A Week in My Life: David O'Hearns, Creative Director, Dawn Creative
2022 marks the 25th year in the creative industry for David O'Hearns, who founded Dawn Creative in 2014.
Dawn Creative is a Cheadle-based creative, design, and digital agency, providing services across UX and UI design, animation, brand positioning and more for clients which have included Travel Counsellors, Zen Internet and Amplifon.
David himself started out working at Origin Creative, and also has experience working at The Leapfrog Group and Vibe, gaining expertise working with a wide range of influential brands.
We found out how a recent week in his life went.
I’m not into the whole hustle culture narrative, so I’m not going to say I’m a part of the 5am club… But I do get up at 5:45am. My day always starts with a run. Monday’s an easy one. Ease myself into the week.
Then it’s into the studio for the production meeting - going over everything this week beholds, and making sure we’re on track.
This particular Monday is great fun. I hold a face-to-face brand workshop with a client, which aims to fully understand the essence of their brand. It involves magazine tearing, postcards with celebrity faces on them, and other visual work to make sure everyone is aligned with where they’re at and where they want to be.
After that, I get to a few calls with prospects, before picking up the kids from school. Then, you know the drill with kids. Swimming lesson. Dinner. Get told “I don’t like it, I want pasta instead”. Make pasta. Bath. Bed.
Another run to the beat of 'We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off' by Jermaine Stewart. Tuesday’s is a 31-minute interval run. Before you think “that’s a bit specific, Dave”, my Nike app decides the time. It’s building me up to do another half marathon.
The studio is full of faces, and we all have a good old laugh about my music taste. Lovely.
I call a new prospect to better understand their brand before we put a proposal together, and jump straight onto another catch up call about a landing page. The web projects we’ve done recently have been really fun - seeing their transformation and a happy client makes it all worth it.
Then it’s onto a meeting with a client I’ve worked with for the past 14 years. We manage their brand, so all sorts come our way from them. This time it’s an internal system. A way of managing their sales team’s bonuses. We’ve been working on the UX throughout.
After lunch it’s more client calls, this time about managing their brand on social media; making everything consistent, providing them with templates so their in-house teams can post on the fly. It’s a fast-moving world out there!
No run today. A chilled morning, chatting to the boys about Roblox. Standard.
The design team is in the studio, and Wednesday is the design critique meeting. They showcase their recent work, and we discuss how we could improve it. As well as this being a great time to quality check client work, we use it to aid internal development too.
Then we chat to another client about an exhibition stand design that’s coming up, followed by a Google Meet with another about a direct mail campaign. These are always a good opportunity to really think outside the box. Having something physically arrive on your desk is exciting. And it’s making a real comeback.
I suggested to one client we have a cross-agency catch-up session every month, to make sure their suppliers are all on the same page. So us, the SEO agency, PPC, PR and a few others get on a call together to discuss things. If we’re saying we’re customer-focussed, we need to walk the walk too. Teamwork makes the dream work, after all.
After work, it’s on to coaching the under-10s football team. Go on Juno United!
6:30am - you guessed it, back to running. A recovery run after Tuesday’s big one.
School drop off, followed by a brew in the studio and finding out we won the pitch from Tuesday! A brand and web project for a great cause in Manchester. I’ll never get tired of that feeling.
After a day of internal catch-ups with my team and a big briefing session for an event branding project (which we sold out last time… #humblebrag) it’s time for a few scoops with the guys. Usually an IPA, but I’ll stretch to a Doom Bar.
38-minute interval run. Breakfast. Studio.
Our senior web developer Craig joined us in December last year and has hit the ground running. We catch up every Friday, alongside the other members of the digital team, and speak about what’s working, what can be improved, and where we’re at with client projects.
Over lunch, I pick up my new electric car. Doing my bit for the environment has never felt so fast. Just in time for the fuel price hike too.
Then it’s WFH for the afternoon, and a meeting with my business coach.
I always say no athlete makes it on their own. They’re driven by other people. I believe in taking advice from someone more experienced than myself. Someone who's run global businesses, who holds me accountable to my goals. As a lonely business owner, this weekly call is vital to me. I can share everything and anything, be completely open with him, and share any concerns. I’d honestly recommend it to anyone running a business.
After an update on a brand evolution project, I pick up the boys again before jumping on to our weekly team call, where work chat is strictly forbidden! We all discuss what we’re doing at the weekend, say goodbye and sign off. Then it’s six-a side, and praying I don’t do my back in again.
It’s been a great week. The variety, the challenges and the difference we make every day gets me just as excited as it did the day I started.
A cold, well-deserved beer wraps up the week, and it’s off to Alton Towers tomorrow.