Rebirth of the not-magazine?

Facebook is joining a whole list of companies, from Airbnb, Asos, Casper, Dollar Shave Club to Net-a-Porter in publishing a new magazine. Except, it is a not-magazine.

Despite being packaged in the shape of a magazine, bearing all the hallmarks of a magazine and having the words “a quarterly magazine for business leaders” emblazoned on its magazine-like cover, Grow by Facebook is categorically not a magazine according to the Facebook PR team. No – this is, they say, simply a piece of marketing collateral. A brochure even. It’s almost as though Facebook doesn’t want to be called a publisher or something.

Whatever you want to call it, Grow joins an ever-expanding collection of branded publications whose arrival has coincided with major consumer titles such as NME and Teen Vogue closing their print magazines. So why is it that dead tree media is proving so desirable to companies that have built their success on eschewing legacy technology?

“Trust, authority and credibility,” says Terri White, editor-in-chief of film bible Empire. “The digital space is a hectic, loud, cluttered landscape with bloggers, influencers, journalists, editors, writers, marketeers all shouting into the void – their voices surfacing, or not, depending on SEO or algorithms. In such a crowded space, how do you ensure that people trust what they read on your website or social channels versus the other 30-odd people/brands in your area? How does your brand stand out?”


Read the full article on DRUM

For the archive…

Sometimes you can spend ages on a logo design project – and the client goes for something you really didn’t want them to go for. Such is the life of a design project. So, I thought I’d post of a design visual of one of my favs that got away. Maybe it’ll serve as a design inspiration to someone else?

 

Proudly presenting QUAD, the University of Oxford’s new Alumni Magazine

There aren’t many occasions you get the chance to design a new magazine from scratch. But that is just what I did in this creative project.

Working closely with the energetic and clever Richard Lofthouse as editor, for me the most amazing part of this brief was the freedom I had in the design. From creating a grid system, colour pallet and font style sheet from scratch, being able to design irregular columns and working very much by eye. A graphic designer’s dream.

Even the politics of creating the magazine weren’t that painful. Sure, some things went right up to the wire, but for a new publication, what do you expect?

As for the cover art, it features one of the paintings from an article about Cool American Modernism at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. This is the first exhibition to explore the ‘cool’ in American art in the early 20th century, from early experiments in abstraction by artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Arthur Dove and Paul Strand to the strict, clean precisionist paintings of Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth.

Another nice thing about the magazine is that there are very few adverts. Inside front and back cover, that’s all. Nothing to spoil the look and feel as you thumb through the pages.

Any downside? This is an annual publication. So you’ll have to wait until next year for the next issue.

And finally, while nothing beats feeling a hard copy in your hand, here is a digital issuu version for you to take a look through.

 

Celebrating Oxford’s Diversity

 

 

 

Been waiting for weeks to post about the identity design I did for the University of Oxford’s Diversity Awards.  This has been used for anything from posters and flyers to social media, banners and of course, the wards themselves. Oh, and congrats Clara Barker!

When the posters were coming hot of the press…

Very nice to see celebrations in @UniofOxford Twitter feed too, with some more proud winners.

The secret behind Disney’s creative work

Disney’s Brainstorming Method: Dreamer, Realist, and Critic

If you are a start-up, or just trying to come up with creative ideas, this could be a useful method to help you develop your lateral thinking. It is said, that film producer and innovator, Walt Disney used to think-up and refine ideas by breaking the process into three distinct chunks. The dreamer, the realist, and the critic (or spoiler).

The Dreamer

This stage was for fantasizing. Creating the most fantastic and absurd ideas as possible. No filter. Just wonderful, raw ideas. This stage was about “why not?”

The Realist

As the Realist, the Dreamer ideas would be re-examined, and re-worked into something more practical. It wasn’t about the reasons it could not be achieved, but only about it could be done. This stage is about “how?”

The Critic

The third stage he would become the critic… shooting holes in the ideas he had come up with.

It is said, the ideas that survived this process were the ones Walt would work on.

By compartmentalizing the stages, Walt didn’t let reality get in the way of the dream step. The realist was allowed to work without the harsh filter of a spoiler. And, the spoiler spends time examining a well-thought idea… something with a bit more structure.

When we brainstorm alone and in groups – too often – we tend to fill the room with a dreamer or two, a few realists, and a bunch of spoilers. In these conditions dream ideas don’t stand a chance.

Different Rooms for Different Stages

There is additional information that Walt went further, moving from one room to another as he shifted thinking. Using spaces specifically for each stage.

Imagine how powerful it would be if…

Conference Room A in your office could ONLY be used for dreaming? For coming up with the broadest ideas possible. No filtering. No realist or spoiler.

Conference Room B was ONLY for the Realist. Only finding ways to convert dreams to reality.

And, Conference Room C… for the spoiler and critic to help find any additional weak spots to be fixed before an idea goes live.

So many more ideas would get the chance to be refined and further examined for merit.

The risk? A few additional ideas that end up as bad ideas have a chance to be re-examined. The benefit… a few additional ideas that would have been tossed out as losers, are re-examined and end up as winners.

Try these three different roles next time you’re drumming up new ideas. Do your best to ONLY be in one frame of mind at a time. Ease the mind of your spoilers that they’ll have their chance with their chainsaws soon enough… If your team lacks the discipline to focus on only one stage at a time… break it up into different room.

Let us know how it works for you!

 


Thanks to www.idea-sandbox.com

Thinking of doing a poster template in Word?

I often get clients asking me if I’d set up a Word poster template for them. The reason they want it in Word is, obviously, to be able to keep creating posters more quickly and cost-effective than by using a designer all every time. That all makes sense.

However, here is the catch: the brief is to make their word-heavy posters have more impact, to ‘stand out from the crowd’ when  pinned on that busy notice board…

So, how do you explain to your client, in as nice a way as possible, that you can’t easily have something that has impact, yet allow anybody to edit and fill the template with too many words, thereby ripping the carefully formatted table apart?

I’ve just had another one of those requests and, having carefully formulated a response email (for what must surely be the hundredth time), thought it worth posting it here for future quick reference. There must be so many other designers out there getting the same request, and having to explain the same argument every time. So, this post is also for you. If you think I’ve missed out a point, do let me know!

This is the email I sent:


 

Dear client

Just a short note to lay out the challenges with Word templates:

  1. To make a text-heavy poster stand out is harder, as there is less space available for graphic elements.
  2. A clean and formatted layout can help make it look clearer and better presented – but will require a strict word count to be adhered to.
  3. Word docs can’t be printed with a bleed, so no colour can go off the edges.

And, depending on design, the options:

  1. The design could simply be about creating a clean layout to help the message look better than at present. This is the simplest option, as it could be done with the help of a table grid in the doc (no visible borders).
  2. For more colour impact, an option would be to have a header/footer/side strip that bleeds off the edges. A base sheet would be pre-printed (lie a letterhead), onto which the Word doc body template then gets overprinted.
  3. Another option is to set it all up as a form pdf with pre-specified text fields. This kind of template allows for tighter design/layout control by fixing font sizes, colours etc. It means everybody will have to work within the strict confines of the template. The point of doing it this way is that the simple word template in point 1 can be ‘broken’ by anybody ie. by adding too much text etc. The pdf can not be altered except for the fields allowed for editing.

The main restriction for any design template will be word count, word count, word count!

For a designer, working with a word doc is a bit like nailing jelly to the wall. All elements can shift about, simply by adding too much text etc

To create a clean and visually strong design designers use all sorts of tricks, but most importantly it is structure and layout. Allowing other users to then edit these structured layouts and add too much text is the biggest challenge with Word doc templates.
If the main point of this design is to make it by visually stronger and stand out more, then editing/cutting down text will be the most challenging part. Only by reducing the amount of text can more colour/graphics be added to the design of the template, and larger, more impactful headlines be used.
But enforcing the discipline of editing text is not easy. Which is why perhaps using the pdf option might be advisable, as it forces the author to edit the text to make it fit the set style, as excess text will simply not show.
In the end, the big challenge is flexibility vs design control. Which is why designers rarely work in Word docs, and prefer the control inDesign offers.