Review of the Year 2016: graphic designers DesignStudio


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We speak to London-based DesignStudio for our seventh interview of Review of the Year. Here the studio looks back at some of its biggest projects this year and ponders its hopes for 2017.

Graphic design and branding agency DesignStudio has worked on not one but two major household name rebrands this year among many, many other projects. Reinventing renowned identities for the likes of the Premier League and Deliveroo involves high stakes and lots of public pressure, but the London-based team took it in their stride, creating thoughtful, fun and, above all, bold new looks for both.

For the Premier League it developed a contemporary take on the existing brand’s famous lion marque, bringing in a vivid new colour scheme that moves away from the traditional red, white and blue, and a sans serif typeface. For Deliveroo, the old kangaroo was replaced by an abstracted kangaroo face, and the type was taken into lower case.

Both rebrands smartly considered their flexibility in digital applications as integral to the redesign. The studio also more recently worked on the branding for Blocks, the latest innovative musical instrument from Roli, visually linking its light-up interface to the identity.

Here, the team looks back on a busy and prolific year…

What was your creative highlight of 2016?

Working on Deliveroo and Premier League were huge highlights of 2016. Both brands have significant visibility – there is nowhere in the world we can go and escape the Premier League brand. Each game is potentially watched by five billion people, so understanding the scale of the task we have undertaken, how many people it reaches and how many lives it affects, is a huge realisation and achievement for the whole team.

Similarly with Deliveroo, the streets of London are filled with drivers and riders, bus wraps and billboards – our team was recently in Europe and in Dubai sending back photos of the brand we created, living, breathing and integrating in people’s lives.

What was your lowlight of 2016?

When the press got hold of the news that the Premier League logo was changing and subsequently told the world we were killing Cecil the lion! We had to sit and watch the world react to a false press story without being able to respond.

Of course we knew, particularly after speaking to thousands of fans, how much the lion meant to them and we were never going to get rid of it. Sometimes you have to sit back and let the story roll. Since the new brand launched this season, everyone seems to love the work and we’re excited to see it grow and evolve.

What do you think are the markers of a good year creatively?

At DesignStudio we always look at our work through the lens of our ‘meaningful difference’ agency proposition. A Meaningful Difference is how we measure the impact of our work on the wider world, beyond our own industry. Is this brand moving things forward? Are they being ambitious enough? How can we use this partnership to make a positive contribution to society?

These are questions we ask ourselves before, during and after every single project we work on – not just at the end of every year. It’s a purpose-led approach that helps make sure everything we do adds real, tangible value to our clients and their customers.

Which piece of work from the last year has been your favourite to work on?

Our project for Snapdeal, based in India, was great to work on as we were designing for a completely different culture. With the Premier League, we had the eyes of the world on us, knowing that whatever we created for such a cherished brand was going to have a huge reaction.

Further to this we have a few clients at the moment whose core purpose is to use technology, information and what’s available to them to have a genuine impact on the world beyond just aesthetic. It’s this work that really drives us forward.

Which piece of work from the last year do you feel has been most significant to your portfolio/career?

Every project challenges us to think athletically in ways that constantly inspire and surprise us. Especially our work with ambitious start-ups inventing what tomorrow means.

Our work for Glyph, where we defined a new category – Mediawear; our work with Shyp which is reinventing what delivery means; our work with Drivy which is changing attitudes to car ownership, and so many more.

This has been an extraordinary year for new ideas that we’ve been lucky enough to help define.

How has your work evolved over the last 12 months?

We’ve become more confident in what we offer our clients. We are willing to challenge more, push more, and understand what our offer is, rather than just bring identities to life. We can help them understand how we can create real change within their business.

What’s been the most important thing you’ve learnt in the last year?

Always listen but never listen too much. You should always take advice, but when you are trying to build something unique that people don’t necessarily understand you need to build belief. The heart sometimes is equally as valid as the head.

Who has been the most influential creative for you in the last year?

This has been a monumental year. Post Brexit and the recent American elections, the recent campaign by Patagonia, “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crises" is a much-needed reminder that brand has a role to play in being a positive solution.

Describe 2016 in five words…

Still a work in progress.

What are your hopes for 2017?

That we continue to find people who are bold and brave enough to make the changes we love to be a part of.

Supported by Google

At Google, we believe that design is critical to product excellence. That’s why we’re proud to support INT in its effort to champion a broad and inclusive community of creative makers and thinkers with the annual Review of the Year.

We also believe in fostering design through Material Design, a unified system combining theory, resources, and tools to help designers and engineers craft digital experiences, and through Google Design, a cooperative effort whose mission is to support design and engineering excellence by producing original articles, videos, events, as well as creative and educational partnerships. Sign up for the Google Design Newsletter.  

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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