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:


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!

Copy Cups – Waldo Pancake’s brilliant copywriting for Puccino’s Coffee Shop

Right then, time to dust the cobwebs off this here blog again!

I’ve got a post brewing about my latest uni project (All about tax, so that’s one to get excited about!) But in the meantime I thought I’d mention some brilliant copywriting that Smith & Milton introduced me to on my latest placement.

Jim Smith, or Waldo Pancake, as he has become known has been working for Puccino’s Coffee Shops since 1998 creating some of the funniest packaging I’ve ever read. I’d mistakenly believed that copy with personality had been a very recent phenomenon, with Innocent leading the trend, but instead it seems as though the best stuff has been around long before this current popularisation.

I’m a bit in awe of great copywriters, it’s a skill I really want to have and I think getting just the right tone and level of common knowledge is a really difficult knack to master.  Jim’s work is clever enough to make you laugh, but is also easy enough for you to engage with and doesn’t leave you feeling as though you haven’t quite ‘got’ the joke.

Waldo Pancake, Puccino Coffee Cups Copy

Waldo Pancake, Puccino Biscuit Copy

Waldo Pancake, Puccino Coffee Cups Copy

Waldo Pancake, Puccino Coffee Cups Copy

Waldo Pancake, Puccino Sugar Copy

Waldo Pancake, Puccino Sugar Copy

Jim Smith, copy, water, puccino

A full collection can be seen on his Flikr set here.

Branding & Packaging to be Jealous of

I love the work of B&B Studio, all of their projects have an individual wit and personality to them that very few other companies manage to achieve. Their latest redesign for Jealous Sweets is a great example of this.

Jealous Sweets B&B StudioB&B based their design around the concept of ‘covetable candy’ represented by a magpie on top of a variable jewel which corresponds to each set of sweets.

B&B studio Jealous Sweets

The design is simple and elegant – positioning the brand clearly in the premium market. This is accentuated by the use of gold foiling, embossing and die-cutting for the jewel, creating a lovely contrast between a clean crisp outside and a juicy, colourful interior.

B&B studio Jealous SweetsI think the easiest way to see just how great the new branding and packaging is, is to compare it to the original design, which falls into almost every cliché out there:Old Jealous Sweets Packaging

B&B Studio Jealous Sweets

The brand has also been transfered seamlessly across into their website, creating an elegant, easy-to-use page that highlights the lovely colours and variants of the sweets and jewels.

B&B Studio Jealous Sweets Website

I’m lucky enough to be spending some time with B&B Studio over the summer and I can’t wait to absorb even a tiny portion their brilliance!

The Chartered Society of Designers Need Your Help!

So for those of you who aren’t aware of the CSD, they are, to quote their website ‘the professional body for designers and the authority on professional design practice.’ Basically the CSD assesses designers and if they and their portfolio are deemed good enough, they are awarded membership into the society.

Anyway they want you, yes you, to help them by filling in the survey below. It will take 10 minutes and give you a nice warm happy glow!

CSD Survey

Thank you

Falmouth Unversity: Final Year Show 2013

This year, as always, the Falmouth University Graphic Design show boasts a plethora of brilliant and varied ideas and solutions. I’ve selected a few of my favourite pieces of work to try and capture a glimpse of the talent but I would fully recommend seeing the show over the next few days. All the work will also be available to view here from the beginning of next week.

Chulley Evans

Douwe Egberts Campaign

Douwe Egberts Campaign

One piece of work that really stood out to me was Chulley Evans‘ poster campaign for Douwe Egberts. The brief was to advertise Douwe Egberts to a younger target market and Chulley decided to focus her campaign on the relationship between coffee lovers and their coffee. She showed this loyalty with a really simple visual play on a coffee cup handle becoming a wedding ring. This is reinforced by her choice of copy which works really nicely in both the context of vows and for coffee.

Emma Chilcott

L'Artisan Parfumeur - L'Art de L'Emotion

L'Artisan Parfumeur - L'Art de L'Emotion

L'Artisan Parfumeur - L'Art de L'Emotion

I love Emma Chilcott‘s response to the D&AD brief to design the packaging for four scents from L’Artisan Parfumeur, each capturing a different emotion. Emma created L’Art de L’Emotion – a range of perfume paints that can be mixed to express your emotions using colour and scent. I think her solution is a really elegant outcome for quite an intricate brief.

Trevor Thompson 

 The Big Sleep Cover

The Big Sleep Back Cover

Trevor Thompson‘s book cover design for Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep also caught my eye. I think this cover achieves a good balance between engaging the viewer without giving away too much of the plot. It gradually acquires further meaning as the book is read – whilst some women in the book may prove to be key to unlocking information in the case, others may be concealing far more deadly secrets.

Anthony Goodison

Feel Good Drinks Company CampaignFeel Good Drinks Company Campaign

One really simple but effective solution was Anthony Goodison‘s campaign for the Feel Good Drinks Company. Anthony took well known positive phrases and used the urban environment to engage with viewers and bring a smile to their day.

Conor Dorsett

Urban Honey Packaging

Urban Honey Campaign

Conor Dorsett decided to tackle the jkr juice competition to brand and package a global urban beekeeper’s products. Conor focused his branding on how urban honey is shaped by the city it is created in, this he showed very simply by forming city skylines out of honey drops. I think this outcome would be really effective on shelf as the skylines would align and create the impression of an entire city.

Sarah Knight

Douwe Egberts Packaging

Douwe Egberts Packaging

Douwe Egberts Packaging

Sarah Knight tackled the same Douwe Egberts brief as Chulley, above, but with a completely different outcome. Sarah focussed on redesigning the coffee’s packaging to bring it, quite literally, into the home. I think Sarah’s designs work really nicely as a set and would be really hard to resist!

Paul Ransom

Paul Ransom Duracell

paul ransom duracell

Along the same lines as being hard to resist, I really liked Paul Ransom‘s Duracell redesign. Paul has created a different personality for each battery type based on their size and nature of use.

Josie Evans

Josie Evans Falmouth

Josie Evans Falmouth

Josie Evans Falmouth

Josie Evans‘ self initiated brief was to create a campaign to highlight issues surrounding food wastage as well as providing cheap and easy solutions to the problem. Josie created a clever sleeve to fit over various products to show just how much is wasted out of each item bought. Each sleeve contains a recipe that could be made using the potentially wasted product, if all of the sleeves are collected they can be arranged to create a full poster with various facts and information about food wastage. I love how many different levels there are to Josie’s outcome think it is a really effective and practical solution.