Helen Connolly is a Design Director at BIG little LDN. She lives in Brighton and loves heading down to the beach front to watch the sunset and murmurations. When she isn’t designing, obsessing over fonts (her nicknamed is Helvetica) or looking after her two young children, you can find Helen paddle boarding with a can of gin under the storage straps. Her fear of what lurks in the depths of the sea is the only thing that has kept her from falling off.
I have been a designer unofficially since birth, officially for 19 years. I suppose it started at school. I got an A* in Graphic Design at GCSE before going on to get 15/15 Distinctions in HND Graphic Design, a Visual Communication Degree and an ISP Marketing diploma.
From there, I started as a junior within a marketing agency and made my way up to director working both in the UK and internationally. I’ve been lucky enough to be on the award-winning team multiple times and have set up two studios in Boston and Cape Town was so much fun.
Everything. Design makes me feel alive. I feel grateful to have a job that I love doing so much (sick I know). I also feel empowered by the women I get to work with and the lovely clients that Emma (Our Founder) attracts. I have a lot of agency experience, and in the past, I’ve found client / agency relationships tend to have a bit of friction that can make it unpleasant to work on a particular job. There is something about the makeup of BIG little LDN that seems to have buckled that trend – either that or my luck is finally in.
When people think a new design function downloaded within an app makes you a designer. Design is a skill that is crafted over many years and is one you are continuously honing. While technology has made designing more accessible, designing for marketing isn’t something you can learn overnight.
You can’t always tell good design because it just works, but you’ll notice bad design. It jars and doesn’t talk to its audience in the correct way. That’s where the experience of the person behind the tech really matters. You can be a great artist and create the most moving piece of work, but if it doesn’t cause people to make an action, it’s not ‘good design’.
Everyone’s view of what is good and bad design is different; like choices in the art we hang on our wall. But in marketing, either works or it doesn’t. That is the difference with good or bad design in marketing. How does it communicate with the audience? Does it deliver on its objectives? Does it communicate the right message? I've often come up against opinions about the choice of colour I’ve used or where an icon has been placed and while these opinions are valid, the design has to be looked at objectively against the wider picture. Of course, the design must align with the brand, but it’s our job of experience to give clients confidence that the "shade of green" used is the right one to spur the action we want the audience to take.
Social media changes every day, that’s the biggest challenge to be aware of. You think you have it sussed out in terms of sizes and aspect ratios for different content formats but as quickly as you set it as best practise, a channel update means a new little icon might appear in the top left and totally covers an important element of a post you’ve designed. I love the speed at which social changes, there’s always something new to learn and way in which content can be more engaging and inclusive, however be aware that keeping on top of design for social is a full-time job and brands can no longer afford to be lazy. If you take a 16:9 film for YouTube and stick it on 1:1 square for Instagram or a 9:16 TikTok at best consumers won’t engage with your brand, at worst, they’ll be attracted to one of your competitors who is designing for social, using trending audio and as a result, are playing the algorithms to their advantage and capturing the lion's share of voice.
Colours for screen, make them sing! Screen colours can achieve so much more than other media. Social is a place for fun and vibrancy, we need to exhaust the bright colour palette here people.
Something with my hands, my dad was a tiler (and also laid many fabulous mosaics). I always fancied that although he always said I wouldn't have been able to handle the cold as there was almost never any heating where he worked – he was so right!