Archive Page 2

09
Sep
10

On believing things – and having the courage to say them (or, Why Design Manifestos are a Good Idea)

design manifesto

Something about design – graphic, typographic, product, architectural – brings out the evangelist in people. There are numerous excellent blogs on design; there are (still) innumerable dead tree press magazines; every college, let alone university, worth its salt has some courses which seek to identify and promote good practice.

All too often, though, the focus is on what design is; not what it could be. Evangelising good design is a whole other thing than thinking, deeply, about what it could be.

We like to think about what we do. That’s not just about the selection of the right typeface, or making sure that what our clients are saying to the world is what our clients want to say in a way that their customers want to receive it. But it’s about what we could be doing better, or different, or how radical we can be.

This is not true blue-sky work, of course – we still live in the real, concrete world and have to interact with it – but the determination to think, and hard, about what we do is important. We enforce that importance through our seminar working style; we enforce it too, by taking on bright people to think and study for us. (Lucy Young, who’s with us for a few months, will be doing exactly this for social media – thinking hard, examining deeply, and hopefully producing original and useful work. Look for her updates on this blog.)

So we like what we saw at the Danish Design Centre last month. A design manifesto. On a wall, like all good manifestos should be (or nailed to the door of a high street retail furniture store, perhaps).  The Preconditions for Good Design (on their website at en.ddc.dk) lists ten attributes of good design, which,the Danes being practical, includes “Good Business”.

They’re following a noble path: John Emerson’s excellent post in Social Design Notes of last year lists 100 manifestos (including the DDC one), starting with William Morris’ The Ideal Book in 1883. (backspace.com)

We need more of these. We need more thinking, whether informed by practicality or not, not just about what we do – but what we could do. Look for a little of it here.

25
Aug
10

Stendhal Moments

Industrial DesignCreative businesses are naturally emotional environments. We deal every day with the science of marketing and media, of ROI and metrics, of rather dense and impenetrable models. But ultimately, we’re about offering people the option to think differently about a product, a service, a person – and that means getting into their heads, and that’s an emotional process.

Just sometimes, though, that emotion creeps up on you entirely unexpected. Two recent examples, of when the whole thing got really rather overwhelming and where, were I Henri-Marie Beyle, I would have had a Stendhal moment.

The Medieval and Renaissance Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum are astonishing. Choir screens from Belgium; a house frontage from Bishopsgate in London, statues, stained glass, caskets and chalices ad what seems almost infinitum. When one visits a church in Italy, all of which seem like little museums in their own right, usually there is one piece of staggering beauty. Two if you’re lucky. But this is like someone’s backed up the European Renaissance and dumped it into the Museum, where it has been carefully, beautifully and lovingly arranged with the sole intention of overwhelming you.

There’s two floors of this. And a mezzanine. And just as you think you’re coping, you come round a corner and walk past an inconspicuous little brown thing in a case stood by the back wall of something utterly glorious. And you’re about to go past when you think, “I wonder what that is?”.

It’s the Codex Forster. The Codex-bloody-Forster. It’s one of Leonardo da Vinci’s own notebooks, in his own hand, with his own… you get the idea.

It was at this point that I went outside to calm down. Any gallery – and this is the permanent exhibition, not a special, only-open-for-a-month thing – that can hide the Forster Codex behind a wall as if it’s just another thing, creates Stendhal moments all the time.

And more prosaically, walking down a street in Copenhagen, I stumbled across the Danish Design Centre. And had another moment in front of, of all things, a set of tables. The “Little Friend, 2005” by Kaspar Salto, produced by Fritz Hansen, to be exact. It just works. It is beautiful, functional, the lines are perfect, every part of it thought out to within an inch of its life (but not so far that it has lost its essential delight).

This, I have to say, came on the back of design manifestos for Danish design on the walls, clear and thought through, video interviews of clarity and perspicacity, a standing exhibition of beautiful objects. I have a nasty feeling that the Danes are probably better at product design than anyone else, and the exhibitions – and the thinking underlying them – at the DDC just reinforces this. I mean, even their ‘you’ve paid, here’s your little badge to prove it’ is a lovely little clip, with their website address on it, not some little sticky thing that destroys clothing.

Anyhow. Two moments when design becomes beauty, and when that beauty becomes overwhelming. Is it any wonder that we get emotional when we create, when we stand – however slightly – in the same light that creates Stendhal moments?

21
Jul
10

The future of public advertising in Cameron’s ‘Big Society’

The Central Office of Information’s budget has long been a topic of debate; so much so that we featured the government’s “centre of marketing excellence” in a special general election blog. Weeks later, the shape of the coalition government’s plans for the COI are becoming apparent. What will the future hold for public advertising in the UK?

The government’s austerity budget has already found its high profile advertising victim: The ‘Change4Life’ campaign, led by M&C Saatchi, will have its £75 million advertising budget come. The move comes amongst general plans to slash public marketing budgets by 50%.
The coalition government has called upon food and drink companies, and the wider commercial sector, to provide a voice for the campaign in their own advertising and marketing. This is a new vision to tackle the public health issue, and the move promises interesting results – not least the shouldering of the public health burden by commercial brands.

The Change4Life campaign has been backed by various commercial partners in the past – but now charities and local authorities have been invited to fill the funding gap created by the national deficit. The government’s promotion of healthy lifestyles is thus to be led by businesses.

A natural and valid question is whether brands that sell ‘unhealthy’ products leading a public health campaign is really the optimal solution. Will they support real efforts to encourage lifestyle-changing habits that encourage more exercise and healthier diets? The answer lies in a new form of corporate social responsibility – which is certainly preferable to increased state regulation. Advertisements coming from brands are more likely to be heard by consumers, as those coming from government are often seen as too prescriptive and not-engaging enough.

There is a benefit for brands: If the government is relying on companies to fund public health advertising, it is unlikely that it will introduce regulations against the advertising of food high in fat, salt and sugar on television. Nevertheless, we like the idea of a collaborative effort between the public and private sector. Lifestyle and healthy eating advice is more relevant when coming from a brand that we have already bought-in to.

A further cost-cutting move by the government proves their media-savvy. Like many other brands, Change4Life will mainly be promoted through social media rather than traditional advertising campaigns. Prime Minister David Cameron has already met with Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, to discuss ways that the social networking site can be used to engage citizens on policy issues. The recently implemented ‘Spending Challenge’ page invites the British public to express their own ideas on cutting the government’s budget deficit.

As the government is open to cost-saving suggestions delivered through social media, you’ll forgive us for voicing our own advice for saving money and improving public service.

Rather than relying on large agencies, through none-creative barriers to tendering, we believe that public advertising can become both more engaging and cost-effective if the COI expressed confidence in leaner, talented agencies handling public sector public projects. Prioritising creative content over well-known names should be encouraged. It would certainly stop larger agencies from becoming over-dependent on government contracts; something the new coalition government can only be interested in promoting.

Saving money by asking private companies to take responsibility for their commercial activitities is a good start for the UK’s main media buyer. Is it ready to trust responsible agencies to provide value for money?


Camille le Goff is a Junior Brand Staffer with Vivid London

20
Jul
10

Bright young things

There are more university graduates than ever before – and fewer jobs for them to move in to. To get ahead, you don’t just need to shine: the key to unlocking the door is to get your foot in it first.

There is good news: We want to help. And we’re currently looking for three motivated interns to join our team over the summer, or as part of a placement Autumn/Winter 2010/11.

Outstanding creativity comes in many forms. So do Vivid interns. Media, design and communications students are welcome of course, but we’ll still be interested if you’re studying maths.

The role is broad – you’ll learn about every aspect of a full-service communications agency. What we need from you is the ability to create outstanding work, and to do it with a smile. We’re an international agency with international staff, so foreign language skills are always a bonus.

Vivid has always recognised the quality of (what we like to call) ‘bright young things’. That’s why our staff have all risen to their current roles from internship positions. We give you the freedom to run with your ideas, and support you to bring them to life; where they (and you) go is up to you.

If you can commit to a month or more, ask us about a placement today.

19
Jul
10

BBC site redesign prioritises ‘social sharing’

What’s a web user to do?

There you are, logging on to your favourite news website for your daily intake of current affairs, when suddenly, you find yourself in an unfamiliar land, desperately searching for the security of your familiar tabs.

Am I being overly dramatic? Maybe – but you wouldn’t think it reading the reactions to the BBC’s long publicised homepage redesign.

At the time of writing, almost eight hundred comments had been left in response to the move, with a further hundred awaiting moderation. The vast majority of these comments are predictably negative, highlighting an abiding truth of the online world – users hate change. At least initially.

For proof of this we need look no further than the proverbial hell that was raised when Facebook launched their new layout in February 2010. Hundreds of groups, pages and status updates rebuked the social network’s attempt to improve usability, leaving a lasting stain on the digital landscape. But, really – can you really remember the way Facebook used to look?

The BBC’s changes have provoked a similar reaction. Amidst the criticisms and the ensuing debate about the necessity of the changes, it’s important to remember why the BBC decided to implement them. It’s simple – because they believe the changes are an improvement

Of course, improvement is a matter of personal opinion.

It’s easy enough to find things to like about the redesign. The BBC is pushing the increased emphasis on video and picture quality the redesign allows, and the increased prominence the site allows sharing on social network buttons. The new layout arguably allows for more videos – and not just within article. The site has opted for a watch/listen subsection to the site, as well as adding ‘Most watched’ to its ‘Most read/shared’ feature.

The BBC is quick to highlight that videos now appear in bigger players, with improved streaming and quality (lessons no doubt learnt from the roll-out of iPlayer).

The site’s bread-and-butter, text-based news, has also seen a navigation update. “New”appears next to recently added stories, and news subsections are now part of the header, mimicking successful online newspaper sites, like the Guardian the Daily Mail.

What’s our verdict on these changes? Although some alterations appear to have been needless or purely aesthetic decisions, the majority of the changes demonstrate the growing importance online actors are attributing to social media. Sharing stories and pictures with your friends has become so ubiquitous that even ‘serious’ sites like BBC News are adapting to facilitate the practice. Credit to the Corporation is due; for recognising modern requirements and taking the risk of updating what was a strong and well-liked website.

To those still mourning the passing of the old site, Vivid London would like to pass on our condolences. Change is inevitable – and on an evolving platform like the internet, change is essential to development; a necessary element of online success.


Michael Haywood is a Junior PR Staffer with Vivid London

01
Jul
10

Social media is taking the fashion world by storm

Social Media is changing the fashion worldNothing is sacred on the internet. In the past five years, social media has quickly changed the way we consume our news, run our businesses and interact with our friends. Fashion, once the least ‘techy’ of industries, has quickly adapted and evolved to take full advantage of ‘smart’ social media.

Style Rookie

Tavi is internationally recognised as one of the most powerful young people in the fashion industry. Starting her own blog at age eleven led to a quick rise to fame, which in turn has led to commissions for pieces with Vogue and Pop. She’s also worked alongside respected designers, like Rodarte.

Starting with a basic blogger account, this little girl has taken huge strides to capitalise upon everything that new media has to offer.

D.I.Y.

Many of the biggest shoe brands are now listening to their customers and giving them control over the design process. Interactive features from shoe companies like Nike and Converse let users create their own truly personalised shoes from a collection of white base models. Your own creation then arrives at your door a few days later. This simply would not have been logistically possible but a few years ago, and highlights the democratising nature of the internet.

Chictopia

“What are you wearing today?” is a question many of the fashion conscious hear a lot. Now you can share your own creations and combinations with the world, thanks to Chictopia. The concept is simple: Upload a picture of your clothing choices and share them with others. It’s also a neigh-infinite source of inspiration; much more so than you could possibly take in at a club or on the street. Users can filter by age, style, events, locations and body types – making sure that the content you see is what you asked for. The site is starting to be recognised beyond the digital world; a trend we expect to carry on.

ASOS

ASOS, an online only brand, is now a real rival to bricks-and-mortar Topshop and River Island. How? Though competitive pricing, extraordinary customer service, and by capitalising on the lunch-hour push. ASOS is thriving in a competitive market from a web-only base.

ShowStudio

An experimental group that has been utilising the crossover between fashion and the internet since the late 1990’s, ShowStudio is a success story that regularly falls between the gaps in fashion, art and technology. Masterminded by the photographer Nick Knight, the experiment has embraced the internet since its inception. Recently, the website ran a live, online interview that featured a transcript simultaneously alongside.

Burberry

As part of Burberry’s new Spring/Summer 2010 campaign, the haute couture brand has been paving the way with their online output. Recently showing their catwalk show online, in full 3-D, photographer Mario Testino has also shot an interactive catalogue of the new collection. Featuring models that seemingly step out of the screen upon a mouse click, the campaign is regarded as being the future of online fashion advertising.

Social media may have taken the fashion world by storm – but it’s a storm that fashion world has fully embraced. It makes sense: Fashion magazines have now been replaced by their new media cousins, democratising and personalising fashion and bringing it closer to customers.


Andrew Beedle and Anisha Chandarana are Junior Design Staffers at Vivid London.

Image credit: Andrew, Anisha and Conal Kelly, who is on work experience with Vivid London from the John Fisher School, Sutton.

23
Jun
10

Mobile Apps: Beware of Standing Still

“There’s an App for that”

There can be no doubt that Apple has changed the way we use the web on the go. Since opening in 2008 over ‘200,000 ways to make your iPhone even better’ have been added to the App Store. If you visit the Android Mobile Market you’ll find more than 25,000 apps to enjoy, whilst Blackberry’s App World offers 5,000. It’s hard to keep an accurate track on the total number of apps available across the platforms, but one thing is for sure: We are surrounded by mobile apps.

Retailers, game designers, social networks and publishers have all pushed to get their own mobile application into the App Store. Now they are constantly pushing to get their apps into the top spot and receive positive user feedback. This multitude of apps fascinates users and keeps blogs full of “Ten of the best mobile apps” list. A company recently made news when they launched an auxiliary app that taught users how to use their main ‘killer app’.

In the face of this app frenzy, it’s good to keep in mind that some apps have longer lifespans than others – and this lifespan usually correlates to how useful they are in the long-term. While trying to break the score of ‘Robot Unicorn Attack’ reaches its saturation point very quickly, an application that lets you read content from your favourite newspaper, or that makes navigating social media much easier, offers a longer and more valuable user experience.

Many of us will have downloaded and accumulated too many apps – attracted by what’s new and what’s trending. After a certain point we realise that they take up too much space on our phones, and the less engaging apps end up in our trash folders. It might be time to consider the use of our beloved mobile apps.

Mobile search company Taptu have released a report arguing that the future will belong to mobile browser optimised sites, not apps. They make a very good argument. The proliferation of new smartphone models, different operating systems (Symbian, iPhone OS, Windows Mobile, Android, Blackberry OS…), and tablet devices means that optimised sites that work across platforms will have a larger audience than a platform specific application. Current estimates put web optimised sites at about 326,000 – and this number is likely to increase with more companies moving to a mobile-web app strategy.

Mobile sites can be optimised to work well on most devices – they are also less expensive to develop, and have the structural advantage of being constantly updateable, without having to rely on a user to download an update. A mobile website makes economic sense.

That’s not to say that mobile apps will die out – we think their best days still lie ahead. But for a lot of companies and brands, a mobile website will be cheaper to develop and provide a better return on investment in the long run. We’re happy to offer our thoughts on your mobile app or web dilemma – give us a call (it’s the green app with the phone symbol).

Camille le Goff is a Junior Brand Staffer with Vivid London.




Who we are

We can be discreet or highly vocal, stylish but cost-effective. Always fresh and successful, we offer vibrant marcoms solutions.

Visit us: vividlondon.com

Things we tweet


%d bloggers like this: