Great design does not necessarily come from great designers. It comes from an environment that fosters creativity, collaboration and an ultimate vision.

I’ve seen this firsthand. When tasked with updating the design of a globally recognized brand, the change didn’t start on paper or the computer screen, it started with the people. Every person has a story and a specific business need. And as creative leaders, we have to recognize those stories and address the needs accordingly.

So how do we use design to change culture– to change a brand? It starts with the dynamics of a department and the attitude of all its members, including you. Nurturing talent is fundamental to the brand evolution.

The two most significant keys in creating positive growth are empowerment and feedback, which in a design environment means the dreaded critique. But aren’t critiques fundamentally about developing ideas and talent? Ideally, critiques should be a collaborative effort that incites curiosity and encourages an enriching, fun experience.

However, most critiques are fraught with fear. Human beings are messy, so critiques are messy. Human beings are hard-wired for scarcity – we focus on what’s wrong or missing. The same is true in how we evaluate design and performance. So the challenge is that WE get in the way, with all our messy humanity. The opportunity comes from changing our relationship to the critique and how we approach and receive feedback. The best option is to focus on commitment to the brand, above all other factors – “What do we serve?” This encourages openness and collaboration.

As you lead your team, remember that creative leaders are not only responsible for the brand, but for the entire team. Change is only possible when you focus on empowering your people, provide opportunities for feedback and create a design environment conducive to positive growth.

Director, Brand Creative of Little Caesar Enterprises
Detroit xCHANGE – Keynote Speaker