Duration: Three years.
Location: New York, New York.
Key creatives: Jolene Delisle, creative director and partner, and Lawrence O’Toole, design director and partner. Prior to forming The Working Assembly, O’Toole had worked for more than fifteen years as a design director for companies including BBH Labs, Google, Interbrand, Momentum Worldwide and Rokkan. Delisle had worked as a creative director for ten years, having created award-winning campaign advertising work at Anomaly, Arnold Worldwide and Mother Design.
Career path: We started The Working Assembly while still working full-time jobs; the name comes from the fact that we were literally working during the day and then assembling projects at night. When we had the opportunity to work with a startup investment group, we quickly realized that if we could take our learnings from big agencies and apply those best practices to small brands, we could make a difference that feels very personal—the startup investment group was so appreciative and excited. Working with entrepreneurs quickly became something we loved; entrepreneurs are passionate and obsessive about what they do, similar to how we feel about design and being creative. That parallel became so much more fulfilling than our day jobs that we realized we needed to formalize our design firm.
Favorite projects: We recently completed a rebrand of MassMutual, which was a huge undertaking for our small studio. Members of the MassMutual team had been working with some pretty large branding agencies, but never could align to a visual direction. They decided to contact our friends at Sunday Dinner, which manages agency orchestration, to identify small branding studios in New York City that would take a fresh approach and process to their rebrand. We worked on the branding project the way many people approach product builds—very agile, with weekly sprints and check-ins to make sure the clients are our partners and collaborators every step of the way. It helped that they felt included in the creative vision; because there was always internal alignment, it gave us the ability to quickly sell the rebrand up to the top.
We love working on projects for small business owners. We want to balance our client roster with big names as well as cool, lesser-known companies and brands founded by passionate, design-oriented people who can benefit from our help. For example, we branded a bakery for Danny Branover, a budding restauranteur who identified that his Crown Heights neighborhood—home to cool hipsters and a large Jewish community—would welcome a kosher bakery. However, he didn’t want his bakery’s kosher status to not feel as progressive or designed as other retailers popping up in the neighborhood; our design helped him achieve his dream of a kosher bakery that could feel like a gathering spot for everyone in the community.
Approach: We obsess over our clients’ businesses, and we love to determine creative ways to drive results. We balance that by being a free-thinking, fun-loving studio. We are boutique by design; we definitely want to have a hands-on approach to our clients’ businesses, and we love to collaborate with them.
Philosophy: We’ve had this Anthony Burrill print on our wall since our first office. It reads, ‘Work hard and be nice to people.’ That encapsulates our ethos really well.