Design that makes a difference: DBA Effectiveness Awards

The Design Business Association has announced the winners of its annual Effectiveness Awards, recognising design - from branding to packaging and products - that has had a significant impact on a client's business. This year's Grand Prix was awarded to Alloy's BT Home Hub 5, which apparently led to the company receiving over half a million new subscribers...

The Home Hub 5 is a modem and wireless router which connects BT users to a fibre optic network. Alloy was asked to redesign the device after a customer audit revealed several issues with the previous model - namely, that it wouldn't fit through letterboxes. As well as reducing packaging costs and the number of people missing deliveries, DBA says the new device will reduce BT's CO2 emissions by over 13,000 tonnes a year and 30 percent of customers no longer need an engineer to visit to install it. Other features include feet for extra stability.


Sixteen gold awards were also given out, as well as 24 silvers and 23 bronzes across 16 categories. Winners include Elmwood's identity for football website Goal, which received gold in the brand identity under £100,000 category and has apparently led to a record number of unique monthly users visiting the site (52.5 million, up from 30 million), an 1100% increase in sponsorship, a 32% increase in revenue and more Facebook fans than Sky Sports since it was rolled out in 2013:

Thompson Brand Partners' cheerful identity for Keelham Farm Shop also won gold in this category - designed to "find the stories of the food producers and bring them to life at the point of sale", it resulted in a 79% increase in turnover to £11m and a 25% increase in basket spend since it was introduced in 2010:

And Pearlfisher received gold for its packaging for tortilla chip brand Manomasa, which was launched in 2013 and has led to a 200% increase in sales, recouping design costs within six months. "What makes these results even more remarkable is that there was absolutely no other support beyond the brand positioning and design in the first year of trading," says DBA.



Elmwood also received a gold award in the identity design over £100,000 category with its work for Heck, a family-owned sausage brand. With no PR or marketing budget, DBA says the brand's identity and packaging design has been central to its success and current sales volumes are apparently at £14,000 per day, putting Heck on track to meet a target of £7 million in sales three years ahead of target.

Silver in this category went to Smith &+ Village for its work with supermarket Booths, which included refurbishing new and old stores, introducing a loyalty card and refreshing its own label products, as well as producing some lovely seasonal books to boost pre-Christmas sales. Own label sales like-for-like have risen by 9.9% since the rebrand, says DBA, with the store reporting its busiest ever trading day in December 2013 and 40 percent of customers joining the membership scheme.


Three gold awards were given out in the packaging: branded drinks category - these include WPA Pinfold's work for Thwaites' Crafty Dan range of micro brewery-produced beers, which has helped the company secure export deals in nine markets after it was forced to close its main brewery due to financial troubles:

And Lewis Moberley's work for the Johnnie Walker Collection, pack of premium 20cl Scotch whisky bottles, which led to a 40% increase in sales despite a 0.8% growth in the Scotch whisky market:


While in packaging: branded food, Coley Porter Bell's redesign of the Müller fruit corner received a gold award for enabling the company to reclaim its spot as the number one chilled yoghurt brand following a period of falling sales:


JKR won gold for its redesign of Penhaglion's Christmas boxes in the packaging: structural category, inspired by Victorian musical boxes (boxes led to an oversall sales increase of 23% and a 68% rise in sales of mini tins), while Decide and Peter Windett Associate's work for Fortnum & Mason teas topped the own brand packaging, leading to a 103% increase in sales and apparently, a return on design investment in six months:

Other gold wins included LA Design's electronic paging system for A+H International (industrial design), a distributor of equipment for football referees in the UK. The product alerts referees by sound and vibration using a pager unit worn on an armband and was launched following a discussion with professional referees about a system that would enable them to communicate with football assistants electronically. The product is the first the company has produced and has led to a 224% growth in profits and a new business, Touchline Flags:


Webb Devlam's holding packs for Fairy washing up liquid in the point of sale category, for reducing production and display costs by 50% while increasing sales by 4% and apparently providing a simpler and safer way for store staff to open and stack it:


And the new look Virgin economy meals designed by Map and Virgin's in-house design team, which will apparently save the airline over £8 million in fuel costs per year by reducing the size of trays and, as a result, the number of trollies needed on flights. Virgin says the number of passengers rating the meal service excellent has also increased by 9% in 20 months.


While not all of the designs awarded are particularly beautiful, they have all been hugely effective, having a tangible impact on their client's business whether through reducing production costs, boosting sales or simply reinventing a tired brand identity. You can see the full list of winners and case studies at