Stuart Sibley

Saturday 1st February, 2014

Winning Combination

Dansk Hestevæddeløb logo

The brand new Danish Horseracing identity

Commissioned by my good friends in Denmark, Stradvice, I have recently finished working on a brand new identity for Dansk Hestevæddeløb (Danish Horseracing). Stradvice has been developing a new strategy for the Danish horse racing sport following the merger of the trotting and the flat racing associations, Dansk Travsports Centralforbund and Dansk Galop.

The new brand had to bridge the gap between the two branches of the sport and secure a common ground for future communication. It’s identity needed to serve at least two strategic purposes. Firstly, signal a ‘new order’ heralding change. And secondly, respect and interpret the long tradition and history of horse racing, but presenting it in a whole new perspective. The brand visualization also had to establish a master brand level, allowing for subsequent development of a full brand hierarchy with several sub-brands and products.

The resulting logo is a combination of a number of relevant cues. The dual racehorse motif representing the two founding organisations, it’s form dynamically executed to portray the excitement of the sport. The baseline, symbolic of the newfound stability and strong foundation the new organisation had created.

Relevant colours were chosen. The red representing the Danish flag and finishing post roundel, also interpreting action, passion, confidence and determination. The racing green represents the turf, as well as growth, harmony, stability and endurance. Typography had to be approachable yet dynamic, relevant and moving forward.

The identity has been well received and it and its various sub-brands are currently being rolled out across Denmark at the many venues and events of the Danish horseracing calendar.

Having successfully worked with Stradvice on numerous projects previously, including, the identity for Focus Advokater, maybe the Danish Horseracing project was destined to be a sure bet. May the winning streak continue!

Thursday 2nd May, 2013

Big Apple and the birth of the Big Idea

New York Times Ad

New York Times Advertisement for CBS 2, 1962

Whilst flicking through an old copy of eye magazine from 1996, I came across this striking ad from the New York Times for CBS 2. The interesting article was about the American led creative revolution of the 50s and 60s, which saw the transition from “hard sell to smart sell” or the Big Idea.

Centred around Madison Avenue, New York, creatives beavered away in publishers and advertising agencies redefining the accepted standards of commercial art. New York was the ideal melting pot of cultures that provided naturally talented and gifted art directors such as Paul Rand, Henry Wolf, Alexey Brodovitch, George Lois and Herb Lubalin to name just a few. Inspired by European Modernism, they swapped the harsh and sometimes crude executions of commercial practice for “subtle and ironic imagery and economical type and layout. Their designs bore a visual signature that both framed and distinguished their respective products, and their role started to go way beyond the traditional responsibility of simply supervising the layout bullpen”.

In the article, eye magazine quoted Lou Dorfsman which probably best summed up the importance of the these early creative pioneers, “Clients began to recognise that these guys were not just sign painters, they were accepted as artists who understood marketing.”

And thank goodness for these creative freedom fighters, the design and advertising world are certainly richer for it.

(Extracts and quotes taken from Big ideas that built America, EYE no. 22 Vol. 6 Autumn 1996)

Friday 29th March, 2013

Tiger packaging is the nuts!

Tiger Nuts

Walkers Tiger Nuts, designed by Design Bridge

I love this packaging created by Design Bridge for Walkers. The striking packaging for new product Tiger Nuts, is an idea that opens up in the mind of the viewer. And if you haven’t seen it yet, look again and search for the “Tiger Nuts” hidden in the camouflage.

I can imagine the process. The initial sketches and numerous development sketches as the designer struggles to believe that the idea could work in reality, yet convinced that the idea is too good to bin! Persevering, refining and presenting to the client as perhaps the maverick option in the pack. I’ve been there.

The London based, branding agency employed illustrator, Chris Mitchell, who collaborated with lettering specialist Chris Weir, to make sure that the execution of this concept worked, maintaining legibility and the visual trick.

So hats off to Design Bridge for producing such a challenging piece of work and hats off too to the client for being brave enough to run with it. I’m sure it will be a roaring success. (sorry!)

Thursday 28th March, 2013

The Value of Packaging

Fine Fare packaging

Fine Fare’s value range

In the current economic climate, some of us “trade down” in our weekly shop in an effort to make some savings. Whereas before we might have only bought branded products, now we buy the cheaper own label products instead. If we bought own label products before, now we might try the, even cheaper, supermarkets value or basic range. If we always shopped at Tesco, now we might consider Aldi or Lidl. And so on and so on.

The value range has been around quite a long time now, probably longer than you imagine. The first value range I remember was produce by Fine Fare. Remember Fine Fare? I’m showing my age just by mentioning the chain. But despite being over 30 years ago, I can still picture the packaging as clear as yesterday.  The design was bright yellow with black stencilled lettering and that was it! No image, no seductive sub-descriptor, just the name of the product and some legals. The design was stripped down to the essentials, and that was the point.

But now the basic ranges are coming up in the world. Feeling the pressure from the budget chains with pseudo brands, the multiples have had to make picking up the value range a lot more acceptable and remove some of the snobbery of buying basic.  They’ve introduced imagery and the designs have become more detailed and sophisticated. Tesco ditched its Value range, with its simple blue and white stripes, and replaced it with an Everyday Value range with patterned 2 colour illustrations, combining with photography on some lines. Morrisons Savers, although basic, carries humorous illustrations to make trading down more enjoyable and bearable. And no doubt Sainsburys is revamping it’s Basics range as I type to respond to the customers needs to cut back yet not lose face at the checkout.

There is an irony with packaging design. The über premium products that sit at the opposite end of the scale to value products, on the face of it follow a similar design formula. Stripped back graphics, the use of illustration rather than photography, one or 2 colours, simple understated sub-descriptors… yet when we shop we can instantly recognize what is going to hit our wallet and what’s going to hit our cred. How? Well, that’s the magic of the designer!