Archive for July, 2013

There are a lot of brands out there who have built and are building a history that contains products that have a cult status and are remembered fondly. However, there are few that are as timeless and perennially popular as a Converse Chuck Norris All-Star, a classic Fred Perry polo, Arne Jacobson Ant Chair or Le Creuset pan. Brands have to constantly innovate, move forward and reflect a marketplace that thrives on newness and the opportunities that technological advances allow. They can have success with being playful with their archive and putting into a modern context. The car industry has become expert at these taking classics such as the VW Beetle, The Fiat 500 and phenomenally successful Mini, using the consumer love and iconic status and bringing them up to date.

We constantly see re-issues of classic telephones, radios and watches. They garner column inches but, rarely set the tills off to any great degree. When a re-release is combined with a modern approach to marketing, communities, social media, packaging and the designs are “played with” by good designers then the likes of Lomo and the Lomography community have shown over the past decade and a half, how to build a highly successful brand that to most, is about modern life.

DJ’s, bands and producers have known this for a long time. Remixes and re-edits are part of the armoury of most forms of dance music. It is doubtful if Nile Rogers and Chic could be playing every festival under the sun without the likes of Daft Punk bringing “disco” right up to date. I would like to think that we are doing the same with G Plan Vintage upholstery range. G Plan has a wonderful archive from the 50s, 60s and 70s but, if we had slavishly re-issued some choice pieces we would have excited a few purists and had an initial burst of success, then sales would have tailed off. With this in mind we set about delving into the G Plan archive and eking out the detail, the DNA, the proportions that excited collectors and mid century modern enthusiasts and that could create building blocks for us to build a contemporary use for this DNA.

Sales are proving that we are successful at achieving this. The brand history is allowing consumer recognition without large marketing spend and open doors to media coverage without accompanying and spend. Importantly, it is also appealing to a market that just wants a cool modern sofa for their new home. – Wayne Hemingway


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I am regularly asked by students and start ups for some pointers as to what are the most important elements for a successful business. I used to say hard work, perseverance, constant creative thinking. Now I add ‘generosity’.

Social media is rapidly changing the way that brands ‘behave’ and need to ‘behave’. Social media has allowed the public to question, unpick poorly conceived marketing strategies, take brands to task for dodgy service and poor public relations at a pace and depth that was impossible before the digital age. There is no longer the ability for brands to hide behind manipulative press departments.

All this partially explains why, you see brands relying less and less, on big budget telly advertising as their primary form of interaction with their customers. Narrative is the new Christmas blockbuster advert. Is this a permanent shift by the likes of Coca Cola? From spending vast sums on high production adverts where they tell us that they would like to ‘teach the world to sing’. Small, but with a massive impact, with the aid of a social media seeding, like the “Small World Machines” advert?

High-tech vending machines installed in two popular shopping malls in Lahore, Pakistan and New Delhi, India – two cities separated by only 325 miles, but seemingly worlds apart due to decades of political tension – invited consumers to put their differences aside and share a simple moment over a Coke.

The “Small World Machines” provided a live communications portal linking strangers in two nations divided by more than just borders, with the hope of provoking happiness and promoting cultural understanding around the world. Coke and Leo Burnett used first-of-its-kind 3D touchscreen technology to project a streaming video feed onto the vending machine screen while simultaneously filming through the unit to capture a live emotional exchange. People from both countries and various walks of life were encouraged to complete a friendly task together – wave, touch hands, draw a peace sign or dance – before sharing a Coca-Cola.

Clever and simple projects like this that allow Coca Cola to promote its “Happiness is sharing a Coke” marketing mantra by letting social media spread relatively inexpensive projects that speak for themselves. Projects that would have most likely been lost in the pre-social media world. They allow the public to see that brands can be a force for good and can be generous.

It’s not just brands that need to be generous. Recently, I took part in the Business Innovation for Growth conference hosted by Creative Lancashire at Lancaster University. It was a vibrant, lively event where the dominant vibe seemed to be about what these individual businesses’ roles were in society. It got me thinking back to what a business conference might have been like in the 1980s when we started out. Discussions would have centered around maximising profits, margins and ROCE (Return on capital employed). The delegates would have largely consisted of men who really cared about what level of company car they were driving.

I am sure that there are business conferences out there where this is still the case but, by the very fact that that the bastion of the old order, The Institute of Directors, has lost a third of its membership since 2006 (including yours truly) is a sign of a new modern, generous and socially minded new business world order.

As a design agency we are reaping the benefits of being generous with clients and potential clients. Sharing our ideas, suggesting directions and possible initiatives before getting the job in writing used to scare us. We seem to be winning new clients quicker than ever by being open and opening a discourse prior to contract.

Those looking for work should also try the generosity route. At HemingwayDesign we get inundated with CV’s and pdf’s of the applicant’s body of work. But, when we get something in our inboxes or in the post that is clearly tailored towards our work, product design to compliment one of our ranges or is an idea that can be of benefit to one of our housing or regeneration projects then our eyes are often opened and our ears prick up. The newest recruit to the HemingwayDesign team has arrived by this very route.

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