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DBA Design Effectiveness Awards: handy tips for a winning case study

With the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards entry deadline coming up on 30th June, here are some handy tips for success. 


Note, entries for the 2018 Design Effectiveness Awards are now closed. Drop us an email at to register your interest and we will be in touch as soon as we have more information about the 2019 awards.

Context is key.

handy tipsWhen it comes to proving the effectiveness of your design, make sure you frame the results it’s achieved within a wider commercial context. What was the market doing? How did your design perform against the original business objectives? A 4% increase in sales means little until you explain that the market was declining by -3%. Context enables the judges to assess the significance of the results and to understand the scale of impact your design has achieved. These entries provide excellent context, have a read:


Hold off the jargon.


Design Effectiveness Awards judges have a stack of entries to read. If your submission is logically argued, clear, concise and engaging, chances are it’ll be a joy for them to read. Impenetrable, jargon heavy and confusing entries should be avoided!

Here’s a great example of a well-written, compelling entry:

Beware silly mistakes.

Watch out for those little mistakes that could have big repercussions. Date something 2015 when you meant 2016 and it can change the meaning of the data. Pop the wrong titles or labels on your graph and it’s a whole different picture. A simple calculation error can put doubt in the judges’ minds and won’t help your case. Why not tap into a mathematically savvy colleague’s expertise, such as your accountant or FD, to proof your figures.

Fresh eyes/devil’s advocate.

Find someone who can be both of these to your entry. This should be someone completely separate to the submission who will question your reasoning, flag typos and say when something doesn’t make sense. It’s a really useful exercise to put your case study through before it’s scrutinised by our esteemed judges, particularly when it comes to the next point….

Have you left anything hanging?

handy hintsIf your case study raises questions in the judges’ minds that aren’t answered by the submission, this could undermine your entry. Judges will be aware of any influences, positive or negative, in a given market or sector during the previous few years, so don’t leave these unaddressed if they impacted the performance of your entry. Provide all the information required (see entry pack) in the specified entry format and leave no room for doubt as to your design’s effectiveness. 

  • See how Arla Foods and Elmwood ask and answer questions the judges may raise about their winning project SKYR in the ‘other influencing factors’ section of their entry here.

The DBA Design Effectiveness Awards are the industry standard for assessing and rewarding effective design. Entered jointly by client and designer, and rigorously judged by business leaders, a win will give you a compelling and impactful point of differentiation from your competitors and prove that your design delivers competitive advantage. 

“Design can be an immensely powerful business tool when it is managed effectively. In contrast to other competitions, where visual treatment alone is evaluated, the criteria required to win a Design Effectiveness Award is clear, measurable and rigorous. We have won ten awards that have helped foster strong, trusting relationships with our clients, who appreciate the kudos and PR value of winning an award.” David Robinson, Director, LA Design. 


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