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And the winner is… Design effectiveness

Category
Brand monitoring
Words
Stef Brown

The DBA Design Effectiveness Awards are arguably the ‘Oscars’ of design effectiveness. Established back in 1989, they require substantiated proof that the design has delivered on objectives. Entries must evidence and prove that design led to the results achieved, by contextualising and evaluating the market and business environment in which it was created, and clearly exploring and explaining the impact of any other influencing factors.

These awards are currently top of mind as I start the process of working with agencies and their clients on several entries for the 2022 awards. And with the 2021 winners announced earlier this summer, it seems the perfect time to take look at some winners and how design has powerfully transformed them.

Modern Recipe: RIP Traditional Canteen
Facing a challenging, declining market, facilities management business Sodexo collaborated with agency Without to totally revamp its contract catering brand. They developed the new Modern Recipe proposition to appeal to modern professionals: Contemporary food + Creative spaces = Thriving workplaces.

This shaped the design of the whole brand experience, to stand out as a credible foodie brand in a highly commoditised sector: name, identity, packaging, canteen interior design, service style, signage, marketing – and even a new, healthier menu links to the brand strategy.

Transforming under-utilised corporate canteens into buzzing spaces, Sudexo’s new Modern Recipe brand proved a resounding commercial success, increasing dining rates 45% and revenue 60% at one site alone. Within two and a half years (pre-pandemic) Modern Recipe was deployed at sites across nine countries. Increasing turnover, transaction value and margins across those sites, it helped push the whole Sodexo business forward and secured millions in new and retained catering contracts. 

Lakrids by Bülow: Every Shape of Black

Gourmet liquorice brand Lakrids by Bülow was a much-loved Danish delicacy, but after a decade of growth its success was being eroded by cheaper, copycat competitors. Having experienced a 20% loss, the business collaborated with Pearlfisher to rethink the brand’s strategy and design. 

The design essence, ‘every shape of black’, was developed. The new identity and packaging evolved from this, leveraging visual equities such as the colour black to communicate the brand’s quality and protect its premium price point.

Without incurring additional production costs – to maintain unit profitability – a unique new jar shape was created made entirely from 100% recycled and recyclable PET plastic. The sleek, differentiated design reinforces a sense of craftsmanship.

The brand achieved a stunning 139% bottom line comeback through design, despite COVID-19’s impact on its retail operations. It outperformed competitors, growing turnover 16% year-on-year versus 2% category growth. Despite key airport sales drying up due to the pandemic, international sales jumped from 53% of turnover to 63% between 2018 and 2020 and significantly, the brand has also been able to expand outside of the confectionary category. 

The brand achieved a stunning 139% bottom line comeback through design, despite COVID-19’s impact on its retail operations.

DigiBete: Type 1 Diabetes Digital Platform
Having experienced first-hand the overwhelming amount of information parents need to navigate following a child’s Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis, DigiBete’s founders launched a self-funded website to support families like theirs. Feedback subsequently revealed the opportunity to further develop the site to empower children and their families to better self-manage their condition, to improve health outcomes and quality of life. 

It became the primary paediatric diabetes resource signposted on NHS.uk, and it’s saving the NHS almost £450,000 per annum by reducing the need for clinical contact.

Collaborating with HMA, an engaging web platform and accompanying app were developed. By including patients and families in the co-design process and focusing on ease of use and intuitive design, an age-appropriate digital training and self-management resource was created. Delivering a seamless user experience, Digibete can be personalised to suit each family’s needs.

It became the primary paediatric diabetes resource signposted on NHS.uk, and it’s saving the NHS almost £450,000 per annum by reducing the need for clinical contact. 90,000 unique users have engaged with over 3,200 hours of educational video content through the platform and 91% of users surveyed cited a reduced need to contact the diabetes clinical team for non-emergencies. Having been onboarded by 93% of paediatric diabetes clinics in England and Wales, Digibete has proved especially useful for supporting patients remotely during the pandemic. 

Newcastle Carers: We Care Too
In Newcastle alone, there are nearly 2,000 young adults aged 16 to 25 in what can be a lonely and exhausting unpaid carer’s role. Many are unaware of the help they can access. To tackle this, Newcastle Carers wanted to increase referrals to its young adult carer service through a multi-platform campaign. Using a co-creation design process, the charity and Sail Creative worked with 12 young adult carers to gain a deep insight into the realities of their lives. 

Built on their raw, honest testimony, the We Care Too campaign’s bold, concise copy and striking photography resonate, helping young people to recognise themselves as carers, with clear signposting on how to get help. 

Receiving 1,857,283 views across digital and printed billboards and generating significant media coverage, the eye-catching campaign successfully raised awareness. It helped more young adult carers access support, with referrals to the charity up 73% on the same period the previous year. And three years of funding from Children in Need was also secured as a result of the campaign, enabling the charity to provide further, vital support.  

It helped more young adult carers access support, with referrals to the charity up 73%.

These winners prove that an investment in design is an investment in the future of a business, brand or organisation – clear recognition by the brand-side only judges that the very best design work is accountable, delivering commercially.


The call for entries for the 2022 DBA Design Effectiveness Awards is now underway. The deadline for entries is Friday 5 November 2021. Download an entry pack here.

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