13 June 2019
D&AD Top 5 tips to move beyond mediocrity to design greatness
Day one of the D&AD festival has expectedly provided a great celebration of the design craft with a mix of visual and verbal inspiration from Rosie Arnold and even some brilliantly and entertainingly delivered strategic education for us all from the charismatic and brilliant Uri Baruchin.
Obviously the creative in me was drawn to Rosie Arnold’s masterclass talk on how to take creativity beyond the mediocre. Why? Well, it mirrored a lot of my own thoughts on creativity and the daily battle to push through great work. I was sitting like a middle-aged nodding dog and I’m not ashamed to say that.
So, what did she say that stood out? Well, a lot to be fair, but before I embarrassingly profess my undying love for her here’s 5 key take outs with a few of my own thoughts for good measure. They may also seem obvious but I fear we all need reminding of them from time to time.
1. Great brief = great work. Simple.
Obviously it’s never that simple to create an award winner every time, but if we’re armed with something that has pin sharp clarity, free of fluff and dare I say ‘bullshit’ that nobody truly understands, we have a bloody good chance of getting there! A solid brief is critical in so many ways. It’s what our work is marked against and rightly so.
For me, if the brief isn’t right, push back, question and interrogate the client. A brief should never hit a creative team until it’s nailed. Find out what the business/brand problem is. The more you know what the key problem is you can then see how you can approach it from a new angle. The more you know, the more can draw upon to build ideas that excite. Which leads me to my next take out.
2. Find a fresh new insight
If you dig deep enough and think smart enough you can uncover something truly ground breaking and brand transforming. A great example of this was the controversial Libresse ‘Red fit’ campaign in 2016 which bravely set out to break taboos that hold women back. Definitely a marked change from blue liquid and women jumping out of planes. By tackling the fact that society had made women feel uncomfortable with their periods and normalising it in our collective consciousness we can build a world where periods are 100% normal and rightly so!
Bodyform has continued with it’s ‘blood normal’ campaign with equally powerful effect. You can see the original commercial here.
3. Avoid the Buckaroo effect at all costs
Maybe I’m showing my age (and for those who don’t know what Buckaroo is, click here) but I think Rosie’s analogy summed it up brilliantly. All the little client tweaks and ‘could you just’ requests or ‘what about’ suggestions do nothing more than add too much load to a great idea so that it no longer works and bucks under the pressure. Essentially, you’re in a design by committee situation where nobody wins.
4. Be brave. Be up for the fight.
So if you find yourself in the above ‘Buckaroo’ situation how do you get around it?
Keeping a strong core team which is united on a goal helps. Failing that, push back. Whether you push back with charm and logic, or argue your point frankly is neither here nor there, as long as you fight to retain the integrity of a great solution. You risk killing an idea if you let go of little things that you think may not matter. It’s the little details that you retain that make something truly great.
I can say hand on heart that after 25 years in the industry I’ve had my fair share of bloody noses but it’s never stopped me getting up and going again. You win, you lose, but never let your ideas go without a fight!
5. If you can't find simple, tip the problem on its head.
Yes, ‘keep it simple’ is the mantra of many a creative but you can’t put enough emphasis on the effectiveness of a “I wish I’d thought of that’” idea simply executed. The sad thing is, uncovering that much coveted simplicity is tough! However, done well, simplicity of thought can make us want to pick up a catalogue in a digitally dominated world. Take a look here.
As I mentioned earlier, finding a new insight and literally turning a problem on its head can be equally effective. The advertising legend Dave Trott likes to refer to this as ‘street smarts’. Tipping a problem on its head and attacking it from a completely different angle can help us change the World. A great example here from AMV BBDO demonstrates not just great thinking but sheer tenacity in getting an idea out there.
To sum up, if we take on the above in terms of D&AD award winning the maths seem simple.
Great brief + brave client + great work = Pencil(s)
Emma Godman, Senior Strategist: The Power of Introverts
Given it's International Women’s Day I have been reflecting on my own experience of what being a woman in business means to me and wanted to share some thoughts…
Richard Taylor: The Making of a Challenger Brand
The Alantra Food & Beverage Fast 50 is full of challenger brands taking on the established businesses in their sector. But what does it take to succeed as a challenger?
Leigh Armstrong: Will artificial intelligence homogenise creative industries?
Brandon MD Leigh chats ChatGPT and the impact of artificial intelligence on creativity.
People Love a bit of DWB!
The world of functional drinks, or ‘drinks with benefits’ (DWB) is a category that has seen huge development.
Meet Executive Creative Director, Steve Conchie
Steve shares the best things about his job, as well as the genius behind “who's nicked my friggin' grapes".
Meet Client Service Director – Simon Ellis
Who knew Simon is a musicals fan? But when he’s not belting out a classic, he loves nothing more than the feeling of absolutely nailing a client brief.
On pack messaging: Brand Purpose versus Distinctive Assets
Louise Kennedy on the strategies that brands implement when bringing together brand purpose and distinctive assets.
Transform Magazine: Iconicity as the route to impact
Managing Partner, Richard Taylor on the importance of iconicity in the route to impact.
The supplements brands gym-bound Brits will be turning to
Richard Taylor speaks to The Grocer about how brands need to cut through in the sports nutrition and supplements world.
Ever wondered what it's like working at Brandon?
We speak to two of our latest recruits to find out...
Design as a powerful asset in the fight for relevance
Strategist Tessa Hill on some of the key relevance challenges we’re asked to solve through the power of design.
FAB News: What do you stand for?
FAB News: Louise Kennedy on how winning the fight for relevance starts with positioning.
Interview with a strategist – Tessa Hill
Tessa loves being involved in a project from a very early stage.
All I want for Christmas... is a good limited edition strategy
Strategist Tessa Hill comments on the learnings from five of our favourite Christmas limited editions.
What role does innovation play in driving brand relevance?
Strategy Director Louise Kennedy with some top tips on how to use innovation to drive brand relevance.
Immunity in 2020
Strategist Tessa Hill uncovers the design codes shaping the immunity category in 2020.
Interview with a designer - Abi Taylor
Hear from our Co-Founder on her love of design and how Brandon came to be.
Reawakening a love for brand books
Senior Designer Jay Bates on why brand guidelines shouldn't be left at the bottom of a drawer.
Five Minutes with Louise Kennedy
Louise Kennedy talks to Transform about how brands can stay relevant and how packaging can improve brand performance.
FAB News: ‘Relevance - The Holy Grail of Marketing'
FAB News: Strategy Director Louise Kennedy on what relevance actually means.
Recession-ready tip #2 – Rethink innovation
How rethinking innovation can be a tool to get your brand ready for a recession.
Interview with a designer - Joe Bembridge
Read what inspires Brandon’s first full-time designer.
How hero your distinctive brand assets
Brand Strategist Louise Kennedy considers the importance of distinctive assets.
Can casual dining brands survive on supermarket shelves?
Richard Taylor talks to Marketing Week about how hospitality brands can make an impact through supermarket retail.
Don’t underestimate the influence of packaging in the home
Brand Strategist Louise Kennedy discusses actionable ways for brands to build an emotional connection with consumers at home.
Interview with a Designer - Jay Bates
Brandon’s self-confessed brand architecture nerd, Jay, on what inspires him every day.
Marketing Week's ‘All change: The complex route ahead for automotive branding’
As car manufacturers face pressure to move to cleaner energy and shift their strategy, Richard Taylor, discusses what that means for brand.
Hero design for the new hero channel
Brand Strategist Louise Kennedy challenges what the hero design is and will become.
Hitting their peak: How brands plan to retain new customers post-lockdown
Managing Partner Richard Taylor talks to Marketing Week about shopping on autopilot and making new habits in the crisis.
Interview with a Designer - Grace Buckley
Grace can often be found in the supermarket rearranging the shelves to show off her work in its best light!
Reflections from the Darkside
Strategist Louise Kennedy’s view on agency life from the perspective of a ‘newbie’.
Will Harrods' bet on a new beauty brand pay off?
Managing Partner Richard Taylor talks to Marketing Week about Harrods' new beauty brand.
Desert Island Ads
We asked our Creative Director for his top 10 ads that shaped and inspired his thinking over the decades
The Joys of Brand Planning
Our Top 5 Brand Planning Tips - identifying new, exciting opportunities for growth.
Our 5 Key FMCG Brand Innovation Principles
Our 5 Key FMCG Brand Innovation Principles: What lessons can we learn from Coca-Cola's Life U-Turn?
The Brand Packaging Health-Check
The Brand Packaging Health-Check: 5 Killer Tips to see if a refresh is due or long overdue
The Art of FMCG Brand Architecture
Three principles we apply to ensure a successful brand architecture
Refreshing Established Food and Drink Brands
Here we discuss six routes for a brand to acquire new relevant meaning.
The Grocer - Pasta & Sauces report
The Grocer features Managing Partner Richard's thoughts on the pasta and sauces category.
In a bid for simplification and efficiency, the giants are emulating the discounters.
The Logo. On its last legs? Or fit as a fiddle?
Of late there has been a school of thought which argues that the static logo is terminally ill.