This week, we are coming with the fruits of a conversation with Abb-d Taiyo , a Founder and Director at a digital agency and B Corp, Driftime® Media. We are unpacking the industry's approach to change and what it takes to create meaningful shifts for sustainable digital design.
Hello Abb-d, very nice having you here today. Let's start with an introduction about yourself to our readers, tell us a little bit about your experience and background.
My name is Abb-d Tayio, and I have been in the design field myself for about 20 years now. I am the Co-founder of Driftime Media, which is a sustainable digital design company. We have been running this business for nearly seven years with a team of six people. But, we tend to flex our team out based on the level of impact we're trying to create.
We often partner with other experts depending on the projects and objectives. We work exclusively within the three pillars of sustainability: social, environmental, and economic impact.
We are continuously seeking to understand how digital design, strategy, and storytelling can play a meaningful role in creating long-term impact through our client partners and our relationships.
Both my partner and I come from an agency background Before setting up Driftime. We have previously worked with major global clients and great budgets. But, at some point, we hit a point of saturation, where we realized that our work was not solving any challenges. We came to realize that design should have more responsibility and should do good in the world.
Driftime media was established in 2016, tell us about how it started and how you reflect on the past few years.
We set up the company wanting to be purpose-driven before it was a popular term. Back then we didn't know what it meant though. We would have conversations and potentially work with clients based on whether their mission and work felt meaningful.
The first few years of running a business, it was very ambient. We posed questions like: are our clients trying to create good in the world? do they feel like a good fit? And that's how we judged it. Fast forward seven years, we have put a lot more processes in place. We have now gotten better at measuring impact, gaining perspective, and understanding where our control and our influence can be.
The more experience we gained, the more focused we got on the aspects we do well and have a lot of control over, mainly in digital strategy and storytelling.
Looking at your mission and the projects you work with, you mention an interesting statement saying: “a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit”. We are curious about how you currently achieve it.
We do currently achieve it through a series of conversations. It's just a case of changing the mindset to shift from being short-term to long-term and redefining values. The idea of purpose must be tied to profit.
It has to be sustainable on all fronts from an impact standpoint, and also from a financial standpoint. So, we look for ways to help redefine what success looks like and change it from being more profit-driven to rather be people and planet focused.
Using that, the financial aspect comes as a natural knock-on effect to it. The challenge is balancing those aspects because as soon as you shift from being short-term to long-term you start to foster a different mindset.
Let's think of it more in terms of advocacy rather than trying to constantly get new people to come in and buy whatever it is. Let's treat the people that are already part of the ecosystem very well to the point that they are happy and able to recommend it.
What are the best practices to attract clients that align with your values?
Transparency. That's all we do. We are very clear about who we want to work with and who we don't want to work with. It's pretty much that.
Do you ever come across clients who would challenge or push against your approach, and how do you deal with that?
All the time. Well, we just have meaningful conversations and we ask the right questions. The pushback is typically in relation to the fear of change. So, it's always because they don't know, or they don't understand. All you have to do is justify your reasoning and why it could be a good idea. Then, you have to create an environment that fosters the feeling of failure not being a bad thing.
We don't always know and can't always 100% guarantee that this is going be a wild success. But, we have a good idea of what could lead towards it and create meaningful long-term impact. So, you have to be willing to try things out that no one's ever tried before.
We are trying to create new standards in the industry, which you are not seeing with bigger brands. Bigger companies actually have a lot more resources in order to enforce shifts, but not acting towards real significant change.
Do you think the change in these bigger companies/ brands in the industry happens top-down, or bottom-up?
That's a very good question. At least from our experience at the moment, it's bottom up because the bigger companies that own a structure are not so ambitious. They are happy to just carry on as is because in their minds if it isn't broken, we don't have to fix it.
However, I think bigger companies are now starting or willing to collaborate more. It used to be that big companies will always go for the big agencies rather than smaller ones like us. Now, as we start to carve out innovative ways of designing, and using these best practices, they start to listen.
As an individual designer, where can you get engaged in the sustainability and conscious design conversation?
I have a perfect answer to this: Its Design Declares!
We set up the declaration, it's a growing community of people that want to do good in the world and want to create more sustainable design. We focus on four core areas of design: industrial, digital, communication, and service. We have put together eight declarations that act as guiding principles and we've put a very comprehensive toolkit together.
That's probably one of the best places you can go right now, design declares.com, sign up, It's all free!