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How to create a strong design team

By Mike Berry

How to create a strong design team

Building a great brand, either for your own company or on behalf of a client, is a real challenge. Without originality and fabulous design you can get lost in the competitive and noisy world that we live in. Creating a strong design team can be equally difficult, especially in this competitive market where great talent gets picked up quickly. You need the right people in the team before you even start to think about producing amazing work.

Of all the traits of your team, personality is the most important factor in your decision when creating the right blend of people. You want creatives that challenge your way of thinking, bring fresh ideas and perspectives. This will be one of the winning ingredients for your business to be able to function successfully. People that gel well together, share similar interests, but still remain individual to their own style and flair can add the extra wow factor to your brand. And of course they must have the required skillset. Once the right people are in place you can then start to build on the strength of your team and the amazing work will flow nicely.

The environment that people work in is very important in all industries, especially a design one, as the mind needs inspiration and freedom to adventure into the fantastical world of a creative person. Even if you are not based in one of East London’s brick-walled, industrial interiors you can use your imagination to get ‘arty’ in the space that surrounds you. Using your environment effectively can also act as a great team building exercise. According to research carried out by Florida State University, people who have more fun at work are more productive, show a higher level of creativity and are more inclined to help co-workers.

An enthusiastic leader organically encourages an enthusiastic work force. To lead by example is always a positive message to communicate throughout your team. Trust also will motivate your team in their abilities and only strengthen your professional relationship.

Give your team the freedom to find their own unique ways of solving issues. Challenge them to think outside the box. This will encourage innovation and productivity. Celebrate wins! Very often appreciation is a greater reward than money. Show your sincere gratitude for the unique contribution every one makes to the organisation.

External influences can greatly help the creativity of your team. Take a road trip, visit a museum, parks, galleries. Encourage your team to take photographs to use as creative influence when back at HQ. Create a monthly external breakfast meeting, things always seem better over hot coffee and Danish pastries. The point is simply to have something different to look at instead of the normal walls of your office space. This can have the effect of prompting creative thinking because your brain isn’t processing the same information as it normally does.

While creativity is a major factor in being a great designer however, being aware of business goals and needs takes that designer to the next level. The Cambridge Business English Dictionary defines commercial awareness as, “the knowledge of how businesses make money, what customers want, and what problems there are in a particular area of business”. Having your team commercially aware will give them a better understanding of a client’s needs and therefore aid them in creating a successful project. Encourage your team to mix with the business or the client. Invite stakeholders to visit and talk to your team, and get your team to present back to the organisation. By building your team with creatives that have an understanding of your business and profitability you will find yourself with your team being able to “hit the ground running” and make informed decisions, right from the start.

Ultimately you are the leader, the heartbeat of your business. You need to provide clarity and inspiration to get the best out of your team. With that foundation in place, you have the ability to invite creative input from your team and appreciate the collaborative results when the vision is clear and the team are aligned with that vision. Having the right people on board will allow for this process to happen: combined with your guidance it will result in amazing work and therefore a successful design team.


This article was original published in Creative Review's 'Studio Sense' supplement. To check out the original or read more Studio Sense articles, click here

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