Last night Ashley was the Portfolio woman-in-the-field and headed along to the Design Assembly Autumn talk hosted in the stunning Thievery Studio complete with a zebra leaping through one of the walls. She took a million notes during the two talks given by; Kirsty Harvey – Design Director at Dow Design and Jon Chapman-Smith – Art Director and Leading Force at FUMAN and has somehow turned her illegible handwriting into this little article.
Like all things that need you to be someplace at a specific time there’s going to be an obstacle in your way… My adventure last night started with a wee spell of traffic along K’Road, luckily made it to the Thievery Studio not long after six, grabbed a drink provided by the fab sponsors and did a little mingling before sitting down with my glitter dinosaur notebook and pen at the ready.
We started the evening with the gorgeous Kirsty from Dow Design talking to us about elephants, connecting with ugliness and emotion, yoghurt, sausages and fruit juice. We are all supermarket shoppers, we all browse the aisles deciding what to buy and most of the time are unaware of all the factors that lead to purchase decisions. As a business grad I was taught the basic 4 P’s of marketing; Product, Price, Promotion and Place which guides how a brand markets their products. The price has to be set right, it needs to be visible within the marketplace as a whole but also the supermarket shelves, and we must desire or require the product and know that it exists. What we don’t realise is how big a difference packaging can make on our decision making progress. For example you are standing in the fruit juice aisle and every bottle or carton has images of the fruit, they are bright and cheerful, you can see what you are getting… So how can you change that? How can you portray a sense of sophistication? How do you attract your target audience?
Well you do the research, throw some radical ideas out there that don’t have images of fruit and discover that the consumer wants those fruit images, they want to see what they are buying… Enter The Real McCoy. That beautifully designed black carton that has fruit on the front but its sophisticated, it’s stylised and has a feel of being the best. It simply shows the consumer that this is it, it’s real and we haven’t messed around with the product. You see it on the shelf, the bold black stands out against the rainbow of other juice packing and you are sold. I am part of the target audience and it’s the juice that I purchase, the emotive factors that they have triggered with the packaging have convinced me that this is what I need.
Which leads me onto the my favourite point of Kirsty’s discussion; elephants – she has recently finished her masters and delved into human behaviour learning quite a handy little analogy along the way. The idea is to think about an elephant and its rider. It would appear that the rider is in control of the elephant, it is the one that thinks logically, rationally and analytically about the terrain that they are going through. However the elephant really is the one in control, it can decide when to stop walking because it is tired or hungry; the elephant is our emotional side. But we like to talk to the rider, we like to have logical reasons as to why we do what we do and this is what we have to learn. Kirsty taught us that to be successful on a supermarket shelf there needs to be an emotional connection with the brand and we need to talk to the elephant not the rider.
Concluding Kirsty’s talk we went had a brief little break to grab another drink or some sushi, stretch our legs, mingle a little more and regroup ready for the next talk.
Jon Chapman-Smith is the Art Director and leading force behind FUMAN, he is one entertaining guy that shared how he ended up where he is and the rebrand of Atomic, capturing everyone’s attention.
Like Jon did I’ll start from the very beginning… Jon grew up in Raglan, had 20 kids in his class at school, some who even rode horses to school; there wasn’t a heck of a lot to do. So he ended up learning about bone carving, creating works from bits and pieces he found on his family farm and illustrating in his spare time, along with surfing because hello he lived in Raglan. He was then shipped off to boarding school in Auckland and stuck with the creative subjects because that is his passion, spent a lot of time with his Nonna (one pretty amazing sounding lady who had one of the first art galleries in Auckland) socialising with the art scene… Following boarding school he went onto university for a design degree and learnt what he didn’t want to become, discovered Photoshop in his final year and being astounded with how easily you can manipulate hand-drawn work. One of the things Jon remembered about his final year was being told that he was the only one that had done what they loved to do (which was creating and illustrating a children’s book). La de dah life happens a little bit, something bad happened leading to Jon deciding that working for someone else wasn’t going to cut it anymore and he set out on his own. Enter FUMAN. The agency that does what it does beautifully and sticks to its core values, which includes finishing work at 5 or 6 unless you really have to work late because balance in your life creates better work.
The Atomic Coffee Roasters rebrand was the key focus after we learnt about how he got to where he is today. They are a boutique brand that has a limited budget but an open mind (Jon’s favourite type of client to work with). It all begins with a rather slick looking mood board that demonstrated the identity of the Atomic brand – premium, uncompromising, unique, industrial, passionate and rebellious. It was a brand evolution, the atom was removed, the typeface updated but it didn’t need to scream from the rooftops because that just isn’t who the brand is. The inclusion of copper was all about the alchemy, magic and artistry that goes into being a premium coffee roaster, which Jon and FUMAN managed to get foiled across ALL of the brand collateral (quite an achievement). It is a stunning brand identity evolution that demonstrates how FUMAN work. FUMAN are out there creating long-lasting relationships and connections with clients, working on cool jobs that they are passionate about and moving past perfection into relishing the imperfections that arise with different printers/mediums/time-lines/budgets.
The key takeaway from Jon was to add a little bit of magic to everything you do, accept that not everything will work perfectly, have a work/life balance and soak up how your work is changing others.
Last night was my first Design Assembly event and I’m looking forward to the next one, meeting more interesting people and learning more about the design industry.