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All three gold-winning projects in this year’s awards are rebrands of companies that were in economic decline.
The Design Business Association (DBA) has announced the winners of its Design Effectiveness Awards, with Cowan’s rebrand of Australian cordial company Billson’s taking the top spot.
This competition differs from others within the industry as entrants must prove that their designs have had a positive impact on a business or organisation. Success is judged by statistical evidence of increased users, value, distributors, and other measurements such as global reach.
DBA CEO Deborah Dawton explains the importance of measuring design effectiveness through proven statistics. “If there’s a recession looming, as designers we need to be exercising the full force of our strategic and creative abilities to get businesses through the next three years,” she says.
Clients and designers jointly entered the awards and went through three rounds of judging. The judging panel included business leaders from organisations such as Coca-Cola Company, Financial Times, Google, Huawei, Lloyds Banking Group, PwC, and Virgin Atlantic.
There were 24 winning projects in total: three grand prix/gold, eleven silver, and ten bronze.
Cowan’s restoration of Australian cordial factory Billson’s and rebrand won a grand prix and gold award.
The design team’s aim was to restore the brand by paying tribute to its heritage, so it took inspiration from the factory’s 150-year history, attempting to appeal to modern consumers while still “tapping into nostalgia”. The new branding also seeks to emphasise the local values, quality, and craftsmanship of Billson’s in order to differentiate it from other products on the market.
The updated logo is derived from the painting on the building’s original brickwork and attempts to recraft the bold typography. It also adds an estd. 1865 sign off. The label illustrations are based on an old Billson’s label that dates back to 1880, simulating its hand-drawn style, shape, and gold frame.
In the space of two and a half years, staff numbers have grown from two to 28 and from a base of £132,000 Billson’s has become a £6.2m business, according to the DBA. Dawton says the rebrand has had “a significant impact on a town’s economy, visitation, and employment in just three years”.
B&B Studio’s gold-winning rebrand of baby food company Little Bellies attempts to connect with parents through “nutrition and nurture” messaging. Little Bellies now aims to reflect the child’s feeding journey “from pram to playground” through its new categories: Baby Bellies, Little Bellies and Mighty Bellies.
According to the design studio, sustainability was an important part of the rebrand, which is evident through the changes to the packaging. The redesigned packaging comes in the form of Little Bellies’ Baby Bowls, which aim to challenge the unsustainable but widely used pouch packaging. This – along with the brand’s promise to only use REDcycle-approved plastic – has the potential to divert 22 tonnes of soft plastic waste from landfill.
The rebrand has enabled Little Bellies to increase its product range from eight to 26 products while also expanding into 6,000 stores in North America. In its home market in Australia, Little Bellies has gained 3,000 additional distributers.
Shotover Brewery’s rebrand by UK-based studio WPA Pinfold also won gold at the Design Effectiveness Awards. The brand’s revamp aims to target the high end of the market with its new name, positioning, and slogan.
Now called Oxford Brewery, the branding includes a “contemporary typographic twist”. The name is split into two parts – Ox and Ford – while the hand-drawn letterforms are based on a classic font which is meant to allude to the city’s academic reputation.
The colour palette is also inspired by the Oxford coat of arms – a further attempt to link the brand with Oxford’s reputation and heritage.
The rebrand has allowed the microbrewer to move to the high end of the market, raise prices, grow margins, and secure its survival after one a particularly bad period for hospitality. Oxford Brewery has increased sales and web traffic, expanded distribution channels, grown its on-trade, off-trade and online presence.
The #ItStillMatters campaign by Design102 for the Ministry of Justice won a silver award for its “empathetic and impactful” design solution. Consisting of 20 short videos, social media assets and podcast adverts, the campaign intends to resonate with victims of sexual abuse, encouraging them to seek help. It drove 50% of traffic to the campaign website, with 21% of site users clicking through to support services.
Pearlfisher’s branding of DRTY Drinks also won silver. The studio aimed to create a distinctive identity, packaging design and tone of voice that appeals to millennials and asserts the brand’s “Live Clean Drink DRTY” ethos.


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