Archive for the ‘Graphic Design’ Category

A New Way To Call To Action

November 20, 2017

A call to action is an instruction to your audience that is designed to provoke a response – ‘visit our website’, ‘follow us on Facebook’ etc.

But do you need to call your audience into action?

I came across this advert from Flavahans as I waited at the bus stop recently.

It is simple with a small bit of humour, but have you noticed anything missing? There is no website, no social media reference and no ‘buy now’, not even a hashtag!

There is a product, a tagline and minimal information.

I can imagine the meeting that occurred when the designer or marketer presented this to their managers.

Where’s the website?

You have to tell them to follow something, how will they know what to do?

We need to tell them everything about the product” – but do you?

I think it is brilliant!!

We already know every company has a digital presence and if we want to find them we will type their name in the search bar.

So why take up space?

Why tell people what to do?

People hate being told what to do – so let them make up their own minds.

This is a brave move, and one that goes against the grain – but it makes so much sense.

We live in a digital world, we know how to find information but I do not know about your product.

Tell me what I need to know, not what I already know.

Well played, Flavahans

Paul Wade - Fuzion Graphic DesignPaul Wade

Paul Wade is part of the Graphic Design team at Fuzion Communications who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

The Future!

November 6, 2017

The Future Conference

I spent this weekend at The Future Conference in Dublin, with about 2000 of my peers, and a few of my heroes.

Like most design conferences, it was set on a range of stages, each with a difference agenda and mechanic, ranging from Q&A style platforms, individual presentations, staged interviews and a pop-up artist’s studio.

And like many design and creative conferences, there was a stellar line up (more about this in a bit) crammed into a packed schedule. Unlike any conference that I’ve been to, this one had an agenda, where the speakers were to talk about “The Future”, and what it meant to them, to our industry and our work, which largely meant that rather than the standard portfolio review, we got to have deeper insights into where things are going in the design world. 

Usually I come away from these events with a sense of both love and hate – a love for the work I’ve seen and a hate for my own work, but with a resolve to do more, work harder and be a better designer, and The Future was no different – but this time, as I watched the speakers talk about our collective futures, I found myself looking back and examining why I had chosen design as a career in the first place. 

Future Conference 2017

The Why?

There are various routes into design – many of us start out with either a flair for art, or an unhealthy obsession with pens, pencils and paper.

Mine was no different, I remember one particular art set I got in 1978 and the hours obsessing over colouring in, and I remember spending hours drawing band logos on my school bags. And looking back on it, it was really quite clear that there was only one industry that I was going to end up in!

And (long story short!) this has brought me full circle to thinking that I am so unbelievably fortunate to be part of this creative industry, one that keeps me awake at night trying to figure out solutions to projects, one that gets me talking about crazy sounding intangibles about why we chose fonts and colours, one that makes me passionate about other people’s businesses, sometimes in an almost obsessive manner, but one that rewards me, because as one speaker said “When I do my job well, my clients can do theirs better”.  

The Future was brilliantly illuminated with speakers such as international superstars Sagmeister (of Sagmeister & Walsh), Paula Scher (as seen on Netflix’s Abstract series, a must see!) and Steve Espo, and the incredible homegrown talent such as Brian and Paul from Detail, designers and educators Lara Hanlon, Bob Grey and David Smith who collectively showed us that design is a huge range of things: it is a partnership, solution building, a shared collective experience. It is informative, it can be beautiful, and it is a vehicle for ideas, profit, emotions and humanity.  

If you want me to tell more about some of the things I saw, or if you want to know how I can apply my learnings to your project, just get in touch.

The future is very, very bright!

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj - FuzionJonathan

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj leads the Graphic Design Department in Fuzion with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland 

Listening and doing nothing

October 11, 2017

Donald Trump - Twitter

Right now, we are living in an ever increasingly strange era.

A bright orange barely human is in charge of the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, and seemingly quite anxious to have a go at using it.

His counterpart in the East – with equally baffling hair – is egging him on and approximately 7 billion people are at the mercy of their moods. This will go down as the dumbest period of human life on earth, or at very least, as the dumbest period of untethered “leadership” in the developed world. 

On a somewhat lighter (but connected) note, both Twitter and Instagram have made some small but significant changes to their platforms recently, in an attempt to improve users’ experiences making them easier and faster to use. 

As users of social media for the past ten or so years, we should be ok with ongoing updates where features that we know and love are “updated” (i.e. removed or positioned elsewhere on the platform, in an non-linear manner – yes, I’m looking at you Facebook for all the things that you’ve done to the time-line. #smt). 

As recently as June 2017, Grace Kim, Twitter’s head of research and design said “…with lots of feedback and ideas from you, we’re refreshing our product… We listened closely and kept what you love. And for the things you didn’t, we took a new approach to fix and make better,”. 

But its quite apparent that these companies are not listening to their users. 

In this turbulent time, where people carrying swastika flags, can declare themselves NOT nazis, (note – we are deliberately not giving these words the respect of Uppercase first letter) and use Twitter to publish messages of hate and violence, where threats of sexual violence can be made against people for “offences” such as not shaving their legs, or wanting to be referred to as she/her or he/his, where people can be called offensive terms by the president (he doesn’t a capital “P” either!) of the USA for taking a knee protest, neither changing profile pictures to circles nor increasing the character limit to #280 was not on anyone’s agenda. 

Mike Monteiro has been an outspoken member of the Twitter community asking for DT’s removal for repeatedly touting the terms of service of Twitter, writing on Medium he says “DT has been violating Twitter’s “rules” for years. Calling out individuals, entire ethnic groups, dog whistling his violent white supremacist base, taking on a Gold Star family, a US judge of Mexican heritage, retweeting a gif of Hillary Clinton being attacked, going after journalists. This is hardly acceptable behaviour for a regular human being, much less a US President. Twitter has, rightfully albeit slowly, banned other users for similar behaviour. 

Monteiro intelligently and correctly has spent considerable amount of time and effort engaging with @Jack and @Biz (Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO & Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter) highlighting the many instances of misuse of their platform by extremists (I’m including DT in that description…) and what should be done with them, according to their own Terms of Service.

By the levels of engagement between them, they clearly see what he’s saying, but they aren’t listening or are deliberately choosing not to do anything having listened. If they were, there would be less hoo-haa about #280 (which, lets face it, just makes Twitter a rubbish Facebook) and more about ensuring that users behaviour on Twitter was appropriate, respectful and not warmongering. 

In a similar manner, Instagram recently updated its app, allowing users greater functionality (to use multiple images in a single post, landscape and portrait modes, and, errr,  stickers, similar to Snapchat – you know those annoying floral headdresses and bunny rabbit noses? Yeah, those!!).

Some of the updates have been great – threaded comments, the previously mentioned multiple images per post, and Instagram Stories, but there is one simple thing that users have been crying out for, and that is a chronological order of posts. 

Clearly Instagram, much like Twitter, is a commercial endeavour, not some sort of altruistic venture, and its algorithm is built so that the advertising (which thankfully has become less invasive in recent months) is aimed at the correct target audiences, but forcing users into a system that they have clearly expressed as not being something that they want, is a sign that a company is clearly not listening to its user base. 

Perhaps the numbers won’t fall, perhaps we have all become immune to asking for something from a service, and never getting it, but surely that’s a strange set of behaviours to adhere to!

What does any of this to do with design?

Well, everything we do in Fuzion Communications is a reaction to a briefing from our clients.

They tell us what they need and what they want, and we take it from there. Design is a heavy mix of solution providing, communications and creativity, and as designers a huge part of our process is listening to our clients to provide them with creative work, that satisfies their brief. 

Ultimately, our design comes from listening.  

Phew…that’s off my chest!

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj - FuzionJonathan

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj leads the Graphic Design Department in Fuzion with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland 

 

‘Great Taste’ and all the other things that flavour what we eat or drink

August 3, 2017

The Great Taste awards, described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world are organised by the Guild of Fine Food.

They are the acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink, and when a consumer sees the Great Taste logo on an item it is a sign that they will be buying a great tasting product.

This year (2017) Food and drink producers entered 12,300 products with 4,347 earning 3, 2 and 1 star ratings of which 444 originated from Ireland.

Overall just 165 products earned a 3 Star rating and 1,011 a 2 star rating with Irish products well represented in both of these categories.

PatWhelan, james Whelan Butchers - Great Taste Awards

The Golden Forks (the big winners) will be announced at a celebration dinner at the International Park Lane Hotel, London on the 4 September.

Great Taste, values taste above all else, with no regard for branding or packaging. Whether it is gin, biscuits, sausages or coffee being judged, all products are removed from their packaging, wrapper, jar, box or bottle before being tasted. Furthermore the judges have no idea the price that these products normally retail at.

It’s all about the taste!

The judges then savour, confer and re-taste to decide which products are worthy of a 1, 2, or 3 star award.

As you can imagine the judging panel is very illustrious and this year it included; chef, food writer and author, Gill Meller, MasterChef judge and restaurant critic, Charles Campion, author and Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen chef, Zoe Adjonyoh, baker, Tom Herbert, and food writer and baking columnist, Martha Collison, as well as food buyers from Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, and Harvey Nichols.

These esteemed palates have together tasted and re-judged the 3-star winners and will finally agree on the 2017 Top 50 Foods, which will be announced in August, with the Golden Fork Trophy winners and the Great Taste 2017 Supreme Champion unveiled on the 4th September.

Just Taste!

Judging the food and drink products on their taste seems very fair and as you would expect – the packaging and branding is removed so that the judges are able to experience the products in their pure, true state, without any interference or bias.

Sunnes Stores - Sticky Toffee Pudding

When do we ever, truly taste anything?

The minute that award winning cake goes into a wrapper, it changes the taste for the consumer.

  • Once we see the packaging, the colours, the type of paper and the visuals, it changes the taste.
  • Once we see the brand name, it changes the taste.
  • Once we read where the product is made and we see the ingredients, it changes the taste.
  • Once the product is placed in a retail outlet, it changes the taste.
  • Once we see where it is placed in the store, it changes the taste.
  • Once we see some POS and the product displayed on a promotional stand, it changes the taste.
  • Once a price is put on the product, it changes the taste.
  • When the product is on special offer, it changes the taste.
  • When a well dressed sampling person invites you to taste a thumbnail of the product, it changes the taste.
  • When we see that the brand is endorsed by a well known personality, it changes the taste.
  • When we see adverts for the product in a newspaper, it changes the taste.
  • When we see adverts for the product in a glossy magazine, it changes the taste
  • When a respected food journalist tells you the product is superb, it changes the taste.
  • When we open the pack at home and we are in a great mood, it changes the taste.

Today’s consumer is influenced by everything they see, hear and taste. We are also influenced by a lifetime of experiences, good and bad, by our peers and we all carry with us a lorry load of biases.

With great products our job and the job of everyone else in the chain that brings the product to the consumer, is to make sure that person can actually ‘taste’ the product.

The Great Taste Awards and that big round logo that you will see on products will also help!

Congratulations to two of our clients, James Whelan Butchers and Simply Better by Dunnes Stores who scooped up Great Taste Awards, once again this year.

James Whelan Butchers are Great Taste 3-star winners with their Pork Lard, a natural and clear lard made from slowly rendered back fat, with a “fabulous long lasting and clean pork flavour” – it’s all about taste!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Don’t forget about the books

July 17, 2017

There is an urban legend about an architect that designed a library.

In his calculations he forgot to factor in the weight of the books, so when the library was complete and filled with its contents it began to sink.

Although it is an urban legend the story hosts a very important point – Never forget about the purpose.

For example, when I design a logo and the client wants something beautiful and creative, it is easy to get carried away with aesthetics and forget about the purpose of a logo.

A logo is an anchor point for your business and it can often be the first impression a customer has with your business. It needs to represent you, what you stand for, who you are, what you do and what makes you unique – and it needs to do this immediately.

Always keep in mind the purpose of what you are doing.

Paul Wade - Fuzion Graphic DesignPaul Wade

Paul Wade is part of the Graphic Design team at Fuzion Communications who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Consistency is key

June 26, 2017

consistency - Aristotle

Consistent: acting or done in the same way over time, especially so as to be fair or accurate.

Consistency is one of my favourite words in the English language. I live by it. Do not be fooled, consistent does not mean boring, it means recognition.

Imagine every time someone asked you your name, you give them a different name.

Eventually if you are in a group everybody will be a bit confused. More so if someone calls you on the street – how do you remember every name you gave to people? People know your name because it never changes. The conversation changes, how you look changes but your name remains consistent.

This word alone is my bible in graphic design – Consistency.

All elements for your brand need to marry. They need to tell the same story, send the same message and the public need to know it is you. Every element of your brand from your logo to signage to the message you send needs to be consistent.

Be different, be you but be consistent about it!

Paul Wade

Paul Wade is part of the Graphic Design team at Fuzion Communications who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

Finding your creativity

June 6, 2017

Recently my colleague Paul Wade wrote on our blog about how he deals with creative block. I’d like to share some of what I do to help push my creativity further.

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj

Firstly, in the words of Paul Smith, design is everywhere, and he’s right. It’s just a case of looking for it.

When I teach design to students in CIT, one of the first things I ask my students to do is to start looking at things with fresh eyes, to question what they have taken for granted, and to revisit and review things. For some it’s a difficult exercise, because you are asking people to essentially think in a way that they have never done before (right brain/left brain tasks).

Originally to help myself remember these things, I started carrying a small notebook around with me, and as I saw or found things that interested me I would document them, creating a reference library for myself that I could use.

Much of these (and I have many, some going back 25 years since I started college) are full of small scribbles, found objects and coded illustrations that mean nothing to anyone other than myself, but they give me ideas and help to jumpstart my thought process. Often the thought of a blank page can be the hardest start to a project, so these small seeds can frequently give me the start of something that turns into something else.

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj

The second thing that I would suggest that everyone would do, is to visit their local art gallery.

In a world of non-stop connectivity and “always-on”, taking a few minutes out of your week to allow you to clear your head is a generous gift to yourself, and one that can often push me into looking at things with a fresh perspective.

We are very fortunate to have a number of galleries in Cork, including the award-winning Glucksman on the grounds of UCC, and the Crawford Art Gallery towards the Opera House, both of which have a wonderful rotation of exhibitions, and in the case of the Crawford, a truly beautiful permanent collection.

Recently I was lucky enough to attend a lunchtime lecture by Dr. Michael Waldron in the Crawford where some of the lesser known secrets of some of the works were shared, opening up a completely new insight into these works, and how I now perceive them.

Frequently in graphic design, I like to challenge my clients, that while everything should have a meaning or at the very least, a rationale behind the design, that it’s not entirely necessary that every piece of design should bear its full credentials in a literal sense – ultimately, my thinking is that you don’t have to give everything away immediately, that people appreciate working for detail a little in design.

The other thing that I keep noticing, is that often in galleries, the art is as much the building as its contents.

JLM

Finally, I use photography – or, to be more honest, I use image making as possibly the most powerful avenue for creativity and to force myself to look at things differently.

The reason that I call it “image making” rather than photography is that I see the process of taking the photograph to be the first part in creating any image. Technically, I am a terrible photographer, I have little or no regard to F-stops or ISO numbers, and my tripod is wobbly no matter what I do with it. But I take the shots and process them, frequently (and much to the annoyance to “pure” photographers) through Photoshop and I achieve the results that I want.

More and more I find that the outlet for this creativity is Instagram.

I have a number of APPs on my phone that when used in combination with Instagram. allow me to create images that otherwise, may or may not exist when published online.

Instagram provides me a platform that allows me to share these images with other people, and with the tactical use of hashtags I can build a somewhat curated gallery, available to like-minded people.

My true purpose is that I can create a set of images that have come about through looking at a situation, and environment, a person or a puddle, and allow me to redefine this scene into something that I want it to be. In some cases this means that the neon strip of a petrol station canopy can become an abstract, surreal landscape, in others, it means that I can create a hero out of a basketball hoop, or a pushback tug in an airport..

By taking a new view of an object, you can create a world of questions, many which have no right or wrong answers.

What I find incredible about Instagram, is that once you ignore all of the gym bunnies, the endless selfies and dinner images, there is a community there who are appreciative, supportive and creative.

Over the past year, I have been fortunate to meet quite a few of this collective, and have found them utterly inspiring in how they see things. I have stood next to people, taken the same image on practically the same device, and created utterly different images.

I have learned how to approach subjects that I would have avoided (street photography still scares the hell out of me!), and I have participated in events, from 10 people wandering around UCC pointing phones at things, to the incredible 24 Hour Project where nearly 4000 people in 840 cities, across 112 countries posted an image an hour over a 24 hour period last April.

Have a look for #24hourproject and #24hourprojectCork on Instagram to see some of my work as well as that of others.

Being creative day in and day out is a demanding challenge (like many jobs!), but with a little bit of focus there are ways that you can allow your mind to wander in a constructive way, and hopefully help to boost the inspiration that really is everywhere!

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj - FuzionJonathan

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj leads the Graphic Design Department in Fuzion with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland 

 

Never, ever write a cheque to make yourself look bad!

May 16, 2017

James Bond Museum

I was doing a review of the marketing activities with a new home improvement client a few years back.

In the previous year, they had spent €15,000 on Google Adwords in the UK bringing the right search traffic to the website of their UK operation.

They weren’t convinced about how successful this investment was and they asked me to review the campaign.

The lack of success was simple to figure out because the €15,000 was being used to drive traffic to their website, which was outdated and made them look like an old fashioned, backwards operation. You could easily understand how this traffic was not converting because, like me, I am fairly sure that the people who looked at the website were not inclined to do business.

Not only were they wasting money but they were damaging their brand – an important and very simple SEO tip is to make sure you have a website that makes people want to do business with you!

My simple recommendation to them was to stop the campaign immediately, upgrade the website and then, and only then, start up the Google campaign again.

I was told that there was no budget for a new website and instead they decided to increase their Google Adwords budget in the hope that bringing, even more traffic would somehow improve the results they were getting from the previous campaign.

Whether it is..

– Advertising when your store is a mess
– Putting a cheap sign over your premises
– Paying for an advert and not designing it properly
– Getting cheap business cards
– Bringing traffic to an outdated website

..the message is always the same.

Never, ever, write a cheque to make yourself look bad.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

My Crash Course in PR, Marketing and Design

March 17, 2017

Work experience

As my two favourite subjects in school are business and art I had a bright idea to apply to a marketing company for my weeks work experience. I was delighted to see that Fuzion Communications accepted my proposal to follow the employees around for 4 days!

I expected to be photocopying, filing and making coffee, which of course I wouldn’t have minded doing, but to my pleasant surprise it was the opposite. I was being asked did I want coffee and tea!

My time in both the PR department and the design department were both equally enjoyable.

In the PR department I learned a lot about using social media and not just newspapers to advertise businesses. Also, how not only is the article important, but the headline and the photographs are equally vital to grasp the reader’s attention.

On the Wednesday, Saidhbh, one of the PR team kindly let me shadow her on one of her trips out to take pictures for their social media posts. It was extremely interesting to see the ins and outs of PR and its not easy!

From my observation humour and sarcasm are the most prominent features in the design department, along with skill of course!

They know the computer keyboard like the back of their hand, they can also make a picture taken by a two year old look like a Caravaggio painting. The Photoshop tutorials were one of my favourite activities of the week.

Although I wouldn’t have the best IT background, with help from instructions and annoying Jonathan, the head of the design department with many questions, I wasn’t as shocking as I thought I would be at them.

I can safely say that this was much better than going back to my old primary school and looking after screaming children for a week even though that was also very eventful.

My experience here was great and much appreciated.

Kate D'ArcyKate

Kate D’Arcy, Transition Year Student

Twitter: @katedarcy1469

Well done to the very enthusiastic and lovely Kate who was a pleasure to have in the office for the week and a credit to her parents and her teachers. She rose to the challenge of writing a blog post that I put to her.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service national agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

Creative block

February 26, 2017

 

Fuzion - Creative block infographic

Creative block– It, quite simply, sucks!

Not just for creative people, we all encounter that mental block in life at some stage. For some reason you do not know how to take the next step. Being a graphic designer, creative block is a demon I know all too well. Something you do for a living, that comes naturally to you all of a sudden is the most frustrating thing in the world.

Facing the issue over and over again throughout my career, I came up with little things to try and break the barrier. I cannot guarantee that any of these will work but what I can always recommend is get up, go out, take a short walk, grab a coffee – just take a few minutes!

Hopefully you will unblock the block..

Paul Wade - Fuzion Graphic DesignPaul Wade

Paul Wade is part of the Graphic Design team at Fuzion Communications who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 


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