D&AD New Blood 2014

For the past week I’ve been spending my time as a D&AD New Blood Festival Guide – this gave me the opportunity to meet some lovely people, attend various D&AD events and have a good old nosy at the Festival and the work on display. As always, there was an abundance of great work and I was really pleased I got the chance to have a really thorough look around the stalls as the exhibition can, at first glance, all be a little overwhelming and some clever ideas are lost behind other more attention-grabbing pieces of ‘eye-candy’.

I thought I’d share on here a selection of the work I admired and a bit of an insight into the events I attended during the week. (I was keen not to take too many business cards as I figured students would potentially rather them go to a future employer than some graduate fanny-ing around with a blog but hopefully all of my accreditations will be correct!)

Aside from Falmouth’s stand (of course!), it was Norwich’s that I was possibly most interested in seeing. They churn out fantastic packaging work year after year and I was really intrigued to see if this trend had continued – spoiler alert, it had!

I really liked this popcorn packaging from Joshua Miller, which combined the simple idea of a cinema ticket with popcorn to create a really nice result. I can imagine these working well in a supermarket experience as they would stand away from the shelf.

Joshua Miller Butterkist

Helen Mak’s work also caught my eye on Norwich’s stand – although really I shouldn’t be promoting her as she pipped me to the post to win this year’s jkr juice award! Again, I felt her work was effective as it combined the idea of oatcakes and Scotland to create neat packaging and promotion for Nairn’s oatcakes.

Helen Mak Crackers

 

I was also drawn to Abbey Hennebry’s work for Bassetts Allsorts which plays on their iconic look and heritage to create a unique range of packaging and set of posters that are sure to make you smile. I think I would almost prefer the packaging if each one just created a whole sweet but I guess she was playing with the concept of ‘allsorts’ and showing the variety, which makes sense!

Abbey HenneburyAbbey Hennebury

Moving on from Norwich now I really liked a series of posters by Anders Kristofferson and Michael McCallum from Southampton Solent University for the D&AD Sky Brief. Each poster plays with the idea of abstracting an element of a film’s plot and comparing it to a very different film and was deservedly given a D&AD In Book award.

Movie Mashups

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 18.08.44

 

Another clever poster I enjoyed was by Steph Hamer (I think! Please correct me if not) and is a clever observation that links drawing with football.

It's a draw

A final set of posters that I liked were created by Hannah Hughes and Tiffany Trethowan in response to a YCN Brief for Standard Life. These posters take the idea of saving with Standard Life and depict an exaggerated scenario of what happens when people choose not to save.

YCN Standard Life YCN Standard Life YCN Standard Life

There were some great examples of photography on display too. I really loved this one from Patrick Kelly, particularly the confidence of composition and the dreamy quality the photo has.

Patrick Kelly

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I also loved Tereza Cervenova’s Photography and she was even kind enough to give me a postcard of one of her shots (Right before she won a Yellow Pencil so I should’ve got it signed!). Her work is hugely varied exploring emotions, light and just plain beautiful compositions.

terezacervenova terezacervenova

In terms of cute-ness, I just couldn’t resist Stephanie Morgan’s work for Save The Bees. I really like the simplicity of the pack and the illustration style and I want one of the little ones on my window sill!

Stephanie Morgan

 

Another sweet bit of illustration was this cactus Jessy Morris from Plymouth University:
Jessy Morris

 

I also liked Abi Sambells‘ illustration work, she turns a lot of her images into animations and I like the way she documented her character development.

Abi Sambells

Abi Sambells

 

Moving onto Falmouth now, we had a range of different work on show from the illustration, graphic design and advertising courses. It’s always hard to be subjective when looking at the work of your friends but I thought I’d include a small snapshot of the work on display.

From the advertising courses (that’s BA(Hons) and MA) I liked Miranda & Pat ‘s campaign for Dove for Men, playing with the simple premise that ‘It takes someone special to be a daddy’.mirandaandpat mirandaandpat

 

I also liked the work of Tom Dixon and Jo Griffin who took phrases and completely changed the meaning with the simple addition of a polo ‘o’. These just stood out as really simple and clever, working particularly effectively as animations which can be seen on their website.

Jo & Tom

 

The illustration course was particularly strong this year with fantastic work from a number of different students.

Key pieces for me came from Josh McKenna:

JshMck

David Doran:

David Doran

Rachel Saunders:

Rachel Saunders

And Fiona Rose:

Fiona Rose

I think the thing that sets Falmouth’s illustration course apart is just how well developed each person’s style is. Walking around the full degree show felt almost like looking through an agent’s book with each student demonstrating clearly what you would get from them if they were commissioned.

Finally we come to the Falmouth Graphics show. I won’t dwell too much on this one as I’m very biased towards various bits of work but I thought I’d pick out a few pieces that really stood out.

Firstly, I loved Adam Peacock’s posters for the Syrian Appeal, cleverly changing war paraphernalia into child-like drawings.

Adam Peacock

There was also some nice branding work from Adam Chescoe for a gift shop for the Forestry Commission. I particularly liked the way he’d changed the bar code to resemble a forest and used tree rings to create markers for his map.

Adam Chescoe

Adam Chescoe\Adam Chescoe

Another stand out piece was April Temlett’s silver prize winning entry for the Design Bridge rebranding competition (Coincidentally she also got the gold prize but I happen to prefer this entry). She chose Florette and played with the idea of lettuce creating french girls’ skirts.

April Temlett

It was also nice to see a small selection of my work up on display, a branding project for an immersive theatre company. You can read a bit more about this project here.

Maisie Benson

 

Finally, it wouldn’t be right to write a post about the New Blood Exhibition without a nod in Craig and John’s direction. They created the signage and branding for this year’s festival and it looked brilliant. The outer walls of the festival were full of great gems of copy and it really got people excited and curious about what was inside.

IMG_0043 IMG_0042 IMG_0046 IMG_0047

 

I did plan to write a little more about the events I attended but I think that may have to wait for a future post! I hope this did the festival some justice and reflected the incredible quality of the work on display. See you again next year!

 

 

 

Branding as Conversation

This is a bit of a different article for today and is a little taster of my university dissertation. I was exploring the theme of Branding as Conversation and looking at how brands are beginning to use copy on packaging and digital conversations as an integral part of their branding.

This surge in chatty branding has created an influx of blog posts with differing opinions on whether or not brands should be our friends. There’s a host of absurd terminology arising from ‘wackaging’ to ‘branter’ and right now there’s almost no one I envy less than those entrusted with a brand’s social media persona.

I am a 90’s child, and have spent a good portion of my life now on social networking sites. I have also spent almost half of my time on Earth surrounded by ‘chatty’ copy on packaging. However, somehow, despite all of this, if someone asks me who my best friend is (although I have to say that trend stopped in around year 7) I would not instantly declare ‘Tesco Mobile’ or ‘Innocent’ or even ‘Waterstones Oxford Street’. I realise this information may not come as a shock to you but brands are not actually trying to be our friends and we do not really see them as such. Just because they post an entertaining picture or tell us to ‘pop round to say hello’ doesn’t mean we’re instantly mates – they’re simply trying to break up the monotony of introspective, un-engaging and frankly dull messages and information that surrounds us all.

Whilst I am generally in favour of brands having personality and a unique tone of voice, the emphasis of this sentence needs to firmly be placed on ‘unique’. Brands need to find out who they’re talking to and what these people want to hear. It’s no good seeing a brand post a picture of a cat with a moustache and decide that that’s the best route for another brand because, 99% of the time, it is not. I think a lot of brands fail to acknowledge that the section of people they are talking to changes constantly and they need to be personified to such an extent that they can adapt to these changes in the same way that humans do. I have seen no end of articles dictating that brands need to create a ‘consistent tone of voice across all platforms’ when in reality it is not consistency that brands need, but instead, coherency. There is a huge difference between posting a tweet that will primarily be seen by individuals who have chosen to engage with a particular brand and creating an advert due to be aired on prime-time television; and the brand’s tone of voice needs to reflect this.

Back in 1967 Marshall McLuhan declared that, “Propaganda ends when dialogue begins” and I believe this quote applies well to the state of branding today. If brands can find a way to create conversation and dialogue with their consumer then the idea of them being ‘propaganda’ is lost. They stop becoming spam and filter themselves almost seamlessly into our lives. However, the minute disconnect arises (potentially through the wrong choice of media or audience) and the conversation becomes stilted or unreciprocated they instantly become propaganda once more, and seemingly devious propaganda at that.

This is an extremely fine line for any brand to tread and with such continuous public feedback and criticism it is not a task to take on lightly, however if it is done well, then they can gain almost unlimited access into their consumers’ lives and, more importantly, minds.

fruit-towers14

Taking the social out of media – The Social Media Guard.

It can be a little frustrating when you’re working on a brief and you see the exact thing you’re trying to communicate done in a really new and funny way. This is precisely what has just happened to me.

Recently a fellow student and I have been collaborating on a brief that aims to reconnect people with nature and take them away from modern technologies, (some of you may recognise the description of this as the D&AD National Trust Brief). It’s been a really fun project and David Beavis (hello!) and I have come up with a campaign we’re pretty happy with and almost ready to submit, but I’ve just seen an idea that I’m actually a bit gutted that we didn’t come up with!

This is the new Coca Cola advert, from Memac Ogilvy Dubai, and it’s a brilliantly simple solution to an actually quite similar problem:

The thing that I think makes this advert successful is that it doesn’t make the consumer resent the brand for telling them to put down their phones. It can seem like quite a patronising thing for a brand to say, but by incorporating wit into the advert Coca Cola avoids this feeling of superiority that can sometimes come across.

If you see National Trust social media guards come out soon then it definitely was just a huge coincidence…

Found on the Creative Review Blog.

Sorting out Santa’s Branding – A brilliant self-promotion from Quietroom.

I think Christmas is the best time of year for design. Sure, there are a whole heap of clichés that get recycled each year but it’s also a time where a lot of companies send out self-promotional mailers (which try and push the limits of their creativity and design) and brands often relax their usual guidelines and stipulations.

One of my favourite pieces of Christmas inspired design I’ve seen this year (that’s aside from the Warburton’s packaging I had a small hand in creating) is the Santa Brand Book from Quietroom.

It’s full of witticisms and gentle jibes at the world of branding and marketing and I think they’ve done a brilliant job of promoting their incredible way with words in a fun and festive way.

The whole thing is well worth reading but I’ve included a selection of personal highlights here, which includes this brilliant selection of venn diagrams – The ‘ho ho ho’ one is particularly inspired!
Santa Brand Book

I also love this brilliant paragraph which mocks the way that when branding something we are often taught to compare it to other objects to truly understand the brand. The best bit, in my opinion, being “if it were a holiday, it would be Easter.”
Santa Brand Book

There’s a great diagram to step you through the brand pyramid, starting with gullibility and ending with the lovely detail of ‘delivery’.

Santa Brand Book

And they provide a brilliant rationale behind the brand name:

Santa Brand Book

They offer a great selection of colour ways to chose from, including ‘white on white’:
Santa Brand Book

And, in case you weren’t sure which white to use there’s a great chart to ensure you get the colours just right (or ‘even’ in this case):

Santa Brand Book

I think the best part of this diagram showing other figures that may infringe on Santa’s territory is the inclusion of Jeremy Paxman (and his recent controvertial facial hair!)Santa Brand Book

As the promotion is from a company who focus on copy and words there is inevitably a focus on brand language and tone of voice, which is, as expected, spot on!

Santa Brand Book

Santa Brand Book

Having not heard of Quietroom before I think this brand book is a really good example of self promotion done well. I’ll definitely be looking out for more of their work in the future and following what they’re up to!

The whole book can be viewed here.

Dram good design – 25 years of Stocks Taylor Benson

As some of you may know, one of the ways I was first introduced to graphic design was through my Dad. He is the co-owner of Stocks Taylor Benson, an agency based in Leicestershire and they’re currently celebrating their 25th Birthday. (Anniversary? Whichever you prefer!) Now I don’t tend to talk about their work much as I don’t want this blog just to become a promotion for them, however their recent project to commemorate this momentous passing of time is one that I’m really quite a fan of.

Even Better With Age-1

Stocks Taylor Benson 25 years

I can put this appreciation down to a number of key features, the first and main one being the plethora of witty word play and puns they’ve managed to incorporate throughout the packaging, this, as well as the level of detail (even down to the year the typeface was made coinciding with the year the business was formed) and the lovely tactility in the orange foiling really makes it a stand out piece of work in my opinion.

Stocks Taylor Benson 25 years

The entire concept is based around the idea of 25 years, whisky was chosen as 1988 was a good year for whisky and the specific whisky they have packaged is Glenfarclas – a 25 year old single malt. As well as this, the boxes were produced in a limited run of 250, which were hand numbered, no less!

In their own words, ‘Once the box is opened the recipient is invited to share in a wee toast, “Here’s tae 25 years of spirited graphic design”, foiled onto a heavyweight board flap that hides the contents and builds the sense of anticipation.’

STB design, whiskey

Beneath this there’s a booklet to tell you all about the business (and the whisky) which features some lovely bits of copy such as ‘That’s the spirit” and “Like a good whisky we’ve become even better with age” further reinforcing the link between the company and whisky.

Stocks Taylor Benson 25 years

The bottles themselves (one is whisky, the other water) are simple but beautifully crafted. Beyond the initial word play on the products, they feature some neat details such as ‘Still – designing with passion’ on the water.
Even Better With Age-6

STB packaging

I love the way they have treated every element in the package as an opportunity and the entire thing is beautifully considered and thorough. A great celebration of their work.

You can find out more about this project here.

Oh, and also you can vote for this to be featured in The Drum via this link. You just have to click ‘Like’ next to their pictures.

Making tax less taxing

Yet again, I’ve fallen foul of neglecting this here blog, but I guess as a 3rd year now that’s bound to happen. However, I don’t want to stop this thing entirely so I thought I’d give you all another update on one of my projects.

This was a self initiated project which brought my second year to a close. I decided to tackle the subject of tax, and more specifically, the negative image we have of our tax system. I aimed to change people’s perceptions of tax, highlight the benefits taxes bring to the community and generally make taxes more accessible and engaging.

To do this, I created the brand ‘Just Tax’ which would be an independent, but government funded, organisation which aims to break down tax into tangible amounts. I decided on the name ‘Just Tax’ as the word ‘Just’ can be interpreted to mean both ‘simple’ and ‘fair’ which really summed up my brand’s aims.

The brand is primarily a website, with the home screen showing a desk cluttered with various every day objects (click for a larger image):

Maisie Benson, Just tax

Each of these objects has the same value (or near enough!) as the amount you spend on a particular sector, in taxes, each day:

Maisie Benson, Graphic Design

For example, a person on the average UK salary gives £2.14 per day towards running the government. This is represented as a cup of coffee. They also give £1.01 towards education, this is shown with a pack of pencils.

Each object has some form of connection to the sector they represent, as well as being an object that could be on a desk, and bought regularly if not everyday.

As you hover over each object the relevant information appears to prevent the desk being too confusing and inaccessible, however there is an option to ‘See the Full Picture’ on each infographic:

Maisie Benson, tax coffee

When an object is clicked – In this case the coffee – it separates out into an infographic. Here, each component in the coffee represents a different sub-sector within Running the Government:

Maisie Benson, just tax, coffee

And, as with the homepage, as each element is hovered over more information will appear:

Maisie, coffeeThere is also the option to view the complete infographic, which shows how the size of each object is relevant to each sub-section:

Coffee, Just tax, graphic designEach of the objects on the home screen works in the same way. In this case the banana (representing the environment) is being hovered over:

Banana, Maisie Benson, taxIf you are particularly interested in a sub-section within a category, such as waste, there is a further level to the site where it will direct you right to the source of where your money is spent:

Maisie Benson, Just tax, banana

waste, tax, environment

This aims to humanise the tax system and hopes to show why the money is necessary. At this point you are given the option to visit the relevant government site for further information.

To advertise my brand I created a series of posters simply showing the correlation between money spent each day on a sector and the object it relates to. Objects such as the banana add an element of humour and interest and keeping the posters simple keeps the viewer’s attention firmly on the message:

Just tax posters

I think these would be particularly effective as print adverts as the reader will have time to digest the message:

print tax poster

Hopefully that all makes sense but please feel free to ask any questions or give any feedback in the comments section below!

 

Making flour bloom – When execution is key

I’ve just arrived back from a lovely week away to some very exciting post from Opal Print, a printing company based in Bath:

Image

Inside were some gorgeous posters, designed by Mytton Williams  and photographed by Alistair Hood. They were created to showcase Opal Print’s exceptional print quality and were printed live during an open day at Opal.

Opal Print, Mytton Williams Poster The idea was to take something ordinary – such as plain flour – and use their skills and expertise to make it into something beautiful. A risky strategy but one that’s really paid off.

Opal Print, Mytton Williams Poster

Opal Print, Mytton Williams Poster I wanted to try and capture some of the detail in the posters but they photos haven’t turned out too well so you’ll just have to take my word for it!

Opal Print, Mytton Williams Poster These posters are a perfect example of how to pull together a solid, simple idea with great execution to make a stand out piece of work.

Also it’s worth having a nosey around Opal Print’s website for pictures like this, which are almost as lovely as the prints themselves:

Opal print, printing plate

Opal printLovely stuff – Thank you!