Toby barnes

Design, Brand & Consumer Experience Leader

Portland, OR


Office Hours

How does this work?

A passionate, entrepreneurial leader with over 20 years of experience partnering with brands including Nike, Levis, Audi, MTV, EA, Beats, Sony, and Microsoft. With a strong strategic and innovation focus, a proven track record for building and leading collaborative teams, and delivering award-winning work. Experience working within agencies, global dtc brands as well as founding and launching a number of start-ups. Specialties: Leadership, digital product management, CX, Service & Experience Design, Retail Strategy & Design, Product Strategy, Business Transformation, Digital Marketing, Loyalty Strategy, Creative Direction, and Innovation strategies in the digital space. Focusing on defining DTC strategies, running multiple teams and directing major day-to-day decisions. A firm believer in using rapid prototyping techniques and user testing to aid fast and iterative decision making whilst actively encouraging multi-disciplinary collaboration throughout marketing, design and development. Before my time with AKQA back in the UK, I ran my own award-winning digital design consultancy for 10 years, as well as founding 2 gaming start-ups In the UK. Previously I worked for a number of industry leaders including Emap, Virgin Interactive, and MTV Networks, and as a consultant for Microsoft, SCEE, Electronic Arts, Royal Shakespeare Company, Channel 4 and Mattel. As a founding member of Virgin Media’s Interactive Division I launched Europe’s first commercial interactive TV service. I am also a regular speaker at cultural and industry events including E3, Game Developers Conference, Develop in the U, SXSW, TEDX, Playful, and Interesting London.

Ask me about
Service design
Digital retail
Store design
Brand Design
Brand Experience
Whiteboarding Software
Work experience

Jan 2021 - Present


Strategy & Design Consultant, Advisor

Confidential projects and advisory roles - Brand Experience - User/consumer Experience - Retail design - Transformation & Innovation process strategy - Product leadership - Concept development


Jun 2019 - Present


Senior Director, Consumer Experience - Global, Nike Direct

Responsible for leading the design of digital and physical services, experiences, and store concepts that create distinction for the brand and solve frictions for our customers. I led a team of marketeers, strategists and consumer experience designers, who collaborated with a ‘orchestra’ of some of the most talented individuals and specialists I have ever had the pleasure of supporting, across Nike Direct and Geo partners. - Consumer Direct Offense - Nike App at Retail - House of Innovation, Flagship retail concept - Nike Rise, Medium format retail concept - Nike Live, Small format retail concept - Nike Unite, Value Shopping concept - Post-Covid Fleet Reopening - Nike for Her (including Bra Fit, and Women’s concept) - Clientelling, expertise, social commerce, 1:1 sessions with experts in store and on-demand online. - SNKRS/NTC/NRC - Nike By You - Sustainabilty services & experience


Jun 2018 - Jun 2019


Executive Strategy Director

Strategy & Consumer Experience Team lead (Nike, Levis, Amazon, Palms, NRG) Projects for Nike include Nike Women’s Strategy, Olympics, Membership, Nike Retail Strategy & Concept Design, Nike Connected Product Strategy, Investor relations, X-Cat Production Studio, Brand Innovation. - Levis Membership & Digital Strategy - Palms Launch Strategy - Amazon Prime TV - Launch - Beats/Apple membership & services For AKQA Leading Global Brand Experience transformation.


Sep 2016 - Jun 2018


Group Strategy Director (Nike)

CX & Strategy lead for AKQA Portland Office (Nike, Palms, Trek, NRG) - Nike Retail Strategy, - Nike Women's & Sportswear Launchs, - Digital Sport Innovation strategy, - Membership Strategy, - Nike App strategy, design & Launch, - NXT accelerator, - Valiant Labs - Digital Partnerships & Retail Innovation. - Supporting strategy across AKQA North America Offices (Beats, Levis) - Leading Global Brand Experience transformation.


Jan 2017 - Feb 2018

Jaguar Land Rover

Mentor / Advisor

Mentor and Advisor for the first three cohorts of Jaguar / Land Rover incubator.


Aug 2013 - Aug 2016


Product Strategy Director (Portland, Nike)

Projects included Product Owner - Nike Training Club, Nike Better World, Nxt Innovation, Nike Membership Strategy, Nike App Design and Development


Jan 2012 - Aug 2013


Product Strategy Director (London)

From the London office I lead AKQA's global Product and Business Innovation Practice. I was responsible for the design and development of innovative customer experiences across a wide variety of channels and devices, leading and consulting on product development and Innovation pipelines across a wide range of client groups, including Nike, EDF, Barclays Bank, Pearson Education, Mini and Toyota. Working with Nike, I lead the product strategy function on a range of new applications, services and product innovations including consumer training and performance applications, Nike ID, digital sport, membership, retail revolution and data science projects. I took the role of Internal Product Owner for larger development programmes including Product Owner (AKQA) for Nike Training Club

Dec 2009 - Dec 2011


Founder and CEO

Chromaroma inc. was an online social gaming startup. Launched in London in November 2010, Chromaroma (game) was a physical gaming platform built on top of RFID transport networks, predominantly Oyster Cards. Chromaroma received 2 rounds of funding, and is now a permanent exhibit in the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MOMA)

Apr 2005 - Mar 2011

Mudlark Digital \ Pixel-Lab

Founder and CEO

Mudlark was as a digital innovation & gaming agency. Mudlark designed and built a number of innovative consumer experiences and games with a commitment to playful design and storytelling. From real-world games to web experiences with theatre, from apps to events. I led the consultancy practice for a range of companies, primarily focused on Digital Transformation, Innovation pipeline development for the video game industry. Consultancy clients included Microsoft, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, the UK government, Free Radical, Rare, Electronic Arts and a large number of start-ups and SMEs. Mudlark also experimented with designing community games, developing new platforms for publishing advertising, virtual goods experiences, and playful real world events. Best known for developing Such Tweet Sorrow (with the RSC and Channel 4) and Chromaroma.

Mar 2005 - Dec 2009

London Games Festival


A founder of the original London Games Festival which ran until 2012 featuring a series of diverse events from the world of interactive entertainment, video games publishers, developers, partners, personalities, trade organisations, media organisations. The LGF provided the industry with the opportunity to showcase creativity and artistry, from script-writers to animators, musicians to programmers. - The Festival also worked to enhance perceptions of interactive entertainment and the industry by engaging with existing institutional advocates (BAFTA, ELSPA, DfES, DCMS, BBFC, DTI, LDA) and illustrating compelling and positive research while promoting future vision and horizons of the games industry. - LGF Fringe, an offshoot of the Festival, focused on diversity, inclusion and independence - The Soho Project, that offered players a chance to take part in a mass ‘reality game’ on the streets of Soho. - Games AV - a live concert, screening and club night features musicians, DJs, VJs, filmmakers, animators and digital artists whose work has been shaped by video games culture. - Sense of Play ran annually as part of the Fringe from 2005–2007. Each event was a one-day symposium which looked at the future of games design in its broadest sense featuring some of the most inspiring voices working in, around and beyond the games industry. - London Games Skills Week offered a week long series of seminars designed to attract new talent into the games industry from a broad spectrum of creative disciplines. - ZeroGamer exhibition which featured " that play themselves, video documents of in-game performance, game engine experiments and challenging documentaries on gameplay."


Apr 2003 - Oct 2005


Investment Manager

I managed investment (>£1m projects) from the UK film council into the video game industry, Investments included: - Free Radical - Games Workshop - Straw Dogs - Warp Games

Dec 1998 - Mar 2003

MTV UK, Northern & Eastern Europe

Head of Interactive

At MTV I was responsible for all interactive content across mobile, broadband and narrowband for all MTV multiple European channels. As part of the first digital team at MTV I was in control of interactive content across all MTV digital products, as well as aiding in the creative development of the TV Channels. This content ranged from mobile applications to BAFTA award winning 360 digital projects and a number of large scale web project launches.

Nov 1996 - Dec 1998

NTL interactive

Head of Content Innovation

I was part of a small team who launched Europe’s first commercial interactive TV service. I managed a team of 30 creatives and technologists as well as working with a range of clients, including Disney, Discovery, Barclays Bank, Press Association, National Geographic, Universal and Electronic Arts.


1992 - 1996

Dun & Bradstreet

Digital Strategy Executive

Whilst at University I worked on a number of digital assignments and after graduating became one of their client service specialists working at board level with a number of major corporations on digital and big data projects.

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