The first year students received a really insightful guest lecture this week from Tom Hardy (not that one!) from Manifesto Studios. He gave the students some great advice drawn from his fifteen years in industry working for agencies such as Sea, The Partners, and Radley Yeldar. Five years ago, Tom decided to set up his own agency, Manifesto-Studios, based in East London. He describes his business model as the most naive ever, but basically wanted to work with clients who are passionate about what they do and work with talented creatives who feel the same.
Manifesto have worked on some great projects recently. One of the case studies Tom talked about was for Suya, a Nigerian food brand being launched in London. The brand needed to connect with Nigerians as well as non-Nigerians who knew nothing about the country’s rich culture or food. The brand idea was to ‘Create the bridge between Nigeria and London with a rich food and cultural experience’. The studio used Pidgin English (a hybrid of native language and English spoken across Nigeria) for key statements with Queen’s English translations beneath. These bridged both cultures with playful messaging. Hand drawn signage is common in Nigeria so both a typeface and illustration style were developed to reflect this. The logo has an extended ‘Y’ to represent the skewers the food is cooked on. The colour palette is bold with an accent of gold – a premium colour in both locations.
Another client Manifesto have worked with recently is healthy drink brand Savse. The drinks market is saturated but consumers have lost trust in so-called ‘healthy’ options due to the addition of so much sugar and artificial ingredients. Savse’s offer was counter to that, and genuinely nutritious, but they didn’t have a way of telling people. Manifesto developed a brand idea which built on their authentic story. Nina is the founder’s mother who left a lasting impression on her family by creating fresh smoothies as an alternative to pharmaceutical medication. They drew on this rich heritage by developing ‘Nina’s Story’. The brand identity and marketing materials celebrate the natural imperfection of fruit & veg and spirit of making drinks at home.
As part of their current motion project, the second year received a guest lecture and tutorials from Kate Bones. Since graduating from UAL in 2013, Kate has begun to gain a lot of design press attention as a gif artist. Starting out as a photographer, Kate has really developed an individual style and technique that initially captured the imagination of the alternative music, fashion, festival and queer scene, but is now attracting the attention of some big mainstream brands like Nike, Rimmel and Missguided.
Kate generously shared her experience of leaving college and building a network of collaborators and clients alongside developing her ideas and practice to the point she is at today. Often she’ll just be given a couple of hours working with models and photographers at a shoot to come up with ideas, sometimes she’ll have two weeks. Brands are starting to contact Kate because of her individual style and technique developed through continued experimentation. However, Kate also knows that fashions change and whilst stereoscopic GIFs and cinemagraphs are in vogue now, something else will replace them. So, outside of her commercial work she is continually experimenting with new ideas that will enable her work and approach to remain fresh.
You can read more about Kate’s work in a recent Creative Review feature.
Second year students Alex Robertson, Khalid Abdigaheir and Joe Jackson have recently successfully completed a live brief for Southwark Council. Southwark approached us looking to develop an initiative called ‘Walk Elephant’ which will help promote a network of high quality walking trails across the Elephant and Castle. Many think of the Elephant and Castle as a busy traffic junction but it is so much more. There are so many hidden gems and oases in the Elephant and Castle, and the Walk Elephant project seeks to link them all together, to create safe and enjoyable walking routes which people can ramble through on their way to work, the shops or home. The students were asked to develop a brand identity and a series of playful visuals to develop the initiative.
Throughout the project Alex, Khalid and Joe were mentored by the designer Karl Toomey, who was previously head of It’s Nice That’s design studio Anyways. Karl met with the student design team once a week to help them develop their ideas and prepare presentations for the clients. So this was not a only a great opportunity to work on a live brief, but was also one that gave them the opportunity to work in conjunction with a creative director.
Some of the themes the students had to develop specifically were as follows:
- To make people realise the Elephant and Castle is an enjoyable and green place to walk through
- To discover the hidden gems and rich history
- To make people realise the Elephant and Castle is very central and close to the river
- To come up with new community ideas to improve walking routes
- To open up the Low Line – Southwark’s answer to New York’s High Line!
Their solution ended up involving an elephant’s foot and colours taken from details within the surrounding environment and architecture. They turned the elephant’s foot into a circular logo mark (see top of page) that can be applied across a range of media – it scales well and can be used in both colour and black and white. It’s a simple, effective and witty solution.
They addressed many of the specific themes required through a variety of media – gifs, environmental graphics and posters. The clients were very impressed with the concept, the execution and the pitch, so we can look forward to seeing the work implemented in the coming months.
The second years are lucky enough to be working with Michael Johnson this term as he has set a symbol design brief. More and more in life we communicate using fewer and fewer words – think of memes and emojis – soon perhaps we’ll revert to hieroglyphics! But seriously, designing symbols is deceptively difficult, but incredibly useful if it is done well. Johnson Banks’ recent design for Action Against Hunger (final symbol shown above) not only unified all the different arms of the charity worldwide (original logos shown below), it also meant that anyone can ‘read’ and recognise the symbol regardless of what language they might speak.
There is an art to designing a great symbol—one that really communicates something about the brand. With Action Against Hunger, Johnson Banks have done that in a beautifully simple, yet clever way. Its perhaps no surprise that Johnson Banks started working with the charity three years ago, as communicating so much through such minimal means is deceptively difficult. We’ll see if the second years rise to the challenge…
The current first years successfully completed their first project on BA (Hons) Graphic Branding & Identity last term. The students’ challenge was to develop a ‘brand book’ that captured the ethos, attitude and personality of a particular brand. As part of the project students had to develop personas for their audience so they could understand who the brand was speaking to. The imaginary brands they were working with included ‘Geek Buddy’, a global student study app; ‘Piffle’ an anti-social social networking app for people who write really boring status updates; ‘Smoosh’ an all natural smoothie delivery company; and, ‘Pit Stop’, a sleep pod company. They also had to develop a brand manifesto and a set of brand values, as well as logotype and colour palette. They produced a range of beautiful and creative solutions, of which just a few are shown here.
Student work shown (from top): Izzy Zangarini, Giada Periopan, Natalia Shirokova
The second years are currently working on a live brief with four really exciting organisations within in Lambeth: The Brixton Pound, The Brixton People’s Kitchen, The Remakery and the West Norwood Community Shop. Supporting them on this project is Robbie Bates, a member of Uscreates a design group who use design thinking and participatory methods to develop both communication and service design solutions to problems relating to health and wellbeing in communities and organisations. Robbie has been able to share the tools Uscreates use both with clients and within their studios. This has given the students an invaluable insight into a way of working that is becoming increasingly utilised within both the design and business sectors.