To do list for 2022…

As fans of simplifying the complicated, we’ve distilled 2022 into three areas of focus for clients and their design needs. Which will you add to your to-do list?



1. Focus on effectiveness

“While there is plenty of evidence to show that creative thinking and design are essential to long-term business success, we still find that creativity is viewed as something of a luxury or non-essential by some clients,” says Eliza Williams, editor of Creative Review. “So we wanted to find case studies that showed [design’s] core value.”

Eliza set out to launch a new category, called Creative Effectiveness, for Creative Review’s annual industry awards last year. “One of the accusations often levied at award schemes is that they tend to champion work that is trendy over that which makes a core difference to clients’ commercial success,” Eliza told us. “We wanted to ensure we included work that reflected effectiveness as well as creative brilliance.”

At Without, we’ve always believed in benchmarking and delivering effectiveness in design (we’ve won three DBA Design Effectiveness awards over the last few years for our work with Third Space and Modern Recipe). So when the industry’s leading creative title launches a dedicated award category to commend commerciality, it’s a clear reflection of the times: clients are demanding tangible, commercial success from their design budgets.

And the best design studios welcome that; they want clear targets in order to create work that works.

To do: share and discuss your effectiveness targets with your agency.

2. Branding for teams, not just customers

Recruitment and retention challenges in the hospitality sector have been around long before Covid 19, but the pandemic has exacerbated the problem, revealing cracks in what can be a rewarding industry to work in.

Ravneet Gill, chef and founder of Countertalk, which promotes positive changes in hospitality workplaces, says that, after time away from the sector due to furlough or redundancy, many employees were “put off” returning to long hours and unsociable shift patterns.

“Employers need to rebuild trust in their teams to ensure staff that stayed with them are appreciated – this can be done through open communication, being honest about the business and sometimes admitting that you’re not sure what the market holds but you’ll be there to support them,” Ravneet explains. “The hospitality industry can be a wonderful place to work – I’ve had so many positive experiences that have contributed to my career. However, a negative experience is enough to put you off for good, so a culture shift is needed to maintain staff who continue to generate the industry.”

Ravneet points to the over 40s and mothers as “interesting markets” for employers in hospitality to support. “This community constantly reaches out to us at Countertalk to ask about family-friendly shift patterns and how they can get back into the restaurant world,” she says. “Hospitality jobs are diverse, they extend beyond just working in a kitchen or in the front of house – there’s room to grow into management, marketing, food development and more. These career opportunities need to be highlighted more as an offer for people to grow within a company.”

Attracting and supporting great people is a priority for Third Space, so we built this philosophy into the branding. “Recruitment has seen a very positive impact,” Colin Wagget, Third Space’s CEO said, as a result. “The industry benchmark is 20 applications for each instructor vacancy. We now receive over 100.”

With people on the move, branding will be used as much for attracting and retaining employees as it will be for customers.

To do: Make sure your teams are vivid stakeholders in the design brief.

3. Experience is everything

On a recent call with Yasha Estraikh, associate partner at brand investor Piper, he told us that the team has renamed the hospitality sector. “Internally, we don’t call it hospitality anymore; we’ve renamed it ‘socialising’,” he said. The change is testament to what it takes for a food and drinks brand to be successful in 2022: a unique experience.

Throughout the pandemic, Piper never lost faith in bars and restaurants. But it did champion brands that “tapped into fun and escapism,” Yasha continued. “Pubs, for example, are still going to be really relevant in the UK. Going to a pub is part of our national culture.”

He’s also a fan of Hickory’s Smokehouse in the north-west for its big family-friendly spaces, strong sense of community and comfort food. “Each location is still branded the same, but the emphasis is on offering a different experience, local to that site,” he says.

We believe that growth will come from local and hybrid spaces that reflect modern lifestyles.  This, coupled with a distrust of corporate messaging, means that positioning, storytelling and experience will become far more valuable than a logo.

To do: List every situation where a customer comes into contact with your brand. How will your customer recognize your brand if they can’t see your logo? This action point is taken from the final chapter of Defining Your Difference, the pocket guide we created in 2021 to help brands unlock their stories. If you haven’t given it a go yet, it’s free to receive here.

Without create brands that make a difference. Receive our Defining Your Difference pocket guide to your inbox or if you’d like to discuss how your brand can connect with today’s consumers, get in touch on 02070999080 or [email protected]

This article first appeared in The Brief, a monthly email with conversations and provocation for leaders and founders of brands . Just sign up here to receive it directly to your inbox – and join the debate.


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