• Transform magazine
  • September 26, 2022

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Designing for good, change from the inside out

Thumbnail Profile Photo Amber Bonney B+W

Amber Bonney is the founder and head of strategy at Melbourne-based The Edison Agency. She discusses the creation of her branding agency, how it remains committed to transforming and inspiring, and why it is worth embracing change in this industry.

We were born from curiosity and tenacity.

As an agency founder who never sits still, I am driven by the pursuit of change. I like new things. I enjoy tackling big problems and using design thinking to solve them.

In 2022 as I sit staring down the barrel of post-middle age boredom, I find myself seeking out new ways to bring meaning into my life and practise. Meaning. Purpose. Enjoyment. They seem quite simple really, but the truth is achieving all three takes gusto, planning and commitment. And when the world feels like it’s in a washing machine of heartache, drama, war and the Kardashians, a cycle of negativity, vanity and cynicism – remembering why we create, what we seek to change and how to have fun seems like a lot to process.   

Since opening our doors in 2011, we have invested time, energy, and knowledge into building connections with our community – the people, employees, clients and industry peers and it’s these ties that have helped shape who we are today and the type of projects we have the privilege of working on.

I, and we (Edison), believe that good design should transform and inspire. Bring hope, shine a light, create surprise, support growth, rejuvenate and, most importantly, create positive change. Creativity is a superpower and we intend on using it to have impact and achieve a balance between profit, people and planet - we are hoping that in the coming months an official B Corp Certification will recognise this effort. Fingers and toes crossed.

As expert thinkers, makers, hustlers, writers and innovators, we have the great gift of curiosity and our brains work freely to solve problems, connect, ask questions and listen without prejudice. During the early stages of the global Covid-19 pandemic, I capitalised on Melbourne’s dark lock-down periods, to reflect and embrace the wine-induced, slipper-wearing introspection mist. What are we really doing? How can we make it better? What work do we love? Why do we enjoy doing this together? What is the sum of all these parts that makes this a business worth believing in?

While I may have founded the business, that was just the start of the journey. The team, in all of their collective wisdom and individual curiosities, are really who have built the business and the reason our clients come back and new people connect. As a for-profit purpose-led branding agency, we talk about “using transformative design to create positive change for people, brands and organisations.”, you can find that on our website, on our onboarding documents and in our credentials.  Our ambitions for growth are to increase our impact through bold, kind, and ethical business practises that inspire industry change and foster an open minded, curious and collaborative culture.

Why is this important? A lot of what branding is today is creating the right idea of the brand in the minds of employees, just as much as in the minds of consumers. And so, it feels like my personal introspection and working “on the business” has helped shape how we help other businesses. While it is true that this is not a new revelation, the idea that an employee is your biggest advocate is now more pressing than ever. As a business owner and leader, it’s my job to define the future for my brand - to focus on what can change and what needs to stay the same.

In my 24 years of experience in consumer branding across nearly every industry sector, I see that fear can prevent brands from actioning change. It can be a delicate tango, if you don’t change you can die a slow irrelevant death (I see this happen often). If you change too much you can also become obsolete because what has made you distinctive is no longer recognizable to your audience. The truth is change is a certainty. Positive change is the outcome of deliberate choices - both strategic planning and good intentions in a melting pot that drives action.

With spring upon us in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s now the time to rejuvenate your brand or business and rethink why you exist, what are you advocating for and why that matters to your people, customers and community.

I have a passion for good design and am committed to designing for good!