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Daniel Agostino, Head of Design at Perth’s The Brand Agency, took time out from his busy schedule to chat with AGDA about education, hiring, history, technology, and of course, branding.
Having worked in the design arms of advertising agencies for the past 20 years, Daniel is constantly trying to educate people that design isn’t just about making pretty pictures.
“It’s about the thought process,” says Daniel. “It’s the project background, it’s research, it’s the strategy — all the good stuff that goes into it in order for it to be an effective piece of communication. The more we started to really push that forward in our purpose and try to focus on that, the better the work that comes out. The more we do it, the busier we get, the more projects spin off the back of that.”
“Go back ten years, when I started at The Brand, we were really focusing on print and traditional media, whereas nowadays design can be absolutely anything.”
“We do anything from brand strategy, traditional print media, digital work,” explains Daniel about their current depth of output. “We do so much digital work now, it’s just so well ingrained into what we do, so when you’re developing a brand it’s about ‘how are we going to apply this in the digital world?’”
“We currently do a lot of interior design projects and interior styling projects, 3-D work, and we’re moving more and more into video work — a lot more motion graphics — and it’s all within the same team. So, the person who’s designing the brand will be working on, or sitting next to the person who is developing all the web applications or animation, and they’ll be thinking about how to best bring it into a 3-D space, so it’s a completely collective thought process.”
As the team leader, what’s the feeling like when you have to hire someone — assuming you’re not a micro-manager — you’ve got to trust in their ability, right?
“Hiring people is a really hard thing to do,” admits Daniel. “I’ve found over the years that there are a lot of good designers out there, but finding the right person to fit within the team is always the hardest thing. It’s hard to achieve, but we’ve got a great balance at the moment.”
Having a personality that fits a particular environment is one thing, but training and technical proficiency still carry a lot of weight in hiring decisions.
“I think you need to come through some form of training in order to get where you’re going: whether it’s University or TAFE, I think you need to go through those processes,” says Daniel, who regularly guest lectures at Curtin University of Technology. “What you learn on the job is always going to be different, probably a lot more intense than when you’re studying.”
“There are a lot of students who come out into this market, and there are always going to be the ones who really throw themselves into design or creativity, and they’re the ones who are always going to shine. We ended up employing one of the grads who we taught last year. She’s part of the team now. She’s gone back to do honours as well. I think it’s a personal thing: if you want to go back and study more, then go for it.”
“We’ve got plenty of projects on the go at the moment. We’ve got a few branding projects and campaigns on, we’re getting clients targeting us to do more activation work: ‘How do you bring a brand — or how do you bring an idea — to life to engage people in a space?’ rather than ‘let’s just stick some pull-up banners in the corner and wave people down.’”
“There’s a lot of thought going into that area and people are always wanting or expecting something a little bit different, so I find that area quite exciting.” “We try to get clients involved at a really early stage.
We’ll try and get them to buy into a concept or idea, rather than buying into a finished piece of work. It might be a bit more work up front, but it’s a lot more streamlined down the back-end of the project.”
“Overall, I feel the quality of Perth design is continually getting better. It’s a global world we operate in now, so you can always benchmark yourself against the current global best-practice, not just what your local competitors are doing. So, quality-wise, it’s just getting stronger and stronger.”