JinJa Birkenbeuel


JinJa Birkenbeuel heads Birk Creative, a premier multichannel brand strategy, digital transformation and visual identity agency helping mid-market companies launch brands. Clients include Facebook, Tesla, CPASS Foundation and Google. She is also the founder of The Honest Field Guide™ podcast, where she hosts discussions dedicated to winning in business with Grammy-Award winners, successful entrepreneurs, sports-team owners, best-selling authors and inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Has the pandemic changed your workplace and your workflow? Do you expect to return to pre-pandemic ways of working or will any changes become the ‘new normal’?

My workspace is now wherever I am with my mobile phone, which has directly impacted my workflow. Because my creative agency is fundamentally a tech company, our digital transformation started years ago and we were prepared. The big change has been with our clients because they are now mobile. They now have insight into what they couldn’t see before. They are much less ashamed to admit it and are asking us to help them level up their brand with creative technology. We — clients included — are all suffering together in one way or another, whether because our school-aged children are constantly underfoot while we work, with our hair and house a total mess, or because we are in virtual conferences 10 am to midnight, too tired to remember to unmute our microphone. I am asked about The New Normal. We all now know there never was a “normal.” In today‘s pandemic world, many people, including me, are asking ‘Why in the world did we do that?’ in recognition of pre-pandemic goals that now seem lacking in purpose and meaning, that helped no families to survive and saved no lives.

What do you expect 2021 to hold for graphic designers and the design business? Have the challenges of 2020 changed the way you think about your job and career or the role of design?

Professional graphic designers of all ages need to start self-advocating for their skills, passions and reason for being, and above all to create their own personal brand rooted in technology. Small businesses must understand that we are all competing against big brands. On the business side, the superbrands may not be agile or creative, but they have scaleable money. The independent women-owned or small business in America is constrained by the pandemic. To hang on, you have to find a niche, promote what makes you special and create amazing content. Then you have to execute and go on blast on multiple channels. Sales and marketing plans are designed for failure if conceived in the belief that big businesses will concede a single customer. I remain focused on my agency’s longstanding social and economic justice metric, which requires an outcome that positively impacts an individual or an underrepresented group.