Saturday, 19 December 2009

Barnardo's new advertising campaign

Barnardo's have always created great adverts. Adverts which communicate the lives of those they strive to help. And their recent TV spot titled ‘Turn Around’ is nothing less than brilliant.

The ad builds upon the great press campaign which ran earlier in the year, where hard-hitting copy and brave art direction shared the stories of children who had been given up on. Indeed, they won many awards but that comes secondary to the role they played in delivering a clear and direct message to the masses.

The new campaign, launched just a few weeks ago, uses laconic narrative, similar in style to that of a text message, to tell the story of a young girl. The film uses the trademark Barnardo's sepia tones and cleverly uses the same eight scenes to tell a story of two halves; the young girls transition in and out of various and troubling situations.

Visit Barnardo's website to read the true story and find out about The Teens’ Speech this Christmas day.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Does CSR really work?

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) has been around for many years. In fact, since the 50's when the phrase was first used by academics and business leaders to identify and articulate the impact of global businesses on society. (I imagine the phrase was near strangled by the booms and busts of the 80's and 90's when the environment was not at the forefront of a businesses strategy).

There's been as many critics of CSR as there have advocates. That's to say, it's never been a government initiative, nor has it been obligatory. It's voluntary and, as such, has swayed in both directions since its conception.

But what does CSR mean for businesses? Can it really affect the bottom line? Can it embed itself sufficiently within a business/brand and become a competitive advantage?

Some years ago, I attended a talk by the founder of the clothing label Howies. As a business, Howies pride themselves on their ethics and it's become the thread by which the company has grown and flourished (indeed they were recently purchased by Timberland). Every aspect of the brand is as sustainable as can be. Every product is produced with as little environmental impact as humanly possible. Every catalogue printed on recycled stock and printed with vegetable inks. And, every employee as earthly as the brand they represent.

All of this is, collectively, what makes Howies appealing to its customers. So much so that they trade almost entirely on their principles alone. Subtle marketing, no gimmicks and no expensive ad campaigns. CSR, for Howies, has become a real competitive advantage and certainly reaches to their bottom line.

What Howies does isn't new though. (You just have to look at the great work Anita Roddick and team did with The Bodyshop). But it works for them. They trusted their own beliefs and built a brand which echoes those beliefs, and the beliefs of their customers.

So (and this isn't a final summary as such but something to ponder) CSR, and indeed corporate/brand values, need to be the foundations by which a business is formed. To add them like you would condiments to a finished plate of food will only affect the credibility and authenticity of the approach. CSR needs to reside within the DNA of an organisation and should be a personality trait that every employee is proud of.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Environmental stories to tell

I’ve just received a really nice set of postcards from
Two Sides Paper featuring six illustrations by Holly Sims. The cards include the strapline ‘print and paper have a great environmental story to tell’ and have a short and punchy story on the back which has been illustrated on the front. It’s a really engaging way to communicate the incredibly important topic of renewable and recyclable paper sources. And, of course, a rather good advert for their product! I get a lot of mailers in the post but this one feels like a little more consideration has been put in to crafting it and ensuring that it’s not just another piece of marketing bumpf. And, the beautiful illustrations make it just too hard to throw in the (recycling) bin!

Visual language

Illustration has always been close to my heart, having been an avid Beano and Dandy collector as a small boy. It's ability to share and communicate stories is, I suppose, what draws me in (sorry).

So, and in a recent article in the Design Week newsletter, I was pleased to read a great article by Anna Richardson called 'picture perfect' which shared packaging projects from such studios as Elmwood and Pearlfisher.

The article was a real testament to the value an illustrator, or illustrators in some cases, brings to a project. Torben Dunn of Elmwood explains: 'We have people [at Elmwood] who can draw fantastically well, but there are times when you know that if you gave the project to an illustrator they could add something extra. It’s important not to accept second best and get the client to invest in someone who can turn it up another 10 per cent. There’s always some magic an illustrator can bring.’

An in terms of the final execution, illustration is a wonderful way of injecting humour, personality and, if the audience research is done just right, it can connect on a whole different level.

Read the Design Week article here.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

My `tache posters are still going strong

Three months after designing them, my series of posters celebrating three `tache legends are still going strong!

Having first featured on the Creative Review Feed and newsletter, I've now had emails from all over the world which just goes to show the moustache is well and truly back in fashion.
I'm still getting requests for them, having sold a fair few copies (the furthest being to a lovely lady in Australia).

You can see them all on my site.

Diversity Works for London

Innovation, diversity and design - A talk at The Design Museum, London.

I recently trotted off to the the East End to a discussion around diversity in design. It was an interesting session which raised some worthwhile questions around diversity from an employment perspective as well as a designers perspective...

Full write up due soon...

Now, that's what I call a great name

Jim'll Mix It
I came across this cement lorry on the Euston Road, en route to a client meeting. It's a great identity and works well for the informal world of building and construction. A good example for those businesses stuck in their ways!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Can you all hear me at the back?

03.12.09 / Michael Wolff & the Typographic Circle, JWT London.

Michael Wolff overcame a spattering of technical issues (malfunctioning radio microphone) last night to deliver a wonderfully compelling insight into his world of design and inspiration. And, in true Michael Wolff style, opened by saying ‘what a strange name “Typographic Circle” is, but there you go’.

During the talk, he shared some of the work from his illustrious career; most of which predated computer retouching and ‘ghastly computerised typefaces’ and most of which featured rich, hand drawn illustrations. The use of a Fox for Hadfield Paints and a Humming Bird for Bovis were inspired and created brand stories in their own right.

His relentless questioning was illustrated by an early story: ‘I once met the Chairman of Shell when I was a fairly junior designer’ he recalls. ‘I told him he should take the word Shell off the logo, because we all know what it is’. And, they did some five years later.

And it’s this infectious, inquisitive approach to design which he felt needed to become a ‘muscle’ for every designer. Aside from inquisitiveness and curiosity, there were two other ‘muscles’ he shared: appreciation and imagination. ‘You have to appreciate and understand your client, you have to be them. Take your shoes off and step into those of your clients’.

This appreciation for his clients and their every detail was wonderfully illustrated by his work for a Russian bank, where his naming and identity had no Western bias and was wholly appropriate for the Russian environment. ‘It would have been absolutely wrong for a Western design company to have come over [to Russia] and given them a Western brand’ he commented.

But, I mustn’t be bias towards design as his love of words is also apparent, having transformed confusing, and at times garbled, brand names into memorable and more inviting ones. Notably ‘3i’ and international hotel group ‘One & Only’. And the same goes for copy, where he champions writing which is understandable and clear, not long and drawn out. Why write twenty words when you only need four? ‘Write to be heard, not read’ is one if his mantras.

Having seen a few of his talks before, and having had the privilege of sipping tea with him at his home, I can say that he’s the most eloquent designer I’ve come across and his ability to share his knowledge, or to tell the story of an idea, is what makes you want to keep on listening.