Sharing Wisdom – feat. Bryony Cozens

Here, Bryony Cozens, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Something Familiar shares her take.

The purpose of article series ‘Sharing The Wisdom’ is to feature, showcase and share knowledge, expert views and wisdom.

ADLIB: Could you please introduce yourself as well as your background?

I’m Managing Director here at Something Familiar, an award-winning creative agency based in Bristol, with nearly 20 years’ experience working in design and marketing (well, that flew by!).

Something Familiar was set up in 2019 by myself and two other Designers: Oli (Creative Director) & Rich (Digital Director), following a stint working together at an agency. We realised pretty quickly that our skills and personalities complemented each other and most importantly that we had a shared vision. We were going to redefine what it means to be an agency. Big ambition, yes, but for us that meant starting with the small stuff like; never working late, honest communication, treating each other as equals and building from there.

I spent the early part of my career working in different design disciplines from print magazines to outdoor advertising before joining agency life in London, where I worked on mostly FMCG and Sports & Hospitality brands. Over the years my role has changed dramatically and now I spend most of my time on the business and very little time designing. I wouldn’t change this, though. I’m so proud of the team and the incredible work that they create; whether that’s a logo, campaign idea or killer bit of animation for a website – I still feel pumped every time a new piece of creative pops up in the chat, with a ‘what do you think?’.

ADLIB: In an attempt to capture some of the Wisdom you’ve gained as a woman in the design sector so far, what are 5 “stand-out things” you’ve learned that you’d like to pass on to your peers as well as the future generation of talent within your sector?

  1. Have a plan or at least a goal and work towards achieving that goal every day. Small gains become big gains over time. You won’t regret this. I knew from early on that I wanted to try as many design disciplines as possible, it just wasn’t in me to focus solely on one, so that’s what I did. I believe it’s what led me to being a strategic thinker and gave me the ability to empathise with people’s different talents and motivations.
  2. Learn to present and articulate your work well. There is nothing better than when you see a client just ‘get it’. At SF we like to empower our clients to make positive change but it’s down to us to take them on a journey so that they believe in the work as much as we do. Good presentations are spoken with passion and conviction and it’s this that compels us to listen and most importantly inspires us to take action.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for more time. This is something that I learnt a little later on but I value greatly. For me, I thrive under pressure and often tight deadlines produce great work. But. It’s always that few hours later when you think ‘ oh I should have…’ or ‘I forgot to’. So I find that by leaving things to sit for a while, my best work evolves, and if that means just a little more time then it’s worth it.
  4. Be passionate about what matters to you. At SF we stand for positive change. It means we’ll never pursue change for the sake of it. It means meeting our clients where they are and taking them where they need to be, collaborating all the way. Because change like that has to come from somewhere meaningful. It means making brands matter.
  5. Have a side hustle/challenge yourself. Always moving forward means trying new things and learning from them. So we encourage our people to pursue their passions outside of work too, because we know it fosters a sense of confidence and autonomy. Challenges come to us to make us better; better Designers, better thinkers and better people.

ADLIB: What is your take on the importance of role models?

Hugely important, I wouldn’t be where I am without the influence and guidance of various role models in my personal life and career. I was lucky enough to learn and develop with the supportive and impressive talent of senior female Designers (more than 3!). Although most Directors I have worked with have been male, I was lucky that I got to continue to work alongside female Designers throughout my design career.

Even now, I value the importance of role models and I’m still inspired by the team and our amazing clients and partners. In fact, it was working with a B Corp client that inspired SF to finally take the plunge and get B Corp certified, which we’re so proud of.