Design Director

Cambridge, MA +2

This role may be based in any one of our three US studios: San Francisco, Cambridge and Chicago, or remotely anywhere in the US. Please note that this role may require a moderate amount of traveling for in-person or hybrid projects as well as leadership meetings. 


We will begin reviewing applications on a rolling basis starting July 11th after our North American Rest Week. Please apply well in advance for the best chance at selection for this interview cycle. See "How to Apply" at the end of this post for instructions on how to submit.


Come lead brand & communication designers while creating impactful, human-centered work. 


In a nutshell

IDEO is in search of a lover of words and storytelling, brand and communications—someone to be our next Design Director who will lead, inspire, and guide a community of 40+ designers alongside other leaders and consult some of the world’s most preeminent brands. 


The full scoop

IDEO NORTH AMERICA IS LOOKING TO HIRE A DESIGN DIRECTOR WITH A WRITING BACKGROUND TO JOIN A GROUP OF LEADERS HELPING TO SHAPE, GROW, AND CREATIVELY PUSH THE DESIGN CRAFT EDGES OF OUR BRAND & COMMUNICATION DESIGN COMMUNITY. IN THIS ROLE, YOU WILL USE YOUR PAST EXPERTISE IN AREAS SUCH AS DESIGN LEADERSHIP, BRAND DEVELOPMENT, AND COMMUNICATIONS THAT LEAD, INSPIRE, AND GUIDE OUR TALENT IN CREATING WORLD-CLASS BRANDS ROOTED IN HUMAN NEEDS. YOU’LL ALSO ACT AS A COLLABORATOR AND CONSULTANT TO CLIENTS ON COMPLEX BRAND CHALLENGES WHILE CONTRIBUTING TO IDEO’S BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT. OUR IDEAL CANDIDATE HAS 15+ YEARS OF PROFESSIONAL CREATIVE WRITING EXPERIENCE, HAS LED COMMUNICATION DESIGNERS, AND IS EAGER TO COLLABORATE WITH TEAMS AND CLIENTS. 


WE’VE FOUND THAT GREAT WRITERS CAN COME FROM MANY DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS. INNUMERABLE PATHS CAN LEAD HERE, AND WE’RE OPEN TO CANDIDATES WITH A WIDE ARRAY OF PAST ROLES AND EXPERIENCES. YOU MIGHT BE AN IN-HOUSE BRAND STRATEGIST OR WELL-SEASONED FREELANCER; AN ADVERTISING COPYWRITER OR ACADEMIC; A BEAT POET OR PODCASTER. THE MOST IMPORTANT QUALIFICATION IS THAT YOU’VE HAD PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE DEEPLY THROUGH WRITING; YOU’RE PASSIONATE ABOUT SURFACING AND ARTICULATING STORIES AND STRATEGIES THAT STIR PEOPLE TO ACTION; AND YOU’RE OPEN TO COLLABORATING WITH GROUPS OF SMART, CREATIVE PEOPLE FROM ALL KINDS OF BACKGROUNDS AND DISCIPLINES. AS A DESIGN DIRECTOR, YOU’LL BE HELPING TEAMS PRIORITIZE WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT AND WHAT’S NOT WHEN THINKING ABOUT HOW TO HELP OUR CLIENTS ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS. YOU’LL BE AS COMFORTABLE COLLABORATING WITH A BUNCH OF FELLOW CREATIVES AS YOU ARE IN A BOARDROOM OF THE C-SUITE. 


OVERALL, YOU’RE A CURIOUS PERSON WHO ASKS ‘WHY’. YOU WILL HAVE A LOT OF LOVE FOR LEARNING FROM AND UNDERSTANDING WHAT MAKES PEOPLE TICK. YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO DIGEST A LOT OF INFORMATION, MAKE SENSE OF IT, AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR OUR CLIENTS’ NEEDS. YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO FIND THE NUGGET OF A COMPELLING STORY AND DRAW IT OUT FROM THE CLUTTER. YOU’RE A WORD AND BRAND ENTHUSIAST—SOMEONE WHO NOODLES AND FUSSES OVER HOW TO WEAVE A STORY TOGETHER AND GETS EXCITED ABOUT CONNECTING BRANDS WITH CUSTOMERS. YOU RELISH CRAFTING EXPERIENCES THAT MAKE PEOPLE FEEL DEEPER AND THINK HARDER. YOU ARE NOT AFRAID TO EXPERIMENT AND EXPLORE WITH ALL FORMS OF COMPELLING NARRATIVES. AND YOU ARE HAPPY TO TEACH AND MENTOR OTHERS TO SHARE WHAT YOU’VE LEARNED.


We would like to hear from senior candidates with a proven track record of leadership in creative organizations, in and out of the design industry. We will be reviewing applications on a rolling basis starting July 11th and highly encourage you to apply well in advance. 


Once here you will:

  • Be a champion of design and design thinking, teaching along the way
  • Collaborate with diverse group of multidisciplinary design teams
  • Contribute to building the talent, culture, and community of brand & communication designers across North America
  • Consult clients, leading them to navigate strategic, foundational brand decisions
  • Shape compelling creative and strategic design outcomes for client’s products, services, and experiences
  • Push the edges of the writing craft of brand at IDEO with other Design Directors  
  • Work hands-on with IDEO teams to guide deliverables from human-centered insights to brand expressions such as strategic foundations and guidelines; organizational values and vision; developing tone of voice; visual design and more
  • Proactively participate in new business development from drafting proposals to leading a client relationship


Relevant experience:

  • 15+ years of professional writing experience with at least 2 years of experience leading the development of others  
  • Experience leading senior stakeholders and building relationships
  • Experience working with brands, either writing for, developing strategy, or designing consumer experiences
  • Ability to teach the fundamentals of brand development (ie. purpose, positioning, personality, values, brand architecture, naming)   

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