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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 5 November 2021, below are some handy tips for success.

You can also book a free draft entry consultation with one of the DBA team. Book before 1 October and you will not only get detailed entry feedback with enough time to act on it, you will also save £100 on each entry fee. If you book by 15 October you can save £50 on each entry fee. Book a call today.

Context is key.

Lonewolf Gin Rebrand

When it comes to proving the effectiveness of your design, make sure you frame the results 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:


Making the link.

Lakrids by Bülow Rebrand

The judges need to see a clear link from the design through to the results. Don’t leave it up to assumption; you must provide the proof for them to clearly see this link through the data you include. They don’t want a lengthy description of the design solution, and a few images can save on the word count, but this is your chance to explain how design decisions impacted the results and addressed the business challenges you outlined in the context. Pearlfisher and Lakrids by Bülow’s Gold winning entry does this well.


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!

DigiBete web platform and app
DigiBete web platform and app

Here are some well-written, compelling entries:

Beware silly mistakes.

Watch out for those little mistakes that could have big repercussions. Date something 2020 when you meant 2021 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?

Bank of Scotland Flagship Branch
Bank of Scotland Flagship Branch

If 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 Lloyds Banking Group and M Worldwide ask and answer questions the judges may raise about their project in the ‘other influencing factors’ section of their Gold winning Bank of Scotland Flagship Branch entry.
  • Take a look at how Whitby Seafoods and BrandOpus explore the effect of COVID-19 on their Gold winning branding project

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. 


Modern Recipe
Modern Recipe

Browse all the 2021 DBA Design Effectiveness Award winning case studies, along with winners from previous years, to inspire your own entries: head to to access the case studies library. 

pernilla“The DBA Design Effectiveness Awards is the most relevant design award because it demonstrates the future lens through which all design will be perceived and valued.” Pernilla Johansson, Chief Design Officer, Electrolux, DBA Design Effectiveness Awards judge. 


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