Archive for November, 2009

Visual Futures Launch

by Vicky Bullen

Last night we held our annual Visual Futures event at The Hospital club in Covent Garden.  Visual Futures is a Coley Porter Bell initiative that has been running for over four years.  It is a design ‘visual showcase’ supported by evidence and our observations, looking how what we are seeing in design today, reflects what’s going on in society.  And last night we launched our fifth Visual Futures ‘Bitesize’.

As our lives become increasingly busy and ever more complex we have seen companies and brands respond in a bitesize way cutting through, getting straight to the point and connecting with consumers in a quick and digestible way.  This example from VW is one of my personal favourites.

By simply crossing out the majority of words the ad is transformed in to a short, sweet and potent piece of communication, it’s great.  And I love the way the brand even edits itself in its sign off.

There are lots more great examples throughout the presentation, so for those of you that missed the out last night watch this space.  Over the next few days we are going to be uploading some of the best bits and if you would like us to come and present to you we’d be more than happy.

Ikea engage with consumers through Facebook

by Katie Monk

The invisible equity

by Adam Ellis

What is is that makes my 6 year old daughter love Kinder eggs?  Is it the amazing orange and white stand-out on shelf or maybe the promise of delicious chocolate?  Who are we kidding?  The real lure is the gift inside.  Just as important, and what makes a Kinder egg over a standard bar of chocolate, is the sense of theatre.  From the nostalgic unwrapping of the crinkly foil to the breaking of the chocolate shell, you continuously engage with the brand through so many layers.  By the time you’ve popped open the little yellow egg with eager anticipation of your ‘air fix kit’ style toy, you well and truly feel that your 45p was well spent.  Then there are the hours of ‘fun’ fiddling to put it together.

This got me thinking that many of our favourite brands also secretly hold a valuable, almost hidden, invisible equity.  Admittedly many brands have been savvy enough to capitalise on brand theatre – Orangina’s shake to wake, Grolsch’s unleashing of their ceramic stopper to the heavy thud of a BMW door followed by a gentle fade of the vanity light.

But the area I find really fascinating is when, just simply through the passage of time, a brand can own a valuable equity they never intended to have.  Who doesn’t now pine for the foil on a Kit Kat bar or the little colourful embossed alphabet letters on the lid taken from a Smarties tube?  Interestingly to some brands these aren’t equities hence the move to replace the Smarties tube with a hexagonal box.  Yes I buy the argument that the new packaging is more environmentally aware but I can’t help but feel robbed of all the charm the brand has given me over the years (it took me about 5 years to collect the whole alphabet).

Sometimes it’s the oddities around the brand that make the brand.  Take Heinz Tomato Ketchup.  Sure you can put it in a neat clinical squeezy plastic bottle, but for loyalists, unless you thud the ‘diner’ style glass bottle, it just ain’t Heinz.  You can keep a jar of coffee uber fresh with a modern click vacuumed lid, but what you really want is to smash your tea spoon through that lovely gold foil on a jar of Gold Blend.

However, it’s not always negative that times change and brands move on.  One brand actually making this ‘invisible’ theatre the main crux of its latest advertising campaign is nestle cereal Shreddies.  Rather than the theatre just being tactile it’s observational too.  Watch the hilarious tongue in cheek market researchers get feedback on the taste difference of the new ‘diamond’ shape, which of course isn’t Shreddies turned 45 degrees – oh no, it’s new Diamond Shreddies!  The campaign is very clever as the theatre is running through the ‘new’ old brand.  In fact, the diamond shape and the ads have become a Youtube hero in their own right – you can even vote online for which shape you prefer.  Very design savvy – making the existing shape of the product become what’s new (and it must have saved a fortune in R&D).

But it’s not just brands, one entire category that has successfully turned around a major piece of their ownable theatre, is wine.  Who at first didn’t doubt the transition form the ceremonious de-corking to the very under whelming unscrewing of a cap?  But it worked and people have adopted the new ritual whether it’s a cheap and cheerful bottle of plonk through to more premium wines.  No more stressfully rattling around the cutlery drawer for the elusive corkscrew, and hey presto, at picnics you’re straight in.

But simply replacing theatre with convenience won’t always work.  The real trick as we design into the future is that we continue to create and protect a brand’s potentially invisible equities.  Pringles know that ‘once you pop you can’t stop’ will out live any surface graphics.  The DNA of brands aren’t just visible equities but also emotive, tactile ones.  Long live jokes on lolly sticks, crisps with salt packets, shamrocks drawn on pints of Guinness and yellow eggs with toys in them.

Adam Ellis is Design Director at Coley Porter Bell.

Up Mexico Way

by Stephen Bell

Last night saw the launch of Olmeca Altos 100% Tequila from Pernod Ricard. We here at Coley Porter Bell helped create this new premium variant, including the bottle structure, for the Olmeca brand. The design was inspired by the architecture and culture of the ancient Olmecs.

Design aside, the Olmeca brand team threw a damn fine party. Located in the Paramount on the 31st floor of Centre Point Tower, the venue was chosen to highlight ’Los Altos,’ the high altitude province where the Blue Agave plant used in the distillation is grown. The Olmeca cocktails flowed freely creating a heady mood and Singer Paloma Faith gave a breathtaking performance along with her virtiginous platform shoes.

A high time was had by all and some of us are still coming down.


by Tom Probert

The bright glare of the Shine award fades to a dim glimmer and finally flickers out for another year. Congratulations to Jia Ying Gnoh from Staffordshire uni, who pushed the boundaries of the brief and won with his beautifully crafted folding diamond poster. We asked Jia Ying what he planned to spend his £3000 prize on; ‘fashion’ was his simple answer! Look out for his poster gracing the walls of the nation’s universities next year.

As previous Shine winners, myself and Wendy were delighted with the diversity and quality of posters (and students) this year – it was honestly the best so far, raising the bar yet again for next year! So thanks to all the shiners, I’m sure we’ll see you again soon. Thanks to Chivas for hosting the event, and to New Design magazine where the new poster will be appearing next spring.

Marketing Magazine’s Design Awards 2009

by Vicky Bullen

We make brands beautiful…

…and yesterday at the Marketing Magazine’s Design Awards we picked up two more gold awards for Dylon and Museum of London.

Thank you and congratulations to both the Dylon and Museum of London brand teams.

To find out more call me on +44 (0) 207 824 7754

October Five Beautiful things

by Stephen Bell

technology: Beauty can be functional – 3 pin folding plug

‘Mac book Air,’ Apple’s latest master-piece, is the world’s thinnest laptop ever. However, here in the U.K, we still use the world’s biggest and bulkiest three-pin plug. Most people carry laptops with adapters and plugs because laptop batteries have a limited life. However, despite the huge demand for small, streamlined products, the bulky UK 3-pin plug has been overlooked by designers until now. Is Min-kyu Choi’s design the end to travelling with heavy laptop bags, huge adapters and bulky multi-plugs?


This blog is about all the things that inspire us as we make brands beautiful: insights and ideas, points of view, fabulous work, nascent trends - all the things that excite us and help us to see new possibilities for the brands we work on. So please enjoy, add your comments, forward the link, and come back and see us. We’ll be posting regularly.