Insight / Inspiration / Opinion

How being different can make you a better designer

Having a diverse team of people is extremely important in a design and branding agency, but why? How will that impact the business, the work we do and the relationships with clients? Well I know better than anyone. Exactly four years ago I packed my bags and left my Latvian hometown for this country. It has been a while and even though I fully merged myself into British life, I can still feel the influence from my Eastern European roots.

I was born in a post-soviet environment and that defined the way I see things, the way I think and perceive the world. There were certain rules of life that everyone had to follow in the USSR in order to live long and conflict-free. For instance, everyone had to be on the same level, none must stand out. Every form of art was regulated so If you were a creative person and you wanted people to see your art, you could only express yourself according to the rules, not the way you wanted. Although the regime only lasted for 70 years, it imprinted to generations ahead of it’s time, including me and my family. So here it is my first difference from everyone else: the way my mind works is that it has to follow the rules. The main thing I had to learn being a creative here in the UK is that I have to be open-minded and stop following a traditional approach to things. But at the same time it’s useful for me to have my own opinion based on my original values. That lets me look at every project we do from two different perspectives: the “British me” and the “the original me” and make my decision on what feels right.


Being raised in Latvia meant that I was connected with nature and wildlife very closely. The so called “Freedom to roam” was natural in my environment so I got my main inspiration and life energy from the wild nature such as forests, lakes, beaches and sea. When I was developing my first photography portfolio I was mainly working outside, tried going to the countryside and if I had to stay in town, it would be parks that I was exploring. Moving here meant losing a great part of accessing the wilderness so I had to adapt to it, learn to get inspiration from other sources. British weather meant I had to get my inspiration being indoors, open my mind to the experiments. This situation taught me flexibility in life in general and in my approach to work. I learnt that it doesn’t matter where you are, you can always find things that inspire you, things that move you forward.

When you are 19 and you spent your whole life in one place, it’s mentally challenging to leave everything behind and step into unknown. I had to learn to do everything myself, reach out to people, figure out how to do things in this new environment. That made me independent overnight, I had no one to rely on. This meant I had to be more organised and strict to myself in order to achieve something in the place where nobody knew me. As a result of this, I became more self-critical not only in general about myself, but about my work as well. There is always room for improvement and I shouldn’t settle for something average, it has to be nearly perfect. This approach naturally influences the projects I do, my creative process and brings out attention to details.



Above I mentioned only key differences of working with diversity of people from different countries. Here the main points are again: different perspective and opinion on life and certain aspects of life, flexibility of approach to work, a different creative process and general independence. This contributes to healthy work environment of any creative agency, bringing both diversity and fresh perspectives on projects.

Insight / Inspiration

Are we killing creativity?

WITH UK creative industries contributing a staggering £76.9billion to the economy – growing  by almost 10 per cent year-on-year – the need for a regular flow of fresh talent has never been more important. But, with the educational system often putting pressure on youngsters to focus on core subjects, and not to make any mistakes along the way, exactly how do we ensure they develop all their talents, and make the most of their more creative abilities?
Warran Brindle, Founder and Director of design by country, explains why the next influx of creative thinkers and designers need to be encouraged from an early age to identify, nurture and develop their abilities and talents in order to fully shine in the future.
He stresses the need to develop creativity and not stigmatise those whose talents do not lie in purely academic subjects.    
He says: “It’s certainly an exciting time for the country’s creative industry. Now more than ever we are realising the scale of its impact on business as a whole. Because recent statistics highlight that it’s the fastest growing sector – and that it shows no sign of slowing down any time soon – we have a huge opportunity to welcome the next  generation in to take part in this success. However, the issue as a result of this positive trend is that we face the very real chance of a skills shortage across the whole sector, as well as a knock-on effect on others.
“Creative abilities can’t be compared to skills across other traditional sectors such as manufacturing, financial or legal, where individuals gain the relevant qualifications, experience and knowledge so that they can provide a matter-of-fact service or end result. Creativity is something that can’t easily be accurately measured or recorded.
“We need to make sure that there is ample opportunity for those with creative talents to train and be channelled to the jobs where they will shine and make a real difference. Although schools and colleges offer more access to technology than ever before, and from a young age, we have to be careful that this doesn’t stifle original thinking and unusual ideas.
“It’s important that education is not simply learning, retaining information, and duplicating ideas in order to pass exams. Not all people come from the same backgrounds, or can learn in the same way, or at the same pace.
Ken Robinson, a renowned speaker, recorded a very inspiring TED talk focused on ‘How Schools Kill Creativity’, describing how creativity is now as important in education as literacy.
“The way he puts it is, if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. But as people grow up and learn to be and act like an adult in an adult-driven world, making mistakes is often not an option – in fact, it’s considered hugely embarrassing – and as a result this mindset that they had as youngsters can be narrowed and diluted – and that’s a terrifying thought.
“On the whole, I think that we still have a long way to go in terms of the education we’re providing to the next generation. Degrees don’t guarantee jobs in the same sector that’s been studied. Dropping out of school doesn’t necessarily mean that opportunities will never be available. There is a blinkered focus on what children could or should achieve from life. But in order to make sure tomorrow’s generation brings a plethora of unique and original ideas and talents to the table, we need to encourage them to be themselves and not grow up too fast  – or even at all in some ways.
“We have a huge opportunity to develop the next generation of creative thinkers and for  these skills to be transferred across diverse industries – from architectural, design, and theatrical, to entertainment, lifestyle and tourism – we just need to collectively work together on inspiring and encouraging creativity today.”
Email warran@designbycountry to find out more about how we use creativity to transform brands and businesses.
Branding / Events / Inspiration / News

Warran gives a Founders for Schools talk on living brands

I was lucky enough to be asked by Smestow Secondary School in Wolherhampton to talk to some of their year x students about branding and running your own business.
© design by country Ltd