Creativity for Sale Podcast - Episode S1 E27

Brand strategy for positive impact on people's lives - Danielle Clarke

Mon, 06 May 2024

"Empowering others to find their passion and life's purpose through branding is incredibly fulfilling."



Show Notes Transcript

"Empowering others to find their passion and life's purpose through branding is incredibly fulfilling."~

In this conversation, Danielle Clarke, a brand strategist, discusses the evolution of brand strategy and the challenges of differentiating oneself in a crowded market. She shares her personal journey of discovering her role as a brand strategist and the importance of empathy and collaboration in her work. 

Danielle also highlights the therapeutic aspect of brand strategy and the need for small businesses to go beyond visuals and focus on the deeper meaning and purpose of their brand. She emphasizes the importance of storytelling and personal experiences in building connections with clients and finding their purpose. In this conversation, Danielle Clarke discusses the importance of health and well-being, particularly in relation to her personal journey of overcoming challenges and finding purpose. 

She emphasizes the value of working with purposeful businesses that focus on improving physical, mental, and emotional health. Danielle shares a transformative experience working with a movement specialist and highlights the power of branding and communication in helping businesses succeed. She also reflects on her transition from employment to entrepreneurship and the benefits of running her own business. 

As a visiting lecturer, Danielle discusses the role of education in guiding and empowering future designers. She emphasizes the importance of setting goals and finding purpose, as well as the value of emotional intelligence in education. Finally, she discusses the benefits of working with small teams and making a direct impact.

Takeaways

  • Brand strategy has become a popular career path, leading to a crowded market of brand strategists.
  • The role of a brand strategist goes beyond visuals and requires empathy, collaboration, and the ability to articulate and communicate effectively.
  • Brand strategy can be a therapeutic process, helping businesses reflect on their goals, values, and impact.
  • Finding purpose in small businesses involves understanding their customers' needs and aspirations and aligning the brand with those values. Prioritizing health and well-being is crucial for personal growth and success.
  • Working with purposeful businesses that focus on improving health can be rewarding and fulfilling.
  • Effective branding and communication can transform a business and help it thrive.
  • Transitioning from employment to entrepreneurship offers flexibility and the ability to prioritize personal needs.
  • Education plays a vital role in guiding and empowering future designers.
  • Setting goals and finding purpose are essential for personal and professional growth.
  • Emotional intelligence is valuable in education and mentoring.
  • Working with small teams and making a direct impact can lead to personal and professional fulfillment.


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Danielle Clarke:

The things that have really worked for me is being able to decide what it is that I need Like it's having that freedom and choice that for me, being employed didn't give me that I really desired and. Being able to prioritize myself and my needs and what I need first before someone else, I think that flexibility, it doesn't always work out because I think I can be a bit of a tricky boss sometimes, the late nights and the weekends, but I it's really weird because I don't, really see it as work because I love it so much.

Radim Malinic:

Hello and welcome to Creativity for Sale podcast, a show to help you start and grow your life changing creative career and business. My name is Radim Malinich and creativity changed my life. You see, I believe creativity can change your life too. I even wrote a book about it and it inspired this podcast. I've set out to interview the world's most brilliant creatives, designers, writers, musicians, makers, and marketeers about their life changing experiences with creativity. If you ever wanted to know how people go from their humble beginnings to the pinnacle of their success, our conversations should provide you with an intimate look into triumphs, challenges, and untold stories behind their creative endeavours. We also discuss the highs and lows of creative careers and creative life. So, thank you for joining me on this exploration of passion, creativity, innovation, and the boundless potential within us all. Let creativity change your life. Are you ready? My guest today has been a branding prodigy since the age of eight. She works with brands that strive to make a positive impact on people's lives, and she aims to make her clients and their communities happier and healthier. She's a brand and marketing consultant and university lecturer. It's my pleasure to introduce Danielle Clark. Hey Daniel, welcome to the show. I'm so pleased to have you on because I've got some burning questions today. I've got some burning questions about brand strategy and I've given you a little hint just before we started recording. for those who don't know you, can you just tell me quickly who you are and what you do?

Danielle Clarke:

Yeah, absolutely. Hi Radim, really excited to be here. I'm Danielle and I am, as you said, a brand strategist and I help small business owners really, manage the meaning of their brand and help them to understand the power of branding. I also do a little bit of lecturing as well, which is great. So helping to shape the next creative thinkers. and yeah, working with a lot of small businesses that, focused on doing purposeful work and wanting to really have a positive impact on other people.

Radim Malinic:

so I think you've already given me a few strides that I'm going to follow on. So we'll talk about brand strategy and we'll talk about a future talent and small businesses. so the hint that I've given you just before we started was that Sort of happened to go on LinkedIn or pretty much wherever else. It just seems that everyone graduated from a logo designer, graphic designer into the brand strategist. And this is what I mean, sort of, not negative speak. It's just more when you learn a new word, you hear it everywhere. When you buy a new car, everyone seems to have the same car. And I just kind of feel like we have definitely turbocharged the information out there that you can be more than just a graphic designer. Do you feel that Brand strategy problem that everyone seems to be just the same sort of thing.

Danielle Clarke:

Yeah, I understand what you're saying. I remember I went through a little bit of a, I found it a bit challenging knowing what to call myself. And because I was I think I was really worried about jumping on the bandwagon because I was hearing and saying the same thing, I'm going to be very, very honest. There were lots of people in the space that were starting to call themselves brand strategists, but it wasn't until I had a conversation with, a few of my mentors, people like, Matt Davis and Peter Wilkin, who have worked in the branding industry, and they knew me very well and understood my process. And they were like, you are, you've already been doing strategy without you even realizing. You just haven't been calling yourself that. You've been calling yourself a designer because I've always wanted to work. I've never wanted to work with clients and just give them the, the logo or the identity without first understanding their business and understanding their goals and why they're even thinking about that. So strategy has actually always been a part of my process. I just didn't know that it was called that. And then when you team that with the level of empathy that I have for business owners that don't understand brand and find it very intimidating, sometimes I think a lot of the, the bigger agencies out there can come across as quite intimidating. intimidating, and sometimes quite elitist and not approachable. And a lot of small business owners need this help. And they don't know who to turn to for advice. And I want to be that person that they come to, that they feel comfortable coming to. So for me, strategy was always there. I just wasn't talking about it. And then when I discovered it, I was like, why am I getting so hung up on saying that I am a brand strategist? When actually. I've been doing, I've been doing it. I've just not been communicating that. So yeah.

Radim Malinic:

I think it's just a sort of way how we evolve as creatives, because you said that people told you actually already do strategy That's almost most often the realization that. When you speak to someone who's more experienced, they say, Oh, by the way, you've already been doing this. And you're like, have I? And I think it's just that question of let me do something a little bit more than just I've been asked. Or let's question the process. Let's question the brief. Let's question the landscape of the client. Because, Yeah, I think at some point you realize that you can do just a little bit more than you've been asked to because you've mentioned you work with small businesses and usually that's just people like you and I, our parents, our friends, they're like, let's start a new business. What do you know? I want to start a business. That's pretty much all I want. Not all I know. What do you need? a logo, maybe, right? Okay. So there's a lot more. my observation is that you have to live a little. to provide that information because you can read all the books in the world and not necessarily have that sort of experience on the ground. Is that right? Because do you find yourself, and this is a first hand question. Do you find yourself there? Not necessarily just a brand strategies. You're more of a, like a therapist and a mentor and a guidance and that kind of stuff. Do you have that experience with clients?

Danielle Clarke:

Yeah. It's, I laugh because it's funny you say that I was working with a mental health charity in London and they're about to, I mean, they're still in the process of a rebrand now. and I went down to really bring the leadership team together and make sure that They were really clear on the, internally what the brand was about and what it was they wanted to communicate. So I was working with the two co founders and the rest of the leadership team was about four, I think it was about seven, seven people in total. And it was a really intensive session where I was asking them lots and lots of questions and getting them to really think really deeply about. The way in which they work together, the way in which they work with external providers and consultants and, and artists and other people that, that were involved in helping to, to shape this organization and, One of them actually said, gosh, this is like a therapy session And we all started laughing because I'm getting them to be really reflective and think about past experiences, share stories. and really analyze, how they work, things that have gone well, things that haven't gone well. and what they, from a personal side as well, what it is that they really want to achieve by even working within this company, because often it's you work for a business because there's something about that business, something about that organization that speaks to your that speaks to your inner narrative, it speaks to the things that you believe that are true and that, that organization aligns with that. And so I was saying to them, okay, if this is what you believe in this, these are the things that you want to change about the world. Do you think that what your role and what you're doing and what the business is doing is really going to help make that change? so yeah, it, it it really was like therapy. We kind of had a little joke about it.

Radim Malinic:

I think it's all about pressing the pause button and actually realizing where have you been? Where are you going? How did, how did you get here? And honestly, what got you here? And what will it won't get you there? what's the sort of next set of alignments and requirements? Because I think we just sometimes, especially with small businesses, they feel like if you built it once, that's it, whereas you've just built it and as soon as you launch it, you start rebuilding. we just paid you all this money to do this. I'm like, yeah, because as soon as it hits, obviously the understanding of the business plan and the brand strategy, it hits the first customer, second customer, and they might want something different. you start forming it with the response and feedback from, from the actual marketplace. And what you mentioned, the therapy session, like how people were thinking about it. When it comes to strategy, when you ask, in a C speed, for example, Okay. How would you describe a company in one sentence and you've got seven stakeholders in a room and everyone says something different? It's Oh, So you asked me to do this and I'm making you think about all sorts of other things because it's it's almost like I the, uh, the, phrase called spin selling. If you've ever, ever, have heard of spin selling, it's like you spell out what will happen if you don't address the problems. You don't say, Oh, by the way, your logo is rubbish. Oh yeah, this is rubbish. And that's rubbish. You go, if you carry on, the competition will overtake you. They'll look more trustworthy, more authoritative. They'll look this and people go like, Oh, right. Okay. So do you think we should change our logo? Yes. And I think there's a lot of value because, and correct me if I'm wrong, but lots of people, if they get in a brand strategy from the visual side of things. Do you agree that they're mainly hung up on the visuals at first before they actually start thinking about the sort of the greater good of the company and purpose and that kind of stuff? Would you agree?

Danielle Clarke:

yeah, I absolutely agree because I think that's the bit that's tangible, I think, and that's the bit that people can actually see and distinguish. Whereas the other stuff, it's not really tangible stuff, which is, this is why, you know, you said you think branding has got a bit of a, I think you said, an identity problem it has, because it's not something that's actually tangible, like the feeling. It's like, how do you really explain and describe that? And that's the thing that brand strategy does, you know, it uncovers, the customers and how they feel about your organization and the reason that they. choose to engage with the products or service that you offer, people have goals and aspirations and pain points and challenges in their lives. that's why we buy what we buy and consume what we consume, because we're trying to We're trying to make those things better. We're looking for things to help us thrive and survive, right? if you're solely focusing on the visual side of things, the identity of a logo, as much as these are very important, and I talked about that actually this week, you're at risk of having style without substance, and you're at risk of looking really good. but not walking the walk. So looking really good, but not really being able to connect with your audience to solve their problems and make them feel seen and heard and make them feel like that they can really trust you because you deliver on that promise. So, I think a lot of small businesses, yeah, they do focus on the visuals, the identity, because that's the bit that they maybe understand, whereas the other side feels a little bit, elusive.

Radim Malinic:

What you describe, it makes me think that sometimes there's more of a visual strategy rather than a brand strategy, because you're really asking for a very all rounder brand strategist to actually have an experience of these things to actually have happened. Because you've got examples of people that go deep dive into the companies and actually have an understanding of okay, I've done this before, this is what happens. Whereas if you've got a making of a brand strategist, where do you even start? Because. Do you start as a logo designer? Do you go straight into brand strategy? what is the kind of, let's try to decipher. What is the making of a brand strategy is that unless you have worked in the work, unless you've been in the workplace for 20 years, how'd you become one? Because I just feel there's many different things that. Make you all around an article that can understand, be empathetic, have the emotional intelligence, have the experience of, I have solved these problems before. Because if you start at 21 years old and want to be a brand strategist, you haven't lived up. You haven't read all the books. You haven't had all the experience. Is that right? Or am I being ageist?

Danielle Clarke:

No, I think you are right. I think it comes from. It's a mixture of things and I can only answer that question based on my own journey, my own personal experience, you know, the reason I, I said at the start, I was already doing the things that a brand strategist does, but didn't really know it. So the fact that I'm a really strong collaborator, I naturally connect people together. So whether it's, I remember when I was working at, I was working at Next, for example, and, Next is a, a retailer for anyone that's listening and doesn't know they, they do, lots of fashion, lots of clothing, online and in store. And, I was working with, a team, a new team was working in a small studio, all female studio. And. Me being there actually helped to bring that team together. I got them, I got us all going to lunch together, which previously didn't happen, going for walks at lunchtime. Like I really changed the dynamic of the team and helped them become more collaborative, really good at connecting people. I'm naturally very, very good at talking. I've always been a talker. I've always been very confident talking. hence the podcast and, coming and speaking to you Radim and, lecturing as well. That's something that, that I got into where most people would run away from having to speak in front of hundreds of people. I seek it. I want it. I want to talk. I want to have conversations with people. So this idea of being able to articulate yourself as a strategist, because you're in rooms and you've got to connect and talk to people, right? And also having that vision, so because of my experience in design and being, you know, I'm a visual learner and I can also, look to the future. So having plans and goals and helping organisations to do that as well. And also helping students, being a lecturer, helping them. decide on their goal and their vision and figuring out how they're going to get there and how do they get to the end of the project. So there's various things along with the empathy and being, curious and creative, all of those things I think come together to make someone a brand strategist. And that doesn't come Straight after leaving college or university comes with experience and working in lots of different places and being around lots of different people for you to start to develop those other skills.

Radim Malinic:

So how long on your journey, how long did it take you before you realized I actually am a brand strategist?

Danielle Clarke:

So I think I realized probably a year ago, if I'm honest,

Radim Malinic:

Wow.

Danielle Clarke:

because I was really holding on. Because of what you said at the start, this whole, uh, it felt like everyone was a brand strategist. So I was like, I don't want people to think that I'm just jumping on this bandwagon. I was, I really battled with it with not calling myself a brand designer anymore, or a creative. And I actually, went through a process of, because previously I was known as Danielle Clark Creative. and I dropped the creative and I changed it to Daniel Clark Consultancy and that was, no one really noticed it, because it's still the C, but for me, was me saying, okay, you're gonna, you're gonna own this now and you're not gonna, you're not gonna worry about what people think because you're already doing it.

Radim Malinic:

Let's talk about a mindset. This is really interesting. So there's a pivot, So I still haven't found out like your year ago, when did you actually start? When did you finish? Like just let's just put that before we park it. let's tell me, was it five years, 10 years?

Danielle Clarke:

When did I actually start?

Radim Malinic:

when did you actually start your creative career

Danielle Clarke:

Oh, my creative career. Gosh, my creative career, actually, and I have a, a little joke about this because in my, in LinkedIn, it says branding prodigy since age eight. And that's when it started. and that's quite, a long story. So I don't know if, I don't know if you want to go down that path now.

Radim Malinic:

How did you realize you were a branding prodigy at age eight?

Danielle Clarke:

Well, because. I, basically, I was at school, obviously at the time, I was in primary school, and Every so often, we get these letters from the school, and these letters were often about fundraising. The school needs to raise money for something. can the parents contribute? and I used to have this little tiny satchel, your teacher would put the letter in your satchel and you'd take it home and take it home to mum. But I'd always have a little sneaky peek at this, these letters before I gave them to my mum. And I, I was really reluctant to give this letter to my mum because it was about asking her for money and because my mum didn't have a lot of money, we didn't have a lot. And so on this occasion, I didn't give her the letter and I said, there's got to be a way that I can try and get the money without having to ask my mum. Um, so went into school the next day and. I had a chat with my friends. I said, I've got an idea. I want to start a school magazine, wrote my friends in, then basically pitch this idea to the teachers. The teacher said, yes, we can do it. So I got my friends to, so some of my friends were really good at telling jokes. So I got one to do a jokes page. I got another one to do like, to draw like a superhero that was for a coloring page. We had like word searches in there. I did the front page and it was just full of all of these things and we, we actually designed and created this magazine at school, in school time, using the school facilities, and then we got the teachers to let us photocopy them. So we did all that, photocopied them, stapled them together, went outside in the playground and sold them to the parents at home time for like 25p each. And no one said no to buying this magazine. Everyone bought it. Some people gave us more money and we raised some money for the school and I didn't have to ask my mum for the money.

Radim Malinic:

yeah, I'm in awe of that story. It's amazing. I think it's the people who got a self it's the people who show this early drive that go on to do amazing things. And there's people like Johnny Cupcakes who was selling sweets, in school. I think it was Chris Doe who was selling sweets in school. and it's, I think that way, when you realize you can actually change the norm. I love that story. I love that story. When you realize. I don't want to ask my mum, like it's already like the level of understanding, like the emotional intelligence, like we can do something in your early editorial project. bringing people together. So you've been bringing people together, working as a team. I think sometimes you see LinkedIn bios and you go, yeah, that'll never happen. Whereas I think I love yours. I think that's really incredible. Like how You did that. did you carry on with the magazine or did the magazine project ever inspire you to keep more, more, making more magazines or is it just one off and that's it?

Danielle Clarke:

Well, it was a one off. you know, one issue only. But it did the job and that was, can still remember the feeling of being in that playground and the excitement and the buzz that was happening. You know, the energy, all my friends were so happy to be a part of it. The teachers were on board and really proud of us, you know, walking around and, handing this out to the parents and them smiling and being like, yeah, of course. And giving us some money, like it made people happy and it brought people together.

Radim Malinic:

Yeah. Very good.

Danielle Clarke:

And that's what I want to continue to do now, as a strategist. So I'll say, like, I've shared these stories with mentors and managers and things, and they're like, you've been doing this for a while. You need to just call yourself a brand strategist and not get hung up on, on the fact that everyone else seems to be calling themselves it.

Radim Malinic:

When you tell a story like that in a boardroom, it's such an incredible icebreaker sometimes, you go like, Hey, this is who I am as a human being. And I remember as an experience of, actually volunteering a story of who you are and how can you help? And look, we might be working together for six months. I remember once being in a room of 15 people. And I was like, look, it came from ice hockey. I was in bands. I was doing this. I was doing that. And they were like, and you can see all these people going, Hey, All right, this is a different story. Let's see what we can happen. And then you see the CEO looking at me like, what are you on about? And I realized I can't work with you. Like I've got, let's say 10 people on my side and you're not like, you're looking at me, you might be confused. You might, try to understand the past sort of personal emotional space, their state, what, like what's happening. But I was remembering, I remember that, that looking on that person's face, I'm like, what's going on? I don't think they like me. I don't think this is gonna work. And I just, it was quite a lucrative deal. I just walked away. I was like, I cannot in any way carry on with these people because, I'm not saying that everyone should be admiring my story. It's just more like. If you want to be curious, then you might be listening. Now it's like, oh my word, like that's different, unless you've got even more amazing story and we should talk about your story too. But it's like, I'm here, you don't know me. We should be working for a while. And you know, each other, cause you guys work together, all this time. And it totally failed. I was like, I cannot work with that person because. Sometimes we have to be honest, whatever you can do, it's not for everyone. And, you know, it's sometimes, we try to tell ourselves that, we should be, we should help anyone. We should help absolutely anyone who's asking. And it's impossible. So you've mentioned that you work with purpose led businesses and the word purpose, Again, I'm going to challenge this. It's almost like every single business is now purpose. everyone, it's great. There'll be a sort of unearthing these things that sometimes were exclusive to some companies. Sometimes people didn't even think about purpose led businesses or sustainability on the future of the planet, et cetera. But having the purpose is your North Star. It gives you an idea. okay, so this is what we're working towards. So how do you go. And sometimes look for purpose and if company actually lacks it, because, sometimes, especially with a small business setup, people go I need to survive, because you mentioned earlier thrive and survive. And it's sometimes it's actually, do or die really rather than thrive and survive. So how do you go about finding purpose for people?

Danielle Clarke:

So health and wellbeing is really important to me. so there was a time in my life I had, me and my partner had just bought a house, and it's a house that we're in now. And it was our first home together, really excited, and then the day after we got the keys, I got a phone call, and that phone call was from the CEO, bearing in mind it was a Saturday, and they were basically making me redundant, so I was actually in my then flat, cleaning, getting ready to get my deposit back, and I remember sitting down on the stairs, I had like the cleaner in my hand and the cloth in my hand and I just sat on the stairs at the end of the phone call and I don't know how long I was sat on the stairs for because I'd gone from being incredibly happy to being extremely low and like what the hell am I gonna do? and, I went through a really difficult time, a really difficult time. Now, the thing that kept me going through that time was my partner and the fact that he was extremely supportive and said please don't worry, we'll make it work. We'll be okay. But going to the gym and meditating, so that was the thing that got me out of bed in the morning. because I really felt like a failure. So getting up, going to the gym, having that routine, feeling good after I got out of the gym and meditating, and that kept me going, and so having been incredibly low, I know how important having those things that continue to get me healthy were to have in my life. And so, because of that, because of my personal experience and knowing how, how beneficial it was to keep moving and, to keep taking care of myself. Those are the sorts of businesses that I really want to work with. So for me, it's purposeful businesses. Yeah. But those that are helping to improve our health. So whether that's physical health, mental health, emotional health, they're all combined. Those are the businesses that I want to continue to work with. And I want to help because I know how important it is. And there's a particular business I've worked with recently that's been extremely rewarding. He's a movement specialist and I met him through my business coach and we had a conversation. It was locked down at the time and we had a conversation on Zoom. We were just getting to know each other and I'd been Through lockdown, I've been running. I started doing the, couch to 5k again. Lockdown was tough. I couldn't go and play hockey with my friends. we're only allowed to go out once a day. And so again, for me, exercise, it really helped me. So I used to go out and go running first thing in the morning and I was doing that every other day. But I suffered a really bad knee injury playing hockey many years ago and that kind of kept coming back so I was telling this guy all about that and He said to me, okay, what's been going on and blah blah blah He's right. Do me a favor do a squat for me. Bury the one we're on a zoom call So I get up out my chair. I'll do a squat facing the camera forward sideways backwards I'll turn around and he's got a list He's got a note thing on his screen, he's got a list of things that are wrong. He's yeah, you've got this and this. He was like, oh, we can sort you out. I'll have you out of pain in six weeks. Bearing in mind, I've been to doctors, I've been to physios, pain kept coming back. Started running, pain kept coming back. And I thought to myself, who is this guy that really thinks he's going to be able to get me out of pain? But I thought, I've got nothing to lose, he's been recommended by someone that I trust, let's go for it. So I did it, I did what he said, he did the plan, followed it to the letter, and I was out of pain. In about six weeks, no more knee pain could carry on running, doing everything. I was like, how are you in the position that you are in? Because at the time he wasn't doing very well with his business he was struggling and I didn't even realize how much knowledge he had. I never would have considered seeing someone like him. I'd have gone and seen a physio, right? And so we started having a conversation about his brand. I said to him, people don't understand what you do. People don't know what you do. And they think that you're just a PT. They think you're a personal trainer. They don't know you've got all this knowledge that you can help them get out of pain. So we did some brand strategy. We looked at the reason he started the business. The sorts of people that he wanted to work with and help, his values, what, you know, why he was doing it, the services he provided. We got really, really clear on all of that. And then we did a rebrand. So we redesigned his identity and the transformation for him and his business has been monumental, everyone knows who he is. He's the body fix coach now. People love wearing his hoodies with his logo on. People have really got on board with the brand and everyone understands what he does now. He gets people out of pain and he's took on, staff now, he's got a facility and things are going really, really well for him. And he's helped some of my friends at hockey players on my team. You know, some of them were really suffering with their back, with their knees, and he's helped get them out of pain as well, so that they can continue to play hockey. Those are the people I want to work with.

Radim Malinic:

It's an amazing story. I think it's taking you from a dark place to not only, now back into sunshine, but in your own life where you're helping others. And yeah, when you started talking about movement coach, I'm like, what sort of, which one is it? When you say body fix. Oh, That makes perfect sense. it's just sometimes we just have to spell out the positive outcome of what the action is. You know, sometimes it's so, so impossible to know because people can be so snow, like snow blinds to what they do. They're like, well, it makes sense to me. Well, tell everybody else. Does it make sense to even your wife? You know, it's just, what does it do? And it's sometimes quite hard because I've mentioned it to somebody the other day, like I, you come, when it comes to graphic designers, wherever you go in the world, people have different ways of explaining what they do. And some, we overlap around edges of what we do so much, and we give us, give ourselves different titles even though we do something similar. And you're like, sometimes you think like, how do you get work by being graphic facilitator? I don't know what that is. And you do this and you're like, how, what, where, what? Like what's going on? If it's okay, I'll go, I want to go back to the day where you got a phone call, which said, you know what, you no longer need it. what was just, it was the job that you had, but you got redundant from.

Danielle Clarke:

Yeah, so I was working as a creative designer for a luxury retailer. So they dealt in luxury watches basically, and the high end, really high end goods, and a lot of their clients were footballers, celebrities that wanted. a really nice watch or a bespoke piece of jewellery designed for a special occasion. But yeah, they got into some financial difficulty and had to, yeah.

Radim Malinic:

So that's interesting. So you got let go and you feel quite rightfully almost depressed, right? So you've got no job. And so you were relying on somebody else to, actually pay your mortgage in a way. And not necessarily always having, the whole of the strategy of the business with what you can do. And reason why I want to talk about it is because, is it, did you go on your own sins? Did you go like, you've started your own business after being made redundant. Is that right?

Danielle Clarke:

that was the catalyst. Yeah, I'd, I sort of had enough.

Radim Malinic:

Because part of the reason this podcast exists is because in the book that was inspired, it was like, you can make your own future. You can invent your own dream future. Because when I speak to people and they're like, I don't really want to leave my job. I'm happy. This is good. Well, they say they're happy. Sometimes they're not happy, but we've got such a little hold of the future. Like we don't decide where the company goes. We don't decide what the work is being done. We don't decide, so many different things. Whereas when we go on our own, we go, yeah, this is a bit scary. You know, I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know where I'm going. I don't know how to fix stuff. But if there's something with the company, you can't fix it. You've got very little. very little chance to actually influence things, unless, there's a strong union or whatever, if it's a big company, whereas if you're on your own, it might feel scarier, but if something's not working, you can fix it straight away, you're like, oh, wait a minute, I'm a movement coach, maybe I need to speak to someone, they can fix my business, I can do this, I can, it's actually, I think, I'm not saying that being on your, like starting your own businesses for everyone. Obviously, I know some people who are very happily being employed and never be employed for the rest of their lives. But what we perceive as uncertainty in running our own businesses is actually very much a bonus because you need that sort of, that survival instinct to kick in. I'm like, what do I do? How do I fix this? What's needed next? Because as you've said with your guy, like he was a little bit lost. But then you fixed it and it helped him to grow. And I think we are sometimes very guilty of not necessarily branding ourselves. we spew out a cliche sort of taglines that, make us, sometimes make us sound like silly. because it's just Oh, we want to work with ambitious businesses. Or we want to be a creative team, whatever. It's that's almost given so we've got this problem. So since you've got on your own. What has been the benefits? What have you found that works so much better for you?

Danielle Clarke:

The things that have really worked for me is being able to decide what it is that I need that day. So there's times where, say for example this morning, I meditated and I carved out that time to do that. when I was employed by other people, you can't, you those decisions if you need, You need to do something that day or if you want to, if you decide you want to book a day off because you want to go and see a friend, you know, I've done that before where we've met up and had a coffee and gone out and it's been a lovely day and maybe that means that I need to work, do a bit of work when I get in that evening, that's fine. Like it's having that freedom and choice that for me, being employed didn't give me that I really desired and. Being able to prioritize myself and my needs and what I need first before someone else, I think that flexibility, it doesn't always work out because I think I can be a bit of a tricky boss sometimes, the late nights and the weekends, but I don't, it's really weird because I don't, really see it as work because I love it so much. I was talking to a friend and they were, I was saying, oh yeah, so on Sunday I need to, I've got to do such and such because I need to write some content, and then like plan, I need to plan something for the next day. And they were like, you're working on a Sunday? I was like, yeah, like I enjoy it. I enjoy getting up in the morning. You know, it's quite having a coffee and doing three hours of deep work, I'd rather do that than be watching, I don't know, some Sunday cooking show or something. I enjoy it. Sounds

Radim Malinic:

and when the universe has been more quieter because when you've got that noise You need to hear yourself. Sometimes you just need to hear your thoughts. Okay? What do I want to do and I can totally agree with you like I used to absolutely adore working at times when everyone was asleep or they were, doing something else. It's okay, this is my time to actually be alone with my thoughts and actually work on this because it's so easy to buy into Disneyland. it's so easy to go okay, I want to do all of this and all of that. And sometimes you feel like you don't get anywhere because If you quite rightfully mention two words, deep work, you get into it and in those three hours, you can actually create something that's going to give you content for the rest of the week. Now, I think it was Charles Darwin, and. Charles Darwin, who was the famous writer Charles Dickens. they both worked four hours a day. You know, there was no such thing as sort of social media back in the day, but we think like they had to knuckle down tons of work for God knows how long, but they didn't have to work on their social media presence. They didn't have to work on their SEO and their brand strategy. Yeah, but it was the simpler times. It doesn't come. Darwin, for example, ended up being a very unhappy man because he peaked around sort of 27, 30. That's not hours, that's the age of 27 and 30. And then he was struggling to actually get the information from the outside world to progress in his studies and in his research. Whereas now we have this cross pollinated world that gives us ideas and information that you can learn from. brand strategy or like brands from South America or from, from Asia, like we've got this window to the world and sometimes it can be so overwhelming. So knuckling down your own story and be honest, true to your own mission and your purpose sometimes creates the most amazing thing. So I like that you said that you were always a natural talker and that you. started your podcast and then you also lecture. So when we go back to Darwin, let's talk about the upcoming talent. Where do you teach? What do you teach? And what's your current view of design education overall? I

Danielle Clarke:

Yeah. So I'm a visiting lecturer at BCU, which is Birmingham city university. And I teach on the graphic design and visual communication degree. And I teach the second year. they've. They've messed around and and done a lot of partying in first year and second year is where they start to get a little bit more focused and start to really develop their craft and also identify the direction that they're going to be taking, which is the module that we literally just started. yeah, I absolutely love it. I love having conversations with students that. Especially when we do one to ones and they'll be stuck on something or they'll be really unsure. it happened yesterday, actually. A few of the students have just done their placement module and they were talking about they, they were given a brief and they had to come up with ideas very, very quickly. And, and they really struggled with the conceptual side and the idea generation. And I was talking to them about that part of your brain, it's like a muscle. And you have to keep practising, you have to train it, and the more you train it, your brain will start to make these connections, and the more you develop a process, when you get stuck, if you go to that process, it will help to uncover those ideas and concepts, but you have to do it regularly, okay? And they were like, Yeah, but we don't know how and so I said, okay, let's try and exercise now. So I put them all on the spot. I went and grabbed four sheets of paper, grabbed some sharpies. I said, I'm going to give you something and you've got to advertise it. And I'm going to set a timer for 60 seconds. You should see the look of fear on their faces. And they were like, Oh, but you've probably already, you've probably already got an idea of what you're going to do. Because I said, I'm going to do it with you. Okay. I was like, we'll get, The other lecturer would get Martin to think of something. So I called him over. I said, Martin, this is what we're doing. give us a suggestion. And so he was thinking. He said, all right, black bean bags. And so we had to sketch, 60 seconds, sketch a poster to advertise Black Bean Bags, put them on the spot. But at the end of the session, that 60 seconds, they all had something down on that piece of paper. We all started, talking about our ideas and that we're getting excited and then one person sharing an idea. then made someone else go, oh okay, and then maybe we could do this and that could be a concept. could it be black, wearing black bin bags and looking good in everything or black bin bags being sustainable or whatever. All these ideas have been thrown around and they got excited. And at the end they were like, Oh, I really enjoyed that. I said, so what you're going to do now you've seen how it works, the three of you, whether it's a couple of times a week, you're going to set aside some time to do that together, to start to practice how you come up with ideas. I was buzzing after session. And that's the thing I love. It's, seeing them unsure and doubtful and then giving them a technique or a tool that gets them excited, that gets them believing in their abilities and allows them to be able to take that and continue with that, with it, without me being there.

Radim Malinic:

think it's a scary world to enter the creative industry right now because it's never been more accessible in terms of tools, tutorials, information, troubleshooting. if you have an idea that you want to make, there's a software, there's a click, there's a YouTube video to show you how to do it. It's just a question of what you really want to make, in the first place. did anyone think of Phoenix Knights? Come and get your Black Bim Bags.

Danielle Clarke:

Heavy Duty Black

Radim Malinic:

Black Bin Bags! Yeah, it's literally, that's the problem of creative minds like, oh, come on, say Black Bin Bags. so I think this is really interesting what you described, like unlocking that, potential because There's so much in, there's, I think as long as we live and this, and the humanity exists is like, do you need creative education? Do you not need creative education? There's always people for, and for, and people against it. And the more you actually get to the emotional, Sort of investment and actually the time that you're helping people grow. And as you said, of course we all get hammered in the first year and you're like, whatever happened happened, you know, like you just, you go through like your first whatever, tuition fee, thousands of pounds and you got a massive hangover and not much to show for it. But that's just the way, no, we go through life like, Hey, you have to get out of your system sometimes, but looking after the students, and I was. doing a lecture at Stafford University just last week.

Danielle Clarke:

I'm going there,

Radim Malinic:

Yeah, they're lovely. They're lovely. And it was the first time I've seen it click because my lectures are about, I'm very much doing a mindful creative lecture as my sort of flagship talk, where I really want to say, look, This is scary. This is not going to be easy. And you can almost say like, you can tell it to a founder. This is scary. It's not going to be easy. You know, like whatever we do. And there's a level of, pain or uncertainty or challenges and, you know, you have to make stuff happen. Like you can't just turn up and everything's, you know, paved in gold and everything's great because that's never going to happen in life. So when you see the students like Oh, paying attention and going, Oh, right. So everyone burns out. Look, everyone burns out. Everyone struggles. Everyone's got anxiety. We all have to work on it because you mentioned running from, from couch to 5k. You have to get through certain points. So you walk the 5k first and you walk a first K or whatever you do minute by minute. It's about a gradual muscle building, right? And then that comes physical and mental. And, it's this sort of view of like, you know what? We are all human just because I've been doing it for 20 extra years. And right now doesn't make me any less. prone to, emotional injury or upset or, struggle or burnout because sometimes, you're pure drive and, you're working, for example, seven days a week, but that still adds up to burnout over time. So obviously that sometimes is nice to do deep work on Sunday, but you know, you can't do it all the time. You take time off with your friend, but it's kind of saying, look, The glitzy, shiny thing that you're looking at, that you want to be part of, let's say advertising an industry or a design industry. It's still a commercial business and it's mixed with expectations, ego, ambition, anxiety, all of that's together. That's what you're doing, because, if you go and dig a hole, as a builder, that hole needs to be a certain parameter. You can measure it. That's good. No one's going to say, should we try five different ways of digging a hole? Should we do this? Or by the way, can you stay overnight and dig the hole again? because, I didn't like the first one. That doesn't necessarily happen. So we set ourselves on this path of unknowingly, we go into this emotional sort of washing machine of experiences. And I don't think there's ever been enough information how to deal with it. there was people happily getting drunk and struggling and whatever, and pretending like nothing's a problem. And people were told to man up and all of that stuff. And when you tell people like, you know what, it's going to be hard. But you can cope with this because I'm telling you now how to do this, running the 5k from the couch is going to be hard, but here's the ways how to do with it, like this is how you cope with it. So with these little sort of gentle souls, they're still hangover from the first year. How do you get them to Almost started forming a plan and a goal system because you mentioned earlier in the conversation that you help them to focus on goals. I didn't have a goal till I was about 22. You know, I didn't really know what exactly I wanted to do. And that goal was still very much vague. How do you get them to actually be more focused on a long term game?

Danielle Clarke:

Yeah. So we did this very, very exercise with them and we get them to set, I have a bit of a love hate thing with smart goals because I think some of, SMART stands for, so it's got to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time specific, I think that's all of them. And I think if you're setting a goal, of course it's going to be relevant.

Radim Malinic:

Too many words already, too complicated. It's a goal. That's four letters. That's enough. It's a goal. It's one thing and that's what it should be.

Danielle Clarke:

So, I have a bit of a about smart goals, but hey, we get them to set smart goals. And one of them, one of them specifically asked me yesterday, they were like, what goals should I be putting in here? And I was like, well, that's up to you. I said, obviously you're at university, you're doing this graphic design degree. When you get to the end of this year, the end of your third year, what, what You know, what's your ultimate goal? I'm assuming it's a job, is it a particular skill? what is it that you want? And I said, think big, how do you want to be creative director of Nike? What do you really, really want? I said, it needs to be, I used a term like b hag, like a big hairy audacious girl, something that if you were to tell someone about it, they'd be like, take a step back and look at you as if to say, you're going for that. Like, that's what you want. who do you think you are? Something that's a little bit, out there. And she was like, okay. And I said, and then think about, okay, so if that's your goal, What do you need to do this year to get closer to it? What do you need to do next year? Obviously you want to pass your degree you know what marks you need to be getting and if that's the role you want, what sort of What areas do you need to be focusing on? is it in particular, graphic design, but layout design? Is it more editorial? Is motion something that's really important? Like what's, get a bit more specific about? the skills and techniques that you need to learn in order to move yourself closer towards that goal. And then I said, okay, think about your portfolio as well. If that's the role that you'd like, and that's the type of business that you want to be working for, what sort of work needs to be in your portfolio? And then based on that, what sort of briefs do you need to be working on then to, to make sure that the briefs that you're working on aren't just you know, not related. And so she got, she was, and all of the students were doing this writing all of this down yesterday. And, one in particular, another one called me over and she said, I think I'm having a bit of a crisis. She said, I don't want to, I don't think I want to do graphic design anymore. Just remembered. And I was like, okay. She said, I teach art and design at a school to kids. And I love it. I'm an art and design teacher. That's what I want to do. I was like, okay. And she thought I was going to be like, but I wasn't, I was like, that's amazing. I was like, and you love doing that? She was like, yeah, I love it. That's all I want to do. She was like, I feel like this year and a bit has, it's been a waste, these 18 months has been a waste. I said, it hasn't been a waste. Because if you hadn't have done this, based on what you then thought your goal was, how would you have known that this wasn't for you? She was like, oh yeah, okay. And I said, at the end of the day, I said, what do you need to become a teacher? She was like, I need a degree, and then I need to do A-P-G-C-E. I said, so you need a degree, so you've gotta finish it. Which she was adamant she was going to anyway. I said, so that's that, that's that tick because it's gonna move you towards your goal. And we were talking about what she enjoys and, being creative in the art and design side and typography. I said, so now everything that you do. Make sure you're doing the stuff that you love. Make sure it includes typography. Make sure it includes, beautiful art directed art and design. And then you'll get your degree and you'll be able to do art and design. that's fine too. And she was absolutely gobsmacked that I had that, she was like, it's you've just, she's you've just healed me with your words. She said, I was like, I said, you know how many people go through their doing things and never find anything that I love. I said, when you were telling me about that school and doing art and design, your face lit up. I said, if that's what these past 18 months have given you, made you realise that's what you love, I was like, we've done our job, I'm happy for you. Now we've got to help you to make sure you get your degree, so you can do your PGCE, so you can do the things that you want to do. I said, if that's still your goal, that's fine. So yeah, I love, I absolutely love what I do and it's very rewarding and I. Yeah, I don't, wouldn't really have it any other way.

Radim Malinic:

I'm absolutely astounded with your kind words and your knowledge and sort of emotional intelligence, like how you heal. And I think if she said it was another therapy session, I think, you can add that to your sort of life resume of the things that you've achieved. Because it sounds like you do it for the right reasons. You want to help other people to become something and have that. Because sometimes. We come from an upbringing not necessarily knowing what we wanted to do, how we want to do it, didn't even necessarily have a clue how to do it. we live in a time where all of this is possible. Which is and you can come to people like yourself in education and say, you know what, this is fine. And a hundred percent brilliant comment on this is not wasted time. Like you, you spend time actually finding yourself. you might be, Beeping in Asda on the tail for 18 months going, I want to really teach kids, but I don't know how to get started. You know, is that wasted time? You just need time to process. We need time to think and reflect on actually, what do we want to do? Because I believe, especially for what I wrote in the book, that We can pivot as many times as we want, like we don't have to be stuck with this thing. no one's telling us what we should be doing unless you've signed some devil's contract or whatever. you have to be a pop star for Simon Cowell for the next 25 years, if that existed, obviously you can change, you can do the things that make you happy. And we can always say that about ancestors, our predecessors, like we can always say that because we felt that there was careers that were so much more linear. So I absolutely admire, Your emotional intelligence, how you look after these people, and like how you build sort of communities around you and what you do, because we only need more people like you, to actually to find that good in others and how to do it and how to enable them. Because it's not, when you mentioned the word elitist at the very beginning, you said, sometimes it just feels an impossible barrier to break through, always understood or treated riders. if you try to be small knocking on a big door, that will always be an imbalance, always be, immeasurable. Whereas I always found through years and years of experience of working in advertising and branding, for big companies, as an illustrator, I always find that The bigger fish never tasted better, the bigger fish, there was bigger bones, there was bigger headache. There was everything there. And when you scale it back and you go, you know what, I want to work with small teams, actually making direct impact, work with decision makers. That's where the magic happens. You can learn on a job. You can grow as a person. You're like, Oh my word. I felt. used and abused by, by a large scale sort of drinks company. Whereas I'm here in a food development agency working on something with someone who's bringing their vision to life and I can be part of this. That feels like a privilege because you only learn and grow as a creative that way. So I'm, yeah, I'm so happy for you. I think you find yourself on, that phone call when you say, I'm sat there with the cleaners, one thing in each hand. We need those sort of peaks and troughs in our lives to say, you know what? It's only going to get better because I can decide where my life's going. I just want to thank you for coming on and sharing your story. I think it's been amazing.

Danielle Clarke:

Thank you so much, Radim, and thank you for your, thank you for your kind words as well. That's, nice of you to say such lovely things.

Radim Malinic:

I only say what I think and what I feel, what's coming my way. So yeah, it's been a pleasure. It's been a real pleasure to have you on. And obviously, thank you for having me on your podcast a while ago. And it's nice to return, the honor to do this because I think we need your voices amplified in the industry. And, when you talk about, when we started this conversation about is the brand strategy world too oversaturated with people like yourself, you've got your own strategy, your own person, you can only double on who you are. So well done to you. Thank you.

Danielle Clarke:

Thank you, Radim. Thank you.

Radim Malinic:

Thank you for listening to this episode of Creativity for Sale podcast. The show was produced and presented by me, Radim Malinic. Editing and audio production was masterfully done by Neil mackay,. from 7 million Bikes Podcasts, Theme music was written and produced by Robert Summerfield. If you enjoyed this episode and would like to support the podcast, please subscribe and leave a rating or review. To get your own action plan on how to start and grow a life changing creative business. You can get a copy of the Creativity for Sale book via the links in show notes. burning, and until next time, I'm Radim Malinich, your guide through this exploration of passion, creativity, innovation, and the boundless potential within us all.






Radim Malinic

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