Unfortunately we didn’t come home with a Drum Award, that went to Coley Porter Bell for their work for Tesco. Obviously it would have been great to win, but even being a finalists was a great achievement. It’s been an amazing team effort and we had a great night at the ceremony. Hopefully more to come.
This week is I received the very exciting news that the Your Path Your Way rebranding campaign that I’ve been the creative lead on has been nominated as a finalist in the Design category for a Drum Award.
We are the only in-house team to be nominated and are running against agencies doing work for Volkswagen and Tesco, so impressive competition with big budgets. Fingers crossed until April 3rd when we’ll hopefully be on stage collecting a Drum!
At the beginning of last year I was lucky enough to get some time to go travelling for a little while, my route was through Northern India into Nepal where I met my girlfriend in Kathmandu (hence the title) from there she flew home and I went to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and lastly Malaysia.
As a keen photographer, I took my camera with me. Despite every asking “you’re not taking your big camera are you?” by which they meant my DSLR, I have to admit it had never really crossed my mind to take anything but the best possible camera I had access too. Apart from a few moments of self doubt in India I am glad I took it as I was able to practice my art, firstly through the lense but secondly in the travel book I was able to put together.
Leeds United is arguably one of the biggest club in English football. Currently playing in the Championship, mismanagement has taken the formally top-flight team as low as League 1 in recent years. As a one club city, Elland Road still pulls in a respectable attendance and Leeds are often cited a one the EFL’s greatest sleeping giants.
Unlike a lot of badge redesigns this one has made football’s media agenda with reports on the story falling into two brackets. One, those who think the redesign is ungodly and fanning the flames further by asking for other submissions to ‘worst badge ever’ debate (cue everyone submitting their rivals’ crest). Bracket two, those who think fans should grow up, saying ‘clubs change their badges all the time’ and going on to blame social media for allowing the vocal minority to voice the grievance so loudly.
Like most things the truth is probably somewhere in between. Has the reaction over the top? A change.org petition with 75,000+ signatures suggests probably, yes. Is the new badge the worst thing ever? No. Is it an improvement on the current badge? Certainly not.
Let’s start by looking at the old badge. Other than being around for quite a few years, there’s not much to like about the previous from a design perspective. The biggest problem was there was far to much going on in to little space. Housed inside the top part of the shield’s thick borders is a tiny Yorkshire rose with a football at its heart, which worked quite well in 1984 as the full crest, but when shrunk down to a tiny panel, not so much. The bottom portion of the shield is given over to blue and yellow stripes and LUFC stacked in a cursive font, which I’m sure is meant to be reminiscent of their 1971 badge (so popular they used it for 2 years), but which is far too fussy to be used in such a cramped frame.
Most football team don’t retain the same badge throughout their history, but Leeds have had more than their fair share of complete overhauls, rarely retaining the same elements for more than a couple of iterations. During their eclectic past crop up some very interesting designs, which with varying levels of refinement could make for an awesome modern crest. I’m looking at you 1973! Unfortunately this didn’t happen for the 2018 redesign.
With the launch a lot has been made of the 10,000 fan consultation that took place to guide the design. This has happened in some of the most successful redesigns in recent years, like QPR’s or Manchester City’s. However what this shows is it’s not necessarily how many people you ask, it’s what you ask them. Questioning them about what makes their club unique doesn’t get an answer to what looks good in a badge.
The new badge has done away with the historically inspired script writing, instead opting to spell out Leeds United in all-caps with the tracking on united being set unpleasantly wide to match the headline width. The rest of the badge is taken up by a depiction of someone performing the ‘Leeds Salute’, it’s the part of the badge that has received the harshest criticism. One problem is that is doesn’t look like a English football badge, trying something different is no bad thing (see what Juventus did), but this doesn’t push the boundaries in a new or exciting direction, in fact it looks more like a minor league American sports team.
— Leeds United (@LUFC) January 24, 2018
The second problem is the illustration needs a lot of context to make real sense. Sure the symbols in their previous logos needed context too, but if you didn’t know about the white rose of Yorkshire it doesn’t make the 1984 badge redundant, it just gives it deeper meaning. Without knowledge of the Leeds Salute, the badge can be heavily misinterpreted, on the innocent end of the spectrum some have suggested it looks packaging for heartburn relief medicine. At first glance I saw something darker, whilst I understood the gesture, it appeared more like a right wing salute which given the historic reputation of Leeds fans, maybe isn’t something you want to bring up. Of course Leeds aren’t the only club to have a checkered history with fan firms, but unlike them Juve and West Ham haven’t chosen to update their badge to a white male pumping his fist against his chest.
I think the intentions of the design were well meaning, but it misses the mark on a lot of levels. Technically it’s fine but it fails to take into account the context surrounding modern football. Whilst I am not a fan of creating online petitions to retain the status quo, on this occasion I believe the right decision was reached. One positive of this miscue, is not only have they got a lot more feedback than the original 10,000 people asked, they know they’ll have an active audience for the next round of development.
West Ham United are a football club in East London who can trace their routes back to the city’s shipbuilding industry, when they were founded as Thames Ironworks F.C.. The club has the nicknames; ‘the hammers’ in reference to the riveting hammers used in shipbuilding and which appear on the badge, and ‘the irons’ for equally obvious reasons.
Since a takeover in 2010 by David Sullivan and David Gold the club’s fortune has been on the rise after a few years of being a bit of a yo-yo team. Their 2015-16 season can be considered a successful one, finishing in seventh (the highest in years) and gaining entry to Europe, all be it the hard way. Last season also saw them leave their historic home (the Boleyn Ground) near Upton Park where they had played for the last 112 years. Over the summer the move is being made 2.5 miles west to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford. Their relocation to a larger state-of-the-art stadium has been seen negatively by some as an upheaval of a working class club from their beloved home into the heart of gentrification. The new money has brought a new stadium, new ambitions and now a new badge. Creative director of WTF Creative and life-long irons fan Neil Felton was enlisted by the club to develop the new design.
The club release a few videos about the rebadge, like this one asking for feedback (the interesting section is between 6:50 and 11:30) and the one below that launches the new design:
The old badge depict the crossed hammers which have represented the club almost since their first game and the castle facade adorning the old Boleyn Ground. Without prior knowledge, it would be hard to pick out the what the key element was, the castle was almost the star of the show. Bringing the hammers back to the forefront is exactly the right thing to do. With fans potentially getting nervous that the times are a changing, creating a design that heavily reflects the club’s history demonstrates their future is in trustworthy hands. Over the years it is interesting to note how much the hammers have changed, in the latest rendition they have been redrawn closely resembling the later versions in style. The little mark on the head of the hammers is not an error, but an acronym that when enlarged reads TIW (Thames Iron Works) in another nod towards their history. Whether many fans will noticed this subtle mark will remain to be seen, it is a nice inclusion nethertheless.
The typography is more challenging. The addition of the word London has caused a stir with some, but in the commercial and global world of Premier League football indicating you’re a London club to outsiders probably is a wise idea. Typographically, London is position very nicely between the two handles, following the circular path created by the overall shape of the hammers. Things feel a bit wrong at the top of the logo. West Ham sits large and proud right at the summit, following the same curve as the top of the badge. However, it appears to have been pinched so that all the characters as leaning slightly towards the centre with the S coming off particularly badly. This distortion doesn’t really fit with the rest of the elements which have been drawn flat. United sits below, apologetic and small, uncomfortably cramped between the two hammerheads, encroaching but not complimenting the circular layout of the hammers.
Part of the problem maybe due to the shape of the shield, which in another reference to the shipbuilding history, is based on the hull of HMS Warrior that was built in the docks. While it is good for an ironclad warship, it maybe just a bit to wide for this badge. The reason West Ham is so large is due to the shield width and wanting to fill the space neatly. While the hammers and London sit neatly at the bottom, they are quite far away from the edges once the frame gets to full width.
As well as a 3D version, the badge comes in three flavours of shaded options and a flat/monochrome version. For a redesign that has focused some much attention on history, the flat version does feel the most reflective of it. Overall the redesign is a successful one, it shows fans the club is changing but demonstrates a respect for the history. Some elements may feel more suitable than other, but the final product achieved what it set out to do and it will probably look smart as hell when embossed on to a new shirt.
Queens Park Rangers or QPR as they are commonly known are a West London based football club who play their home games at Loftus Road. As the stadium is approximately 800 metres down the road from me I can’t really ignore this one. QPR were founding members of the Premier League, but following relegation fell as far as the third tier before heading back up the leagues. This season and next they will be plying their trade in the Championship, having been unable to cement a permanent position in the Premier League in their two most recent visits.
The previous badge was awful, containing all the effects! There are bevels, embossings, gradients and shadows. The lack of restraint was also shown to the symbol selection. It contains a shield, football, crown, a scroll only a postcode away from a full postal address and plumes of feathers containing so many intricacies and gradients that the badge embroider didn’t stand a chance. There was a least a monochrome version of the logo that attempted to simplify some of the more complex aspects of the design. Even so, there had been comparisons to made with it and a diagram or a womb. Not the kind of thing you want on your chest and strangely hard to unsee once mentioned.
Moving away from the old badge was a bit of a no brainer and what QPR did next was also a bit of a no brainer too. They let fans know for the outset they were planning a redesign and got their input from the very beginning. After consultations with a fan group in which they discussed the symbols, shape and style it was agreed the new club badge should be a round one and contain the classic QPR monogram that had been present on former badge designs. The task of creating the new designs was then handed over to hoops fans and designers Daniel Norris and Daniel Bowyer who provided four choices. Two of the options took their monogram influence from older badges and two were more modern interpretations. Supporters voted overwhelmingly (68.37%) for option two, the version based on the 1982 monogram. The winning option was then sent back for further refinement.
After a few months perfecting it, the new badge has been officially unveiled. It has done away with all of the superfluous iconography and gone back to basics. There’s the monogram, club name and date establishment. Simple! The letters of the clubs acronym lend themselves well to being arranged in an interlocking monogram. This has been done very nicely by the designers and is even an improvement on the 1980s version it took influence from. With the Q and the R linking through the counter of the P and the tails of both pointing at the same spot in a pleasing way. The stem of the P and R finish in slightly awkward places but considering the spacing constraints this can be forgiven.
The club’s name and year of founding sit nicely around the edge of the badge. It would have been brilliant if the typographic gods had aligned to allow the word Park to sit perfectly centred-top. Where it is feels slightly off to the left and the tracking seems to be slightly tighter than the rest of the text. Setting type along a curve is always more challenging, but with a little gentle persuasion it might have been possible to get it exactly on top while maintaining the balance on either side. This is a small point and I would wager the designers were focusing on making sure the text wrapped exactly half way around the the badge.
When mocked-up on shirts I worry that the delicate nature of the new design may lead to it getting lost on (by the nature of playing in hoops) a naturally busy shirt. Please note: the above image is the original option two before refinements. On the other hand, having one of the most recognisable kit designs in English football, it is possible the badge doesn’t need to stand-out as much as other clubs might. I do hope there is isolated or small version in the pipeline as the current one does not scale down well.
The video shows a couple of different applications including a real tattoo (Aston Villa’s array of mock-ups is nowhere close to touching that level of commitment). The whole redesign has been handled very well, with the club involving the fans from the very beginning. Admittedly it is always going to be easier when replacing what is neither a design classic, or a fond favourite with supporters. By listening and involving fans they have kept them very much on side and in return had valuable input on the new look. The result, rather predictably, is a badge that harks back to the good old days, but one that has been crafted very nicely.
Aston Villa is one of the oldest most decorated clubs in England. Based in the Aston area of Birmingham they have played their home games at Villa Park since 1987. They were the founding member of the Football League and one of the original teams in the Premier League. This year has been the culmination of a several year decline that has seen them relegated from the top flight in what has been a season of lows.
Many have accused their owner Randy Lerner of not digging deep enough into his pockets to arrest the slide in league position. So the initial reports suggesting this rebranding exercise would cost £2million didn’t go down well. The club have since said the actual cost of design and implement is going to be under £80,000. The team responsible for the new badge and supporting branding is London based agency SomeOne.
Redesigning a club’s badge is a notoriously hard job. Unlike most businesses, clubs have a large amount of fans who are emotionally tied to the brand and very often are not too welcoming of change. This often results in a negative backlash whenever a change is made. It is interesting to note that historically most clubs have regularly made significant changes to their badge, however it’s a more recent phenomenon to see such resistance from fans.
At first glance it looks like very little has changed other than the club motto ‘prepared’ being removed. This is actually a significant move in two ways, firstly removing the motto from the badge is going to cause a reaction from fans. Secondly losing the truncated boy-scout saying allows the main feature, the rampant lion, to be substantially enlarged. The new lion appears subtly different, but has actually been completely redrawn. Once you’ve notice the changes, you realise how tame the previous version was. Missing its claws it look more liable to give you a damn good hugging rather than deliver any serious damage (possibly an apt analogy for this season). While the new improved lion looks much more aggressive the arms pointing directly out of the body appear quite unnatural, like archers quarrels planted deep into its chest. The tail also looks quite thin, the old one’s felt more appropriate for a cat its size, despite appearing to come out the back of its thigh.
Another subtle improvement has been on the typography, which is set in a thicker weight that fills the width of the crest much more neatly. The gap between the AV and FC has been tighten too, making it clearly read AVFC whereas before it was in an awkward middle ground where it didn’t clearly read as separated or together.
From a branding perspective the project really gets interesting when a 3D element is added, with all kinds reliefs and wood-etchings are going on. One of the most successful examples is computer generated bas-reliefs applied on printed materials. Those tickets look amazing! It is a shame they’ll largely be covered up with pricing bands and stadium plans in real world application. The stitching on the new badge is another high-point, adding detail and depth to create a maine that Mufasa would be proud of.
There is even a brand new custom typeface and icon set, these don’t feel very in keeping with the array of more elegant mock-ups shown. The font and icons seem more suitable for a betting company’s adverts or signage around a gym and realistically that is probably the intent. The notches taken out of the letters and icons don’t feel completely natural, take the i and ticket icon as examples. However it does potentially create another branch to the rebrand with classy corporate communication and bolder customer marketing.
Overall the badge will steal the headlines, but the alterations have been minimal and more of a refinement rather than a change. This means negative reaction can only be so large. Also it allows the club not to be rushed into a replacing all the signage, stationery, bibs, balls or anything else using the old logo. The greater change has come behind the spotlight where it appears there will be some interesting applications further down the pipeline.
After six months of hard work the Kaplan International College’s (KIC) Transforming Futures prospectus has finally hit the shelves.
In brief KIC works with universities all around the UK to help international students progress into British universities. In essence this brochure is a catalog of all the UK partners and courses they offer, as well as an essential piece of brand building for Kaplan. I intend to do a full write up and take some better photos soon for my portfolio section, but wanted to share it ASAP having only arrived in my eager hands Friday.
Some of the keys areas we focused on to push it on from last years brochure were creating a stronger photographic style. This involved going on nine photoshoots around the UK as we wanted the improvement to be reflected across the 11 universities’ individual prospectuses too. We also tried to refine some of the successful elements from last year, such as the course finder and more inspirational pages. Lastly we wanted to work in some new design elements to push the brand on further, in this 2016-17 edition we have introduced illustration and new layout devices.
Overall I personally think it’s a great improvement upon last year and it (in the brief time it’s been in other people’s hand) has received hugely positive feedback. I hope you all think the same!
I recently went back home to visit my family so took the opportunity to have a scout around the city centre and scope out what logos and icons I could see actually being used. As I’ve explained in previous posts, a very widely used symbol is the crossed keys of Saint Peter. However, as can be seen by the slider below, there is no consistency in how they’re drawn or the field colour on which they appear.[soliloquy id=”705″]
Another symbol that kept cropping up was the crossed swords which is the logo of the cathedral. The Cathedral is actually named in honour of Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Andrew and crossed swords are the symbol of Saint Paul (and the Dean Chapter), while Saint Andrew’s is a plain X cross (i.e. the Scottish flag).[soliloquy id=”716″]
Then of course there is the city’s coat of arms which appeared on much of the street furniture things including a flag. Breaking at least three of the rules of good flag design (keep it simple, use two to three basic colours and use no lettering or seals).[soliloquy id=”723″]
The reason for choosing Peterborough as the focus for this project is because I know the city well, so I wasn’t expecting any huge surprises. However the large usage of the crossed swords was something I hadn’t been aware of. In terms of symbols on the flag I feel there are a couple of solid options. The next stage is to think about the other things represented on the flag and how it sits amongst of civic flags.
This Sunday London was alive, not only to young and old couples celebrating their love for each other on the yearly rose massacre that is Valentine’s Day, but also the sights and sounds of the Far East with the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of the People’s Republic.
The main parade which trailed its way through the heart of London from Charing Cross to Shaftesbury Avenue attracted thousands. However I was not nearly brave enough to try to tackle a crowd of that magnitude. So in my own little homage to Chinese New Year (and a joint Valentine’s treat) me and my girlfriend instead tackled the much more manageable crowds visiting Chiswick House after sunset to see the Magical Lantern Festival. Being the romantic that I am, I decided to break out the old camera and I want to some of my favourite photos from the night.[soliloquy id=”684″]
Now the key question, was it magical? I’d have to say yes it was. Some might say that £16 is a bit steep for a few shaped light boxes. While that’s right in essence, I would say that the level of skill and time that goes into making something like a 60 metre long dragon lantern is worth it. Not only that, but organisers have curated it brilliantly, with the subject of the lanterns flowing seamlessly from one set to another. There were only a couple of instances towards the end when a few random installations clanged a bit with their neighbouring ones. Logistically Chiswick House have to take a lot of credit, the route was very clear with plenty of staff on hand. We took one of the later entries and there were next to no bottlenecks (the biggest was probably at the grilled marshmallow stand halfway round). A high point for me was relatively early on, where from the vantage point of the bridge you could see a great line of lanterns reflecting back up from the gardens still pond. We ended up spending over an hour and a half there and would have definitely stayed longer had it not been for the chill of a Great British February. Chinese New Year or not, that still bites through the thermals.
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