DBA Design Effectiveness Awards 2020 winners revealed

This year marks the first ever virtual edition of the ceremony, which has crowned five Gold-winning projects from the likes of Bompas & Parr and Coley Porter Bell.

The winners of 2020 DBA Design Effectiveness Awards have been unveiled, with the top award this year being split between three different design studios that worked on one project.

Run annually by the Design Business Association (DBA), the awards are assessed by a panel of judges which take into consideration a design project’s contribution to business success by way of growth and profits. This year was the 31st instalment of the awards and was celebrated with a marked difference – because of the global coronavirus pandemic the ceremony was held virtually over Zoom.

Guiness Hero Harp, by Bompas & Parr, Design Bridge and Dolmen

In total, 26 awards were given out this year: five Gold accolades, 12 Silver and nine Bronze. The top award, the Grand Prix, was awarded to Bompas & Parr, Design Bridge and Dolmen jointly, for their work with alcoholic beverages company Diageo.

The winning project in question was a “disruptive” new fount for Irish brewers Guinness. Called the Guinness Hero Harp, it was designed and developed to help restore Guinness’ draught presence at the bar. So sought after was the project that according to the DBA, in the 20 months that followed its launch, some 22,860 British outlets had installed the new founts – a stark contrast to the previous 30-month target of 13,000 installations.

Glengoyne Distillery Experience, by Contagious

Glasgow-based branding and design studio 999 Design also scooped a Gold award this year for its work with Glasgow City Council. In this project, the 999 team were tasked with connecting with traditionally “hard-to-reach” groups so that Glasgow Club, the council’s sports and leisure facilities, could compete with budget gyms in the area.

This was achieved through a “distinctive” new brand identity and flexible messaging system and produced excellent results: clubs’ membership grew 16% in the year after the redesign (versus an industry average of just 2%) and sign-ups from those in the 55-74 age bracket rose 19%.

Glasgow Club identity, by 999 Design

London-based B&B Studio also won big with its work for healthy vending machine brand Mother. With the ultimate aim to challenge the unhealthy associations surrounding vending machines, Mother needed a design that supported this. B&B therefore gave the start-up a sleek machine design, along with a stylish touch-screen interface and that could also work to challenge traditional vending machines’ reputation for being temperamental.

Five years from the launch of the design and Mother can count Apple and Amazon as customers and has 83 machines around the UK. The design has gone beyond the UK’s average weekly vending machine sales target by 239%.

Mother vending machines, by B&B Studio

Elsewhere, two other studios were recognised for their Gold-standard work: Coley Porter Bell for its rebrand of sustainable juice brand Flawsome! (previously Get Wonky) and design studio Contagious for its work with Ian Macleod Distillers and the Glengoyne Distillery Experience.

Other notable winners from this year’s ceremony included Vault49’s work for Bailey’s Strawberries and Cream (silver) and the Plant Kitchen branding work done by Coley Porter Bell (bronze).

Speaking of this year’s winners, DBA CEO Deborah Dawton highlighted how the projects gave evidence to the adaptability of design and designers, and how relevant this was given the effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on brands and companies the world over.

“[The winners] demonstrate that if a market has changed, or the needs of customers have changed, design can catalyse a business to think differently and react appropriately, to bridge that gap.

“They prove that an investment in design, is an investment in the future of a business.”

To see the full list of Gold, Silver and Bronze winners, head to the DBA website.

Flawsome! rebrand, by Coley Porter Bell
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  • mike dempsey June 4, 2020 at 9:21 am

    I have never been a fan of the Design Business Association. In particular, the use of the word ‘design’ in the title. These awards are not about design but marketing. The array of this year’s awards underlines my point. Top prizes seemed to go to a high percentage of projects flogging alcohol when the country still has so many tragedies, health and mental issues concerning this area. A more honest name for this outfit would be the Marketing Business Association because it ain’t design as I know it.

  • Stephen Holmes June 8, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    @Mike Dempsey – so what would your definition be of design? Is it all about making something beautiful to your eyes (highly subjective) or helping a business achieve its objectives? I’d argue it’s the latter, whether that’s selling more, reducing costs, changing perceptions, etc… design is to solve a problem, it isn’t fine art. There are of course plenty of awards out there that do just focus on the prettiness in the eyes of the judges.

    Looking through the awards, 7 of 26 seem to have something to do with alcohol, with the GP going to an alcohol client too. I’d hardly suggest that 27% of awarded entries is a high percentage, but would be interesting to get breakdown of categories entered and also the strength of those entries (I assume as they didn’t win they weren’t as strong). Certainly anything in FMCG would be, I imagine, easier to get hard numbers for fairly quickly and so appeal to awards entries. Although that didn’t stop Glasgow Club (that’d be health) managing to get a Gold, despite it being (I imagine) a lot harder and longer to move people along the journey to actually purchase.

    You may of course not be a drinker or have ever worked for an alcohol brand, and you may only work for what you believe are ethical organisations and causes – if that’s the case it’s a very bold move by yourself and shows the courage and strength of your convictions. I’d admire you taking such a stance even if it wasn’t one I agreed with or would take myself.

  • mike dempsey June 11, 2020 at 6:17 pm

    @Stephen Holmes – My definition of design is simple. When I see it, my reaction is, “I wished I’d done that”. It’s an emotional response, be it an eloquent line of copy, a stunning photograph, illustration or a sensitive typographical arrangement. But all with the collective ingredient of an ‘idea’.

    I can’t ever recall that feeling when viewing the work featured in the annual DBA awards. But I can normally find something in the D&AD show. That is where the difference is most evident. The former appears to be driven by the results of sales and marketing, while the latter concentrates on looking for innovative creativity. All the sales, marketing and research stuff are never considered. The fact is many D&AD award winners have failed miserably on the sales front, but the work celebrated has often gone onto to influence the design landscape for the next decade. You need someone to see things differently, ahead of the curve, and that needs celebrating, not the same old, same old. That is how the industry progresses. This is not, in my view, the case with DBA, where the research, marketing and sales statistics are key factors in the selection process. I completely understand that, but more often than not, these factors dilute originality.

    It’s the difference between a Hollywood blockbuster movie when compared to a small independent feature. The former pulls in the crowd, based on giving them more of the same. The latter doesn’t. It gives them something they didn’t know that they wanted. This is often far more inspirational. The two have different agendas. Orson Welles’ classic movie, ‘Citizen Kane’ is recognised as one of the most influential films in history. But when originally released it did very badly, but its impact changed the face of cinema.

    On your other point Stephen. Yes, I do drink. Over two decades ago I designed the labels for a small New Zealand, Marlborough based biodynamic Vineyard, started by a friend of mine. He wanted to prove that grapevines could be grown without spraying masses of harmful insecticides, along with the wine itself being void of unnecessary additives. It worked. On the topic of alcohol abuse, I have seen, at close quarters, how It can destroy someone’s talent and family life. It’s no fun. Consequently, I am very selective about the kind of things I take on. I would not want to contribute to harming anyone. That rules me out for many projects, but that’s my affair.

    The bottom line for me is when comparing DBA and say, D&AD is that the former is rarely aesthetically pleasing or creatively exciting. DBA awards seem more appropriate for a committee. And as someone once said back in the 1950s, “Nobody ever built a statue to a committee”

  • Stephen Holmes June 17, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    @Mike Dempsey – So your definition would appear to be more on how you personally evaluate the creative element(s) of the design, whether it solves the problem is incidental? Always interesting to hear other people’s take on it. I too like it when I see something I wish I’d done, but I’d frame that within the context of the product and audience and whether I thought it’d actually work.

    Your friend with the winery (unless independently wealthy and doing it only as a hobby) I’m sure wanted to sell more wine with your wine label design, with that being pretty near the top of their wishlist of outcomes. Whilst I’m sure aesthetics were on there, I imagine sales would trump it – of course you can have both, but just because you have one certainly doesn’t mean you have the other. Promoting alcohol though doesn’t really sound like it ties in with your other statement about alcohol abuse (unless of course the labels were done prior to this exposure and experience), you could argue that it’s even worse as it’s ‘better for you’ without all the insecticides and additives, potentially encouraging people to drink more / more frequently.

    I fear that not many clients are going to care too much about whether the work influenced others if it didn’t meet their own goals. I suspect the studio was unimpressed with (certainly the initial) performance of ‘Citizen Kane’, and didn’t care too much that it became “one of the most influential films in history”. That doesn’t mean you can’t do something that really pushes boundaries but I’d argue that it has to be for a client with goals that this would be valid for, with an audience and goals that this boundary pushing would appreciate and meet.

    On judging panels and forgive me but they’re not really my thing so more than happy to bow to your experience, but aren’t there panels on D&AD as well, I may be wrong, but I was sure they were, rather than one individual picking the winners?

    I’d argue that at the end of the day, the work has to meet the brief – as you and I are not the the client, or even more importantly, the consumer, it doesn’t really matter if we personally like it.

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