Jones Knowles Ritchie: Good Design Makes Life Better

In the evolving landscape of branding and design, Jones Knowles Ritchie (JKR) holds a distinctive place, creating experiences that range from revitalizing established corporations to enriching local businesses. With a keen eye for detail and a strong focus on solving challenges, the team members at JKR bring a passion for making life better through good design. The upcoming Q&A provides valuable insights into the agency’s core values, strategic approaches, and the unique creativity that sets them apart. Within the world of JKR, design serves as more than just visual appeal—it acts as a powerful agent for change.

Introduction by Eddie Revis CMO, Magnolia Bakery

What is your role and responsibilities at JKR?

Lisa Smith (L.S.), Executive Creative Director Global, JKR: As ECD Global, I work across our offices in New York, London, and Shanghai, focusing on clients that are going through change and need to be reimagined for the future. I’m committed to building diverse teams from all over the world to answer creative briefs and build the agency’s capabilities to create the most distinctive design across the full experience.

Sandra Peat (S.P.), Strategy Partner, JKR: At JKR, I lead London Strategy and build distinctive brands for our clients. My superpower is my ability to elevate out of the detail and see the bigger picture. I create innovative solutions to difficult branding challenges. I build IP that draws from my broad range of experience across Insight, Branding, Design, Communications, PR and Experience. My solutions are agnostic. I am relentlessly people-focused, whether that be consumers, clients, or colleagues.

Greg Althoff (G.A), Design Director, JKR: I’m a Design Director at JKR, collaborating with iconic brands and honing my skills in strategic design and brand identity development. I have contributed to award-winning work for Kraft Mac and Cheese, Tide, Capri Sun, and Lunchables, among others, leaving a lasting impact on the industry.

What is it about design that you’re passionate about?

L.S.: I love that good design can make life better and more pleasurable for everybody. It’s not elitist, you can design something as everyday as a newspaper, a doctor’s booking form, a map to find your way around a museum, a yogurt cup taken from the supermarket to your fridge at home and bring it to life in a way people haven’t experienced before. A good example of this is JKR’s work with Burger King, where we set out to create a brand identity and experience that looked as good as it tastes, even if it only costs a few dollars to buy. I’ve always believed that the quality of design should never go down just because the price of the product does; everyone deserves to experience great design.

Who among your contemporaries today do you most admire?

L.S.: I was lucky enough to cross paths with Marina Willer, graphic designer and filmmaker at Wolff Olins, very briefly before she left to become a partner at Pentagram. I have always loved and admired the brand identity projects like the Tate Modern and Macmillan Cancer Support that she led. Only recently did I get to meet Morag Myerscough, whom I’ve been a longtime fangirl. From her commercial work and partnerships with Cartlidge Levene on the Barbican way, to the present-day art and community installation projects she’s done like at Hadrian’s Wall, I’ve always admired the approach she takes to her work. Both women are wickedly talented, hugely prolific, and have brought their own point of view to design which is often filled with color and imagination.

What is the most difficult challenge you’ve had to overcome?

S.P.: The most difficult challenge I’ve had to overcome was being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022. There’s nothing like an existential crisis to put any work worries or life woes into perspective. It has made me grateful for my life and the amazing relationships and opportunities I’ve been fortunate enough to experience.

What professional goals do you still have for yourself?

S.P.: So many! I am very interested in using my leadership skills for a wider impact. I also want to continue to work with my clients to land brand solutions that have a positive impact on the planet. And, in an ideal world, I’d love to write a book. I have had a book idea for the last couple of years but haven’t ever managed to turn it into reality. Maybe this will be the year!

What do you value most?

G.A.: I operate on the idea that none of us are a finished product, so I value commitment to real growth both personally and for our company and clients. That means not only caring and having ambition, but also the grit that is necessary when growth is uncomfortable.

What interests do you have outside of your work?

G.A.: I’ve been spending a lot of time messing with Midjourney and ChatGPT, to see what’s possible with these tools, what they can do, and how they can increase our ability to get to more interesting ideas, faster. Making visuals with no real purpose beyond my own amusement, such as poorly made mascot costumes, takes me back to being a kid who fell in love with making things.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

G.A.: I find that I am happiest when I stay centered in the present as much as humanly possible. That means getting everything out of what’s directly in front of me. So, I am not sure where I see myself in the future beyond trying to collect as many interesting experiences as possible.

Jones Knowles Ritchie is a design-led creative company. Founded in 1990, they are over 300 strong, with offices in London, New York, and Shanghai. They offer design and strategy teams working hand in hand across their offices to ensure clear and relevant market knowledge, as well as a full raft of services from trends to innovation and from visual brand identity to brand architecture review.

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Author: Graphis