Design With Soul, a 3-Dimensional Approach

When I was in school and I was studying maths, I absolutely loved learning about the concept of the Z-Axis. This is the third axis after X & Y. This is how 2D become 3D shapes. You learn that this is how you create something that is out-the-box, solve problems that leave others scratching their heads and generally create the unexpected.

We have been doing interviews recently at the loft trying to find those designers that can become true superstars with us and I find myself regularly explaining that we also use a 3-D Approach which ties together great design and service.

A traditional 2D approach encompasses the best creativity and skill to solve design challenges and create wonderful solutions that the client will love and more importantly serve their needs. And although not easy, most creatives given enough time should be able to achieve this for most projects.

However, in isolation this is not enough. When you throw in time challenges, presentational challenges, brand guidelines, cost constraints, client approaches and motives that you may not quite understand just yet, individual taste, etc – then you have a much, much, much greater series of challenges. Where you must marry outstanding service and outstanding creativity. Compromising one for the other is the easy way, but the easy way never leads you anywhere interesting.

We pride ourselves on both!

How do we do it? Well actually by bucking every trend that seems to be going on right now in agency life.

– We don’t overwork. We need great ideas. Regularly! Inspiration must be high in our studio. This is impossible if we are overworked or tired so we deliberately don’t do long hours. When we work, we work intensively and we must leave something in reserve for deadlines etc. But our desire is for a high-energy studio.

– There is no limit on ideas or concepts. This is so, so important. We explore lots and lots of great ideas. Most of which unfortunately go in the bin, but having them relaxes everybody and they only end up in the bin because of the rich vein of ideas that supersede them on projects. It is nice to have an embarrassment of riches on the walls of our studio.

– We don’t select one-person-per-project. Everybody gets involved in every project. It is important that our whole team understands and feels something for each project. One person will generally take responsibility but the ideas are enriched, the details more original and the designs stronger with everybody having contributed.

– We explore lots of concepts, not less. And we explore them quickly. Nothing accelerates a design process faster than having lots of great ideas that everybody wants to see realised quickly.

– We want more client interaction, not less. The closer and better we can understand the client the better we can capture the essence of who they are and what they stand for. There are no limits on meetings, presentations or modifications. This may sound like financial ruin to some but if our ideas are always strong enough and our intentions good, if the project is specced tightly enough – then we have a winning formula. Finally, it is 6 times easier to win business from an existing client than from a new one.

– We are flexible not rigid with our time. We don’t want to work more but we are willing to work around the clock to better accommodate client needs. This is just common-sense in a more globalised, digitalised world.

– Ideas over positions. Or teamwork over hierarchies. The best ideas always win in our studio, regardless of where they came from and who created them. Client, designer, somebody on work experience, etc… This is an important rule.

– We build on the good and almost ignore the bad. We are relentlessly focussed on finding and building on the good instead of trying to fix every problem. By doing this, the good ideas, trends, visual cues, patterns, etc drown out most problems so that the bad just disappears through lack of energy and focus.

– We go on the attack!! This is a big one! We start with the fantasy element every time. We start with cool ideas, things that are interesting, things that catch the eye and build on them. We are looking for the interesting in the mundane, the elements that are surprising and delightful. Inspiration is the starting point, not problem-solving – although this does come later. By being so focussed on ideas, inspiration and with such a positive energy in the studio – projects almost design themselves.

– We empower!! Don’t be surprised if you are handed a phone and told to just phone the client on your first day! Our people are all capable and responsible! This doesn’t half create some movement and momentum with project delivery.

A positive attitude, good atmosphere, teamwork and quick decision making all help us to create a truly 3D approach to service and design. We don’t always get it right and we are always still learning but for the moment this is how we tackle that conundrum between service, quality and cost. A truly 3-Dimensional Approach.


Benedetto is the founder of the loft, a design and branding agency based in Glasgow.

The loft helps its clients build more effective brand communications and operates in a diverse range of sectors, specialising in technology, packaging design and professional services. The company is proud to include Petroleum Experts, The Wood Group, BenRiach Whisky, The University of West of Scotland and Glasgow City Marketing Bureau amongst its clients.

The loft offers people-centred brand solutions created using imaginative thought processes and delivered with a consistently high-quality and bespoke client service.

The loft is looking beyond traditional creative services and has begun to produce more integrated brand journeys for its clients – tying together disciplines such as digital, social media and customer experience – in addition to sales & marketing to help companies attract and retain customers & staff. Essentially, building a stronger bond between the person and the brand.

The loft was setup with assistance by PSYBT in 2012 and received Growth Funding the following year. Benedetto is the regional ambassador for the Princes Trust in Glasgow and also provides support to other charities including Young Enterprise Scotland, SMART STEMs and MCR Pathways.