As a dozen eggs has developed and taken on more designers, Fran’s role has shifted from purely design work into the role of a managing director. Frances enjoys the finer things in life, and as such her taste is impeccable. She is great at developing visions for businesses, giving them direction and identity. We’ve asked Fran a few questions to find out what makes her tick.
Frances, why did you decide to become a designer?
Much to my Dad’s disappointment – he quite fancied me as a nuclear submarine commander – I decided design was for me. I enjoy the flexibility, the complexities of verbal communication and my inability to relax when things are typeset badly!
I am not entirely sure when the decision was actually made. At school I was always more interested in human geography – why people do what they do. But, I had less interest in observing patterns of human behaviour and more interest in the details of the nudges. So, design felt like an ideal direction, but it was only after graduating that I realised how fascinating branding is!
I think most of the decisions around the ‘why’ has been a process of elimination, and a determination to always enjoy my job, and therefore not following a path I’m not keen on.
Has there been a person or event that majorly influenced how you think?
Yes and no! I struggle to read business books, or popular economics / physiology books. I tend to always enjoy the main thread of the book, but find it difficult to read the black and white conclusions. In order for the books to sell, they need to be making an overarching point. However, the fact that we tend to distill our complex world into a series of statements infuriates me. But, I always enjoy reading about the academic studies that highlight human behaviours – just not the concluding points.
What is your strongest skill, and what habits helped you develop it?
The skill I employ most often is the ability to think on my feet. Problem solving is one of the aspects of my job I enjoy the most, especially with clients. However, although I love detail and logical processes I am much more likely to make decisions based on the available information and if it feels ’80% correct’. Working with such a range of clients, and being able to evaluate decision making has meant this skill has definitely been honed over time!
Do you have a favourite type of brief or project to work on?
If the project is complex, and I’m not sure of the answer – then it has my full attention! I like grappling with an idea, and in my ideal world testing and iterating on that idea until the solution is as good as it can be. All branding projects involve people – there are no straight forward answers, you are dealing with feelings, stereotypes and assumptions. Whilst you can measure how users interact with websites, and whether a marketing campaign proved financially successful – measuring ‘brand’ is so much harder.
Communicating to people is difficult – you can make mistakes, you encounter the unexpected and peoples short term priorities can change overnight. Brand shouldn’t therefore be left alone – it needs to be honed and developed upon over time.
What is sparking your interest right now, and how is that appearing in your work?
I love research! Digging into a subject area and pulling together a range of thoughts and options about it. At the moment I’m looking into personas, and how the concept can be utilised on projects without a huge research spend. I am hoping to bring together a brand toolkit – a selection of tools that makes brand strategy easier for businesses. I love projects that sow into the future of a dozen eggs, rather than always concentrating on the now.
What are you into besides your work?
I tend to spend most of my non-work time relaxing with a book, reading the paper, drinking coffee or seeing friends and family – although I spend far too much time in my car driving up and down the country. I find switching off fairly easy, but am hopeless when it comes to hobbies. ‘Organised fun’ and having to be somewhere at the same time every week fills me with dread. I’d much rather be spontaneous, or at least have a varied calendar!
Frances, Tell us the best advice you’ve heard that you always pass on.
I think its only the students I teach that are subject to my repetitive questions!
I will never be someone who posts a quote on instagram in a cursive font with a beautiful seascape behind. Don’t get me wrong – I have an opinion on pretty much everything, and will share with anyone who will listen, but it tends to be on the spur of the moment without a huge amount of forethought!