Archive for July, 2013

Why science and the future have became a source of hope not fear for consumers

by Alex Benady

Business needs to let science inform  design and communications, not just  R&D if it wants to stay relevant says a new report from brand design agency Coley Porter Bell.

The study called Eureka examines the way that the renewed interest in science is informing our visual culture, in particular a new visual language for brands.

It suggests that traditionally when times are hard, consumers have drawn comfort from the past. But after the longest economic downturn since records began, consumers are looking to science and the future to provide them with hope and certainty.

The report includes contributions from leading scientists including Baroness Susan Greenfield, Lord Robert Winston and social psychologist Bertolt Meyer, better known as the bionic man. It draws on dozens of examples from both high end and mass culture, from packaging, fashion, retailing, technology, the arts and architecture.

It looks at the growth of intelligent labeling, infographics and the way that brands are using geometric motifs in design and. It cites a high tech robotic dress with animated robotic limbs that protect the wearer, it highlights the fashion for molecular gastronomy, the growth of ‘lab chic’ in utensil design, it refers to the explosion of TV science programmes as well as Zaha Hadid’s futuristic Galaxy Soho building in Beijing and Richard Branson’s promotion of space tourism with the Virgin Galactic Spaceship Two.

The paper argues that the new interest in science or ‘reenlightenment’ is a response to both structural changes in the role that science plays in society and the economic cycle. (more…)

by Tim Smith

by Tim Smith

by Tim Smith

Coca Cola Life highlights problems of going green

by Alex Benady

Latin Americans seem to be experimenting a lot with Coke these days.

Three weeks ago it was an ice bottle in Colombia. This week it’s a green bottle in Argentina.

‘Coca Cola Life’ as it has been branded, is a new formulation of the world’s favourite soft drink that includes a mix of sugar and naturally sourced sugar substitute Stevia. As a result a 600 ml bottle has only 108 calories compared to the usual 250.

In addition Coca-Cola Life is packaged in the company’s PlantBottle, which is the first recyclable bottle made from petroleum-based materials and up to 30% plant-based materials. The hope is to create a 100% plant-based bottle in the future.

To wrap it all up, the new bottle has a rather undelicious and unrefreshing green label –surprisingly close to the ‘don’t smoke me’ olive green now used on Australian fag packets.

Executional questions aside, the new product highlights a real debate about how companies should approach green issues. Should they use green improvements as tactical/promotional devices like Coke Life seems to? Or should they embody them deep in the strategic direction of the company -like Unilever?

There is a school of thought that goes, because governments and consumers are too short term and expedient in their thinking, the lead on environmental issues has to come from corporations. Unilever has acted radically to help address this short termism by making profound adjustments to the way it operates. Most notably it has abolished quarterly financial reporting.

In contrast Coca Cola Life has all the appearance of a consumer option, not a company compulsion. In fairness to Coca Cola, while Coke Life looks like a tactical response to the environmental issue, it is quietly rolling out the Plantbottle in nine different countries. So it is serious.

But in Argentina Coke may have taken the route it has because it has a rather unique problem. One that many brands would love to have. The brand has become a straightjacket. Coke consumers are so loyal and so traditional that it cannot mess with its ingredients. Remember the New Coke fiasco in the 1980’s?

It would have been impossible for Coca Cola to launch this product under the classic Coke livery. But this puts it in a quandary. How do you embody profound changes in your product if your consumers wont let you? ENDS


by Tim Smith

5 Beautiful Things. Summer Edition

by beautiful
With the summer season now in full swing (and even the weather to match!)  our latest 5 Beautiful Things has been themed around the delights of summer.  With exhibitions, architecture, wonderful summertime occurrences, and some  inspiring pieces of design included, there is something for everyone.


1.      As if a trip to Fiji wasn’t tempting enough?
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Fiji Airways got our attention when they released previews of their redesign earlier this year. We have now been able to see their full rebrand, complete with aircrafts proudly embossed with Teteva Masi symbols, and cushions to match. We love how the theme doesn’t vary from its origins, with direct symbol translations communicating Fiji’s welcoming nature. The design is simple, distinctive, and sophisticated; perhaps a trip to Fiji is in order?


2. Get in touch with your roots
This beautifully creative new envelope concept by the Swedish postal service is both unique and arresting; this new trend of designer envelopes has swept over Sweden and we hope it comes our way soon! With each of the four envelopes representing each season, we love the transformation of such a banal object into a work of art, to be treasured surely by any recipient.


3. Showcasing the freshest artistic talent

If you are in London this summer, head down to the Royal Academy for this year’s Summer Exhibition. This display is a true celebration of artistic talent, with works from both the well-known, and the unheard-of. What really distinguishes this exhibition is the sheer scale of the event. This has earned its title of the largest open exhibition in the UK, boasting a collection made up of paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, architectural design and models. With a collection uniquely chosen and hung by artists, this is a spectacular must-see.
For tickets:


4. Summer pavilions just got playful…

This striking take on the summer pavilion by Atelier Zundel Cristea, has been installed in the Museum Gardens in Bethnal Green, London. We urge you to dismiss all existing mental imagery of summer pavilions, and take a look at this satisfyingly symmetrical, undulating inflatable structure. Perhaps simply a coincidence, or a factor in its very design, the pavilion has been located next to the Museum of Childhood.


5. Manhattanhenge

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Manhattanhenge is a stunning, half natural, half man-made occurrence in which the setting sun aligns with the East-West streets of the main street grid. This amazing phenomenon happens just 2-3 times per year and as people local to the area flock to the best viewing spots, this attraction has been likened to the crowds that gather to celebrate the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge. So if you happen to be in Manhattan over July 12th, be sure to secure yourself a good vantage point. If you aren’t lucky enough to be there, the Pinterest page is well worth looking at!


Brands that are ashamed of their parents

by Alex Benady

Lexus. Not a hint of Toyota.

It emerged this week that JK Rowling chose the nom de plume Robert Galbraith for her new novel The Cuckoo’s Calling. She wanted it to be judged on its own merits rather than be flooded by associations with what you might call the Rowling power brand.

“Being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience,” she told the Sunday Times. “It has been wonderful to publish without hype and expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.”

Like many individuals and brands before her, Rowling has discovered that having a clear identity, especially a powerful identity, is a two- edged sword. (more…)

Coley Porter Bell designs Royal Baby packs

by Alex Benady

Coley Porter Bell has helped Unilever mark the birth of the royal baby by designing special commemorative packaging for Comfort and Persil

The limited edition packs are decorated with golden filigree and a photo of the Comfort Pure baby wearing a crown with the words ‘Celebrating A Royal Baby’. They will go on sale the day after the baby is born.

The designs appear on Comfort Pure and Persil non-bio powder which are positioned as Unilever’s mother and baby fabric care brands. There’s more information in an article on Marketing‘s web site .


by Tim Smith

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.