A roundup of industry expertise, exclusive resources, business support and tools for your design business.
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The DCH is looking for more agencies to take part in portfolio reviews and to host events to help the next generation of designers.
We have a stellar line up of events already planned for next year, including ones from Heatherwick Studio and Superunion, but we need more from every size and type of design agency.
If you want to get involved or talk about any ideas you have, please head over to the DCH website to get in contact with the Project Director Emily Foulkes.
Keep an eye out for more exciting news from the DCH coming soon.
Design Community Hub
If you continued to put yourself out there this year, marketing your business, making connections, starting conversations, and broadening your network – please celebrate this. These new connections may not equate to bottom line revenue yet, but in that community are your future clients.
Lucy Mann, Director, Gunpowder Consulting
As a passionate and curious observer of life, behaviour and truth, look back at all you’ve learned about your clients, colleagues and consumers. How can you connect the dots to create new inspiration and new revenue from everything you ALREADY know?
John Gleason, Founder & President, A Better View
After another tough year it’s more important than ever to recognise and celebrate even the smallest of successes. Build on this throughout 2022 by making sure you “celebrate what you’ve accomplished but raise the bar a little each time you succeed.” (Mia Hamm, American soccer player)
Catherine Allison, Director, Master the Art
Have a think about three pandemic-related things which have improved your business. Perhaps it’s the ability to work remotely, time to reflect and reset, or better use of technology? You’ve come far; now how will you build on these in the future?
Adrian Day, Managing Consultant, Adrian Day Advisers Ltd
Congratulations on winning new business. But remember that retaining and developing clients is equally worthy of celebration, because it can actually be a more potent driver of agency growth. In 2022, cherish and nurture your clients as never before.
Jonathan Kirk, Director, Up to the Light
What do you know now about your business that you didn’t know two years ago? The last few years have been about fundamentals; cash, costs, revenue. Look back on the challenges you’ve faced and use the lessons learnt to move forward.
Chris Lang, Founding Partner, Flash Partners
You’ve aced remote presenting on several platforms. You’ve improved your onscreen presence while still saying ‘hi’ to various kids, cats, dogs and hamsters. Now why not lose those ‘um’s and ‘er’s? They’ll seriously undermine your authority. Then increase your fees.
Shan Preddy, Partner, PREDDY&CO
In 2021, strides have been taken on racial and gender equity, LGBTQ+ education, and recognising the absence of people with disabilities. You’re keeping step if you’ve realised inclusivity is a skill, which your agency needs to onboard. How will you march ahead in 2022?
Guy Duncan, Founding Director, Brand Equality
As you reflect on this year, make sure you’re looking at what matters. What gets measured, gets done, but don’t weigh yourself down. Measure the numbers that matter and celebrate where you are, before you make your next move.
Jonathan Gaunt, Managing Director, FD Works
Reflect on and celebrate all the moments of genuine, curious, brilliant listening. Consciously bring more of this trust building connection into your New Year, knowing that your centred presence can magically contribute to the growth of your team and business.
Emma Collins, Executive Leadership & Team Coach, Collins&Co
Zoom and email fatigue is real and in this ‘people buying people’ world, remember your phone calls to prospects can be a welcome relief. Keep picking up the phone, using the opportunity to unearth client challenges and to discuss how you can help solve them.
Andre Yong, Managing Director, Angsana
Embracing constructive input and spending time engaging with your clients and asking them what they think about your service offering and positioning, will help you evolve your messaging to new prospective clients. Learn from feedback, don’t shy away from it.
Natasha Ellard-Shoefield, Managing Director, The Hand Consulting
PR and digital marketing have changed at pace in recent years. How has this enhanced your approach? Pause and reflect on the ways you’ve consolidated learnings, case studies and service offerings to allow more agility. How will you take that forward?
Katherine Sandford-Anderson, Founder & Creative Director, Sandford PR | Sandford Digital
Recent times have shown us that (almost) anything is possible despite perceived limitations. You are still here, but maybe your perspective/priority has changed. What did you learn that you are yet to put into place? Make a start on that.
Jack O’Hern, Director, Wright Vigar
The past two years have compelled reflection on business strategy, structure and how we work together. Evolve the positive changes that you have made. Ethical standards lead to better outcomes, and these lead to greater opportunities. Embrace the zeitgeist!
Martin Varley, Partner, Humphries Kirk LLP
2021 was another year where factors outside of our control had a huge impact on our lives. Celebrate how you navigated the challenges and look for areas you CAN take control of and action in 2022; Financial Planning being a great starting point.
Gary Morris, Principal, Morris Powell
Get your team to submit their 2021 work highlights and host an end of year online wrap up celebration. It can be a fun way to reflect and recognise the work you’ve done, boosting everyone’s confidence for 2022.
Aliya Vigor-Robertson, Founding Partner, JourneyHR
The pandemic has created problems, but it’s also created space and time. If you’ve found a better balance with a life not totally dictated by work, you are likely now more efficient, productive and interestingly, probably a better person to be inspired by.
Jeremy Paterson, Managing Director, IF Media Consultancy
Time is a gift, and if your past eighteen months have looked even remotely like mine, remember to be thankful. Never before – and hopefully ever again – will we to the same extent, be gifted.
Steinar Valade-Amland, Three Point Zero
DBA Experts are here to help you navigate the challenges and decisions you face as you grow your business. Our register of accredited expert consultants have sustained and relevant experience in supporting the design industry, so you can rest assured that you will be getting sound, high-level support.
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The average “confidence score” in the 2021 DBA Annual Survey Report was 69 on a scale of 0-100 (with 76% of agencies giving a positive rating of over 50 – compared to only 36% the year before). But not everyone is feeling the upswing – the situation isn’t rosy for everyone.
Not all businesses have recovered from the pandemic. Sectors like travel and retail are still struggling and on the creative side, micro-agencies especially seem to be the last to be recovering. Businesses with a strong digital aspect and those in FMCG continue to perform well. These are the businesses which got through the pandemic relatively unscathed. The biggest issue they face is the recruitment of talent to keep up with demand.
Recruitment is an issue affecting a lot of industries at the moment as we deal with the ‘Great Resignation’, but it is exacerbated in design by the growing trend of in-housing, as businesses who have woken up to the commercial potential of effective design are building their own in-house design teams.
Talking to heads of design at large businesses, they too are struggling to fill vacancies despite generally being able to offer higher salaries than agencies. It seems the allure of agency culture and a wider variety of work is still a bigger draw than a bigger pay packet for many – although some in-house teams are bucking the trend here.
In a recent article on inflationary pressures, one of the DBA Expert’s highlighted how replacing members of staff generally costs a business 20% more than retaining staff. Understanding the motivators of your team and prospective candidates above and beyond salary, will be vital for recruitment and retention next year. Prioritising professional development for instance, is being seen as increasingly important in demonstrating how invested a business is in both the team’s and its own growth.
A trend that started before the pandemic that has been escalated during the recovery and shows no signs of slowing down is the move towards becoming better, more sustainable businesses. The B-Corp movement has fired the imagination of many in the membership. Agencies like LEAP in Cornwall have led the way and many DBA members are following. In the last week alone B Corp status has been confirmed for Mytton Williams, Sail Creative, and 400 Communications adding to the many that have already achieved the hard-won status.
And finally, less a trend – more a hopeful wish, as the sector spawns a multitude of start-ups meaning there are now approximately 20,000 design agencies in the UK. That wish is for those agencies to look within themselves and truly identify what makes them different from the other 20,000 businesses. Because if you cannot do that, then you will be seen by clients as interchangeable with any other agency who doesn’t articulate their point of difference. So the cheapest option will always be chosen.
If positioning your business for growth is an area you know your business needs to work on in 2022, here are three steps you could take now to get started:
– Block out time in your calendar next year and set aside budget to focus on this – if you don’t other priorities will always take precedence. DBA Expert Ralph Ardill sets it out well in his call for businesses to set up a ‘Project You’.
– Sign up today to be first to hear news of our 2022 online learning course dates – in Spring we’ll be running our popular workshop on how to define the most credible and valuable positioning for your business.
Agencies who nail their positioning do very well. These businesses say ‘no’ to work just as often as they say ‘yes’ – and they can charge a premium because they are the experts in what they do and can illustrate how they are different from the 20,000. It’s also how they attract talent too.
So well done for making it to the end of 2021. Take a well-deserved rest. Recharge those batteries and start 2022 in the knowledge that you and your business can use design to maximise the experiences of your clients and customers, to make them look twice, to think deeper and engage more.
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