Business leaders identify top RGD case studies of 2014

Each week, a different case study submitted by a Member of RGD is featured in the RGD Word newsletter and the Association website. After reviewing those submitted in 2014, three business experts have identified the case studies that best articulate the value of the design process and how it is applied to achieve business results for the client. 


RGD's case studies highlight the thought, research and insight involved in developing a project, providing insight on the specific challenges, solutions and results associated with the design process. By establishing an archive of case studies that cover a wide range of projects, the goal is to build understanding and respect for the role of design in business and put a spotlight on the specific objectives and deliverables that can be addressed through the power of design thinking. 


Goods & Services' 'Protect Your Boundaries' Website 

Shikatani Lacroix's Environmental Design for Tim Hortons 

Zync's Canadian Olympic Committee Website 

ALSO Collective's Urban Ecologies Conference Branding

Tamm + Kit's Cuso International Branding



Shelley Gainer RGD, Director, Creative & Branding at Shoppers Drug Mart (reviewed Environmental category)

Jeff Ho, Head of Marketing & Communications, Global Transactions & Restructuring at KPMG (reviewed Branding category) 

Graham Huber, Manager, Marketing and Communications, Rotman School of Management (reviewed all categories) 


Selections were made based on the following criteria: 

  1. The project is well-designed and represents strong execution of fundamental design principles
  2. The write-up illustrates the design process in a way that is easy for non-designers to understand
  3. The case study clearly articulates how design translates into project deliverables and contributes to the achievement of the client's goals
  4. The project and write-up are interesting and relatable for a diverse audience 


After reviewing the submissions, judges selected the following as the 'Top Case Studies of 2014': 


E-commerce website from Goods & Services empowers homeowners to 'protect their boundaries'. Read the case study.

Category: Web Design

Case study submitted by Carey George RGD, Partner and Creative Director, Goods & Services 


"Instead of jumping straight to designing novel solutions by merely iterating on similar services, Goods and Services worked very closely with their client to first develop a deep understanding of the unmet needs of the intended audience for the project. This informed the rest of their design process, from brand strategy to implementation. The result is a project that is not only visually appealing, but functionally effective for both the client and the customer. This case also does a great job of describing the more technical aspects of the design process well beyond the usual aspects of corporate identity and graphic design by focusing on the business cases for decisions made in the backend development.   


At its best, great design is empowering. With the design of PYB, Goods & Services has done a remarkable job of empowering homeowners to identify and resolve critical issues relating to boundary discrepancies by transforming the difficult and often stressful interpretation of complicated property law into a compelling information experience, readily accessible to anyone without a legal background." - Graham Huber 




Environmental Design from Shikatani Lacroix helps Tim Hortons reach urban audience. Read the case study.

Category: Environmental Graphics

Case study submitted by Jean Pierre Lacroix RGD, President of Shikatani Lacroix


"Tim Hortons is a much loved Canadian brand and Shikatani Lacroix successfully enhanced the customer in-store experience by creating a ‘Home Away from Home’ environment. The Tim Hortons case study clearly articulated the project objectives and detailed the design process from concept to execution, including key collaboration points between client and agency. I was particularly interested in the description of how they worked through an intensive audit process and ideation session, which included franchisees for input. In terms of the design, I like how they were able to create a variety of seating and lighting options, allowing guests to choose their seat according to the purpose of their visit. I am looking forward to choosing my seat in one of the new urban locations.” - Shelley Gainer RGD


Website from Zync helps Canadian Olympic Committee build national engagement for Sochi 2014. Read the case study.

Category: Web Design

Case study submitted by Jeremy Linskill RGD, Design Director, Zync


“From planning to execution to critical support during and after the actual events at Sochi, it is clear that Zync rose to the challenge and delivered a design experience that balances great content, compelling visuals, and snappy functionality fit for Canadian Olympic pride. By emphasizing the foundation of trust and communication in their partnership with the client, Zync achieved the clarity in goals, expectations and resources necessary to deliver great results.


Making sense of the sheer volume and diversity of the content generated from the Olympic games clearly presented a huge challenge. Navigating the challenges of designing for modern technology is where design process becomes art. It’s not enough to just make it look good. It’s gotta work good too, for both the end user and the client. For a digital project, the case study does a great job of focusing on content. Non-technical designers should appreciate the importance of developing for function over form in a mobile-first world." - Graham Huber 



ALSO Collective tackles complex patterns with identity design for OCAD's Urban Ecologies Conference. Read the case study.  

Category: Branding

Case study submitted by Antonio Lennert Prov RGD and Symon Oliver, Creative Directors at ALSO Collective

This project was selected as a winner in the For-Profit, Client-Initiated category of RGD's 2013 So(cial) Good Design Awards. 


"ALSO’s refreshing approach uses a clever pattern system to represent the complexity of interrelationships in urban ecology, rather than relying on more common urban image stereotypes and visual cliches to convey the essence of the conference. From sketches to mind-mapping to literature reviews, the case reveals the extensive research the ALSO team engaged in with the client throughout their iterative design process to develop a deep understanding of the conference's intention and deliver a flexible yet powerful identity concept to represent it across print, web, mobile, video, and social media channels. A fascinating read from a team of recent graduates who delivered exceptional results. The team humanizes their approach with a lot of self-awareness regarding their own anxieties and learnings along the way throughout the process." - Graham Huber 


Vibrant campaign from Tamm + Kit helps Cuso International stand out among global development organizations. Read the case study. 

Category: Branding

Case study submitted by by Ciabh McEvenue, Affiliate Member of RGD, Creative and Managing Director at Tamm + Kit.

This project was selected as a winner in the Not-For-Profit, Client-Initiated category of RGD's 2013 So(cial) Good Design Awards.


"Tamm + Kit took a complicated 'product' that spoke to a highly targeted audience and developed creative that hit the bullseye dead on. The case study was very clear and illustrated the problem, the process and the solution really well. I found myself drawn into the copy. I like how they did not spend too much time on the buildup and went straight to the design challenge, which was clearly described. In terms of the project itself, the use of illustration differentiated it from the crowd of photography-based work out there. I liked how they spoke to the underlying motivation of its target audience in a highly positive method. It was encouraging that they did not resort to overt and obvious guilt-based images and statistics of those who are the target of this non-profit agency. It was good to know that they achieved their client's goals and they were able to provide numeric proof of this. This should be an absolute must in the creative industry now. It's not enough to talk about "cool" design or overcoming visual challenges. Agencies must clearly demonstrate the real value that they bring to the table to each and every client engagement." - Jeff Ho