Slovak Tennis Player Nina Gajdosikova Shares Her Knowledge Designing For Billion Dollar Companies

Not only active in the tennis court (winning many prizes), Nina Gajdosikova has also embarked in design working with many brands such as Heineken, IBM, Peugeot, Philips, Ross and Nespresso. Throughout the years, she has learned how to harness the power of storytelling, design, and critical thinking to create experiences in brands that resonate with their core audiences.

Naturally I was very thrilled to interview her and learn more from her design process. Here are her top 3 tips for designing impactful messages.

1. Invoke an emotional response through imagery

Nina Gajdosikova: Design is about fostering a relationship with your audience. Throughout my time at SocioFabrica; an award-winning digital marketing agency in SF, I was intensely involved in digital campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands like Ross and Nespresso and I learned that creating a story that people enjoy helps build an emotional connection with your audience.

Approaching customers through their electronic devices is something very personal. You’re trying to get them to click where you want them to click, subscribe for mailing lists, purchase products and build engagement. There has to be a certain level of trust and credibility for them to be comfortable with that.

Working with Nespresso, the European coffee giant, I was involved in helping re-build its luxury image to suit the American market. The ability to turn products personality into something the American market can relate to was one of the most important factors here.

2. Tell a story and try to use empathy

Graphic designer and 2010 AIGA Medalist, Jennifer Morla explains that she “looks for the soul of the brand and let that determine the look and feel” of the message. A designer should not only focus on what the final product is but the main goal should be to design a narrative that gets the audience engaged. Working with a number of global brands as well as smaller local businesses, Gajdosikova came to find out that no matter who you’re designing for, a good story is an essential part of the final outcome.

Nina Gajdosikova: Sometimes a company approaches you to help them re-define themselves. That’s when you really have to go in there with an open mind and look at their story from a different perspective. Often times it’s about bringing an outdated brand up to date. Times changes and so do people and their expectations. A designer must be flexible and prompt to react efficiently to these changes and use them to their advantage.

3. Understanding the audience you’re serving is key

Nina Gajdosikova: At Istropolitana Ogilvy, one of the largest marketing communications companies in the world, I worked on an extensive campaign for Piano. Once the campaign launched, it was only a matter of months before the platform successfully started expanding outside of Slovakia and Slovenia into larger European countries and eventually became the largest provider of metered paywalls worldwide. Currently, more than 1200 news and media providers use their platform, globally.

The message of reading more to be aware of the world they live in resonated really well and made this campaign really successful. Nina explained that the targeting through current and local events was key to draw great attention to the campaign. The messaging of the campaign was provocative because it directly addressed some of the main issues going on in the country and presented them in a smart way. “The best executions are the subtle ones, where you don’t have to be literal and straightforward, but people still get what you’re trying to say. For designers to be able to do that, they have to understand their audience first,” says Gajdosikova. In 2013, Nina and her team were awarded the “Golden Nail”, first place in the most prestige competition in Slovakia in advertising and design.

Nina told me that understanding and internalizing these principles was essential for her to be able to create a powerful story. “It’s so important to take risks and go for new opportunites because only this way, you’ll find out what interests you as a designer.”

One thing is for sure, we can keep expecting many great things from Nina. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next ad I see on Facebook was designed by her. Gajdosikova is currently involved in advocacy design with focus on education. This gives her the opportunity to use her storytelling and design skills to fight for a nationwide cause. You can visit her site and projects here.

Originally published at Future Sharks.