27 November 2020

Interview with a designer - Abi Taylor

What made you want to be a designer?

I’ve always been a perfectionist. My childhood was spent colouring within the lines, designing outfits for my dolls and watching my dad form 3D models on a computer. One of my favourite ever presents was a trip to the shops with my Auntie to choose a new pencil case and pen set – what a treat! Just the smell of a stationery shop gets me excited, so looking back, I guess the signs were always there. 

But I distinctly remember my first Design Technology class where we had to design a 3D menu. I knew there and then that I wanted to be a graphic designer. A frightful week of work experience in a nursery, wiping noses and herding toddlers confirmed it for me. And I suppose the only other thing I had a real passion for was journalism and storytelling. Essentially, as a brand designer that’s what we do for a living; tell stories with a bit of a colouring in so it all makes perfect sense now.

Why did you set up Brandon?

Admittedly when Rich and I set up Brandon, I’m not sure either of us really knew what was in store. We just knew we complimented each other well. We’re the exact opposite in every respect – he’s on edge, I’m very chilled. He’s an extrovert, I’m an introvert.  He’s the biscuits to my tea (he hates tea, I can’t live without the stuff).  

But the one thing we do share is our passion for design, along with a determined work ethic which has been the foundation for everything we do. We knew we wanted to work with great people and form strong client partnerships and we knew we had a lot more to give. The rest is history and the wheels just keep rolling. Without gushing, I’m so immensely proud of the team we have at Brandon. You’re only as good as the people around you which makes Rich and I fricking awesome.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Without wanting to sound terribly cliché, a lot of inspiration nowadays comes from my kids, mostly because I spend most of my time with them. Thank you lockdown… Inspiration can pop up from the most random places, for example my eldest girl’s obsession with rainbows inspired a recent project and the weird things they say often inspire name generation, and I’m constantly reminded of the simple outlook they have on life. Even the way my six year-old sketched some packs she saw on a Zoom call really hit home to me the importance of shape and dominant brand assets.

But most importantly, I constantly try and stop myself resorting to the same old packaging websites and instead try to draw inspiration from different facets of design; interior décor, fashion, architecture for example. Failing that the shower is a great place, and never underestimate a good old dog walk.

What do you love about your job?

I love the variety; from dog food to lube, tinned tomatoes to energy drinks, confectionery to foot cream…no two days are the same! We have such a varied client base which really is a designer’s dream.

What piece of work at Brandon are you most proud of and why?

Yikes, there are so many projects I feel proud of at Brandon, which makes it’s difficult to choose just one. So, I’m going to go for two – I’ve never been great with numbers. 

The first one would be Horlicks. I can’t take the credit as the team worked relentlessly on this and have done an absolutely stunning job. But I remember this being a real tough nut to crack with several wayward crit sessions. But it’s testament to never being afraid of going back to the drawing board. We don’t always get it right first time and that’s fine. What’s important is having an optimistic and open-minded attitude. Being able to think, “right, scrap that and try again!” which is quite a hard thing to do as a designer. After what felt like 101 packcepts we presented 4 brilliant routes to the client and completely nailed it. It’s since developed into this little beauty which helped them to increase YOY sales by 3.6%. 

And the second would be U:ME. It’s not often as Creative Partner you get to work on a design route, let alone have it be the winning design. I love name generation and a new brand creation brief is the golden ticket for us designers. Our task was to create a range of oils that disrupted the category and educated consumers on how best to use different types of cooking oil. And so U:ME was born.  The ‘oils’ category is usually quite serious so the U:ME packaging is completely different to anything that currently sits on shelf. It’s a lively and approachable brand with an educational tone of voice. It challenges the norms and the team have since pushed the brand even further with an exciting off pack look and feel plus a fun, educational campaign idea so we’re excited to see how this brand shakes things up.

What category would you love to work on that you have yet to do?

I mean there’s the obvious one Beers, Wines, Spirits, not just for the sampling but also for the level of craft which is something we’re really nurturing at Brandon. But there’s some less obvious ones; things I’ve touched on in my career but not yet managed to expand upon at Brandon. 

I’d love to work with a hotel brand, I really enjoy experiential design and love the opportunity to shape a consumer experience at every touchpoint, from the interior décor through to the chocolates on the pillow. I’d love to work with a restaurant brand, I’d love to work on a fashion brand, I’d love to work on more children’s brands. Aah, there’s so many things I’d love to do…

Just for fun questions

Guilty pleasure: I’m A Celebrity (watching it as I type)

Fave movie: Dirty Dancing (nobody puts baby in the corner)

Fave brand in the world: Can’t do it, it’s like picking a favourite child

You can take 3 things (not people) with you to a desert island what would they be:

  1. An endless supply of Gin & Tonic (obviously)
  2. A really good and really long book
  3. Another person (who that person is depends on who has the best bribery skills, feel free to start practising guys!)