Good for Nothing

In the summer of 2015 we put our ‘Good for Nothing’ initiative in motion by selecting and engaging with two recipients who would share in £50,000 worth of our time and expertise to help their causes.

The criteria was simple: they had to be working for the common good, have little or no budget and we needed to be convinced that our particular skillsets could really help them. Vetted and selected by our staff from over forty applications, little did we imagine the journey ahead.

As always these things start out with good intentions. Let’s live our values. We can put any spare capacity in the system to good use. Motivate and engage the team by doing good for others. Convert another disciple to the religion of great design thinking. Really challenge ourselves at the hard end of the charity and service based industries. Learn a shedload. All very laudable but really boiling down to simply doing some good.

Discussed with the team, everyone was up for it and open to the challenge, no matter the extra workload. Selection was hard as we wanted to help everyone, but the fact is you can’t. We had to make some tough calls, but equally we were able to make a couple of people very happy indeed. And off we went.

Scoping and discovery meetings were set. One on Skye with a dementia initiative founded on creativity, the other locally with the Govan and Craigton Integration Network, helping refugees and asylum seekers as well as the local community. Both are fantastic causes, both have no money and both have amazing and selfless people running them. Our teams engaged with them to really bottom out what they were trying to achieve and what we could do to help.

It was only during these intial scoping meetings that we really started to understand the enormity of the tasks ahead and the difficulties we’d need to overcome. Thinking, strategy, naming, definition and positioning would play a role, but this was really just the tip of the iceberg. Govan had to deal with multiple languages. Stornoway isn’t the easiest place to get to. Ideally we needed to be able to deliver a website for Arora as it was a tool they really needed. Both groups had limited staff and financial resources so any physical solutions needed to cost next to noting and be delivered by untrained volunteers. Ongoing support in both cases would be critical in ensuring the new work didn’t simply grind to a halt in the first few weeks of launch. And so it went on.

Way more time was spent than budgeted, but the journey has been more than worthwhile. Our agency learnings have been invaluable and will stick with us and inform future projects, fee paying or otherwise. Great branding is sometimes only as good as the empty belly poster the client uses on a day to day basis. Keep everything really, really simple. It’s the best way to ensure an idea will work for the broadest possible audience and poorest photocopier. It’s not rocket science, plain speaking, empathy, understanding and close teamwork with the people you’re designing for is critical. Create for the lowest common denominator. Stay professional and don’t get emotionally involved. What matters is your ability to deliver the right solution for the client.

We’re hugely proud of the work we’ve delivered and I’m unbelievably proud of our team who have overcome serious challenges. Given of themselves and their time. Found cost effective and sometimes, cost nothing, solutions. Begged, pleaded and cajoled those that have little but have rightly demanded the world. And throughout it all have stayed resolute, focused, honest and highly creative in delivering over and above for our deserving causes.

Arora went into action in November last year and Govan has just launched at the end of January. Will the new brands and touchpoints now meet the expectations and demands put upon them? We can truly say we’ve done everything we can and we’ve done it right. We’ll stay in touch to monitor, measure and help where we can. That said, if we can help one more person with dementia see a glimmer of light or help one asylum seeker feel more at home, we’ve succeeded in our expectation.

And so onto 2017. We’re now open for a new round of applications for this year’s donation of time and who knows what that will bring. We’ve learnt a lot. Our team has loved it and we’ve delivered some great work, created new design advocates and ultimately done some good. More of the same please.