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Meet Sarah Tennant, Co-Creative Director at Brew Digital

May 1st, 2024   |   Tom Inniss

What’s your name and role at Brew Digital?
My name is Sarah, with an H, and I’m the Co-Creative director at Brew digital. 

What does a typical day look like for you?
On a typical day, I get to immerse myself in the exciting world of client interactions and creative problem-solving. First things first, I kickstart my day by meeting with clients, where I get to build strong relationships and understand their unique needs. 

Once the meetings are done, it's time to dive into the pile of client briefs. I skillfully triage them into tasks and ensure that each one gets the attention it deserves. It's like being a design detective, piecing together clues to uncover the perfect solution for our clients' goals. I take great pleasure in preparing innovative strategies that align perfectly with our clients' visions. It's all about thinking outside the box and delivering exceptional solutions that exceed expectations.

But it doesn't stop there! I am always on the lookout for new business opportunities. Whether it's attending industry events or exploring online platforms, I'm constantly seeking ways to expand our horizons and bring in exciting new projects. Networking is also a big part, building connections within the industry allows me to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and collaborate with talented professionals who can help us achieve even greater success.

Last but not least, I rely on my incredible squad. We work together as a tight-knit team, supporting and motivating each other every step of the way. Their enthusiasm and expertise fuel our collective drive for excellence.

So there you have it - my jam-packed day filled with client meetings, brief triaging, design critiques, business expansion, creative strategy preparation, networking adventures, and the unwavering support of my amazing squad. It's truly a rewarding journey that keeps me energised and excited for whatever challenges and opportunities lie ahead!

What’s your favourite part of the job?

My favourite part of the job is definitely preparing the creative strategy. The creative process is not just about aesthetics; it's also about problem solving. I enjoy finding innovative solutions to design challenges and pushing the boundaries of what's possible. Being able to combine my passion for design with strategic thinking is what makes this job so fulfilling for me. It's a constant journey of learning, exploring, and pushing myself to create something truly remarkable. I can confidently say that I love everything about the creative process—it's where I truly thrive! 

What are the bits that are most challenging? 

The most challenging part of my job is when I hit a creative block. You know, those moments when the ideas just don't flow as freely as I'd like them to.

It can be frustrating when my mind feels empty, and I'm desperately searching for that spark of inspiration. But you know what? I've learned that there's a fine line between relying solely on inspiration and embracing discipline.

Inspiration is an amazing thing. It's that magical moment where ideas come flooding in effortlessly, like a burst of creativity from the universe. But the truth is, it can't always be relied upon. Sometimes, it takes a little more than waiting for inspiration to strike. That's where discipline comes in. It's the ability to sit down and work through the creative process anyways, you do the work, even when the muse seems to have taken a vacation. It means showing up every day, putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), and pushing through those challenging moments.

Before joining Brew you were running your own design agency. What were some of the lessons you learned from running your own company?

Running my own agency has been an incredible learning experience. You constantly hear “Don’t work with friends” but I've learned that working with friends can be a successful endeavour, as long as it's approached in the right way. Communication, professionalism, and a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities are essential for maintaining healthy working relationships.

Communication is a big one all around, especially with clients. Being proactive and staying one step ahead of clients is also crucial. Anticipating their needs and addressing potential questions before they even arise shows a high level of attentiveness and commitment to providing exceptional service. Which brings me to my next point, listen to the client. There is always more to a project brief than meets the eye. Taking the time to thoroughly analyse and understand every aspect of the brief ensures that no important details are overlooked, leading to better results for both myself and the client.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned has nothing to do with running an agency but it’s an equally important one. As a woman, I've discovered the importance of working with my body's natural energy cycles. Understanding that our energy levels can vary from week to week allows me to manage my schedule more effectively. This means aligning tasks that require more mental focus during peak energy periods and allowing for lighter tasks during lower energy periods.

Overall, running my own agency has taught me valuable lessons about working with friends, managing time estimates, staying ahead of clients, diving deep into project briefs, and effectively guiding clients. These lessons have helped me grow both personally and professionally, and I'm excited to continue applying them here at Brew Digital. 

You’re based in Canada as part of Brew Digital North. How do you find working on a different continent from the majority of your team?

Working in different time zones has its challenges, but I'm always up for the task! As a member of a global team, I sometimes find myself longing for more time with my amazing UK colleagues. Afternoons can feel a bit isolated, but thanks to technology, we're still able to stay connected.

One of the benefits of working across time zones is that it works wonders for our clients. We can make changes and improvements before they even wake up! It's like magic – new drafts can be waiting in their inbox, ready to impress and exceed their expectations.

Sure, it's not always easy juggling different schedules, but the efficiency and productivity we achieve make it all worthwhile. Plus, the excitement of collaborating with colleagues from around the world brings a unique energy to our work. We’ve written more about working across timezones here

So, while I may wish for more time with my UK team, I embrace the opportunities that working across time zones brings. It's a dynamic and rewarding experience that allows us to deliver exceptional results to our clients. Together, we're breaking barriers and making a difference - no matter the distance!

What are some of the design trends you think need to disappear?

When it comes to design trends, I must admit that there are some I'm hesitant to embrace. However, just because I don't personally like them doesn't mean they can't be used effectively. For instance, the "liquid metal" type or irregular 3D shapes with gradients might not be my cup of tea, but in the hands of a skilled designer, they can still be utilised to create visually captivating designs.

In my opinion, good designers are those who employ design to solve problems and effectively communicate messages. Design should always serve a purpose, even if it's solely for the purpose of visual interest, it should still support the brand's positioning and enhance its overall message.

By focusing on purpose-driven design and thoughtful communication, designers can create impactful and meaningful experiences that resonate with audiences. So, while there may be certain trends that I personally don't favour, I believe in the power of well-executed design to make a lasting impression.

Conversely, are there any upcoming trends you’re bullish on?

One trend that I have always been a fan of is bold minimalism, and it seems to be gaining popularity in the market. It's amazing to see how designers are embracing this style and creating stunning visuals that catch everyone's attention.

Have you seen the newer Burger King branding and marketing? It's a fantastic example of this trend! They have successfully combined simplicity with a strong visual impact, creating a fresh and modern look for their brand. It's truly inspiring to witness how bold minimalism can elevate a brand's identity.

What I love most about bold minimalism is that it strikes the perfect balance of 'enoughness'. Gone are the days when cluttered designs were considered trendy, and gone too are the days when excessive white space made things bland and forgettable. In this era of design, bold minimalism stands out as a powerful tool to communicate messages effectively while making a memorable impact. As more and more designers embrace this trend, I am excited to see what other innovative ideas they will bring to the table.

When working on designs, are there any considerations you have to make for the location of the client? Are there design aesthetics that don’t translate well to an international audience?

This is a great question and the answer is YES. Cross-cultural design is important because it takes into account the various cultural differences that exist beyond just language. For instance, something as seemingly simple as colour can have different meanings and associations across different cultures. Take the colour white, for example. In Western society, it is often associated with purity and cleanliness. However, in Asian cultures, it symbolises death and mourning. These are two very different interpretations of what white means. 

These cultural nuances are crucial to consider when designing or marketing. Ignoring these differences can lead to misunderstandings or even offensive messaging. A classic example is Coca Cola's misstep when they tried to translate their product name into Chinese. The resulting phrase sounded like the original name but actually translated to "Bite the Wax Tadpole," which obviously did not resonate well with Chinese consumers.

By understanding and incorporating cross-cultural design principles, businesses can ensure that their products and messages are received positively and effectively by people from different cultural backgrounds. It helps create a more inclusive and respectful approach to design, ultimately leading to better user experiences and stronger connections with diverse audiences.

Do you have a secret skill or talent your work colleagues don’t know about?

I was a competitive Highland Dancer for 15 years, does that count? 

Is there anything about the job that surprises you? Or something people might not know about what you do?

People often underestimate the amount of time I dedicate to problem-solving through design and sometimes that simply involves deep thinking. It may appear unproductive while sitting and pondering, as nothing tangible is being created in that moment. However, once I have mentally solved a problem, I can then bring it to life in a tangible way using design based thinking. Whether it's tackling actual design issues or improving internal communication, I approach everything with a methodology that revolves around making deliberate design choices. It's fascinating to see how even the smallest details, like what you wear, how you speak, or what you eat, can be seen as a form of design.

Is there a project you’re particularly proud of?
I take great pride in all of my client projects because I always strive to put my best foot forward. Well, except for those college projects that you do at 2am – let's just say that was a different time. However, if I had to choose one project that I am most proud of, it would be myself. Yes, you heard it right, I consider myself a project too. I am constantly working on improving myself and becoming better every day. Not only for me, my family, my friends and colleagues, but also for my creative process.

How do you spend your ‘off-time’?

I find solace in a variety of cosy hobbies that help me unwind and relax. One of my absolute favourites is pilates, which not only keeps me fit but also acts as a stress reliever. When I'm not breaking a sweat on the pilates mat, you'll often find me immersed in the virtual world of video games. It's a fantastic way for me to escape reality for a while. My favourite games are Dreamlight Valley, Animal Crossing, and Minecraft, with a side of Pokemon. Crafting and baking are two other hobbies that I absolutely adore. Of course spending quality time with my loved ones is an essential part of my off time.

Another passion that consumes a significant portion of my free time is interior design. I find immense pleasure in transforming spaces, whether it's through renovations, creating floor plans, or curating mood boards. And let's not forget the thrill of shopping for home decor! My personal style leans towards neutral minimalism, as I believe simplicity can create a serene and harmonious atmosphere. Simplicity and harmony are common themes that run through my life. 

Do you have any book, film or TV recommendations?

It’s not new, so I’m not sure it’s a recommendation, but Lilo and Stitch is my all time favourite movie, hands down. I love Disney’s early 2000s animation style. 

Is there an upcoming or emerging technology that has you really excited?
When it comes to emerging technologies AI is top of mind, however opinions are all over the place. It's a tough question to answer because there are so many differing views. Personally, I believe that AI has the potential to be both a helpful aid and a destructive force. On one hand, it can enable incredible advancements and open up new possibilities. On the other hand, there is also the potential for misuse and unintended consequences. Despite the uncertainties, I'm excited to see how AI will shape our future and what it will enable us to achieve.

Why do you love working at Brew Digital?

Working at Brew Digital is an absolute perfect fit for me, and there are several reasons why I love it here. Firstly, the people I work with are simply amazing. They are not just colleagues; they have become my friends and have created a warm and supportive work environment. It's not often that you find a job that combines work and play so seamlessly.

Secondly, my job role is incredibly fulfilling. I get to work in a creative field where I can let my imagination run wild and bring ideas to life. It's truly a dream come true to be able to do what I love and get paid for it. I feel incredibly lucky to be part of the creative industry. 

Another aspect of working at Brew Digital that I adore is the cultural learnings. Being exposed to different perspectives and ideas from my diverse colleagues has broadened my horizons and enriched my understanding of the world. It has also sparked a desire within me to travel more and experience different cultures firsthand.

Lastly, the flexible lifestyle offered at Brew Digital is crucial for someone in a creative role like mine. Having the freedom to work on my own terms allows me to tap into my creativity whenever inspiration strikes. This flexibility empowers me to produce my best work and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Overall, working at Brew Digital has been an incredible experience for me. The fantastic people, fulfilling job role, creative field, cultural learnings, and flexible lifestyle all contribute to making it a place where I genuinely love working.

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