DixonBaxi is a brand and creative agency based in London. We recently asked Co-Founder Simon Dixon a few questions about the agency and their work. Check it out below.
EM What’s the story behind DixonBaxi and how you got to where you are today?
SD We started in 2001, founded by myself and Aporva Baxi. We had both worked together for a number of years all over the world creating design and brand projects for some of the world’s most interesting companies. Towards the end of this we felt it was time to reboot and try to look at our creative output a different way. Something simpler but hopefully as effective.
We started in a very modest studio of a few square feet and with no money, clients or idea what to do first. So we just went to meet people and chatted to them about our experience and how we worked. Before long we picked up a project, then another, then another until we slipped into a busy cycle of work that we haven’t stopped.
We’re pretty restless at heart so are constantly trying to be better or learn new things and this has increased as the studio size has increased. We are about 25 people now. With that comes more diversity, ideas and ways of working, and it has helped the company stay fresh.
We are about 25 people now. With that comes more diversity, ideas and ways of working, and it has helped the company stay fresh.
EM What does your strapline ‘We make creative work’ mean to you?
SD The first way you can read it is personal. It’s about how we care and love what we do. We literally make creative work and that’s what drives us. It’s important to remember as creativity is a deeply personal craft.
The other reading is the effectiveness of what we create. We strategise, design and implement very large and complex projects. Often for very large companies. These companies are all over the world and reach huge audiences or numbers of users. At any one time, well over a billion people use, interact with or engage with work we have created. So we feel it had better work! It had better be good. It should make the company better. It should be a better experience for their customers or users.
EM How important is the role of strategy in brand identity projects?
SD It’s fundamental. It isn’t a true brand project if there isn’t a cohesive and relevant purpose or idea to drive the work. We see it as a powerful tension between design, design thinking and the experience created through the technology, platform or real world engagement with people. This includes the people who work internally at the brand. The strategy helps guide why the company does what it does, and why that is desirable or relevant to people. We then use design and execution craft to make the experience as rich, well executed and seamless as possible.
EM You’ve recently rebranded globally recognised company Eurosport. How did you make sure that the identity you created would remain cohesive across the vast array of platforms it will appear on?
SD People around the world have more in common than not. The emotion and narrative of sport is an example of this, and we used this as fuel for the design process. It helped to frame how we would deliver content, information and the system that connects people to the brand, on every platform.
Where it became really fun was figuring out how the connection people have with the brand was best brought to life. On mobile it is more immediate, bite size and personal. It is guided by the user and is more sharable, more part of a conversation. On TV it is more of a linear experience, even if you’re watching on catch up.
The technical design challenge was to create assets that looked and felt beautiful at incredibly varied sizes, on different screens, moving, printed, audibly, static, a whole range of ways. We crafted these and tested them, always looking for an opportunity to make that tiny moment, or use of design even better. It takes a lot of time and effort but like all design, the more effort you put in early on, the better the final outcome.
For this reason, we are great testers of how robust and rich an identity and brand can be once it hits the real world. Of course, we don’t always get it completely right in every application. Sometimes you have to refine elements but generally we make sure we’ve put the time in to avoid this.
We also create extremely visceral and comprehensive guidelines to help others create great things on behalf of the brand. It is impossible to create every execution of an identity, so the tools, habits and systems we create are designed to help others maintain the integrity of the identity, but still be inspired to try new things.
EM Can you describe your studio environment?
SD It’s busy! We demand a lot of ourselves but try to have fun and create a rich environment to have great ideas. The studio is by the River Thames in London in a renovated warehouse. So it’s a beautiful open plan space.
EM Do you approach projects for larger corporations differently to how you’d approach one for a smaller brand or start-up?
SD It can be a challenge with larger clients as they tend to be more complex. However, whatever the size of brand the most important thing is creating something that makes a difference. We want to help elevate our client’s brands and make them more engaging for people. With a smaller brand you often feel the energy of potential growth, new ideas, challenging the norm. They can be more nimble. With larger companies it is scale, reach and affecting core people. At either end, the work has to be excellent and something we care about. If it’s something we like and it pushes the best aspects of a client’s brief, then that is half the battle.
EM How much attention do you pay to trends in design when approaching a new project?
SD We have always designed what we feel is appropriate for the brand and its users. So our work is very diverse. Our output of course sits in the context of current work and trends, but we try to steer towards things we think are more deep rooted. Ideas and executions that are influenced by more than the industry or other designers. Influenced by the people who connect with our design or use it. Influenced by the places we work or the ideas the brands stand for.
EM What do you look for in a new designer?
SD Passion is key. If someone loves what they do and is willing to put the effort in to achieve great work, then the rest is easy. Skills can be taught and experience gained. We also like nice people. So we try to look for those!