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Designing For Good – feat. Different Kettle

As part of our Design For Good initiative, we aim to seek out and promote those that are designing for good. To shine a light on how creative innovation can be a driver for positive change and to raise awareness of the people and teams making it happen.

Next up, we’d like to feature a creative agency that is dedicated to serving the charity sector through powerful storytelling. In this context, we had a chat with Nick Holmes, Creative Director at Different Kettle.

ADLIB: In a nutshell, what has been your career journey so far, leading you to where you are right now?

Nick: I started as a copywriter working in traditional above the line agencies on a wide range of commercial products – cars, beer, FMCG, all the usual suspects.

The only charity work we ever did was pro-bono and frankly was geared entirely towards the agency winning awards rather than actually benefitting the client in the long run. Working in the commercial sector was brilliant and I loved learning the craft, but there was something about flogging stuff to people that they didn’t really need that began to wear thin for me. I was then hired by an agency that specialised in the charity sector because they wanted me to help them win commercial business. But once I saw that it was possible to work exclusively with charities and NGOs I knew that was where I needed to focus everything I’d learnt. A few years later I set up Different Kettle knowing that we would work solely and exclusively in the sector.

ADLIB: Let’s start with “how”. From your perspective, how does emotive design help spread the word about charitable causes?

Nick: I’m not sure I know what emotive design is! But there’s no doubt that we need to communicate with people at an emotional level. I actually think that’s true whatever you’re selling.

I guess with charities the emotions are often the big ones – compassion, anger, hope, fear and that’s why people think of it as being more emotional than other sectors. Because we are dealing with big emotions, it can be tempting to go over the top. Actually, we have to be very careful about how we engage our audience. We may need to step quite lightly, precisely because we often are dealing with big emotional issues that, if presented inappropriately, can turn people away. It makes for a very interesting and powerful space to be working in.

ADLIB: How does social media play an integral part in your campaigns?

Nick: For the most part we look at social media as we look at any other channel and assess how and whether it will be useful in achieving the specific objectives of the campaign we’re working on. That said, social does have a special role to play in the charity sector. Supporting charities or good causes is in many ways a communal thing to do – most of us like to let others know about the things that are really important to us and that we’re giving our support to.

By using social media well, we can enable people to do that without it looking like they are just showing off – by sharing a campaigning action for example. And in the process of doing that, they are really spreading the word about the cause. That’s an obvious thing to say, but for charities who are often working on tiny budgets, the voice of supporters is a key media channel – and social media gives that voice a platform.

ADLIB: In your opinion, what is the most important factor to consider when designing for a charitable audience?

Nick: Same as for any other audience – get your proposition right. To do that you need to know your audience and have a clear objective.

ADLIB: And finally, do you have one piece of wisdom for aspiring designers that would like to use their talents to design for good specifically?

Nick: Always keep your audience in mind and meet them where they are at – not where you (or more likely your client) would like them to be.

If ‘designing for good’ is also something you are involved in please do get in touch – we’d love to chat through how we could work together and lead by example.