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“We’re gearing up to watch the next series of His Dark Materials in my house this Christmas, with a few Aldi’s mince pies thrown in for good measure. ‘Big on taste, low on price’ (or am I mixing my supermarket slogans?). And the family version of Cards Against Humanity comes highly recommended too. The original adult game can cut close to the bone, but the kid friendly version is suitable for all ages and will have the whole family in hysterics.”

“The week before Christmas is always full-on in my house but there is one thing that keeps us the right side mellow and it’s Classic FM. Put the radio on first thing in the morning in the kitchen and leave it on all day. You’ll be humming along to carols in no time. Favourite activity has got to be a cold walk – but don’t ask anyone else about the route. It’ll delay your departure by at least half an hour! Pick your favourite walk, and take the lead!”

“Over-eaten and in danger of nodding off? Watch The Bear on Disney+ for an intense, brilliant and emotional ride. There’ll be no napping during this (not kid-friendly) TV show, which will find you calling ‘Behind (You)!’ while prepping your Christmas Dinner. Then take a Shot in the Dark – a simple, easy and great fun quiz game. No one needs to know the answer, levelling the playing field for all ages.”

“Why not rustle up this fun festive cocktail and pop on Elf? I always feel it’s not Christmas until I’ve watched it. And here’s a recommendation to help others this winter – you can donate a Christmas meal or a place to stay for a homeless person, and you can group together and do more than one too.”

“I’ve got two Christmas TV suggestions – a classic favourite is ‘The National Lampoons Christmas Vacation’ the over cooked turkey is always a family joke on Christmas Day. One that’s not Christmassy but just great is Bad Sisters on Apple TV. Dark and funny, perfect with a Baileys and a mince pie. Watch the opening credits and you’ll be hooked. I’d also recommend going for a Christmas day run after a lovely big breakfast and presents. Everyone’s really jolly and says merry Christmas (unusual for London) and it means I’m actually hungry for lunch.”

“I’d recommend indulging in some Venezuelan Hallacas from Arepa & Co with Baileys on ice. And if you’re a fan of the Addams Family, watch Wednesday on Netflix – it’s awesome.”

“As an Agatha Christie and pub quiz fan, this has been recommended to me as a perfect escapism book for some festive downtime in front of the fire. And for a new take on Dickens’ Christmas Carol check out this Southbank Show which gives it a Dolly Parton country twist.”

Wishing you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year, from all of us at the DBA – Adam, Deborah, Hannah, Holli, Natasha, Ramiro, Sally and Sarah.

Image credit: Marina Hannah | Unsplash

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After another rollercoaster twelve months, what would your Word of the Year be? We gave the DBA Experts their chance to choose. 

We asked them for a word which reflected the design sector in 2022, and their choices provide a fascinating snapshot into the industry this year.  

Opting for a Greek word, Adam Graham plumped for Meraki in recognition of the “creativity, soul and love” designers bring to what they do. While other choices were inspired by wider events, like Adrian Day’s Pandaustion. “A post-pandemic syndrome affecting design firm leaders and their teams,” he says. But even though we now have an expected recession to contend with, says Adrian “as ever the winning consultancies will find the inventiveness, energy and resilience to survive and prosper.”

Steinar Valade-Amland sums up 2022 as the year of Breaking-news.

“Never before in my lifetime was there a more massive stream of breaking-news. Daily, sometimes hourly, and often rather heart-breaking news. Let 2023 be the year of uplifting, and not always necessarily breaking-news,” Steinar says. “Business headwinds escalated into a recession because the news channels prefer a bad news story,” says Jack O’Hern, choosing Cry-sis as his word, to highlight media “over-reaction”. While Eraser-nomicsJeremy Paterson’s choice – will strike a chord for all those who’ve had to keep updating business plans to keep pace with changing economic optimism alongside government budgetary events. “Well done to all of those who lived through it – test papers to follow!” he says.

But despite the challenging backdrop, design teams and businesses have adapted and found opportunity to thrive.

Jonathan Gaunt has chosen Indomitable, meaning impossible to subdue or defeat. “Indomitable describes the unwavering force that the business community has had this year in the face of never-ending uncertainty,” says Jonathan. While Michael Thomson coined Pivilencia, to recognise the amazing flexibility of agencies around the world, in both pivoting and being resilient.

“For me, the ability to lean without fear into and embrace Metamorphosis works for the year 2022”, says Guy Duncan. “Be it as a design business, team, or as an individual working in the industry coping with the challenges facing us all, metamorphosis sums up the ability to change, renew, evolve into something different… which can be both a successful move and also an enriching journey.”

As we moved on from the pandemic in 2022, new challenges have arisen, like FOFF, Catherine Allison’s choice. “It’s an abbreviation for Fear Of Face-to-Face”, she says, adding that it’s that “emotion or thought you have when you are frightened or worried by a request for a face-to-face client meeting or presentation after months of comfortably presenting online.” 

On the flip side, as we emerged from lockdowns this year, there has also been much joy and satisfaction in ReconnectingKatherine Sandford-Anderson’s word of the year. “Reconnecting in person with clients, industry friends, journalists and the wider sector has been one of the most important and enjoyable parts of my year after the distance imposed on us all in the last few years,” Katherine says. “I would encourage all the DBA members to keep doing this next year and beyond.”

Lucy Mann has opted for Whac-A-Mole® to sum up 2022. “Just when you thought you’d got one problem solved, another ‘challenge’ popped up somewhere else, out of the blue,” says Lucy. “Let’s hope there are less pesky moles to contend with next year and we can safely put our mallets away.”

With New Business currently the biggest concern* for agencies, Natasha Ellard-Shoefield has been delighted to see an increase in the importance of Focus in agencies approach. “Less scatter-gun approaches and a more tailored, personalised approach has started to emerge,” she says. “Agencies are also much more focused on what they do (and more importantly what they won’t do) which makes for a much more powerful proposition.”

Jeremy Davies’ word Lead is relevant as both a verb and a noun.

“Agencies have had to rethink their approach to leadership since the pandemic,” Jeremy says. “And if New Business is the number one concern, a joined-up approach to lead generation – the responsibility of marketing, not business development – is essential.”

This year has also been marked by the great resignation and talent shortages. “At JourneyHR we have spent a lot of 2022 working with agency owners to invest in their culture and people practices; helping them to engage and retain their talent, creating more opportunities for flexibility and inclusion that in pre-pandemic years would never have been considered possible,” says Aliya Vigor-Robertson. “That’s why I’ve chosen Retention as my word of the year.”

Chris Lang has opted for Trussled, “something that happens all too often in my world”, he says, “being presented with a budget or cost proposal that has no basis or semblance of reality thereby causing a headache!” Hybrid is Martin Varley’s selection, following the rise of hybrid working practises. “These have had, and will see, numerous long-term and deep-seated effects on how the sector is organised. The flight to the country continues but is it all good for business?” he asks.

And as we look to the future, with a likely period of change and uncertainty ahead, “the opportunity to achieve still exists,” says Lucy Unger, selecting Agility as her word of the year. Lucy highlights how “harnessing opportunity requires organisational alignment, fearless creativity and, very importantly, a willingness to respond.” While John Gleason’s choice, Multi-Lingual, reflects the opportunities available to Designers and Design leaders who speak the language of business. Says John, “They are better able to understand what is needed by the business, and are able to better communicate ideas, solutions and impact to their business peers.” 

“Even in recession there will still be plenty of business out there for good agencies,” points out Jonathan Kirk. “Let’s not get pulled down in a spiral of gloom,” he says, choosing Optimism as his word to take forwards as a positive force into 2023.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Ralph Ardill: “Confidence has been front and centre in almost every conversation I’ve had with the Leadership teams of clients and agencies alike throughout 2022,” he says. “Confidence in our Future, Confidence in our People, Confidence in our Leadership and last but not least Confidence in our ability to anticipate, adapt and become whatever ’next’ demands and deserves.”

And so, to the final word from Shan Preddy, and a testament to the strength of the design sector. “The tempest of the last three years has left only the strongest and most resilient standing. You’re here. You’ve survived, maybe thrived. You’ve adapted, flexed, evolved and grown in stature and in presence. You are storm-resistant. You are Evergreen.”

Here’s to the new shoots of opportunity coming in 2023! Wishing all our Members, Experts and Industry Friends a happy and prosperous year ahead. 

DBA Expert Word of the Year DBA Expert Word of the Year
Adam Graham, Gray Matters Meraki Jonathan Gaunt, FD Works Indomitable
Adrian Day, Consultant & Non Exec Director  Pandaustion Jonathan Kirk, Up to the Light Optimism
Aliya Vigor-Robertson, JourneyHR Retention Katherine Sandford-Anderson, Sandford PR Reconnecting
Catherine Allison, Master the Art Fear Of Face-to-Face Lucy Mann, Gunpowder Consulting Whac-A-Mole®
Chris Lang, Flash Accounts Trussled Lucy Unger, Consultant & Non Exec Director Agility
Guy Duncan, Brand Equality Metamorphosis Martin Varley, Humphries Kirk Hybrid
Jack O’Hern, Wright Vigar Cry-sis Michael Thomson, Design Connect Pivilencia
Jeremy Davies, Little Train BD Lead Natasha Ellard-Shoefield, The Hand Focus
Jeremy Paterson, IF Media Consultancy Eraser-nomics Ralph Ardill, The Brand Experience Consultancy Confidence
John Gleason, A Better View Strategic Consulting Multi-Lingual Shan Preddy, Preddy&Co Evergreen
Steinar Valade-Amland, Three Point Zero Breaking-news    

Who are the DBA Experts?

DBA Experts are accredited expert consultants who have sustained and relevant experience in supporting the design industry. Browse the Register of Experts and get in touch >

Image credits: Laura Rivera | Unsplash | Matthias Heyde | Unsplash | Tom Podmore | Unsplash | Dave Hoefler | Unsplash | Robert Lukeman | Unsplash | Slim Emcee | Unsplash | Matt Hoffman | Unsplash

 

*2022 DBA Annual Survey Report Launch straw poll

 

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  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, the theme of sustainability and sustainable development was a popular source of excitement and inspiration for those on the call – the responsibility of designers to design for a better future and fix real world problems. 
  • John Doerr’s book Speed & Scale was shared as a launchpad for how we can use design for good and be part of the action plan to solve the climate crisis.  
  • There is a need for innovators to take the lead and create the vision for a better future. Vision is our thing – imagination and inspiration are the skills designers have in abundance and I know that together, we can do it, was the galvanising view of one contributor.
  • Another touted design as the powerhouse that can solve our toughest challenges, with designers not only as the architects of the future, but the architects of conscience too. The unique ability of designers to use their skills to bring people together, and to shape education and government policy, should create a better future for us all.
  • One contributor shared their excitement around the paradigm shift in working practices that has given a greater level of flexibility to those who would have historically left the industry. Keeping that talent in design can only be a positive thing, leading to a more diverse and experienced workforce guiding and sharing their expertise with the next generation. If you’re keen to contribute to this discussion and the impact of flexible working in improving diversity across the board in our industry, then do let me know. 
  • The incoming generation of designers was a source of energy and excitement for another member. They are a group that contain future change-makers and leaders who will reset the zeitgeist and encouraged us all to do everything we can to encourage them #supportstudents – one member shared their success of increasing the number of creative GCSE applications in a local school by 300% having given them an insight into design – that’s a real world impact you can have at a local level – let me know if you want to hear more about this. 
  • The ability of the next generation to adopt, adapt and embrace AI and new technologies was exciting another contributor. 
  • There was an interesting conversation around a small cohort of people who are rejecting the idea of ‘personal branding’ – they were especially seeing this in the younger generation of students which was inspiring – leave branding to the brands and keep living to the living. This will certainly be something we’ll follow up in the next year.

Our Members’ Forum takes place on the first Monday of each month, at 4 – 5pm. If you would like to attend, get in touch here

We’ll be taking a break in early January and be coming back online on Monday 23 January at 4pm GMT.

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