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Leading Lights #2 Manisha Mistry, Design Director Dragon Rouge London
Leading Lights is our new series celebrating the heroes behind our red door – those that lead by example day-in, day-out. In this feature we talk with Design Director Manisha Mistry on subjects such as design sprints, meaningful craft and balancing quality with speed. Manisha joined Dragon Rouge in 2017 and has led rebrands, new brand creation and innovation projects for the likes of Danone, Reckitt Benckiser, Organix and Heineken.
Q. In short, tell us about an average day in the studio
MM. I like to get in early, grab a cup of tea and catch up on what’s going on in the studio that day.. That way I can get ahead of any curveballs and map out the priorities on projects before the masses hit the studio. Depending on the day, we might have a work-planning meeting or new pitch briefing. In the afternoon I’m often found with clients, working up ideas or in a presentation. And then there are the travel days….
Q. What do you see being the main challenges clients are facing when it comes to design in consumer branding, and how is it affecting your day to day and ways of working?
MM. Clients’ timelines seem to be shrinking and shrinking. They’ve less time but just as much ambition so they (and we) are under almost constant pressure to create and execute ideas at speed. The challenge here is never compromising on quality and originality as a consequence of pace. We’ve become accustomed to design sprints with clients where we collapse the creative process from 2-3 months to 4-6 weeks. It keeps you on your toes…
Q. Tell us more about the design sprint idea.
MM. Well I see design sprints as a collection of creative minds brought together to create brand, design and activation strategies in half the time that conventional processes can take. Because we bring together experts from so many different parts of the design process we get to bigger and more refined ideas so much faster. Ultimately what would normally be months of work, with loops of amends and ‘gates’ to pass through approval, are all compressed into a much shorter period of time.
Q. Do you like working this way, in sprints versus a longer, phased approach?
MM. It’s a completely different way of working and if I’m honest both have advantages. Sprints can be stressful, because they’re all-consuming – but then the adrenaline and feeling of achievement at the close can be amazing. Working on longer lead times and projects means you get more time to refine, craft, trial and test – so you in some senses you have a greater sense of ownership and fullfilment.
Q. You’ve mentioned craft. Something we know is dear to your heart! What does craft mean to you?
MM. Craftmanship (in design) can help deepen connection with consumers. From the story we create behind the brand to the intricate details we build into its identity – craft creates personality, character and relevance. It’s not limited to premium brands as many people seem to associate it to, it’s everywhere we look these days. This can come in the form of particular finishes or techniques, paper stocks, rich colours, uncoated textures or non-digitized techniques that just bring something different and help to breathe distinction into a brand.
Q. Could you give an example of when you’ve used craft to maximise brand expression?
MM. We recently led a rebrand for one of the oldest craft breweries in Scotland, Caledonian. Caley, as it’s known, had lost its craft feel and had become too mainstream. After exploring early design concepts and ideas on our screens, we decided to ditch the Mac and go back to traditional lino printing techniques. After hours of working out the right finish and patterns (as well as working out how to print it the right way round!), we were able to craft a truly ownable brand expression with all the authenticity Caley truly deserves
Manisha Mistry is a Design Director in Dragon Rouge’s London office.