31/10/2007

Attik - sold

i first came across Attik about six or seven years ago when my creative director showed me a copy of Noise 3.5. I was completely captivated by their work and their unique background. Ever since i've always used them as a benchmark for quality design and branding. For me it's Attik's ability to maintain consistant style and quality across thier global network that amazes me everytime. I've often poured over Attik's press releases looking for clues as to what makes them so good.

i was very suprised that after 20 years of independence they have decided to sell out. It doesn't appear to be an agency in need of help or support, so i can't really see what they stand to gain from it. i just hope they manage to maintain their own brand and unique approach to design.

KFC Brand Police

We've been working with the KFC brand recently and it's been a real eye opener to see how out of control a big brand can get. In the past i've worked with some highly organised brand teams (visa and o2 are particular stellar examples) and you come to expect a certain level of control from organisations that operate on a global scale.

It seems with a KFC franchise there is no guidance offered for reproducing the logo or colours. We reverted to going in to a brand and collecting material to try and find the primary colour, but even that didn't get us very far.

People often joke about the 'brand police', but i really wish i could call them sometimes. in fact this might be something that i set up. maybe i'll get me one of those big red phones like in batman!

29/10/2007

The Preview Studio Space™ - part 2

We are almost finished with the main part of our studio refurb. Despite Ikea's best efforts we managed to get new desks for everyone, recable and network, sort out the carpets and rearrange the format so it's far more inclusive and adaptable for new starters.

we have a couple of finishing touches to make before it's close to complete, but already we're feeling more organised and spacious.



26/10/2007

Poking around

Following on from my letter in Design Week. I had the opportunity to meet with Simon Waterfall, at the Poke offices, to discuss the D&AD servicing regions beyond London.

Not only was it great to see inside one the UK's best digital agencies, but it was also great to meet with a creative director who's been a key figure in the industry for some time. Over lunch we discussed our experiences and views on the creative industry and life in and out of London. Afterwards my head was spinning with ideas and information. Chances like that don't come along very often, so when they do it's important to give as much as possible and take away as many bite's of inspiration and knowledge as possible. He certainly gave me a clearer outlook on things i've been struggling with (new business, staff growth, exporting etc) and he also treated me to lunch at Shoreditch House - very, very good.

24/10/2007

The Preview Studio Space™

For a while we've been gearing up to improve our studio's physical environment. It's been unchanged for the past 6 years and in need of an overhaul, especially as we need to fit more people in. This week we begun work on stripping out the old desks and prepping the walls for a coat of paint. The new office will contain new desks and seating plan to make better use of the space.

It's important to me that we aren't all facing the walls in rows. It's very easy to lay your office out like that, as it saves on a great deal of network and cabling hassle, but it creates a very unfriendly situation where everyone faces the wall and many people have their backs to one and other.

Everyone has chipped in and given up their own time to get us this far. We plan to be complete by the start of next week.


More Preview Linkage

Following the link from Smashing Magazine. Our site also made it's way on to two other design portals...

Screen Fluent.com
Most Inspired.com

It's always nice to be linked to, especially when it's unprompted. I've yet to find out how it's made it's way on to any of these sites, but it's very pleasing to see our work out there.

17/10/2007

Smashing Magazine

We found out today that online magazine Smashing has used our new site in it's typography showcase. I've yet to find out how they came across our site, but i'm very glad that we've been showcased along side some fantastic work.

take a look here

15/10/2007

notforcommercialuse dot com


we got a very nice package in the post this morning. there are no details about who it's from, but i would take a guess at this being the start of generation press's new brand work.

very nice.

www.notforcommercialuse.com

design week and the d&ad

i recently attended a marketing event about social media. one of the speakers said something that really stuck with me (although it wasn't really related to social media!) and that was about getting involved in commentary and debate amongst your industry. i felt it was time i throw my hat in the ring and decided to start writing. i opened design week and saw the editor's comment about 'sharing in the design community' and how good it was that the design council and d&ad were organising various initiatives in london. immediately i fired off a letter asking why these national organisations are not active in any other cities. i also name checked d&ad president simon waterfall.

at best i thought it might get printed, but pretty much expected it to never see the light of day. so you can imagine how suprised i was when simon called my office on friday. it was great to get such an instant reaction. i'm hoping there will be an opportunity, in the near future, to do something that has a real impact on the community. watch this space.

11/10/2007

Growth

We are in a growth phase. It's true that growth of any description is painful, but growing a business seems particularly hard work. There comes a point when i realise that the work load is so heavy the clients are not getting the most efficient service and that's the time you need to start looking, i find that you have to be brave and forward thinking, as you need to chance the fact your workload may suddenly drop off and not wait until your so busy you don't have time to recruit.

no matter how i go about recruiting people it always seems to take ages. the negotiating and agreeing of who and what is needed, then the advertising, then the wading through the seemingly endless piles of bad applicants to find the one diamond in there. my worry is always that i become so jaded when looking at bad applicants that i miss the good ones.

the search continues, i'm looking for at least two full time people in the studio. one midweight designer to eventually become a senior and one web developer to support our overworked development team.

08/10/2007

Photos of photos

Like most designers i go through phases. Over a period of time you can see how my work evolves to take on new ideas and approaches. I do my best not to get stuck in any one area, as i think you can end up making a rod for your own back. if people start buying in to your style trying to move away from it, can be very difficuly.

Right now i'm enjoying experimenting with photography. Taking photos, editing them and rephotographing them. Photos of photos. It can create some rich images.




USP?

It's important to find your right place in the market. Without a clear idea of where abouts you are in comparison to your peers you can't create a distinction for your customers. Anyone buying in to your business needs to understand why it's different from or better than the next person offering the same service.

so what are you really selling?

i don't mean 'what is your product?' i mean what is it that you want your customers to invest in. For example The Sun is selling titilation, Lois Vitton is selling glamour, National Trust is selling Englishness. So what are you selling? it's hard to find a place that's totally unique, but i think there are one of two approaches to creating something that differentiates yourself; 1. create a detailed overview of the market you operate in and look for gaps to fill or 2. put as much of your own personality in to your image as possible, after all the most unique thing in the world is you!

04/10/2007

About Preview

When i first applied to work at Preview i will admit i had some minor hesitations. these were due to my own perceptions of the agency, but everything i had imagined changed when i first arrived for my first interview. it felt as if i'd found design's best kept secret. i was completely convinced this was what i'd been looking for. a buzzing atmosphere of change and expectation.

preview was established over 13 years ago by managing director nick broom. since then it has grown steadily and worked across a broad range of sectors. everyone at Preview was very clear from the start that they wanted me to be the one who helped push it forward.

the team is made up of designers, developers and account handlers. over the coming years we have planned to grow significantly in size and capacity. we are always on the look out for new projects and opportunites. at the moment our workload is evenly spread over design for print, web and brand identites. we have also undertaken a healthy amount of advertising work.

everything we do has good design at the heart of it. we do as much as we can to learn about our clients and their customers in order for us to produce the best possible work every single time. our aim is to continue to exceed expectations. our client's expectations and our own.

About me

first up i guess i should give you the full run down of who i am and what i do.

i've always drawn. as a child i would spend hours and days drawing the most detailed pictures, but it all really started when i was 13. my school had a 'careers day' where parents come in to the school and tell you about their jobs. i was sat in my design and technology class, not really paying attention, when a red ferrari dino pulled up outside. the sound of the engine was incredible. the driver happened to be someone's dad on his way in to our class to talk about graphic design. maybe it was the ferrari, maybe it was the record covers, maybe it was his mirror avatiors (it was the 80's) but right there i said to my mate 'i'm gonna be a graphic designer'

i graduated from northbrook, having studied graphic design and illustration and spent the following six months doing whatever it took to break in to the design world. i read, i swotted, i wrote, i begged. i eventually did make it. it has not been an easy ride by any measure. i was caught by 'dot com' bubble bursting. i have worked permanently and freelance at agencies in Brighton and London on some huge projects and with some utterly, mind blowingly inspirational people. to say i've learnt a lot, would not really capture the continuous wave of inspiration that hits me every week.

about two years ago i decided i didn't want to commute from brighton to london on a daily basis and i left my job. i spent the following year scouring the south east for a new challenge, something that would help me achieve my lofty ambitions, somewhere that i could be a valued part of building a success.

now i've only been creative director for a relatively short time, but it's proving to a role to relish. it's also a great deal of pressure - almost entirely from myself - but now for the first time i'm only held back by myself. this point of my career will be as successful as i can make it.

start

ok. here we go again. i've blogged a few times in the past, but now i'm blogging with intent. this is going to be purely focussed on life as a creative director, at a design agency.

i've been with Preview for almost a year now and it's my second home. everyone says 'i'm on a mission' so i'll say i'm living out my ambitions. when i decided to leave my job in London i really didn't know what i was looking for and it took me a while to realise where i wanted to be and what i wanted to achieve. of all the places i was lucky enough to talk with Preview definately had the most potential for being the 'best of breed'. right now it feels like there is an electric atmosphere of anticipation and energy about the agency's future and it's all begining to fit in to place.

in my work i meet a lot of people and see a great deal different approaches to the same problems. in this blog i aim to share thoses experiences and offer an inside view to the designer's life.