Be Innovative. Be Bold. Be Stunning.

We’re hit by more and more branded messages on a daily basis, which means that the attention span of the average consumer is dwindling. On TV, in print, online or even in the palm of your hands, it’s clear that whatever the message, it needs to get our attention to be seen, let alone read. As explored in my last blog, ‘Less is More’, a key consideration is the clarity of the message itself and how this is translated to the consumer through ‘Engagement Design’. But how do you grab the attention of the consumer in the first place? What does how you do this say about your brand? The whites, the greys and the minimalist look made fashionable by the likes of Apple have saturated the creative industry and enough is enough. Whether you want to differentiate yourself from your competitors, tell a specific brand story, or just do something unexpected, it’s about embracing change and trying new things.

So, how can brands make an impact in 2017? Here are 5 brilliant ways:

• Contrasting colours & duotones
• Impactful fonts
• Bold Illustrations
• Raw artistic design techniques
• Brutal Simplicity

Duotones are in…

The clean, light and rationed colour schemes that have been used over the last few years - and that Apple showed to be incredibly effective and premium - have been used by every brand and designer the world over now. Whilst when this was first done it was bold and daring, this look has become dull very quickly as everyone has become used to seeing empty white pages with a clean, even sterile product in the center.

This year, brands should be using bold, primary colours and duotones. Spotify have been mixing this style with illustration on their platforms for a while…and doing it well. This has been so impactful for Spotify that it has become a crucial part of their brand look and feel.

Dare to be bold

The use of big, bold fonts is a great way to grab the attention of impatient smartphone-scrollers. We took this approach with a social campaign for Sixpad, where they wanted to share gym hacks with their followers across Facebook and Instagram, where stopping the scroll is critical.

Additionally, big, bold typefaces help in legibility, as well as standout terms, which is an added bonus in getting your message across.

Fearless Illustration

Illustration is a great way of getting noticed. Illustration covers such a vast array of styles and these are now being embraced by brands. Carlsberg have recently created some amazing pattern illustrations inspired by their core ingredients to go on their cans.

Guinness also decided to go down the illustration route for their St. Patrick’s Day campaign, commissioning well known illustrator McBess, whose style is inspired by the classic cartoons of Fleischer Studios, to create standout imagery.

The thing I love about these posters is that whilst it’s brand new, you could be looking at a vintage poster for Guinness: they are both impactful, authentic and beautifully crafted.

Raw artistic design techniques

Creative Circle revealed a new, raw and authentic identity earlier on this year, devised by new President Vicki Maguire, which is, in their words, ‘anarchic and angry’! The Creative Circle 2017 Annual (designed by Alabiso & Goldsack) uses lots of raw artistic design techniques such as silk screen prints, cloth-bound covers and spines stitched with hand-dyed thread, and each of the 300 copies produced were roughed up, splattered with ink and paint and torn up by hand. Cool.

Watch the video here. These age-old techniques are often side-tracked for the quicker, cheaper and more accessible Photoshop approach. This isn’t always a bad thing, as you have a lot more control of the visual outcome using software like this; however, you lose that raw feeling you get when you look at a real silk print or stamp… also, no two silk prints or stamps will ever be the same.

I believe consumers want that rich, authentic feel you get when you look at artwork created in this way and I think the extra time needed to do such work will ultimately be worth it.

Less is always more

“In this chaotic and fast-paced world we all now live in, it’s nice to take a step back and just remind ourselves that less is always more’.”

Using simple design is essential when grabbing people’s attention. You can get a single, digestible point across very quickly when executed well. Alzheimer’s Society have done this really well by combining a very bright and bold colour pallet with simple illustration to communicate key messages.

So, to conclude. Raw, bold, bright, brave and authentic is the way to better engage with your consumers in 2017 - one or a combination of these 5 principles will no doubt help solve any creative challenge your brand will encounter this year.

Be Innovative. Be Bold. Be Stunning.

Engagement Design – Less is Always More

'Engagement Design' isn’t just about how your campaign looks, it’s about how your campaign works. In this digital age we have ever-decreasing attention spans. It has never been more important to use design to grab and hold attention. If design is complicated the consumer could become confused – or worse, bored – and instantly lose interest in your message. And, you don’t have long to secure that interest: research by the Centre for Cognitive Psychology and Methodology into ‘The role of visual complexity’ shows that visual complexity can turn consumers off within as little as 17 milliseconds.Subconsciously, consumers have become super-fast content filterers. They judge a book – or blog post, podcast or film – very much by its cover. They are more engaged with simple design that focuses on the necessities of the message and are less attracted to the ‘bells and whistles’ of more elaborate work.Google, the most popular search engine on the planet, shows exactly how it is done, with a homepage designed entirely around the essentials, its search function.

But Google’s approach execution of simplicity is just one of many, so with that in mind it’s worth considering the different ways in which a clear message can be delivered, based on different desired outtakes.

The 5 ‘whys’ of ‘Engagement Design’

• Design to Inform – Presenting data or information in an engaging way
• Design to Intrigue – Creating the desire to engage with content
• Design to Invite – Encouraging consumers to engage with brand activations
• Design to Impact – Capturing attention and making memorable moments
• Design to Introduce – Drumming up excitement for releases or upcoming events

Accenture #SeeBeyond – RBS 6 Nations 2017

Our match sheets for Accenture are designed to feed rugby fans with interesting insights in the build-up to RBS 6 Nations games. This simple data design has been a huge success. By the third round of this year’s competition we have seen a 140% increase on clicks through to Accenture’s Rugby hub compared to 2016, when design was both darker and more complex.

Synergy - NowNewNext 2017

The design of Synergy’s NowNewNext 2017 is a great example of how simple design can create not only interest, but the desire to learn more. Abstract imagery and engaging article titles were designed to demand the further scrutiny of our intelligent and ambitious audience.


Our Live Every Dream competition for IG invited fans to enter to win the tour of a lifetime…the chance to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime rugby experience usually reserved for the pros. Dream-like montages sat within silhouettes of professional player portraits, clearly capturing the calibre of the prize.

SynergyLive – Rugby World Cup 2015

SynergyLive is our real-time social media marketing offering. Never is it more about capturing attention than in the heat of the moment, when demand for eyeballs and engagement is at a premium. Simple design that pops in a fan’s social feed is vital. Our work for Canterbury around the Rugby World Cup 2015 featured many examples of super-simple real-time moment marketing.

Royal Salute – Stories of Power & Grace

None of us are strangers to the power of a great movie trailer. It’s all about teasing just enough, without giving the game away, especially when the final edit is often no more than 3 minutes long! With multiple video formats vying for our attention across a plethora of social feeds, there’s an art in designing the perfect thumbnail image that will elicit the relevant click-through, turning a potential viewer into an actual viewer.

Although these designs are very different and not all plain white pages with a pithy statement written in ‘Helvetica Neue’, they are all still very simple and convey a single message in a very clear fashion. It’s very easy to forget the main message you want to convey, and try to get as much ‘brand value’ from an image by cluttering it up with links to websites, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.This is why we often look at a design once we are happy with a concept and then ask: “Right, what DON’T we need? What isn’t a necessity to our message?” That way we can make sure that our message isn’t being diluted by unnecessary clutter.

In this chaotic and fast-paced world we all now live in, it’s nice to take a step back and just remind ourselves that ‘less is always more’.