My method for winning new business was always lunches

26 July, 2021

Joy Nazzari on the importance of lunch and why the property industry has to rewrite its story

What’s changed for dn&co?

We’re in the middle of a big shift and it’s very fluid. Offices are under fire, some think they’re totally dead, others think their value has been undeniably proven because WFH is so challenging for people.

Retail was on trial before the pandemic and sustainability was the big topic. But what the pandemic has done is really underscore the importance of fresh air and the civic value of green spaces.

What does this mean for your real estate clients?

They’re coming to us and saying we need to have an opinion about these things. Normally in real estate this would take a long time to develop out but it’s having to happen really quickly. So we’re working with LandSec helping them rewrite their story and their narrative and we’re doing this for a lot of real estate clients because they know they have to have a different opinion on how they talk about themselves.

Will this lead to real change within the property industry?

For the first time we are speaking to CEOs who are talking about social purpose and who want to make an impact on the ground. This now matters as much as delivering the profit to shareholders and actually the shareholders are demanding it too.

So there’s pressure from investors and a new generation in leadership who’ve grown up with a mobile in their back pocket and have never held an A-Z while the pandemic has shoved a lot of the old school guys into digital transformation – in order to continue to transact they have to do it digitally.

How do you start a project?

We do a lot of work now when we go in before the architect has been commissioned, which is very exciting, to help our clients do customer research – what is the brief, how can we impact the community and what’s the story.

What’s your favourite medium?

Film is so moving. If I was advising developers how to move someone in sixty seconds, film is just a fantastic medium. But you have to start with a great story. We call it ‘place purpose’ at dn&co. Why should people care is the test and we try and use that bit of validation across everything we do.

What advice would you give a practice starting out?

My method for winning new business was always lunches so I would spend lots of money taking people out all the time because you’re then top of mind whereas with social media I can follow you at a distance but I can also ignore you.

I’m also a late but humongous convert to PR. It is significant investment but it can put you into the right conversations and the right articles.

As an architect, designer or any start-up, you have two golden years when people want to help you because you’re new and later on they want you to fail because you’re so successful. But it’s so important not to be scared – you can afford to be brave in those first couple of years.

How well are architects communicating their role online?

There are a couple of areas where I think architects are missing out. One is why are case studies on websites full of pictures of pristine but totally empty buildings– what happened next? Do people love it? Are they excelling there? Are they happy? The human narrative is missing but human dialogue is something we can all tap into and what I see on architects’ websites is a very un-human narrative.

What are your favourite websites?

One is Soda. They have a really interesting take which I think is unique. Their website looks totally fresh in terms of a narrative and as a look.

The other is Modern House and what they’ve nailed is content. What’s interesting about fantastic websites like Modern House is that people are generous. They’ve curated and collected fantastic content that you’re going to be interested in – and by the way, ‘would you like to buy a house?’


Joy Nazzari is founding director at branding and design agency dn&co and Showhere, a new presentation platform that creates visually led stories about places to help developers and agents sell and lease space.

She is a judge for the Archiboo Awards Best Visual Design category.
The deadline for the Archiboo Awards is September 2nd.

Soda won the Best Visual Design category in 2020 and Modern House in 2016. All past winners can be seen here