Marketing bonanza

Graphic Design and the Dark Side of the Moon

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On the 3rd January 2019, China’s unmanned Chang’e-4 probe touched down to explore the dark side of the moon. What is it about the dark side of the moon that so fascinates and intrigues us? And what relevance does it have to graphic design?

About the moon

The moon is tidally locked to our planet (i.e. Earth), meaning that the same side of the moon faces us at all times. Hence, we never get to see the far (read: dark to us) side of the moon.

However, the moon is still spinning in order to constantly point one face at us, so it experiences days and nights, with a moon ‘day’ lasting approximately two ‘earth weeks’.

So, the dark side of the moon is merely a relative concept – it is only dark from our perspective here on earth.

The dark side of graphic design

As soon as something is hidden from view, our mind starts to play tricks, and our imagination runs riot, as we conjure up all sorts of weird and wonderful scenarios. 

Deciding to use a graphic designer to help build a business presence can seem like a step into the unknown, much like trying to imagine the dark side of the moon.

Typical questions at the outset include:

  • How much will it cost?

  • How do you ensure it will be effective?

  • How do go about choosing the right design company?

Three challenging questions to ask of any design company. So here are three answers that pull no punches.

  • Clear pricing – ask upfront about what is included in the estimate. How many changes can the client make before there are extra costs?

  • The recognised benefits of good design in business success – see the Design Council’s report Leading Business by Design.

  • Chose a company whose work you admire – talk to them and make a judgement on whether they are right for you by considering their relevant experience and design nous, rapport (can you imagine working with them), transparency regarding pricing and delivery of projects on time and budget.

What have you got to lose?

Just remember, a graphic designer can change your customer’s perspective on your business and take it to the moon…relatively speaking.

Marketing bonanza

From gore-fest to love-fest

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The modern-day image of Valentine’s Day is one of cute Cupids, fluffy kittens and glowing hearts. However, the origins of the story couldn’t be more different! Read how, with some clever marketing and great design work, Valentine’s Day was turned from a gore-fest to a love-fest.

How Valentine’s Day was graphically redesigned
The image of Christians being tortured and executed isn’t usually one associated with declarations of romantic undying love. However, over the years, Valentine’s Day has become one of the most popular (and profitable) days of the year for the retail industry. 

1. Exaggerate the positives
The Christian values of love and forgiveness are ones that resonate through the ages.

2. Borrow and adapt
The image of Cupid (the Roman God of Love) was legal under the Roman Empire and Christian clergymen routinely wore purple amethyst rings with the image of Cupid as a recognisable symbol of love. The ‘heart’ shape became popular during the Victorian period. 

3. Higher aspirations
When Valentines were handmade and hand-delivered in the early 1800’s, the look and feel was very important, hence luxurious materials such as silk and lace were utilised. Valentines cards began to be posted, the suggestion of luxury became even more important, hence the accompaniment of gifts such as chocolate and flowers.

4. Bold colours
A primary colour (red) against a plain background stands out and is instantly identifiable as a Valentine’s card and the addition of gilt writing further complements the look and enhances the luxurious experience.

5. Fear or greed?
Valentine’s Day taps into both of these core tenets of marketing – FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and YOLO (You Only Live Once).

So, is it time to fall in love with your business again?
See how a graphic designer with marketing brain allied to top-notch presentation skills can both simplify and enhance your business proposition.


The early origins
Valentine of Terni (a bishop) was martyred during the persecution of Christians by Emperor Aurelian.
AD296: Just over 20 years later (AD296) a priest referred to as Valentine of Rome was similarly martyred by Emperor Claudius. Whilst imprisoned, Valentine of Rome is reported to have performed a miracle by healing Julia, the blind daughter of his jailer Asterius. On the evening before he was due to be executed, Valentine of Rome is supposed to have written the first ‘valentine’ card himself, addressed to Julia (who was no longer blind), signing as ‘Your Valentine.’ 

Courtly love in the middle ages
It was here, in the European courts, that the image of St Valentine was first used for love purposes.
1382: The first recorded association of Valentine's Day with romantic love is in ‘Parlement of Foules’ by Geoffrey Chaucer
1400: The earliest description of February 14 as an annual celebration of love appears in the Charter of the Court of Love issued by Charles VI of France.

Modern day commercialism
 A British publisher issued ‘The Young Man's Valentine Writer’, which contained scores of suggested sentimental verses for the young lover unable to compose his own.
1840: The introduction of cheap postage (via The Penny Black) saw 400,000 Valentine’s Cards posted and marked the start of the anonymous sending of Valentine’s cards
1847: The concept was introduced to America by a shop in Massachusetts selling Valentines of embossed paper lace. It was so successful that, within 2 years, Saint Valentine’s Day had become “a national holiday”.
1868: Cadburys created Fancy Boxes in the UK – decorated boxes of chocolates – in the shape of a heart for Valentine's Day.

And the rest, as they say…is history!

The logo inventory

Creative logo design

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Creative logo design

What comes to mind when you think of creative logo design? Some amazing and flashy piece of branding that has the ’wow’ factor? The heart of a good logo and identity has to be centred on the purpose of the branding in the first place. Take the example of the recently redesigned Stanley logo.
The company was established in 1857 and is well-known for its hand tools, power tools, and stuff-making accessories for consumer and industrial use. In 2010, Stanley and Black & Decker merged to form Stanley Black & Decker and since then the Stanley brand has expanded into new industries like security, healthcare, infrastructure, and oilfield services. The brief for the logo and identity had to take all this into consideration. The result by Lippincott is not flashy, just well thought-through creative logo design.
As a result of research including conversations with Stanley employees and customers around the world, Lippincott, came up with a brand position that focused on the concept of ‘Performance in action.’ This brand essence reflected the excellence inherent in every Stanley product, employee, and business.
The stand-out feature of the new logo is the angular cut to the letter ‘N’ in the centre of the word. It is reminiscent of the notches of the surrounding shape in the old logo. This feature is like an arrow that symbolizes the action part of ‘Performance in action.’ Not surprisingly it also retains the yellow and black palette that is associated so strongly with the brand.
Well, has it got the ‘wow’ factor? Maybe not but it’s a great example of logo design that is certainly creative and will help the company with its expansion.

We at Studio Stanley (no connection!), based in Henley-on-Thames, designed a new logo and visual identity for Sam Harrop Associates. They are an employee engagement consultancy that helps businesses to engage their employees and influence the way they feel and behave. The three primary consultants and their associates are all experts in their fields and they target their resources to deliver successful business strategy to both blue-chip organisations and smaller companies.
The logo design takes its cue from the concept of targeting the consultants’ resources to help their clients. The visual identity uses a bold and confident colour palette to reflect their experience, together with clean and contemporary typography. No surprise then that the client said: “Studio Stanley created a strong, vibrant brand and website that clearly explains our business philosophy and services.” Jill Joslin, Consultant and Business Development Director.
Creative logo design can include the ‘wow’ factor but a concept that is grounded in a good understanding of both a business’s past, and its future aspirations, will help that business stay successful. And that after all is point of good design.

The artist's station

Walking on the Holy Mountain

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I recently travelled with seven of my friends to Mount Athos in Greece to walk on the Holy Mountain and visit some of the 20 monasteries there. It is an unusual place for several reasons, notably that residents on the peninsula must be males aged 18 and over, members of the Eastern Orthodox Church and must be either monks or workers. It has a long pedigree having been an Orthodox spiritual centre since 1054. I am a Christian of the Protestant variety and meeting monks and pilgrims from the Orthodox Church was an illuminating experience. As a result God got that bit bigger!

I love sketching while on holiday and have included two of my drawings. Sketching provides me with refreshing contrast to carrying out landscape commissions. The majority are in biro – I like this medium because of the texture it creates and the rich black it gives you. The drawings are of the Saint George Kafsokalivia Cloister (rather than a monastery).


The artist's station

Billy lives!

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The portrait of Billy is complete and shortly to find pride of place in his parents’ home. I enjoyed working on it immensely and, as promised in my previous blog, have included photos of the second and third sessions. These images are particularly useful as they help me to correct the portrait as I work on it; they give me a different way of seeing it. A portrait makes for a great present as it is unique and will continue to give pleasure for many decades to come.


The artist's station

Brother and sister in arms

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The wonderful pair above are guaranteed to give everyone the ‘ah’ factor, in particular their mum. This commission was produced for Mike, their grandad, as a present to his daughter.

Below is the latest commissioned pencil drawing of Billy after the first session. At the end each one I take a photograph so that the client can see the progress. The response was very positive and they noted that the eyes and nose were definitely his! At the moment one eye is bigger than the other so it will need tweaking. Look out for more blogs showing the progress of Billy.