Would you like our second best idea?

When taking a brief from a client a designer will always present a variety of routes, more often than not, we already know which one is the best option, but does the client?

Presenting too many ideas

Of course, you can’t just show one idea, it’s over confident and arrogant, but presenting as many ideas as you can is not a necessarily a good strategy either.

So you've finished constructing a presentation, everyone is feeling really positive and it looks great. It shows five different ideas, with each route having a clear and well-presented thought process including inspiration examples. You all look through it one last time and all think, ooh, I really hope they pick route three... maybe we should show it first? No... we should show the safest route first, that's it... show a progression from evolution to revolution. Oh but route three has that perfect balance. Hmmm.

Guess what?... they picked route two... and a bit of route five.. and the typography from route one. Oh well, it will still looks good (but not as good as route three).

 
Inspiration for colours and typography

Inspiration for colours and typography

 

Too many ideas, not enough focus

This method of presenting multiples of ideas, a smorgasbord, is a format that clients can understand, it is the tried and trusted formula for many agencies and from some perspectives, the more ideas the better. But by showing so many options, you’re always going to have solutions that work better than others which can be quite overwhelming and bamboozling for the client, while also unnecessarily time consuming for the design agency…. and why present solutions that don’t quite have the same impact or answer the brief as well as others?

Another very common scenario is when a preferred route is chosen, parts from other ideas are mixed into the final idea. This can feel like a collaborative process but it’s not – the final solution a lot of the time is brought about in a rush by time constraints and the frustrations that follow are a compromise and a mish-mash.

 
Inspiration for a graphic/simple illustrative route

Inspiration for a graphic/simple illustrative route

 

It’s them not us…

The designer/client relationship collaboration can really be more transparent by honouring the creative competency of everyone involved, where everyone, particularly them, the client, are taken on the creative journey. Designers have the resources and the experience to find the right inspiration that will engage and provoke discussions for what is right or wrong for the look and feel, or for what encompasses the brand values. Not to sound exasperated and a tiny bit long in the tooth about it, but we are spoilt with an abundance of online reference databases, that’s not to say the inspiration should only be found on the internet, but it’s never been easier to construct definitive design routes, solely by stimulus examples.

 
Inspiration for a definitive photographic style.

Inspiration for a definitive photographic style.

 

An initial presentation could be solely driven using only inspiration examples, but it should have clear design routes in the form of layout design, graphics, illustration and photography. Let there be a discussion of why the client warms to or rejects certain visual aspects. This discussion point will go a long way to understanding what your client likes or dislikes, so by the time you are developing actual design solutions in the next presentation stage, you know that there is no need to show so many ideas. You are confident that anything presented will be positively received and that all you will really need to decide from assessing the reduced amount of routes, is how evolutionary or revolutionary the design will be.

In conclusion…

When we work with our clients we always ensure they are involved with the design process at every stage, so that instead of choosing the second best idea or a combination of ideas, they choose the one that we know will work best for them.

Contact me if you’d like to discuss your brand design requirements or subscribe to my newsletter for regular updates on how to work with designers, top tips and workbooks.

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The Creative View 02

Brand Evolution with Canada Life Investments

We asked Amber Bates, Head of Marketing at Canada Life investments about our ongoing work together on their brand evolution, now featured on our new website.

The refreshed vibrant visual identity for Canada Life Investments.

The refreshed vibrant visual identity for Canada Life Investments.


As a marketing expert, what do you look for when outsourcing a brand designer?

One of the main things I look for when looking for a brand designer is their ability to understand different audiences and the different types of platforms they consume information on. When initially coming up with a concept, I expect them to acknowledge the breadth and versatility needed for those designs to stretch across multiple platforms.


What aspect of brand evolution do you find the most valuable?

Personally, I think it’s important that a brand goes on a journey, moving all the time, so it must stand out. It must be tweaked and refreshed to keep up to date with current creative trends to meet audience design expectations depending on their demographic. This allows your market to grow and stay continually with you without them knowing they’re doing it. Stay still too long and people get bored very quickly and they move on to someone else who looks visually appealing. 


How has the evolution of the brand influenced your business?

Evolving the brand has allowed us to provide clearer differentiation across the different markets we serve, making content for them more relevant, beneficial and thus leading to greater interaction and engagement.


What have you enjoyed most about working with us?

Working with Jed Harrison Design has been an honest working relationship and a real joint effort. There has been an understanding from the offset of how we felt and where we wanted to move with the brand and how far. They work in a very responsive manner and are committed on all pieces of work. They are also patient and understanding on internal timings and the process needed to get things signed off. 


What were the challenges and how have they been met?

Our challenge was translating internal and external feedback on the brand and communicating what, how much and how far we wanted to make changes. Keeping our core brand look and feel still at the heart of it. We were very happy with results after being presented with a plethora of ideas, all of which could have worked. We decided collectively on what felt the right one to go with right now and what we could move towards. We believe we found the right balance and are still rolling the changes out across all of our channels. Internal feedback has been positive so far!

Amber Bates, Head of Marketing
Canada Life Investments


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The Creative View 01

’On-brand’ Refresh & Evolution

As part of 'The Creative View', conversation our newly created series of interviews and articles around the subject of design and marketing coincides with the launch of our refreshed website.  

This ‘On-brand’ series will focus on brand refreshing and evolution. The aim is to join-in the online conversation with a series of blogs with interview style questionnaires. Here’s what I had to say on all of that…


What does a brand mean to you?

A successful brand is multiple assets both visual and typographical that work in harmony and complement each other. Visual cues create an ownable and consistent visual style. You might say that without seeing the logo you should recognise the brand.


What comes to mind when you think of refreshing a brand?

Refreshing your brand is honing-in and developing ownable assets. As you develop, your visual communication evolves with you. A good brand should always reflect you, your business today, and the immediate future.

On a broader subject, I’d like to add that brand evolution has many different meanings depending on the history and meaning of a brand to different people. I enjoy the different responses people experience when discussing historic brands, and this loosely refers to brands we have grown up with. The diversity of responses is what I enjoy the most about being a designer. There is always a new idea, a fresh perspective and the challenge is to bring all of these together to form a uniformed whole that will allow for its ongoing evolution is why we do it.


How do you approach your own refresh?

It’s about clear messaging for us. Growing your audience, targeting and working with your ideal client is important and I believe that if you are doing what you love your ideal clients already exist in your environment and your reach will grow from a strong foundation. Visually I am interested in the best way to present the work I do with my clients. I am also interested in creating a platform for dialogue about the design process with them. 


What would you say is the most vital part of the design process?

Be upfront about the way you work and be consistent in your approach. It is much easier to adapt and be flexible when you can apply it to a clear process. Even when working with seasoned creatives there is always, an element of individual working style and this should be an asset to the creative process.

It’s crucial that clients gets involved and the more time you spend getting to know each other the better. Some of the best working relationships take the extra time in the beginning. This has a lot to do with communication and responsiveness as it does ideas being presented. I am a firm believer that a great idea can come from anywhere or anyone involved in the project. Keeping your ears and eyes open is essential.


The challenges?

Communication. It’s been said a thousand times and I like to think about this a slightly different way. Trust in the reason you and your client came together. It is vital that trust exists and ensuring this is just as much a part of the client as it is the designer. Notice when your clients stop talking to you, no news is not always good news! Good designers welcome involvement and dialogue. In my experience, clients do too even when their time is limited. It is about building a creative partnership that is open and structured. When a client is a good fit I think people relax and enjoy the process and they should!

I have a tendency to overthink and obsess about the detail in much the same way as anyone wanting to present themselves in business. I get around this by asking as may people around me to have a look at how everything is working and I value feedback, this keeps me focused and relevant.

 

Jed Harrison, Co-Founder and Creative Director
Jed Harrison Design


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Brand-a-wear

Someone very helpful said to me recently that a brand is your jacket and I agreed. In this case it was a cycling jersey… 

The London Dynamo cycling club had decided to update their kit design, so being both a committee member and a brand consultant, I was naturally put forward to look at various solutions. This presented a unique opportunity to be both designer and client…

 
IMG_6398+2000px.jpg
 

However to design a kit that was unmistakably on brand, classic, yet modern, and to satisfy 500+ members… a reversible approach was required. Club members were actively involved in the design process and invited to vote on the final designs. This approach proved to be a successful strategy as the wining solution pulled in a large majority of the votes.

 
Lillian Gray standing above Frafjord, near Stavanger, Norway. Photo credit: Mark Gray

Lillian Gray standing above Frafjord, near Stavanger, Norway. Photo credit: Mark Gray

A race win at Cyclopark for Lillian Gray

A race win at Cyclopark for Lillian Gray

David Millar admiring the kit!

David Millar admiring the kit!

 

What I enjoy most about design and working on building a brand is that ideas can come from anywhere and anyone who gets involved in the process. I like to use my extensive experience to notice / recognise / find / and draw out these ideas and then look at what is and what’s not likely to work, and this is how I keep the process more about you than about the way I like to design.

 
Developing the kit design using the Sportful 3D visual tool

Developing the kit design using the Sportful 3D visual tool

Dynamos about to set off for the Girona Granfondo

Dynamos about to set off for the Girona Granfondo

 

Emotion is the backbone of designs, it’s the fabric that holds everything together and I invest just as much into the process personally as my clients. Your brand is about you, your service or your product and this journey involved me too. Like a peloton, we were all along for the ride.

 
Jed riding towards the Rocacorba mountain in Girona

Jed riding towards the Rocacorba mountain in Girona

Girona Granfondo finishers. A well earned celebration!

Girona Granfondo finishers. A well earned celebration!

 

The collaborative effort of both designer and client, is to create something that stands out amongst its competitors, a cycling kit design has to do exactly this in a peloton of racers – you’d struggle to get a better visual metaphor. 

Bottom line, we wanted a kit to be be proud of and most club members are now wearing it with pride – which, I have to say, as a designer, is one of the proudest feelings I’ve ever had. We now have a modern kit that leaves enough room to evolve as the club moves into the future.


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Jed HarrisonComment
Which brands are you loyal to?

All my life, my father told me stories of his adventures during an Antler luggage campaign he worked on in the 1960s... and how he met my mother because of it. So whilst researching in preparation for the celebration of his life where we stumbled across the heritage section of the Antler UK website and watched the ‘Zenith Cases for Going Places’ film, we were amazed and delighted to see moving images of the man about town in New York, Mexico, Hawaii and Thailand to name a few. We had seen pictures from the ads of course, but he never mentioned the film. As he's is not with us any more it's intriguing to be able to see a part of his history that will always remain a mystery. 

 

Antler ‘Cases for Going Places’ advert

The final press ad showing a visual travelogue

The final press ad showing a visual travelogue

In 1966 my father was working for Erwin Wassey, an advertising company based in London. One of their main clients was Antler Luggage and they had just launched their new Zenith cases, which were hailed as being extremely durable, up to any ’torture tests’ performed by 'the boffins in white coats'.  The heavy loads of an elephant at London Zoo and a Jaguar E-Type were classed at the extreme end. But that wasn’t enough, Antler were after a new campaign…

 
Hawaii

Hawaii

Hawaii

Hawaii

My future dad put forward an idea to Mr Ralph Wright of Antler Luggage to subject the Zenith to the stresses of round the world travel where they would be dropped, thrown and dragged through the world's baggage carousels. But the budget didn't allow for such a far reaching and adventurous campaign. The 60s was a time when more people were beginning to travel so far and wide for leisure, so the time was right. A meeting was arranged with BOAC (now British Airways), who agreed to sponsor and fund the campaign if they could add their strapline to advertisements. Two great British brands were ready to take on world travel and hopefully the Zenith Case was up to the task!

 

Now I’d love to tell you all the many stories my father encountered, but as luck would have it, before he passed away last year, he wrote a book telling where he tells his stories much better than I ever could. It’s available on Amazon and it is called A Suitable Case for Travelling by John M. Harrison.

 
Rome

Rome

Press ad

Press ad

It's easy to be cynical about brand loyalty. From personal choice to popular culture, we research and think about what we want and this is where the knowledge and trust in a brand grows. It exists and serves our needs, impulses and of course the product and service based industries, which strive to influence and entice us. These behaviours develop from a variety of positive feelings.

I'm brand loyal to Antler, not just because they make great suitcases, they are the reason my mother and father met and so there's a strong case (sorry) that I would not exist if it were not for the Antler campaign. I would never had come into this world to have enjoyed his travel stories, as it was on his return trip on the campaign from New York in 1966 that he met my mother’s friend on the plane, who went home to tell her about a curious English man who travelled the world with smart looking luggage, who had so many interesting things to say and to be sure to look him up on the London leg of her European trip.  

For me, loyalty for the Antler brand is much more than a stylish and sturdy vessel for my belongings. It also symbolises a journey, adventure and storytelling past down through my family and friends and this has got me thinking. 

I'm interested in how and why meaning and emotional responses are present for you. Which brands are you loyal to and why? 

Additionally, maybe there's a new advertising campaign for Antler on past and future adventures with their cases. Antler UK, if you read this, I have just given you a great idea! 


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John M. Harrison 1931-2016

John M. Harrison 1931-2016

 
 
Jed HarrisonComment
When good design goes unnoticed

Lufthansa have recently introduced a new logo, identity and livery, designed in-house in collaboration with Munich-based Martin et Karczinski. The visual identity has moved towards the more premium end of the spectrum, placed where it should be and it has been warmly received by many. However, some people cannot get past the lack of yellow. The yellow was the memorable part of the original identity, the element that left the lasting impression of the brand. If you'd ask a member of the public which colour Lufthansa represented, you'd bet your house they would say yellow. So it seems that many people are mildly upset that the yellow is almost nowhere to be seen on their planes.

 
lufthansa_livery_new_01.jpg

The iconic crane symbol has been re-crafted and the Lufthansa wordmark tweaked and kerned to perfection.

 
 
lufthansa_logo.png
 

Colour plays different roles depending on the brand and there are all types of rationale for using certain colours. Lufthansa have taken their yellow and put it to work... and boy does it work. It's used as a wayfinder, a highlighter and other special items, so it improves the customer journey by grabbing your attention when needed.

 
lufthansa_core_elements.jpg

A cohesive brand doesn't stop at graphic design, the premium look and feel is extended to more tactile elements of their identity.

 
lufthansa_materials.jpg

When looking at a cross section of the old identity (shown below), you can see the look and feel is almost positioned with certain budget airlines. 

 
 
lufthansa_sample_old_identity.jpg

I am often asked, "how would you improve our brand?" Well for every design problem, there is a unique solution. For brands that are in need of a brand refresh, I would say that whatever the solution is, you must build on the good by making the most of the unique characteristics of your brand. It will enable you to evolve as you travel into the future. This is what Lufthansa does so successfully. At first glance, all the elements are the same, but when you compare back to the old identity, the major improvement is obvious to see. However, good brand design, signage and communication can go unnoticed... because it just works. Without realising, you arrive to your destination without losing your way.

 
 
download.jpeg

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