Design Business Council Year in review

Design Business Council – the year in review

2016 is the 11th year of operation for the DBC.

Founded in 2005 it aimed to;
1. Raise the professional practice of designers by assisting studios by developing business skills.
2. Generate more use of design by all Australian companies through direct promotion of design value case studies
3. Generate more employment for designers by stimulating the use of design.

The scorecard for 2016 shows that the first aim has been realised.

The business of design

With over 1,000 copies sold this still remains the only publication that details the how, what and why of running a design practice in Australia. The best feedback for the year was from a Melbourne based designer. “I have used a whole post-it note pad tagging all the great stuff in this book.”


The four E-Courses; Job pricing for profit, The design value proposition, The one page business plan and Selling more design for print and digital campaigns, have continued to be strongly used by designers across the country.

They averaged eight sign ups each week of the year.

The comment from one Sydney design studio is typical of the response. “Your pricing course changed our life!”


This year the workshops switched to being only run in-house with each of them customised for the studio.

Five workshops have been offered this year; Building a new business model, Designing demand, Selling design value to clients, From vision to new business strategy and the Design value chain workshop.

More than 300 designers participated in workshops this year with some marked results in business improvement. The Designing demand workshop has seen a 200% increase in new business for a number of studios.

Design Business School

Launched in March 2016 the DBS has had some solid returns for the 20 designers enrolled. The ROI approach means that all studios taking part are measuring the effectiveness before progressing. The initial staff review sessions have resulted in a number of studios opening up new services for clients.

It is still the only design business course offered in Australia.

Virtual GM

This program covers six months of “board” meetings where a studio’s performance is measured and improved month by month. 14 studios are participating and most have reported improved cash flow, increased profits and higher staff morale.

Designing demand program

Introduced in 2015, the program begins with a half day workshop that examines where the business is at and where it’s going. This is followed by six monthly meetings that track progress towards goals set in the initial workshop. 17 studios have participated in the program this year with each of them developing internal and external strategies to strengthen their business. The results have seen studios both decrease and expand based on the need for new directions. “This program changed the way we look at our business and gave us some new and clear directions that have dramatically improved cash flow.” – Melbourne design studio.


Working in two hour blocks, 150 design studio owners have taken advantage of this service. The topics covered range from staff issues, tendering advice, project pricing, marketing strategies and client service issues.

Big changes in 2017

2017 sees the DBC moving to achieve its second aim to generate more use of design by all Australian companies through direct promotion of design value case studies.

This will be achieved through a research arm that examines design use in the ASX 300 and Australia’s top 500 private companies. The research will use a design value chain approach to measure how design is (or is not) used in these organisations. This will be aligned with the performance of the business either through market improvements or performance improvements.

The research will be shared with a group of allied design studios.


2017 will also see the introduction of a major design industry research project that will allow studios to benchmark themselves. This research is based on the DBC’s continuous survey of design studios and design clients. Studios will be able to get a personalised benchmarking report.

The DBC is growing

The DBC has run with only one person (Greg Branson) since its inception. Next year Carol Mackay will join the DBC as joint CEO. Carol will play a major part in the research program as well as developing an online studio management course.

During 2017 the aim is to employ a marketing/pr/comms manager and a researcher. Their roles will be respectively to promote and conduct the research.

The promotion of the research will be matched with promotion of the allied design studios.

Stay tuned for the launch of the first research results in May 2017.

It’s going to be a big year.

Greg Branson



Contact Greg Branson if you would like to learn more about the many programs the DBC offers.

SUBSCRIBE: Subscribe to get Design Business Review, Australia’s only online design management magazine.

Greg Branson

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

Greg has developed The Design Business School to help owners manage their business better along with showing designers how to get more involved in the studio and develop their career path. Contact Greg.