Archives for category: Design

In a world of commodities, there’s a sea of brands. How are you supposed to remember all of them? How are you supposed to process which appeals to you? It’s got to be Heinz but it’s always Coca Cola – that’s enough to confuse anyone!

You will naturally find yourself drawn to certain brands. This is through recognition. You see a brand, either consciously or subconsciously, and if you acknowledge it, you remember it.

I have seen Derren Brown lead peoples’ thought trails through pattern recognition. It works in a similar way with brands. You see them, you acknowledge them, you remember them.

But which brands are top of mind and why?

It’s different for all of us. Try this question and see what brands are your top of mind…

In 30 seconds (no cheating) name as many Cereal brands as you can….

3…2…1…So, what did you come up with?

You’ll find that the brand that come top of mind are with you for a reason. You’ve seen them, your brain has registered them, and you’ve remembered them.

The brands that reside with you, more likely that not will mean something to you- good or bad. It could be preference, prestige or pizzazz – there’s a reason you’ve remembered that brand.

There’s lots of ways that marketeers tempt us to remember brands – be it catchy slogans, jingles, iconic imagery, or conceptual style. Try these out and see how much you know about brands…


Washing machines live longer with….

If you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit…

Now hands that do dishes can feel soft as your face…

For bonzer car insurance deals, girls get onto…

Kids and grownups love it so….


Vorsprung durch Technik

No nonesence

I’m lovin‘ it

Every little helps

It’s a bit gorgeous

Iconic images

An orange box

A yellow m

A panda

3 lions

A man with a moustache

A tick

A swan

A lime green circle 😉

Colour – what brands to you relate to these colours?




Yellow and Black

Red and Blue

It’s all about creating ‘stick’. Something that makes you consciously take note of it. It’s remarkable how much we don’t realise that we remember. And if you don’t keep an ear out later and see if you’re singing about mild, green Fairy Liquid as you’re washing up. That sea just got a whole lot smaller…

(by the way, send us your guesses via comments or social media!)

Emma Dobson is a branding expert and Touch Point guru at Happy Creative, a full service marketing agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

Purely in a visual sense of course. We have all read with great interest the new design shift that has taken place at Apple with its new iOS. There is an interesting dynamic to this shift in design philosophy as Apple moves from “skeuomorphic” design to a ‘new modern swiss’ design style favoured by its competitors such as Microsoft’s Windows 8.
Skeuomorphic design mimics real world objects. The phone icon on an iphone has an image of a phone that none of us have in our houses today. It reflects the ear and mouth piece of a dial phone.

Steve Jobs believed that computers should be so simple that anyone could use them. He felt that this would be achieved by an interface design where digital elements resemble real world objects. When you analyse familiar digital objects, you see that this philosophy is embedded at many levels in how we access our digital content. The envelope is the first choice for email and SMS messages. Opened and unopened envelopes create a neat distinction between opened and unopened envelopes. On an Android Samsung phone the email icons is even more archaic. It uses an envelope with a red wax seal, an 18th Century prop but with a modern @ pressed into it. It’s not just the appearance of apps and icons, some of them also behave like their old-world equivalents, the note app having a page curl…

This design philosophy is familiar and quickly accessible to everyone. Steve Jobs would approve.

The design style that Apple is now following has another interesting angle, it is the result of a seismic shift within the company, which saw the previous head of iOS, Scott Forstall, outed in favour of British born-designer Sir Jonathan Ive, who oversaw the new software.

Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum, said it ‘represents a massive overhaul of the look and feel of the operating system, which has remained largely unchanged visually since the original version.’ However, he said the changes could be too much, by stating: ‘The new version is almost unrecognisable, which will make it polarizing. Some people will love that their phone feels new and different, while others will be disoriented by the newness.’

Apple has an amazing history of making objects that look and feel like nothing else. They didn’t invent the mp3 player, but what they did with it was amazing. Every product, from its packaging to other digital touch-points look like the pinnacle of design. I’m an Apple fan and I think that it’s taken them too long to realise the UI world has changed… and it wasn’t them that did it. The new Windows UI did that. Its minimal layout, flat colouring, strict typography and no unnecessary ornamentation was a complete paradigm shift for the market and makes Windows clearly distinguishable from its competitors.

Apple is now playing catch-up with its rivals. What looks like Helvetica Ultralight is an obvious choice rather than an innovative one that Microsoft achieved with Segoe. Helvetica Ultralight is generic modernist design; not Apple’s Myriad Pro, not built on Apple’s iOS past, and obviously not the herald of a new way at looking at user experiences.

It doesn’t create that distinction and have that incredible Apple touch that we all appreciate. It feels like everything else. Rather than being Apple. Has Apple lost its shine? Well, in a design sense it has. Any shines have been replaced by flat colours and opaque layers and as a trail blazer in design and innovation – I think it’s lost a little shine also. I wanted to see something different, something that made me think differently and from the screen grabs I’ve seen, I’m a little disappointed.

James Chantler is Creative Director at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

Very recently Britain saw the passing of Baroness Margaret Thatcher. The first (and only) woman Prime Minister for Great Britain. The reaction to her death was met with mixed response as some hailed her for being an inspiration to women all over the country whilst many adopted a more hostile reception.

What was most interesting amidst this media frenzy were the front pages of every newspaper the following day. As seen below some went for a more motivating headline: going as far as calling her “The woman who saved Britain” and “The great transformer”. Interestingly some opted for a more negative view with headlines such as “The woman who divided a nation”…

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Accompanying these headlines were images. Each one giving a very different feeling to its viewer.

It’s obviously very easy to form an opinion on someone as high profile as “The Iron Lady” but how easily are we as viewers convinced of a story if there was no accompanying headline or a four-column article to go with a photograph?

How easy is it to take an image out of context and add another headline? The Independent magazine image seen above could easily work for a negative or a more inspirational view of Thatcher. The image looks ominous but also ambitious.

This kind of imagery leaves a lot to the viewer’s imagination.

Let’s do a test.  Look at the image below and try and work out a story for the person in the photograph…


What did you deduce from this picture? Innocent looking? Smart?  Did you predict her to be a victim of murder? Perhaps she was a missing child?

Each interpretation will be different.

This is in fact a picture of Mary Bell.

The well-known serial killer who in 1968 killed two child victims at the age of 9. Now doesn’t that change your whole perception?

Any original thoughts of empathy, pity and curiosity (assuming that’s the approach you chose) are possibly now replaced with a more hostile and unforgiving feeling.  Knowing this information it is now very difficult to imagine her as a regular human being. Even whilst looking at her childhood photographs below you’ll always be thinking about the inhumane crimes she will go on to commit.

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Special news reports and television documentaries have been known to use this technique to gain empathy from its audience.

Biographies both in film and literature often choose these types of photographs to get its viewers to agree with their opinion of the person in question.  Below are a few examples of some film covers.  Without even knowing about the story it’s very easy to get a general idea of the film.  Of course you only think this because of the way the photo has been taken (or the knowledge you have on these people gives you an interpretation of the photograph).

jedgar coco-avant-chanel                                      Lincoln-Poster-cropped W movie poster Oliver Stone movie

Another example of how an image can be taken out of context was the incident between ex-Barcelona footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic and current star defender Gerard Pique.

A journalist snapped a picture of the two footballers in a very intimate looking pose. This resulted in a media frenzy as news outlets all over the world jumped to many conclusions. Some going as far as implying a homosexual relationship between the two. The rumours were quickly shrugged off by both footballers.

Much of the take on the ‘pose’ was driven by what is culturally acceptable in some countries looking strange and having a different implication in another. Some individuals and even countries and cultures see such a close contact and public showing of camaraderie as perfectly fine. Whilst in others it is considered behavior best to be kept private. Of course all this was a result of a camera shutter closing at a split second. Seconds later this same shot would’ve had a completely different composition and resulting feel.


Without any guidance, without someone giving their opinion an image can have infinite interpretations.

It is interesting to see what one person feels about an image may not be what everyone else feels. It is therefore important to not be easily influenced by the title on the page but to form your on opinion on the matter.

Remember that an image may speak a thousand words, but perhaps you should only believe half of what you see.

Hakim Shujaee is a Designer at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

If a picture paints a thousand words, then why can’t I paint you?

Quiz nights in the local pub when I was young were often punctuated by the opening lines of the Bread hit, If. Of course it was generally only the first couple of lines that were ever played, mainly for the amusement of the older crowd to sing along to. Not quite as much a crowd participation event as Sweet Caroline, but it was certainly a pleasant interlude. By the way it was a hit in 1971 , as my dad would point out, he of the encyclopaedic pop knowledge for anything pre-1978. 1 point in the bag!

Still, the old proverb that inspired the line “a picture paints a thousand words” remains as true today as it did at any time. With the huge amount of content and knowledge easily accessible at the end of our fingertips (or on our smart devices) it seems we are exposed to the equivalent of 100 copies of ‘Crime and Punishment’ everyday…and sometimes it’s just overwhelming.

Partly this is exacerbated by the need to give our clients, customers or suppliers as much information as we can to help with their decision making. Individuals within B2B companies and consumers are making buying decisions based on the knowledge they gain from search engine sources, blogs, social media and company websites. It’s a seemingly endless task for many of us to keep on top of the additional information we need to provide day after day.

Sometimes it just makes our heads hurt. We are after all a visual species, our learning and memory is very much based on pictures. I can’t be the only one that remembers those memory challenges on Record Breakers with the late Roy Castle. Once they’d completed the challenge, the ‘secret’ of the contestants’’ success was always explained by the way they created a journey of pictures turning words, numbers or objects into a visual walkthrough. Visual representation is an inate way of learning, just look at the learning devices created for babies…A is for Apple.

With the increasing importance of social media as a primary communication channel and the challenge that this creates in getting sometimes complex messages over in few characters, Infographics have become a fabulous tool in any company’s armoury.

Never tried one? Well here’s a few tips in how to create a powerful infographic:

1. Pick a topic.
An infographic can be used for anything. We’ve created them for boots, teaching material, training tips and even a couple of birthdays. Any kind of information can be turned into a powerful infographic.

2. Create/Collate your data
Data, in whatever form is the crucial part of any infographic. Create it, collate it, however works best for you.

3. Framework your information
Before you embark on any design, you must arrange your information on the page.

4. Design
A powerful infographic design has the ability to entertain, inform and take sometimes complex information and turn it into a simple representation. The design of your infographic is the key to success.

5. Links and Distribution
Remember an infographic will need to be carefully distributed in order to be successful. Social Media, blogs, customer service and your website are all key channels. With these in mind you’ll need to ensure your infographic (whether it is a static or interactive one) includes the key links to landing pages so you can monitor successfully.

Infographics are an excellent tool for any business. Let’s face it, would you rather spend hours writing chapter and verse on classroom management techniques or would you rather produce something like this…

A picture really does paint a thousand words, even if I never did get that answer right in the pub quiz. I will now.

Simon Brooke is a Director at Happy Creative, a strategic marketing and creative branding agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to or @Happy_Creative

If this question was to be asked a decade ago the answer would have been a very simple one. When your time came, everyone you knew told you that “you HAD to get a degree. It’s the only way you’d get anywhere in life.” However in a matter of years the situation has changed dramatically.
The U.K has seen a rise in students aged 18-24 who choose not to continue their education any further. This is largely due to the rise in tuition fees, which has risen from £3000 to a maximum of £9000 per year.
Unable to afford this, most students have taken the option of going straight into employment with what little qualification they have, whilst students leaving university, who cannot find jobs related to their course, have taken part-time jobs to avoid going into debt.

So is it all worth it in the end? Did the past 3-4 years at university make any difference to your future? The question that is rarely asked is whether all the education received from university makes a difference in the world of employment. Is it possible to move up in this world without a standard degree qualification? Speaking as a designer who narrowly escaped the wrath higher tuition fees I can speak from the design side of this argument. Here is what I learned from my past 4 years as a student and what pitfalls current and future students should avoid.

Personally I feel that my own university education only helped to a certain extent. Whilst throwing money at an institution is not the answer to all of life’s problems I feel as though I expected a lot more from them (especially for the amount I had to pay over 4 years) than the limited time I would get with tutors in return. A lot of my design instinct primarily came from college education and self-interest in my area of design. A good portion of my growth came outside the classroom in libraries and online tutorials due to my own curiosity. It says a lot when services you can get for free do more to further your future than the one you pay £3000 per year for. Don’t get me wrong though, I am not saying that my university didn’t teach me anything. However I feel that they have promised me more than they could deliver. Overall the experience I got from university was great. The interaction with my peers and challenge of pushing myself to greater lengths was exciting. But speaking in terms of the quality of teaching, I wasn’t entirely satisfied. Of course this could simply be the university I went to or only my course in particular. There is no way to know now whether it could have been any different had I gone elsewhere. I think the same rings true for any course outside of design where you are left to your own devices to think more independently.

There is also the unrealistic expectation that with a university qualification you will be an expert in all areas when your education is finished. However this is entirely untrue (as myself and many other design students before me have learned). There are many skills, many advices, and a lot of information that a student cannot learn about in their three/four years regarding the fast paced world of design. Things like client expectations, the quick turnaround with some projects, tight deadlines etc. The biggest shock for me was how fast paced design studios are in comparison to the lenient two/three weeks you get on a single brief.

In the design world one of the most important factors in gaining employment is experience. This brings up the age-old contradiction. How can you get any job experience if no one hires you without any? Some ways around this include freelance work, entering design awards & competitions and work placements. These are areas you can focus on where your qualification isn’t more important than your ability to speak and work as a designer. The pitfalls of looking for a design job without degree qualifications are the level of work you find. No one expects to land the role of creative director within their first year so naturally you’ll have to start at the bottom and work your way up. It will be tough at first but ultimately it will save you spending £27,000+.

The best advice I can give is to do your research. Go to the university you want to join and ask questions. Ask as many questions as you want. Find out about your surroundings, what the living standards are like, where is the nearest superstore, how long does it take to travel from A to B. Ask current students what they think about the university. Remember, they will give the most honest answer (it’s not their job to sell the course). Never stop questioning even after you have settled on a decision. Bear in mind that if the worst of the worst comes you can leave or still complete the first year. You’ll have one bad year instead of four.

Hakim Shujaee is a Designer at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to

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