A time for reflection and reconnection

Does anyone remember what they were doing on September 15, 2008? I do. I was in a motel on the outskirts of Westport Connecticut, preparing to move to the US to launch the NYC office of a company I worked for and loved, when news of the global financial crisis, triggered by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy officially hit the world.

By Patrick Guerrera, CEO

Nov 2021

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In a moment, everything changed.

I went from the excitement of a new adventure, to an overwhelming feeling of isolation. The life I knew and everything that made sense and made me feel secure, seemed to disappear in an instant. In short, I felt disconnected in the most unsettling of ways.

But just as the initial shock had begun to settle, I got a call. It was an offer to come back to Australia to start a brand agency for the M&C Saatchi Group with two incredible flagship clients as my sign-on gift. 5 weeks later (after a spree of interviews) I was appointed as MD of the business and was submerged into an incredible culture brimming with ideas, characters and opportunity. That eerie motel room in Westport quickly became a very distant memory.

Fast forward to December 2021, a little over 13 years later, and I’m grateful to say that I’m a million miles away from that motel room in Westport and the beginnings of that crisis. But whilst I’m at home with my husband (I say home, it’s actually anything but – lockdown renovations and temporary accommodations are not fun), the around-the-clock Zoom calls with our Sydney, London and US teams, on top of the ever changing COVID-related restrictions, has meant that the unsettling feeling of disconnection has returned. I’ve felt disconnected from friends, family, colleagues, the noise and rhythm of the studio, the casual interactions of everyday life, and the serenity of the beach. Basically all of the important things that ‘normality’ makes us take for granted. I’m sure you feel the same.

It’s in these difficult moments however, that my purpose, and ultimately the purpose of Re, has become crystal clear. I, and the team I’m fortunate enough to work with, exist to help people, organisations, and cultures find a way to rebuild and renew. We use design to create and strengthen connections. And we use creativity to shape a positive future for all. It’s in our DNA.

To put it simply, we at Re do one thing. We design to connect. It’s what we’ve always done, and it’s what we’ll always do.

In recent years design has emerged as a field capable of addressing highly complex and often intangible problems that eclipse traditional solutions. And it’s this potential of design – it’s ability to connect (or reconnect), to provide pathways, hope, emotional engagement ­– that has informed our own business transformation.

We design to connect.

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Today, we shed our legacy as a global brand agency, and become a business sharply focused on the power of design and its ability to remove ambiguity, complexity and ultimately isolation. Design should inspire connection and our move from re.agency to re.design is a signal of our intent.  

The traditional rebrand exercise that is synonymous with our industry just isn’t cutting it for organisations that are seeking to stand out, reconnect and scale at speed. Our clients, both new and old, want stronger connections across every part of their organisation. They want (and need) the promises their organisation makes to its customers to resonate with their employees and they want every touchpoint and experience to ladder back to what they stand for. Design is the glue that sticks every layer of an organisation together so that everything from C-Suite to shop floor feels...you guessed it, connected. 

We call our approach ‘full-stack design’ and our new offer has seen us recently attract global tech businesses including Skyscanner in the UK and online education giant Imagine Learning in the US to name but two. 

As I reflect on the work we’ve done during the pandemic alone, I’m energised by the breadth and variety of projects we’ve been fortunate to influence. Everything from service design and digital products, sustainability strategies, sonic branding, broadcast and set design, employee experiences, experiential design for festivals and exhibitions, not to mention refreshing visual identities for some of the world’s biggest organisations. The diversity of these challenges is testament to the strength and importance of designing to connect. I’m immensely proud of our amazingly talented people who have not only stretched our capabilities, but who also value the power of meaningful connections. 

We’re fortunate enough to have grown (40+ hires globally this year alone), and it’s the strength of our connections that have protected our creative fire and vision. Led globally by our two outstanding Executive Creative Directors Darren Bowles and Andy Thomas, our creative, experience design, strategy, program management and operational teams are ready to deliver a new era of design thinking, custom built for this new world as it tries to emerge from this crisis. What you see in our new home, re.design, is a flavour of what we and our clients are about and we are excited to share more going forward.

I’m Patrick Guerrera, we’re Re, and we design to connect.

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