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Champions of Design 3 More observations on creativity for competitive advantage from jkr

Andy Knowles began his career marketing Heineken and Stella Artois at Whitbread before co-founding jkr. Now chairman, he’s as interested as ever in lively debate around what gets brands noticed and chosen. Silas Amos was a founder designer at jkr in 1990. He now focuses on ideas and creative strategy. The two are not always mutually exclusive. James Joice spent 10 years in advertising at M&C Saatchi before joining jkr in 2010. He spends his time establishing new partnerships with brands that believe in the power of design to drive growth. jones knowles ritchie are experts in design, guided by the principle that, above all else, the brand comes first.

We wish to express our thanks to the manufacturers of the products and services portrayed in this publication. Copyright pertaining to the images, trademarks and all other intellectual property represented is that of the legal owner whose moral rights are acknowledged. All rights in the text used in this publication are reserved exclusively to Jones Knowles Ritchie Limited, except as may otherwise have been acknowledged. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright owner. First published by Jones Knowles Ritchie in December 2013. jkr Brand First Books 30 Oval Road London NW1 7DE 2013

Champions of Design 3 More observations on creativity for competitive advantage from jkr

By Andy Knowles, Silas Amos & James Joice With additional copy by John Naughton

Introduction The technical definition of a brand is the ‘name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers’. But we all know that a brand is much more than that. Brands are more than just products or services people buy. Successful brands have soul, they have an intrinsic personality, they can even evoke a sensory feeling or emotion. Some brands are coveted, desired and strived for. Others are simply a part of your everyday life, something you rely on, like a trusted old friend. From Target to Tag Heuer, jkr takes a look at another 35 iconic brands across all levels and sectors that define what design can do for a brand. All of them have one thing in common, they show how design can deliver real commercial effectiveness and uniqueness. In the age of technology, multiple media platforms and multiple retail platforms, brands have to compete in more ways than ever. These 35 brands stand out by embracing their individuality, uniqueness and heritage. They are brands that celebrate the heart of what makes them what they are, rather than simply replicating others. They are brands that have an ownable and equitable uniqueness to them that nobody can take away. And most importantly, these brands all share a common root – an honest personal connection to their consumers. These unique differences are what encourage people to purchase one brand over the other, while often paying a premium for it. It could be an iconic packaging silhouette such as Kikkoman’s soy sauce bottle or Marc Jacobs Daisy fragrance. It could be a visually iconic emblem like Nike’s swoosh or Lacoste’s crocodile. It could be as simple as John Deere’s green. Or it could even be something more abstract, such as the unique use of typography across Kiehl’s packaging. No matter what the unique attribute is, these brands have used design to convey their individuality and have been phenomenally successful at it. It is unique for a design agency to promote work that isn’t their own, but jkr created this book as a way to recognise iconic brands and the lessons we can learn from them. Andrew Gibbs Founder & Editor in Chief The Dieline

Contents Kikkoman






Dean & DeLuca






Marc Jacobs Daisy






Henry Hoover






American Express




Lyle’s Golden Syrup


John Deere






Contents Fortnum & Mason




Pears soap


The Guardian


Bombay Sapphire


Fiat 500


The Economist


Christian Louboutin




Winsor & Newton






Bonne Maman


National Geographic 140

Agent Provocateur



TAG Heuer



Kikkoman Does the soy sauce taste better because of the satisfying way the bottle sits in your hand or because of its heritage, or just because it is actually better? Kikkoman doesn’t need to worry about this question, secure in the knowledge that it has been brewing the best soy sauce around for 300 years and what it does with simple ingredients seems to be better than anything its rivals can manage. As food is central to so many cultures and Kikkoman is central to so much food, it seems to have a guaranteed place at our table for some time to come.

Here is a design that combines a philosophical view with a rigorous process. The designer, Kenji Ekuan, saw the wreckage of Hiroshima and, ‘faced with nothingness’, decided to become a maker of things. The Kikkoman bottle is truly cross-cultural. Ekuan drew inspiration from the US culture that occupied post-war Japan, reflected in the streamlined curves; yet the bottle’s silhouette is true to the simplicity and elegance of the most traditional Japanese design. Ancestral aesthetics were re-expressed in modern materials – the glass is virtually unbreakable and the dripless spout (based on an inverted teapot) was highly innovative. One sees this same ‘old and new’ approach in the folklore origins of the brand mark which is rendered and applied with such modernist confidence. The imperial red cap contrasts with the bottle’s curves, yet the whole feels harmonious. This is design as poetry and good grammar. 8

It took years and more than 100 prototypes to achieve the right design. The result would be almost impossible to better. An everyday object that adds beauty to the tables it graces: a vessel that defines its category; something so ‘right’ that it sells in the hundreds of millions globally. This bottle is evidence that the most elegant solutions are the simplest. In its sculptural utility, it shows that the best packaging design is really great product design. SA


Timeline 1917 The Mogi and Takanashi families founded a company called Noda Shoyu Co. All-purpose soy sauce

1930 The Takasago soy sauce production plant was constructed just outside Osaka.

1957 Kikkoman International Inc. was established in the US, based in San Francisco, California. Salmon ad, 1998

1974 Kikkoman Shoyu Co. Ltd set up Kikkoman Restaurant Inc.

Flag ad, 2001

1990 Kikkoman bought the marketing rights to the Del Monte brand in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding the Philippines.

1996 In the Ojima Plant in Japan, the company began to produce shochu, a clear Japanese spirit. The Great Wave ad, 2008

2008 In June it introduced a fresh corporate brand and slogan ‘seasoning your life’.

Limited-edition bottle


Did you know? *Five of these contain a brew that is true. The other doesn’t.

2. Kikkoman has been run by the same family for 19 generations.

3. The Kikkoman soy sauce bottle is a symbol of prosperity in Japan and it is traditional for parents to give their children a bottle on their seventh birthday to wish them good fortune.

5. Kikkoman’s soy sauce takes six months to ferment and contains no artificial flavours and preservatives. Its ingredients are simply water, wheat, soybeans and salt.

6. The teardropdesign bottle with the dripless spout hasn’t changed in over 50 years. Since its debut in 1961 over 300 million of the bottles have been sold.

4. In 2012, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Lucy Walker made the documentary, Make Haste Slowly: The Kikkoman Creed.

*No such parent-child condiment-themed present-giving ritual exists in Japan making number three the story with the porky.

1. The name Kikkoman translates roughly as 10,000 turtle shells. The animals are seen as symbols of good luck in Japan as they were traditionally believed to live for 10,000 years.


Havaianas Havaianas is the story of a shoe that had to become a brand to survive. As Brazil grew rich in the late 80s, the country’s ubiquitous flip-flop came to be seen as an everyday, downmarket item and sales plummeted. The company responded by increasing the range and price of its shoes and embarked on a massive marketing campaign. It realigned Havaianas with the successful, aspirational, fashion-conscious elements of the country. Soon, the common footwear of the multitudes was being seen on runways and red carpets around the world. Expect them to be winners at the World Cup in Rio.

The January 2000 edition of Vogue featured Gisele Bündchen on its cover with the headline ‘What’s sexy now?’ As another of Brazil’s most successful exports, she represented a shift from 90s heroin chic to a healthier, curvier look. The ‘glamazonian’ reshaped the direction of mainstream fashion and gave Brazil new allure. It also provided the perfect backdrop for Havaianas’ global invasion. With the Brazilian flag in its design armoury, the brand forged a direct connection with its homeland triggering all of our positive associations with the country. In a pair of Havaianas, we can all walk in a little Brazilian sunshine. Generally, the brand uses design to provide just enough endorsement. Of course, you can add charms and Swarovski crystals when you ‘make your own Havaianas’ at Selfridges. But typically, the embossed word-mark balances understatement 12

with just enough prominence to be identified at a glance. It’s a subconscious thing, but if you can’t spot Havaianas on the strap you assume they came free with a magazine. In what was once a commodity market, Havaianas has leapt to a position of definitive article. It can’t be bettered, yet its relative affordability means it’s a truly democratic brand – comfortably straddling the retail expanse from Matalan to Harrods. The most successful brands stand for something bigger in people’s minds and Havaianas have come to symbolise the spirit of Brazil. With a World Cup and an Olympic Games to host, they still have a lot of ground to cover. JJ


Timeline 1962 The first pair of Havaianas were born.

Missoni limited-edition

1970 The famous slogan ‘Havaianas. The real ones.’ launched in response to imitation sandals appearing on the market.

1998 ZoukOut limited-edition

A new model, featuring a small Brazilian flag on the strap, launched for the World Cup.

2003 Havaianas became a regular feature at the Oscars, with exclusive pairs given to all nominees.

Kids skate

2006 The more delicate Havaianas Slims were introduced.

2012 Sass & bide

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the brand launched ‘Make your own Havaianas’ allowing fans to make personalised, one-of-a-kind sandals.

2013 Limited-edition ‘Where’s Wally?’ flip-flops released to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the series.

Ice violet mix


Did you know? Artwork by MEGAMUNDEN whilst at McFaulStudio. © McFaulStudio.

*Say ‘aloha’ to a good lie among the following.

2. Havaianas have long been seen as integral to Brazilian life, so much so that in the economic crisis which overtook the country in the 1980s, the government controlled their price alongside staples such as rice and pulses.

3. Last year, 184 million pairs of Havaianas were sold, equating to six pairs being sold every second. In total, three billion pairs have been sold.

4. It’s suggested that the company got the idea for introducing more colourful versions of Havaianas from a trend started by Brazilian surfers who liked to remove the straps from the shoes and replace them sole side up.

5. It was originally intended that The Dude – the character played by Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski – should wear Havaianas in the film, but just prior to shooting, he developed an infection in his big toe, necessitating a change of footwear.

6. As the leading brand in the sector, Havaianas were frequently copied. Company adverts warned of these ‘fajuta’ (fake) sandals and the word fajuta became so widely used that it was included in Brazilian Portuguese dictionaries.

*Five? Oh, it’s a fib. The Dude was always wearing jellies, man.

1. Havaianas means ‘Hawaiians’ in English. The name was chosen because in the early 60s Hawaii represented the dream destination for most holidaymakers.


Leon The concepts of healthy living and fast food seemed to be mutually exclusive until Leon burst onto the scene in 2003. Its founders ambitiously sought to marry the efficiency, safety and speed of chains like Burger King with the taste, nutrition and personal service of more upmarket restaurants. All within a budget that was more McDonald’s than Michelin. Its success has meant a high street haven for foodies on the go and a welcome change – in London at least – from the ubiquity of burger bars and chicken joints.

It’s quite revealing that the name Leon was chosen because it has no ready-made associations. It was an empty vessel that has been filled with a mélange of design; there’s a taste of pop art, a blend of warm Mediterranean colours and just a little sprinkling of the Monty Python surreal. The effect is compelling. It feels familiar but fresh. By offering some soul, it makes its competitors look somewhat sanitised and bland by comparison.


Thanks to Apple, IKEA, Dyson and others, we are all a bit more design-literate. We have a growing sensibility for how things look and feel. Leon has recognised that fact and taken the many opportunities to add richness and depth through design. The varied and vibrant décor does it in broad strokes; the language it chooses does it in finer point – ‘Porridge of the Gods’ and ‘Toast & Blossom Honey’ get the mouth watering and articulate the brand’s passion for its products. As the chain continues to expand, let’s hope that Leon continues to keep its design as fresh as its food. JJ Image courtesy of Curtis Cronn.

Leon is intriguing because it’s so difficult to place. Restaurants normally categorise themselves by provenance and use design to project their own interpretation of that cuisine. Leon, however, presents an eclectic mix of different styles and influences both in design and menu. It’s a lesson in how to appropriate assorted stuff and make it your own.


Timeline 2003 Henry Dimbleby, John Vincent and Allegra McEvedy founded Leon. Leon recipe book

2004 The company opened its first restaurant in Carnaby Street.

2005 Tray

Leon won Best Newcomer in the UK in the Observer Food Monthly awards.

2008 Gift card

The first Leon cookbook was published; the company won the RSPCA Good Business Award.

2009 McEvedy left to focus on TV work but retained an investment. The Leon Bond

2012 The chain opened its first airport branch at Heathrow in partnership with catering company HMS Host. It also issued the ‘Leon Bond’ to raise £1.5m.

Leon lunch box

2013 Leon launched an online shop selling branded items used in its restaurants.


Did you know? *One of these comes with extra lies to go.

2. Winning the Observer Food Monthly Best Newcomer award in 2005 led to an immediate 40% rise in revenue.

3. The company once stated that its ambition was to have 2,020 restaurants in the chain by the year 2020.

5. Co-founder Henry Dimbleby is the son of cookery writer Josceline Dimbleby and her ex-husband, TV presenter David Dimbleby.

6. Investors in Leon include the Pointless presenter, Alexander Armstrong and BBC sports presenter, Gabby Logan.

4. To mark the 10th anniversary of its foundation, the chain arranged for the Kings of Leon to perform a secret gig at the Carnaby Street restaurant where it all began.

*This sex isn’t on fire, but the pants certainly are. No such Kings of Leon secret gig ever took place making four a fast food farrago.

1. Co-founder Allegra McEvedy had worked at London’s River Café and Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Grill in New York before starting Leon.


Marc Jacobs Daisy It might sound simple, but in the crowded perfume market, Marc Jacobs Daisy made an immediate impact because of the unique design of its bottle. Where others have aimed for slightly gaudy gimmicks (Jennifer Lopez’s Glowing illuminates when in use) Daisy seemed a natural reflection of its creator’s playful sense of fun. Doubtless it wouldn’t have been a success had women not warmed to the scent itself, but the bottle played a vital part in making sure it made its mark.

Sometimes it helps to be in the right place at the right time. Daisy launched in 2007 – its cheery sensibility and affordable elegance is the perfect design for the downturn era. Perhaps it was a lucky bounce or maybe it did knowingly tap into ‘the zeitgeist’. Either way, it’s a tonic for the troops – as the song has it, ‘Forget your troubles, come on get happy.’ As a design it is an oxymoron: flamboyant yet reserved, playful yet credible. The exuberant cap of squidgy petals has the fun; the minimal design of the body delivers the gravitas. The daisy motif is a designer’s gift. It’s limitlessly reworkable in the myriad colours and finishes demanded of a major perfume which needs enough elasticity to stretch into many product variations. We talk of iconography that can easily flex through different media and versions as having ‘good legs’. Daisy’s design has the pins of a supermodel. 20

One sign of a great design is being able to remove the logo and still recognise it. That’s true of the bottle: you could identify it in the dark. But it’s not just the iconography, it’s the design’s spirit. Juergen Teller’s advertising photography equally captured the informal but stylish nature of the brand’s ‘world’. Even sans product it could only be for this brand. This is rigorous, coherent design expression for an apparently carefree product. SA


Timeline 2007 Marc Jacobs Daisy was launched in July and aimed to offer a ‘fresh and feminine’ fragrance. Daisy in Bloom

2008 Daisy Eau Parfum was released and stood as a richer, bolder Marc Jacobs Daisy scent.

2009 The Silver edition

The Marc Jacobs Daisy Blooms in Spring limited-edition bottle was added. Marc Jacobs Daisy also produced an Eau de Parfum silver limited-edition bottle.

2010 The Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau de Parfum Pop Art limited-edition bottle was rolled out. Daisy Eau So Fresh Sunshine

2011 The brand released a vibrant limited-edition bottle called the Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau de Parfum Hot Pink. Daisy in the Air

2012 The most recent limited-edition bottle was produced, known as Daisy Petite Flowers on the Go.

Daisy Hot Pink


Did you know?

Ad campaign by Juergen Teller.

*Don’t be thrown off the scent. One of these stories doesn’t smell right.

2. For his company’s 2006 Christmas party Jacobs wore a giant pigeon suit. Three years earlier he had appeared as a polar bear.

3. At the launch party for the Daisy fragrance all male guests were made to wear masks of Jean-Paul Belmondo with daisies in his hair, while female guests were given Sofia Coppola masks and a real daisy chain necklace.

5. For the launch of another of his perfumes, Marc Jacobs Bang, the designer was photographed nude except for a bottle of the scent to cover his modesty.

6. Both Marc Jacobs’ parents were agents at the William Morris Agency. His father, Steve represented Joan Rivers among others, but died at 32 from complications after surgery when his son was only six.

4. Jacobs designed all the luggage that featured in the Wes Anderson film, The Darjeeling Limited.

*The falsehood can now be unmasked. No such rigmarole took place at the Daisy launch party, making number three the ringer.

1. Marc Jacobs divides his time between New York City and Paris and has an English bull terrier in each city. His New York City dog is called Neville, while in Paris he has Daisy.


Smeg The Italian kitchen appliance manufacturer made its breakthrough in the UK in the mid-90s with its aptly titled FAB fridge. Its other products have since become similarly desirable items. Their rising popularity seems to have coincided with the kitchen’s transition from a room for food preparation to the place where the family prefers to hang out. Smeg’s large dimensions and retro aesthetic chime with our desire to make the place less sterile and more homely.

An Italian brand that many of us assume is Scandinavian, which took off with fridges evoking a sense of retro Americana. If the design is good enough, we are happy to be a bit fuzzy on the details of provenance. It’s pretty simple isn’t it? The ‘classic’ FAB Smeg became the fridge to buy because the design had emotional appeal. Perhaps its generous curves (backed up with robust engineering) appealed to women making the in-store purchase decisions. Having seen a Smeg, it’s hard to go back to a boring cube designed along more patriarchal lines. And they came in many colours beyond white because, well, why be so boring? For us Brits, it was the first fridge that bothered to have charisma. After that, it was all about keeping up with the Joneses…


The FAB caught the imagination of a generation who wanted to trade up to something bigger and chunkier than was typical in the 90s. The FAB design was bigger, better, cooler. ‘Why settle for less?’ they seemed to ask. In class-conscious Britain, they came to stand for ‘smug’ as much as anything. You will notice I am not dwelling on the brand’s wider range; my instinct is that we Brits only trust a brand to have one signature product with personality. Too many funky lines would stretch our sense of credibility. But what a product the FAB is. Before it arrived, one would have struggled to name a ‘nice fridge’ – no longer. SA


Timeline 1948 Logo

Smalterie Metallurgiche Emiliane Guastalla (Smeg) was established as an enamelling works.

1956 The first Smeg cooker, the Elisabeth, was launched. Fueless gas fire

1970s The company branched out into hobs and ovens.

1996 FAB fridges collection

It introduced the FAB fridge.

2003 Architect Guido Canali designed Smeg’s modernist headquarters in Guastalla.


2007 The Guastalla HQ won the Modena Domotics competition for sustainability.

2009 Smeg denim


Designer Marc Newson’s oven and hob range won the Wallpaper* Best Domestic Appliance award.

Did you know? *One of the following seems somewhat half-baked.

2. The Smeg FAB fridge was first seen on British TV in Edina’s kitchen in Absolutely Fabulous.

3. The FAB fridge featured prominently in The Great British Bake-Off. Perhaps a little too prominently as the producers were warned that they had ignored editorial guidelines.

4. Smeg have collaborated with Barcelona FC, Corinthians of Brazil, the Wallabies and All Blacks rugby union teams and Veuve Clicquot among others to produce limitededitions of their FAB fridge.

5. Wallace & Gromit have a Smeg fridge in their kitchen in the movie, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, although the lettering on the front of the appliance has been modified to read Smug. When it’s opened, the audience sees an army of rabbits packed into the fridge door.

6. In the summer of 2013 Tony PhoenixMorrison, aka Tony the Fridge, ran 40 half-marathons on 40 consecutive days from John O’Groats to Land’s End carrying a Smeg fridge on his back to raise funds for cancer charity, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

*No Smeg fridge was seen in Edina’s kitchen making number two Absolutely Fibulous.

1. The Smeg 500 fuses two classics of Italian style. It’s a Smeg chest fridge made from the front of a Fiat 500 car and is available in the green, white and red of the Italian tricolour at a cost of approximately £5,000.


Kiehl’s Its very distinctive DNA has enabled Kiehl’s to carve out a strong identity in a crowded marketplace and become an institution within both the beauty business and New York City itself– although it’s very much an international and online operation these days. Its quirkiness would count for nothing however, if its customers didn’t love and trust its products. They might not be as ambitious as in days gone by when it peddled substances like ‘Attraction Powder’, but they definitely deliver all the same.

Kiehl’s has mixed together a powerful design potion all of its own, with an ingredient that’s normally used only sparingly in packaging: the written word. The visual impact and persuasion of Kiehl’s is delivered by content. Whether we read it or not (and I suspect most of us don’t), the very fact that the brand has so much to say about its products inspires confidence. The language itself is straightforward and medicinal in tone. That, of course, is no coincidence. Kiehl’s has genuine apothecary roots of which it’s rightfully proud. Its stores, with lab-coated staff, model skeletons and bell jars, have all the accoutrements of an old-fashioned pharmacy. On the surface, this could all feel a little contrived and predictable for a cosmetics brand, but Kiehl’s projects an eccentricity that couldn’t have been created artificially. Old motorbikes, family photos 28

and other artefacts also furnish its stores, giving the impression of a brand that has evolved to reflect the personality of its forefathers. This feeling is reinforced by a naivety in the packaging. Across the products, fonts vary, the Kiehl’s logo is used inconsistently and there is just enough disorder to suggest that the brand is led by the pharmacist and not the marketing department. In 2000, when L’Oréal bought Kiehl’s, it pledged to help build its presence with the promise that it would leave the brand to be ‘true to itself ’. It rightly recognises that there is no substitute for authenticity. JJ


Timeline 1851 John Kiehl started working at the Brunswick Apotheke, a forerunner of the original Kiehl’s Pharmacy. Thanks Giving packaging

1894 Kiehl bought the Brunswick Apotheke and continued to prescribe skin and hair remedies.

Limited-edition Desert Run set

1910 Kiehl employed Irving A Morse as an apprentice. They worked together to prepare countless formulas from exotic plants.

1960s Kiehl’s product illustrations, Kate Moross

The Kiehl ‘try before you buy’ philosophy was introduced and acted as a successful alternative to advertising campaigns.

1970s Rainforest Alliance packaging

The brand’s original Ultra Facial Moisturiser was introduced. It remains one of the company’s most popular products.

1990s Several products were made to help raise funds for AIDS charities. Recycle & Be Rewarded scheme

2008 Kiehl’s made its first biodegradable product, with profits going to support global environmental initiatives.


Did you know? *One of these stories could put the sham into shampoo.

2. Kiehl’s favoured promotional tool is sampling. To this end, it gives away approximately 40 million free samples every year.

3. Irving Morse’s son, Aaron, rose to prominence during the 1950s and did much to build up the company, as well as developing its unique method of doing business. A staunch patriot, on Veterans’ Day he would lead impromptu marches of flag-waving members of staff around the East Village. Always willing to engage in conversation on any topic with customers, for a period of time he also kept a chimpanzee in the New York store.

4. Jami Morse took the company over from her father Aaron. Under her leadership, Kiehl’s produced a range of horse shampoos because her daughter, Nicoletta wanted them.

5. In 1972, Richard Nixon threatened to close Kiehl’s down after he suffered a violent allergic reaction to one of its skincare products.

6. A wide variety of potions were sold at the original apothecary business founded by John Kiehl in 1851. These included baldness cures as well as products such as ‘Life Everlasting’, ‘Purity Oil’ and ‘Money Drawing Oil’.

*Kiehl’s never brought Tricky Dicky out in a rash, making number five the fiction here.

1. In 2003, New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg declared that 12th November would be ‘Kiehl’s Day’ in recognition of its contribution to the city’s economic development.


American Express American Express is a colour-coded symbol of achievement which still counts as a status symbol. (Although it’s considered bad form to aspire, as Timbaland does in The Way I Are, to having a red AmEx.) Having weathered more than a few financial crises down the years, it also symbolises security as well as status, while the mystique which surrounds its fabled Centurion card lends it an air of exoticism sadly lacking in most credit cards.

On every American Express card, just beneath the long number, it says: ‘Member since…’ It’s a small but significant detail. It tells us that AmEx is not just a card, it’s a club. And an exclusive one at that. As with most clubs, there is a clear hierarchy and an ambition for members to progress. The design broadcasts this to amplify the effect, knowing full well that to this audience more than most, status matters. Few things project wealth and success as clearly as a black AmEx; a kudos the brand carefully protects through its ‘by invitation only’ policy. American Express applies design with purity and purpose. It reflects the visual language of bank notes: a central, important historical figure in the centurion; ornate borders to frame and elevate the content; intricate detail and repeat pattern throughout to deter fraud. While the colours borrow established monetary codes – 32

green (from the American ‘greenback’), gold and platinum. Black creates a tier of its own; made from titanium, this card literally carries more weight than others. Other details, such as the four-digit security code on the front of the card, as opposed to the standard three numbers on the back, distance AmEx from the rest. Of course, this also applies to the higher commission it charges, which is why it is not universally accepted. Perhaps the ultimate proof of the brand’s strength is that an establishment can stand a little taller if it can say: ‘We take American Express.’ JJ


Timeline 1850 American Express was formed. Original AmEx, 1959

1891 The company launched its Travellers Cheques.

1958 American Express launched its first card, which was purple and made of paper. Advertising, 2000

1959 It introduced a plastic card in the US – an industry first.

Gold card

1975 David Ogilvy coined the brand’s ‘Don’t leave home without it’ line.

1999 Advertising, 2009

It made the ultra-exclusive black Centurion card available to customers in the UK.

2000 Gift card


The co-branded British Airways AmEx card was launched.

Did you know? *There’s a financial irregularity among the following.

2. All AmEx cards start with the number 34 or 37.

3. Not The Nine O’clock News famously parodied the company’s ubiquitous advertising campaign of the late 70s. Pointing out that the cards were not accepted by many major travel outlets, the sketch finished with the slogan: ‘Try travelling by rail or ship with American Express and see how far you get.’

4. In the 1989 movie, Batman, Michael Keaton (while in the guise of Batman, rather than Bruce Wayne), pulls out a black credit card complete with Bat logo and declares, ‘Never leave the cave without it.’

6. Patrick Bateman, the lead character in Bret Easton Ellis’ vicious satire of corporate greed, American Psycho, constantly references the Platinum American Express card, which delineates haves from have-nots in his world of high finance.

5. In 1984 AmEx’s investment operation bought Lehman Brothers, the bank which subsequently went bust in 2008. AmEx’s involvement with the company lasted a decade. *Number four is a caped canard. But the line was said by George Clooney in the risible 1997 version, Batman and Robin.

1. The American Express Centurion card (the black card) is made of titanium. The company’s most exclusive card is invitation-only and involves a one-off ‘initiation’ fee of $5,000, an annual fee of $2,500 and comes with the expectation that the owner will spend a minimum of $250,000 on it annually. According to the American Express promotional material, owners of the black card are ‘high net worth individuals… [who] live vicariously through themselves.’


Lyle’s Golden Syrup Comfort food doesn’t get much more comforting than Lyle’s Golden Syrup. Not only is it a staple of the Shrove Tuesday table, but it’s central to so many indulgent baking endeavours and a quintessential taste of childhood. Of course, it helps that the justly famous green and gold tin is the same today as it always was, reinforcing that nostalgic link with all of our yesterdays.

‘So, we are going to use a lion to represent the brand,’ the agency explain to the client, who nods in approval. ‘We believe the lion should be lying down. Dead in fact, and surrounded by a swarm of bees.’ It’s a pretty bizarre image when you think about it. Perhaps that’s the point: we don’t really think about it. Design isn’t something we typically scrutinise, especially not while grocery shopping. We don’t deconstruct individual elements to look for meaning. Instead, we see design more holistically – as a symbol that triggers associations that are built over time. In the case of Lyle’s, we feel comfort and reassurance from our familiarity and happy experiences with the brand. That’s not to say that the ingredients of a brand’s design should not carry individual meaning; it’s the individual components that signify a brand’s authenticity. In this case, they represent the important role that religion played in Abram Lyle’s life. 36

The image references an Old Testament story, in which Samson killed a lion, then saw that bees had formed a honeycomb in its carcass. The design includes Samson’s words, ‘Out of the strong came forth sweetness.’ While we might not have taken the time to understand the significance of the lion, we assumed it meant something and that was enough. So, perhaps the parable of Lyle’s syrup is that design is never more sticky than when it beguiles with the metaphorical instead of the literal. As Picasso said: ‘The artist rules the audience by involving them in the creation.’ JJ


Timeline 1881 Abram Lyle, with the help of his three sons, set about constructing a sugar refinery on the banks of the River Thames. Lyle’s Golden Syrup can, 1950s

1883 A golden syrup was produced from the sugarrefining process. Lyle began selling ‘Goldie’ to employees and local customers.

1904 Vintage sign

The ‘lion and bees’ tin was registered as a trademark.

1914 During World War I, cardboard was used instead of tin as a container. Happy Birthday Lyle’s can

1921 Henry Tate & Sons and Abram Lyle & Sons merged to form a single company, Tate & Lyle.

1950 Cookbook

Lyle’s Black Treacle Syrup was launched.

2010 Lyle’s Golden Syrup cake


Tate & Lyle sold its golden syrup business to American Sugar Refining who now have a perpetual worldwide licence to produce and sell Lyle’s Golden Syrup.

Did you know? *Be the golden retriever of truth and find the lie among the following.

2. One million tins of the syrup are produced every month.

3. In the expenses scandal of 2009, one of the items claimed by Tory MP Douglas Carswell was a tin of Lyle’s Golden Syrup. Over the course of a year the MP for Harwich claimed £2,960.21 for food.

4. The Lyle’s Golden Syrup tin is recognised by 85% of British people. To mark its 125th anniversary in 2008, the syrup was available in a golden tin as well as the traditional green throughout the year.

6. A mixture of syrup with red food dye is used by make-up artists to create a realistic source of fake blood in films.

5. Male gymnasts often use Lyle’s Golden Syrup (mixed with talc) for a better grip on the parallel bars.

*I don’t really want to stop the show, but I thought you might like to know that no tin of Golden Syrup can be seen on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, so number one is an untruth.

1. On the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band montage, designed by Peter Blake and Jann Howarth, the figure of Shirley Temple is holding a tin of Lyle’s Golden Syrup.


H&M How did a Swedish man with no interest in clothes create a retail behemoth that’s become synonymous with cutting edge fashion at bargain-basement prices? The late Erling Persson might not have known much about fashion, but he understood selling and had a shrewd idea of what his customers wanted. H&M enables consumers to enjoy ‘disposable chic’ and hook-ups with a wide range of designers at rock-bottom prices, with the added bonus that many green boxes are ticked along the way.

H&M – a champion of design? By offering wellmade, fashionable clothes at affordable prices, it certainly qualifies. In being so accessible, it raises the everyday aesthetic standards of the everyday person. Collaborations with ‘name’ designers raise our general appreciation of creative design. Good design should be for all, not just those with deep pockets. There is another view that would cast it as emblematic of bad, rather than good, design. This perspective would argue that ‘fast fashion’ is disposable and consequently, unsustainable and short-sighted. Increasingly design leaders tell us that we should buy less, that is better made, to last longer. Which perspective do you subscribe to? Are they mutually exclusive? Great design always has a moral dimension and morality is a matter of personal view. If there is an issue with fast fashion, it’s one for us as a society not a single 40

brand to resolve. H&M’s annual sustainability report demonstrates that it’s certainly trying in many ways. Our criteria for selecting Champions of Design is broadly ‘brands where design has played a crucial role in business success’. It’s inarguable that H&M gives people what they want, over and over again. It puts useful and even beautiful garments in the wardrobes of millions. It has remained fresh and appealing for decades. And while hemlines might change with the season, the brand has maintained a remarkably consistent visual persona, transcending fashion by not following it too hungrily. In the art of harnessing design to drive success, it is indeed a true champion. SA


Timeline 1947 Original H&M store opened in Västerås, Sweden.

Karl Lagerfeld for H&M

1964 The first non-Swedish store opened in Norway.

1990s Stores opened in Austria, Belgium, Finland, France and the Netherlands. Lavin for H&M

2000 The first US store opened on Fifth Avenue in New York.

2004 Sonia Rykiel for H&M

Versace for H&M

Comme des Garçon for H&M


The company launched its first designer collaboration with Karl Lagerfeld. H&M have subsequently collaborated with the likes of Stella McCartney, Madonna and Jimmy Choo.

2009 H&M & UNICEF launched the ‘All for Children’ project; a five year initiative focused on supporting those from vulnerable families working in cotton fields.

2013 H&M launched its online shopping site in the US.

Did you know? *There’s a 100% discount on the truth in one of the following.

2. At the last count H&M has 2,900 stores in 49 countries.

3. Erling Persson, who died in 2002, passed control of the company to his son, Stefan in 1982. Stefan Persson has an estimated personal wealth of $28bn, is said to be the 12th richest man in the world and among many holdings, owns the entire village of Linkenholt in Hampshire for which it is estimated he paid in the region of £25m.

4. H&M stands for Hennes and Mauritz, but the company shortened its name in order to aid worldwide brand recognition.

5. Although the store was named as the biggest user of organic cotton in both 2010 and 2011, an independent lab testing in 2010 found that 30% of the cotton sampled contained genetically modified material.

6. In 2003, H&M released a line of clothing inspired by the wardrobes worn by the elf characters in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This included a white dress based on Galadriel’s gown bearing the words, ‘Quenuvalye i lamber Eldareva?’ (translation: ‘Thou canst speak the language of the elves?’) embroidered around the hem.

*The store has done movie tie-ins for films such as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but elfish impersonators they are not. Six is a fib.

1. Swede, Erling Persson founded the company in 1947 after being inspired by a trip to New York where he saw companies like Macy’s and Barney’s selling large volumes of clothing at low prices. Previously a novelty salesman, he opened his first clothes store in the small town of Västerås, just north of Stockholm.


Nike Nike has used some memorable copy lines over the course of its existence, most famously ‘Just do it’ but also, ‘There is no finish line’ and ‘Yesterday you said tomorrow’. But in all that time it’s only used one logo. The Nike swoosh existed before Nike and has proved instantly recognisable across the globe while carrying symbolic, if fortuitous, links to Greek mythology and simultaneously carrying all the company’s positive, lifeaffirming, sporting symbolism. Quite an achievement for what on one level could just be seen as a simple tick.

Nike demonstrates that in design, it’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you to do with it. It’s difficult to separate the stature that the logo now commands in our minds and objectively appraise Carolyn Davidson’s original design. If we try however, the $35 she was paid for it in 1971 could appear generous. It has been described as a ‘distorted tick’, a ‘winking eye’ and even a ‘swinging hammock’. Phil Knight’s reaction was ambivalent to say the least, describing it as ‘the least awful’ of the options he was presented. It mattered not, for he and Bill Bowerman had big ambitions for the simple sketch. Perhaps its name reveals a clue to the intent, ‘swoosh’ is so much more dynamic than ‘tick’. As an agency, we advocate the power of autograms – symbols with no inherent meaning that come to represent something specific in our mind (take the no


entry sign as a classic example). They are empty vessels that can be filled with meaning all of their own. From something slightly ambiguous, the swoosh has been stuffed with the most aspirational sporting associations – skill, determination, courage and above all else, success. Advertising and endorsement have both been central to this. Wieden+Kennedy’s work has been so consistently strong that we all have our own favourite Nike ad. In parallel, the swoosh has been on the field of play in the most memorable sporting moments – it seems that our heroes wear the brand with a little more pride than others. So much more than a logo, it now symbolises an entire state of mind. JJ


Timeline 1964 The company was founded as Blue Ribbon Sports by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. Original logo design, 1971

1971 Officially became known as Nike. (The goddess of victory according to Greek mythology.)

Vintage ad

1974 The swoosh, designed by Carolyn Davidson in 1971, was registered as a trademark.

1988 Wieden+Kennedy coined Nike’s famous ‘Just do it’ slogan. Nike T-shirt

1990 The company moved into its World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.

2003 Nike Town

For the second time, Nike was named Advertiser of the Year at the Cannes Advertising Festival.

2012 Advertising, 2011


Nike’s Jogger ad ranked number 2 in Adweek’s Best Commercials of the year. Despite the brand’s unofficial status in the London Olympics, it became synonymous with the Games.

Did you know?

Image courtesy of Kliment Kostadinov Kalchev.

*One of these facts fails to tick the box of truth.

2. In 1997 Nike began a three-year sponsorship deal with the Mir space station. This involved all of the crew of the station wearing Nike sneakers and the swoosh being painted on two of the station’s panels.

3. Nike’s most dedicated employees are known as ‘Ekins’ (Nike spelled backwards). Most of them have the Nike swoosh logo – sometimes in reverse – tattooed on some part of their body.

4. The Nike swoosh is extremely similar to the logo used on Newport cigarette packets. This brand of menthol cigarettes was widely available in the US at the time the Nike logo was designed, but no copyright infringement case has ever been launched by Newport’s parent company, Lorillard Tobacco.

5. Davidson charged $2 per hour, submitting a bill for $35. Knight later compensated her with a golden ring in the shape of the swoosh with an inlaid diamond and 500 shares of Nike stock which she never sold. They are now worth approximately $500,000.

6. Knight’s reaction to the logo was lukewarm. He reportedly said, ‘I don’t love it, but it will grow on me.’

*Number two is a Mir fantasy. There was no Nike sponsorship of the space station.

1. The Nike logo, aka the swoosh, was designed by Carolyn Davidson in 1971 when she was a graphic design student at Portland State University. She was asked to come up with some designs by future Nike CEO, Phil Knight, who was then teaching an accountancy class and needed a logo for some running shoes that he and his coach, Bill Bowerman were about to sell through their company, Blue Ribbon Sports.


Dean & DeLuca With an experience that’s always been equal parts stylish, inviting and expensive, Joel B Dean & Giorgio DeLuca introduced New York to the best food and kitchenware in the world. A large, airy store where people had time to browse – as well as be seen by others – Dean & DeLuca was a novelty New Yorkers loved and were willing to pay a premium for. Despite expansion, the company struggled to make a profit until outside capital and business acumen were introduced. Nevertheless, being first to introduce the US to everything from sundried tomatoes to black truffle cream, Dean & DeLuca has a status that money can’t buy.

Britain may be famed as the nation of shopkeepers, but it’s in America that some of the very finest examples of retail therapy are to be found. In stark contrast to the halogen lights and primary colours of most stateside chains, both metaphorically and literally, Dean & DeLuca is an island of good taste. Its eclectic mix of indulgent products presented in weighty jars, cartons and tins adorned with achingly elegant labels cannot fail to delight the eye and prise open the purse. The risk with the premium pricing and naked elitism practiced at the food halls of Harrods, Fortnum’s and Harvey Nic’s is that the packaging too often slips into gift shop vernacular. In contrast, the carefully edited brands and the clean, fresh graphics of Dean & DeLuca’s own-label express a humility and respect for the customer that 48

anchors its relevance to everyday life. Like M&S’s Simply Food, although the experience is a delight, as an affluent urbanite it’s almost impossible to survive without a daily visit to Dean & DeLuca. This thoughtful approach influences every aspect of the design – from the cathedral-like environments, the restrained graphics and the respectful service. Reminding us of the old aphorism that simplicity is sophistication, no one rewards easy pleasure so much as the American people and few make it so easy to feel happy and optimistic as Dean & DeLuca. AK


Timeline 1977 First Dean & DeLuca store opened in SoHo, New York. Storefront

1988 New flag ship store opened at the corner of Broadway and Prince Street.

1993 Spice collection

Dean & DeLuca espresso bars sprung up around Manhattan.

1997 The company celebrated its 20th birthday.

The Dean & DeLuca Cookbook

2004 Joel Dean, an original founder of Dean & DeLuca, passed away aged 73.

2009 Maple syrup collection

Flagship store opened in Kuwait City.

2013 Dean & DeLuca opened its first store in Hawaii in The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach. Coffee mug


Did you know?

Image courtesy of CADA Design Group Ltd.

*There’s fakery in the bakery. One of these is a lightly roasted canard.

2. Quintessential New Yorkers, Steely Dan alluded to the store in ‘Janie Runaway’ from the album Two Against Nature: ‘Let’s grab some takeout from Dean & DeLuca/A hearty gulping wine/You be the showgirl and I’ll be Sinatra/Way back in 59.’

3. Dean said of DeLuca: ‘We were always eating and talking and complaining about other people’s cooking.’

4. Journalist Pilar Guzman described the flagship New York store as, ‘The Vatican of Vichyssoise, the Pantheon of Porcini, the Alhambra of Arugula.’

5. The producers of Brewster’s Millions where Richard Pryor has to waste $30m in three days, planned a scene in Dean & DeLuca’s, but the owners refused fearing negative publicity.

6. The store has never struggled for references in popular culture. American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman namechecks its Italian seasoning salt. While in the movie, The Devil Wears Prada, Nate (Adrian Grenier) visits the store and later remarks, ‘Man, they charge like five dollars a strawberry there.’

*An arugula awakening awaits anyone who believes the fib at five featuring Brewster’s Millions.

1. Giorgio DeLuca was strongly influenced by long conversations he had with his friend and mentor, Joel B Dean who lived in the same Greenwich Village brownstone as him. As a result, DeLuca gave up his job as a history teacher and in 1973 opened up a cheese shop on Prince Street, SoHo. In time, Dean gave up his job as a business manager at the publisher’s Simon & Schuster and in 1977 the pair opened a store together opposite DeLuca’s original shop.


Gitanes For a generation of nicotine-addicted English Francophiles, the Gitanes sans filtre cigarette will always be the epitome of cool; as smooth in image as it is rough on the throat. A large part of the attraction has always been the enigmatic figure of a gypsy dancer wreathed in smoke on the distinctive blue packet. Although it might also have had something to do with the plethora of French film stars pictured with them, not least a young Brigitte Bardot reclining in a Breton jersey with one dangling seductively from her fingers.

Gitanes is a great example of a design that can be called ‘quintessential’; it’s quintessentially French, with a particular cool allure and style all of its own. For those who smoke them (or pose with them), the design is a statement that says one likes life unfiltered, jazz-scored and a little bit Left Bank. No wonder Bowie was a famous fan and Paul Weller posed on the cover of The Face slipping a pack into his jacket pocket. Like all really powerful brands, it is a signpost for values we ascribe to it and which it in turn inspires. Every individual element of the pack has a particular Gallic flavour. The bold slanting typography. The moody illustration of the Gypsy looks like a classic poster image, in the manner of Cassandra. The thick cigarettes and square shape of the box nod to a ‘have to be different’ Frenchness. None of these alone would make for an ‘iconic’ pack, but in their beautiful combination they look, well, just right. It’s a very feminine design, holding a pretty masculine ‘hardcore’ product. 52

As a design lesson, perhaps one might say that a brand can ‘own’ something as generic as colour; the particular blue, with its light and shade, can only be Gitanes. I believe Luc Besson used it as inspiration for the design of a room in one of his films. That’s testament to a design that evokes a spirit, rather than merely proclaims a brand, which is arguably a more powerful achievement than being simply distinctive. It’s just a shame they don’t taste as good as they look. SA


Timeline 1910 The Gitanes cigarette brand was born.

1927 Cigarettes de la Régie Française, 1930s

Maurice Giot was the first famous designer to create imagery for Gitanes cigarette packets. He introduced an art deco-style pack design.

1943 Molusson introduced the ‘Gitanes Gypsy’ to its pack design. Print by Dransy, 1931

1947 Max Ponty developed the Gypsy silhouette, adding a wisp of smoke to the design. This image is still recognisable on Gitanes packs. Print by Raymond Savignac, 1954

1986 Gitanes Blondes cigarettes were introduced in France.

1990s Print by Herve Morvan, 1961

Awareness of the brand was heightened by its sponsorship of motorsport events such as Formula One and the Dakar rally.

2008 Print by Villemot, 1980


UK FTSE company Imperial Tobacco added Gitanes and Gauloises to its portfolio through the acquisition of manufacturer Altadis, making it the world’s fourth-biggest cigarette business.

Did you know? *Five of these are the unfiltered truth. One isn’t.

2. Former Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist Slash has a tattoo of the Gitanes dancer on his back.

3. Gitanes stopped production in France in 2005 moving from its base in Lille to Alicante in Spain. The move reflected an increase in French duty and the declining popularity of ‘brunes’ cigarettes made of dark tobacco in favour of the lighter ‘blondes’ with lower tar content.

4. When the actor and musician Serge Gainsbourgh died in 1991, admirers left tributes of bottles of whisky and Pastis along with packets of Gitanes outside his house on the Rue de Verneuil in Paris. 5. John Lennon was said to have smoked Gitanes in an attempt to make his voice deeper.

6. Gitanes enjoyed some unusual product placement in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds when the actress Melanie Laurent (as Shosanna Dreyfus) is seen smoking Gitanes Caporals. In most Tarantino films the director only uses his fictional brand of cigarettes, Red Apple, but both types were used in this film.

*Clouseau and Gitanes should have been the perfect match, but alas no, numéro une is pure fiction.

1. Peter Sellers was meant to smoke Gitanes when playing Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films, but he found the smell too irritating and ditched the cigarettes completely after A Shot In The Dark.


Google The might of Google is perhaps best understood by the relative irrelevance of its erstwhile competitors. Companies like AOL, Alta Vista or even Ask Jeeves once threatened market dominance only to be swept aside by Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s brainchild. Its dominant position at the heart of our web browsing has come with a sacrifice of personal privacy, but for now we seem happy with the deal and Google’s irresistible rise looks set to continue.

If the ultimate testament to success is when a brand moves from noun to verb, Google is a world champion. Google didn’t pioneer search, but it has come to dominate it by design. Its bold new algorithm certainly improved the accuracy of retrieval, but look again at the barrage of information on the landing pages of its then-rivals, and one appreciates that Google’s beauty was actually its brutal pursuit of simplicity – a philosophy the company continues to pursue. The more traditional aspects of its design also play their part, of course. The Google name is wonderfully sticky, while its colourful, underdesigned logotype gets gloriously embellished every now and again, helping to project the ‘do no evil’ ethos of a happy collective of freethinking designers, changing the world from a garage. This is a spirit they carry through to the design 56

of their offices and the titles of their staff. They even have a ‘director of culture’, for chrissake. Charisma is an elusive, ephemeral magnetism. By constantly reinventing itself to make our lives easier, Google possesses it in spades. It’s the magic that cements our loyal affection, even though the student start-up has long since become one of the world’s biggest and most valuable corporations. Price, quality, convenience – paper, scissors, stone – each a powerful driver of value, but Google teaches us that in technology markets, simplicity is best of all. AK


Timeline 1998 Mr Men doodle

Google was founded by Stanford University students Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

2001 Carnival doodle

Image Search was created providing access to 250 million images.

2003 Van Gogh’s birthday doodle

Google Grants launched – an in-kind advertising programme for non-profit organisations.

2006 Google purchased YouTube. Labor day doodle

2007 Street View made its debuts in five US cities.

Happy New Year doodle

2010 The first-ever playable doodle was released to celebrate PAC-MAN’s 30th birthday.

2013 London Underground’s 150th birthday doodle


Prototypes of Google Glass, the wearable computer eyewear, were released to testers. The smart eyewear is set to be available to the general public in 2014.

Did you know?

Mark Twain 176th birthday Google doodle, 2011.

*Even Google couldn’t find truth in one of the following.

2. In 2000, MentalPlex was launched – a project which will enable Google to read your mind as you visualise search results.

3. In its research stage, Google was known as BackRub, a reference to the backlink technology it employed to regulate site importance. Google itself is a misspelling of Googol, the mathematical term used for 1 followed by 100 zeros.

4. When Google launched its Initial Public Offering in August 2004, it still managed to insert some subtle geek humour into the otherwise serious financial process. It claimed in a press release that it was hopeful of raising $2,718,281,828, without mentioning that the figure represents the first 10 digits of the mathematical constant e.

5. In 1999, the CEO of Excite, one of the original internet portals, had the chance to buy Google for $750,000 but declined the offer. The company’s valuation recently passed $300bn.

6. New employees (Nooglers) used to wear a brightly coloured hat with a spinner on top. These days, they’re given a yellow smiley balloon and nameplate.

*Number two is far from true. MentalPlex was a Google April Fool and made its debut in 2000, since when the company has repeated the practice every year.

1. Google is at the forefront of research into driverless cars. In 2012 it posted a video on YouTube (which it now owns) showing the 95% blind Steve Mahan making a journey in a self-driving Toyota Prius to his local Taco Bell and dry cleaners. The company’s first driverless car crash occurred in 2011, but Google insists the car was being driven manually at the time.


Henry Hoover Another West Country-based vacuum cleaner company (which shifted most of its production to Malaysia some years ago) earns more of the plaudits and garners more press. But Numatic, the company behind the permanently cheerful, bowler-hatted cleaner that is Henry, has built its reputation on no-nonsense functionality allied to durability and longevity. There are an estimated eight million-plus Henrys still putting in a regular shift. It’s a welcome English engineering success story, but it’s curious to think that it’s also one that might never have happened but for the addition of an almost absent-minded doodle.

If you’ve ever worked for or as a builder in the UK, then the chances are you have made use of a Henry. You will know that this bad boy leaves Dyson in the dust when it comes to slamming a vacuum around a floor covered in rubble and nails. You don’t treat Henry with kid gloves almost to the point of abuse. You come to love and respect its capacity to take punishment and keep on ticking. So, this is doubtless a champion of robust fit-forpurpose engineering design. But it also offers a lesson in counter-intuitive branding. If one looks at the core users and the product offer, then brings in a ‘semiotically appropriate’ design, it might have been called ‘the mule’. Or possibly have looked like a powerful piece of kit. A few ‘turbo’ design flourishes perhaps. Something a real man would feel happy wielding. Think Caterpillar or DeWalt.


Instead, it’s as cute as a button. Super easy to find on-site. And as loveable as the new tea boy (don’t take that the wrong way). This little chap is part of the team, ‘Oi, where’s the ‘enry?’ Visually, this is ‘the little engine that could’. Which just goes to show that being semiotically on message is also to be generic and predictable. Consumers in all walks of life typically have more imagination and will give you more latitude than we might give them credit for. And as a product, if it’s good enough for the builders, it’s good enough for the rest of us, in all its personas. In a house full of women we ended up with a Hetty. But the design means she has a place in our hearts. Not bad for a tough tool designed to do a dull job. SA

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Timeline 1968 Hetty Hoover

The first prototype for the Henry Hoover was designed by Christopher Duncan, founder of the Numatic International company responsible for the brand’s creation.

1981 The Henry Hoover was introduced to the market.

Harry Hoover

2005 Numatic recorded profits of £3.2m on sales of nearly £78m.

2009 Approximately 160,000 units of Hetty Hoovers sold. James Hoover

2010 Numatic International won a case against Qualtex UK for ‘passing-off ’ following an attempt by the company to produce a replica of the well-known smiley-faced vacuum cleaner. Charles Hoover

2013 Christopher Duncan, creator of the Henry Hoover, received an MBE for services to international business.

Henry Hoover limited-edition


Did you know? *There’s a truth vacuum in one of these.

2. The company’s first serious commercial vacuum cleaner was produced after the company relocated to a watermill in Yeovil. Its name wasn’t quite as catchy as Henry – it was known as an NV-2. It was followed by the company’s first big hit – the NV250.

3. As well as manufacturing Henry, Numatic also make 5,000 different product lines and they like to boast that any customer can have any of these anywhere in the world within three weeks. It produces 4,500 units per day, 40% of which are exported.

4. Although produced in Chard, Henry was born in Portugal. The Numatic team were at a trade show in Lisbon and business was quiet. One of the design team doodled a face onto one of the existing red vacuum cleaners and that evening their stall was flooded with enquiries.

5. Domestic success happened by accident. Intended as an industrial cleaner, Henrys were spotted in schools and hospitals, leading to a word-of-mouth demand from domestic consumers.

6. Numatic introduced Hetty, the female model, after pressure from the Powys branch of Unison which tabled a motion at the union’s national conference that Henry was sexist.

*All those in favour of declaring number six a fib, raise your right hand. Motion carried.

1. Numatic, the company behind the Henry brand, was founded by Christopher Duncan who remains the sole owner.


Leica Few things are guaranteed to make a lover of good design go weak at the knees quicker than the mention of Leica. The desirability of the camera with the famous red dot is matched only by its unattainability. Leica have always been reassuringly expensive – to possess one symbolises something very powerful both to professional photographers and anyone who’s ever so much as dabbled in a darkroom. Even in the digital age, they remain a byword for great design married to sublime function.

As the inventor of the compact camera, facilitating the growing demand for uncomposed images to supply a burgeoning mass media, Leica turned its expertise in lens manufacture into a lucrative new market. And as a pioneer of the modernist movement, it happily married its engineering prowess to the restrained form-follows-function style of the Bauhaus. Talk to a Leica owner today and they quickly tell you that no other camera nestles so comfortably in the hand, nor operates so unobtrusively, nor enjoys such precision of focus – which is what continues to make it so popular for street photography among purists everywhere. Had Leica been British, you can be sure that it would have been sold or closed years ago, unable to survive the tsunami of low-priced Asian competitors. Had it been Japanese, it would have lost all trace of its individual character to the compound-curves and 64

excess of features demanded by the ever-falling prices, ruthless competition and incessant innovation that characterise the modern market. Leica is German, however: the nation that reminds us daily of the virtue of integrity in manufactured goods. While its over-engineered durability brings little repeat business, it delivers such uncomplicated pleasure in use that it can command double the price of Japanese cameras incorporating a Leica lens. Cutting-edge it might not be, but the Red Dot, me Leica. AK


Timeline 1849 The Wetzlar Optical Institute was founded by Carl Kellner. He worked to develop lenses and microscopes.

Advertising, Hubert Saget

1865 Ernst Leitz joined as a partner. The company was named after him (Ernst Leitz Optical Industry). Leica is an abbreviation of ‘Leitz Camera’.

1913 The optical engineer and designer, Oskar Barnack, invented the ‘Ur-Leica’ 35mm film camera. A History Illustrating Every Model book

1954 The Leica M3 with bayonet mount and combined viewfinder/rangefinder was launched, ushering in a new era of photography. Leica & Hermès limited-edition

1998 Leica launched its first digital compact camera, the Leica Digilux.

Compact binoculars

2006 The company produced the first digital rangefinder camera – the Leica M8.

2009 D-Lux 6


Leica produced the M9, the world’s smallest 35mm full-frame digital rangefinder camera.

Did you know?

Image courtesy of Leica Camera AG.

*One of these ‘facts’ must be viewed through a lens of distortion.

2. The first episode of season six of Mad Men sees Don Draper land the Leica advertising account and give his neighbour an M2. He is, however, having an affair with his neighbour’s wife.

3. Ernest Leitz II who was in control of Leica when Hitler came to power in Germany was responsible for saving the lives of over 70 Jews, whom he employed at his factory and helped emigrate to the USA. Leitz died in 1956, but his granddaughter received his posthumous award from the AntiDefamation League in 2007.

4. The most haunting photograph of the Vietnam War was taken with a Leica. The picture of Kim Phuc who had been hit with napalm running naked down Highway 1 was taken by Nick Ut and won the Pullitzer Prize.

5. A test version of a Leica 0-Series made in 1923 (and still working) sold at auction for £1.75m, making it the most expensive camera ever sold.

6. At one point during the Apollo space programme, it seemed that Leica cameras would be taken to the moon. However, a NASA engineer worked out that the interchangeable film backs for the Hasselblad cameras were lighter than those of the Leica. Hasselblads were taken instead and the backs removed and brought home. Twelve Hasselblad cameras remain on the moon surface.

*Number one is untrue, but the play did inspire the famously brief and negative review from the New York Herald Tribune critic, Walter Kerr, ‘Me no Leica.’

1. The 1951 Broadway play, I Am A Camera, which was based on Christopher Isherwood’s memoir, Goodbye To Berlin and provided the inspiration for the film, Cabaret, had the working title, I Am A Leica.


Space.NK Nicky Kinnaird, founder and driving force behind the chain of luxury apothecaries which make up Space.NK, has created a company in her own image. In contrast to the edge-softening, image-enhancing cosmetics which she sells, the Belfast-born entrepreneur displays a down-toearth, steely toughness allied to a ďŹ nely-tuned ability to understand what her clientele demands: the best beauty products from around the world under one roof.

The business lesson to draw from the success of Space.NK is common to all successful entrepreneurs: having spotted your opportunity, pursue it relentlessly, with vigour and style. Easy to say, harder to do, but Nicky Kinnaird’s drive and ambition has created a luxury brand that few can match.

The challenge now is to stay distinctive and relevant. As the business expands, it inevitably loses some of its exclusivity. And online, exclusive brands have less need for mass retailers to reach their audience; once they’re established, price becomes king. The whole business model of premium-priced, speciality merchants like Space.NK is potentially at risk.

Design, in the broadest sense of the word, is central to the whole ethos and expression of her brand. An airy, fresh-sounding name and a classy logotype mirror the uncluttered shelves and neutral backdrops to allow an eclectic mix of beautiful brands to shine. Space.NK is such a pleasant contrast to the heat and hustle of the department-store concessions that people frequently say their first visit was an epiphany.

But if range, service and price are generic ingredients in the retail mix, it is the rare ability to harness outstanding design to the benefit of each that will allow Space.NK to continue to thrive. AK

In the two decades since opening its doors, the business has evolved into a multi-site, multichannel operation, with online sales taking an increasing role. 68

69 69

Timeline 1993 Nicky Kinnaird founded Space.NK in Covent Garden, London. Store exterior

2003 Private equity house, Manzanita Capital, acquires a stake in the company.

2007 Blue Eau de Toilette

First store opened outside the UK in the SoHo district of New York.

2010 Space.NK Summer book

The brand launched its loyalty programme, N.dulge, offering ÂŁ5 N.centive vouchers for every 100 points collected.

2012 Seduction Eau de Toilette

Space.NK announced its partnership with Women for Women International (WfWI); the charity which supports women surviors of war to rebuild their lives.

2013 The brand celebrated 20 years of sourcing the best beauty brands from around the world. Signage


Did you know? *The truth is barely skin-deep in one of the following.

2. Kinnaird took a degree in Land Management at Reading University, graduating in 1985, en route to becoming a Chartered Surveyor. Her ability to identify key properties has been pivotal to the company’s success.

3. The terms of the original lease of her Covent Garden store required Kinnaird to donate a sample of her wares to the Lord Mayor of London every five years. In 2010 she presented Boris Johnson with tubes of ‘Anthony Logistics’ shampoo and conditioner.

4. Kinnaird wrote the business proposal incorporating the original idea for Space.NK during an August Bank Holiday weekend on a trip to Cornwall.

5. Testing every product (even those designed for men) on her own skin is something which Nicky Kinnaird still practices, enabling her to vouch personally for every product she sells.

6. 1,200 residents of London’s Primrose Hill – including Sam Taylor-Johnson and Sadie Frost – signed a petition in 2012 unsuccessfully protesting Space.NK’s plans to open a branch on Regent’s Park Road.

*Number three is a fib and no such clause exists, meaning BoJo’s hair continues to enjoy its free-range existence untrammeled by any discernible ‘product’.

1. Space.NK’s first store was located in a former banana warehouse in Covent Garden.


John Deere While much of America’s indigenous engineering base has been overwhelmed by cheaper imports, the company which provides the most vital link to its most basic need for food is still in rude health. John Deere’s continued success serves as an example of what can be achieved by a company which has managed to expand aggressively while maintaining an image of intense caution. Farmers might not seem the type to be swayed by attractive design but in the case of a John Deere tractor, they’re happy to have it in any colour so long as it’s green.

With one in three tractors sold in Britain a green-and-yellow ‘un, there are lessons aplenty from market leader John Deere. Naturally, engineering is pivotal to its success – strong drivetrains, smooth hydraulics and the latest in sat-nav guidance take the labour out of ploughing, sowing and reaping. Surface design plays a supporting role. Raked bonnets and sharks-gill air intakes give the range a recognisable silhouette, while the bright colours complement the wonderful economy in the logo – a simple deer to represent a Deere. Who knew that tractors could be cool enough to seduce landed gentry and plain-talking Yorkshire farm boys alike? Sleek design is only half the story, however. Wide distribution and after-sales service are key sources of competitive advantage to this highly 72

informed customer base. Should one’s John Deere fail during the harvest scramble, you will need it up and running again before the morning dew has lifted. If dedication to improvement and American spirit led John Deere to conquer the world, its number-one status rests today in the hands of the dealerships all around the country. As we know from Byron Sharp, it’s the synergy of mental and physical availability that truly makes brands grow. That’s why pretty much everyone in farming knows a Deere owner and it’s what makes it such a worthy champion of design. AK


Timeline 1837 Blacksmith John Deere built a steel plough that enabled farmers to furrow sticky soil in the American Midwest. Vintage ad

1868 Incorporated as Deere & Company. John Deere and son Charles controlled 65% of shares.

1876 Model M tractor

The leaping deer trademark was registered.

1895 Launched The Furrow magazine, which is still published in 40 countries.

1918 Signage

Bought the maker of Waterloo Boy tractors.

1972 Introduced the ‘Nothing Runs Like a Deere’ tagline.


John Deere Classic golf tournament


2010 R&D spend topped $1bn.

Did you know? *There’s a spanner in the works of one of the following.

2. In 1858 John Deere, along with other abolitionists, helped break up a meeting of supporters of slavery in Moline, Illinois. 3. John Deere’s original ploughs were known as ‘singing ploughs’ because of the high-pitched humming sound they emitted when cutting through the earth.

4. In a move which reinforced the reliability of the brand across the world, John Deere supplied the Lunar Roving Vehicle which was used in the missions of Apollo 15, 16 and 17.

5. Company founder John Deere relocated from Vermont to Illinois in 1836 to escape bankruptcy.

6. Country singer, Joe Diffie had a hit in 1993 with the song ‘John Deere Green’. Prior to releasing the song, which tells the story of Billy Bob who climbs a water tower and paints a heart upon it in John Deere Green to impress his sweetheart, Charlene. Diffie approached the company to ask for its backing but was turned down.

*That’s a negative for number four. John Deere had nothing to do with any moon buggy.

1. David Lynch’s film, The Straight Story is based on the true story of WWII veteran, Alvin Straight, who in 1994 travelled 240 miles from Iowa to Wisconsin on his 30-year-old John Deere 110 Lawn Tractor (with a maximum speed of 5 miles per hour) to visit his ailing brother-in-law.


Target It’s hard for a retail giant to have personality and often when it does, it’s not the sort you want to get to know better. Kmart, for one, is still haunted by Dustin Hoffman’s line in Rain Man, ‘Kmart sucks’, while Walmart inspires armies of detractors. Extra credit then to Target for operating in the same field, but building brand loyalty through both its value and values.

Why is Target a champion of design? It can’t qualify just because one is a fan of it. Yet being a fan of a fifty-year old retail identity is not such a common thing. Target is a ‘designer’s design’ because it has brilliantly understood and pushed the limits of the power of a symbol. The original name and design hail from 1962, with the simplified mark from 1968. If you compare its advertising from that era with today’s work, you can see that the solution is truly timeless. The Target branding is identity as pattern, personality and advertising solution. It looks contemporary and charismatic and entirely unpretentious. It’s cool and elegant and also playful and full-blooded. Target might have its roots in suburban shopping but it never condescends or underestimates its audience. Quite the opposite – it looks affordable, but never cheap. 76

This is also about the power of teamwork – generations of designers and marketers building on the iconography, rather than egotistically blowing it off course for short-term gain. It’s about a company who truly value design as more than a cosmetic paint job. All in all, it’s some achievement to use the same roundel over many decades in ways that never feel stale – who would have thought a simple two colour mark based on a common or garden graphic device could be so ownable and so elastic? Which perhaps suggests such things are never really about what you have; success relies on how imaginative you are with how equities are exploited. SA


Timeline 1902 Dayton Dry Goods Company, as the Target Corporation was originally known, was founded by George Dayton in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Advertising, 1968

1962 The first Target store was opened and the classic Bullseye logo was born.

1978 Target billboard

The store acquired Mervyns and became the 7th largest retailer in the United States.

1995 The company opened its first SuperTarget hypermarket in Omaha, Nebraska. Target trolley

1999 Michael Graves becomes the first of more than 75 designers to create an exclusive line of products for Target.

2006 Neiman Marcus & Target

With an ambition of making the shopping experience easier, Target redesigned the classic shopping cart.

2012 Target developed an award-winning mobile app to help people shop stores whenever and wherever. Target Times Square


Did you know? *Five of these hit the bullseye of truth, one hits the bull.

2. In 2005, Target staged what it called a Vertical Fashion Show in New York City which saw athletes and models scaling a nine-storey tower in the Rockefeller Centre to promote the company’s autumn collections.

3. The company exceeded $50bn in annual sales for the first time in 2005.

4. Target was rebuked in 2013 for labelling a plus-size dress in their Brooklyn store as being available in the colour ‘manatee grey’, while smaller sizes were available in what the store described as ‘dark heather’.

5. To reflect popular opinion that Target is a cutabove cut-price competitors like Kmart and Walmart, customers took to referring to it with the ‘French’ pronunciation, ‘Tar-zhay’. Acknowledging the joke, Target launched a line of high-end clothing in 2007 with the label, Targé.

6. Target has a strong record of philanthropy and is ranked 22nd in Fortune magazine’s, World’s Most Admired Companies. Its donations to local communities where its stores are located now run at $4m per week and it is on course to meet its 2010 promise to donate $1bn to education by the end of 2015.

*Target does have a mascot but it’s an English bull terrier called Bullseye, rendering number one a little bit made-up.

1. The store has a golden eagle called Eric as its mascot. The name Eric Eagle is now copyrighted.


Fortnum & Mason Sailing serenely into its fourth century of trading, Fortnum & Mason is a shopping institution with a royal pedigree that’s second to none. It continues to be successful by remaining relevant to new generations of shoppers with sharp design, a smartly-conceived online presence and a willingness to export its business. Tourists, treatseekers and traditionalists might account for most of its sales, but if it isn’t broken after 300 years, why fix it now?

The effectiveness of packaging design tends to be measured in the here and now: does it grab attention, get into a basket and get taken home? Good design achieves this, but great design delivers a longer service record. It enters the home as a welcome guest, is proudly displayed and used with pleasure. Fortnum & Mason packaging passes this test with flying colours; long after the original biscuits or tea have been consumed the packs hang around, reused or refilled. The best are too good to bin. The plummy provenance of F&M has cachet, but it’s the often elegant design that transforms grocery packs into objects of desire. Consider the eccentric and spirited packaging it used to mark the Diamond Jubilee; a lion and a unicorn duff each other up in an illustration that combines flair with fine craftsmanship. It is ‘proper posh’ – confident enough to play with the royal codes, tastefully irreverent, arch but in good taste. 80

Like a true gent its quality is known as much as shown. F&M never tries too hard in design. It doesn’t have to and that gives it true charisma. It has invested in the best, knowing it will repay for generations – from its beautiful clock (the bells of which share a foundry with Big Ben) to commissioning luminaries such as Edward Bawden to design its ‘publicity material’. The lesson we draw is clear: consider life beyond the shelf. Have an eye on legacy and sell things that are attractive enough to hang around a bit longer than the best-before date. SA


Timeline 1707 Fortnum & Mason was founded.

1846 Jubilee hamper

Tea packaging

Richard Fortnum bequeathed ÂŁ1,500 (equivalent to ÂŁ500,000 today) to his staff.

1863 Awarded its first Royal Warrant as grocers to the Prince of Wales.

1931 Opened a store in New York. Coinciding with the Depression, it did not succeed. Champagne gift box

2004 Fortnum & Mason Japan opened with stores in two cities. Ground coffee

2007 The London store was overhauled for its 300th anniversary.

2008 Honey went on sale gathered from its own hives on the store roof. Jute shopping bag


Did you know?

Image courtesy of Karen Muskett.

*One of these ‘facts’ is a little fishy.

2. The store took successful legal action in 1988 against a Parisian retailer which called itself Maison Fortnum.

3. Writing a report of the Epsom Derby in the 1850s, Charles Dickens noted, ‘Look where I will... I see Fortnum & Mason. All the hampers fly wide open and the green downs burst into a blossom of lobster salad.’

4. For a 1922 attempt on Everest led by George Mallory, the store supplied 60 tins of quail in foie gras and four dozen bottles of Montebello champagne.

6. From 1794 until the formation of the GPO in 1839, Fortnum & Mason ran its own postal service with six deliveries per day.

5. Fortnum & Mason was the first store in the UK to sell Heinz Baked Beanz. Heinz celebrated Fortnum’s 300th anniversary by bringing out 3,000 tins in the store’s signature ‘eau de nil’ colour.

*That’s a French fancy at number two. No such store ever existed.

1. The store owes its existence to some royal extravagance in Queen Anne’s court and a spot of early recycling. As the royal household insisted on new candles every evening, footman William Fortnum was ideally placed to make good use of the unused beeswax leftovers which he turned into a profitable sideline.


Pears soap With its traditional oval shape, translucent texture and unmistakable smell, Pears soap stands as a prime example of a product that reinforces its uniqueness within a largely homogenised market every time it’s used. Add to this its pioneering use of innovative advertising campaigns and it’s clear to see not only why it’s one of this country’s best-known brands, but also why it has changed so little over such a long period of time.

Big brands can be a bit like chirping baby birds with their seemingly insatiable appetite for new design and comms ‘breakthroughs’. Pears is an arguable exception that demonstrates being innovative only occasionally can be just as effective as constant churn. First came the world’s first transparent bar (and first registered brand). A design so distinctive in shape, colour and translucence that even when worn down to a diminished nub on the side of a sink it was still recognisable. Its simple utility carried great charisma and confidence – a brand that would look as at home in the washhouse as up at the manor. Powerful stuff for an era when cleanliness was next to godliness and basic hygiene was a matter of life and death. This is design as branding and branding as trust. The second design innovation was the Bubbles poster, painted by Millais, bought and re-purposed (with the addition of a bar of the soap) by Pears 84

managing director for £2,200. It tapped into a Victorian sentimentality that saw it hung up in households across the land. My grandmother had one from her childhood hanging in her bedroom until her dying day. What other advertising poster has been actively invited into so many homes? Finally, came the Pears liquid soap packaging of the twenty first century. It stands proudly on the shoulders of giants – an elegantly simple reworking of long-established equities that has the good sense to value what precedes it and not meddle overmuch beyond the addition of a clear hook. It is both authentic and yet relevant for today. Pears rests on some very well earned laurels, presumably preparing for another leap forward. SA


Timeline 1789 The world’s first mass-market, transparent soap was produced by Andrew Pears in London.

Vintage poster

1835 Francis Pears, Andrew’s grandson, joined the business and the firm was renamed A & F Pears.

1851 A & F Pears was awarded the prize medal for soap at The Great Exhibition. Vintage ad

1886 The portrait of Bubbles by John Everett Millais was bought by Thomas J Barrett, managing director of Pears.

Pears’ Bubbles

1917 Lever Brothers acquired Pears soap.

2006 Pears soap display

Pears shower gel


The original Bubbles painting was transferred from the Royal Academy to the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight.

Did you know? *One of these stories clearly won’t wash.

2. The boy in the picture was Millais’ grandson, William Milbourne James. He later became an Admiral in the Royal Navy and served in Naval Intelligence in WWI, but was known throughout his life as Bubbles.

3. When the French revolutionary physician and journalist, Jean-Paul Marat was murdered in his bath by Charlotte Corday, a bar of Pears soap was at his side.

4. The Victorian actress and socialite, Lillie Langtry appeared in adverts for Pears soap in 1882. She is said to have been the first woman to endorse a commercial product and it is claimed her fee was linked to her weight as she was paid ‘pound for pound’.

5. Pears soap is the world’s oldest brand having first been registered in 1789.

6. The annual search for a young girl to feature in the soap’s advertising campaigns began in 1959. The ‘Miss Pears’ competition which originally carried a £500 prize proved a popular promotional tool and continued until 1997 when 3-yearold, Ella Cox of Bath became the last winner.

*Marat’s last bath did not feature a bar of Pears making three a fabrication.

1. Thomas J Barrett, the mastermind behind much of Pears’ original marketing, was responsible for the famous Bubbles campaign. He bought the original painting, ‘A Child’s World’ by the Pre-Raphaelite painter, John Everett Millais from its then owner, Sir William Ingram for £2,200 and then sought the artist’s permission to add the bar of Pears’ soap.


Bombay Sapphire Created at a time when gin was seen as old-fashioned and premium brands of vodka were in the ascendant, Bombay Sapphire proved there was still life and no little profit in the spirit. This was largely due to some very acute thinking regarding its branding, helped by its distinctive bottle and a smoother, more subtle flavour. In the process, gin and tonic moved from the golf club to the nightclub.

In business, as in the polishing of gemstones, brilliance follows the application of sure intent. By his determined pursuit of premium margins, Michel Roux’s creation of Bombay Sapphire in 1987 not only triumphed over many longerestablished rivals, it also fuelled the renaissance of an entire category. In theory, Sapphire had little going for it – a line extension of a number three, mass-market gin, an imperialist throwback, a bejewelled antique in an era of über-trendy, modernist vodkas. Let theory be damned! In design, execution eats strategy for breakfast. By counterbalancing ornate excess with a cool, sapphire-blue bottle, Roux cleverly married old and new to craft a wonderfully alluring whole.


Albeit a slightly crude, blingy incarnation that has long since been refined into an elegant harmony of form and decoration, Sapphire is one of those wonderful, groundbreaking designs that can genuinely be described as game changing. A design that can even warrant the overused and often under-deserved word, iconic. For marketers looking for lessons from design, Sapphire should not only be held high as inspiration to themselves and creative partners, it should also be pinned to the walls of finance colleagues. It is a reminder that value-creation by cost cutting will never match the $300m (30x multiple) for which the brand was sold, just a short decade after its imaginative conception. AK


Timeline 1992 Bombay Sapphire created a label for its bottle that included imagery of some of the botanical plants from which the gin is made. Chalice martini glass by Peter Crisp

2008 The global Bombay Sapphire Revelation luxury bottle-design initiative was launched.

Bar bag

2009 Bombay Sapphire became the world’s number one premium gin by value.

2010 Bombay Sapphire Reign

The company revised the logo for the bottle and added a linen texture to the label, as well as additional marketing messages intended to improve customer knowledge of the brand’s story.

2011 Bombay Sapphire East was introduced, standing as the first credible alternative to the company’s original blend. Electro packaging

2012 The brand introduced its balloon glass, designed to provide an improved drinking experience.

Revelation collection


Did you know?

Limited-edition bottle celebrating 250 years of Bombay Sapphire.

*There’s five parts truth to one lie in this exotic cocktail.

2. While the brand evokes images of the Raj, Bombay Sapphire’s history in fact only stretches back to 1987 when Michel Roux of Carillion importers helped launch it as a rival to some of the premium vodkas on the market.

3. The distinctive blue colour of the bottle was inspired by the 182-carat gemstone Star of Bombay which was actually discovered in Sri Lanka. The original can now be seen in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History having been bequeathed to the institute by the actress Mary Pickford who had been given it by her husband Douglas Fairbanks Snr.

4. The gin-loving Donald Cox, aka the Sweaty Fox from Shooting Stars was originally seen carrying Bombay Sapphire until Bacardi asked the BBC to desist because of potential damage to the brand.

6. Celebrated bartender, Dick Bradsell invented the Bombay Sapphire Bramble which involves lemon juice, ice, sugar, crème de cassis, one blackberry and lemon along with the gin itself.

5. Bombay Sapphire makes many of the 10 ingredients used to flavour the gin, which include angelica and orris root, as well as the traditional juniper.

*Mercifully, no such product placement ever occurred on the BBC, thus number four is fundamentally a fib.

1. Bombay Sapphire is made with water taken from Lake Vyrnwy, the reservoir in Montgomeryshire, originally constructed to supply Liverpool with fresh drinking water.


The Economist A former editor of The Economist said that it was aimed at readers ‘with better than average minds but with less than average time’. With a buoyant readership and a global audience, The Economist – or ‘Leader’s Digest’ as one ad called it – suggests that cash-rich, time-poor people will still pay for a product which can report, condense and analyse the major issues of the day in a style that is unobtrusive, understated and above all economical.

A few years into my working life, I walked into the office carrying a copy of The Economist. With a wry smile a colleague asked whether I was ‘trying to get a promotion?’ Having resisted the urge to convince him that I had actually been reading it and hadn’t just tucked it under my arm, it struck me that very few brands could spontaneously evoke that response.

The Economist is even more economical with words than it is pictures. It tackles the biggest, most complex subjects and makes them accessible and meaningful within a strict word count. Moreover it does so with a clearly defined and consistent tone of voice. Although many hands write The Economist, each article shares the same precision and understated, dry wit.

The Economist’s intellectual associations are immediate and unrivalled. Associations that have no doubt been secured and deepened through truly great advertising. Since it launched in the late 1980s, AMV’s campaign has reinforced the belief among readers that The Economist gives them a competitive edge and membership of an exclusive club.

The Economist preserves the anonymity of its writers because it believes that what is written is more important than who writes it. Consequently, the editor’s only signed article is written on their departure from the position – a healthy reminder that successful brands are bigger than any individual. JJ

Beyond advertising, The Economist harnesses the power of design intelligently across the magazine. Every week its front cover distils the world’s leading story into a simple image that’s as distinctive as it is disruptive. 92

9 93

Timeline 1843 Publication founded by Scottish businessman and economist, James Wilson.

1945 Worst Thing ad

Circulation reached 6,000 readers.

1986 The Economist introduced the Big Mac Index; an informal measure which uses the price of a hamburger in different countries to determine the purchasing power of currencies. The Economist Light bulb ad

1988 AMV hired to broaden the publication’s appeal beyond the financial industry.

2002 The Economist Innovation Awards were launched. White out of Red campaign

2006 Average weekly circulation reached an estimated 1.5 million. Interpret the world campaign

2012 The Economist launched a weekly section devoted exclusively to China.

The Economist cover, Sept 2008


Did you know? *One of these tales is being economical with the actualité.

2. The paper suffered a sharp decline in readership when it responded to Margaret Thatcher’s 1990 resignation with a front cover showing two fingers bearing tattoos of the Union Jack raised in a V-sign.

3. The Economist’s famous ‘White out of Red’ advertising campaign began in 1988 and led to some memorable posters. None more so than an early award-winner which carried the words: ‘I never read The Economist – Management Trainee, Age 42.’

4. Although a magazine, The Economist always refers to itself as a newspaper.

5. British Foreign Secretary, Lord Granville (18151891) used to say that whenever he was uncertain about a topic he liked to wait to see what the next issue of The Economist had to say on the subject.

6. The spy Kim Philby is one of many famous people to have contributed to The Economist. Presidents of Ireland and Italy, along with British PM Herbert Asquith have also worked for the publication, albeit anonymously.

*Would you Adam (Smith) and Eve it? Number two is a whopping fib. However, The Economist did provoke a strong reaction from its readership in 2003 when it printed a front cover of a cactus in the shape of a hand raising the middle finger in response to the outcome of the Cancun trade talks.

1. Approximately half of The Economist’s total readership of 1.5 million is based in the US. Two thirds of this number earn more than $100,000.


Montblanc While Montblanc has successfully moved into the luxury goods market, its reputation is still built on the precision craftsmanship of its pens and, specifically, its signature piece, the Meisterstück. The great and good from JFK to JPII have all wielded one, giving the company a historical legacy that is the envy of its competitors. In recent years its successful expansion into the Far East has been underpinned by moving upmarket, never more so than when an anonymous Russian woman purchased two diamond-encrusted bespoke pens at a cost of ¤545,000 each.

For all the accuracy with which a Montblanc pen transcribes a writer’s words onto paper, it projects its own message with even greater clarity. Spot the snow-capped mountain across the table and you know you’re in good company. These pens were made to sign multimillion-pound contracts, not write contact reports. Its design lesson is one of a beautifully simple idea, brilliantly executed. To borrow the might and respect commanded by a continent’s highest peak was clever; to translate that with such elegance required class. The literal scale and weight of its namesake is very much designed into the pen. It is ‘hefty’ to hold – use one regularly and you can cancel your gym membership. At its ‘summit’, the pen’s curves echo the mountain’s shape and provide the perfect introduction to the six-pointed white star: a symbol so pleasingly restrained it has easily etched itself into global consciousness. 96

While the brand mark might be understated, it can’t be outgunned. Seeing a Montblanc placed on a meeting-room table always reminds me of the ‘business-card scene’ from American Psycho. It might not have the same crushing effect that Paul Allen’s card has on Patrick Bateman, but a Montblanc always makes its presence felt. Such status isn’t won overnight; it’s earned through craftsmanship consistently delivered over decades. It should come as no surprise that testing of the pens requires absolute silence so any imperfections in the ink-flow can be heard. It’s the scrutiny of the small detail upon which the biggest brands are often built. JJ


Timeline 1909 The first Montblanc fountain pen was officially launched in Hamburg. JFK lending his Montblanc, 1963

1924 The company’s legendary Meisterstück fountain pen was launched.

1983 Johnny Depp ad campaign

Montblanc introduced the Meisterstück Solitaire Collection; the first precious-metal edition of the Meisterstück.

1990 Montblanc Meisterstück diamond

The company opened its first ever boutique in Hong Kong, marking its strong commitment to Asia.

2004 ‘Signature for Good’ initiative

Montblanc joined forces with UNICEF to launch ‘Sign Up for the Right to Write’. The company has continued to support the charity with its education and literacy programmes.

2011 ‘Princesse Grace de Monaco’ collection launched. Man at the Centre – From Design to the Art of Paper


2012 Measuring 1,800m2, Montblanc opened its biggest store in Sanlitun, Beijing.

Did you know? *Can you spot the fib among the nibs?

2. A Montblanc pen (modified by Q) features in 1983’s Octopussy hiding a secret listening device and a handy metal-melting acid.

4. Montblanc pens were used to sign Charles and Diana’s wedding certificate and, more permanently, the agreement which united East and West Germany.

3. The company enjoyed the kind of publicity money can’t buy when in 1963, West German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer couldn’t find his pen to sign Cologne’s Golden Book. Fortunately, JFK was on hand to lend him his Meisterstück 149.

5. A limited-edition Meisterstück Solitaire Royal, decorated with 4,810 pavé diamonds entered the Guinness Book of Records in 1994 as the world’s most expensive fountain pen.

6. Apollo 11 astronaut, Buzz Aldrin used a Montblanc pen to repair a broken ignition switch which allowed the stranded lunar module to leave the moon’s surface and successfully return to Earth.

*Houston, we have a problem. Aldrin did show remarkable ingenuity to fix the damaged circuit breaker but he used a humble felt-tip pen to do so.

1. Montblanc made an uncharacteristic misjudgement when in 2009 it marked the 140th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth with a limitededition pen, selling for £15,500. Amit Modi, secretary of the Sabarmati Ashram, opened by Gandhi in 1917 said, ‘If he [Gandhi] had seen this, he would have thrown it away.’


Lacoste It’s pleasing to think that the grinning green crocodile with the red mouth (it’s not a tongue as crocs don’t have them) has become one of the most recognised logos in the world and yet it was created without the help of a single marketing meeting or focus group. Like the company whose clothing it adorns, the logo developed organically, a simple sketch done by his friend, Robert George for René Lacoste. Nile crocodiles can live to 100 – Lacoste’s is 80-years-old and still going strong.

Some brands are based on visual equities. Some have design philosophies. Others just have a ‘certain something’ in their visual sensibility, which sounds a bit lightweight but can be incredibly powerful. And funnily enough it’s a sense of lightness that infuses and informs much of what makes Lacoste a design champ. Consider the photograph of René Lacoste in action (overleaf), gracefully leaping across the court. Compare it with contemporary advertising from the brand. See the sense of light and air and the defiance of gravity. It’s not just in image – it’s in the weave of the tennis shirts and the qualities of its fragrances. One just has a sense that it is a fresh, vital, zesty and light brand. That it has achieved this coherent impression must be down to guidelines of genius. After all, a prescriptive heavy-handed manual would squash this brand’s persona flat.


‘Certain somethings’ in brands can only work if the brand knows just who it is and why in a way that any new custodian can sense and execute against. Knowing oneself is the simplest and yet the hardest and rarest of things for brands, as it is for people. But if it can be boiled down to one or two words it can offer ‘the freedom of a tight brief ’. René Lacoste was known as the crocodile because he had the tenacity to never let go of his prey on court. His motif was the first to grace the outside of a shirt. 80 years later it’s the same look and one might argue Lacoste have made a little go a long way. But that tenacity is what has made for an iconic brand – one that wields its stubbornness with a wonderful lightness of touch. SA


Timeline 1933 French clothing company La Société Chemise Lacoste founded by René Lacoste and Andre Gilliér. René Lacoste in action

1963 Bernard Lacoste took over management of the company from his father.


1980s Lacoste becomes the ultimate ‘preppy’ wardrobe accessory, getting a mention in Lisa Birnbach’s Official Preppy Handbook.

1990s Lacoste’s Save Your Logo initiative

The brand becomes one of the first sportswear brands to establish itself in India.

2007 Lacoste teamed up with Tom Dixon to reinterpret the classic polo shirt as part of the Holiday Collector’s series.

Maclaren Lacoste Ryder

2009 London architect Zaha Hadid designed a range of limited-edition footwear for Lacoste.

2013 The brand celebrated its 80th anniversary with the Unconventional Chic ad campaign. Tonic campaign


Did you know?

Reinterpretations of the Lacoste logo, by Peter Seville.

*New balls please! One of these has strayed into the tramlines of deceit.

2. Lacoste successfully fought a legal case lasting 25 years with a rival Hong Kong sportswear firm called Crocodile, forcing it to modify the creature’s tail and add scales.

3. Lacoste was nicknamed ‘the Crocodile’ because on a Davis Cup trip to America in 1925 he spotted a crocodile skin suitcase and made his captain promise to buy him it if they won the match. In the event, he lost but a journalist wrote, ‘The young Lacoste has not won his crocodileskin suitcase but he fought like a real crocodile.’

4. Irvine Welsh wrote a short story called Lacoste which features a gang of football hooligans in 1980s Edinburgh who all wear the brand.

5. Bernard Lacoste took control of the company from his father in 1963, expanding into other areas of fashion. Overexposed in the 90s it was reinvented by the designer, Christophe Lemaire who was appointed in 2000.

6. Izod Lacoste, as the shirts were originally known in the US, were marketed with the tagline, ‘The status symbol of the competent sportsman.’ They initially fared badly as, at $8 in the early 50s, they were seen as expensive, but the company sent free samples to the likes of JFK, President Eisenhower and Bing Crosby and when they began to wear them, the brand took off.

*Do you see the beastly fib? It’s at number four, as no way did Welsh write such a story.

1. French tennis ace René Lacoste founded La Société Chemise Lacoste with Andre Gilliér in 1933, having previously commissioned shirts which were more comfortable to wear in the heat.


Bonne Maman From Uncle Ben’s rice in the US to Minh Ngoc cakes in Vietnam, the idea of selling mass-market ‘home-made’ produce fulfils a worldwide need in consumers as much as it is a clever marketing device. Bonne Maman products have made the link between high-quality produce and the home in the most primitive, but successful of ways, by evoking the comfort of food made by grandma, who, apart from the occasional big-toothed lapse in fairy tales, always has your best interest at heart.

The poet and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge suggested that if a writer could infuse a ‘human interest and a semblance of truth’ into a fictitious tale, the reader would suspend judgment of the story’s implausibility. He called it ‘a willing suspension of disbelief ’ and Bonne Maman proves his theory beautifully. We happily embrace the conceit that this jam is lovingly prepared by a grandmother from fruit she’s picked freshly in her garden. And there’s no question it tastes sweeter for it. In the case of Bonne Maman, the ‘semblance of truth’ comes from the adoption of two design ingredients that signify homemade: the handwritten label and gingham cloth. Before lids were commonplace, gingham was used to cover and protect the waxed paper that would seal homemade jams. Consequently, its distinctive pattern has come to represent ‘homemade’ in our minds. 104

Its use of the conventional jam codes demonstrate that it’s possible to take something generic and make it your own. The brand has simply borrowed the elements (and their associations) and put them in a different context – taking them from the pantry to the supermarket shelf. Bonne Maman also illustrates the importance of exercising restraint. There must have been a temptation to add to the label, but it’s the simplicity and the perfect rendering of the type that make the idea easy to swallow. It would be negligent not to mention the faceted jar which elevates the brand without breaking the spell. The great irony is that there’s now a whole host of jam makers who will only use Bonne Maman’s jars for their homemade mixture. A design so compelling it’s turned a fantasy into a reality. JJ


Timeline 1971 The first batch of Bonne Maman jam was created by Jean Gervoson.

Apricot conserve

1975 The brand became the number one selling jam in France.

1990 Bonne Maman jams launched in Greece. Lemon marmalade

2003 The brand made its first TV debut sponsoring Channel Four documentary, French Leave.

Redcurrant jelly

2004 Continued to build its presence in the biscuit category with the launch of Petits Fourrés.

2006 Moved into confectionery with the launch of traditional fruit pastilles, Pâtes de Fruits. Confiture de Caramel

2011 The brand celebrated the launch of its new caramel spread by hosting a Mother’s Day breakfast at Baroque Bistro in The Rocks, Sydney.

Peach compote


Did you know?

Image courtesy of Angela Arnaout & Inyoung Choi.

*The truth has been preserved in all but one of these.

2. Jean Gervoson originally got into jam production shortly after WWII because his fatherin-law had a glut of unsold prunes.

3. Andros process over half a billion tonnes of fruit every year, while the Bonne Maman jam range sells 68 million jars annually. Since 1997, it has also produced a successful range of biscuits and in 2008 began production of desserts.

4. The gingham pattern on Bonne Maman lids is known in France as ‘Vichy’, named after the same area which gave its name to the collaborationist regime which governed France from 1940 to 1944.

6. In an advertising stunt, professional cyclist, Guy Marsaud joined a leg of the 1999 Tour de France dressed as a giant Bonne Maman jam jar. He managed to complete over 10 km before officials forced him to stop.

5. A tablespoon of Bonne Maman strawberry jam contains 50 calories, while a similar quantity of the apricot variety contains 52.

*Zut alors! It’s number six. No giant jam-jar cyclist joined the 1999 Tour.

1. The Bonne Maman range is manufactured by Andros, a familyowned company which has its headquarters in Lot, in south-west France. It was launched in 1971 by the company founder Jean Gervoson in response to the increasing number of women going out to work who still wanted a ‘home-made’ feel to their food.


Agent Provocateur Artfully straddling the mainstream and the demi-monde, Agent Provocateur brought a hint of high-class decadence to the high street when it launched its first store in 1994. It’s continued to retain interest in its upmarket wares thanks to boundary-pushing ad campaigns, provocative window displays and a happy ability to attract editorial column inches. The late Malcolm McClaren, father of co-founder, Joe Corré, would surely approve.

Snip the hefty price tag from a pair of its knickers, take away all their packaging and trappings, and what’s left? Arguably a garment that is a little on the brassy side. But package it in a lovely pink box tied with silk ribbon by a uniformed ‘glamazon’ and it becomes a prestige trophy to give or receive. Perception is nine-tenths of reality. Agent Provocateur has invested two decades in creating a remarkably coherent parallel universe through design. Its photography depicts scenarios that are racy but have wit, with a judicious balance of elegance and smut; the windows likewise. The shop lighting is low, the displays simple and the staff just the right side 108

of daunting. It’s all a bit retro, a bit naughty, but also very knowing. It is design as theatre – a complete world you can temporarily step into. By doing this, Agent Provocateur almost singlehandedly created a new category: a top-shelf feel done in a top-class way. Typically in marketing, the ‘reasons to believe’ are based on functional product truths. The lesson here is that sometimes the design and trimmings are the real reason to believe, just as much as (or even more) than what’s in the box. Building a brand on something as flimsy as look and feel might seem a little precarious, but as AP proves, flimsy things can make for a surprisingly powerful brand. SA

Image courtesy of Alice Hawkins for Agent Provocateur.

Alluring gift wrapping and fabulous window displays: they are what Agent Provocateur’s lingerie delivers and happen to be the foundation of its successful brand design – display as seduction and a willful suspension of disbelief.

1109 10 09 09

Timeline 1994 Agent Provocateur founded by Joe CorrĂŠ (son of Vivienne Westwood) and Serena Rees. Brittnie bra

1999 The award winning was launched.

Lavelle bra

2000 The company was commissioned to design an exclusive range of lingerie for high street classic, M&S.

2005 Lacy bra

The Exhibitionist book was launched featuring a collection of photographs from the brand’s famous shop window displays.

2007 Ariel bra

Agent Provocateur was purchased by private equity firm, 3i.

2012 Agyness Deyn sported Agent Provocateur underwear in her debut film, Pusher. Mariana bra


Did you know? *In brief, one of these is a fib.

2. One of Joe Corré’s inspirations for founding AP was his discovery in another lingerie retailer of lagerflavoured nipple gel. ‘I thought, My God, is that the state of the nation?’ he later commented.

4. Both co-founders of the label were awarded MBEs in 2007. Serena Rees accepted hers, but Joe Corré turned his down, calling Tony Blair, ‘morally corrupt’ and signing off his letter with ‘Knickers Forever’.

3. Kylie Minogue’s 2001 appearance in AP lingerie astride a mechanical bull was voted the best viral ad of the decade in a poll compiled by online content distributor, Go Viral.

5. AP protested against the Iraq War through its Soho window featuring scantily clad mannequins bearing placards with the words, ‘Weapons of Mass Distraction.’

6. Working with Penelope Cruz and her younger sister, Monica, Agent Provocateur launched L’Agent, its first diffusion line in August. Penelope also directed the accompanying advertising campaign which featured a (fullyclothed) cameo from husband, Javier Bardem.

*Number one is lying by deceit of its pants.

1. In 2008, Joe Corré sent two models attired in AP lingerie and posing as nurses to take flowers to a man in a London hospital whose wife claimed he had suffered heart palpitations as a result of watching an Agent Provocateur ad.


TAG Heuer Forging a strong link with motorsport in general and Formula 1 in particular has paid large dividends for TAG Heuer. The company was the first watchmaker to pursue partnerships in the sport and has benefitted hugely from F1’s expansion. It hasn’t hurt, of course, that world champions like Jensen Button have been brand ambassadors. It’s the payoff for seeing the potential in a sport that is – like TAG Heuer itself – synonymous with precision, timing and glamour.

The tale of how Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG) the investment vehicle of Formula 1 fanatic Mansour Ojjeh resurrected Heuer, the distressed Swiss watch brand, is a rare demonstration of the benefits of private equity.

Featuring heavy bezels and metal bracelets, a chunky, masculine feel was amplified by punchy packaging and evocative advertising to echo Heuer’s long association with motorsport and attract a younger, style-conscious audience.

Whether by luck or design, the brand trips off the tongue better as TAG Heuer. Unlike many corporate amalgams, the names work in sweet harmony. So do the logos – the constrained symmetry of Heuer is relieved by the racy TAG monogram above.

Using consistent design, unerring quality and higher prices, TAG Heuer restored its fortunes by focusing on its core, and perhaps taught the Swiss watch industry to respect the power of branding, while earning itself a $750m exit to luxury good owner LVMH in 1999.

Although the branding benefits from hybrid vigour, it’s the appliance of marketing, not science, that catapulted it onto the prestige market. Working to a strategy initially forged by the creative-commercial partnership of BBH with Ron Dennis of TAG McLaren, the long tail of undistinguished timepieces was ruthlessly pruned to define a coherent look.

From rags to riches in 15 years: it’s a story worth repeating. AK



Timeline 1860 Edouard Heuer, the founder of Heuer, established his first workshop in St Imier, Switzerland. TAG Heuer box

1887 The company patented the ‘oscillating pinion’ for use in mechanical stopwatches.

1895 Lewis Hamilton ad

Heuer secured the patent for one of the first water-resistant cases for pocket-watches.

1930 The company started to make chronograph wristwatches for pilots. 150th anniversary limited-edition

1970 Actor Steve McQueen became the company’s official worldwide ambassador.

TAG Heuer Tesla Roadster

1985 TAG acquired Heuer.

1992 TAG Heuer became the official time keeper for Formula 1. TAG Heuer Monaco 55


Did you know?

Leonardo DiCaprio & TAG Heuer Green Cross initiative, 2010.

*There’s a minute problem with one of these. It’s a lie.

2. In one of movie history’s most famous anachronisms, Charlton Heston is seen wearing a TAG Heuer wristwatch in the chariot-race scene in Ben-Hur.

3. When in February 1962 he became the first US astronaut to orbit the earth in the Mercury-Atlas 6, John Glenn wore a Heuer stopwatch.

4. As ambassador, Steve McQueen gave due prominence to the watch manufacturer in his 1971 film, Le Mans. The brand was positioned clearly on both his jumpsuit and car. The watch he actually wore in the film – a Monaco with a black alligator skin strap – sold in 2012 at auction for $800,000.

6. In Season 5 of Breaking Bad, Jesse Pinkman gives Walter White a TAG Heuer Monaco as a birthday present. Walt later shows the watch to his wife, Skyler and tells her that the person who gave him this once tried to kill him as proof that she will change her mind about him in time.

5. In 2012, TAG Heuer launched its Racer luxury phone with a price tag of $4,000 per handset.

*It’s a thumbs down for the Roman wristwatch story at number two. The notion that Heston fleetingly wore a wristwatch in this scene has acquired the status of urban myth, but it has been thoroughly debunked.

1. The Carrera was launched in 1963 and has become one of the brand’s most recognisable and successful lines. It was created and named by company boss, Jack Heuer because Carrera means ‘race’ and he believed it would reinforce the company’s connections with motorsport.


Vlisco When Anthropologie are selling Ottomans covered in their fabric and H&M are using them in their collections, it’s fair to say Vlisco has entered fashion’s mainstream. The distinctive, colourful, brilliantly patterned cloth which the Dutch company has been producing for over 160 years has been forced to become a brand to protect its identity from cheaper counterfeiters. If this makes its wares more accessible – as appears to be the case – then we are all winners.

Everyone knows the old cliché that designers only wear black, but when it comes down to it, we just love these bold colours. Pick up a copy of New African Woman or put ‘parade of charm’ into Google and feast your eyes on a plethora of beautiful outfits cut from their cloth. The range of designs in the material is breathtaking, from Islamic geometry to Op Art that is almost worthy of Bridget Riley. The breadth of styles reflects the diversity of the seven-nation design team. Compelling to the eye, smooth to the touch and steadfast in colour, Vlisco is the go-to brand for cutting edge designers across much of sub-Saharan Africa. Bizarrely, however, the brand is virtually unknown in the West. With power-print fabrics a growing trend on the catwalks of Paris and Milan and growing interest in all things African, perhaps that’s set to change. 116

It’s a dream that might be helped along by digital technology – wax print requires etched copper cylinders and laser cutting brings the speedy turnarounds and short runs needed to compete in the fast-fashion market. Following 150 years of supplying cloth to dressmakers in standard six-yard bolts, Vlisco is finally launching its own ready-to-wear collections in its flagship stores. Whether this will upset its symbiotic relationship with fashion designers, only time will tell, but for sheer creative verve Vlisco is a worthy Champion of Design. AK


Timeline 1846 PF van Vlissingen founded; copied Indonesian batik designs. Spring collection, 2010

1910 Mechanised wax printing commenced.

1950s Vlisco boutique, Benin

The company became a dominant player in the African market.

1970 Company rebranded as Vlisco.

1973 Reflet de Lumière bag

Launched Super-wax brand.

2005 Launched Aura lustrous fabric, designed for special events. Delicate Shades ad campaign

2007 First boutique opened, in Benin.

2011 The company produced 53.8 million metres of fabric with net sales of €225m (£194m). Nouvelle Histoire collection, 2011


Did you know?

Vlisco fabrics sample book, 2012.

*One of these is a colourful fabrication.

2. To counteract widespread cheaper imitations Vlisco releases 20 to 30 new designs every few months, a strategy which it hopes will keep it ahead of its Chinese imitators as it normally takes them two to three months to get copies to market.

3. Vlisco’s Super-wax range which launched in 1973 normally sells for between €65 and €80 for a six-yard bolt but the Luxury Editions range can cost more than €2,000 for a comparable length.

4. To celebrate their qualification for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, Vlisco redesigned the Benin national football team’s strip.

5. When Japanese designer, Junya Watanabe printed silk garments for his 2009 runway show with Vlisco designs without the company’s permission, he was ordered to stop and forced to settle out of court.

6. The Museum of Modern Art in Arnhem staged an exhibition in 2012 dedicated to Vlisco. Titled, Six Yards Guaranteed Dutch Design it explored the history and cultural impact of the company.

*The Benin national football team – nickname, The Squirrels – did qualify for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations but it competed without a Vlisco-designed strip, meaning a corner has been cut at number four.

1. Vlisco had its first catwalk fashion show in Paris in 2009.


The Guardian Launched as a weekly in 1821 in the wake of the Peterloo Massacre with an agenda for political reform, The Guardian (or Manchester Guardian as it was known until 1959) has been a focus for liberal views and a rallying point for the Left for almost 200 years. Its recent renaissance, inspired by a series of agenda-defining scoops and its early-adopter advances into online news delivery, suggest that newspapers (albeit possibly without the paper) still have a future.

Fun on the outside, serious on the inside; the bright, cheery layout of The Guardian cleverly avoids the austere conventions of its social-liberal philosophy. Traditional, yet modern, must surely have been the brief for the redesigns in 1988 and 2005. However, although each was spurred by fresh thinking at The Independent, the latter effort was also required to address far wider challenges for the newsprint industry. To harsh judges of return on investment, the £80m sunk into new presses capable of producing a full-colour Berliner format was too meagre and too short-lived to deserve applause. Although sales initially rose by 5%, loss of readers quickly resumed and daily sales now stand at little more than half those of the heady days of 2006.


At a time when HMV, Blockbuster and Jessops have all succumbed to the convenience and value of online shopping, it’s worth recognising that design works best as a catalyst for change, not a panacea. Measured against the broader need to transform its business model, the transition to online publishing, facilitated by a fresh new look, is a triumph. Averaging more than 30 million unique users a month, the online version has catapulted The Guardian from second smallest national daily to second largest. The brand’s problems have not been cured – far from it – but the challenge is at least now clear: to match the growth in digital audience with growth in revenue. AK


Timeline 1821 John Edward Taylor published the first weekly Manchester Guardian.

The Manchester Guardian, 1821

1872 Charles Prestwich Scott became editor.

1959 Dropped ‘Manchester’ to become The Guardian. Advertising, 1921

1964 The editor’s office and major departments relocated to London.

Advertising, 2007

1992 G2 features section launched.

1999 Guardian Unlimited online network launched. The Guardian & Observer offices

2009 A Guardian app for iPhone and iPod Touch was launched.

2011 iPad app


Launched Kindle and iPad editions.

Did you know? *One of these stories needs to be spiked.

2. On the first day of the Lady Chatterley trial in 1960, the paper carried a front-page ad for The Daily Telegraph with the strapline, ‘The paper you can trust.’

3. In 2004, The Guardian encouraged readers to write letters to citizens of Clark County, Ohio, encouraging them to vote for John Kerry in the forthcoming Presidential elections. The plan backfired spectacularly and the paper printed a selection of the responses from predominantly outraged US citizens headlined, ‘Dear Limey Assholes…’

4. In 1995 Tory Treasury minister, Jonathan Aitken sued The Guardian and World in Action for alleging improper business dealings, claiming that he would employ ‘the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of fair play’. In the event, The Guardian and WIA were vindicated and Aitken was sentenced to 18 months for perjury of which he served seven.

5. In a move designed to irk its critics, for Christmas 1997, The Guardian sent out ‘holidays greetings’ cards manufactured entirely from recycled paper which comprised 20% organic lentils.

6. In June 2012, was revealed to have 30.4 million unique users internationally, making it the third most popular newspaper website in the world.

*The paper might have its finger on the pulse but no such lentil-themed stationery ever existed making number five the fib.

1. The Guardian has always been regarded as somewhat eccentric. For many years it carried no horse racing coverage and Private Eye rechristened it ‘The Grauniad’ because of its reputation for typographical errors.


Fiat 500 Borrowing the idea from the wildly successful Beetle revamp of 1998, Fiat designer Roberto Giolito unveiled a brand new version of the Fiat 500 in 2007 to immediate critical acclaim, multiple awards and huge worldwide sales. With increased safety features, miserly fuel consumption and a sense of fun which instantly captured the public imagination, the new Fiat 500 – or Nuevo 500 for purists – has continued to prosper, even helping Fiat regain a toehold in the US. The one question remains: if there are 500,000 potential varieties available, why do you see so many in white?

In our unsettled world, it sometimes seems we want anytime but now. We either yearn for the supposedly better times of yesterday or look forward to the brave new world of tomorrow. Having had a nostalgia boom in ‘retro’ design for a few years, we now see something more nuanced – the best of the past blended with what tomorrow can deliver. As Ian Rickson (director of Jerusalem) put it: ‘I like the idea of treating classics as if they are new plays, and new plays as if they are classics.’ In short, current design is often delivering a sense of the retro progressive. The ‘new’ Fiat 500 fits this basic template. For example, beneath the curves from a previous era new technology aids more fuel-efficient driving behaviour. That said, the original was nicknamed Topolino (little mouse) because it had a certain characterfulness and, let’s face it, this design is more about feeling than engineering. 124

The latest design has steered a clever course by updating those famous lines, but also making the car bigger. We still want cute but won’t settle for cramped any more. It takes skill to retain charm and character in the face of wind tunnels and other sensible considerations. We are often convinced by emotional, not functional, design excellence that transcends logical comparison and talks to the heart. That the current ads sell the 500 on the colours it comes in perhaps illustrates that tough times like ours call for one thing above all else: charismatic frivolity. As such, this is a design for today; it’s all about the now. SA


Timeline 1957 The Fiat 500 was launched as a cheap and practical town car.

1975 Vintage poster, 1957

Production of the 500 ended.

2007 The new Fiat 500 launched as a celebration of the car’s 50th anniversary. Contradictory Sayings ad, 2010

2008 The Fiat 500 was introduced in Mexico.

2009 Fiat 500 & Uniqlo

The Fiat Barbie 500 launched to celebrate the toy’s 50th anniversary.

2010 Awarded ‘Green Car of the Year’ by What Car? magazine.

Natasha Poly for 500 by Gucci

Pink limited-edition


2012 Gucci and Fiat presented a collection of short films starring the 500 by Gucci.

Did you know? *One of these stories is small but perfectly flawed.

2. A version of the 500L which launched in the UK in 2012 was the first car to come with a built-in coffee machine.

3. The 500 has boasted numerous special editions to emphasise the individuality of the brand. These include versions inspired by Felipe Massa, Gucci and Barbie not to mention the Abarth 695 Maserati which retails for £32,000.

4. A range of US celebrities have been enlisted to promote the car’s new colours. These include Jack Black, Pink, Alicia Silverstone and Corbin Bleu.

5. In 2013 Fiat launched the 500e, an electric version, available to buy only in California. Fiat/ Chrysler chairman Sergio Marchionne revealed that the company loses $10,000 on each model sold.

6. Jennifer Lopez attracted negative reviews for her performance at the 2011 American Music Awards, thanks to her unsubtle positioning of a Fiat 500 (which she’s paid to promote) at the centre of her act. The LA Times described the stunt as, ‘the most cringe-inducing, embarrassing performance of the night.’

*Number four comes equipped with a falsehood as standard.

1. When a Swedish Google Street View car was spotted by a quick-witted Fiat employee, he dispatched a 500 to park infront of the Volkswagen HQ in Sodertalje, near Stockholm. Anyone seeking a Street View image of the company premises (type ‘Volkswagen Group Sverige AB, Sodertalje, Sweden’ into Google Maps) will now see a red Fiat 500 parked proudly infront of the main entrance.


Christian Louboutin The guru of shoe, Christian Louboutin has used his insight into the female psyche to create an empire which sells an estimated 600,000 pairs a year with a turnover of $300m. From formative experiences with three older sisters and a spell at the Folies Bergère, Louboutin has built his reputation on women’s desire for killer heels and provocative design. His creations reflect his natural wit while his legendary networking is perhaps best reflected in the fact that one of his first customers was Princess Caroline of Monaco.

Patrick Cox, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo – even in luxury shoes, competition looms large. Yet, arguably, pre-eminent in this crowded field is Christian Louboutin. How did he do it? And what can we learn? Lesson one: as when placing your bet in a sweepstake, go either high or low. If you are literally and metaphorically raising women onto a pedestal, make them feel fabulous. Lesson two: exclusivity – the fundamental for luxury goods. Peerless quality, high price, controlled distribution. Supply reigned in, just behind demand. Lesson three: a signature device. In Louboutin’s case, the genius of his trademarked red sole, a status symbol for the wearer and beautiful IP for the brand.


Lesson four: mine a rich seam. Louboutin’s constant reference to burlesque surely frees him from the curse of fashion designers – the unending search for next season’s idea. Taking inspiration from Parisian showgirls could easily have been misconstrued, but the paradox of Louboutin’s fetish for razor-sharp stilettos is that they both sexualise and empower the wearer. The brand empathises with its customers’ intimate desires, making them an object of desire while staying firmly in control. In today’s mix-and-match world, canny women put on a pair of Louboutins and that dress from Zara looks a million dollars. AK


Peter Lippmann’s version of Jean Baptiste-Camille Corot’s ‘Portrait of a Girl’ for Christian Louboutin.

Timeline 1963 Christian Louboutin was born in the 12th arrondissement of Paris. Pigalle Spikes

1981 Louboutin interned at the famous Parisian music hall, the Folies Bergère, which provided inspiration for his future work.

Fifi Strass

1992 The first Christian Louboutin boutique opened in Galerie Véro-Dodat, near the Louvre Museum.

2002 Bengali Sahara

Louboutin designed shoes for the final haute couture show of Yves Saint Laurent.

2007 Louboutin collaborated with film-maker David Lynch on an exhibition entitled Fetish, at the Galerie du Passage in Paris. Bianca Python Multicolour

2012 Very Mix Peep Toe


The Christian Louboutin brand celebrated its first two decades through a capsule collection on the theme of ‘20 shoes for 20 years’. The collection brought together some of the designer’s favourite shoes from his archive.

Did you know? *Shoe-ly not. One of these is distinctly counterfeit.

2. The designer is a lifelong fan of Coronation Street and on Julie Goodyear’s retirement from the series he presented her with a pair of shoes with the word ‘Rovers’ on the left heel and ‘Return’ on the right to celebrate Goodyear’s many years behind the bar.

3. Louboutin’s shoes featured in an episode of the final season of Breaking Bad, worn by Czech meth trafficker, Lydia.

4. In 2011, Louboutin lost a lawsuit against Yves Saint Laurent who had produced a pair of shoes with a red sole which the designer unsuccessfully claimed infringed his trademark. The following year a Manhattan Appeals Court upheld Louboutin’s claim.

5. After a prostitute who had committed a murder was found to have a Louboutin card in her bag, the designer commemorated the event by creating a slingback with a detachable strap which he called ‘The Murderess’.

6. The designer once created a pair of shoes for a client which included her divorce papers.

*Mon Dieu, it’s numero deux. No such pair of Corrie-themed pumps were ever fashioned by Louboutin.

1. Inspired by the Wim Wenders’ film Wings of Desire, Louboutin has developed a fascination for swinging on a trapeze. Having practised for over 20 years, he has had trapeze bars installed in his Parisian home and has even set up a full trapeze rig in his Portuguese beach house.


Winsor & Newton The market for artists’ materials might not be as large as it once was, but Winsor & Newton enjoy a monopoly of it, if not in sales then certainly in popular imagination. The company is no longer English either in ownership or location, but thanks to the evocative nature of its products, the notion that it remains so is a difficult idea to shed.

Winsor and Newton’s 1973 packaging for drawing inks illustrates several principles that I believe can make a Champion of Design. The packaging endures because the little bottles contain a fantastic product which the design very smartly made the star: a diverse range of artistic talent was employed to advertise the ink’s full potential. Each beautiful pack image was drawn in Winsor and Newton inks, accenting the colour in that bottle. This is a range greater than the sum of its parts. Individually they are nice, but together they are a wonderful collection – the diversity of images and styles harmonised by a strong and simple design layout. The crisp outer box and the inner jar with its Aztec-temple-style silhouette combine to create a unique physical experience. To open one, to dip a brush, is to experience packaging as ritual. 132

They transcend fashion. The original range now acts as a snapshot of illustration styles in vogue during the 70s; nonetheless, consistency has moved them past cool, through quaint, until they simply ‘are’. The brand deserves a prize for having never tinkered, updated or ruined them by trying to improve. This restraint has delivered them a design classic. As a child, I saw these inks in shops and took them for magical play blocks. Seduced by the drawings I begged for a couple and, once home, learned to draw with them, as my six-year-old now does with me. The great packaging delivered even more than it promised. SA


Timeline 1832 Original logo

Winsor & Newton was founded at 38 Rathbone Place, London.

1835 The brand launched the world’s first moist watercolours. Oil paints

1841 It was awarded the Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

1937 Oilbars

The firm moved its colour works to a site in Wealdstone.

1976 The brand launched its fast-drying alkyd paint range. Oil colour solvents

1990 A B Wilhelm Becker bought the company.

2007 The brand celebrated its 175th anniversary.

2011 Watercolour half pans


Colour-making moved to France.

Did you know? *Watch out for the forgery among the following.

2. To advertise its Spring 2013 collection, fashion house Mulberry sent journalists a customised box containing a Mulberry sketchbook and a miniature Winsor & Newton watercolour set.

3. Winsor & Newton paints play an important role in Dorothy L Sayers’ novel, Five Red Herrings which features her famous aristocratic detective, Lord Peter Wimsey.

4. In the course of his electronic and concrete composition, ‘Hymnen’, the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen can be heard reading from a Winsor & Newton catalogue of Artists’ Watercolours.

5. J M W Turner used Winsor & Newton paints, but also used inferior, nonpermanent colours. When William Winsor chided him about this, Turner replied, ‘Your business Winsor is to make colours, mine is to use them.’

6. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of its first Royal warrant, in 1991 the company brought out a special edition of their famous drawing inks with their name deliberately misspelt as Windsor & Newton.

*Artistic license has been taken with number six. No such misspelt Royal special edition was ever manufactured.

1. The company exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and won the only prize medal available for artists’ colours.


Harley-Davidson Even before Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson immortalised the idea in Easy Rider and Steppenwolf sang Born To Be Wild, a journey of self-discovery into the wilderness has played a key role in the shared American psyche. The vehicle of choice for said journey has long been a Harley-Davidson which has come to symbolise freedom and rebellion for a large swathe of America. Despite Japan and Germany offering many bikes of greater comfort, speed and reliability, the hog continues to exert a powerful sway.

Swing your leg across the saddle of a Harley and say ‘hello’ to your alter ego. In today’s conservative society, owning a ‘hog’ is a statement of individuality. On a Harley-Davidson, quantity provides its own quality. A sheer hulk of metal, macho styling and a deep, throbbing beat announce your arrival from a block away, a world apart from the frenzied conventions of modern, high-performance bikes. Though antiquated and expensive, Harleys have dominated the ‘heavy motorcycle’ category by epitomising the freedom of the open road. Harley-Davidson reminds us that the progressive evolution of a retro style can deliver enduring success, an outcome doubtless helped by the five-decade tenure of Willie Davidson as head of styling.


But, like many a brand acquired by Wall Street, this champion reminds us of the perils of allowing myth to exceed reality. The business has pursued unwise tactics such as excessive brand licensing, crude corner-cutting and even the purchase of a motorhome maker to recapture ageing customers. Too often management has perpetrated crimes against the brand, as it struggles to reconcile its image as an iconoclast with the motivations of investors. Perhaps the most important lesson from HarleyDavidson is that design can provide auto-correction, ensuring that mistakes are quickly forgiven by returning to the visual DNA. The past always provides a key to the future. AK


Timeline 1901 Travel art poster

William S Harley completed a blueprint drawing of an engine designed to fit a bicycle.

1904 The first Harley-Davidson dealer opened.

1917 American bombshell ad, 2009

Roughly one third of all Harley-Davidson motorcycles built in this year were sold to the US Army.

1956 Elvis Presley posed on a KH model for a magazine cover. Harley Leather jacket

1969 American Machine and Foundry Company (AMF) bought Harley-Davidson.

1981 Driven by history ad, 2012

In mid-June Harley-Davidson broke from AMF, and the phrase ‘the eagle soars alone' became a rallying cry for the brand.

2009 The company announced its expansion into the Indian market. Dyna Fat Bob


Did you know? Harley-Davidson museum, Milwaukee. Image courtesy of Andrew Collins.

*Falsehood is riding pillion among the following facts.

2. Riders of HarleyDavidsons often refer to their bikes as ‘hogs’. This is believed to be because Harley’s racing team in the 1920s (known as the Wrecking Crew) celebrated victories by placing their pig mascot on the bike’s petrol tank while performing laps of honour.

3. 1969 proved an annus horibilis for the bike company. Not only was it sold to AMF (which cut the workforce and lowered standards) but the bikes were also widely seen being ridden by Hell’s Angels at the Rolling Stones’ concert in Altamont when Meredith Hunter was beaten to death by the gang. An event captured in the documentary, Gimmer Shelter.

4. In June 2013 Pope Francis blessed thousands of Harley-Davidson riders who had gathered in the Vatican to celebrate the company’s 110th anniversary.

5. In 1988, the BBC made a pilot for a show called HarleyDavidson: Cockney Rebels in which the musician Steve Harley and comedian Jim Davidson toured around London on a pair of motorcycles interviewing locals.

6. Harley-Davidson has traditionally been the bike of choice of Hell’s Angels. But the famous founder of the Oakland Chapter of the club, Sonny Barger recently revealed that he’s never liked them and considers the balancing system on the 88V motor to be ‘the kind of thing a Caterpillar tractor had a hundred years ago.’

*There’s more chance of Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank being commissioned than the fictitious pilot at number five.

1. In 1963, HarleyDavidson brought out a three-wheeled golf cart with a 245cc engine. The carts are now a highly prized collector’s item.


National Geographic Does National Geographic’s success across a range of different platforms in the digital age offer any lessons to other magazines? Only this perhaps: if the content of the magazine is strong enough (and National Geographic’s 125 years at the forefront of advances in photography, journalism, exploration and archaeology means it most certainly is) readers will pay for the privilege of accessing it. That might be as worrying to some as it is reassuring to others, but the yellow-framed bible of the natural world has earned its right to flourish.

Design is a vessel for content. If the content isn’t up to scratch then the vessel, however smart, won’t be worth a damn. So National Geographic is a Champion of Design on two counts: as a brilliantly bold and effective piece of branding; and because it has always made content king. When I am trying to show clients the power of branding to affect perception, I show them a picture of a penguin. ‘It’s just a photo of a penguin. Right?’ Then I add a yellow frame, ‘Ah, it’s a National Geographic photo of a penguin.’ The image immediately grows in stature. The real merit of National Geographic’s brilliant identity isn’t the warm yellow border, however, but what it frames: decades of pioneering photography, carefully selected and presented. The covers are a window onto the world; inspiring, eye-opening, illuminating. Even when you see the mark as a logo with nothing inside 140

the box, it conjures up all the fantastic images that have been shared with us. Beyond judging the book by its cover, the inside of the magazine has long been an elegant and considered design exercise, supporting the material in an un-showy and non-trendy way. Thus, the magazine ages well and can be revisited years after publication. As the brand moves into apps, merchandise and suchlike, it shows an elasticity that is only possible, in essence, because it has kept things simple – both in branding and in never allowing design to get in the way of content. SA


Timeline 1888 Logo

National Geographic Society’s 33 founding members met in Washington, DC. The first issue of the magazine was printed.

1909 National Geographic store, KL

The society supported the first explorers to reach the North Pole.

1952 National Geographic magazine printed the first article by Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

Live curious campaign

1962 First all-colour issue printed.

1997 National Geographic Channels International was launched.

iPhone app

2005 Partnered Warner Independent Pictures as a distributor of March of the Penguins, the secondhighest-grossing documentary film to date.

2013 Celebrated 125th anniversary. National Geographic cover


Did you know?

National Geographic magazine, March 1942.

*It’s a National disgrace. One of these is mapping the valley of deception.

2. In 2006, National Geographic published the first translation of the Gospel of Judas which suggests that Jesus planned the events leading up to his death and instructed Judas to carry them out.

3. In 1932, National Geographic also sponsored Marion Ravenwood, the first female archaeologist ever to set foot in Nepal. Later, she became the first woman ever to set up a bar in the country which she called The Raven.

4. The first National Geographic TV programme was broadcast in 1958 and was called The Bones of the Bounty. It dealt with the discovery of the wreck of HMS Bounty.

5. The August 1965 issue was a tribute to the recently deceased Winston Churchill and contained a flexi disc of his speeches bound into the magazine.

6. A 1948 National Geographic-sponsored trip to Nepal was the first permitted access to parts of the country in a century. Led by ornithologist S Dillon Ripley it discovered the spiny babbler, a bird believed to have been extinct.

*Marion Ravenwood did run a bar in Nepal, but only in the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. In other words, number three is a lie.

1. On the magazine’s first field expedition in 1890, the team discovered and named Canada’s highest peak, Mount Logan.


Nespresso For those seeking to recreate the high street coffee experience in their own home, Nespresso has been the right idea at the right time – an ideal half-way house between the taste-deficient instant and the full-on grind pursued by coffee purists. Nespresso might not be cheap, but it is clean, simple, consistent and provides a quick caffeine fix that most find fulfilling. As the Great British obsession with the bean continues, Nespresso looks ideally placed to be a winner in this most keenly contested cup competition.

The secret to the Nespresso model is that it draws comparison with coffee from a coffee shop, not instant. It’s a lesson in the extent to which reshaping your comparative set can transform your fortunes. Liberated from a category defined by jars and constrained by price comparison at the supermarket shelf, it has been able to redefine how we consume coffee at home. Its decision to restrict availability was a masterstroke. Buying online at Le Club or a boutique (if you can find one) allows us to build a new set of associations with coffee and creates a very helpful distance from the price we normally pay for it. More than any of its competitors, Nespresso has recognised the importance of an attractive machine. It appreciates that its consumers care (a lot) about the appearance of their kitchen counter. In partnership with a select group of manufacturers, Nespresso has created appliances that hold their own next to a KitchenAid mixer or a Dualit toaster. 144

The capsules make the most of the aluminium substrate and have a jewel-like quality that makes each one feel precious. The unique shape is immediately identifiable and carries far more charisma than the discs or pods offered by competitors. Beyond this, the brand has borrowed brilliantly from the world of luxury goods, from its glass collection boxes to the in-store experience. Nespresso demonstrates that truly great design doesn’t simply do something different within a category, it creates a new one altogether. JJ


Timeline 1986 Nespresso SA, a NestlĂŠ Group company, was founded, initially selling four coffee varieties and two machine models. Nespresso Sparkle Pink Essenza

1991 First major expansion targeted France and the US.

1993 Crealto limited-edition coffee capsule

The first aviation Nespresso machine was installed by Swissair.

1997 Machine production partnerships were forged with Jura, Magimix and KitchenAid. Capsule holder

1999 The first Nespresso boutique was opened in Paris.

2006 Manish Arora for Nespresso

Company exceeded CHF1bn (ÂŁ0.7bn) in revenue for the first time, while George Clooney became its global brand ambassador.

2012 Nespresso achieved its 75% capsule-recycling objective one year ahead of plan. Discovery box


Did you know? *Send for a barista, there’s a case of perjury in one of the following.

2. Penelope Cruz replaced Clooney as the brand ambassador for Nespresso in 2013.

3. Nespresso’s inventor, Eric Favre scoured Italy to find the best traditional espresso. He finally settled on Rome’s Café Sant’Eustachio where barista Mr Eugenio produced what Favre considered the best espresso he’d ever tasted. Favre concluded that Eugenio aerated the coffee grains better than any of his competitors and used this knowledge to develop his system.

4. The Arctic Monkeys insist on having Nespresso available in all their riders.

5. The Nespresso system is protected by almost 1,700 patents. However, this hasn’t enabled it to fight off cheaper suppliers of the coffee capsules despite a lengthy series of court battles.

6. A Brisbane designer known as Hologramer has made a wall-mounted system for storing Nespresso capsules inspired by Donkey Kong and known as CapsuleKong. The aluminium device is capable of holding 50 pods, which are loaded at the top and roll to the bottom in a manner reminiscent of the video game.

*Suck it and see that number four is not in fact true. Nespresso does not feature on the Arctic Monkeys’ rider.

1. George Clooney has spent a large amount of the money he earned as the face of Nespresso on a spy satellite which monitors the border between North and South Sudan, and particularly the activities of Sudanese dictator, Omar al-Bashir.


Acknowledgements We would like to extend a big thank you to all the contributors to this book. Particular thanks to Advertising Archives, Alice Hawkins, Andrew Collins, Andrew Taylor, Angela Arnaout & Inyoung Choi, CADA Design Group Ltd, Curtis Cronn, Karen Muskett, Kliment Kostadinov Kalchev, Leica Camera AG, MEGAMUNDEN & McFaulStudio and Peter Lippmann for kindly sharing their images. Special thanks to Andrew Gibbs, Founder and Editor in Chief of The Dieline, for writing the introduction. Within jkr, thanks to Mina Jee for the book’s design. Thanks to Myles Dewbrey for photography and retouching. Thanks to Lisa Bohm and Andrew David for artwork, and Norah Lewis and Judith Allan for production. Thanks also to Karen Watson for liaising with photographers and artists far and wide. Finally, thanks to Amy Maw who, more than anyone, got this book into your hands.

Want to read more? Our past 4 publications can be downloaded for free at the Kindle Store.



Which kitchen favourite has collaborated with Barcelona FC, the All Blacks and Veuve Clicquot? Which brand came to life following the discovery of lager flavoured nipple gel?

Champions of Design 3

Which brand is protected by almost 1,700 patents?


Which brand name means ‘Hawaiians’ in English?


Champions of Design 3 More observations on creativity for competitive advantage from jkr


Which brand has earned its place in the Official Preppy Handbook? …and what makes a Champion of Design? This book celebrates thirty-five great works of design, the people who created them and the clients who bought them.

Knowles, Amos, Joice

JKR122_05_JKR_Champions_of_Design_Cover_2013.indd 1

25/10/2013 19:36

Champions of Design 3  

More observations on creativity for competitive advantage from jkr

Champions of Design 3  

More observations on creativity for competitive advantage from jkr