Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Volcanic Appellation

We have recently been joined in the studio by Eva Cartwright, owner of the Somlo wine shop in Hungary where visitors can sample over 160 wines from Somlo-hill. We've sampled 6 of these so far but as we are now helping with her identity and branding for promotion of these wines in the UK we should be able to fit in a few more.

We started with the naming and although 'Somlo Wines' locates the vineyards and shop we felt some of the other background information would capture more interest from potential customers in the UK. The name Witness Mountains caught our eye. Eva told us the story of the mountains of Hungary, or volcanoes as they were, witnessing the sea that surrounded them receding to form what is now the Mediterranean. This environmental change on a huge scale is not only clearly visible from aerial views but it left a very fertile land that is perfect for growing wine.

The Romans discovered the true potential of this land and many of the vineyards have evolved from their original vines. The nature of the volcanic and sediment rich soil, the Terroir, gives the wines their unique flavour and the opportunity for the UK market to try something different. Eva's current hashtag #govolcanic is likely to be retained to sign off the story but we discussed the opportunity of asking customers to look at her wine from a 'different perspective' in a very conventional market. This became one steer for the development of the logo.

The selected approach is a simple typographic play on the strapline 'different perspectives', and also fits well with Eva's request for something modern and functional. We see this flip of words becoming part of the visual language of the brand across all marketing materials.

This is just the start of our relationship with Eva and Witness Mountain Wines while she looks to crack the English market and gain recognition for her wide selection of Hungarian Volcanic wines over here. Obviously this means that we will still need to play guinea pig and have the wines tested on us! It’s a hard job but someone has to do it. To find out more about Witness Mountain Wines you can view the current shop site at somloi.hu.

Friday, 29 April 2016

McCoys - Fully Flavoured

Our new full-flavour website for McCoy's Crisps has now launched! It’s the second of our websites for KP Snacks and you can check it out at www.mccoys.co.uk.

On hitting the homepage, you might be forgiven for thinking ‘what the snack’ has this got to do with crisps?! Working with McCoy’s ad agency WCRS, we implemented a social aggregation tool to enable them to feed key content from their various social feeds; Twitter, Facebook….etc. This helps to keep the homepage content fresh and ever changing, but more importantly keeps content in-line with the launch of McCoy's new campaign which is all about the FLAVOUR. In short, a snappy homepage reflecting the noise created by WCRS’s 'above-the-line' activities.

And it really is all about the FLAVOUR. Keen to move on from being portrayed as the crisp of choice for the UK’s pub culture, the new direction for McCoy's is about the vibrant taste and flavours. So with that in mind, as with our website for KP Nuts, colour is key and especially so with the new drive behind McCoy's.

If you’ve seen our website for KP Nuts, the layout may look familiar. That’s down to our Wordpress multi-site approach, keeping things consistent across the KP Snacks range, as well as economising on the technology behind the build. Content is managed by the KP Snacks teams.

Anyway enough of the technical stuff, flavour is calling and we are off for a packet of salt and malt vinegar!

April round up

The Yorkshire sculpture park 

On a recent trip back to the Northern Wastes, our resident Yorkshireman James decided to take his family on a cultural tour (or did they take him?) starting with the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. For those of you who don’t know, the YSP is actually an art college nestled in the grounds of a stately home just South of Wakefield. 

Rolling fields and public bridleways surrounding the park give way to a strange combination of cows, ramblers, and Henry Moore sculptures. In the gardens themselves permanent (and some temporary) installations can be found, from the likes of Hepworth, Gormley and other local artists or resident students.

What’s particularly special at the moment is an installation by the New York artist Kaws. Playing on the familiar theme of pop-culture and cartoons (especially by the likes of Disney) Kaws’ tongue-in-cheek pieces mimic familiar forms and characters with a sinister twist. Always recognisable by his signature crosses for eyes and balloon like skull & crossbones heads, the figurines might remind you of the kind of cute vinyl figurines often seen in designery gift or skate shops… however these are super-sized. A trek across the valley to the Longside Gallery reveals more colourful sculptures (ranging from large to humungous) and some canvasses that hark back to Kaws’ graffiti roots. 

So if you’re in the area before the 12th June the YSP is well worth a visit. If you don’t make it in time, go anyway as there’s plenty of permanent works on display for a great afternoon out. It’s not all ‘grim oop North’.

Bradford Industrial Museum

Continuing the Yorkshire theme, the next stop on James’ Northern jaunt was Bradford Industrial Museum. Moorside Mills, just on the outskirts of Bradford isn’t quite as imposing as the more famous Salts Mill in Shipley but packs in several floors of steam engines, vintage vehicles and milling machinery. Amongst all this is a large room full of vintage printing presses surrounding the museum’s very own operational printing gallery; a representation of a victorian printing office.
The mind boggles when you take in the ingenuity behind the original Linotype and Monotype machines, not to mention the old Heidelberg presses of various shapes and sizes collecting dust. If you’re lucky enough to visit at the right time on a Wednesday (James wasn’t) then you could take part in the printing workshop and have a go at letterpress printing yourself. If you get inky enough you might be given a souvenir bookmark to take home. So should you find yourself heading towards Bradford on a rainy day with nothing to do, give the Photography Museum a miss and go here instead. 

Capturing the Capital on Camera.

Whether you’re capturing the hustle and bustle of busy central squares or snapping stylish shots of iconic Thames-side landmarks, London’s photographic opportunities are endless. For quite a while now, our senior designer Sarah has been looking for a way to push her keen amateur photography skills to the next level… she found it last week in the form of an evening photography class just around the corner from our London Bridge studio in Borough. Here are Sarah's thoughts on her night by the river.

I met my tutor Nigel in the National Theatre one freezing night recently and, following a brief intro, set off along the Southbank with camera and tripod in hand. There were about 10 of us in total, all with a decent understanding of aperture, ISO and focal ranges, and all with a keen desire to improve our skills behind the lens.

As the evening progressed we walked along the banks of the Thames, stopping along the way by London’s famous bridges to capture the views on camera. From the stark, utilitarian beauty of Blackfriar’s Bridge to the vibrant illuminations of London Bridge, we listened as Nigel shared his knowledge and took shots we’d never have dreamed of before.

The final challenge; Tower Bridge. “It’s like Kate Moss…,” he said, “You can’t take a bad shot of this bridge!” ...and he was right.

Charlie the pot head

Our account manager Charlie was throwing some shapes this month, not on the dance floor but with clay on a pottery course over at Stepney City Farm! Charlie had high hopes dreaming of jugs and salad bowls, however what came out of the kiln was rather smaller and simpler…! As with most creative processes it was a labour of love and time.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Any Colour?

The logo is in its most basic form when used as black and white or reversed out of black but with colour being the core offer of the business the potential for a variety of ways of using it and texture is enormous. We are already exploring these with the team through the use of moodboards and research, which included a trip to the Retail Show 2016.

The scope of the project is also growing. The brand is now ready to be developed across promotional materials, their own product range and a retail website, which is already progressing with our digital team. We’re also working closely with Sean and Skyler on the signage and interiors for their first 4,000+ sq ft colour studio in Wandsworth - currently an empty shell across two floors of a great corner plot - a truly amazing canvas!

This, and the visual below of vinyl graphics for their new studio frontage while fitout commences, is only a sneak preview ahead of what is to come. We’ll bring you more after we have explored the opportunities of colour, texture and style as we develop all the brand touch points for the Skyler London brand over the coming months.

You can see the logo and some of the work we did for the Sean Hanna Salons here.

Seismic photography

This month we have been working with our long term client Seabird Exploration on their latest Annual Report, whilst also setting the style for their 2016 quarterlies.

Seabird’s primary focus is the collection of seismic data obtained from the seabed, so beyond some interesting chart data, we are constantly looking at how we can bring their service offer to life, and nothing serves this better than great original photography that captures life on the ocean waves, and on land.

The main job of the Report will always be to communicate the performance of the company so a lot of time is spent working out how the content and story flows through the document in the lead up to the figures. Stats and facts are pulled out in a modular grid system with a backdrop of small and large imagery to add pace. The overall effect is to create a document that doubles up as an engaging brochure to promote the business and communicate the work undertaken by the crews on the ships and the shore based teams.

Before the project began we had the opportunity to brief photographers on the style and images we were looking for, covering various vessels across the world. Seabird have always seen the value in good design and imagery and now have some dynamic shots to add to their ever growing image archive.

March Round Up

High five for High Touch

We're currently working with Croydon Bid on their re-election ballot and have been immersing ourselves in the feedback from their recent workshops. For Croydon, there are a lot of areas to address to increase footfall, not least the disruption that will be caused over the next few years following the huge investment in developments that are well under way. Helpful advice and clear communication will be key for the BID, as well as fighting the fight for SME's as they adapt to change. Overarching all this will be the need to be true advocates of the vision for Croydon. For the retailers, they need to look at how they will retain loyalty and build new relationships. In one area, the loyalty/offer card scheme we branded, 'Checkout Croydon', was challenged by some as only rewarding existing customers rather than growing the business, but given the current changes and drop in footfall, the flip side is that it helps to retain customers. What is interesting for us, and the challenge for them, is all the different ways that brands try to build loyalty and it certainly requires more than a loyalty card in your consumers pocket. This recent article from Contagious contributor Tim Wade of Smith+Co caught our eye and has some useful and clear insights into this essential part of building relationships with your customers. You can read the article here.

A Chain Reaction

On 10th March, in the company of clients Sean Hanna and Skyler McDonald, our MD visited the Retail Design Expo and Retail Digital Signage Expo at Olympia. A great show that was getting the right reactions. The progress that technology has made was evident in all areas but it was the creative use of older technologies and different ways of using lighting and textured materials that caught his eye. With a few interiors projects in the pipeline and in progress, it was a great opportunity to discuss how some of our ideas could be brought to life by a few of the exhibitors. Read the full blog and see some of the suppliers that impressed us here.

In a pickle about social

This month our wall of type for Twitter UK featured heavily in ‘Week In Week Out’ BBC documentary ‘The Savage World of Social Media’. Robbie Savage found out how far people will go in risking their lives for a like or a tweet. Twitter was the only platform to respond to questions but filmmakers seemed to spend more time getting artistic shots of the wall than mopping the fevered brow of Twitter Head of Policy, Nick Pickles. Our iphone filming of this section on tv is here or for better quality the full documentary can be seen on iplayer here. The Twitter piece is 24 minutes in.

Alexander Calder

You’ve only got this weekend left to be inspired by some of the great works of Alexander Calder at Tate Modern. Well worth a view to see how he was inspired by the works of Mondrian, Picasso, and we thought a bit or Miró and Matisse, and brought his ideas to life in his 'performing' sculptures. The wire sculptures of people and circus performers were the most fascinating, with the added dimension of shadows. The later sculptures although interesting lacked the dynamism of movement. Due to their fragile nature and age you have to rely on the small video screens to see how they performed in the past. A few photos were managed until we were stopped by security - such a shame that galleries aren’t more open to allowing photography for their promotion by visitors on social media.

April First

We love a good wind up and obviously today is the day for wind ups, or at least it was until midday. We hope you haven’t been fooled too many times but we’d love to hear of any good ones that caught you out. We went back through some of the ones that stood out for us but our personal favourite is this one from the BBC - a classic. We will be posting any more we find to our facebook page so take a look here.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Flipping February

Flipping for Silver

Like every year, pancake day crêped up on us (see what we did there). The atmosphere was tense as the tothepoint pancake racing team strode with purpose into the arena. Slicing through the crowds, like lemon through sugar, into the competitors enclosure, the smell of pancakes hung thick in the cool February air. There were thrills, spills and of course more than one pancake went astray.

The crack team of Will O’Byrne, Charlie Borley, Sarah Long and Lizzie Unwin stormed the heats and earned a spot in the final flip off. Sadly we were not able to secure gold and claim the prize, but with this being our 25th anniversary, our silver place was the right outcome.

Thanks to Better Bankside for putting on yet another splendid pancake race. We will be back next year for gold (or failing that another golden pancake)!

Apple FBI face-off

It’s been hard to avoid the news of Apple’s wrangle with the FBI this month, but it’s all ‘kicking off’ in the tech world over the other side of the pond.

To cut a long story short, the FBI in the U.S have found themselves in the possession of an iPhone used by the perpetrators of the San Bernardino shootings  in December. Naturally, they want to get access to the phone and it’s contents.

Simple right? Just ask Apple to unlock the thing? …not quite. Apple pride themselves on the security installed in their handsets. Ever since the introduction of the finger-print sensor, they’ve been adamant that not even they have access to a customer’s information. In an age of mass surveillance, where more and more people are permanently connected to the internet via a tiny computer in their pocket, the public would be worried if they thought all their private info was up for grabs.

Combine this with the information released by Edward Snowdon and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange over recent years, and the world is a much more paranoid place than it used to be and for good reason. Not worried? Check out this doomsaying article about the hazards of having a webcam and imagine what the [please insert your choice of government agency name here] would do if they could.

Back to Apple. They physically can’t unlock an iPhone. To do so would mean writing a bespoke version of the operating system and installing it on the handset, thus creating a ‘back-door’. To do that would set a dangerous precedent, and open a ‘pandora’s box’ that can’t be closed: open season for surveillance agencies could mean an end to the relative privacy that we enjoy today.

We’ve been interested in this area ever since we designed and built the website for the great guys at www.cybersecuritychallenge.org.uk. With their programme to identify, inspire and enable more citizens to become cyber security professionals, hopefully we’ll be a little more secure in the not too distant future.

To get more of the low-down, check out these articles:

BBC NEWS - Apple vs the FBI - a plain English guide

WIRED - Apple’s FBI battle is complicated 


It’s good to see one of our clients getting the recognition that they deserve. This month QuantuMDX have received high praise for the strides they have made through their pioneering handheld DNA technology. This clever tech will help clinicians around the world to address global challenges by providing fast diagnosis of diseases, such as malaria, for just a few pounds. 

The appliance of bioscience and biotechnology are known as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” due to the extraordinary impact they are having on global society and the economy, especially in the fields of medicine, agriculture and energy. Government Minister George Freeman made a visit to the Labs in the North East to show his support, which means there have been a few good shots of the logo we designed for them in the papers and on social media!

The art of contemplation

Tucked away amongst the rafts of books in the Foyles flagship store on Charing Cross Road is The Gallery. The space is currently curated and managed by Futurecity to help celebrate the work they’re doing in cultural placemaking (in other words, regenerating public areas across the UK). On first glance it might be overlooked by some, but the work of Peter Newman in particular caught the eye of our MD, who was instantly filled with romantic daydreams of enjoying the “Skystation” on a blue sky day in a quiet nook of London (chance would be a fine thing!).

“After days of looking at screens, surrounded by digital and physical chatter, it was very therapeutic to escape and enjoy a few minutes lying on the Skystation sculpture looking up at the fish eye skyscape image. Then taking a wander around this vast bookstore it almost felt that I was stepping back in time as I watched people, and some eccentric characters, browse the many beautiful books on display.”

Playing for the win…

You may remember earlier this year we began working with concussion management specialists Return2Play. We are pleased to say that R2P have been confirmed as a finalist for “Best New Concept” at this year's Sports Technology Awards, a celebration of the most exciting and innovative organisations in global sport. The company, which launched just last year, are nominated alongside sports technology giants Hawk-Eye and BT, so they’re already keeping good company.

Return2Play have developed a system to help rugby clubs and players - from school teams to professionals - comply with new safety guidelines for the treatment of suspected concussion, monitoring players' recovery and helping them to return to play safely and efficiently.

"Being nominated in this category, alongside some heavyweight names in the field of technological innovation in sport, is real proof of the value of what we are doing. It's important that we all think about how to use technology, not just to change the way in which we play and watch sport, but also to ensure the health and safety of athletes at every level of the game." said Nick Somers, CEO and Co-founder of Return2Play.

After an initial strategic discussion over a pint of Doombar with our MD, R2P realised the importance of establishing a strong identity from the start to ensure they built recognition while promoting the service. We quickly got to grips with the business and brought their vision to life with a striking identity that works across all media, including icons for apps.

R2P have also been getting some national press coverage! Fingers crossed they win, but the nomination alone is a huge achievement!

Warning, contains nuts

Following on from the success of the KP Snacks interiors project we were asked to create websites for their three key brands – KP Nuts, McCoy’s and Hula Hoops. We were more than happy to oblige!

The sites needed to reflect the recognisable branding and individual brand personalities, as well as to showcase the KP Nuts and McCoy’s new pack designs.

As the three sites had similar requirements and content, we recommended a multi-site approach, where we build one main site and then duplicate the structure for the second and third sites but building in flexibility so that the styling can be adapted.

To tie in with the new packaging launch, the KP Nuts website has now gone live, pop over and take a look here.

The site primarily showcases their packs but also gives an insight into the KP Nuts brand story which started back in the 1850s. The site also highlights their work on sustainable farming across the globe and profiles them as the market leaders in nut snacking.

Keep your eyes peeled for McCoy’s and Hula Hoops that will follow in the coming months!

Croydon BID term time

Time flies when you’re having fun, and although the Croydon BID renewal ballot didn’t exactly sneak up on us, we still can’t believe the time has come to work with the BID team on the campaign to ensure they are voted in again for another term.

Of course there is a lot of talk about the great future in store for Croydon, with BoxPark coming later this year and plans for Westfield well under way. But it’s also the perfect moment for us to take stock and reflect on everything the BID has achieved (and some of the lovely design work that has accompanied this).

And to kick this off, with the help of Freshly Made Films, the BID have produced the perfect tool to showcase to the levy payers exactly what they’ve achieved during their 5 year term, and to highlight why they should continue the hard work in 2017 and beyond. The video (full screen link here) is also a great showcase for us, highlighting much of the work we’ve produced for them since winning the contract back in early 2013. This work started with evolving the brand and core messaging but since then we’ve produced a BID and community website, established the branding for the loyalty card scheme, produced the annual report, pledge banners and advertising as well as the brand and uniforms for the newly established Croydon ambassadors.

To kick-start the renewal campaign the BID has produced a questionnaire for levy payers and hosted three workshops, focusing on the regeneration of Croydon, safety in the area and looking at the 5 core pledges the BID made at the last ballot. With the help of Paul Clement of British BIDs, who ran the workshops, this research will feed in to the brief to ensure the correct messaging and emphasis on pledges meet the needs of business and the community during this time of great change.

We also attended these workshops to get a real insight into what is needed now and for the future. Our strapline ‘All change! Croydon’ has never had so much relevance as it does today but one initial observation was that for now, people need to know that ‘Croydon is still open for business!'. We’re looking forward to working closely with the BID like we did with our local BID, Better Bankside, when we helped them with their ballot in 2014 and they achieved another term.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Simon says:

Be a Brand, not bland

Increasingly we are seeing the stripping away of complex graphics and a move towards simplicity. There are a multitude of brands who have removed style and substance from their logos to 'get back to basics' and minimalism - Google is a good example of this, gradually flattening the logo until a simple sans-serif logo remained.

Unfortunately many companies often see this 'simplification' at surface level, mistaking it for a cost effective way to evolve their brand. The result is they become more bland than Brand. What they are missing is the strategic approach these major players use to make their rebrand work, exploring their brand offering at the start and then using this to retain or enhance their brand personality and offer.

The mark of successful branding is a consistent visual and vocal tool kit that ensures that even if the logo isn't present, the style and tone of voice reflects the brand, however simple. Try it, cover up the logo on a brochure, website or even walk around a space - if the logo wasn't there would you know who the company was? If you wouldn't then their logo and brand aren't aligned.

Stand out for clout

As simplicity is implemented across all brand touchpoints there is a real danger of losing differentiation. This can certainly be seen with many of the open plan workspaces which are often described by staff and visitors as lacking personality. Some implementations of agile workspaces have introduced style, colour and designer furniture but these new spaces are all starting to look the same!

Even when stepping into the digital world we see different websites that have the same structure and user journey, and in some cases the same overused stock imagery! This lack of differentiation leads to a seriously underwhelming user experience. From generic layouts to generic words, it seems the craft of creative writing has been over looked. Never underestimate the difference good content and story telling can make in helping to communicate the offer and the authenticity of a brand.

With our work in print, digital and workplace environments, we are constantly looking for new ways of achieving differentiation for our clients. Our projects involving workplace environments have really helped us to explore opportunities. For Twitter, instead of huge digital screens in reception we opted for the more tactile 3D distressed wall of type featuring some of their more memorable hashtags and tweets. This makes up a 20 metre wall in their London office reception and it has become the ideal photo backdrop when their VITs visit (Very Important Tweeters). For Yahoo we created a series of art installations that reflected their new focus on content over technology, providing a visual representation of the yin yang of key subjects. For example for news 'war vs peace' there is the image of a dove of peace made up of toy soldiers painted in the Yahoo purple.

Truth will out

We work closely with clients at all stages of their evolution, getting to know them as well as looking to understand their audiences, both internal and external. One thing is clear though - it isn't just about talking the talk... the successful companies are those that deliver what they say they do. With the world watching, tangible proof or evidence of your achievements is essential, and no matter how powerful your brand, your messaging and your values, if what you deliver doesn't reflect what you say, the power of social media and a connected world will ensure everyone knows...

Our best work is with the companies and staff that believe in their values and what they are doing and share this with us - it inspires us and helps us deliver the craftsmanship to differentiate and elevate a brand. Some more examples of us bringing brands to life in workspace environments can be found in this pdf of a book we've just produced here. To find out more about how we bring brands to life across print, digital and workspace environments get in touch with us at tothepoint. +44 (0)20 7378 6999 or for more background visit our website www.tothepoint.co.uk/work.