DSR Branding

We were lucky to catch up with Dan Rowell, founder and brand strategist at DSR Branding, to chat about being a creative leader, how a small team can lend itself to great collaborations, and picking up an internship in the bottle shop.

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

I’m a Brand Strategist and the Founder of DSR Branding. We help business owners articulate their brand vision and bring that to life through intelligent design. Ultimately it’s about helping them inspire staff to create a team of loyal brand ambassadors, and attract and retain high-value customers.

What are some of the best and worst parts of your job, day-to-day?

I absolutely love my job. The highlights are working closely with great business owners. Learning about how they’ve grown their business and becoming immersed in their industry. We gain fantastic insight into so many different types of businesses, and work with some very intelligent and inspiring people. As well as the clients, the best part is also the chance to develop brands alongside our two excellent creatives. We have a close-knit team and by being small, we can collaborate together on every project. Having designers involved throughout the entire process delivers a much more aligned creative output.

I don’t really dwell on the negatives. There are always challenges. Negotiating budgets with clients can be tricky. Balancing our time spent on client and paid work, but also spending enough time working on our own brand and culture. But while these things can be difficult, they’re rewarding once you’ve made progress on them.

The worst part of running your own business is the admin and tax. But I just rely on our accountant to handle that side of it.

Design work by DSR Branding The Design Kids interviews DSR Branding work-2

What are your three must-read design books, blogs or podcasts and why?

Two standouts books for me are Start with Why by Simon Sinek and Small Giants by Bo Burlingham. Both have been highly influential for how we approach branding but also our business strategy. There’s a brilliant podcast called 2Bobs with David C. Baker and Blair Enns (author of Win Without Pitching). This podcast is an absolute goldmine of valuable information for leaders of creative firms.

What’s your take on internships? (do you take interns now?)

I’m a huge fan of internships. I actually got my break as an intern at Communicator One, a full-service creative agency back in 2010.

I met one of their company directors at a bottle store, buying booze for my 21st birthday party. This director, Jeff, introduced me to the CEO, Cos Luccitti, and I arranged to do an internship with them during my final semester at QUT.

Once I graduated I became the first full-time employee at Communicator One. I stayed there for over five years before leaving to start DSR Branding in 2015.

At DSR Branding, we have had interns from both QUT and Billy Blue. I think it’s a great opportunity for students to gain real world experience and understand how what they've learnt at uni can apply to the industry.

Design work by DSR Branding The Design Kids interviews DSR Branding work-4
Design work by DSR Branding The Design Kids interviews DSR Branding work-4

I think internships are a great opportunity for students to gain real-world experience and understand how what they've learnt at uni can apply to the industry.

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

I recently launched a premium freeze-dried coffee business, Brill Coffee, with a great mate from school. I’m obsessed with good coffee and beautiful design so being able to combine the two has been an absolute joy. Understanding first-hand the effect of good design on an ecommerce business is also extremely rewarding. There are great learnings as I get to play both roles — the client and the design studio.

Who’s on the team, what are their roles and why do you love them?

We have two brilliant designers on our team, Reuben Mergard and Oriane Rigard-Cerision.

Reuben is a Shillington alumni and previous TDK Awards ‘16 Winner. My first full-time employee, Reuben has been on the team for over 3 years now. He responded to a post I put up in the Brisbane Design Kids’ Facebook group, so I owe a lot to The Design Kids! Reuben is exceptionally creative and continues to develop his skills as not only a remarkable designer, but also a sharp strategist.

I love the way Reuben approaches brand identity design and development; it’s very hand-crafted with lots of drawing and sketches and may also include cutting, folding, carving, moulding, building and creating things in a workshop.

Oriane joined us in September last year after responding to another post in a Design Kids group! She has a background in Marketing, working at one of Australia’s fastest-growing ecommerce platforms, Neto. Oriane brings a great balance of project management, coordination, communication and design skills, which she’s currently strengthening through studies at Shillington.

Oriane loves designing outside of the computer screen and will often use paintbrushes or felt pens for hand-crafted unique wordmarks and lettering.

I love how passionate Oriane is about organisation and creating great systems to improve our workflow and processes.

It’s a very creative environment we try to foster here, with plenty of opportunity to craft brands, brainstorm and explore concepts. Our goal is to develop some of the best brands in Australia.

Design work by DSR Branding The Design Kids interviews DSR Branding work-6
Design work by DSR Branding The Design Kids interviews DSR Branding work-6

Where to find DSR Branding online.

Website: dsrb.com.au

Instagram: @dsrbranding / @dsrowell88

Get involved