A Day in the Life of an RGD: Jon Allison
A man in a red and black checked shirt stands in front a bookshelf. His arms are crossed. He is smiling. He has dark brown, short hair and light skin.
RGD highlights the experiences of Jon Allison RGD, Brand Guide, Founder & Creative Director at Backcountry Branding in Kingston, Ontario.

1. The Basics

Name: Jon Allison
Company Name: Backcountry Branding
Job Title: Brand Guide (conventionally I’m the founder and creative director)


A photo of an office. In the office is a bookcase, a desk with two computer monitors, and lots of photos on the walls.














2. When does your typical work day start and end?

Start: 7 a.m. (8:30 a.m. break to help get the kids up).
End: 5:30 p.m., but I work a couple evenings a week after the kids are in bed.


3. What’s the first thing you do when you get to work?

7 a.m. Make coffee, writing (blog or newsletter) or working on my business.
8:30 a.m. Break to help get the kids up.
9 a.m. Reheat what’s left of my coffee and read Brand New blog, make my priority list for the day, respond to emails.


4. List the 5 things you spend the most time on during a typical work day, and allot them a percentage amount (adding up to 100%).

Project work—60%
Email/project management—15%
Social engagement—3%


5. Of all of the tasks you complete during the day, what is your favourite? What is your least favourite?

My favourite is by far working on projects followed closely meetings. I love developing ideas into meaningful design that persists in the mind. I really enjoy talking with people (clients and collaborators) and learning about their business and what they're setting out to achieve. Our business is ultimately person to person. We design for people, not Instagram likes and awards. That’s why face to face meetings are so valuable.

My least favourite is email, it’s important and I’m okay with that, but it’s time consuming and it can be tempting to hide behind instead of picking up the phone.


6. Do you have any strategies to keep up your productivity/inspiration over the course of the day?

Set time for it, don’t just open Instagram when you feel like you need to be inspired, that’s the enemy of productivity. I think we need to keep it simple and stop making excuses. When I was young I was taught that hard work pays off. And it does! To this day I focused on being diligent and a good steward of my time. Everyone has 24 hours in a day, use them wisely!


Another thing to consider, your first hours of the day are by far the most valuable and productive. I avoid social media in the morning and focus on the projects that need my best ideas. Then I will shift to easy progress projects later in the day. Then before bed as the day is winding down, I seek out inspiration and read design or business books.


7. Are there any tasks that you like to do at the end of the day? That you feel you must do before you leave?

Before I’m done for the day I make sure I’ve answered every email that is project related so that clients and collaborators can get to it first thing in the morning and keep the project moving.


8. How has your job changed over the last year, 5 years, if at all?

It’s always changing. Five years is a long time these days and there can be a lot of change within your position in that time. But as a business owner and creative director I would answer it this way: my job continues to change as I learn more about myself, my craft and the people I serve. I’m constantly making minor adjustments to how I serve my clients.


Finish these sentences:

9. As a graphic designer, I can’t go a day without… creating something.

10. One thing I wish I knew when I started my career is that… empathy is critical.

11. In my job, I wish I had more time for… passion projects.

12. Can you also provide an image of a project (or something else) you are currently working on?

Jon recently finished a custom coaster project; see the project excerpt below (c/o Backcountry Branding's website). Click here for a more in-depth exploration of the project, including a gallery of high-res images, details on the team behind the project, and more.


Project: Nahanni River Coasters

These limited edition custom coasters were designed and handcrafted for a select group of brave clients who have ventured with us through uncharted territory over the past year. Each individual coaster is unique and together (40 in total) form the 540km of the Nahanni River. This project is a celebration of adventure, creativity, craftsmanship, collaboration and the great Canadian backcountry.


Coasters, a mug with coffee in it and a catalogue sit on a wooden table.












A row of wooden coasters that, when pushed together, make the outline of a river. The river is blue.












Two wooden coasters. On the coaster there is a logo. The logo is a tiny tree with an oblong shape encompassing it. Underneath the logo it says Nahanni River 4/40.












A map showing the Nahanni River and the surrounding area. In the bottom left hand corner of the map, it says Nahanni River, NT in blue. The river running through the map is also blue. The background of the map is white.