Every good creative project and innovation has at its core the need to solve an existing problem, and the passion to do so will usually bring you as far as you need to succeed. Design can change lives. And this was what started it all for creative agency Nalla Design.
In the words of Design Director Jonny Davidson, "Nalla was born out of the frustration of seeing brands fail to face up to the challenge of change." It was born to challenge the status quo and show a different way, a more integrated path to digital transformation. And that is still where Nalla is today.
For this Company Spotlight we are taking a quick look into the story of a beautiful digital agency, setting itself as an alternative to traditional branding and a genuine advocate for the transforming power of creativity.
How was your company born and where are you based?
Nalla was born out of the frustration of seeing brands fail to face up to the challenge of change. We wanted to offer a different approach. An alternative to traditional branding agencies, who were building brands with digital as an afterthought, resulting in a bunch of disparate ideas for every channel, service and situation.
Can you explain your team’s creative process?
The creative process always starts with discovery. Understanding the task at hand and researching not only what the sector and market looks like, but looking into what other industries are doing that can bring fresh thinking to our clients. The discovery stage helps us the define the problem and potential solutions to deliver what is needed and then this is where the creative process really begins. There is no perfect formula, but it involves a lot of looking around, sketches, moodboards, cutting out and refinement until we find something truly unique that fits the brief. We like to go out as wide as possible in our thinking before we bring it back down narrower to remove concepts that won’t work when stress-tested.
How has technology affected the way you work (if at all)?
Technology has certainly opened up new ways to express our creativity and given us tools to create new and exciting ideas for our clients. For example, one of our clients VividQ – a 3D holography software company inspired us to create a brand identity that expressed depth and natural eye-focussing. Technology has also streamlined some of the day-to-day processes we need as a design studio and during lockdown was vital to help us communicate and collaborate online through platforms such as Mural and Miro.
What’s your team’s secret to staying inspired and motivated?
I guess it’s to do with having a mentality of constantly looking for improvement. We believe that we’re only as good as our last project so we set ourselves a high bar with every project we take on and try to improve on the last. We’re very impact driven and love to see how design and brand strategy adds real value to our clients. So we always agree on metric of success for our projects so we have something to work towards.
What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?
It’s probably a large-scale project we started quite a few years ago with Informa and continue to work with now. The initial design challenge was a massive digital transformation for the business, completely reworking the online user experience for over 2,000 event websites. A biggest challenged associate with this was how to re-brand over 2,000 events with different audiences across multiple industries such as life sciences, finance and technology. We needed consistency and control in order for the events to sit on a single online platform, but also knew we needed flexibility to provide brands with different tones that could engage their audience. So we developed a system where brand assets could be created through their CMS system and immediately populated onto their websites. We created a brand identity based on modern alchemy symbols that were structured on a 16x16 grid which could enable us to create hundreds of patterns and icons, this was then plugged into an online brand generator which gave marketers the ability to download their logo, symbols, colour palettes and typefaces. It was a gruelling task but the outcome is something we’re extremely proud of.
How do you recharge away from the office?
Taking time-off is important for me personally. Being able to properly switch off, reset and recover, for me, is key for keeping up high levels of motivation in a busy creative studio. I find that travel really does broaden the mind. So I try to visit a new country every year and see what inspiration it brings me.
What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?
To get a job in the industry you need a standout portfolio and also need to demonstrate that you can deliver consistently, so my advice is to always get feedback on your work so you can improve it. Most creatives are great at providing constructive criticism and are happy to lend a helping eye. Keep working on personal projects to stay inspired – these can also be put into portfolios and are often the strongest pieces as they come from the heart. Also look to see where your portfolio is lacking. Does it show off good understanding of typography, layout, animation, colour, digital and printed applications? These are all things we look for at Nalla.
What’s your one big hope for the future of the creative industries?
I’d like to see creative agencies be involved more in government initiatives and politics itself. Good design and good experiences have the power to transform the lives of everyone and accelerate the growth of economies, progress change and drive better outcomes for our society and environment. I see a lot of charitable or altruistic businesses doing good things out there but the design or experience lets them down and it’s saddening to see.