Now let me put this into context, I sat with my a few of my students today looking at concepts which could help them further their current project, when we clicked over to www.thedieline.com - a site I regularly use and peruse to see new exciting designers and design work. We sat there and looked at one design, and we all came to the same conclusion. Over the duration of this post you’ll hopefully understand our reaction to it and why it created such a strong sense of feeling amongst us - so sorry if this is really long (clairewaterworth!!) but please try and stick with it.
The design which caused so much reaction was a simple redesign of an ice cream brand. The brand in question was ‘Mr Creemy’ a localised brand of ice cream usually only available in Wales and the redesign was handled by Bluegg, a ‘design’ agency from the Welsh capital Cardiff.
Now; before I go any further, you can go read the post at the dieline before reading mine if you want, just to make sure I’m giving you the chance to be objective: www.thedieline.com/blog/2010/11/19/before-after-sub-zero.html
Back to my original question, creative design, why bother? Whilst reading through the post at the Dieline we all started to get annoyed at the blatant ‘inspiration’ that has obviously informed the design process here. So annoyed, the question of why are they even bothering to learn to be creative and individual when this sort of design can win awards was risen.
The fact that this design has won an award we all felt sickened by. Yes, it is a nice slick design, much more modern than the previous packaging, but really? It won an award? (and no it wasn’t an award for most blatant ‘lifts’ from other designs)
The fact that we could all sit down and name at least half a dozen different products it riffed on is testament to not only my students observations in graphic design (which was slightly reassuring as their tutor!) but the fact that Bluegg have obviously not thought about the exposure such an award would bring to the product.
Kevin Jenkins, Chief ice cream maker said, ‘I couldn’t have asked for more from Bluegg . They have created a completely new brand, which is vibrant and imaginative. Their approach is always full of personality which is why they’ve been able to capture everything that Subzero is about.’”
Now I have to admit, I have somewhat experience in this field which is why I feel that I can pass comment. Whilst working as a graphic designer, I too worked on a brand of ice cream only available in Wales, which had a rich heritage, but wanted a modern twist, without compromising and neglecting their history. They were incredibly demanding clients, but we all worked really hard to ensure that we captured everything they were about. Now when you reflect on the statement from Kevin Jenkins, take a moment, try and consider what ‘Subzero’ is about…..Typography? Black? Waitrose? Simple?
First off, my students thought it was a beauty brand, a bit like Lush, someone else pointed out it looked like Gu puddings, another said it was like EAT. and another championed the similarities of it to the Waitrose range of food. You see as disgusted as I was when first faced with this design, the true annoyance I had was when we opened up the ‘exciting and creative’ website. Now a picture says a hundred words, so look at the homepage and play count the rip offs……
It defies explanation.
If all this sounds a bit harsh for something so insignificant, well you might have missed the point. Its not the blatent rip offs that disappoint me within this design, it is the fact that a ‘well-known’ design consultancy has so clearly been quite uncreative with a design but yet it has been positioned into being able to be referred to an award winning packaging design. What message does this send to the next generation of designers such as the ones I am working with?
I try to push every single one of my students to be as creative and individualistic as they possibly can, whether it is creating their own typography, their own photography and most specifically not to make their work look like something else. Then they see something like this that makes them despondent.
It isn’t forward thinking, it is not exciting and it most definitely isn’t ’21st century’.
This is a case of Bluegg liking a style and positioning it to the client, the client should always come first, and never be asked to compromise the integrity of their product, whether directly or indirectly.
Obviously many design consultancies have their own style and use similar layouts and direction in different designs, but if you go through Bluegg’s website you can see many similarities on other pieces, not even nice direction at that.
I just feel sorry for really creative designers and students that can either not get get into design consultancies, or will be asked to compromise their creativity for the sake of the ‘house style’. At a time when designs like this are ‘award winning’ I really fear for the creative industry, because consultancies like this will continue to diminish the creative pool, as more companies are swayed by the label of ‘Award Winning Design Consultancy’ (again something that the boss of the consultancy I worked at used to labour to every new client, and it grated on me even then) Design and creativity should be measured in success and public reaction, and I would be very surprised that if this ‘rebrand’ would increase revenue sufficiently to label such a drastic change as ‘award winning’.
Street Advertising (obviously mocked up :/ )
So thank you if you have continued to read through this post, because I know it was long (and a bit of a rant!) but it really is an issue that really concerns me, as it appears this type of situation is becoming more and more of a regular occurrence.
So i’ll finish by giving you some links so you can make your own decisions!
(please be aware this is all personal opinion, and not a direct attack on anyone!)