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The DBA interviews Diageo’s Jeremy Lindley

Delve into the business of design with Diageo’s Global Design Director Jeremy Lindley, as he discusses the company’s approach to design effectiveness in this interview with the DBA. 


jw_2013_marcelchrist_tinsfrontside_72dpiAre the days of ‘design as a nice-to-have’ behind us; is design a commercial imperative in today’s markets?

Jeremy: There is an enormous body of evidence for how design is critical to business success, the days of it being seen as the “styling department” or a nice to have are long behind us. At Diageo design is deeply embedded into the organisation, its value well understood and design thinking a core tool. We are aware that we’re not alone in understanding the power of design, so are constantly seeking to raise our game in order to win against the competition.

You’ve been Global Design Director at Diageo since 2006 and Head of Design at Tesco for the decade before that; has the perception of the value of design changed in that time?


Jeremy: In the early years of my Design Leadership career, my role was relatively unusual and I needed to do a great deal to embed the value of design into the organisation. I do feel a significant difference now, the value of design is well understood and the active sponsorship from our Chief Marketing Officer and our Executive Committee means that my team are able to make a significantly larger impact broadly across the organisation.


In terms of earning the trust of C-suite budget holders and bolstering the case for design investment, is there anything agencies and internal design teams could still get better at in your view?

Jeremy: Designers need to remember to talk the language of business as well as creativity. I suppose you could say that we need to be bilingual! The business case for design is clear, we should not be shy in describing the return on investment that design brings.

image-3_5Diageo has had great success in the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards over the years. Why are the Awards important to you?

Jeremy: Effective design is a key priority at Diageo, we value the Design Effectiveness Awards very highly as the rigorous entry process supports us in analysing the commercial impact of our work. The rigour involved, including eliminating all influencing factors, has improved how we measure our effectiveness, strengthening the business case for investing in design.

Has your approach to measuring the impact of your design work been influenced by entering and winning in the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards?


Jeremy: The process of entering the DBA awards requires real rigour, we have needed to innovate in order to isolate the impact of other factors. Econometric modelling has proven incredibly useful in isolating the impact of design from other aspects of the marketing mix.



jwh-1From the principle measure of per-unit cost for Guinness Hero Harps, to brand awareness as a key metric for the success of Johnnie Walker Houses, the ways in which Diageo determines and proves the impact of its designs isn’t simply rooted in financial goals. What are the key steps you take to achieve and capture this level and breadth of impact through design?

Jeremy: We have clear goals for all our design projects – we may be seeking to increase sales, reduce the amount of packaging and be more sustainable, reduce cost of manufacture, improve visibility or enhance margin (or often all of these!). Clarity of project goals then enables us to measure the project against our objectives. This is why we may present different metrics in our award submissions – while design clearly delivers against financial goals there are many other aspects at which it is an effective investment.


gordy_bottlesHow do you decide what success will look like for each project and how you’ll measure against those success criteria?

Jeremy: Our focus will always be on the business goal, and how design can contribute towards that objective. There are a number of measurement tools that we have developed over time that enable us to track the success of a project, however, we often have to innovate to find new ways of tracking whether work has been a success.

How important is an agency’s ability to evidence their effectiveness and their work in a business context?


Jeremy: We aim to work with our agencies over the long term, developing a partnership that brings about better work. It is critical for agencies to understand the way we measure and evaluate design, this enables their creative work to be targeted in the right areas.


From a client/commissioner of design perspective, what benefits does winning a Design Effectiveness Award deliver?

Jeremy: Effective design is a key priority at Diageo, so winning an award that is judged by industry peers is a fantastic way to engage in conversations about effective design internally.


It’s a challenging time for many businesses and sectors right now, not least hospitality, but is this time of flux providing an opportunity for innovation? How is Diageo reacting through design to the changing and future needs of customers and consumers?  


Jeremy: We remain focused on our consumers and all that is changing in their world. There are exciting opportunities for Innovation and we are working with pace and agility to meet changing consumer behaviours. We also continue to support the British Drinks Industry, for example, in March 2020 Guinness announced a £1m fund to support bartenders in the free trade across Great Britain.

Take advantage of the support available from the DBA

awards_01Find out more about the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards and how to enter: visit and sign up for updates.

About: Jeremy Lindley, Global Design Director, Diageo

Jeremy is responsible for design across Diageo’s current brands and new products worldwide. His role is to transform Diageo’s design capability and output. Recent projects have included the redesign of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Baileys Original Irish Cream and the creation of John Walker & Sons Diamond Jubilee – a limited edition of 60 bottles retailing at over £100,000.

Prior to joining Diageo Jeremy was Head of Design for Tesco Stores Ltd. He was responsible for design across the portfolio of 19,000 private label products and for leading the Store Formats and Design teams. His early career was spent working as a Design Consultant and University Lecturer.

Jeremy is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts and is active in a number of Design Industry bodies.

Image credits: 

Diageo’s Guinness Hero Harps – 2020 DBA Design Effectiveness Grand Prix winner

Diageo’s Johnnie Walker Global Gifting – 2016 DBA Design Effectiveness Award winner

Diageo’s Bailey’s Strawberry & Cream – 2020 DBA Design Effectiveness Award winner 

Diageo’s Johnnie Walker Houses – 2016 DBA Design Effectiveness Award winner 

Diageo’s Gordon’s Gin – 2019 DBA Design Effectiveness Award winner

Diageo’s Guinness Hero Harps – 2020 DBA Design Effectiveness Grand Prix winner 

Diageo’s Global Design Director Jeremy Lindley 


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