We recently spoke with Hannah Duley, Managing Director of Design Bridge and Partners in Hong Kong. The WPP-owned agency group was born from the merger of Design Bridge and Superunion which was first announced in 2022 and officially launched in April of this year with APAC offices additionally in Singapore, Thailand, and China.
Hannah, who was named MD in August of last year, was previously APAC Regional Innovation Director at Ogilvy as part of a career journey that has seen her weave together experiences across brand communications, technology, and design.
Over the course of our conversation, she talks about her first year as MD at Design Bridge and Partners, twenty years living in Hong Kong, the powerful lessons she learned recovering from a serious car accident, her take on the continuing growth of Generative AI, and more.
You’ve had experience across branding, communications, technology, and design which helps you to “create and then dismantle brand visions to develop a roadmap of work.” Tell us more about that.
Businesses are always trying to grow. By nature, this is challenging, with fragmentation and questions around which audiences, products or services will best support this growth. There is also the challenge of brand fatigue and maintaining relevancy over time.
“If the vision is large enough, which it should be, this will never be achieved in just one project or one year – it will require sustained effort and initiatives to drive the desired growth. This is why the roadmap is equally as important as the vision itself.”
In order to manage these difficulties, brands must identify a clear and distinct long-term “ideal state”, to understand the direction of travel. Once this is established, a roadmap of work can then be developed that will get the business from A to B, which will include a distinctive brand strategy, audience strategy, product/service strategy, and marketing strategy.
If the vision is large enough, which it should be, this will never be achieved in just one project or one year – it will require sustained effort and initiatives to drive the desired growth. This is why the roadmap is equally as important as the vision itself.
Having now logged your first year as MD at Design Bridge and Partners Hong Kong, how’s it going, and what’s keeping you busy lately?
It has been an incredible first year. I joined during a period of huge growth for us, and we of course recently merged two businesses to create Design Bridge and Partners. This has been an exciting time and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to help shape this transition.
Looking at how we can bring our enhanced capabilities and expanded geographical presence to our clients has been a priority, and within my role as the Global HSBC Client Lead I have also focused a lot on how we streamline and strengthen the brand globally.
Having worked in Hong Kong for the past few years, what is it about the city that inspires you?
I’ve lived in Hong Kong for twenty years in total now, having first moved here when I was two years old. It has been my home (on and off) for most of my life. There is a grit and vibrancy to Hong Kong that you cannot find elsewhere.
It’s a city that has great accessibility and hardly any limitations on how to spend your time. Hong Kong gives me the luxury of being able to juggle my responsibilities and hobbies as a single mum, having a career, playing sports and travelling.
“I’ve lived in Hong Kong for twenty years in total now, having first moved here when I was two years old. It has been my home (on and off) for most of my life. There is a grit and vibrancy to Hong Kong that you cannot find elsewhere.”
You had a serious car accident that led to a period of learning to talk again and rebuild working memory. Can you tell us how that affected the way you approach life now?
My car accident came at a critical time in my life where I had no choice but to give up what I loved most. Recovery was difficult and it took about four years in total. However, this gave me the opportunity to start over and rebuild based on what I valued the most.
Having gone through that experience, I now prioritise my time based on what brings the most fulfilment to my family’s life. I learnt a tough but valuable lesson – there is no joy or reward in living your life for other people.
Generative AI is a hot topic across the creative communications industry. What’s your take, and what role will it play in the work that you’re doing?
I’ve been working with generative tools for many years now to help enhance marketing solutions. There are some key challenges that they can be helpful with, including personalisation at scale, real time optimisation and infinite assets.
Generative AI can enable businesses to be more efficient in spend and more effective in connecting with audiences.
What is some campaign work you’ve worked on in your career that you are most proud of?
I’d say my passion comes first and foremost from solving business challenges. I’m very proud of our team in Hong Kong, with the multitude of personalities, nationalities, strong opinions and immense talent it contains. We focus on using the power of design to create real change for our incredible clients, including the likes of Shangri-La, HSBC, HKEX, China Duty Free, and Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu.
What can we expect from Design Bridge and Partners Hong Kong in the future?
As an agency that leverages design-based methodology, we will continue to work with businesses to develop strategic solutions (delivered through strong brand and product ideas), elevate business offerings and support growth. We will also continue to look at the role that technology, sustainability and accessibility plays within our work, evolving our offerings and enhancing client partnerships.
- Book everyone in the industry should read: I’m a terrible reader!
- Favorite show you’re watching lately: Outside of work I steer away from screens, and towards nature.
- One album you would take to a deserted island: Adele, 25
- Something you want to learn or wish you were better at: Languages, in particular Cantonese.