

I shared a very business-focused relationship with my first mentor, Andrew Eyles (CEO and 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). We take a steer from his advice at the company to this day, in the way we employ, our focus and direction. My time with Andrew was really practical, it was like working directly with a business coach.

Continuing my development with Myles Pinfold (Founder and MD of WPA Pinfold) the second time round was equally valuable. Myles shared 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.

I was so impressed with the transformational experience Twenty/Twenty had last time that I asked our Design Director, Dave King to join the programme too. Wanting to take the step up to Creative Director, he started working with a London based CD. He has grown in confidence – the tools he’s gained have been invaluable to making that crucial step.”

What impact has undertaking the programme had on your company?

Andy: “Andrew helped me understand how to be more commercially minded; since then we’ve had our most successful years. The real value has come from how we approach our business now. There’s a confidence and understanding in who we are and where we’re heading. Being consistently conscientious of our aims and strategy has led to exciting things – we’ve won two D&ADs (Writing for brands and Identity Design), the Marketing Society Star Awards’ SME agency of the year 2019, top honours at the Scottish Design Awards (including Grand Prix, and Design Team of the year) and even more.”

Did you face any challenges and if so, how did you overcome them?

Andy: “The only real challenge when working with Andrew was that he was London-based, and I was Edinburgh-based, but we were really good at making the time to meet. We held a quarter of the meetings in London, a quarter by Skype, and he took the time to meet me in Edinburgh.”

Why did you decide to apply to the Twenty/Twenty mentoring programme?

Andy: “We were already big supporters of the DBA and the value of the resources that we get as members. When we heard about the Twenty/Twenty programme, it sounded like the perfect thing to help take our business to the next level.”

events-mentor-1-167x167DBA Twenty/Twenty mentoring

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Ian Johnston, Founder & Creative Director, Quinine
Ian Johnston, Founder & Creative Director, Quinine

“We suggested instead that they should choose one category inside the business and develop a new experience around that one category. Roll it out across the whole estate, so the business is affected by that in every store; drive a perception change amongst customers, impact the bottom line. That was our pitch.”, he recalls.

We’re discussing the pressures on the retail landscape and how changing demographics, technological transformation and demanding customers have driven many retailers to explore new retail formats. But ultimately, how sometimes it is more appropriate to work with existing formats, rather than following a more disruptive route, starting from scratch.

“I love doing new projects, because it’s new and it’s fresh and inspiring and I learn new things. With my designer hat on I’d do them every day of the week.” But, Johnston adds, “brand new stores are not always the best approach for business. Especially when you are working with clients who have five, six, eight hundred stores. You are always going to have legacy stores, but often it’s more effective for these businesses to look at consolidating things and to deliver consistency, because that can have a much wider, bigger impact on the business and its bottom line, and faster”.

EE Showcase Stores by Quinine
EE Showcase Stores by Quinine

Johnston believes that the real value comes from flagship stores when you start to extract some of the components and integrate them back into the wider estate. “In a lot of cases, such as our award-winning work with EE and Rogers, we will design a flagship or a premier store and then look at what we can pull back through the estate to create more efficiencies, more consistency throughout the whole business from manufacturing to marketing.”  

It’s no secret that the high street is facing huge challenges. With so many other channels now available to customers beyond physical retail that are both convenient and successful, Johnston sees a changing shift in the definition of success for high street stores, with focus moving from footfall to halo effect. 

“It’s a really interesting metric, because retailers are recognising that flatlining figures can actually mean success – if footfall has evened off but other channels are increasing, then the business is maintaining its current status overall.” Johnston flags the growing number of companies putting forward figures and stories that link the presence of a new store and increasing online sales in that region; in other words even if the store figures are not setting the world on fire, you can see a direct link or correlation between the physical store and the online uplift in the locality. “A lot of companies are starting to integrate the halo effect metric inside their store metrics,” says Johnston whilst the objectives for sales and footfall are increasingly “just ‘not to drop’ and that is deemed a success; anything on top is the icing on the cake”.

There are other ways to measure the success of design intervention in retail. When it comes to the customer, NPS scores are very valuable in understanding and measuring the impact on their experience. But the area that often gets overlooked by businesses, is one that is hugely important, especially in retail – staff engagement and motivation.

“If you look at the stores through the eyes of staff, what opportunities do you see? What can we learn from someone’s behaviour around the physical environment? How can that influence results? Clients eyes light up and they really get behind this” says Johnston, because when you put great people in a great designed store, “that’s a hugely motivating factor for people and that’s when the magic happens.”

Rogers by Quinine
Rogers by Quinine

Working with clients to identify where it’s appropriate to do the smaller things and where it is appropriate to do the bigger things; when to take the traditional route, when to disrupt, hangs on instilling confidence in clients especially, as is often the case in retail, when you have a huge number of stakeholder teams to convince. 

It’s all about “demystifying design” says Johnston, arguing that the crux of this is removing the fear; the unknown around how you get to the creative idea. “This is why in design we’re in the position where we are still too often asked to pitch for free – because clients don’t understand how we get to the creative idea, they want to see the thing before they buy it.” 

Johnston is clear that there’s a very linear line between objectives, research, strategy and design; design is not just some mystical thing that appears. “It is a really considered thoughtful process that delivers results” says Johnston. “And if clients understand your process and the scale of success it’s delivered before for other clients, you’re convincing them of the value and impact of the solutions you’ll propose. That’s really powerful. And ultimately, whether you plump for a more traditional or more disruptive approach, that’s how you’ll get buy-in.”

awards_01Quinine and EE won a Silver DBA Design Effectiveness Award in 2019. Read the full case study here. 

 

The DBA Design Effectiveness Awards 2020 are now open for entries. Deadline for entries is 25 October 2019.

 

The DBA Design Effectiveness Awards recognise the compelling influence of design on the success of a project or business. Evidence-based, the impact of design is measuredverified, and rigorously judged by industry experts. So if you – and your clients – would like independent and authoritative recognition of the value of your work – enter the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards 2020, you’ll find all the info you need here.

About: Quinine

Quinine is a world-leading retail experience consultancy known for its research driven user-centric design approach that involves designing retail strategies, physical environments and face-to-face experiences that work effectively for the business, the brand, the customer and the staff.

Established in 2007, they work with international product and service brands focusing on designing complex service driven, consultative environments and experiences. Working with clients including Comcast, EE, Fido, Imperial College London, Innovation RCA, LG, Orange, Rogers, Sony Ericsson, Tesco and Xfinity, Quinine delivers multi-million pound projects that involve evaluating and transforming existing formats and creating new retail formats, pop-ups, mobile stores and one off brand experiences.

Image credits:

Ivan Bandura | Unsplash

Quinine 

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