Defining Experiences. Defining Brands.

Start Design is a strategic digital brand design consultancy based in Dubai Dubai.

Our multi-skilled team, with cross-discipline expertise, works collaboratively with our clients around the world.

We believe in simplicity, relevance and brilliance, and through these principles define and design creative solutions that deliver extraordinary value for our clients and their customers. 

Today, Start Design is a destination for brand owners and managers that believe success is defined by brilliant customer experiences.

$150 - $199 / hr
10 - 49
Show all +
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Dubai Media City
    Dubai, DU 28710
    United Arab Emirates


Key clients: 

Barclays, Puma, du, EITC, Virgin, adidas, FootAsylum, SevenStore, Sportmaster, Majid Al Futtaim, Yas Island, ADCB, Noor Bank, Etisalat, Huda Beauty, Oxfam, Dyson

Hamad International Airport - Doha, Qatar Image

Hamad International Airport - Doha, Qatar

Welcoming the world

Hamad International Airport is one of the largest and most luxurious airports ever built and home to Qatar Airways. Start helped define the branding and launch the full brand experience in line with Qatar’s 2030 Vision. Over a two-year partnership, working with senior stakeholders, Start helped bring the Hamad International Airport experience to life - from its positioning as a

‘welcome to the world’, to the contemporary identity execution which combines continuous global air-travel, to a seamless online digital experience.

Defining the airport experience of tomorrow
from the ground up

Hamad International Airport delivers world-class passenger experiences in a world-class environment – but it is also anticipatory, reassuring and friendly. It represents the future of a proud and ambitious nation, while celebrating the culture and heritage of an entire region. The brand identity encompasses this sense of evolution and progress.

Our brand launch carefully defined what it felt like to travel through HIA thanks to its architecture and design innovations, and then conveyed these liberating experiences through an inspiring film and digital campaign.

UAE ProLeague rebrand

Together, We Shine - a new start for professional top-flight football in the UAE.


Formed in 2007, the UAE Pro League gained independence from the UAEFA in 2019 to better serve the needs of its 14 member professional clubs and to elevate the sport to the highest levels. The UAE Pro League operates according to Asian Football Confederation (AFC) regulations. It is the rights owner of and responsible for the professional

football competitions of UAE, managing and organising the Arabian Gulf League, Arabian Gulf League U21, Arabian Gulf Cup and Arabian Gulf Super Cup competitions.

The UAE Pro League works to increase professionalism, in all its forms, helping UAE Football Cubs achieve their goals and to increase the Clubs and Competitions fan base across the UAE and internationally. Start Design developed the new brand proposition “Together, We Shine” and devised a new identity and design system. Instantly recognizable, the new football logo references Arabic geometry to reinforce not just football, but UAE football at the top of the game.

ADCB rebrand and new branch design Image

ADCB rebrand and new branch design

The bank of the future is ADCB’s bank of today.

Focusing first on the UAE and its retail customers, ADCB is reinventing customer-centric banking, aiming to become the region’s most preferred bank. This vision is most meaningfully experienced in the branch, and reimagining the customer experience was a key component of Start’s rebrand programme. Thereafter, our reimagining of customer-centric banking extended across all customer

touchpoints: products and services were simplified and restated. While the main ADCB brand was refreshed, as a powerful symbol of change to its customers.Putting service front and centre of the banking experience

Branches continue to have an important role for customers in their relationship with the bank. More than simply a place to sell products and services, branches represent a customer’s experience of the brand. And, for ADCB, that experience is all about putting customer needs first.

The new design allows for twice as many service desks in the same space. ADCB’s bank of the future is now ADCB’s bank of today – an innovative space with intuitive interiors, ergonomic appeal and bespoke design. Importantly, the cost of the new improved design is just 50% of a refit under the previous configuration.


Etisalat Stores Redesign Image

Etisalat Stores Redesign

Winning by better customer experience in retail.

As the leading telecoms company in the UAE, Etisalat provides services that let people live a connected life. Its mission is to do this better than anyone else. But walk into one of its stores in 2014 and queueing was the predominant experience. Recognising the important role stores play in customer experience, Etisalat wanted this to change. Start helped them reimagine retail

with a responsive, streamlined experience that both meets the needs of their business and connects with their consumers.Transforming
Etisalat customer service

The store presents a series of customer-focused, engaging experiences – in a modern, digitally enabled, sociable environment that’s operationally smart to the smallest level of detail. Service is much more efficient and educates customers in self-help and on-the-spot problem resolution. Sales data, customer satisfaction ratings and waiting time monitoring all prove that the new design is better connecting customers with Etisalat products and services. Crucially, it has lifted sales of higher value products and services – prompting the concept’s roll-out across the entire UAE Etisalat retail estate.

X Dubai Image

X Dubai

The all action brand with extra rush.

Start Design teamed up with SkyDive Dubai to create a new brand, to bring thrill seekers and adventurers together with action sports, to encourage more active lifestyles. Dubai’s a city that prides itself in doing more than what’s expected – and its sporting culture isn’t any different. Drawing on the energy of the world of action sports and collaborating with local and international

sporting brands, X Dubai aims to make Dubai the adrenaline-fueled capital of the world.X marks the spot.

The new X Dubai identity incorporates the word ‘Dubai’ in Arabic into a distinctive and disruptive yellow ‘X’ brandmark. Punchy typography and bold colours create a vibrant visual language which reinforces the brand’s positioning: Defy Your Limits. The brand is applied in unconventional and memorable ways, reinforcing its unique attitude.

Barclays - Branch Redesign and Intelligent Digital Content

The road to truly intelligent content

Digital technology can bring in new customers, improve the in-branch experience and support national and local business objectives.

We helped Barclays create a strategy to move to truly smart content delivery at their flagship Liverpool site. Knowing it would be a step-change, we devised a phased approach, and incorporated Quividi – a platform that reads images to

create an intelligent demographic picture of who’s in branch. Ultimately, combined with other data sources, Quividi will allow comms to be optimised to specific viewers, at any given time.The right content, to the right people,
at the right time.

An integrated marketing and comms calendar and content plan framework was created, considering central and local business objectives, balancing the range and product content. In addition to pushing out centrally-controlled messaging, we made sure templates could be pulled down to produce branch-relevant comms, like local events and seminars.

We worked with third party digital media service provider, AVMI, to consider optimal screen configurations and the freque2ncy of content transitioning.

Virgin Mobile UAE Image

Virgin Mobile UAE

Mobile made better.

Trust and convenience are core issues for all telcos today. In approaching its launch into the UAE marketplace, Virgin Mobile turned to Start to help create a ‘new platform’ that would deliver a better overall customer experience, meeting heightened consumer needs and expectations. Virgin Mobile’s new business model is based on a digital ecosystem that delivers the seamlessness customers expect from brands

today – humanising and digitising the mobile service experience.A new, end-to-end,
mobile customer experience.

Virgin Mobile’s market entry offers much-needed new consumer choice – liberating and revolutionising the way UAE citizens and residents engage with their mobile provider. Virgin Mobile does not have an app – it is an app. Through it, you access convenient, customisable packages – and can activate them from anywhere, at any time, with no monthly contract.

Start was uniquely equipped to combine design, experience and technology to help create this ‘new platform’. Distilling insights from the strategic planning work, we developed the design of all customer touchpoints. This ‘go-to-market’ toolset of applications brings to life the freshness of the Virgin brand across the end-to-end customer experience.

Flash Entertainment Site Redesign

Live events in a flash.

Launched in 2008 and based in Abu Dhabi, Flash and has entertained more than 7 million fans from delivering world-class sporting and megastar music events, to festivals and spectacular stage shows. Flash is the Middle-East region’s premier live events company for talent, event planning, logistics, operations, marketing, ticketing and hospitality.

Two audiences – Two

Flash teamed up with Start to create a new web and mobile experiences to better meet the needs of its audiences: Fans wishing to Attend an Event or Partners seeking to Create an Event. Fans need a fast process to search for and buy tickets, Partners want access to services, venues and Flash expertise.

Comprehensive stakeholder interviews and experience workshops helped define behaviours and user-flows. By reducing clicks and presenting only relevant content, we built a fast, efficient and responsive design within tailored user-experiences.

Yas Island rebrand

The world’s ultimate destination brand.

In a highly collaborative partnership, Miral and Start unveiled the multi-award winning rebrand of Yas Island. Home to outstanding commercial and residential developments – alongside world class hospitality, cultural, leisure and entertainment destinations – Yas Island epitomizes Emirati imagination and ambition.

A new designed experience
across all visitor touchpoints

The new

Yas Island brand proposition is about ‘quality of time spent’ – where visitors make the most of their leisure time and take a break from everyday life. Promoting the brand essence of ‘elation’, the new brand identity is anchored by an expressive and vivid YAS logotype that reads right to left in Arabic and left to right in English. The energetic hand-drawn type symbolises the human experience of entertainment. Vibrant colours capture the full spectrum of visitor experiences across touch-points.

Multi-language marketing and communication activity defines Yas as the destination to realise dreams, experience the best of everything in one place, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Remixing DEMIX for Sportmaster Image

Remixing DEMIX for Sportmaster

A first for sports retail in Russia

Sportmaster is Europe’s 3rd largest sports retailer, globally 10th largest and 5th by margin and profitability. It has 475 stores across Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and has opened 7 JV stores in China in the past 3 years.

Demix was launched 10 years ago, as an own-label range in Sportmaster stores and now extends across 2,200 product lines – representing

5% of all inventory.

Demix first standalone mono-brand store was created by Start Design and opened in Moscow, late in 2018.

Demix brand positioning was realigned in 2017 from an inexpensive alternative for amateur sports enthusiasts to a mid-market proposition to additionally attract seasoned and pro-athletes. This re-positioning saw Demix outsell both Nike and Adidas in 2017 in Russia.

In 2018 Sportmaster appointed Start Design to create the first standalone Demix mono-brand sports store. Start Design’s retail strategy: to inspire and activate the sports spirit in everyone; formed the basis of a unique store design concept supported by a digital and influencer-led marketing plan.

The first store opened in Moscow’s influential Gargarinsky Mall. Instant success has led to hot-on-the heels store openings in a second Moscow location – Mytishchi and in Krasnodar. Now 12 further stores are planned to open as 2019 unfolds – with the Demix range planned for expansion from 2,200 to more than 3,500 lines.

Sportmaster is expecting to make further rapid moves to build on the success of the new Demix retail platform.

du rebrand - Enhance every moment, wherever, whenever Image

du rebrand - Enhance every moment, wherever, whenever

Bringing freshness to du branding refresh

Following a multi-agency pitch Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC) appointed Start Design as its brand agency of record in January 2019. Our remit covers key areas such as brand architecture development, brand and visual identity development and support for the digital transformation of EITC’s portfolio of brands, including du and Virgin Mobile. Launched in 2007, du is

a UAE national telecom operator with 9m individual customers and 100,000 businesses with mobile, fixed line, broadband internet, digital TV, ICT and managed services.

The saliency of Osman Sultan’s 2006 vision for launching du – “enhancing your life, wherever, whenever” has inspired our initial work. This has involved revisiting and realigning the du brand proposition and visual identity, reintroducing the freshness that characterised du’s success over the years after launch. We are contemporising the branding by introducing a mobile and digital first approach, to re-establish more relevant differentiation for the brand across consumer products and services. The first phases of work are being implemented in market from Summer 2019.

FootAsylum stores redesign Image

FootAsylum stores redesign

FootAsylum - Multi-brand streetwear goes hyperlocal.

Launched in 2007, FootAsylum is a UK based, on-trend multi-brand footwear and apparel retailer. With 63 locations in 2017, Start Design was appointed to create a new concept for upcoming openings, upsizes and refits.

We reinterpreted FootAsylum’s irreverent spirit to shake up retail and challenge predictable category conventions. A passion for

streetwear, leveraging inspirational stories from across social media platforms, the new format amplifies FootAsylum DNA ‘Genius Madness’ to better meet the needs of core audiences. The new retail experience has broad appeal to an enlarged shopper base and is designed to create a deeper connection with local communities.FootAsylum puts its best foot forward 

Building on ‘Best in Class” sneaker experiences and leveraging the wealth of FootAsylum online content, the stores are delivering in equal measure to commercial and brand partner requirements . FootAsylum’s first new concept store at Westfield, Stratford opened in November 2018. Trading reports show this store outperformed forecasts and targets to become the #1 trading store across the FootAsylum estate. Sales, forecast to double after reopening, leapt ahead year on year by 370% – and an increase of 183% over target. On a like-for-like basis, net new revenue made an additional 270% contribution compared to the same period one year earlier. A second location recently opened at Westfield, White City – here sales are up a further 34% on new improved targets.

Puma Box 50 at Etihad Stadium, home of MCFC Image

Puma Box 50 at Etihad Stadium, home of MCFC

Puma Box 50: Ultimate Private Box Experience.

Start Design has created Box 50: the ultimate anti-corporate private box experience for PUMA at the Etihad Stadium, the spectacular home of Manchester City FC. 

Puma Box 50 is a den of football culture – loading the game day experience with pre- and post-match entertainment. The modular design configures to the fixture, time of day and guest profile -

delivering an unpredictable experiential platform geared to enjoyment of the game and a unique entertainment experience.

From Box to Box 50…

From the moment guest push open the impressive Puma Box 50 double doors, they know they are somewhere very special. Packed full of authentic football artefacts, at Puma Box 50, every moment and every detail helps elevate the match-day experience bringing supporters closer to club and nearer to the action.

The Puma Box 50 WONDERWALL is a glass wall of edgeless screens showcasing unique multi-media content to heighten the match-watching experience with live action, exclusive match analysis, dynamic social content and multi-player football games complete with bespoke PlayStation controllers. 

Agüero’s Golden Boot sits on a bespoke 93:20 table – the time he smashed the winning goal in 2012 against QPR, to lift the title and changing Man City’s fortunes forever. 93:20 triggers the beginning of an ambient programme, transforming the space for the Puma Box 50 post-match experience.

Start Design created the complete Puma Box 50 experience including the name and visual identity, digital and experience design.


SevenStore Retail Design Image

SevenStore Retail Design

Multi-brand, multi-experience: Future-shaping retail for Sevenstore


SEVENSTORE is a successful, high-end sneaker, streetwear and contemporary fashion retailer. Its roster of brands mixes ‘newgen’ labels with more recognised designers; a non-traditional and unique edit of menswear that’s a huge hit with its fashion-forward customers.

At the heart of the new store concept is SEVENSTORE’S belief that

‘fashion is much more than clothes, shoes and accessories, and retail is more than windows, rails and tills' - the design blurs the boundaries between commerce and creativity. Its dual function as both venue and store carefully intertwines a curated programme of content with changing fashion collections.Community-led, Destination Retail

SEVENSTORE is named after the seven streets on which its illustrious home city of Liverpool is founded – Liverpool’s post-industrial heartland and a creative hotbed for the North West – reflects the brand’s commitment to reinvention and regeneration.

Inspired by Liverpool’s thriving creative culture, SEVENSTORE is designed to build close links with the creative community. The space can be refreshed every seven weeks. Each new edition is supported with a social media and content campaign to pull in visitors, encouraging them to explore a relatively undiscovered part of Liverpool, not traditionally associated with shopping.

Spread across two floors, the space pairs a retail-focussed ground floor with an expansive basement equipped to host a range of music events, panel discussions and brand activations. Powerful A/V installations, focused around a digital footwear wall, deliver disruptive and distinctive storytelling to amplify brands and differentiate the entire experience in line with the events calendar.

Arabian Gulf League Branding

Instantly recognizable, the new football logo for the Arabian Gulf League references Arabic geometry to reinforce not just football, but UAE football at the top of the game. 

A full spectrum of colours is suggestive of a
festival of football, as diverse and inclusive as the UAE, and represents the Club colours of
all 14 members, the elite players and fans from around the world. It is designed to amplify

energy and excitement of the Arabian Gulf League throughout the football season.


Sort by

Brand Strategy & Design for Nonprofit Superstore

"The look and feel of the store fits our brand as well as creating the necessary wow factor."

Willing to refer: 
The Project
$10,000 to $49,999
Sept. 2017 - Sept. 2019
Project summary: 

Start Design supported branding for a humanitarian store. Working with their partner, they delivered a design concept, refined it, and implemented a strategy to meet the organization’s needs.

The Reviewer
1,001-5,000 Employees
Oxford, United Kingdom
Trading Director, Charity Superstore
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The brand launch was successful, attracting many donations. Start Design’s work exceeded expectations and accurately reflects the organization’s culture. By working efficiently and communicating throughout the process, they solidified a strong working relationship.

The client submitted this review online.


Please describe your company and your position there.

Oxfam GB is an international Humanitarian and Development Charity that operates over 600 Charity Shops in the UK as part of its fundraising, supported by 23,000 amazing volunteers. I am the Trading Director.


For what projects/services did your company hire Start Design?

We wanted to design and build a large concept Charity Superstore with a sense of retail theatre and local community.

What were your goals for this project?

Income / Profit Public Engagement Circular economy model of re-sell / re-use / recycle


How did you select this vendor?

We had previously engaged Start through a competitive tender process on our smaller store design. Start had stood out as the ideal company to work with at that stage and it was a natural progression to work with them on this project, especially given their experience of working with other large format concepts for sports brands (and others) across the world.

Describe the project in detail.

Start were briefed on what we wanted, took time to understand our brand and needs, designed the concept, refined it and after a planning delay (outside of their control) we opened in Sept 19.

What was the team composition?

Small team of project manager and designers, with input from their founder as required.


Can you share any outcomes from the project that demonstrate progress or success?

The Superstore has been very successful since opening, attracting both donations and turnover in excess of our highest expectations.

How effective was the workflow between your team and theirs?

Great. They work very efficiently and kept us informed throughout the process.

What did you find most impressive about this company?

They really strove to understand our thoughts and culture, without trying to impose a formulaic solution. The look and feel of the store fits our brand as well as creating the necessary wow factor.

Are there any areas for improvement?

We have always had a good relationship with them. Nothing to highlight in this section.

Overall Score Kevin Gill and the team are great
  • 5.0 Scheduling
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    As a non profit they have always worked within our budget and constraints
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    World class design
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I already have

Smart Store Redesign for Telecommunication Company

"Apart from creative thinking, there was a clear understanding and application of operational functionality."

Willing to refer: 
The Project
$200,000 to $999,999
Jan. 2014 - June 2015
Project summary: 

Start Design fronted the redesign of a telecommunications store and kiosk, focusing on brand visualization and customer experience in their designs.

The Reviewer
1,001-5,000 Employees
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Philip McKinnon
Former VP Channel Development, Etisalat
The Review
Feedback summary: 

After opening the first store, product sales, consumer interest, and quality of customer experience all increased dramatically. The early success allowed the client to open 130 additional smart stores utilizing the same designs since. Communication was simple and often organized by their team.

The client submitted this review online.


Please describe your company and your position there.

Etisalat group is the Most Valuable Portfolio Brand in MENA, valued at over USD 10 billion with a customer base of over 144 million subscribers across 15 countries. Etisalat UAE is the home and flagship market of the Etisalat group, providing telecommunication services to the UAE since 1976 and the first company within the Middle East to offer mobile services as early as 1982.

The company is seen as a business and cultural icon within the UAE, woven deeply into the country's DNA and recent history. I was responsible for: Strategic planning & execution of developing store design, operations, systems, technological innovations, people and property portfolio management, and to dramatically improve customer experience and bottom-line results.


For what projects/services did your company hire Start Design?

Etisalat's retail portfolio consisted of a legacy of retails formats. Very large business centres with granite floors and counters that offered all services. Malls, mostly had kiosks that were focused on sales.

Customer service queries were referred to the business centres. Any stores in malls and the kiosks were a smattering of design concepts. All formats served customers in a very antiquated manner with customers having to queue and wait for different counters for different services.

The legacy systems were also detrimental to how the person on the counter served and attended to the customers needs. Stores were littered with dozens of marketing messages, in the format of rollup banners, leaflets and posters. There were also no products on display. A new store design was required that would encompass the vision of a new way of working. Included, were radical changes to people, training, processes, systems.

The essence of the vision was "How to make Etisalat easy to do business with." Easy for store teams to make it easy for customers. Start Design was required to provide us with a new store design that would radically change the way we served our customers.

What were your goals for this project?

To make Etisalat easy to do business with, for our store teams and our customers. To be delivered through great stores, great people, great products and great systems. Both service levels and sales values had to increase with the overall package have a large positive impact on the Etisalat brand.


How did you select this vendor?

Start Design was known in the market place as a premier design house. Start Design were approached with a briefing on our vision for Etisalat Retail. Mike and his team provided some thorough research on customers within the UAE and Etisalat customers visiting our existing outlets and how this would both align and challenge some of our thinking.

Etisalat's vigorous vendor selection started with Start Design in the mix. After a detailed process the selection committee awarded Start Design the contract. Start Design were chosen due to their understanding of our customers, our company culture, their local presence, and the need for function and form of the design to complement each other. Creativity could be dialled up or down to hit this sweet spot. Importantly Mike Curtis and his team were able to quickly build a relationship with the Etisalat team that allowed challenging debates that brought out the best design thinking for all.

Describe the project in detail.

  • Tender floated
  • Vendor selection committee formed and commenced
  • Start Design awarded contract
  • Smart Store team formed weekly meetings
  • Target retail site selected
  • Furniture mock-ups and materials provided
  • New store tea selected and included in design thinking and final few days of build
  • First store built
  • Achieved the best high value sales, best product sales and best service levels within the UAE above higher ranked locations.
  • Debrief of learning
  • First kiosk opened with same elements
  • Debrief of learning

What was the team composition?

Apart from myself, we had a dedicated Director from Etisalat who was our single point of contact with the agency. From the agency, apart from the CEO, Mike Curtis (who was always available), we also had a single point of contact, even though there were more people in the team.

Communication was therefore channelled clearly between Etisalat and Start Design. When areas of specialisation from Start Design were discussed, such as digital signage, specialists from that team would be engaged and always including the usual SPOC.


Can you share any outcomes from the project that demonstrate progress or success?

The first store was opened in Al Ain, was a low profile mall. However, the results achieved for high value sales, product sales and customer service, instantly hit top spots in the UAE. The CEO was highly impressed and invited the Chairmain of Etisalat to formally open the store. It was the first time we saw local youth engaged with the store. The first time we saw families visiting together and the first time that products were properly on display as well as a list of a dozen other firsts.

For a first newly designed store, we had an incredibly low list of moderations, which were only a few tweaks here and there. We went on to open another 130 stores of the same design. In 2018 for the first time, Etisalat was awarded the most valuable brand in the Middle East. One of two reasons given for the step up in achievement was the role out of the Smart Stores. The entire store rollout team were incredibly proud.

How effective was the workflow between your team and theirs?

Workflow was smooth between the two teams. This was due to the engagement from the start of Mike Curtis the CEO. Also the forming of single points of contacts between the two teams, kept communication clear and on-track. Being local in the market, also helped Start Design and Etisalat with face to face meetings when required.

What did you find most impressive about this company?

Apart from creative thinking, there was a clear understanding and application of operational functionality. We managed to build a great looking store that was far easier for store teams to functions in and far more engaging and productive for our customers.

The building of a relationship that allowed both of us to challenge each other, pushing and pulling so that we stayed on the tightrope of delivering the ultimate in experience and brand all wrapped up in a great design. That would be summed up as creative, listening, challenging, collaborative and availability and passion at a leadership level.

Are there any areas for improvement?

Start Design did a great job for us and we worked well together. Any challenges we had were always addressed as we went and therefore here are no overriding areas for improvement that stand out.

Overall Score They delivered the result in a professional manner and made us all look good.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    Both teams worked well with each other due to team structures set up on each side.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    Etisalat has a tough contracts department. We feel we got good value.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    Etisalat achieving the MENA highest value brand with the Smart Store rollout speaks for itself
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    Very likely. The results were formed through an honest relationship and good leadership.