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Design Investigation

Brand identity Tom arrowsmith 1202627

contents design investigation Introduction asking questions & responses infographics: location & results who answered? & Interpretting data

01-02 03-04 05-06 07-08

Illustrations Inspiration and trends fresh slate work environment parts of a brand What animal? work more, look less blood boilers, keeping work start fresh, feedback know when to stop childhood hobbies changing career principles, phones travel, stress relief paid/ self initiated work originality hobbies lead the way

09-10 11-12 13-14 15-16 17-18 19-20 21-22 23-24 25-26 27-28 29-30 31-32 33-34 35-36 37-38 39-40

wrap-up project success, Artefact & thank you


“ Providing, meaning to a mass of unrelated needs, ideas, words and pictures – it is the designer’s job to select and fit this material together and make it interesting.” - Paul Rand

Introduction I want to go into brand identity. I’ve always admired the practice for its ability to serve as an artistic, physiologic and communicational outlet. Seeing a brand that looks good and communicates their message strongly with me has always served as inspiration to get involved. I love seeing assets that have been designed together to represent a brand, somebody steer a common idea in a different direction, finding someone with a really cool product or service - these just make me say “yes!". Another reason I think I’d like to work in this area is because I hate it when I don’t see these things and end up wanting to redesign it anyway.


Asking questions Who?


During my design investigation, I’m going to ask as many people as I can about this field of practice to broaden my understanding of it. A mix of agencies and freelancers and varying questions will hopefully give me enough breadth to get some good insight.

Visualising data


I will be using Bēhance to filter my search, and then I’ll follow them up with an email to ask them questions. I’ll also be doing web searches contacting whoever I find using this method.

mixed results

What? I don’t want to bore these people with generic off-the-top-of-myhead questions. By assuming the basics and avoiding those unsubstantial questions I think I’ll get a much better response. I’ve got some questions about brand identity as a whole, but there are some deeper questions that have always been on my mind when it comes to working in the industry, like working with clients, how to stay inspired and always do the best work. To keep this interesting element going, I also want to try some thoughtprovoking personal questions - these will help me understand who these people are beyond what they do for a job.

How? I’ll conduct the questions and answers in a text format, as it’s much easier to document and the interviewees can take their time to think about and curate their answers.

To make the emailing process a bit simpler, I made a general template that I only had to change the name for each time. Using the first email to introduce myself, explain what I’m doing and to ask for help, in my opinion, is a lot more polite than dropping my questions into their lap and leaving them to it. This way we also get to have a bit of conversation and to know each other.

Email Template Hi ..., I’m currently studying Digital Communication Design in London, and will be specialising in brand identity when I graduate. Just to get more of a feel for what this area of the industry is like, I’m asking people who are obviously well established in it a few professional and personal questions - would you mind taking part in my study if I send you the written questions? Your input would be greatly appreciated. Hope to hear from you soon,

I emailed a handful of agencies firstly, but after a few days I got 1 email response and zero answers. I then emailed a few freelancers and was overwhelmed by how quickly they were responding and answering my questions. Nearly all of them responded and expressed an interest to help me, and six of them answered my questions. They were good answers as well, not just “yes” or “no” - they elaborated on their own points and took my questions further than I did in some cases.







searching I found the agencies by searching on Google, and the freelancers on Behance by filtering them by their practice. After having near on no success with agencies, I just went on asking more and more freelancers.


Tom Arrowsmith


agency vs freelance

Location When you’re emailing people, all distance is removed. I want to know these people as people rather than digital beings in the ether, so it’s helpful for me to know where these people are. Unsurprisingly, my search pointed me mostly to people within the boundaries of London.




“Waves” of emails

(UK) (1) liverpool

(1) Lincoln (1) Norwich

(5) outer london (13) inner london (1) brighton (Us) (1) los angeles

sets of answers Freelancers = 6 agencies = 0


more results


14 : 1 average time to recieve answers

< 1 Day / (1) savannah, ga

save time ask freelancers.



answered? Below are the six people who answered my questions. Luckily, I managed to get these from a what looks like a range of people different age groups, genders and areas of practice other than brand identity. I appreciate the time they took to give me some really great answers that will help me greatly in my design investigation.

William bayley 23 year old graduate from London College of Communication.

Giorgia Smiraglia Specialises in Graphic Design, Branding and Pattern Design

Duane Dalton BA Hons in Visual Coms & BA Hons in Fine Art

interpreting all of this data

Whittling down

With six sets of answers from interviewees, I need to find a way to show this information in a way that’s interesting - not just blocks of text. Taking this large amount of information and whittling it down into more manageable chunks is the next stage.


I think the next step would be to make illustrations for each question. Extracting the most interesting parts of each answer and congregating them into a single answer will help me show the information in its simplest expression. All of the illustrations will be styled differently as each question is different and deserves its own style, and the answers associated with them may lend themselves to a particular style. Self-containment is another important piece of criteria I want to bring to these, in that you would just be able to look at it and know what’s being said without any help. I like the way illustrations are done in the book “Visual Research” by Ian Noble and Russell Bestly, and how the text that accompanies it is unobtrusive yet essential to understanding the context of the image.

the layout

The illustration, being the most important thing, will take up as much room as it needs. The associated question and answers will fill the rest of the space, but will be discreet enough as to not distract from the image.

Dan Lawrence Graphic, packaging and brand designer based in London

adam charlton Freelance brand identity designer, MA in Design from Goldsmiths University in London

Samuel Ladlow 31 year old Graphic Designer

Ian Noble, Russell Bestley, Visual Research - p.64-65, p.29





What are your top 3 sources for inspiration, in any medium, that you look at regularly? The world around us, and the things in it that we disregard because we see them frequently. Secondly, the Internet and places like Behance, and thirdly books - I find even writing can inspire design, a quote or saying can inspire work. I’m always on design, ffffound and other random tumbler’s. I also like to take a look through my book or just take a look.

Behance, my book collection (a lot of Unit Editions), past graphic design.

Mainly Behance, LovelyStationery and WeLoveTypography.

Every day: Tumblr, and hiking with my dog.

Everyday life, behance, or ted

How are trends helpful? Do you think they stifle or enhance creativity? Some trends such as what we see at the moment like minimalism and craft are not really trends. They have always been here and if a trend works then why can’t it stay? However it’s how you evolve a trend and further it which makes the work better. If you were to stick with strict rules to the trend, then you wouldn’t be creating original work. Trend prediction is big business and a lot of agencies have people in-house to flush out what’s gonna be the next big thing. The hardest bit is convincing the client to go with something new.

A bit of both, they are interesting to observe and can help with you output, but it’s important to try push beyond what is current. Or do the complete opposite.

Even if I am surely influenced by them, I hate trends, they are naive and counter-productive.... Bruno Munari used to say “Nothing goes out as fashion.”

I dislike trends, fashions and anything that is too transient in design. To create work with legacy it is important not to be influenced by the styles of the present. It is very easy to overconsume visual references, becoming over inspired and design-blocked. I look at blogs for maximum twenty minutes a day, this seems to work well for me, others might need more or less, it is a personal balance thing. Neither really, I think its good to aware of trends and use where appropriate. I think you can tell a designer who is just jumping on the band wagon. Great work stands the test of time regardless of trends. 09-10


How do you start on a fresh slate for every project, and not take influence from your past work too much? Of course past work influences present projects. A project is never really finished as we as constantly think back about how a project could of been executed differently, so we save those ideas for the next project. Get “project closure”! - Putting the project on the web for feedback is a great way to take a breath after each project. I try to not re-visit my work too much but I use to gain feedback from peers. Its good to feel like you own your work as it represents your practice, but after the project it is good to “let it go”, to clear your head, and to get critique. I don’t, sometimes I am influenced by my previous work by being actively different. Every project you have done informs you future practice, that is not to say you should not experiment, you should always be learning by doing. I don’t ignore past projects, I’m normally juggling 4 at once.

Every project is different, every client/company has different needs and roots. A lot of research at the beginning can steer the project in a unique and fresh direction. By concentrating firstly on the client.



What do you enjoy most about your work environment? The people. I couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do what I do without my fellow designers about me.

I currently work from home, which is both good and bad - I can work anytime of day or night, but because of this- I normally work ALL day and ALL night! I have to enjoy the space and like to get things the way I like before I can do work of any value. It is good to feel relaxed. I just bought a new screen and I must admit I am enjoying it rather a lot. It makes a huge difference not to be stuck on an old monitor! I never mind investing in things I use for work. I can listen to tunes, dress down, and work without somebody bothering me all the time.

The coffee machine.

Bright, clean, organised, easy to focus.

The white colour.



Is there a single piece that sets a brand apart, such as the logo, colour palette or website? Or is it all equal? It depends on how engrained a brand is on us. The Nike tick for instance has been around for an age and is indistinguishable from anything else and copes perfectly well on its own. But thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s because we have seen it for years, younger brands however still need time to grow and as a result need fuller brand identities to told apart. A brandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s parts must work together. For a brand to be seen from the outside as holistic, a brand must be true to itself from within. Every piece of brand collateral has to compliment and underline the other, from the website through to stationary. I think its about tone of voice rather than a single thing. Its a combination of many factors.

A brand is about everything. A logo in the top corner of a letterhead just doeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not cut the mustard anymore.

A brand is comprised of all these things. But ultimately it the companies responsibility to commit to the brand with their values and customer service. Any company can have a nice logo and various fancy applications but this is all pointless if they do not provide a quality service worthy of the brand. I think that everything evolves out from the logo concept. The logotype is a container of significance, it is the mother of a complex collateral. The website, the colour palette etc. are the sons.



Do you spend as much time consuming/ looking at otherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work as much as you produce your own work? I spend a lot of time on various networks absorbing every thing to do with design, Behance, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, various websites and blogs. I also refer to books too, invest in books.


What animal what would you be and why? A cat. Sleep. Eat. Repeat.

A seagull, like Jonathan Livingstone.

A slow lorris. They look like they enjoy every living moment.

My Dad always asks me this! - I always answer: Penguin. I am not sure why.

Cat, I like lying around :)

A bird, a small migratory bird that sees the world is beautiful and non threatening. I love the idea of being able to fly

I do not to look at others work too much. I like to look at work in other creative industries, and not to binge too heavily on work that might distract my own voice. I consume absurd amounts of design podcasts, I love to hear where the work comes from, how it is contextualised by the people who made it, more than particular details of the projects. Today I listened to a Design Matters podcast with Hartmut Esslinger of Frog Design, who is the most incredible and inspirational industrial designer and design-business strategist. Not so much now. With a busier work schedule my morning commute and lunch breaks seem to be the only times to take in new work.

Just when I come across to an issue, to look how other designers sort it out in similar projects.

Yeah I spend way to much time on blogs and behance.

No, I spend a lot more time doing.



What five things, related to your area of practice, make your blood boil when you see them? ●●Great work, poor documentation/ photography. ●●Bad attention to typographic details, kerning, tracking, etc. ●●Copying ●●Private Instagram users, don’t know why, just annoys me. ●●Website that don’t work, especially portfolio sites.

●●Bad kerning. Someone spent many painstaking hours designing a typeface which you can’t even kern properly? Get a grip! ●●Drop shadows. Just no. ●●Ridiculously short deadlines. ●●Helvetica. Get over it. ●●And coding. I’m just annoyed I can’t do it.

●●Badly considered and rushed design. ●●Work without strong concepts. ●●Type bastardisation. ●●Visual puns. I hate obvious design, for example the word bicycle, made into the form of a bicycle. Do not misunderstand; I believe design must translate simple messages and stories with smart design, visual puns are just vomit with no thought or consideration. ●●Plagiarism. Poor attention to detail, bad kerning, missed opportunities, miss alignment, poor font choices. QR Codes, The colour red and blue together, Standard posed model photography, There’s one model from shutterstock I see everywhere and circular text holders.

●●Starting a project mainly pushed by aesthetic justification ●●Over-usage of Photoshop filters ●●Business images like the Fotolia ones “homemade” pictures supplied by the client, the arrogance mixed with the ignorance.


Do you keep or throw away the work that you didn’t use in a final project?


All work in a vault for future reference!


Everything. It may come in handy.


Every draft I produce.

Depends, if it is shit it goes.




Everything and so should you. You never know when you might need it.




In what circumstances would you use templates in your work? Or do you start off fresh for every new project? Magazines for instance use templates and may have a cycle of a year or more before the guidelines change. Yet others may change with every publication. It depends entirely on the medium and brief.

Are you more likely to initially give positive or negative feedback on someone else’s work? Negative if need be but with advice on how to improve it. If I asked for someone’s advice and they said it was ‘nice’ I’d tell them to fuck off. If it’s shit, tell me. But tell me also how to improve and further it.

I will give critical and constructive feedback if required, i will not dance around and say something is nice for the sake of it. If something if not right I will do my best to offer a solution or just keep my mouth shut.

I like to always try and find the positive. It is so easy to be negative and cynical.

I look for positives but at the same time if something is wrong you must be told, designs should not be precious

Start positive and end negative.

I can’t answer.

Website design I will tend to refer to a past grid and perhaps tweak it a bit. Other than that templates and grids are determined by the content, and are unique to each project.

I try not to use templates. I am lucky to practice quite freely.

A client with a low budget who wants something quick but professional.

Start fresh and see how things go.

I usually start fresh for every new project. 21-22


How do you know where to stop and not go too far when nearing the end of a project? Ask other people for their opinion. It’s an easy thing to do. Ask someone on the street. With a lot of design projects everyday people are usually the target audience. I they think it’s too much then strip it back.

I always go too far, I think its good to be obsessive when finishing a project to make sure the prior work is justified with great execution. Ask yourself is this necessary, take a break from it and come back. Be analytical.

I’ve normally not gone far enough, I’m always coming back to stuff.

Not sure really. A project can have a natural end once all the requirements have been met. Generally discussions with the client will determine the profession of the work. Forcing myself to chose the lesser evil!


What were your hobbies as a child? Do you still take part in any of them today? I played with Meccano all the time. And cycled but I had an awful bike which I was always tinkering with. All that translates into my design now, I much prefer a hands on process. Anything that involved making a mess. I still like small doses of mess today- it helps to hold on to your childhood love-of-makinga-huge-mess! Drawing, painting, computer games, football. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t paint much and I would like to play football more, plus I dont make much time for games. I loved paint by numbers, I wish I had time to do one nowadays.

Drawing, cycling, being outdoors, video games. The normal stuff, still do all of this today.

Drawing. It is useful now.



Give one example about when you changed your mind on your career. When I couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get an apprenticeship in Carpentry. I decided to go back into education and fell in love with design.

I have made some strange moves, I was asked why I went from studying Product Design at BSc to a Critical Design Theory MA, but my progression has always felt extremely natural. Go with your gut. I did illustration for a term at uni then decided it was limiting my creativity

Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve never really changed my mind on my career just made my mind that I should go for it. The other option was driving a folk lift.

When I finish my Fine Art degree, I knew it was not right, so I studied graphic design for a further 3 years.

It happened 3 years ago, when I realized that in the studio where I was working I had not the opportunity to grow professionally (because of the crisis)..I was tempted to study cookery.



What would you say are your three main principles that you apply to all of your work? Don’t overthink things. That’s when ambiguity can come into the work, so a focus on one outcome or idea needs to remain even if the work involves multiple mediums. Don’t jump straight to a final outcome, there will always be something you’ve missed. Even if working for a client, keep looking at the work and see if you like it. For a project to work and be coherent it needs to be admired by all parties. ●●Be obsessive and learn everything you can about the subject and client. ●●See the brief from as many sides and perspectives as possible. ●●Let all this information digest and ferment inside your brain, slowly common themes will present themselves. ●●Justify the concept with the execution.

What do you think about people’s changing behaviours at events - recording them on their phones or cameras rather than watching with their own eyes? I think that memories are memories no matter how they are made. I myself would never record at a gig though as I’d rather just watch and remember but we are in an age where people want to keep everything in a digital format. We take photos everyday and have a better record of our lives than our parents did, and I think that’s a bad thing. This is a great question. It is amazing; we find ourselves in a world contextualised, justified and framed inside screens- the “Black Mirror” effect - and yet when we are presented with the chance to simply enjoy the moment- we struggle to let go of the technology lens. I always went to music festivals growing up and I never missed-out not having an iPhone to hand. In fact I am sure I experienced more without one. I am going to Glastonbury this summer and determined not to take my iPhone out when (experiencing) the events...! Absolute bullshit, why would you want a low res poor sounding immitation or what will be an awesome memory. Live for now.

Efficiency, variety, creativity.

Communicates the right message, simple and memorable. I what I try to achieve.

Yeah it’s a funny kind of thing, people are more interested in showing others how cool they are via Facebook, Instagram or Vine. It’s a crazy world we live in, were one direction have sold more albums then the Beatles and Bieber is an Icon to young kids.

Stay calm, Enjoy it, Challenge yourself.

Emphaty, rigour and aware audacity.

Each to their own. Of course its nice to document something, but then you should enjoy it where your there. It’s right in front of you. Its like people spending half their time taking pictures of their food rather that eating it and enjoying the moment. Its a kind of false documentation because you’re not totally imersed in the event you are involved in. I think it could depends from a lacking self-confidence, such it is more important that other people see what you do instead of yourself. I’m also victim of it sometimes. 29-30



Would you rather holiday somewhere touristy and sunny or somewhere rural and exotic? Rural. Preferably Sicily. Good wine and good food. Always rural, the only place I love to be a tourist is the places I live! I love visiting exhibitions where I know nothing of the subject. There are some awesome exhibitions to stumble into if you stumble hard enough.

I like the sun, but I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really have a preference. I like to see opportunity everywhere, so a holiday anywhere is great, its what you make of it. Rural and exotic.

How do you relieve yourself from stress? A cup of tea and a cigarette.

Run, I drink alcohol (I use to smoke but not anymore) have dinner with my wife.

I walk the dog each afternoon; he comes and gets me at 2pm on the dot! It helps to pull myself from the screen and working environment for an hour, splits up the day and gives some structure. Freelancing can be consuming, it is good to get outside influence, to feel the breeze!


Cycling, going somewhere new, sleeping, reading, music.

By making homemade fresh pasta ;) I like the sun and the sea.

Somewhere rural and exotic.



How often do you pursue self-initiated projects? As often as time allows. As said earlier it helps progress my practice as well as my learning and techniques.

I like to always have a couple of self-initiated projects on the go. I have recently finished a woodblock print series, I wanted to learn a craft and get into making with my hands as well as on screen. This has definitely taught me a tacit skill, improving my mind-to-eye-tohand translations. Did you know that your hand is more dexterous and able than your mind can keep up with? Think the 10,000 Hour Rule. – I must have only 9,980 hours left! The Craftsman is a great book on this. Rarely, I just don’t have the time, I would love too.

I normally extend projects that i’ve worked on into the project I would of liked it to be. I also work closely with a record label and they pretty much give me free reign. A lot, I believe in this a lot and feel very strongly about it. There are no limitations with this line of work. It can purely exist to satisfy only you. If others appreciate it, then that a bonus.

I could say 40%


How do you stay â&#x20AC;&#x153;originalâ&#x20AC;? in your work? Do you think originality is important? I think it is but sometimes trends and needs of others restrict originality, moreover, trying to be original may sometimes lapse into being commercial. And I try to do as many personal projects as possible which give me time to practice and experiment, often leading to more original work than that of my professional work. I think is more important to make good design instead of original design. This is a paul Rand quote.

I have no idea where originality comes from, I struggle with it, I worry that fully understanding it could possibly kill my originality. I would like to think that I will explore all the possibilities I can before I develop ideas into stronger and real concepts. Yes and no, sometimes you need to speak a language the end user understands

Originality is very important but almost every idea is stemmed from those before. vvvv I believe it is very difficult to be original. If there is such a thing. I just try to do what is right and appropriate for any given job. I use self initiated work to be more expressive and playful. I find this a good balance. Elements of originality are good, if you can achieve it but otherwise just work hard and do what you want.



To what extent do your hobbies have an influence over your work? I’d love to say that I’m one of those who run or cycle or do after work activities but I don’t. I mostly cook and drink and I fail to see how that influences design. On the most part, design is my hobby. I practice as an artist, which goes hand and hand with design. I like to keep it separate- I do not attempt to commodity the art side of my work. The art practice lets me explore without aims, reasons or justifications- it simply lets me play. I love sport so I try and gravitate towards briefs that involve sport.

My hobbies is my work most of the time. Except snooker.

I like to cycle, so when i move to London I got the opportunity to team up with Cyclelove and Cyclelux. I designed a beautiful t-shirt that embraces cycling culture. Other that that Music and Formula One, have impacted my work, and i have created poster series for both of these passions. I could say 30%


How do you handle a client that clearly doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know what they want? Show them examples or similar work, and ask as many questions as possible. The work may be for their company but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s them who has the final say and knowing that person better will further the work; a personal as well as professional relationship needs to be maintained. I not saying you need to go for tea though. Clients are clients because sometimes they do not know what they want! I talk them through the process. The most important part of my work is the process I go through to achieve the execution. I would get the client as involved in the process as possible to tease out what they want. Ask them about their audience, ask them about things they like. give them very varied solutions. A bit like sighting shots, one to the left and then one to the right and you usually end up in the middle somewhere. Persuade them to go with what I want.

I will take the lead and be confident in direction. I will advise and make quick, confident decisions. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll will take pressure off the client

I should learn it yet.


wrap-up impressions Thanks to my interviewees, I’ve gathered a lot of information about the brand identity as a practice, and gotten to know a handful of the people that work in it. It’s interesting to see how similar views are shared between them, while others can express the opposite. For example, there is a general consensus that it’s vital to keep all of your iterative work, but Sam Ladlow said “if it’s shit it goes”. With this in mind, it goes to show how valuable it is to get a broad set of results - I wouldn’t have had such an interesting project without it because I had so much to work with when it came to representing my findings as illustrations.

Thank you

Execution Self-containment and individuality were the criteria I wanted for every illustration, and I think they have that. I chose subjects that suited the questions and answers associated with them, and while not all the information in the answers was translated into an illustration, focussing on the most common answers helped me create more concrete expressions. Having to find the fundamental feelings within each answer was a really useful process, as it not only made all of the illustrations very concise, but also made me read every answer carefully and take in what was being said.

Professional knowledge

william bayley

Giorgia smiraglia

Dan Lawrence

Duane Dalton

Adam Charlton

Samuel Ladlow

There weren’t necessarily any surprises with the answers I got. I already had some basic assumed knowledge, but what these people have really answered for me are some of the questions I had that go a bit further than that - things like working with clients, how to approach new work and how to stay fresh and inspired. These are really important questions that have always been on my mind in some way, and now I feel better equipped with some professional knowledge and a lot more confident that I can also work in this area of the industry one day.

Artefact This booklet was the complete project from beginning to end. For our brief, we also had to create an artefact that shows off the work in the best way, and to do that I’ve decided to create a shared Photostream. Rather than creating a complicated webpage with a gallery of images, the iCloud page displays them just how I wanted. See them at the link provided on any device.

for taking part



design investigation

Brand identity

tom arrowsmith - 1202627 April 2014

Brief 04: Design investigation  
Brief 04: Design investigation