Siegel+Gale – Global HR brand
Thursday, December 30, 2010

After a great start and then a worrying early mid-year slump, the second half of this year proved busier than I anticipated. In addition to work for Allen International, some professional writing and direct client work, from mid-November to mid-December I joined the Siegel+Gale team in London to develop a couple of brands that'll make up a major strategic overhaul of a global HR brand.

Due to my previous commitment to Allen International I was only able to join Siegel+Gale at the tail-end of the first project. For this project I was tasked to deliver brandmarks for three concept directions for a major IT HR brand. One of which has been chosen and I'm pleased to report that the client is excited about the overall direction as well as the specific brandmark that I designed. I'll publish the brandmark work on this website as soon as the project goes live.

The second project required all guns blazing from start to finish. Working with a large senior creative team I delivered a number of ideas, but, after a strong start, for the first time working as a senior brand identity creative on a major project none of my initial routes made it into the final three. However, I did pick up and run with another designer's seed idea and delivered a few 'aha' moments internally, which was deeply gratifying on a creative level for me. The brand is a major US-based global IT firm that is also part of the same parent global HR brand as the IT HR brand mentioned above. I'd be extremely pleased if the client also got from the concept that I developed what could prove to be a very clever big brand idea.

Siegel+Gale are doing very well at the moment. A few prudent business decisions during the recession enabled the company to go from strength-to-strength during the downturn. It appears that my contributions have always been highly valued by Siegel+Gale and that we might work together on at least a couple more big brand projects in the pipeline.


Jooma – The Inner Sense of Coffee
Thursday, September 16, 2010

Originally due to launch this year, Jooma is a brand I created with Justin Vella towards the end of 2009. Drawing on Justin's love of good quality coffee and his extensive experience of marketing coffee products he was keen to create a retail coffee experience with a difference. 

Aimed at upmarket coffee drinkers wanting good coffee served quickly, the plan was to pilot an outlet in Cape Town where high volume sales would make such an offer attractive. The second part of the plan was to bring good quality coffee to cultural and sporting events. However, it turns out that the terms and conditions of suitable retail space in South Africa is not attractive enough at the moment and so Jooma will start out entirely mobile. To this end under manufacture are a number of proprietary delivery units that will introduce people to the joys of Jooma Coffee.

I led Justin (and his associates) through a naming exercise and we chose Jooma as the brand name. A name that we believe evokes a sense of nurture as well as a sense of the transformative power of coffee with a distinctive African flavour and a global appeal. In addition to the name and visual identity I came up with “The Inner Sense of Coffee” as the brand-idea to serve as the organising principle of everything the brand does. This idea is also the public-facing brandline that we think has an accessible conceptual depth and that customers are likely to find inviting. 

“Inner sense” suggests an “innate grasp” and it's a play on the word “innocence”, which suggests a “pure” coffee experience. And, in combination with the visual identity, the brand is set to elicit an energetic and passionate grasp of good quality coffee, not only in relation to the highly personal experience of drinking coffee but for everyone involved in delivering the brand.

Click on the brandmark or brandline above to see the Jooma as an entry in my portfolio on this website.


Layers Magazine
Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Although people generally associate branding with the aspects of a brand they can see, the visual side of branding is only the tip of the iceberg. It is the aspect of a brand people generally fall in love with and it is also the aspect of branding that draws designers and visually-oriented people like moths to a flame. 

Not only is a brand dependent on a robust business comprised of products and services but businesses are generally determined and run by people who tend to think and express themselves in words. Brand strategists also tend to work almost exclusively in words and at most draw on diagrams to illustrate principles where the use of words would prove tedious. In my experience, the most successful branding projects are those that have in place a coherent strategy in a single document. A strategy wherein, ideally, a single idea expressed in words has been agreed with the client, an idea that best represents the essence of the positioning and for which a brand identity should form the fullest expression.

Drawing on my experience working with various top-line brand consultancies in London I've followed closely the various methodologies on offer. Most interesting to me is how these methodologies enable brands to become more effective. This, in combination with my interest in what things mean (in the broadest sense), has placed me in a position to put brands in the context of all purposeful pursuits with which people concern themselves, including philosophy, art, religion, science and language. And, against which every type of brand can be understood and measured.

Earlier this year, on the strength of David Airey's recommendation, Chris Main, the editor of Layers Magazine asked me to write a feature article on branding. I leaped at the opportunity as it would enable me to demonstrate my observation and conclusions about brands and branding to a size-able audience. Layers Magazine is Adobe's technical magazine aimed at the creative industry who use Adobe products, many of whom are freelancers or creative people who run small businesses. The magazine is US-based and has a respectable print run of 65 000 and a website that draws heavy traffic.

The editors at Layers received my article extremely well and I was asked to expound on some of my points to enhance the article with very little editorial intervention. My article was not only a feature article but was published as the cover story of the May/June 2010 issue. Best of all I got paid for writing an article I would probably have seriously considered writing for free.

Click on the image above to go to the article as a published work on this website.


Regent Inns – R.I.P.
Monday, September 13, 2010

It's always a sad day for me when I discover a brand that I helped create no longer exists, particularly as so much of the work as a brand identity designer generally goes unrealised. There are many more brand identity projects in my concept section than in my live work section on this website. And, many that have not yet been launched or that are subject to Non-disclosure Agreements (NDAs).  

Brand consulting is a complex business at the best of times. When an identity goes live it is usually as a result of a whole string of doors opening up for an extremely limited time under exceptional circumstances. And so, I savour (and celebrate) each and every identity that gets given an opportunity to lead a brand experience.  

Earlier this year I did a routine check on the brands I've created and was disappointed to learn that Regent Inns PLC entered into administration on the 22 October 2009.

Although I can't claim full authorship of this brand I can claim to have conceived of, and to have designed, the visual identity – supported and encouraged by my then Design Director, Chris Scherer. Regent Inns was a client of Dragon Brands that had a very good reputation in the city as a holding company for a few well-known pubs and other young person's entertainment venues such as Bar Risa, Walkabouts and Jongeleurs.

It should be noted that the branding as I imagined it was never fully realised. Long before dynamic identities were commonplace I intended for the bars (a rebus pun) to scale up and down and stretch and compress, and generally behave youthfully and vibrantly, led by “Brighter Ideas” as the main brand-idea.  

Due to the general lack of disposable income during the recession leisure-oriented businesses performed poorly and Regent Inns was forced to go into administration after failed attempts to sell the business. Perhaps if the brand behaved as we intended it would have been predisposed to finding those “Brighter Ideas”. But, then again, it may not be possible to argue against the harsh economic reality, no matter how clever the ideas underpinning the business. 

Regent Inns was listed on the London Stock Exchange and carried the branding I designed between the years 2001-2009. Click on the brandmark above to view this project in my portfolio on this website. 


Nvohk featured in Brand & Branding
Friday, August 20, 2010

It seems the Nvohk brand identity has been a bit of hit with designers. It always draws a good response when I show it and for a time last year it did the rounds online, including a short interview on a logo gallery website ( Although I don't place much value on the celebration of a brandmark as a logo there is still a distinct feel-good factor when other designers laud one of my designs. This sense of appreciation really hits home when a publisher sees fit to print the same project in a high-production values design publication. In December last year, Monsa, a Spanish design book publisher, featured Nvohk in their book Brand & Branding. They also wanted to feature Pick n Pay but the hurdles we would have had to jump through to get permission would have made it an effort beyond the energy available at the time. So, for now, I'm pleased to be able to celebrate one of a number of publications featuring my work during the last year.

Click on the image above to go to the entry as a published project in my portfolio.


Brand identity reviews
Thursday, July 15, 2010

As part of a broad community of brand-oriented people I try to make meaningful contributions to online discussions. I'm not just a casual commenter and generally put a lot of effort into my critiques.

Earlier this year my efforts were rewarded by being asked to write a review as an international correspondent on the new Argos brand identity for Brand New. Brand New draws a global audience but the majority of those who leave comments on the blog appear to be enthusiastic young designers based in the US. Most comments are knee-jerk responses on a subjective level and demonstrate a lack of experience but the blog also draws a more thoughtful contingent and this makes Brand New a valuable platform to gauge developments in the brand identity industry.

Click on the image above to go to the Argos review on Brand New.


News back-log
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I've developed a back-log of news since the beginning of the year. I had started building the current version of my website in January but got side-tracked by a few projects that I'll also cover in news posts to follow.

The news section of my previous website was dependent on Blogger's FTP blog feed system, which Blogger stopped supporting in May of this year. What this means is that instead of my news being neatly handled on my hosting provider's servers under my domain name it now exists entirely on Blogger's Blogspot service. At first I thought this was too much of a compromise but with the snappy new service combined with the benefits of XML feeds I am satisfied with the solution.

I've also gone through my news archive to indicate what content is no longer relevant. I intend to keep my news archives as an online record of my career for those interested in getting a better idea of my recent history and also as an expression of my general commitment to oppenness and transparency.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I've been so impressed with Dreamweaver that thought I should give it a brief mention. Perhaps for most web-developers and web-designers Dreamweaver is just a tool of the trade and goes without saying but as a relative new-comer discovering its many and various features the experience has been richly rewarding. For me, this has meant organising a basic file structure for pages with multiple links in a self-promotional portfolio website comprised of a standard HTML shell with CSS controlled elements.

As digital is beginning to underpin most brand experiences (and in some instances determine them entirely) the more I know about the 'mechanics' of digital the better. I don't intend to do web-design or web-development at a serious level but a working understanding of what's involved is highly complimentary to my core competencies.


A digital platform
Monday, July 12, 2010

During the last couple of months I've been lying low; burying myself in the problems of how best to express my branding work and writing online. Before this I had rudimentary web skills and although I liked the simplicity and purity of my website I suspect the interface was too demanding for most visitors. A lot of my work was obscured by a logical but uninviting interface. It seems it was too simple a system for people who expect sophisticated web interfaces as standard.

And so, I now offer a new website, a website that shows as evidence the joys (and frustrations) of HTML, CSS and Javascript I've experienced. I also now appreciate why web designers and developers loathe Internet Explorer. I haven't addressed all the viewing problems but I'm satisfied with how my new website looks viewed using Internet Explorer. If you're a part of the 8% of visitors to my website who use Internet Explorer I strongly recommend you view this website with an up-to-date web-standards compliant browser such as Firefox and Chrome.

If you're a web aficiando don't expect too much under the hood. The framework is still HTML with CSS controlled elements and manual updates. Perhaps the integration of all the technologies is not the most elegant solution but I am confident that my new website showcases what I'm good at, brand identity origination, design and writing.