Archive for the ‘Insight’ Category

Bluesky report 2014: ‘Brand China’

by Sarah Cameron

Every year, CPB launches an internal competition to broaden our minds and fill our personal ‘experience banks’. The competition asks; what would you do and where would you go with £2,500 and two weeks extra holiday. Last year’s winner Alex Ririe (CPB Business Director), was interested in how a cultural flow has started to shift from East to West. She wanted to visit China and surrounding cities to understand this shift and find out just what’s so appealing.

To help understand how Asia is impacting on western design in the future, Alex focused on four themes – Fashion, Food, Drinks and Architecture.

Places she went to include The Red Dot Museum in Singapore which is Asia’s first contemporary design museum, The Hong Kong Design Centre founded to promote Asian design and numerous flagship stores of luxury western brands in Shanghai.

After two weeks of travelling, exploring and documenting Alex left Asia with a backpack full of new insights, more experience and stories to tell.

The result of her research was an inspiring, lively and colorful exhibition at the CPB studio where Alex presented her findings. She not only showed photography from her travels and presented key findings, but also made comparisons of American influences on Western culture versus those coming from Asia like Bubble Tea and Dim Sum. She also presented key cultural motifs in Asian visual language, in Chinese clothing, decorative designs and traditional colors – emphasizing the importance of symbolic meanings in China.

 “My BlueSky trip was a brilliant experience. I have always been fascinated by Asian culture so to spend 2 weeks immersed in it was really inspiring. The interesting thing for me, was that at the moment the transfer of culture seems very one way – America and the West influences much of Asian contemporary lifestyle. However, the seas are changing and we are starting to see more and more brands emerging that are not only flying the flag for Brand China, but doing it proudly and in a way that has huge appeal to Western tastes. America has had over a century of influence and it is still early days for China, but I’m sure we will embrace more and more of Asian lifestyle, craft and culture in the future.”  Alex

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?
Inline image 1

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!


Imitation is flattery…isn’t it?

by Jenni Mellor

My heart and my head are torn…

This week, the government repealed section 52 of the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents act meaning that the UK will extend the amount of time that artistic copyright exists on ‘industrial practices’ (aka knock-offs), bringing it in line with the rest of the EU.

Essentially the amendment means that no-one can make copies of protected designs for the author/artist’s life, plus 70 years; a lot longer than the current 25 year limit… Elle Decoration are rejoicing after a year long campaign and the design industry is hailing it as a coup.

Undoubtedly it is fantastic news for designers and craftsmen both now and in the future, though not necessarily for design-loving, but relatively poor, consumers.

And this is my dilemma:

Intellectual Property laws allow growth and security when creating something beautiful and unique but, frankly, I’d quite like to own some cool furniture.

right? right


It’s not that I don’t think craftsmen and designers should be recognised and rewarded for their work, more that there’s a disparity between this and other creative industry outputs.

A great piece of art? I hang a print

The best music? I buy the CD

New writing? I get the book

(The obvious answer to this would be miniature imitations of originals so they could sit on a bookshelf and be admired, but the only person I know who has things like this is my Knoll-working uncle who already owns the full sized versions anyway)


Sir Terrance Conran argues that:

“By protecting new designs more generously, we are encouraging more investment of time and talent in British design

…Properly protected design can help make the UK a profitable workshop again…

…We have the creative talent – lets use it”


Of course he’s not wrong, but perhaps a solution can be found, allowing the average-Joe design fan to experience and enjoy the best of British design in their homes, at the creator’s gain, not expense.



Co-created ranges with high street retailers (like Conran with Marks and Spencer) are one route though these are still ‘expensive’ to the everyday consumer. Inevitably, the recession has made it mark.

And with some of the most design-savvy everyday names disappearing (the Home Retail group which owns Argos, Habitat and Homebase announced the closure of 75 Argos stores in October), the design industry runs the risk of alienating itself from some of its best advocates, creating a chasm between average but affordable, and innovative, beautiful and very cool but completely unattainable…



Perhaps lessons can be learnt from the fashion industry, where high fashion sits comfortably alongside high street and joint ranges are becoming the norm (see H&M and TopShop for fantastic examples of how to do this very well).

Or a British version of Ikea that promotes great design at really affordable prices and possibly compromises on quality of materials in order to focus on the quality of the creation.*

Or even something as obvious as designers creating their own ‘ready-to-wear’ ranges of furniture, cutting out the middle-men who they say take their profits and bastardise their detail and intricacies.


At this week's London launch for the range, customers began queuing at around 1am

Something needs to happen, whatever it is. If not, design will continue to be superb but no-one will recognise it outside of the industry, and Ikea will continue to dominate unchallenged (a position which can only lead to a deterioration in quality across all facets).

If Britain can pioneer this then, to steal Conran’s words, the UK can become both a profitable workshop and a guiding light, and the knock-on effect  will benefit the wider creative industry enormously too.


Other interesting articles on this:


Five Beautiful Things – Autumn edition

by Sarah Cameron

The leaves are orange, the fog has come down and we’ve finally had to accept that an Indian Summer is not just around the corner… Don’t worry though; wrap your hands round a steaming cup of tea and check out our latest (and particularly bright!) Five Beautiful Things for inspiration despite the drizzle.


60 Shades of Royalty



Throughout the madness of her Diamond Jubilee, it seemed impossible to escape the Queen’s face, but a piece of colourful genius stood out amongst the generic QEII masks and biscuit tins. Leo Burnett has created a masterpiece ‘Pantone Queen: 60 Years of Matching Colours’.  Each colour of outfit is accompanied by the date it was worn, and the Pantone colour reference. And after all the press the younger royals are getting these days, we suspect Her Majesty will be blushing a rosy Pantone 231.



Jolly Brollies



This playful exhibition of colour and abstract beauty was featured in Agueda Portugal, as part of the Agitagueda Art Festival. The Wonderland-esque display carried a soothing elegance while maintaining a stunning array of colour across the sky. The umbrellas also proved to be somewhat practical by providing a shaded stroll for all those admiring the aerial spectacle; an umbrella function us Brits can only envy.



Inside London



OK, so it’s one of ours, but our drinks team at Coley Porter Bell are rather pleased with their new identity for Beefeater’s limited edition ‘Inside London’ bottle, planned as celebration of 2012 – a truly momentous year for London.
Our idea for the bottle stems from the British outwardly conservative appearance and ‘stiff upper lip’ attitude, contrasting with our ‘inner eccentricity’ seen in London’s diverse range of people, culture and activities.



Nice And Toastie



If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the… bus stop? Caribou Coffee, along with the trusty sous chefs at Colle + McVoy, launch their ‘Hot ‘n Wholesome’ breakfast sandwiches by converting bus shelters in Minneapolis into oversized ovens. Not to miss a trick, these public appliances have been fitted with digital clocks and fully functional heaters.



Living With Patterns



Eley Kishimoto, a husband and wife duo, opened their ‘Living With Patterns’ exhibition at The Aram Gallery, London in September, coinciding with both London Fashion Week and The London Design Festival. The exhibition showcases their collection of women’s wear, named ‘In Shape’, and is on show until 27th October. If you like these retro inspired prints, Clarks will be launching a range of shoes inspired by this work in March next year in the UK.


Cadbury’s purple reigns

by Alex Benady

I’m not quite sure what I make of the news that Cadbury has won a legal battle to own the colour purple. Rival chocolateers Nestle took Cadbury to court, maintaining that colours cannot not be used as trademarks.

Quite why they would want to do that when they have whole battalions of brands that would benefit from the ability to use colours as trademarks, is not clear. Kit Kat and Gold Blend, a brand we work on, spring to mind.

But in his wisdom Judge Colin Birss ruled yesterday that colours are “capable of being signs.”  He said that “Cadbury purple”, Pantone 2685C to be precise, has become linked with the company’s chocolate over the course of more than 90 years. It is Cadbury’s and no-one else can use it in the area of milk chocolate confectionery.

On the one hand my inner libertarian bridles at the idea that anyone, especially corporations should be able to own anything as fundamental as a colour. It is reminiscent of businessman Craig Venter’s attempts to own the human genome.  It feels like such a fundamental part of nature that surely no-one should be allowed to use it. (more…)

Wine wraps cast new light on labelling conventions

by Alex Benady

Beautiful game changer?

At the risk of sounding like straight talking former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, it’s very hard to know what you don’t know, especially if that’s all you’ve ever known. By which I mean that often we are not aware of the limitations of things because they are so ubiquitous and so pervasive that it doesn’t even occur to us to question them.

Sometimes it takes a new way of doing or looking at things to expose the short comings of convention.

A new series of utterly beautiful wine bottle wraps for California wine maker Truett Hurst does just that for the design of wine labels. They  seem to have been running  on the same tram lines for at least the last two hundred years.

It’s not until you see the Truett Hurst designs that you realize quite how lazy and self-centered wine labelling has been. Conventional wine labelling is all about provenance, (Grape, country, year,) (aka me, me me) the producer.  Imagine a chocolate bar wrapper that just listed the ingredients and when and where it was made. Want a bar of, glucose, caramel and chocolate, Slough 2012 anyone?

In contrast, the Evocative Wrapped Bottles line designed by Stranger and Stranger is defined by the way the wines are to be consumed.

Consumer research helped the company to identify 22 events that trigger wine purchase. Each wrap design is covered in recipes, pictures and words that relate to that particular occasion. There’s ‘Curious Beasts’, a red blend made for Halloween which has a dark foil wrapper decorated with skeletons and skulls; Schuck’s pinot noir, has fish illustrations and recipes on its foil wrapper. A brut rose from the Russian River Valley is designed for occasions like an anniversary or the birth of a child.

It’s easy to see how and why the  restrictive conventions in wine labelling came about. In a highly competitive and fragmented industry with world-wide markets, it has been hard to establish brands. Country of origin was the main discriminator so labels have tended to be little more than stamps showing ingredients and where the product was made. Slap on a crest of some kind to show that the estate has been around for a while and there you have it.

The surprise is that those conventions have been so rarely challenged. OK Truett Hurst’s lovely designs are not the first or only wine packaging to take a different approach. For decades wines have gone the branded route. Think Blue Nun and Black Tower in the eighties. But these were designed to be nonthreatening entry level wines for plebs who found themselves intimidated by conventional wine livery.

But consumers are changing. No longer are they prepared to be cowed into deferential subservience by category conventions. reports that Research by the US Wine Market Council says that 60% of those aged 26 to 34 find “fun and contemporary looking” wine labels of great importance when purchasing wine.

And the fact that these designs are strikingly handsome is not just bunce. It is a fundamental part of changing the game. Blind and branded taste tests reveal a totally different perception of the wine, claims Stranger and Stranger.

There is the possibility that the 22 usage occasions may prove to be too restrictive. Will I drink Curious Beasts at a time other than Halloween. Can I drink Schuck’s with poultry?

But at the very least these designs have cast light on the walls of the prison that confines wine label design. It is up to each brand to make its escape as best it can.



Dreams for sale because ‘Reality Sucks’

by Alex Benady

Even before the media started to talk about the post Olympic blues that the UK is experiencing, and how people will pick themselves up from this, the British people and indeed people across the world have been feeling an increasing desire to escape.

Research we conducted back in April found that 54% of Britons agree that the need to escape has become more important to them over the past few years and 69% agree that ‘it’s good to be random or do random things occasionally’.

This is no surprise really given the grim economic situation many in the West have been experiencing, and the over regulated world we live in today where we consume too much, often on autopilot and follow very rational ways of thinking, that leads to dull monotonous design.

In this rather grey world where ‘reality sucks’, we have seen a new trend emerging which we have explored in our latest Visual Futures presentation, ‘Reality Sucks’.  Click here for quick snapshot of the presentation

The full report covers how design, products and brands are drawing on the principles of Surrealism to offer consumers alternative realities, such as Cadbury’s Joyville and an Alice Wonderland inspired gym in Japan to escape to. We have also seen absurd design from the likes of Lady Gaga, a rabbit shaped exhibition centre at the Shanghai World Expo and a boat on top of the Royal Festival Hall, just for the hell of it.

The use of Surrealism has not gone unnoticed by the public. Indeed, it has even been attributed to feeding collectors desire for Surrealist Art. In the past 18 months, Surrealist records have fallen like dominoes with Miró’s “Peinture (Etoile bleue),” 1927, fetching £23.5 million at Sotheby’s London in June. It is Oliver Camu’s belief (deputy Chairman of Christie’s Impressionist and modern art) that the growing interest in Surrealism can be attributed to its “presence in everyday media, marketing and advertising”.


Jonnie Peacock crosses the line

However, for me personally the greatest example of how juxtapositions have becoming more accepted and can be used to open our eyes, is the rebranding of people who were once ‘people with disabilities’ as ‘superheros’. There can be nothing more amazing than the sight of Jonnie Peacock on his blade completing the 100m in 10.9 seconds! They have escaped the grim confines of their everyday reality, by sheer determination, dreams and getting people to see them in a new light.


Brands that wave the flag

by Alex Benady

Electricite de France

As brands in every conceivable category seek to cash in on the summer of 2012, British brand design agency Coley Porter Bell has compiled a list of patriotic heroes and villains guilty of pure flag wash.

The ranking is based on three factors: Britishness; brand fit and quality of design. (more…)

What brands can learn from fishnet stockings

by adamsweeney

I hate to ruin my reputation as a wild twentysomething – hypnotised by X Factor, tweeting by reflex and primed to riot at the drop of a Nike – but last week, I tuned in to Radio 4 to listen to Start the Week.

Having slogged my way through 40 minutes of enriching (obtuse) chatter, with neither a live text vote nor a dancing Dermot O’Leary to keep my spirits up, these closing words from sculptor Peter Randall-Page grabbed my attention.

“We spend our lives making decisions about what’s inside a thing from what’s on the outside.”


Why you should never name your boy Sue.

by Alex Benady
Wrong expectations you see

Wrong expectations you see

Remember the Johnny Cash song ‘A boy named Sue’?  As brand designers we’ve always known intuitively that ‘congruence’ is important when it comes to naming and branding new products. It meant that in a perfect world the overall brand should reflect the product and its physcial attributes, and that all the different elements of the branding (name, packaging, livery, packaging design etc) should work together because they also reflect the product. It’s common sense really.

But it’s nice to finally have the theory  confirmed by science -or neuroscience to be more precise. In a paper soon to be published by the Journal of Consumer Pyschology, Professor Charles Spence of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford shows that marketers can markedly  improve consumers’ experience of a product by setting up the right (congruent) sensory expectations.

In particular he is interested in sound symbolism – the association that people experience between specific sounds and particular attributes (e.g., when they associate words containing the ‘i’ sound with smallness). But he also looks at shape symbolism (e.g., between sharp pointy shapes and bitterness or carbonation in foods and beverages).

One of his most important findings is that these cues don’t operate in sensory isolation. They are ‘cross-modal.’ So a stimulus in one sense (say sound) can set up expectations in other senses (say taste or appearance). In keeping with other findings of neuroscience Professor Spence says that these effects appear to operate subconsciously so consumers aren’t necessarily aware of what is going on).

He produces mountains of evidence to back his case. For instance had it occurred to you that the letter K was a predictor of commercial success? Spence points out the disproportionate occurrence of ‘K’ in successful brand and business names. Think Kraft, Kellogg’s, Kodak, KFC, K-Mart, IKEA, TK Maxx to name but a few.

And he shows that people’s impressions of a new food product can be shaped by the vowel sounds contained in the product name. So respondents in one study were more likely to believe that an ice cream would taste creamier, smoother, and richer when it was given the invented brand name ‘Frosch’ than when it was called ‘Frisch.’

In another study respondents thought that a lemonade with a brand name having a higher-frequency vowel sound (such as the ‘i’ in Bilad) was more likely to taste bitter than a fictional brand name containing a lower-frequency vowel (such as the ‘o/’sound in Bolad). In the same research, the invented name Godan (containing an initial back vowel) was associated with a darker beer than the invented name Gidan.

The good news for international naming and design projects is that these responses seem deeply wired. The effects seem to operate subconsciously (so consumers aren’t necessarily aware of what is going on). And  when you concentrate on the sound, (rather than the meaning) many of these responses are universal across cultures.

But this doesn’t mean we can market sewage as perfume or make up for poor quality products simply by setting up the right sensory expectation through branding. Professor Spence warns of the awful consequences of what he calls ‘disconfirmed expectation’ and you and I would call ‘over claim’. “When the product experience does not meet the consumer’s product expectation, it can cause long-lasting negative consequences for product perception and consumption,” he concludes.

So the idea that names and brands should reflect the product is not just a marginal factor. It’s a powerful tool that can make or break new brands. As Sue found to his cost it should be used with great care.

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.