Fists vs Follows: Who's the social media champion?

With the Mayweather - McGregor fight fast approaching, the media hype around the two contenders is at an all time high. This is not only a battle in the ring, it's a social media battle too. Despite the final outcome, from follows to searches - who's the real winner?

Check out addmustard's infographic for the lowdown on all the stats and facts:


Header_Blog-The day I learnt to read a map

The day I learnt how to read a map

I’ll admit map reading was not at the top of my agenda for a day’s training with branding leader Michael Johnson; but contrary to my original assumptions, it turns out maps aren’t solely used by the hiking community! Ok, I’m paraphrasing a bit here, but similarly to orienteering; branding can be a zigzagging process, and a long-winded one at that. So the route map Michael trained me up with is just what I needed.

Michael approached the workshop by exploring quotes that define what branding truly is. These included statements from some of the big names in branding:

‘Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.’

-  Jeff Bezos

‘Overall, because branding is about creating and sustaining trust it means delivering on promises. The best and most successful brands are completely coherent. Every aspect of what they do and what they are reinforces everything else.’

- Wally Olins

These statements suggest that essentially branding is made up of two things; ownership and status. Michael used the example of aeroplanes to demonstrate this summary. Each commercial plane is a completely faceless, blank canvas in its début. It’s not until different corporations paste their marking over the top that they take on a new entity. They have a personality, they stand for one company’s values and no one else’s.

easyJet Branding

That being said, it drives the point that despite a product being basically the same; branding can have a powerful impact on people’s decision making. In a competitive landscape, brands need to stand out; proving that they either provide the best or most interesting product.

But achieving this is another matter entirely. This is when Michael’s advice came into play…

 

Investigation

Often the dreaded part of the process when the enormity of the task can seem overwhelming, the investigation stage can be difficult and confusing.

That is until Michael introduced us to his maverick mapping devices, which I am without a doubt making use of in future projects! Created to get a sense of the marketplace, finding out where the brand currently stands, and where it aspires to be, the maps are ideal for getting a bird-eye-view of a brand’s positioning.

We tested it out for ourselves, taking a brand of our choice that we think could benefit from a rebrand, and identifying where it currently stands in the market. Two maps were used, the first to gain a generic view of the landscape and fundamentals of the brand and a second to delve deeper, ‘unlocking the market’ and identifying any possible gaps.

Brand mapping device

Continuing with the aviation theme, Michael presented a case study of where his mapping technique had been used on a rebrand for a previous client: Virgin Atlantic. They identified from it that most high-end airlines opted for a serious tone of voice, whilst ‘fun’ and ‘laid-back’ were characteristics only ever exhibited by budget enterprises in the area.

On observing this gaping hole on the map, Johnson Banks questioned, ‘why can’t expensive also mean fun?’, and seized an exciting opportunity for a new hybrid to enter the market. Virgin Atlantic redefined themselves as a stylish premium airline putting enjoyment at the centre of their existence, promoting the idea that when you step onto a plane your holiday has already begun. A clear verbal narrative was secured of: ‘Everyday Pioneers’.

6 Brand Questions

Once the brand landscape and vision for the rebrand had been worked out, we were then presented with a host of questions on how to effectively action the rebrand.

Graphic Design authorities have drawn up countless diagrams over the years. This has raised a problem though; with so many diagrams to choose from (often filled with branding jargon), it all gets very confusing. Example: does anyone really know what ‘Brand Equity’ even means?

Michael found a way of condensing the fundamentals into one simple set of questions you can apply to most brands...without the jargon. These questions simplify all of the factors influencing the inherent and displayed traits of a brand, like who their audience is and what sets them apart from their competitors, shown in the diagram below:

6 Questions Brand Model

To demonstrate just how effective posing these questions is, we looked at a range of examples in which answering a specific question had helped to underpin the essence of the brand:

Avis_advert

Avis pioneered the ironic tone of voice in their early advertising: ‘When you’re not the biggest in rent a-cars you have to try harder, we do we’re only number 2’. In having the courage to be different they secured a successful and enduring campaign.

Dove have earned a lot of respect for their ground-breaking approach to challenging society’s perceptions of beauty. Centring their brand on their personality; down to earth, wholesome and confident; something that resonates much more with your ‘everyday woman’.

Apple’s famous manifesto is an unashamedly outspoken demonstration of their values. Bold enough to say ‘this is who we are, this is what we stand for, take it or leave it’ and in doing so attaining a voice.

 

That Crucial Half Step

The final concept Michael spoke about was the ‘half step’. This is all about bridging the gap between the branding ideas on paper and making them workable in design. Taking a holistic view of the implementation, it’s equally important to take both design and communication of a brand into account. So in design terms: how will it be structured? Will it be in monolithic form (a main brand used across multiple products, i.e Fedex), or endorsed (individual and distinct product brands, which are linked together by a parent brand, i.e Cadbury). Then in functionality terms: how do we make it as accessible as possible? Is it universally pronounceable for example, does it translate well into other languages

Foregoing these considerations could lead to awkward consequences:

Badly named brands

Names can make or break a brand. If they are applicable and popular enough they could even achieve the holy grail of adjective status (i.e Googled).

Michael got us to do a quick-fire naming exercise at this point. The panic was palpable as he instructed us to come up with around 30 different potential names for our new brand in the following 5 minutes. These could be formed of word merges, associations, and shapes. Unsurprisingly a high proportion of the results were certified crap. However, I did get the rationale behind the fast thinking/ reeling off ideas when a few gems presented themselves. In the initial naming it’s easy to agonise and overthink. This exercise, though uncomfortable was effective as it forced all my thoughts onto a page, and produced some surprising results.

 

The actual design bit

 Another surprise of the training was that the percentage of time spent on actual design was very minimal, considering it was training aimed towards graphic design professionals. My degree and workplace experience has given me the sense to know that good research equals better results, but the level of exploration implemented in the workshop would’ve made me twitchy if it had been a project under my own steam.

Usually I would have felt guilty that I was ‘wasting time’, but the workshop really emphasised the importance of context before anything else. Without this, we can’t claim to be branding authorities. Not only does valid research give substance to the creative outcomes, it also speeds up the process and makes it more focussed in the long run.

So I suppose I could say that my training has made me design less, and read maps more. I still wouldn’t volunteer myself to go on an orienteering trip any time soon though!


The Prince-iples of owning your style

On the first anniversary of his passing, our super-talented Designer, Harriet, shares how Prince’s eclectic style and philosophy has encouraged her to push the boundaries of her own work.

When it comes to creative inspiration, we often surprise ourselves with where we find it, but if Harriet’s illustrations and passionate words are anything to go by, a little boundary-pushing is long overdue.

Have a read of Harriet's dedication below. We recommend a bit of Purple Rain in the background for added effect!

 

His music is a legacy of remarkable creativity, and his personal style wreaked havoc and fascination for five decades, and still resonates today. But more than this, Prince embodied an art form in his very being; far beyond his music and style status. It was his unique energy that drew people to Prince, and it’s this energy that lives on still - a year after his passing.

On a personal level, Prince has had an impact on me. Aside from listening to his music, he has secured himself as an unlikely role model, demonstrating the value of individuality.

“Art is about building a new foundation, not just laying something on top of what's already there.”

Prince’s chameleon-like transitioning from one style to the next was in equal parts unpredictable as it was intriguing. Who could foresee the impeccable yellow clad, piano mounting performance of ‘Daddy Pop’ at The Arsenio Hall in 1991? It made history in its individuality.

So what does this mean for design? It means we must strive for something fresh each time we create rather than regurgitate a style which was pioneering in its debut but has since lost its novelty.

Human nature desires innovation: to challenge what has come before, to engage, shock, and ultimately impress. Designer Espen Brunborg demonstrates and preaches this belief. Questioning the use of the standard Wordpress format in website design ‘-that paradigm is based on the fallacy that graphic design equals the sum of its parts. That as long as we neatly organize, theme and polish each element of a website, we’re doing it right. Wrong.’

For me, Brunborg’s view crystalises the importance of considering concept, purpose and placement of design. Something Prince would hail.

“Technology is cool, but you've got to use it as opposed to letting it use you.”

Prince had involvement in almost every stage of his music’s production, resulting in his unique and authentic energy playing a part in each and every track. In one of his last interviews, he talks about the philosophy of his album ‘Musicology’, expressing ‘We want to teach the kids and musicians of the future the art of songwriting, the art of real musicianship.” Emphasising the value of the human touch.

In a world where technology is becoming ever more entwined with creativity, this might sound like a contradictory view, especially in graphic design. For this very reason, Prince’s belief has even more weight to it for me. Innovation comes from our imagination, and if we are able to use technology to achieve it then all the better for it.

But being governed by technology to the point where our creativity is limited results in designers falling into fad territory, restricting how far our imagination can take us. This sings true of Prince’s ideas of ‘building a new foundation’, and that above all comes innovation.

“Each audience is different.”

Prince knew his audience and how to deliver a tailored performance. He anticipated that the liberal likes of MTV would embrace his raunchiest numbers (see 1991 MTV Video Music Awards!). He was also wise in taking a different stance for his 2015 benefit concert for the city of Baltimore. To mark the sentiment of the occasion, he sang his more poignant tracks including ‘The Beautiful Ones’ and ‘Purple Rain’ all delivered in a dapper peach suit united, of course, by his characteristic heels.

As a fundamental step of the design process, researching your audience helps to establish values, approach and design delivery. This is something that Landor nailed with its rebrand of Old Spice, making it appeal to a younger demographic in addition to their loyal customer base. The concept of celebrating the ‘Art of Manliness’ discovered a way to appeal to ‘Men of all Types’, repositioning Old Spice as a favourite within the men’s scent and deodorant categories, and achieving a growth by double digits every year since the new campaign. Pretty impressive!

“To create something from nothing is one of the greatest feelings, and I would - I don't know, I wish it upon everybody. It's heaven.”

This quote sums up the very essence of Prince as an artist. His self-taught mastery of at least 27 instruments, as well as his own voice, contributed to his extraordinary sound. Underpinning his musical prowess lay an adoration of creativity and the merits of innovation.

Ultimately, Prince loved what he did.

In design terms, I’m talking about that high you feel when something you create goes right. And even better still, when other people acknowledge it too. That’s what creatives yearn for.

Designer Gavin Strange of Aardman Animations, stresses the importance of sustaining your passion for creativity, ‘Work can be enjoyed, not endured. We are the lucky ones’. His sunny but pragmatic outlook encourages us to always keep the love of design at the core of what we do.

I would be lying if I said that I get enthusiastic about some of the more mundane pixel pushing activities graphic design can require. But as a whole, I count myself lucky to have a career in which I can indulge my creativity, and one that interchanges as a hobby too.

“People say I'm wearing heels because I'm short. I wear heels because the women like 'em.”

Finishing on this statement seems only right, because let’s face it, if you’re talking about Prince you’ve gotta give a nod to the heels. Just like Prince embodied art, the purple heels embodied him.

Be bold, be authentic. Express your creativity in everything you do.

In a world of Wordpressers, be a Prince.