The Design Business Council and the business of design

The business of design is an area that is sadly neglected in the Australian design industry. With the majority of design studios being micro businesses it’s hard enough for designers to stay current with, or get on front of, design trends and technology let alone worrying about management practice.

However it’s obvious from examining the larger Australian design studios that they have solid management skills within their creative executives and this is part of their success and growth.

Creative executives must understand the power of new consumer groups and well thought-through local, global and multi-cultural marketing strategies and trends. Executives must address new technologies, radical change and business strategy.

The DBC helps creative executives develop this business knowledge and skill.

The DBC does this through publications, workshops, E-courses and mentoring.

Greg Branson (DBC CEO) has developed a series of tools that help design executives;

  • examine their business model,
  • develop a deeper understanding of their clients,
  • define the value design contributes to their clients’ business,
  • demonstrate a return on design investment,
  • integrate design processes and design thinking into their clients’ business,
  • elevate design to a strategic tool that businesses can leverage,
  • analyse the profitability and productivity of their studio,
  • develop new business strategies.

The DBC through its design management zine Design Business Review researches the Australian design industry each year to give an analysis of all levels of design businesses.

These insights are used in DBC publications, workshops, e-courses and mentoring.

Contact Greg Branson, email, phone 0412762045

Leading design business coaches


Greg Branson and Carol Mackay have built unequalled expertise in design studio management.
They apply this in writing, workshops, E-courses and the Design Business School.

Carol Mackay and Greg Branson

Carol Mackay

Thirty-three years after founding and managing Mackay Branson design, Carol changed her focus from client-initiated projects to once again join forces with Greg at the Design Business Council.

Greg and Carol first worked together in 1982 in a marketing consultancy. They left to start MBd in 1984, building a sustainable business with a stable of loyal, long-term clients. Carol’s role was as creative director.

Throughout her design career, Carol has employed and mentored a variety of designers and worked with clients in the government, financial, banking, insurance, judicial and (for a change of pace), the not-for-profit sectors.

Her special power is comprehension – the ability to listen, understand the problem and then use design as a conduit between a client and their market. Her skill is in making the complex simple. Using words and images to package complicated content into bite-sized chunks of palatable information that can be easily digested.

With Greg, Carol has travelled extensively, meeting and talking with designers about their business. Despite geographical distance, challenges are often strikingly similar.

Since 2000, Carol has shared her experiences in weekly professional development newsletter written specifically for designers. In 2013 Carol and Greg expanded these learnings to co-write a book: The Business of Design.

Contact details
Carol Mackay
Design Business Council
Level 3 362 Little Bourke St Melbourne Vic 3000
Call 0418 384 002

Greg Branson

Greg’s passion is the research and development of methods that improve design management and design’s role in business.

With Carol Mackay he established Mackay Branson design in 1984. They built the practice up to employ 11 designers with clients in government, insurance, hardware and pharmaceutical sectors. Underpinning this growth was the development of systems and methods that managed the design process. Greg was responsible for new business development using skills developed in marketing agencies in Melbourne and Sydney.

Greg has long been involved in the Australian design community with a two year term as President of the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA) Victoria and a national councilor for AGDA.

In 2005 he founded the Design Business Council (DBC) to provide design management professional development for designers and design clients.

Greg has developed a series of business tools to help designers manage their business better along with a series of workshops that show designers how to use these tools. The workshops are written for studio owners, managers and account executives in graphic, product, interior and architectural design studios.

Greg has traveled in Europe, the USA and UK to research the role of design in business. He is a member of the US based Design Management Institute (DMI) an organisation that conducts extensive research into design management, design practice, design strategy, design thinking and design effectiveness.

He developed a series of workshops for presentation to SMEs within Melbourne’s South Eastern Business Network. These workshops showed how design management, design strategy and design thinking can aid an SME.  They are based on real projects undertaken by Greg.

In 2013 Greg wrote and produced The business of design a book that details the what, why and how of running an Australian design business.
Written entirely from a local perspective, this is the only Australian book to span all the business skills needed to start, manage and grow a design studio.

Greg is active on a range of curriculum committees, at VCE, TAFE and University level having served five years as Chair of the industry advisory committee for the Communication Design at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University.

He also delivers regular lectures to undergraduate and post graduate design students and academic staff at Australian Universities.

Contact details
Greg Branson
Design Business Council
Level 3 362 Little Bourke St Melbourne Vic 3000
Ph: 0412 762 045


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