Our Rise breakfast events return to London this autumn. Next up, Crowd DNA’s Roberta Graham and Laura Boerboom offer a guide to semiotics and how we use it to ignite our culturally-charged superpowers...

Date: September 20

Time: 8.15am-9am

Location: Crowd DNA, 5 Lux Building, 2-4 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NU

There’s important meaning to be found in all aspects of culture. But what about in the smaller interactions and behaviours – or the actual words, textures and sounds – that shape our world? Significant meaning, it turns out, often gets overlooked within the layers.

Our new set of consultative services – Futures, Semiotics & Listening – helps ensure that nothing of cultural significance is missed. Each approach kits us out with different ways to decode culture and unlock the meaning inside, well, everything.

But what exactly is semiotics? And how does it connect back to real business challenges?

In our next Rise event, we’ll demystify the methodology, before exploring how we use it to identify white spaces, pinpoint cultural futures and prepare brands for new markets. We’ll talk through how we’ve deployed semiotics to execute fresh positionings; help update packaging and products; inspire and provide toolkits for creative strategies; and, ultimately, how we use it to reach new levels of culturally-charged advantage for our clients.  

If you’d like to ‘decode’ semiotics, please join us for coffee, croissants and a guide to this exciting methodology. Contact Pauline Rault to come along – and feel free to pass this invite on to colleagues too.

Watch the trailer below:

Busy times at Crowd DNA - meaning we’re also getting busy on the recruitment front, with these roles to fill in our lovely Hoxton Square office in London...

We openings across specialisms such as strategic insight, quantitative research, project management, creative delivery and social listening.  Here’s an overview of each role.

Associate Director – strategic insights (circa £52,000-£57,000)

We’re seeking a skilled and strategically-minded insight specialist to design and lead projects across categories such as alcohol, retail, fashion, FMCG and media. You’ll need to show proof of experience at all points from proposal writing, to managing the complexities of global work and providing impactful outputs that drive change. Reporting in to our strategic insights directors, you will have line management responsibilities and the license to develop new ideas and lead some of our most exciting commissions.

Senior Consultant – quant & analytics (circa £38,000-42,000)

We’re looking for a confident addition to our quant and analytics team to get hands on with leading projects from start to finish. You’ll need to demonstrate a flair for creative project design, experience in multi-market studies, and a passion for integrating quant and qual work. Solid segmentation experience and a track record of using advanced analytics such as max diff and conjoint is a plus. Reporting in to our quant and analytics director, besides leading projects, you’ll have the opportunity to sharpen your commercial skills, preparing proposals and working on business development.

Consultant – strategic insights, German language capabilities (circa £30,000-£32,000

An opportunity to join our strategic insights team, collaborating on cultural understanding briefs for clients across multiple categories. We’re looking for someone with circa two years experience (most likely in a similar agency environment), good exposure to clients and, in this instance, who comes with high level German language capabilities.

Exec/Consultant – strategic insights, with social listening skills (£23,000-£32,000)

You will get to work across strategic insights projects in a host of ways – desk research, trends analysis, workshops – but you’ll come armed with particular skills in using social media platforms – Brandwatch preferred, with an aptitude for using it to get to both data-led stories and as means to visual analysis. You will therefore get to develop the ‘Crowd DNA way’ of using social listening, with cultural sensibilities to the fore.

Project Producer – project management skills (£23,000-£32,000)

Demonstrable project management skills are vital here, as you’ll play a pivotal role in designing and running projects, with touchpoints including liaising with clients, suppliers and, of course, Crowd DNA’s in-house team. You don’t necessarily need experience in insight and strategy environments – more a track record in ensuring projects run smoothly; managing timelines, sourcing costs, allocating resource etc. Any form of recruitment (experts, artists, influencers) or casting experience is a plus.

Exec – Socialise creative team (circa £23,000)

We’re looking for someone who definitely comes with good film experience (bonus points if you’re au fait with Canon film kit and Adobe Creative Suite), but who’s also keen to extend themselves across different creative areas – photography, trends analysis, designing mixed media outputs and generally working in an environment where enabling brands to get to grips with cultural change is key.

All roles come with great benefits (betterment scheme, training, sabbatical, company lunches and days out, flexi hours etc); the chance to work on some of the most stimulating and culturally-driven projects out there; and the opportunity to progress in an exciting and progressive business. To find out more info about a particular role, or to apply (attaching a CV and covering letter), please get in touch with Dr Matilda Andersson.

Interning @ Crowd DNA

We spoke to three of our intern-turned-employees about their journeys at Crowd DNA, and what they got from an initial placement with us...

Internships at Crowd DNA have nothing to do with making tea. We offer hands-on placements to people at all stages in their careers; giving aspiring researchers, creatives and strategists a chance to learn more about cultural insight work. From day one, our interns get to input on real projects for amazing brands. These internships often lead to permanent roles – with that in mind, here’s what three of our former interns had to say about their journeys at Crowd.

Robert Downer, exec (strategic insights)

I discovered Crowd when I was studying for my master’s. I wanted a career change after working in education management and I thought that insight would be ideal for me. I like meeting new people, exploring ideas and being creative. But to get into a new industry, I knew I would need experience (both for my CV and for myself), so I thought an internship was a good way to go.

On my first day at the Hoxton Square office, everyone was friendly, open and super smart. I got stuck in and started working with some huge brands from the get go. In my first month, I worked on an online community, conducted interviews and even went on fieldwork. I was completely trusted, and that’s what I liked about the internship: I wasn’t treated like an intern at all. I was part of the team.

Now that I’m an exec, I take a lead role on projects for major clients, receive regular training and feel supported in all areas of my progression. Interning at Crowd was a great choice for me at a crucial turning point in my career.

Salem Khalazi, exec (Socialise creative team)

I became an intern in quite an unusual way: as a project participant. I was hanging out in Hoxton Square when two of the Crowd team walked towards me with a video camera. They were collecting voxpops and wanted my thoughts on the future of music television.

I didn’t know much about cultural insights at the time – only that I wanted to develop my skills as a designer in a professional setting. So, after my brief stint as a voxpopper, I sent my portfolio to the team and dived into a seemingly random opportunity. It was this curiosity and can-do attitude that shaped my first month as an intern. I threw myself into creative projects, big and small, and was trusted to design infographics about Canadian millennials for a key client. Eventually, I was offered a job in the Socialise team helping to bring insights to life via creative delivery.

Crowd DNA now plays a huge part in shaping a future where I’d like to build visual experiences that explore our ever-changing culture. Crowd’s blend of strategic insights and game-changing creativity is the perfect place to hone my skills.

Marjory Drevet, exec (strategic insights)  

Studying people and culture has always been a personal interest, especially during my recent travels across America and Europe. I thought that a cultural insights agency would be a great place for me to turn this knowledge into a profession, so I got in touch with Crowd DNA.

Originally from France, I was put straight to work on a project about Parisian youth culture. It was really illuminating and I was surprised how my generation represented a relevant behavioural shift for brands. The project allowed me to view my background from a different perspective and assess what opportunities there were for brands. 

After six weeks of intense learning and involvement, the internship confirmed my interest in connecting brands to people, and explaining people to brands. My ultimate goal is to inspire companies with culture, and being at Crowd DNA finally allows me to settle down and build on this expertise. I couldn’t be more ‘Crowd Proud’ that I’m now officially part of the team.

We regularly post internship openings on our blog, so keep an eye out here – or get in touch if you’d like to find out more: hello@crowdDNA.com

We’re seeking one to join our strategic insights team in Hoxton Square, London...

Cultural insights and strategy consultancy Crowd DNA is seeking a consummately skilled strategic insights expert to join our London team as an associate director. You’ll get to work on fabulously diverse and exciting projects for some of the biggest names around. The briefs we get are amazing – truly at the intersection of culture and brands. We want someone who can bring both provocative thinking and total diligence to this type of work, and who can call on circa six plus years of relevant experience.

Here, in more detail, is what we’re looking for:

– You need to have the confidence and necessary experience to take the controls of large and sometimes complex projects; to be an informed, energised and trusted advisor to our clients

– We’re looking for strong evidence of experience in areas such as brand positioning, proposition development, growth strategies, trends exploration and innovation/transformation projects

– You’ll bring with you skills such as desk and qual research, interacting with experts and influencers, developing frameworks and personas, and using diverse data sources (for instance, social media listening)

– Demonstrating experience of working on multi-market projects is important; as is the ability to lead a team

– Also of working on high quality proposals and project design – plus a demonstrable interest in devising strategies for bringing new clients on board and bolstering existing client relationships

– We’re looking for someone who can bring a real sense of craft to their work – from the outputs they produce and strategic recommendations they devise, to how they run workshops and articulate fresh ideas that have cultural-commercial relevance

– We want someone who’s enthusiastic about the idea of working alongside strategists, writers, film-makers and designers; collaborating both with those in our London team and in our overseas offices

The role comes with a competitive salary and benefits, plus clear paths to promotion and to new opportunities.  It’s an entrepreneurial and energised environment, fast paced and collaborative. If you fancy working in a place where setting the agenda for the future of cultural insights and strategy is coded into the way of working, please do get in touch, providing a covering letter and CV in the first instance.

Crowd IRL, IRL at AURA

Crowd DNA’s Andy Crysell and Joey Zeelen spoke (IRL) about getting IRL with clients at the latest AURA seminar in London…

Innovation in research usually conjures up images of eye-tracking, neuroscience and facial-coding. Perhaps even automation and AI, or using virtual reality as a research tool. But it’s not always about machines and tech. Often, stepping back into reality and immersing ‘in real life’ can trigger the alertness and receptivity needed to uncover new insights. Combine this immersion with actual, real-life clients and you get a whole new innovative approach: Crowd IRL. This is the subject that Crowd’s Andy Crysell and Joey Zeelen spoke about at AURA’s latest insight seminar in London.

Crowd IRL is what we call getting out on-the-road with stakeholder teams, immersing them in the lives and culture of people. Andy and Joey explained how it’s used to disrupt the confines of reporting back – going beyond simply inviting clients to attend the debrief or viewing facility, for example – before bringing Crowd IRL, to life, with our recent work for Axe.

Exploring the modern game of attraction around the world, the Axe work was an opportunity to flex Crowd’s methodology muscles. Briefly recapping the project (which covered eight markets using mobile missions, cultural reports, ethnographic sessions and, of course, Crowd IRL), Andy and Joey then presented the following ‘how tos’ for successful client immersions.

Plan well, but not too much  

It sounds obvious, but planning is key – it’s your fault if a client gets lost in the field! For Axe, a video intro and immersion pack was sent beforehand, alongside a clear budget and details of a WhatsApp group (vital). But Andy and Joey also explained the need to allow for detours or impromptu conversation by not over-planning. They kept the Axe briefing purposefully light and supplied simple thought-starters (instead of weighty discussion guides) to leave enough gaps for the magic to happen.

Set the tone and lean on local expertise

Next, they explained how they set the immersion ‘rules’ by briefing the Axe team to keep their senses switched on; to observe everything; and to let the consumer lead wherever possible. The benefit of local expertise was also highlighted by showing how collaboration with on-the-ground contributors helped unlock certain scenarios and articulate the details of discussion (crucial when clients were speaking to awkward teens about their love life).

Facilitate fluid sharing and wrapping-up

The importance of gathering and disseminating images, videos and notes was also discussed. For Axe, WhatsApp and WeChat were used during the immersions to encourage teams to share content in a fluid, low-friction fashion. When one group came up with something interesting, another group could then pick up on the same theme. This also helped with the all-important wrap-up session. Axe teams were plied with pizza then asked to share stories and contribute to rolling analysis, with the end goal being to ensure co-ownership among the global teams.

The presentation finished with Andy’s point that one-size doesn’t fit all when it comes to Crowd IRL. Projects can range from a few hours to a few days; feature different ages or different subcultures; and switch focus between regular consumers and experts. Among a sea of exciting, new technological innovations discussed at AURA, Crowd IRL stood out as a uniquely human and non-complex way to unearth truly empathetic insights.

Get in touch if you’d like to discuss how a Crowd IRL project could work for your team.

Crowd DNA Is Ten!

A decade. Whoosh! Where did that go? We've racked up ten years in business...

Best not to get too self-referential in these moments (the future is always more exciting than the past, after all), but a quick note to mark ten years of Crowd DNA. Back in June 2008, we started out as a launch team of three, a couple of crates of kit and some office space in Shoreditch’s Biscuit Building, provided by the nice folk at Poke.

Since then, there’s been a move next door to the Tea Building, another move across Shoreditch to Hoxton Square; an opening in Amsterdam, one in New York City; and another (rather more east…) to follow very soon.

There’s been work in 55+ markets, too many truly amazing projects to even scratch the surface of listing here, quite a few summer day trips to the seaside, loads of Kling Kling awards – and, mostly, a challenging but hugely rewarding sense of modifying it all as we go, and of relishing the fact that pretty much everything around us is in a heightened state of flux.

It’s been an ever-evolving mission to make insight work more immersive, more energised, more strategically relevant, more empathetic of the real world; possibly just a bit more fun, too. And definitely more culturally relevant. It’s been quite a journey. It’s not all gone to plan, natch, but we’re as dedicated to our learn-as-you-go (and often make-it-up-as-you-go) ethos now as back when Crowd DNA started.

Endless thanks to the incredibly smart, creative, energised, awe-inspiring Crowd DNA team (without whom…), and contributors and clients who’ve been on board over the years. It’s been great, it really has – but the best, we’re confident, is yet to come.

We’re seeking one to join our Hoxton Square team, leading key projects in categories such as alcohol, retail, fashion and FMCG…

Cultural insights and strategy agency Crowd DNA is looking to recruit an associate director to join our London team, working on fabulously diverse and exciting projects for some of the biggest names around. The briefs we get are amazing – truly at the intersection of culture and brands. We want someone who can bring both provocative thinking and total diligence to this type of work.

You will report to one of our two strategic insights directors – thus playing a vital role in developing one of our two core workstreams. You will run priority projects, design approaches, respond to briefs and helping to manage and mentor the wider team. Here’s what we’re looking for:

– We’re keen to see experience in some of the following areas – fashion, alcohol, FMCG, retail, travel, autos

– You need to have the confidence and necessary experience to take the controls of large and sometimes complex projects

– And you’ll do so in a way that means you get the best out of the wider project team, ensuring we are collectively diligent and creative in equal measure

– Being able to point to particular experience in comms and brand development work will be a major asset; and an ability to engage credibly and strategically with senior client teams around these topics

– Demonstrating experience of working on multi-market projects is important

– Also of working on high quality proposals – plus a demonstrable interest in devising strategies for bringing new clients on board and bolstering existing client relationships

– An interest in trends and the type of brands and challenges that Crowd DNA gets involved with (look around this website if you need more of an idea) is a must, as is evidence of how you’ve met business challenges in the past

– We don’t necessarily expect you to have ticked off every one of the research methods we deploy at Crowd, but a broad swathe of experience in different techniques is expected

– Showing you can be creative with research and have the confidence to engage clients through exciting debrief approaches, including high grade workshop facilitation, is a must

– We want someone who’s enthusiastic about the idea of working alongside strategists, writers, film-makers and designers

– Moreover, we anticipate this role going to someone who fully appreciates – and indeed relishes the fact – that the world of ‘market research’ (we don’t much like that term…) is fast changing, and that factors such as strategic thinking, stakeholder engagement, storytelling and innovation are key to the future of this industry.

The role comes with a competitive salary and benefits, plus clear paths to promotion and to new opportunities. We anticipate you’re currently working in an insight agency, in a SC/RM role, or similar; perhaps already as an AD but looking for something new. It’s an entrepreneurial and energised environment, fast paced and collaborative. If you fancy working in a place where setting the agenda for the future of cultural insights and strategy is coded into the culture, please do get in touch, providing a covering letter and CV in the first instance.

We’re shaking things up at our next Rise breakfast event, with a panel discussion exploring what cultural relevancy means for brands...

Date: June 28

Time: 8.15am-9:30am

Location: Crowd DNA, 5 Lux Building, 2-4 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NU

We’re running what’s set to be a lively and inspiring panel session on June 28, exploring what cultural relevancy means for brands.

Our view? That cultural relevancy is a stand-out marker of brand health and of future potential, but will our panellists agree? And, if so, how exactly do you achieve the oft-debated, but ever elusive, A word: authenticity? What’s the difference between cultural relevancy and brand purpose? Assuming not all brands can become as culturally iconic as, say, Nike, what should they be aiming for instead? And how do you explain the importance of cultural relevancy to those who might consider it all just a bit too fluffy?

Join us for cultural conversation, plus the all-important coffee and croissants. To come along, please contact Pauline Rault and feel free to pass this invite on to colleagues too.

Our panellists:

Dr Matilda Andersson – managing director of Crowd DNA London, Matilda guides our team of trends specialists, researchers, strategists, designers, writers and film-makers in creating culturally charged commercial advantage for the world’s most exciting brands. Prior to Crowd DNA, she worked in senior strategy roles at the BBC and BBC Worldwide.

Marisa Brickman – commercial director at NTS Radio, Marisa is at the sharp end of forging links between brands and damn fine music culture. Before NTS, her roles included director of cultural insights at Saatchi & Saatchi, global head of brand communications at Diageo and festival director at Moogfest.

Stephen Greene – founder of convention-breaking volunteering movement RockCorps, which he describes as a pro-social marketing and entertainment company, and chairman of the National Citizen Service, Stephen is sure to bring a social cause and brand purpose angle to the debate.

Nina Manandhar – photographer, curator and author of the highly regarded ‘What We Wore’ visual record of UK street culture, Nina will offer us the creative’s perspective. Next to editorial work for the likes of i-D and Vogue, she collaborates with brands and organisations such as Nike, adidas, Tate and the British Council.

Phil Teer – former CSO at both St Luke’s and Brothers & Sisters, Phil is a strategy consultant and author. He’s masterminded culturally on-point campaigns for the likes of IKEA, Emirate Airlines and Coke. In his upcoming book, The Coming Age Of Imagination, he explores if automation and a universal basic income will lead to an explosion in creativity.

Chaired by: Andy Crysell (Crowd DNA group managing director).

Watch the video trailer below: