Design Communication Associates is a collective, where experience in branding, communications and design is orchestrated for the benefit of our client’s business.

Our group includes strategists, brand masters, content creators, design thinkers and digital craftspeople. Our engagement with some of the most influential brands across several continents has given rise to our unique ability to think clearly and strategically about brands and the connections they make to the world.

We work with our clients to understand the purpose that drives their business or organisation. We then delight in crafting the the campaigns and communications to move them forward, connecting with a designated audience and managing every stakeholder along the way.

Our approach to brand communications is anchored in design thinking which is by definition strategic and creative. Our specialisations in brand strategy, brand design, corporate and marketing communications, built environment and digital are harmonised and cross referenced in every project we undertake.

DESIGN THINKING FOR AGED CARE

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InterActive

From the research base and predictive analysis of the impact of ageing populations on the built environment we developed for the 2016 Design & Architecture Forecast, we have developed several programs and consultancies in the aged care sector. We have presented design thinking events for the aged care sector in partnership with Interface, Schiavello and Woods Bagot Melbourne. We were asked to provide design thinking leadership to the Victorian Government’s Department of Human Services in their redesign of public facilities in that State. We are developing a vast program and model for innovation in the aged care and learning sectors in collaboration with Marchese Partners & ADP.

BARANGAROO

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BARANGAROO DELIVERY AUTHORITY
SYDNEY 2011 TO 2013

Barangaroo is a colossal redevelopment of Sydney’s Western CBD, covering 22 hectares with over $6B investment in the creation of new public, residential and commercial space, including the first new major park to be created in Sydney in decades. In 2011, the Barangaroo Delivery Authority needed to communicate the project to everyone in Sydney, building enthusiasm and anticipation in advance of the arrival of the built environment in 2015.

Design Communication worked with Sydney’s Brand Council and Melbourne’s Emery Studio to provide scope and direction to the brand positioning and brand development for the entire Barangaroo precinct, including the brand and place architectures. During the development of the brand fundamentals, we advised on communications and campaigns for the BDA, and managed the execution of the Authority’s marketing activities across diverse channels. This included the planning and strategy behind special audience development including on-line audiences and the management of the Authority’s public consultation and polling.

ARTS QUEENSLAND

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QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT
UNLIMITED: DESIGNING FOR THE ASIA PACIFIC 2010

The Queensland Premier initiated the Queensland Design Strategy 2020 which called for a concentration of effort and resources in design thinking and its application in key areas of innovation, education and services. A cornerstone of the strategy was the establishment of a Design Triennial in Brisbane, bringing the best design thinking from the entire Asia Pacific region to a major meeting.

Design Communication wrote the government’s business case for the conference, based on a massive research project that examined all government and private sponsored design thinking support across the entire Asia Pacific region. The business case became the blueprint for the inaugural Unlimited: Designing for the Asia Pacific Conference in 2010 and our mandate was expanded to include assisting Arts Queensland with the selection of the conference organisers and program.

EAST SYDNEY URBANISM PROJECT

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CITY OF SYDNEY
2006 - 2015

The City of Sydney was facing months of unfriendly media coverage of its expensive upgrade to the urban amenity of Darlinghurst’s principal thoroughfare: Oxford Street. Retailers were out of sorts, the public had found other more interesting ways to walk to work and Westfield was promoting an uber-mall at the end of Oxford Street. The City recognised there was a need to draw positive attention back to one of Sydney’s most important urban areas.

Design Communication was asked to create a three-month campaign focussing on what consumers could expect in the area, organised along the themes of shop, play, eat and party. Great outcomes in terms of increased foot traffic and increased visibility for businesses were achieved. Fast forward to today and we are now developing our thinking around how the unprecedented concentration of creative industries in the Darlinghurst/Surry Hills/East Sydney precincts can be understood and developed to form a distinctive aspect of the City’s brand and communications in this precinct of the City of Sydney.

ARROW ENERGY

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Arrow provides the energy that powers almost every aspect of daily life in SE Queensland, and yet they were virtually unknown. Arrow needed to be embraced by everyone with whom they did business.

Arrow’s CEO and Director of Communications asked DCA to refine the messaging and the reach of a four month campaign designed to get the Arrow brand in front of two completely different audiences. Those in rural and regional Queensland had to know that Arrow was listening to their concerns about land and coexistence. Urban dwellers and businesses in the population centres of the South East, needed to comprehend Arrow’s role in assuring the energy futures of the State. On-line and above the line, Arrow’s Because We’re Listening campaign resonated across the State. DCA also established the state of play for Arrow’s ongoing social media engagement.

THE DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE FORECAST

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Beginning in 2016, Gorman/Birrell as the founders of Design Communication conceived and created a comprehensive trend and forecasting report for the Australian design, architecture and built environment sectors. 2016 collaborators included Stephen Todd, Design Editor of the AFR Magazine and Dr. Paul McGillick, architectural consultant and distinguished editor. The Forecast was published by Niche Media.

Building on an exhaustive analysis of current research across social, socio-demographic and economic indicators, the Forecast looks at how we need to design, build and plan for the society we envision. Trends are organised according to the short, medium and long term.

In 2016, the Forecast examined five critical areas: Ageing, Multi Residential, Workplace, Public Space and Hospitality. The report and its associated events in Sydney and Melbourne provide thought leadership in the design industry.

AGL Energy

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2007-2009

In 2007, we received a comprehensive assignment to conduct a brand audit of AGL Energy, Australia’s second oldest company. AGL was in the process of rapid change. The electricity market was in a parallel process of rapid change. Comprehensive answers were needed to the question of what did AGL represent to their 6.5 million Australian customers and how could customer loyalty be assured in the volatile expansion of the retail energy market? Working directly with the CEO and AGL’s Head of Brand, we reviewed the brand over a six month period and recommended a brand refresh which was executed by Sydney’s Moon Design. We also strategised a new AGL sustainable energy consumer ecosystem called “AGL Bright”.

POPOVBASS

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SYDNEY
2017 AND ONGOING

PopovBass, founded in 1983 by Alex Popov, create buildings that are inscribed in the history of the built environment of Sydney and beyond. We were approached to assist the practice with a definition of its brand and to create an associated plan for communications to all audiences. In conjunction with the reveal of several high profile projects, we strategised an overall campaign of how this venerable practice could effectively embrace new and traditional media to reconnect with a broader audience and influencers. 

Photography: Michael Nicholson

SJB

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MELBOURNE 2003

Synman, Justin, Bialek was a household word in the Melbourne architecture community. The directors had built successful practices in architecture, interiors and planning and within the practice there were several joint ventures with external entities. What was missing was a strategy for the brand. How did the directors address their upcoming retirement and give new life and enthusiasm to the practice for the new generation they had mentored? How could the depth of the offer be explained and communicated? What sort of approach was necessary when thinking about offices in Sydney and Melbourne and how would the brand be managed?

We worked with the directors for a period of six months to determine a strategic plan for the brand aligned to the business. A name change was proposed to SJB. The foundations for the amazing growth and success that the practice would see in the coming ten years were established.

RMIT

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DESIGN RESEARCH INSTITUTE
MELBOURNE 2008-2010

In 2008, with a move to the University’s new Design Hub still some years away, RMIT created a new intra-disciplinary research centre: The Design Research Institute. This new institute was conceived as a bridge between the University’s numerous design disciplines and the public, industry and the design community. Notably, an annual Design Challenge provided a new, substantial and highly visible design prize.

We advised the DRI on the development of its brand and provided strategic planning for the Institute’s activities and promotion over a three-year period. During this time we also assisted with the promotion of the Institute to national and international design press.

QUEENSLAND RESOURCES COUNCIL

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RESOURCES FOR QUEENSLAND 2013

The Queensland Resources Council represents some of the biggest players in Australia’s minerals, oil and gas sectors. Increasingly, the sector was witnessing an erosion of public support for its existence and this posed a direct threat to the resource industry’s social licence to operate.

After comprehensive research and focus group studies, we identified dozens of stories from the resources sector supporting research and innovation in health, education, the arts and the environment. Most, if not all, were hidden from public view. We decided to bring these stories to the fore. The result was Resources for Queensland, an digital platform of film and video depicting the positive impacts and achievements of scientists, doctors, community and environmental leaders.

PTW

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SYDNEY 2005

Peddle Thorpe & Walker is one of the largest architectural practices in Australasia. In 2005, in an attempt to revitalise and differentiate the Sydney practice from its numerous affiliates, subsidiaries and partnerships, a new, design-led breed of directors was recruited.

Design Communication worked with the PTW Board to put the brand on the map. We prepared the strategic plan to rename the practice, distinguishing it from the other 25+ entities which shared one or more of the original partner’s names. We created the strategic foundation for the new PTW Interiors division. We assisted with communications and media promotion during this dynamic period in PTW’s history and specifically on the Watercube project for the Beijing Olympics.

RAKUMBA

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INTERNATIONAL
2017 AND ONGOING

On the eve of their 50th anniversary, Rakumba asked us to collaborate with a review of their brand. The company is the finest provider of highly considered decorative lighting in Australia. Their design focus is precise and they act as facilitators for the very best Australian and international designers, translating beautiful ideas into technically sophisticated and highly functional lights. The Rakumba slogan of making beauty has never rung more true, as they embark on an international expansion of their business.

Photography: Haydn Cattach

CONSERVATORIUM OF MUSIC

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UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY 2012

Under the direction of a new Dean, Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music had set its sights very high indeed. Determined to be positioned in the top five music schools worldwide, The Con undertook its first ever public facing branding campaign to draw attention to its remarkable (and mostly free) programs featuring the budding virtuosi of tomorrow. We worked in partnership with Feeder to re-brand The Con, and at the same time collaborated on expanding the institution’s public events and engagement to further highlight its achievements to the broadest public audience.

Photography: Haydn Cattach

DESSEIN FURNITURE

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AUSTRALIA
2017 AND ONGOING

Dessein is a leading advocate for Australian design and Australian making. With a portfolio of beautifully designed furniture by Adam Goodrum, Tom Fereday, Jon Goulder, Simon Ancher, Nathan Day, Justin Hutchinson and Marcus Piper, this company champions the importance of Australian authenticity with every new edition. We were approached by Michele Chow, Dessein’s founder, to sharpen and focus the brand and to prepare the way for future planned expansion. We worked over a six month period to refine a strategy to address the design and specifier markets and assist through mentorship and guidance. We helped to evaluate and refine all communications platforms.

Photography: Haydn Cattach

Bradford Gorman

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Bradford Gorman was a photographer and a writer before he became director of creative services for Apple Computer Europe in Paris. Later establishing Design Communication in France, he worked on multi-national campaigns for British Rail, France Telecom, Groupe Danone, Euro-Disney and Apple France. He brought Design Communication to Sydney 18 years ago, providing strategy and creative campaigns for a vast range of companies, universities and organisations including AGL, Barangaroo, University of Sydney, RMIT, Arrow Energy and the governments of NSW and Queensland. His unique contribution to DCA’s client’s businesses is driven by a refined understanding of deep purpose-led strategies and a decades-long involvement with digital. His work has been awarded in New York, Tokyo and London.

Marcus Piper

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Marcus Piper is a creative director with international experience. Marcus looks at digital media through the prism of old methodologies and a strong editorial perspective. He has worked for Neville Brody’s Research Studios in London and was later founding art director of POL Oxygen, creative director for Habitus and Inside and editor and creative director of Mezzanine. He has designed or reimagined brands for Myer, Coles, Paspaley, Powerhouse Museum, Marcs, David Lawrence, Air New Zealand, Subaru, P&O Cruises Europe, Westfield UK, Somerset House, the British Crafts Council and Australian Institute of Architects.

Damon Birrell

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Damon Birrell is a writer with a creative bent, a reluctant journalist, a reader with a critical eye and a thinker who can’t even draw a box, let alone get inside one. He’s a communications strategist and a digital savant with a healthy regard for both the possibilities – and the limitations – of online. He cut his communications teeth working alongside Sue Cato at her Counsel. There he met Bradford Gorman, became an Associate of Design Communication and realised he liked building things for the long haul. A driver of vintage cars and a rider of American motorcycles, he likes his outcomes long-term and his pictures - big.

Paul Costantoura

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Paul Costantoura fulfilled the hopes of his immigrant parents, completing degrees in genetics and International Law before the days of Facebook and Trump, in a world when facts were facts, and publications could be trusted. Drawn to Canberra by CSIRO to write about the work of Australia’s leading scientists, he transitioned through senior ranks of the bureaucracy to work in the inner sanctum of a Cabinet Minister’s staff. Switching to commercial research and communication, he found his way to London with Saatchi and Saatchi and the iconic Guinness brand, along the way writing a book Australians and the Arts launched by the Prime Minister, creating major work on reconciliation, climate change and election campaigns as well as countless studies supporting the development of major brands, products and services. He’s just at home analysing digital metrics, looking for the answers in a confused look or in a pile of numbers, and believes the truth always enhances the creative process.

Stephen Todd

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Stephen Todd has over 30 years experience in the creation of content and concepts for some of the world’s leading brands. His publishing legacy in the fields of art, architecture, fashion and design is far-reaching, his by-line having appeared in every journal and magazine of note. In a fifteen year career in France, Stephen founded the Lumière, Numéro and Spoon titles. He edited Dutch and Jalouse and has written for Blueprint, Wallpaper, The New York Times, Le Monde and The Guardian. He was worldwide director of Branding & Communication for Swarovski and has contributed to the brand strategies and stories of LVMH, Lancaster, and Woolmark. He is design editor of the Australian Financial Review and frequent contributor to many international titles. Stephen is an unparalleled creator of content.

To enquire about how we can collaborate, please contact:

Level 1 | 32 May Lane | Neutral Bay NSW 2089
P +61 2 9361 6845 | M +61 438 77 00 37

Or email us here

Photography: Anthony Geernaert