Specialist Precast Products (SPP) built its success on the manufacture of high quality precast concrete products for construction. More recently, SPP has been approached for creative design services and bespoke high-value products. One was to design a concrete bottle-top for a branded spirit bottle, others were for more artistic interior pieces. With a desire to capitalize on these new business opportunities, SPP’s Managing Director realized that these creative projects had potential, but would require a different design-led approach to win new client relationships.
Working together on a regular basis, we’ve shifted the communications, with an emphasis on telling stories about the more creative capabilities. Young designers have been invited into the factory to evolve their work, and SPP have experimented with new techniques, such as 3D printing for molds. At the same time, the internal process and language has been adapted for new high-value customers.
The results have been new clients, new business, a growing profile and a Design Management Europe (DME) award. Clients now include award-winning Chelsea Flower Show garden designers and globally acclaimed artists. New projects have delivered sculptural furniture pieces and developed new concrete properties and finishes. These new business opportunities sit alongside the continued production of high quality lintels, cills, keystones and quoins for commercial construction contracts, with a team that better understands the differences and benefits of being able to deliver both.
Sitting Firm was set up by master-craftsman Dave Green in 1989, and soon gained an enviable international reputation for producing fine quality traditional Windsor chairs. In recent years, the company has been working with leading furniture designers to create an exceptional range of Modern Windsors.
The company was in the process of renewing marketing materials and developing the prototyping workshop. They weren’t short of work and there was room for more production capacity, but the team were over-stretched with too many small orders and a tendency to soak-up the time-consuming design and prototyping stages when working with new designers. There was a need to clarify the process for product development, new business and fulfilling orders – confirming what was most profitable in terms of product range and client types.
The results introduced a clear sense of three main client profiles and a set of strategic priorities. New briefing documents were developed to guide and structure new enquiries. The aim was to increase efficiency and profitability, whilst still maintaining the open attitude to welcoming new ideas. This meant making the early-stage design process clearer and more tangible for prospective clients, giving Sitting Firm the tools and process to be confident and clear about the valuable design and co-development service it provides alongside its production expertise.
Created by a volunteer team, Werkhouse launched as a weekend workshop in a commercial design studio. Creative directors, strategists, designers, and account managers took students and recent graduates on a deep dive into the creative and interpersonal skills needed to succeed in a design studio. This was not a design competition or a portfolio review. It was about being better prepared for the business of design. Creative thinking, design process, team working and exceeding client expectations.
Created for the Product Development Research Centre (PDR) at Cardiff Metropolitan University, Step-Up is a design management toolkit for SMEs. Aimed at the owner or manager of a small business, it brings together the diagrams, lists and explanations most helpful for those who are new to the practice of design management and the benefits it brings.
A practical tool for designers to understand and map sustainability issues in any design project within the four competing agendas of financial, social, environmental and personal demands. Co-created with designer Rupert Bassett, the tool has been used in various design schools and featured in design publications. It was displayed in the Design Museum as part of the Sustainable Futures exhibition.
Locality Solutions is a provider of cloud-based case management solutions, particularly for the public sector in housing and health. It was at a stage where it needed to scale after proving its software system with its initial clients and receiving very positive feedback on its user-centred approach.
It was the way of working that was a USP for Locality Solutions when compared to other competitors. The aim was to develop the user-centred knowledge and promote this for clients that are seeking more modern ways to improve their systems that impact communities.
A suite of tools were used to clarify the new potential:
- Process review - Confirming the challenges in public sector purchasing and the need to focus on raising profile and influence with specific decision makers
- Competitor review - Mapping the older and newer players and clarifying the positioning opportunities
- Buyer personas - Revealing the positive, and negative, personalities that are involved in the purchasing process. Clarifying strategies to attract the interest of positive people whilst dealing with the reality of skepticism and resistance to change.
- Comms audit - Detailing where current communications and marketing materials have weaknesses and confirming the need for improved clarity, consistency and impact.
- Design brief for an external brand agency - Sharing the conclusions and findings to ensure further investment was well directed.
RT Brands successfully navigated the procurement and tendering process to win this project to reposition an international team, with members across 130 countries. I joined the team for nine months as project lead – liaising with the MD, Creative Director, creative team and Head of Communications and comms team on the client side.
The project delivered a set of ‘Communication Principles’ devised to endorse the collective importance of clarity, consistency and showing the emotional, as well as the rational, impact of the organisation.
A series of pilot projects were developed so that a deeper level of understanding could be explored and possible solutions to improve impact could be evaluated.
The project moved toward the creation of brand assets - a suite of tools to assist with a successful roll-out. Firstly, a ‘Brand Book’ clarified core messages. Secondly, the ‘Brand Guidelines’ was the ‘how-to’ document, containing all the expected details of the revised visual identity system, layouts, styles and best practice to create strong and consistent materials. Lastly, a ‘Communications Toolkit’ provided the practical set of logo files, assets and templates to support simple and efficient implementation of the changes. The whole set of tools were then provided in an online area for easy access.
And to complete the project, the Communications Team revisited their role of being ‘Brand Guardians’ with a training on the actions and behaviours that support a strong brand and launch planning guidance, so they were clear about working together and setting expectations.
The in-house publication from design agency Hello. Dossier brings together "thoughts, insights and inspiration from journeys with clients, collaborators and friends". Working with Creative Director, we debate and discuss content possibilities before shaping interviews and articles. In 2017, it won a Drum Award for editorial content.
Contributing 'Wide Angle' articles for this quarterly publication. Each column discusses sustainability and ethics subjects. Articles include: designing for disability; deciding when to say 'no' to a project; why designing for longevity isn't always a good environmental decision and; how material constraints are driving design innovation.
Design agency Mytton Williams celebrated 20 years of business with a fabulous party and a short series of articles to reflect on lessons learnt, wisdom gained and stories to remember. These conversational pieces were drawn directly from the Creative Director, working back-and-forth to carefully reflect the ups and downs of growing a successful agency.