Square Eco Bottle Design

Here is a packaging design concept by Andrew Kim that is so complete and well though through I find it impossible to believe any argument against it. When design is this well formed it becomes inevitable. If I worked for Coke I would hire this designer straight away and give him all the tools necessary for continuing to do work of this standard.

Plan B, Project 10

These days I get sent loads of stuff. Goodies just find their way on to my desk. I must confess that a large percentage ends up in the recycling bin. But every now and then something arrives that is so well crafted it earns a place in my sacred Mebox of design.

One such recent addition is Plan B's Project 10 papers. For those who haven't seen Plan-B before, it is the brain child of Mr Steve Price. His work spans web, brand, print and broadcast. Not only is Steve running Plan B, he is also regularly blogging, avidly tweeting, sometimes lecturing and generally being one of the most prolific designers around.

His level of commitment is apparent in the pages in each edition of Project 10. Although i don't agree the paper is a better option to email newsletter, strictly from an environmental perspective, I do see that the depth in each issue is impressive. Interviews, collaborations, explorations and things to make you go "hmmm" or just "shit me that's clever!"


A Social Media Lesson from Bugsy Malone

We've all heard the social media schtick by now. "social media presents all manner of opportunities for brands" and then on to "it's a tricky balancing act and it's very difficult to get right" - surely you are as sick of hearing this as I am. Blah blah blah we all know the stats about Facebook being bigger than Brazil, so why is it that so many brands are gripped with fear when it comes to social media?

The behavioural patterns displayed in online social networks are really not much different from other real world social gatherings. For example: if you arrived at a party and started giving the other guests your sales pitch or if you continually broadcast reasons why 'you are great' without listening to what people are saying - you would no doubt receive the same backlash as those brands who treat twitter as a broadcast channel.

So when you put it in that context, it's really not hard to form the basis of a social media strategy is it? if you want people to interact favourably towards your brand you need to speak to them, you need to be interesting, engaging, perhaps useful, perhaps funny, but always be sociable. It's a simple principle, it's been around for years and it was beautifully summed by none other than Bugsy Malone:

"you're gonna be remembered for the things that you say and do..."
and further more
"...if you give a little love, then it all comes back to you"

Take it away Bugs...


Stella Artois for Xmas

Am I missing something here? How come this is running in April? Too clever for me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


UK's (Digital) election campaign

I've been watching the election campaigns closely so far. Occasionally i slip in to work mode and review the each of the campaigns for their media choices and how willing they are to leverage the power of the web. Clearly Obama proved the webs value in campaigning, but how will the UK's politicians learn from the success in the US?

Looking at the purely at the websites (not the policies) of the three leading parties you can quickly tell how highly the Tories are rating their social media connections. Massive call to actions and a well thought out hierachy. The site creates a strong UX until you reach the policies section and the attention to layout and typographic detail seems to go out the window.

The Labour site is making good use of landing pages (via PPC), as well as embedded media. The social media connections are not as showcased as on the Tory site, instead they are integrated with the rest of the content. Whilst the graphic details are very nicely executed the layout of the lower level pages is often poor (read in to that how you will!).

I'm not quite sure what to say about the Lib Dem's site. There is nothing to inspire or engage. All of the content blurs in to one mass of information. Clearly they have not got a central theme to hang the site around and instead they have simply produced the most inoffensive and forgettable site you could imagine. Piss poor photography and dull ass copy throughout.

All in all it seems our political parties still are showing a lack of bravery in the digital world. As each of the campaigns move on, i will be watching how they use social media to gain votes.


DM from the PM

Last week i got a letter from Gordon Brown. As soon as i clocked the line 'from the office of Gordon Brown' i felt disappointed. Firstly because the letter looked so shoddy, secondly because personally i'm looking for a leader who knows how to reach the population and isn't going to shit on the environment to win a second term.

On the up side the contents of the dreary looking letter was not as terrible as the presentation. In fact there was some sign of a real person behind the mass produced mailer. But you had to look pretty hard. No personalisation, nothing to connect me with the sender.

Come on Gordon. Surely you can learn from your mate Barack.

Waitrose Weekend Magazine

Here is a good bit of audience profiling at work. It looks like the brand team at Waitrose have looked at their customers and thought 'hmm most them are Guardian readers'. Then they simply published their own weekend broadsheet. It covers a range of lifestyle topics and leans on the visual style of the Guardian, just enough to make readers feel comfortable. Brilliant.


iCade - the only reason to get an iPad

Take the most cutting edge piece of technology and turn it in to retro technology. I'm sure the iCade was not what Apple had in mind, but it's still beautiful.
(found via rubbishcorp)

Design Council's Industry Insights 2010

The Design Council recently released a paper called Industry Insights (via Design Week). There are tonnes of easily digestible facts and figures on design in here and it's well worth picking up a copy if you can.

The amount of coverage given over to in-house design teams was pleasantly surprising. As per my previous musings I've been watching with great interest how the profile of in-house design teams is rising and I'm glad to see the team at The Design Council giving it some attention. I was also quietly please to see the average age of a designer in the UK is 38 - glad to be considered young again.


Moving Brands - Living Identity

Like many people in the design world I became a big fan of the approach of Moving Brands when they launched their pitch for a brand for london.

More than any other brand agency working in the world right now, these guys have a fantastic approach to creating brands. One which embraces the fluidity and open source nature of the digital world. Their work spans logo design, interactive tables, brand guides, mood films, packaging, mobile and beyond.

Last week they kindly sent me a copy of their Living Identity paper. Part brochure, part AR project. Beautifully designed and crafted, with a completely original twist on the usual agency self promotion fluff. I'll be giving a demo of the paper around my work soon and trying to convert our entire marketing team to the Moving Brands way of thinking.


Grazia's 3D issue (or not)

My wife is a big fan of Grazia magazine. I have to confess i quite like some of the design work they've done in the past. However when i read that they were realising a 3D Augmented Reality issue, i decided to check it out for myself.

The concept sounds great. Within the magazine's pages are codes printed which 'unlock extra content'. Which is a brilliant fusion of online and offline. However the technology is just not up to scratch. I tried a copy out on a new Macbook Pro and it really struggled. The first let down is that there is no AR, the codes simply trigger a flash toy or video clip. Nothing more.

I applaude Grazia for attempting to bring their printed material forward in a new way, but it felt like a bit let down when i finally unlocked the so called content. Perhaps next time they can experiment with an iPad only issue and design some REAL interactions.

My friends at Moving Brands also had some thoughts on the issue


Skype Crits

Despite the name Skype Crits is not connected to working for Skype. Instead it's the work of a London based agency called Brave.

The team at Brave are seeking a couple of junior creatives and using Skype to run through applicants. When I first saw this concept I thought it was a decent way of getting through a lot of interviews in a short space of time and I also thought that in order to find really special people you sometimes have to look in a special way. However there is a side of me that feels as though getting a break in the creative industry is hard enough without being made in to a circus act. If agencies like Brave aren't careful they will end up with a 'Big Brother scenario' where applicants severely lacking any social skills will rise out of the masses on pure novelty and not intelligence or insight.


UXPeople London

Last week a couple of us from the More Th>n web team, took time out of our increasingly busy schedules and went to the inaugural UX People event. I don't usually go for this type of event, but this one seemed a little more accessible than others around UX.

The venue was Kings Place London, which is also home to The Guardian's superplush offices. Right on the waterfront and close to the train station. I can't imagine a better venue. The whole event was organised by new media recruitment specialists Zebra People. Who did a fantastic job of pulling it all together and running things smoothly on the day.

The speakers came from a mix of backgrounds. Some agencies, some consultancies, some freelancers. The combination of presenting styles was a little jarring at times, but it meant there was something in there for everyone.

Throughout the day the organisers used their Twitter feed to gain exposure and feedback from the attendees. I even got in on the twitter action, it was quite addictive.

The afternoon split attendees in to groups for workshops. I went for the 'selling ux' workshop, which was not exactly what i had imagined, but still really great fun and thoroughly useful.

Each of the speaches were photographed (to death) and filmed. You can check out the slides and the vids (i'm told) will follow shortly.