Accompany’s Linda Jukic on adapting quickly, hitting deadlines and focusing on your own game
After 15 years working for some of Australia’s most recognised and most loved companies, Linda Jukic founded brand and design practice Accompany in Sydney to bridge the gap between big agency experience and a more personal, nimble and hands-on small studio approach. We caught up with her to learn more about Accompany’s work and process, as well as what she’s learnt over the years.
EM Hi Linda, how’s 2021 been going so far?
LJ So far, so good. Can’t believe we’re nearly at the halfway mark of 2021 already! We’ve been heads down since we kicked off 2021 working with a range of clients on an array of exciting projects. It feels like the challenge of 2020 ignited a bit of a review with people, and in turn, inspired the businesses we’re working with to redefine and reimagine their what and why and in turn the role of their brand identities in realising their ambitions. We certainly weren’t expecting the purpose and energy we’re seeing following the year that was, but we’re loving this newfound clarity. We’re feeling the start of an era of the invigorated – in Australia at least.
EM How did you find the period of working from home? Has it left any long-lasting changes?
LJ We are quite a tactile team so we had to adapt quickly to establishing new virtual routines. Most projects were deep in progress when we started WFH, so that made the transition a little easier. It also definitely provided more time to be truly heads down on projects without interruptions, so a chance to really get into that beautiful state of flow!
In terms of long-lasting changes for the business, it’s really been about greater flexibility for the team. We love being in the studio working and creating together, however, the team can also work remotely – based on what’s going on with workflow, their own creative headspace needs and balancing personal stuff (like working around for the wait for a tradesperson to take care of a fly screen!).
We’re feeling the start of an era of the invigorated – in Australia at least.
EM Since starting out in 2017, what’s changed the most about your practice?
LJ There’s two things that really stand out for me in this space. Firstly, the level of digital design we do. At the beginning, we created brand identities where we collaborated with a digital partner in the design and build. Today, we do most of the UI design ourselves, and work with a partner in the development space. It’s been quite satisfying to get hands-on in digital design – it’s come full circle to inform our overarching practice.
Secondly, is the adaptability of our process and the design outputs we create. When we’d started many of us had come from studios focused on absolute and unconditional brand identities. Working with many start-ups, we quickly realised that the brand development process was not as fixed as we’d been led to believe. Prototyping to MVP to POC to GTM to scaling to BAU and everything in between, we now shape the creative approach fit for purpose and client needs and priorities, rather than a one size fits all.
It’s been quite satisfying to get hands-on in digital design.
EM And what’s stayed the same?
LJ From day dot we have taken great responsibility and deep interest in our clients’ businesses. We wholeheartedly commit to our projects, and expect the same of our clients. We’re called Accompany for a reason, we believe in working with clients equally and openly.
Brand is always at the heart of everything we do. We always look through the lens of how our work can bring to life what our client’s business stands for, how it distinguishes them in market and what would put them in the best position to be recognised and remembered, stand apart and succeed.
We love working with clients of all shapes and sizes, across all sorts of categories. This mixed client make-up was essential in our beginnings and continues to be characteristic to our practice today. We love the richness that contrasting businesses and experiences bring to our work.
EM What do you wish you’d know when you started out?
LJ Ah. I get asked this one quite often.
I can’t believe how much I’ve learnt along the way, but what is it I wished I had known when I started? I’m better at tackling things right in front of me rather than planning and thinking things through so well in advance – so what worked for me was actually the not knowing. If I’d known about some things before starting out, I perhaps wouldn’t have pursued this path. It was actually the not knowing which gave me the courage to leap.
EM What do you do to stay organised and make sure deadlines get hit?
LJ We’re in the business of deadlines! Every client, every project is a myriad of milestones so staying on top of things is a bit of second nature. Each project begins with an agreed timeline with our clients. We schedule our workflow accordingly.
We do all the usual things – WIPs, lists, calendar invites/notes and with some projects we have Project Managers to keep us in check. But I must admit the thing that keeps us most organised is the simple art of communication – whether it be a conversation (IRL or phone), email or slack messaging. Frequency and quality of communications keep expectations clear.
It was actually the not knowing which gave me the courage to leap.
EM What do you think defines the work you do at Accompany?
LJ Supreme care, brand at heart and category agnostic were qualities I mentioned have stayed with us since our start. They’re also core attributes of our work. As are:
Eco-systems – we create working, living systems that can operate across a range of contexts, experiences, outputs and channels.
Craft – no matter what medium we play in, our work is imbued with absolute consideration and strong design skill and sensibility. We often get told our work is ‘beautiful,’ which we believe is a testament to the level of craftsmanship applied to our work.
Emergent – by developing a deep understanding and appreciation of our clients and their businesses we respond with distinct visual strategies, which come to life idea first and aesthetics second. Our visual execution emerges through our design process. So much so, we often receive feedback from people that they’re excited to see what we do and where we go next.
EM How much attention do they pay to the work of other studios?
LJ Focus on your own game is our mantra. I’ve always believed in centring on your own clients, your own way to solve problems and realise opportunities, and your own needs for development and growth.
We’re aware of what may be going on in our space, especially because of social media, but we don’t actively go seeking out or following what others are up to. This is a dangerous distraction I feel. Getting consumed by comparison, by how others do things and what others are up to. We are who we are, here to serve our specific clients, work through our own design, here to define our own path and sense of self.
EM What do you enjoy about Sydney as a city to work in?
LJ Where do I begin!? It’s big, but also small. It sparkles and it has grit. It’s familiar, but also surprising. There’s always stuff going on, but if you choose it’s also a place that you can just be. For work, there’s a connection and ease as we all grew up and studied here. The city’s continual evolution keeps us charmed. We especially enjoy the business breakfast culture (so Sydney).