I'm so Cal

For the next two (and a bit) weeks i'll be in California. First stop is San Francisco, then LA, then the OC, then home. Email contact will be intermittent if at all. Take care, see you when i get back.


LBi causes a debate over its D&AD New Blood Campaign

Every year the D&AD puts on an exhibition for graduating students to showcase their work to members of the creative profession. This years event has been launched with an integrated campaign by LBi, the work was released to a number of online (and paper) publications, including Creative Review's website.

So far the work has got a big reaction and it's not all good. In fact it would seem the campaign images have caused more than a few designers to react very negatively towards the D&AD.

I've read through the comments and watched the reactions from D&AD and LBi, so here is my take on the discussion...

I think Laura's response was great and i fully agree that the New Blood event is one of, if not the, most important part of the D&AD's work. It truly gives students a unique launch pad for their careers and I've picked up at least a handful of students for junior design roles in the past. The quality of the event and the purpose of the D&AD should not cloud the issue of this campaign. It's true that not everyone agrees with the D&AD's approach, but it's important to remember it's a charity that has served and promoted our industry for a long time.

However looking at this campaign in isolation i can see where the criticism is coming from. The idea is brilliant the design is beautifully executed. But it's the photos that just aren't pitched right. Reading back through the negative comments on the CR blog, it seems to all stem from those photos. The body language and the facial expressions are devoid of any warmth, which coupled with the tagline creates the wrong impression of a group of very friendly people (ok i've only met a few of them, but i'm being nice.

The shots were done by Nadav Kander, who is a great photographer. I'm not knocking the quality of photos. But in my opinion it's the art director on the shoot who has taken a misstep. To be fair it must be a daunting task to art direct a photographer of such high regard.


Honda Friends

Honda Friends is a brilliant brand tactic.

I found this ad in one of Honda's Dream magazines (don't ask why i had it or why i was reading it), but the ad reads

"Who do you ask when you want an honest opinion? We turn to the people who know us best. Honda owners.

It's why we've created Honda Friends, a club exclusively for Honda owners that lets us hear your opinion."

So what has really been created is a means for Honda to get valid feedback from its customers, by creating a sense of belonging. The tactic actually works so Honda customers will want to join and give feedback. Perfect.

It's a great example of how brand and marketing managers need to create ways to open up conversations with their customers. Conversations that can feed back in to the organisation and influence their business.


Update - what the heck have you been doing?

I just realised it's been bloody ages since i wrote anything on here about what i've been working on lately. So here is an update on the things Preview has been busying away on lately...

1. Sneaking out the new Preview website
A bit of a Quiet Beta Launch™ on this one, as we are taking an iterative approach to developing the content and functionality. Over the past year we've been working like busy bastards to refine our strategy and this is one of the most visible outcomes. The ux took some time to develop and we've added lot's of little treats throughout. If you've got the time take a look and give me some feedback

2. Working on the Low Cost Travel account
At the end of last year we were drafted in by Lowcostbeds to skin their website and help them move from lowcostbeds to lowcostholidays.com. The work has since developed in to direct marketing, email marketing, more digital work on thier sub brands and we are currently working in partnership with AIS to pull together a definitive brand strategy and guidelines.
See some of the initial work on our site

3. Hiring a New Business Manager
We've taken on a new business manager (Stephen). He is researching sectors, qualifying leads and basically picking up the phone to people we want to work with. I'm surprisingly excited at the move, it's not often sales gets me excited. We are in the process of pulling together all the tools Stephen needs to make his full frontal attack on the branding world.

4. Going back to school
We've had a great deal of interest from the education sector lately and we've been talking with a number of education institutes about strategic work. As well as client work, we've recently had a coupe of interns from Northbrook in our studio helping out.

5. Planning our birthday
Last month Preview hit a milestone. We celebrated our 15th birthday by sneaking out after work for a company meal (and drinks). We have plans for a much bigger celebration later in the year which will involve venue hire, clients, suppliers, friends, invites, balloons, strippers, well maybe not strippers but it will be great.

6. Flogging dead horses Until very recently we were working with a Brighton based web company who came to use (via the Design Council) for some strategy and rebrand work. A really group of people with a nice little business proposition. We produced some initial design and positioning work that we were pleased with. However it never went any further. They thanked us for our time, paid their bill and went on with their business. Never at any point in the process were we able to extract a clear direction from them and every meeting turned in to a long debate on who they should be targetting and where the company was going. Shame, i was looking forward to the relationship growing. Odd one.

7. In the studio, listening to... Bat for Lashes, Elbow, Lasyhawke, Macabees, yeah yeah yeahs.

8. Hammering Threadless
I just can't stay away from the site. I've ordered four tees this month alone. The site a beauty to behold, the tees are fantastic and the packaging itself is worth the delivery charge. good times.

9. Getting, reading, writing briefs Roughly translated - we've been bloody busy. Downturn? we've never been busier. We've got a couple of very nice new rebrand projects coming up and a pitch scheduled in next month.

10. Getting techie
The end of year figures are in and the time has come to polish our tools. Updated software, updated hardware, bigger file server, faster network etc etc it's a kick in the wallet, but it's the nature of our business. We need tools people.

Just caught this year's round of idiots on the Apprentice, taking on a branding project. Now i'm gnashing my teeth at the hope of getting that same brief. I would love a brief like that, to take in a city's (or town, or region) history, culture and create a fresh positioning is something i would revel in. In a previous post i've stated my intentions for Brighton, but it goes beyond my hometown and is something i'd apply to any interested area.


Fluid - Birmingham

I've not heard of Fluid before, but there is some really nice in there site. It's an unusual mixture, but my favourites are the lush print work for Hyatt and the campaign support material for Honda. Go have a looky.


Why Brawn GP needs Preview

Over the years i've become a big fan of the Brackley based team (formerly HondaF1). They have been on my client wishlist for a number of years.
But now, more than ever, they need my agency!
I know that sounds fat headed - they are currently leading the championship and attracting global sponsors - but at the moment thier identity is not living up to the team's massive achievments. There is no doubt that Brawn GP has shaken the F1 field by it's neck and made all of the teams sit up and take note. But anyone who is backing the team (via the BBC's coverage or at the track) gets very little back from the brand. At no point is the Brawn GP marketing team engaging fans and potential recruits with its communications.

So what the heck can my agency do for Brawn GP?
and what makes you better suited than any other agency?

It's no secret that in order to survive the team has had to shed a large chunk of its resource (including some of my friends), so the branding and marketing capabilities are likely to have been reduced. And rightly so, as getting to the races and getting results was the key to surviving, but beyond this first part of the season the profile of the team needs to be raised and the momentum needs to be maintained. This is where i come in!

Over the years Preview has developed a uniquely strategic approach to delivering brand campaigns. Further to that we know how to demonstrate a return on marketing budgets.
We will put together a brand campaign that meets the team's objectives and puts the foundations in place for future success.

Because we are not an oversized London based agency we can form around our client's budgets and flex our production and contracts to suit our client's needs.

What's all this marketing bollocks about?
I'm talking about the website and designing news ways for motorsport fans to support the team and new ways for media to access key information to boost PR efforts. I'm talking about creating an easy to use toolbox of graphic assets for merchandising companies and livery specialists to correctly apply the colours and logo. I'm talking about using GPS on mobile to provide up to the second information on the team's progress and the drivers pre race build up. I'm talking about developing sponsorship packs that talk to potential and new sponsors on a level that will allow them to understand what their investments will bring.

Most of all i'm talking about taking a designer with a passion for Formula 1 (that's me) and giving him the chance to work alongside the team and find new ways to give BrawnGP the identity and brand it now deserves.

I'm ready to begin when you are. You know where to find me.


Coke Summer Cans

Some stunning new can designs coming through this summer. Sadly it would seem only in the US. Not sure who is behind the work yet, it looks like Turner Duckworth. Mezin!

see more at TheDieline


Luckyvoice Brighton

i saw madethought's delicious branding work for Luckyvoice appearing in Brighton this weekend. I'm gagging to get in there, sample their new bar and soak up some of the tip top design that makes Luckyvoice such a brilliant experience.

I'm loving the LV blog as well. Have a look, if you have the time.


Scott Thomas - Design Director of New Media, Obama for America

If you get the chance i suggest you take a look in to the work of Mr Scott Thomas.

Scott was the Digital Design Director behind the Obama for America campaign. His design work formed a key part in the Obama election campaign and has gained international praise from all sides of the media. He has a beautifully simple approach to design and even his biog impresses me...

"Scott Thomas (or SimpleScott) is constantly trying to invent the next great thing. Whether spending hours in his seventh floor garage or relaxing in a breezy park, Scott's mind is filling with new thoughts that might just someday change the world. He all too often gets too caught up in the spacing of letters or the placement of a door to finish any of these grand ideas. Things have recently began looking up for Scott, his first invention the portable toilet seat cover will be hitting the market next quarter."

He is currently writing a book on his part in the Obama campaign and how then presidential candidate used branding and digital to aid his rise in popularity. I will be buying this book and reading it over and over until the pages fall out. I've been overwhelmed by how good the Obama campaign has worked at reaching a younger demographic and i can't wait to hear more from Scott on the topic.

You can watch highlights from one of his recent presentations