Written by Alex Plunkett
Around two years ago I started to look at my work, employed as a designer in an advertising agency, more critically; I realised that I had been accepting a state of ignorance concerning the environment, social responsibility and the spending of big budgets on purposeless campaigns in favour of the risk-free comfort of employment.
I began to feel very frustrated with the way in which things were handled by the firm internally: from hidden agendas to moral hypocrisy, from solely profit-orientated selection criteria for clients and projects to minimal space for personal and professional development.
These realisations kickstarted my decision to transform my career by setting my own guiding principles and working as a freelance designer.
I get it – anyone working in design is at some point confronted with the decision to accept work with which they don’t necessarily agree with entirely on an ethical or moral level and instead, concentrate on covering employee and operational costs while gaining exposure in a saturated sector.
However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that a guiding principle or mission behind the work was completely missing. I needed to move forward to a place where I could work at the intersection of design and the environmental, cultural and social sectors. This is the driving force behind Neue Bandbreite: to be mission-driven.
Being mission-driven means that we translate an honest state of mind and guiding principle into the design work that we do. The aim is to reflect those values and use them as a catalyst for communication with the audience in order to reach an authentic and engaging goal. Working in this way we are able to focus on design solutions which offer real value to society.
But to be mission-driven goes further than this. It pushes advocacy and education beyond the confines of the product/project and into the wider community. There is nothing more motivating than being able to do purposeful work which has a tangible impact beyond profit.
Today it is imperative that we think about the kind of future that we want to live in, and then to start to work towards it. That’s why I am dedicated to offering solutions with value and purpose to the NGOs and organisations that are pulling us forward, helping us to see beyond inequality, beyond climate destruction and towards a thriving and inclusive culture.
Neue Bandbreite’s Mission Statement:
To focus on the spectrum of design solutions for small to mid-sized businesses, NGOs and organisations with clear social, cultural and ecological relevance, so that we can make the world a more exciting and fairer place.
I want to transform my business success in a sustainable way. How do I get started?
It’s not easy to find the exit point out of your comfort zone and there are many steps to become a mission-driven company. Above all, it takes a lot of commitment and the belief that what our society needs most right now, are creative and innovative companies who drive change globally and locally.
A good starting point to understand impact and innovation is Design for Change, by IDEO’s Tim Brown, outlining the importance of a human-centred approach by identifying real innovation through exploring a projects’ feasibility, sustainability and desirability with the community. Fortunately, there is a growing trend away from solely profit-oriented companies to ones with a true purpose or cause and which take all stakeholders and the entire life-cycle of a product into account.
I recently had the pleasure of designing a virtual workshop “Capitalism with Purpose”, with MISSIONARY, a creative studio helping leading companies to excel with impact-driven innovation. If you have a purposeful project or company that you need innovation help with, you should reach out to them. They are awesome.Design, Freelance, Philosophy