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Are you solving challenges or making change?

Putting yourself in your clients’ shoes is the design industry’s constant challenge – but it is the only real way to develop relationships and win new work.


I recently sat down with Jules Griffith of DBA Member agency The Clearing, to discuss how their attitude towards putting themselves in their clients’ shoes has changed in recent months.

Jules candidly explained how The Clearing had traditionally found it very easy to talk about how wonderful their work was, with the dialogue following a very linear process:

– ‘We were given this challenge’

– ‘We came up with this fantastic solution’

– ‘These were the results (increased sales / brand recognition etc)’

– ‘Didn’t we do well?’

She told me they had a tendency to talk about how much of a challenge the agency was presented with, and therefore how amazing the agency is for having grappled with, and overcome, those challenges. They are not alone; it is a scenario that is pretty common in the design and branding sector.

pensRecently though, The Clearing has completely changed the way it thinks about its work and what they do for clients. Says Jules, “We have reassessed how we do new business pitches, how we write our credentials, how we articulate everything about what we do.”

The light bulb moment for Jules and the team was their attendance at the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards ceremony in March. The ceremony is a showcase of wide-ranging examples of transformational design and it made them think; “what impact have we had on our clients’ businesses?”

The complexity in a rebranding project can lead you to forget that, actually, it all boils down to how you transform a business. The impact is not just found in the roll-out and increased sales; whilst the outcome is less about the development of a brand architecture and more about the change in the business itself.

“What goes into a project is complex, but the outcome needs to be simplified”, suggests Jules. “There is a beautiful simplicity in saying ‘Because of our involvement something different happened to that business’ – it takes away all the design and branding jargon.”

The new mantra at The Clearing is “What did we do? And did it make a change?” The aim being that they can confidently say of their work with past clients: “As a result of working with us these businesses changed.” They are able to talk to clients as business partners. As a partner capable of fixing more than just a particular project-focused need, one that can transform a whole business.https-cdn-evbuc-com-images-31718910-102399855273-1-original

This shift in perspective is being translated across the agency – The Clearing’s team are in the process of rewriting everything, including their website, to reflect their new found simplicity.

“This may all sound obvious, but it is something I feel very passionate about,” says Jules. “Our industry has a tendency to over-complicate things to maintain an air of “magic creativity” and promote how we solve complex challenges. We now think differently, and it has changed our business for the better.”


With thanks to Jules Griffith, Marketing Director, The Clearing.

The Clearing is an independent branding agency of approximately 25 staff based in Clerkenwell, London. Founded in 2010, they were named the UK’s best branding consultancy at The Drum Network Awards. They joined the DBA in 2015. 

Image credit: © Rawpixelimages |

Image credit: © Nikkytok |

Image credit: © Gary Woodard |


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