White & Case’s Robin Colangelo Gives In-House Advice

As global director of creative services at White & Case, In-House Design Awards competition judge Robin Colangelo knows that boosting your team’s morale and highlighting their expertise to others is never a bad thing. After all, you’re cranking out work for your company, putting your heart and expertise into everything you touch. You’re good at what you do. And you deserve to have — even if the idea makes you nervous — the spotlight turned to you. That’s what the In-House Design Awards are all about: showcasing the talent and work of in-house designers and teams to an international audience. As Colangelo says:

I believe it’s important to enter design competitions. Of course it’s a morale booster for your team when you win, but I’ve also seen a sense of pride emerge from colleagues at my firm when they know they’re collaborating with an award-winning team. All around it’s a positive and motivating experience.

Below, she shares advice for collaboration with outside agencies and working in-house. Plus, Colangelo provides some insights on one of her award-winning team’s projects.


White & Case’s Social Responsibility and Annual Reviews from 2013

Advice on Collaborating, Leading, Staying Motivated

Robin Colangel

In a recent article in HOW, Ed Roberts wrote about your team at White & Case’s collaboration with Pentagram. What is your advice for in-house teams looking to work with outside agencies?
Choose an agency that can not only do the work but also collaborate effectively with your team. It’s makes a difference when you’re working with like minded people who respect each other and motivate each other.

Read more about White & Case’s collaboration with Pentagram in the July issue of HOW.

What tips do you have for in-house designers and their managers as far as keeping creative and producing top-notch work? Where do you go for inspiration?
I think it’s important to stay relevant. Read the trades, check out the award winning projects from all design competitions. Search the web for the latest design trends and ideas and figure out how to apply them to your brand.  Ideas and inspiration are everywhere … if you’re actually looking.

The sites and magazines I frequently read to stay current and get inspired are: HOW, GDUSA, AIGA, CommArts, Houz, Pinterest, More, Harvard Business Review and Inc.

For in-house designers and in-house managers just starting out, what one piece of advice would you give them?
It’s difficult to narrow down advice after over 9 years on the in-house side, but these points below due come to mind quickly:

For the in-house designer, I would say this: Be innovative. You must constantly be thinking of how to bend and not break your brand guidelines, to offer fresh materials that are not only relevant to your audience but groundbreaking in your industry.

To the in-house creative leaders I offer this: Breathe. Then lead. Then breathe again. Managers and directors should be thinking about how to transition into leadership roles. There is a difference between a manager and a leader. A leader is a trend-setter, a leader is able to inspire others to participate and rarely dictates, is solving problems before they happen and is successfully collaborating with other department heads.

Inside Look at White & Case In-House Project

Do you have any projects you’d like to share?

I would like to share our 2013 Annual and Social Responsibility reviews. We’re proud of these projects and find them to be good examples of best practices in the following areas:

    • AnnualSpread01Our design objective in addition to telling a compelling story was to apply our new White & Case brand in a unique way that sets our annuals apart from our marketing collateral. In a thought leadership style we drove home our ability as a global firm to spot industry trends and have the ability to think ahead to benefit our clients needs.
  • We feel strongly about supporting our clients and are happy to have used Mohawk Superfine for the printed books. Mohawk has been a client of White & Case for more than 25 years. The blind emboss on the covers is one of my favorite elements of these books. In person, it’s bold yet sophisticated and achieves a premium feel to the touch, setting the tone for a premium law firm.
  • Collaborating across multiple internal departments and offices around the world, to achieve a common goal. The following internal teams contributed to the success of our annuals: Our partners, communications, design, production, general counsel and our Chairman. Externally, we collaborated with a very talented illustrator and photographer, a web developer, our paper merchant and printer plus our stock photo houses.SocialSpread01SocialSpread05


Enter the work you’re proud of today in the In-House Design Awards. Show Robin Colangelo, the other judges and the entire HOW audience how fantastic you really are.