What have Juve done?

"Simple", "Bold" and "Brave" are some of the words that have been used to describe the new logo and identity of Juventus F.C by Interbrand Milan... "Disgusting", "ludicrous" and "incredibly shit" have been the reaction from angry football fans. So what is all the fuss about? Well see for yourself:


The positioning statement of “Black and white and more” is a sign of Juventus “fearlessly embracing its potential as an identity brand” according to Interbrand. The mark is the visual manifestation of a growth strategy that sees the club moving ‘beyond football’. The aim is to become more of an entertainment or lifestyle brand, via partnerships with other leading Italian brands.

So why the uproar? Well lets get an insight into the evolution of the crest from its inception through to today:

Other than 1979 (which by the way is awesome) the badge has been symbolic for its black and white stripes, the bull (the symbol of the home city of Turin) and the oval shield.

As you can see, everything that was symbolic of ‘The Old Lady’ of Italian football has been abandoned. In it’s place is a geometric, sharp-edged letter J forming the shape of a shield with a new condensed wordmark sitting above. This is one of the most modern, contemporary logos I’ve ever seen for a football club and while it looks great as a brand, I question the logic behind this.

Ok I get the fact it is trying to align itself as a ‘more than football’ lifestyle brand that corporate sponsors can get behind. But what about the 40,000 fans that attend the stadium in Turin every weekend, the 210,000 club members or the 24 million social media followers? Surely with a fan base this large who generate millions in revenue, wouldn’t it have been a good idea to engage with them during the process?

It seems in an attempt to turn Juventus into a ‘premium brand’ what they have managed to do is alienate the very people who have been the lifeblood of the football club for over a century (and they’re very pissed off about it).

To demonstrate the shift from fan focus to premium lifestyle brand, you need look no further than pomp and ceremony of the launch event:

Other than the fact the party was tailored to entertain celebrity superstars rather than the fans, to add insult to injury, the choice of venue for the launch… Milan! The home of two of Juve’s biggest rivals! No wonder they’re less than happy!

But lets put all matters of target audience aside for the moment. Lets assess the brand in terms of the design and execution:

They’ve certainly taken the “Black and white” and given it “more”. The font is everything we come to expect from a custom sports brand typeface. The black and white photography works well with the grid system of the visual language and the logo used in isolation from the wordmark looks bold and striking. This is something you would expect from a Nike or an Adidas rather than a football club but in all honesty it works really well.

The merchandise rollout has its good points and bad points. The black and white works particularly well on the t-shirts and tote bags and the football with the brand paired with the Adidas brand demonstrates how this new brand can hold its own with other premium sports brands. Now the bad… that stretched typeface. It looks ok on the aforementioned tshirts and totes, but on the notebooks it demonstrates how it shouldn’t be done. The word ‘stories’ and the ‘1897’ look horrible! Go back and look at the ‘stretched’ version of the typeface. This looked fine and complimented the other weights of type. So why did they have to go ‘so stretched’ as to make words almost illegible?

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a side of me that likes the simplicity and boldness of this new logo. As an emblem it certainly stands out from the rest of the clubs in Serie A. But as a football fan, I can’t help but question why they chose to abandon 100 years worth of heritage? Surely they must have realised what the fans reaction would be. Its not as though its not been tried, tested and failed before.

Remember Everton F.C’s attempted rebrand from the 2013/14 season?

The fan backlash resulted in a complete U-turn and as a result, a redesigned crest that had major fan input adorned the kit a year later. Bear in mind, Everton’s rebrand wasn’t anywhere near as bold as what Juventus have done!

With the backlash already in full swing on social media will Juventus have the will to stick to their guns and see this through? Or will fan pressure lead to another spectacular U-turn?


The emoji protocol

:) :( :|| :// ;p ... If you're old enough to have owned a phone before the emoji keyboard was invented then you will be familiar with the old 'text emoji' from the Nokia 3210 years. So when did they start creeping into brands? Well, 2017 as it happens! So starts the first bumper brand review of the year. And here's the first one:


Introducing dotdot, the new protocol for the Internet of Things (IoT) designed by Wolff Olins.

In the age when, according to the brand video, your toaster reeeeally want’s to talk to your espresso machine, dotdot aims to create a programming language that will actually allow this to happen. Why? Well according to the zigbee alliance, a global membership organisation that works to create and develop universal open standards for smart objects, having a universal language will streamline how ‘things’ work together in homes and businesses and make smart objects work smarter.

I’m not going to go into the whole “isn’t this the beginning of Skynet” debate. What I do question from this brand is the icon they’ve chosen. Ok I get the ‘dot-dot-dash-dash’ alludes to morse code as a simple way of communicating. I even get that it looks like a text face. But seriously… the angry text face? :||

This is where it starts getting a little weird. Ok the work shown previously is fine to introduce a visual language style for corporate rollout such as a website, brochure, etc. But I can’t see at any time or venue where I would want to wear an ‘internet protocol’ icon as a lapel pin. You would have thought that if they were to use the icon the same way they use the universal symbol for ‘USB’ or ‘Wifi’ then they would show examples on say the aforementioned toaster or espresso machine? In fact the Zigbee Alliance showcase a bunch of products they already make here which they could have applied the icon to. So why show a render of a fake ‘shuttle car’. Although I’ve got to admit… that tape dispenser is awesome!

And just in case you were thinking “this looks familiar”, you’re not the only one. I’ll just leave this here…

This might have been a good opportunity to talk about the new Juventus brand but I’m saving that for my next blog. Instead, let’s talk about Mozilla.

You may remember last year the big who ha in the design community when this branding project was announced by Mozilla and London-based johnson banks when they decided to open critique of each stage of the branding process to EVERYONE! That’s right, to compliment the truly open-source nature of Mozilla, they treated this as an exercise to involve the internet community to help come up with an open-source solution. After a year, here is the result:

In case you missed it here is a snippet of the original concept from rounds one and two:

At the time I noted back in September how this was by far the best concept and I’m glad that this was the final choice. It has it’s roots grounded in the original http:// protocol and although it’s had a couple of people slightly :// (that means sceptical) of the clarity of the word ‘mozilla’ I personally had no problem seeing the colon as representing an ‘i’ and the obliques (//) as double-l’s.

The improvement from the concept to the execution was the lowercasing of the ‘M’ and introducing a custom typeface called ‘Zilla’ by Typotheque. It harks back to the origins of the web using a Courier-style slab serif which is like a cooler version of ITC Lubalin Graph (which I’ve used a couple of times on branding projects to great success). I do get the highlight device and the “wordmark in a box” approach to the logo which alludes to typing in a search box. However, I feel there was an elegance in the original phase two concept where the typeface was framed in a heavy stroke which made it look more unique. The “boxed out” solution does seem to be the obvious solution but in a way it’s lost some of its character as a result.

This is where things get a bit weird… but not in a bad way.

The language used in these visuals is used very cleverly (I especially like the use of the gap between the ‘open not closed’ line above) and I find it quite amusing they’ve used popular internet memes such as the ‘fist pumping baby’ and ‘cat’ imagery in their visuals. Again, it harks back to the history of the net, but is it a step too far?

I leave this as an open question which I might come back to over time as we see more roll out. But as we talk about the future of the Internet of Things, AI and the ever evolving web, the visual language seems like it was ripped from old pages of ‘Wired’ magazine from 10 years ago (which again I stress is not necessarily a bad thing). Does it rely too much on celebrating the past rather than looking to the future?


Green with envy

Barely a couple of weeks into 2017 and we're already starting to talk trends for the coming year. There has been talk of the rise of the voice interface and the need to seriously consider this new form of UI in terms of design in the coming year and the continuation of adopting flatter, simpler designs to coincide with the increased demand for mobile content.


If we want to analyse trends we need look no further than PANTONE’s choice for “Colour of the Year”. For 2017, they have introduced “Greenery” which is “a refreshing and revitalised shade” and “symbolic of new beginnings”. Check out some of  PANTONE’s promotional rollout below:

So what does the “Colour of the Year” represent (other than as a marketing opportunity for PANTONE)? According to it, the colour represents “a snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.”

Every year, PANTONE, the global color authority, calls together a panel to select a color of the year. They review influences from the design world and beyond, looking to entertainment, art, popular travel destinations and even, in their own words, ‘new lifestyles and socio-economic conditions’. As such, PANTONE’s language for the promotion of this colour is all about using buzz words such as ‘zesty’, ‘natural’, ‘revive’ and ‘renew’.

It’s interesting to hear the Executive Director of the Pantone Colour Institute refer to this colour as the “reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment”. We can expect statements such as this will become more frequent throughout the year, from businesses as well as individuals, as a direct result of the events of 2016.

So this year, should we expect to see a lot of projects being influenced by ‘Greenery’? Time will tell on that one. Personally, I don’t recall seeing too many brands or campaigns being influenced too much by 2016’s pick of “Rose Quartz and Serenity”.


2016 in Review

Happy New Year! We're back and ready for whatever 2017 has in store for us.


For many, 2016 will be seen as the year of celebrity deaths, Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump. For DWH, 2016 was a great year. We started up in September and it’s been a rollercoaster of a ride ever since. Here’s hoping 2017 is as busy as the last part of 2016 was!

So to kick off 2017, here is a brief review of some of the best (and worst) in design, film and music from 2016:

BRANDING

Best in class: Co-op

Sometimes its good to take a step back to move forwards and for me, the Co-op rebrand by London-based North got this spot on. Honorable mentions go Kodak and Mastercard but the execution of this brand makes this project stand out.

Worst in class: Subway 

I nearly went for the absolutely dull Dell rebrand, but at least they had some rollout.

TV SERIES

Best in class: Stranger Things

Honestly, this had me hooked from start to finish. There have been other noteworthy series such as Daredevil, Mr Robot, Luke Cage and Blindspot, but this is the only series I binge watched.

Worst in class: DC Legends of Tomorrow

Sorry but I couldn’t get past the first episode of this. I think the deal breaker was when Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller showed up! Basically super powered versions of their characters in Prison Break (which had a great first season but then nosedived by season 3).

A close second is the Netflix series of Van Helsing. I’m trying to persevere with this one but at the minute it’s coming off as a poor clone of “The Walking Dead”.

PACKAGING

Best in class: Budweiser

The clean and crisp packaging for Budweiser was the standout winner (followed closely by Carlsberg). Technically it can be classed as a rebrand as well but as this was mainly a packaging rebrand then it deserves it’s own category.

FILM

Best in class: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

For a long time the best film of 2016 was Captain America: Civil War as that was everything I wanted from a Marvel film and more (Spidey was spot on). Then during the Christmas break I saw Rogue One and it blew my mind! It was so much better than last year’s “The Force Awakens”. I would rate it on a par with “The Empire Strikes Back” which for me is the best Star Wars movie so far. Which brings me to…

Worst in class: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Honestly, this is the worst thing I’ve seen by a country mile! It’s an absolute mess of a movie, the plot is all over the place and some of the dialogue is cringe worthy (no spoilers but for those who have seen it… Martha!)

ALBUM

Best in class: Cubicolor “Brainsugar”

There have been a lot of decent albums released this year. Radiohead’s “A Moon Shaped Pool”, Metallica’s “Hardwired…To Self Destruct” (which represents a return to form after a couple of disappointing albums) and of course, what turned out to be David Bowie’s final album “Blackstar”. But looking at my Most Played counter, Cubicolor’s debut album is right up there. It has the right blend of House and Techno and reminds me a lot of some of Thom Yorke’s solo work. You can check them out on Soundcloud.

This was a really inventive campaign by the NHS to raise awareness of the lack of blood donors which involved some major brands coming on board to support the campaign.

Sited underneath a bridge near Paddington station in London, this stunning installation generates words from poet Nick Drake including an algorithm which also spells out text from an 1950s paper written by Alan Turing as people walk past. It’s inventive and a fitting tribute to the work of Turing.

So there you have it. A small snapshot of some of the highlights from the year that was 2016. Here’s to a great 2017!


Merry Christmas!

Well that's it... 3pm and we're done for this year! Time to get the beers on ice, the turkey in the oven and the presents under that tree!


It’s been an incredible last few months and we’ve ended the year on a high with glowing reviews of the work we’ve done over the last couple of weeks.

Apologies for the lack of blogs, it’s been a busy month!

Our doors are now closed from Christmas Eve until 3rd January 2017. We’ll be back in the New Year with reviews of the best (and worst) of 2016 as well as PANTONE’s Colour for 2017 and some more brand reviews.

Until then, Merry Christmas everyone!


Back to ASICS

I vaguely remember owning a pair of ASICS trainers way back in the late 80s when I was about 10. From what I remember, they were not as cool as the Adidas and Nike trainers that the other kids had and they were quickly discarded. Fast forward to today and things aren't that different. But could that be about to change?


Launched in 2015, ASICS Tiger is a sports and lifestyle shoe and apparel brand from parent company ASICS Corporation, that manages the sister consumer brands of ASICS and Onitsuka Tiger. To coincide with the opening of the first ASICS Tiger store, located in Osaka, Japan, the brand introduced a new logo by New York-based designer Alan Peckolick and Herb Lubalin, who designed the original ASICS logo in 1977. Check it out below:

The brand aims to build on the retro aesthetic of the original logo with a new typeface from Copenhagen-based Kontrapunkt reminiscent of the phototypesetting-era of typography from the 70s and 80s. While the roots of this logo are from the late-70s, the new lock up and typeface feel quite modern. This is partly as a result of completely dropping that god-awful swoosh from the main brand. Remember it? You can still see the pattern on the trainers themselves (albeit a lot more subtler) but as part of the new logo it wouldn’t make any sense.

Following the trend of stripping back brands while retaining heritage, this one works well as you will see in application shortly. Although I can’t help but feel on the stacked version is slightly unbalanced as to me there seems to be more emphasis on the ‘TIGER’ element (probably because of that dominating ‘R’ at the end).

The rolled out identity was designed by Canada-based Bruce Mau Design which includes bags, water bottles, caps and posters. I love the stripped back minimalistic approach on the bags with the brand wrapping around.

But the water bottles is where the inconsistency lies. Remember I was saying about the ‘R’ on the brand? Well you’ll notice it’s changed on the word ‘WATER’ opting for a straight kick rather than the curved one from the logo. At first, I didn’t notice this in the typeface but when it’s paired with the logo it sticks out (or maybe that’s just me being picky!)

The store exterior and interiors are where it identity really comes to life. The simple black and white type really helps the bold colourful products to stand out. And the raised logo on the concrete wall literally gives it depth and looks awesome!

Pity about the counter. I get what they were trying to do with wrapping the logo around in continuity of the bag. Thing is it worked on the bag as you could clearly see ‘ASICS’ one side and ‘TIGER’ the other side. But front on reading the brand as ‘ASICSTIG’… ‘ER’. Again, I may be being picky, but as the new store is the first opportunity to expose your new brand I think it may have been a step too far.

That being said, the overall identity having a retro feel is by no means a bad thing. The new look ASICSTIGER is contemporary and dare I say it… cool.


Come together

Continuing the run up to Christmas comes the latest campaign by H&M. Hot off their successful #BustertheBoxer campaign for John Lewis, ad agency Adam & Eve/DDB are at it again, this time they've brought out the big guns with a cinematic short film with a style unique to director Wes Anderson and starring Adrien Brody as the train conductor. Check it out below:


The short film uses Wes Anderson’s signature devices (straight-on shots in framed compositions) particularly at the start when we’re introduced to the characters through their windows. It’s also packed with beautiful scenery and warm colours, while H&M’s clothing range is shown subtly throughout.

This short reminds me of the Academy Award winning ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ (one of Anderson’s best films) in it style and tone.

Ending with the uplifting John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s classic ‘Happy Christmas’, for me, this film is definitely a front-runner for the most memorable ad this Christmas.


Getting the full picture

In the run up to the festive period with every brand bombarding us with their 'creative' Christmas campaigns, the messages of peace, love and good will can start to get a little repetitive. That's why when someone does a campaign that's a little different it makes a nice change... especially if its used to highlight a very serious cause.


That’s why today’s blog applauds Grey Canada’s who have used Facebook’s 360 image feature to create this new campaign for The Salvation Army. Check it out below:

The scene initially appears to show a happy family enclosed by a Christmas card frame, though when viewers navigate around the scene, signs of poverty are revealed. The tagline of ‘Poverty isn’t always easy to see. Especially during the holidays’ is revealed as you spin 180 degrees.

The campaign is accompanied by this tv advert which takes things further by showing a mother of two children staring at the mounting bills on the kitchen table before posing for a family Christmas card at the end:

As the theme of campaign’s this year aim to lighten the mood with John Lewis’s #BusterTheBoxer and Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot it’s nice to see a campaign that is not only innovative in it’s approach, creative in its messaging, but above all, gives an honest commentary to the realities of families living in poverty this Christmas.


The power of We

Free productivity tools on the web don't come much better than WeTransfer. Even with a huge Dropbox at my disposal, I still find I am normally asked to send files via WeTransfer on a daily basis. With a generous 2GB limit on the free version, it is “dead simple to send digital goods,”.


Today saw the launch of a revamped logo, identity and website designed in-house in collaboration with Bold Monday’s Paul van der Laan. Check it out below:

In a bold move, the company has decided to drop the word ‘transfer’ from its logo in favour of using the stripped back two letter ‘we’ as their main brandmark. As Thijs Remie, vice president of design at WeTransfer, explains: “We started with an empty canvas and a mission to create a symbol that captures the right personality, one that is technically well-executed, and can clearly be read as ‘we’.”

The challenge with this mark was to make the two letters work even when reduced down to a small icon for mobile (which can be a problem, especially when it comes to the lowercase ‘e’). Thanks to close collaboration with Paul van der Laan who worked on the finer details, the logo is successful in this aim while overall exuding a more friendlier, down-to-earth feel and gives the letters a personality which are distinctly lacking rival services such as mailbigfile and Hightail (originally known as YouSendIt).

The wider identity has been revamped from the inside out, to reflect how the service has evolved since 2009. It has a new colour palette, updated typography, a cleaner interface, a bigger message field that scales as you type, and a set of shapes – dubbed “particles” by the design team – to freshen up the look of the site, plus a set of spot illustrations commissioned for “key moments of the transferring process”.

As a regular user of wetransfer the new UI of the site is a marked improvement. The interface is cleaner and I welcome the removal of those awful tabs that used to be beside the form field.

As productivity goes, Dropbox is still my go to with the added edge of being able to share AND store my projects and the 1TB cloud storage more than justifies the annual cost. But there will always be a place for the friendlier looking wetransfer in my working life.


Hey Buster!

Instead of dwelling on the post-Trump election fallout in the US, today's blog is going to focus on something more uplifting. It's November... so time for the Christmas ad campaigns to start!


The release of the John Lewis Christmas ad has become a festive ritual in the UK. They are best known for 3 things: a cover of a classic song, a very cute kid and a bit of sentimental Christmas pulling of the heartstrings to make us all feel a little weepy. But hold on! It seems like after 10 years of this winning formula, John Lewis has decided to change tactics this year.

Instead of making us want to cry, this year’s campaign aims to make us laugh with joy instead! Check it out below:

As well as the main ad, there are Snapchat filters, Twitter stickers, a wide range of products (including toy animals and a new children’s book based on the ad), and even a VR event at the flagship Oxford Street store. The main charity tie-in this year is with The Wildlife Trust.

With everything that 2016 has thrown at us, we’ve enough to cry about. So this is a welcome change to the Christmas as format for John Lewis. Pity the trampolining badgers and foxes look so CGI!