Welcome Lawrence, our new Innovation & Strategy Director

We’re delighted to announce that Lawrence Alexander has joined the DS.E team as our new Innovation & Strategy Director. He brings with him over 20 years of experience in communication and marketing, having worked with over 100 well-known high street brands.

We caught up with Lawrence to find out more about his kindness-first philosophy and why he’s the perfect person to help develop brands and campaigns that are good for everyone…

Tell us a little bit about your career history to date.

Originally, I worked in the law enforcement industry. I was a private investigator for three years before becoming a criminal investigator. The job was entirely focussed on analysing the facts and looking for the truth so I needed to keep an objective viewpoint. My job essentially involved looking at information to discover how someone behaves, something that resonates strongly with my role in marketing.

Your education was in Peace Studies (conflict resolution). How does this skill transfer to marketing?

Good marketing satisfies the creative need, the clients’ needs and the consumers’ needs. My job is finding the middle ground. These three groups often don’t speak the same language and often they don’t seem to speak at all. It’s my job to ‘broker a deal’ that satisfies everyone.

Give us your most interesting marketing stat?

1 in 3 households have or plan to have a voice assistant, like Amazon’s Alexa. That’s three times more people than catch a bus.

What marketing jargon annoys you most?

‘Millennial’. Just the word, not the people.

The problem is it just spans far too many people – how can marketers possibly be expected to create a campaign that reaches out to every single person born between 1977-1994?

It’s frustrating when people in the marketing industry create new words for things that already exist. One company offers an e-newsletter, while the other offers an e-mailer. New terminology is designed to confuse people, when all consumers want is a transparent way to fairly compare services.

Which brand do you think represents you best, and why?

Microsoft – not the most popular but always very useful.

What’s the future of marketing? How can we expect to see brands growing and evolving in the next few years?

The future of marketing is no different to how the history of marketing has been for thousands of years. Our job is still to attract attention and to sell stuff.

The way to do this now is to really understand people and their behaviour in order to influence them. People are more complicated than stereotypical demographics and now, maybe more than ever, people are aware of the differences between others and themselves. As marketers, we need to learn to respect those differences and treat people as the rich and complex beings they are.

What trends should we be thinking about?

Well-being is changing the world. It’s our new innovation and people are becoming more and more aware of it. Well-being is being naturally integrated into education so upcoming generations are equipped to openly discuss their feelings and emotional responses; the impact that will have on our society will be phenomenal.

Customers will start to take notice of how much emotional, physical and financial effort they’ll have to put into engaging with a business. It won’t be long before customers start leaving brands behind because they’re too much effort. It will probably start with something simple, like unfollowing your Instagram channel because it makes them feel pressured into buying things but could lead to brands being given effort scores by consumers. If ‘EffortAdvisor’ existed, do you know what people would say about your business?

What defines ‘innovation’?

Creating something new, and effective that eventually becomes integrated into the everyday. Something new, or something effective, isn’t good enough on its own. However, once it gets taken up by people, that’s when (for me) it falls into the category of innovation.

How will you implement innovation at DS.Emotion and for its clients?

I’ll start by asking the question; what do we need to do to broker a deal between developers, residents and communities in order to create successful places? Once we have that list of to-dos we’ll start introducing new ways of getting them done.

What attracted you to work for DS.Emotion?

I want to make a positive difference to day-to-day lives by helping developers, residents and communities agree on what positive change looks like. Places play such a big part in all our lives, an agency dedicated to making successful places seemed like the perfect fit.

How can we go beyond for our clients?

By being the experts they need us to be. That means (as Einstein said) being able to simply explain what makes a place successful and (as WE Deming said) having a process for doing it.

If you could choose one dream client, who would you choose?

Leeds as a brand. The city doesn’t have a clear brand proposition or a connected, cohesive community at the moment. I’d like to be part of the team that turns Leeds into a positive, successful place. It definitely can be done – there’s just work to be done.

What is your working process?

Discuss. Decide. Do. Data. Deliver.

What inspires your ideas?

I’ve always been inspired by William Morris’ advice to “have nothing in your house that you don’t know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. But I’d like to take it a bit further by saying have nothing in your life that you don’t know to be useful AND beautiful. I want a place, whether that’s a corporate office or a community park, to be beautiful and useful. Form and function aren’t mutually exclusive: in fact, they often make perfect partners.

Introduce yourself to our newest member of the team

Do you have a project you’d like to discuss with Lawrence? Get in touch to arrange a meeting with our inspirational innovation specialist.