Archive for the ‘Graphic Design’ Category

Back to Branding

March 14, 2022

To gain a deeper understanding of branding, consider your emerging identity – your adolescent brand.

You may not have realised it when you were younger, but we all had a brand!

Back then, your brand was developed by pushing your personal boundaries of fashion and music, ethics, morality, and friendships, as well as objectives and ambitions for the future.

Thinking about your youthful brand is important because it allows you to merge the numerous pieces that came together to form your identity – the image you had of yourself, and the image others had of you. It’s a riddle — and it’s crucial.

People create opinions of one another. It’s difficult to avoid it. As a result, people developed opinions about me. To those folks, those perceptions were my brand.

The way I interacted with them, the clothing I wore, the music I listened to, my principles and opinions, as well as what they expected of me, all became part of my brand.

Some people knew me well, while others didn’t, yet my brand was built by first impressions.

Others would create my brand for me, if I didn’t invest in clothes, music, and culture. And in today’s environment, social media, blogs, and online presence are just as much part of defining an adolescent brand.

My adolescent brand was more about face-to-face encounters, behaviours, ethos, attitude, outlook, what I did or didn’t do, and my values. These fundamentals are vital to the development of a brand.

At different times, different people perceived me in different ways.

As a result, for various people, I needed to have a distinct brand perspective. There would have been many similarities, but there would have been some differences as well.

Parents, for example, might have seen me differently from my friends in several respects. For instance, if I talked to my Mum in the same tone of voice as I talked to my friends, there would have been a serious communication breakdown!

It’s exciting to imagine how your brand will touch so many different sorts of individuals. It isn’t about deception or claiming to be someone else to please people or to fit in. That doesn’t go as planned.

No one is able to deceive a huge group of people for very long. When it comes to your brand, it’s all about being yourself.

Growing up is a lot like piecing together your business or organisation’s identity jigsaw, but from a different, more mature perspective, and just as when I was younger, the best way to get to the truth is to ask the most basic questions.

Who are you?

Neill

Neill MacCann is a senior graphic designer with Fuzion Communications who provide a full suite of print and digital graphic design services from offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland.

Stout talk and “target audiences”

November 14, 2021

I do love my pint of stout and as someone who has worked for Guinness and for a subsidiary of Heineken, who produce both Murphy’s and Beamish in Cork I think I am in a position to chat about it!

During lockdown I think enjoying a creamy point of stout in a pub with friends was quite possibly the thing that I missed most of all and was most grateful when we were able to return to our favourite local.

Where I live in Ballincollig in Cork I am blessed to have the White Horse Bar, Restaurant and Music Venue just down the road from me and a little further away, and on a tricky narrow road we have a wonderful “old man” pub called the Inniscarra Bar.

To stay Covid extra safe Kay, the very lovely proprietor of the Inniscarra Bar tried her very best to keep serving outdoors as long as possible complete with a little canopy and an outside fire, and even outdoors the regulars quickly had their regular seats, just as they would have had inside.

On one particular Thursday night I slipped down there with my fantastic neighbour, Brian for a couple of pints and we sat on a bench outside,

I asked for my pint of choice ‘Murphys’ to be advised against it by Kay who warned that it wasn’t pouring too well and I would be better off with either a Guinness or a Beamish. Two of the regulars overheard our conversation and remarked that the demise of Murphy’s was a sad state of affairs as it was always known as a “Murphy’s House”.

For me, it’s crazy that this could happen in any pub in Cork, but I wasn’t surprised as I hadn’t noticed any activity around this brand in quite a while.

A few days later while doing my grocery shopping in Dunnes Stores I noticed Murphy’s Stout cans on the shelf with new horrible (at least to me) purple and pink branding.

What in the name of god are they doing with that fantastic brand” I thought to myself and I wondered what the logic was behind this garish change.

That weekend I was chatting with my soon to be son in law, Mark and the conversation turned towards the new Murphy’s can. It turns out it wasn’t just me felt this way and this young man also hated the new branding – the beauty of the old brand is that it carried weight and some class and was confident, self assured and rooted in tradition, but this?!

Our first world problems!

A few days later while in town getting my hair chopped I happened to bump into an old buddy of mine who works for Heineken in Cork. I hadn’t seen him for an age so we had a great chat and before he left I had the opportunity of asking him what the hell was going on with Murphy’s!

I told him about the Inniscarra Bar experience and gave him my feedback about the new branding on the cans and after a while he turned around to me and said..

Ah….you are not our target audience!

That put me right in my place and we finished up our conversation and on my way home I reflected on what he had said to me and the sad fact that I was now 56 and thought yes, I was probably no longer the target audience, possibly no one’s target audience!

I thought some more and it started to bother me.

While you might make changes to your brand to appeal to a “new” audience, maybe you should first consider the fools who actually do ask for it and figure out what they like about it, as there might just be some valuable nuggets worth holding onto and the build from these.

Target audience my arse…!

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design Podcast Production and Digital Marketing services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

When passion meets work, work becomes a hobby!

June 8, 2021

Ever since I was a young child I loved creating things.

Drawing pads, colouring pencils, glue and scissors were my best friends. I was one of those kids that was never bored and always felt like there weren’t enough hours in a day to do everything that I wanted to do and bring all my crazy ideas to life.

I was keeping myself occupied making cardboard furniture for Barbie dolls, big cardboard houses, cars and trains for me and all the kids living in the apartment blocks nearby. I even made sure that each of them had a name and badge like real cars did, except they were all made up by me. When I think of it now, they were very similar to the cardboard colouring houses that a lot of supermarkets were selling lately to keep children busy during the lockdown. If there was such a thing as Covid back then I would have made a fortune on them!

When I was 10 I started making exercise books for young children. They included colouring pages, crosswords, handwriting exercises and anything else I could think of. I used to “design” and draw every single page of the book by hand and get it photocopied so that I could give a copy to all my neighbours with young kids.

When I got older I got more into drawing, painting and writing. I have a collection of short stories and poems that I wrote as a teenager. My creativity had no limits and I had this never-ending urge to express it in every possible way.

My brain never takes a break and is always “on the go”, constantly coming up with new ideas. I wish my body didn’t need any rest so that I could work on them and bring them to life as soon as the light bulb lights up in my head. It’s so frustrating when you want to do so many things and your body refuses to cooperate!

When I was finishing secondary school and needed to pick a career path, I had no doubt about what to choose. I picked the Visual Communications course in Cork Institute of Technology and loved every single minute of it and when I say every single minute I really mean it… that also includes all the sleepless nights that I spent working on college projects in order to meet the deadlines. Nothing beats the feeling I got the following day when I was treating myself to a delicious hot chocolate, minutes after handing in the project that I worked on until 5am that morning! It felt good because I knew I put all my heart into it and the satisfaction I got out of it was stronger than the tiredness. 

I always knew that whatever I end up doing in life, it will have to be something creative, and so, the exercise books that I used to make as a child turned into brochures, annual reports and all kind of booklets. The cardboard cars turned into innovative signage solutions and the made up car badges’ turned into powerful and professional brands that serve clients for years. I turned my life-long passion into a way of living and the fact that it brings me money is like winning a lottery. 

I love bringing clients’ ideas to life and seeing their excitement when what I’m giving them is exactly what they needed and more.

Graphic design is a combination of art, creative thinking, problem solving and a little bit of mind reading!

As a designer you really have to tune into the client’s thoughts to figure out what they’re looking for, and a lot of the time they don’t even know what they’re looking for until you show it to them! Getting it right the first time is the best feeling ever and to get it right the first time you have to truly love and enjoy what you do. If you put your heart into something you can never fail.

Make sure that whatever you do in life, it sparks your soul and makes you feel alive.

#WinHappy

Martyna

The end of the Business Card?

July 3, 2019

Business Card etiquette

I was having a chat yesterday with a businessman who was saying how LinkedIn was his new business card – that when he meets a new business contact, instead of handing them a business card he connects with them on LinkedIn, so he has that electronic connection.

This is a perfect use of social media tools for business, but I think he is missing a big point of the business card.

For me my business card is an opportunity to showcase my brand to a new contact “Look who I am and where I work”, ““Look at what we can do”, “Look how well we look”.

I just love the Chinese and Japanese culture around business cards, how it is considered rude not to present your business card properly and then to examine a business card respectively and carefully when you are presented with one.

They almost have a ceremony around business cards – how they present it with two hands and you are expected to receive it in both hands, study it and put it beside you if you are at a meeting with them. The business card is considered to represents the person.

I remember 20 years ago when I first started Fuzion Communications, I didn’t have a fancy office, I was working with a borrowed laptop, but I invested in my branding and my business cards, as out and about meeting people, my business cards were my shop window!

Even in our digital age, I still like to present my business cards – and I always watch how they are received. I think it’s a great way to judge if someone is actually engaging with you, to see how they react when you hand them your business card.

So next time you present a card to someone, see how they receive it – and when someone gives you a business card, accept it with honour – you never know, they might have read this blog post too!!

Deirdre Waldron, Fuzion Communications, PR ConsultantDeirdre 

Deirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion Communications, a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Space Force or Space farce?!!

August 27, 2018

Space Force

 

Whatever your feelings about the current person sitting in the White House in the United States of America until a real President is elected, one thing is without question..

He is a maverick, dealing in things that are bizarre, outrageous, backwards, dangerous, unconstitutional and just damn wrong. He touches more people than is right and correct (all puns intended) and finally, he has laid his tiny hands on the design industry, offering up 6 solutions for a form of open vote for the Space Force, the 6th arm of the American Defence Forces. 

Now, we all know how public votes tend to go (Boaty McBoatface, Honey G, Soylent Green flavoured Mountain Dew etc) so, this really isn’t ever going to go any other way other than Awesome, but I do have a two-fold issue with the process of a “Publicly selected piece of design“.

Firstly; offering up a logo or brand with no sense of rationale, qualifications or positioning is insane!!

The majority of those voting will have little or no clue as to the journey that the “designer(s)” (very deliberate quotation marks there BTW) has come to finish up with the designs offered. There will be no conversations around the appropriateness of the design, typefaces, colours and implied and/or subliminal meanings. It’s like asking someone what their favourite track on an album that they have never heard is.    

Secondly; this is not the right way to create something that has lasting meaning, that truly adheres to the cornerstones of “branding”; that pays tribute and homage to that which has gone before it (from Buzz Aldrin, the 1986 Challenger disaster, to the joint ISS programme and the Opportunity rover on Mars) and looks towards the essence of what Space exploration and discovery is all about.

And aside from the fact that Space Force is a military operation, not some fluffy pursuit of organic matter – this is about defence, destruction and warfare, so the icons and illustrations on the 6 offered solutions are as much use as a Buzz Lightyear toy with no batteries.

Of course, I am not suggesting that the pursuit of a logo requires a story and a 120 page document to explain why as designers we have selected a typeface/colour/shape combination (you can watch Stefan Sagmeister’s short and sweary* feelings about that here: (its *quite* sweary), but there should be rationale, there should be a reason that elements are being used in an order to make those intangible assets click in our minds, and at a decision making level, these should be presented to help make what is clearly quite an important decision in a format that relies more than a few big VOTE HERE buttons underneath them on a website. 

Stefan - Space Force

Bloomberg magazine asked a number of designers to throw their hat into the ring, as a counter balance to the work offered by the Trump (Chump!) Administration, and the results are incredible.

The core of the Administration’s xenophobic, racist, self parodying and purile notions have been captured in all their embroidered glory. Have a look and see how absolutely Milton Glaser nails the Commander in Chief.

It’s a work of art and pure genius.

Check out the Bloomberg article.


alt Space Force - Milton Glaser

If Space Force is to become an actual thing, I suggest that we let Jar Jar Binks run it – he’d do a better job, even they had better logos than those on offer!!

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj - FuzionJonathan

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

The Beginning of Our Journey

March 2, 2018

Fuzion DesignRecently myself and Fuzion’s Creative Director, Jonathan, held an internal presentation.

We added a few new members to the team, some of whom had not worked directly with designers before. So to introduce ourselves, what we do, and how we do it we came up with a little presentation.

The presentation itself was not all that different to what we do for clients.

We explain the research, driving ideas, the process and how we deliver our final result – but there was a key difference.

Jonathan had the idea of putting in one slide of how we got into the design, day one, what sparked our interest, what visuals or interaction fuelled our love for design.

This exercise became the most fun part of the presentation, and an interesting insight for each other into our reasons why.

Have a look at the visual above..

I am not going to dive into who liked what and for what reason but it was nice to look back and see the beginning of our journey, to remind us of why we started and even question if it was still relevant..

It was.

Paul Wade

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

 

Capturing your Story

February 23, 2018

In a previous post we outlined our Fuzion Process, which is a framework that we use with clients for their planning.

We use this “Story” framework and we find that it brings a very sharp focus to all marketing activity, to ensure the very best outcomes.

Our process follows some simple steps:
1. Understand your story
2. Capture your story
3. Make sure your story is found
4. Tell your story
5. Engage with your story online
6. Protect your story

In the last post we spoke about ‘Understanding your story‘ and the possible role of a brand workshop to help bring some clarity to exactly what you are trying to communicate to your target audience.

The next step is all about capturing this story.

Capture your Story

Once you understand the story that you want to tell, it’s important that this is captured visually in a way that connects with your target audience.

We judge things quickly by how they appear to us, so whenever and wherever anyone comes across your products or services in your website, promotional material, vehicles, premises and even the individuals in your team, that these tell the right, professional story.

Does it convey professionalism, is it modern, is it unique or is it very generic, does it convey your story simply and clearly, does it appeal to your target audience? Has the organisation moved on and is it time for a refresh?

Someone is always making up their mind about you by how you appear to them.

It is vital that the graphic design work and the execution of this needs to be sharp and consistent on all platforms when your brand is being presented so that your story is properly captured and told.

Click here to see some of the work that our Creative Team have been doing for clients

If we can be of help in any way you know where we are!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

What do you think of Graphic Design?

February 8, 2018

Dark Side of the Moon

What do people think of Graphic Design?

Excuse us for this bizarre question but it is something that popped up in a conversation that we were having during an internal meeting in Fuzion, which we didn’t really have a clear answer for.

Framing this around some questions and observations about how people behave and make decisions about things might help.

Are you more inclined to buy something if it looks the part? 

I couldn’t tell you how many times I purchased an album (that was vinyl initially) because I thought the artwork looked “cool” and I remained excited until the needle was in the groove and I actually discovered what I had bought.

Needless to say I discovered some wonderful music in that random fashion and there is more than one album that were listened to just once!

Do you trust a poor website?

When we invest no time whatsoever searching online for something that we are looking for, do we judge the service or product by the quality of the website?

Years ago it would have been the Golden Pages, followed by a phone call and then maybe a visit to the showroom or offices for an appointment.

Now the website does all of this hard work for you. Without even knowing it your potential customer has popped through the door, had a look around and left and you never even realised it!

What does a business card say about you?

When someone hands you their business card is this a functional piece of paper that carries essential contact information or does it do a much bigger job at trying to create a powerful first impression?

Now there seems to be a shift with some preferring a virtual card that can be shared via smartphones – this is fine if it is about sharing essential contact details but is there some argument about having an opportunity to showcase your brand?

Does the smart van with professional graphics give you faith in the service provider?

The painter/decorator is working next door to you and their van is parked outside – it is immaculate and there are very tasteful graphics that carry the logo and contact details. Is he a professional?

What about the shift from print to online?

There is clearly a shift from print to online and maybe with this an argument for not investing too much in design if the output is never printed.

Looking good gets you noticed, it gets you read and it creates the right impression – at least this is what we believe.

Even more, we believe the printed version will always be read more than the online version – what do you think?

So….these were some of the ramblings from our conversation about Graphic Design.

We would love to know what you think – can we ask you to take a quick survey that we have created around the topic by clicking here.

Thank you…

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

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 


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