Saatchi & Saatchi Design

Brand identity, positioning and design communications.

Portfolio Tips for Design Students

We see a lot of student work at Saatchi & Saatchi Design. But no matter how great the work may be, simple mistakes in presenting your work can be distracting and frustrating. The ones who get the portfolio right are already one step ahead of their peers. So we thought we’d share some tips to help you make your portfolio show your work in the best light possible. Follow the tips below and let your work speak for itself.

  1. Keep it relevant. Demonstrate your understanding of the company you’re applying to – for example at Saatchi & Saatchi Design we are branding-focused with a corporate bias. Put your work in the relevant discipline up front. Show us you’ve done your homework and aren’t sending us the same file to a dozen other agencies. This doesn’t mean you should exclude your work in other disciplines (e.g. photography, illustration, etc) but keep in mind you portfolio should convince the recipient that you are as a good fit for what they do.
  2. Show multiple applications. Consider the breadth of real world applications. A single logo and letter head only tell part of a story. Show a wide variety of applications, e.g. signage, vehicle graphics, TV idents, website and social networking pages. Take a look at the student work at Brand New Classroom for some great examples.
  3. Let your work breathe. Focus only on one project per spread, but don’t feel limited to just one spread if the project merits.
  4. Give proper credit. If you’ve worked on group projects, let us know which aspects you worked on.
  5. Label your file clearly. Make sure your name and contact details are in the folios of every page of your document. If your file gets printed out and shown around, you want people to easily identify you and know how to get in contact with you.
  6. Send a single pdf file. Pdf is an industry standard format and can be read on mobile devices. Avoid Word documents, or multiple jpgs.
  7. Keep your file around 5Mb, no larger than 7Mb. Many corporate email clients can’t accept attachments larger than 10Mb, so you want to keep well under. Make sure you optimise your pdf export settings, use RGB rather than CMYK (3 colour channels take less space than 4) and set your JPG compression accordingly. Avoid rasterising vector graphics except in the case of extremely complex work. For more information on optimising the size of your pdfs take a look at this tutorial on the pdf optimiser tool.
  8. If you have a portfolio website, still send a pdf file. Sometimes being able to print a self-contained document is just easier. Send us a selection of your best work in a pdf and link it to your website for anyone who wants to take a more in-depth look later on.
  9. Put your CV at the end of the document. Your work is far more important than your CV. Let your work to show us your skills. Keep the CV to a single page and keep it at the end of your pdf.

Saatchi & Saatchi Design is currently accepting applications for student placements. All submissions should be emailed here. Unfortunately only current students who have not yet completed their studies are eligible. If you have already graduated, please send your work samples here, where we will keep your application on file for consideration should any graduate positions open up.

Please note, due to to the number of applications we receive we may not be able to respond to everybody immediately. Good luck!


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Kaisen: doing more with less

It’s a tough time. One of the things you can expect agencies to do is to find ways of doing things less expensively. For the last two years Saatchi design has been helping a client shave hundreds of thousands of euros from their costs. Our role has extended the idea of creative delivery to include creative use and management of resources – making money go further. This means doing things differently, seeking new technologies for delivery and impacting on process and decision making in both client and agency structures. The Japanese call this process Kaisen and its something the UK needs.
Far from painful, it has lead to more efficiency, greater transparency and satisfaction. Ironically by tightening the creative parameters, we’ve been challenged to be more creative.
As the public sector feels the weight of budget cuts- it has to be a good time to rethink how things are done: refreshing creativity, combining technology, imagination and process for the common good.
We’ve also found that helping charities to reduce costs through digital technology and social media, they benefit from better margins, higher value donors, faster turnarounds , wider social impact and greater effectiveness .
Think Kaisen, act positive, be radical, and embrace technology, use creativity.
Call us to discuss your communications?
Links to Kaisen.

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Who is your identity for?

Photo by f.e.m.k.e on flickr.

Identity is at the core of our being. Defining who we are as individuals, groups or organisations seems simple, but is in fact complex and ambiguous.

Ask yourself, who am I? Other people may give you different answers. As father, son, partner, friend, colleague, client, provider, supporter, citizen?

Our identity is rarely fixed, we play different roles according to the context and project different faces to different audiences. Often we reappraise how we behave and adjust expectations accordingly, adapting our responses to different needs. This is a natural, but it’s not simple.

Organisations too are complicated: audiences and stakeholders are mediated through the organisational brand, products, employees, distribution and communication channels.

The other great intermediary is the media, who shape perceptions of us all. Perhaps the rise of social media reflects our need to express ourselves and manage our identity, but it may also represent another milestone in our absorption into mainstream media.

For now it’s the platform for self expression, identity and individuality, let’s keep it that way.

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Identity theft? Protecting our stories in the information age.

Alan Garner spoke at the Oxford Literary festival about the persistence of folk legend as an expression of identity. He referred to the legend of Alderney edge as told by his grandfather. It’s an Arthurian legend that incorporates Iron Age and Saxon information encoded in its DNA. The people around Alderney relate the story, and in doing so they lay claim to their identity and the land.

Alan has deciphered the references to specific places on the edge. They inform archaeological, geological and linguistic features that add up to a clear historical narrative, based on Iron Age boundaries, metal working and ancient belief systems. Stories, for preliterate societies were the means by which information was passed on.

Today we have computers that record our information, but, how much of our identity will remain once we wipe the programmes or trade up to the latest devices? Already the British library is trying to preserve some of our earliest websites, less than 20 years old.

We are also transferring our identity to brands and technology in the way our ancestors did to place. People are already defined by the brands they keep, their social media community, postcode and buying patterns on a loyalty card. But this raises questions of ownership: how this information persists, who owns it and if our identities are defined by other people – research agencies, retailers, media and government? Are they today’s story tellers and how do they describe us?  Could we even become invisible to future generations? Perhaps identity theft comes from those we least suspect.

If we forget our stories, and allow others to define our identity we will be complicit in identity surrender. Make the effort to reflect how you can retain your sense of personal and cultural identity in the information age and create your own stories to offer the future.

Filed under: Digital, , , , ,

Good brand guidelines are a springboard, not a straightjacket.

Today’s smartest companies are led by their brand values and beliefs. A strong brand identity leads and reflects the company’s values and reinforces these qualities through brand guidelines. But guidelines do more than mark out rules and regulations, they tell a brand’s story, focusing everyone together in the same direction.

Brands are becoming more open and expressive. This means guidelines also are becoming more emotional, less rigid and more flexible, enabling brands to adapt their tone and to address multiple audiences. Good guidelines strike a balance between emotional engagement and continuity and avoid drawing the brand too far from its focus.

Old brands, new tricks

In the past guidelines tended to stamp their brand onto the marketplace, believing that presenting a consistent image would eventually lead to becoming a trusted partner of choice. This worked at the time, because consistency became familiarity, familiarity became trust and from trust came acceptance and allegiance. Today consumers and businesses are more brand savvy and need to see the brand living, breathing, and becoming a part of their lives. Engaging staff and customers becomes an invitation to join in and interact, rather than directives on what to and what not to do. A good example of this new flexibility is Coca Cola. In the ‘70s and ‘80s Coca Cola stamped its red and white branding all over the globe; now, as official sponsor of The Championship Football League, Coca Cola has allowed changes to its brand colours to match that of home teams across the country. Perhaps none stranger than those of Norwich City FC!

Coca Cola Colours

Flexible brands are enduring brands

Brand content and message can also become more important than overall look and feel. For example, Vodafone’s ‘Make the most of now’ message is held in a clear red panel, but behind this can go all manner of illustration, photography or moving images. The brand message is consistent but the visual brand is alive, responsive and adaptive to the audience being addressed. Consequently, the visual elements of the brand work that extra bit harder in all forms of media; extending the brand’s longevity and saving on expensive brand overhauls. Flexibility is the key to successful brand guidelines, and companies need to have the confidence to allow the brand to grow and build relationships with different audiences across multiple platforms.

Vodafone Advertisements

However, one bad apple, especially high up the tree, is all that is required to spoil the brand. This is why it is vital that everyone in your company understands, buys into, and is able to articulate the brand in a consistent way. This is no small task, but it will give you a huge advantage to enjoy over more fragmented competitors. Remember: flexibility, the balance between emotional engagement and consistency, will keep your brand vibrant now and into the future.

See how Saatchi & Saatchi Design have worked with our clients to design effective brand guidelines.

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20 top tips for designing effective brand guidelines

  1. First understand:
    • Who will be using the guidelines
    • What they will gain from using them
    • Where & how it will be accessed
    • Why the guidelines are being produced
  2. If it’s being targeted at an in-house design team, then involve them from the beginning.
  3. Pick up one big idea which permeates the brand. Explain how following the brand guidelines will help communicate this idea to your brand’s key audiences.
  4. Live the brand; design the guidelines in the look and feel of the new brand design.
  5. Before working on details, first create a pagination and have it signed off.
  6. Create a clear section numbering system make clear reference to it in the body copy.
  7. Create section dividers containing a table of contents for each section.
  8. Have a clear introduction upfront to explain why the guidelines have been produced and how adhering to them will strengthen your brand.
  9. Guide, don’t tell. Engage the user. Tone of voice is key, so keep it short and simple to understand. Depending on your brand, some light-hearted copy in key places can keep it fun and creative.
  10. Have a clear typographic hierarchy. A three tier typographic platform works best, i.e. 1. Headings, 2. Introduction copy,  3. Body copy.
  11. Brand Guidelines by Saatchi & Saatchi Design

  12. Make rules flexible enough for designers to be creative but rigid enough to keep the brand easily recognisable. Occasionally situations will call for rules to be bent, but never broken. Continuity is key, especially if you need the brand to breath and extend across multiple media.
  13. Digital distribution is now common, so you needn’t be restricted to a limited pagination. For clarity, try to express only one or two key messages per page.
  14. Provide a Toolkit to help the designers get started. This should be a single page overview of your brand look and feel, and including your identity, colours, typographic treatment, imagery and other graphic devices.
  15. Show clear examples of how the brand should look across a full range of different media.
  16. If your brand has been mishandled in the past, consider including a Don’t Do section, showcasing common errors.
  17. When distributing digitally, create an interactive pdf. Hyperlinking your table of contents, email and web addresses will greatly improve usability. Create these in the Master InDesign File and not within Acrobat, to save having to repeat the process with each revision.
  18. Basic contents for brand guidelines should include:
    • Contents
    • Introduction
    • Company Values or Spirit
    • The Big Idea
    • Toolkit
    • Identity
    • Identity Clear Space
    • Copywriting and Tone of Voice
    • Colours
    • Typography
    • Photography
    • Graphic Devices
    • Layout and Grids
    • Applications
    • Overview with examples
    • Further Information
    • Contacts
    • Glossary
  19. More detailed brand guidelines may include:
    • Signage
    • Advertising
    • Stationery
    • Digital and Web
    • Merchandise
    • Co Branding
    • Cultural or Behavioural directions for staff training.
  20. Have your Management Team sign off all design at key stages before going public.
  21. Brand guidelines will not be enforced automatically. Be sure to schedule a review after the launch of your guidelines to ensure that they are being followed and to see where any problem areas may be occurring.

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Abbreviated symbology: technology is driving brand evolution.

The digital revolution is crunching brands into smaller spaces. Channel operators, phone applications, favicons and social media slots are driving format and, in the case of iPhone applications, configuring logos into Apple formats. Let’s call this process abbreviated symbology.

Icon evolution

You might have noticed that Logos are being stretched across many formats and have to work harder to stand out. We’ve noticed that technology channels are driving brand identity and accelerating icon evolution.

Small is emerging as a dominant form of brand identity, so getting it right as a Microformat is key – Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook. (Y,T,F) have all effectively abbreviated. In time we believe many brands will inevitably adopt abbreviations as their lead format.

Logo - Favicon - Icon

And the winners are:

The most effective brands distil and shape their online presence using the fundamentals of shape, colour and font into a mnemonic or logotype: see Coca-Cola, Facebook, Yahoo or Nike symbols.

Some, like Greenpeace, Disney and Pizza Hut are chaotic; while others, like McDonalds and Cadbury corporate are more cautious of social media. Either way we are observing technology change the face of brands and rewrite the rules of identity and control.


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It pays to be virtuous in social media

Social media works because people self select what is of interest to them- it’s a system free at the point of use.

Like any activity people are motivated by a few psychological drivers: the need to belong, to be engaged, and the need to grow. We know that people interacting with brands on line do so to fulfill their own needs, rather than the needs of the brand. Brands thinking of using social media should consider what consumers might want from it, and how their brand can adapt to fulfill audience needs.

Like it or not users are beginning to drive brand agendas in social media. Brand positioning and responses therefore ought to be robust enough to accommodate digital turbulence. If you are prepared to let the outside in, be generous, virtuous and interesting and willing to interact with people on their terms, you’ll get the benefit. On the other, it’s not hard to identify sectors and organisations struggling in this new landscape, but at stake are reputations that can be made or lost. For once, it pays to be virtuous and empathetic.

Filed under: Digital, , , , ,

Highlights from Future of Web Design London 2009

Recently I attended the Future of Web Design London 2009 conference. It was a great chance to look at both the technical, and creative sides of digital design. Event hosts, Carsonified have posted video of the sessions from the conference, and here a few of the highlights:

  • Meagan Fisher’s talk on Designing Effective Mobile Interfaces
    The mobile web is growing fast. The way web content is consumed is beginning to fracture, much as TV markets have fractured. Each year, more and more users will be interacting with your brand through the mobile web. This talk deals with 3 approaches to serving your content to mobile users with the pros and cons of each. I concur with the approach endorsed by Fisher, of a mobile stylesheet — which hides unwanted content from mobile users as well as delivering a simplified layout and smaller, faster loading graphics.
  • Robin Christopherson’s talk on Accessibility
    Robin is legally blind and works for Abilitynet, a charity which helps get the disabled using computers and online. His talk demonstrated how a blind user browses the web, and highlighted good and bad designs from an accessibility perspective. His talk shows the very real benefit to good information architecture. All users, regardless of ability, will have a better brand experience when it’s easy to find what they’re looking for.
  • Mark Boulton’s talk on Web Typography
    Even with the advent of broadband, there is no getting around, the majority of the web experience is type. Despite a limited number of available “web safe” fonts, typography is plays a big part in your brand identity online. As Mark demonstrates — simpler, more often than not, is better.

All three of these talks in some way address simplicity. Simplifying content for mobile users. Simplifying site structure for greater accessibity. Simplifying typography for greater clarity.

With the buzz around Web 2.0 and social media, it’s easy to overlook the idea that less is often more. Twitter’s success can in some part be attributed to it’s simplicty. How can you clarify your brand message online and simplify your user experience?

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Youth culture & the evolution of social identity

I was alerted to the work of Michael Hulme of Lancaster University through our client, YouthNet. Professor Hulme researches how young consumers interact using mobile telephony and social media. His findings offer insights into the growth of social media and how young people project their social identity.

I loved the concept of Hybrid life – the idea that people no longer distinguish between their life on and off line. Rather, it’s all one vast continuum with the virtual world as real as the tangible one. We see examples of this like:

  • The couple who divorced because the husband was spending too much time with another avatar on Second Life.
  • New opportunities for all of us – from the professional to the 16 year old – to construct an idealised identity online. Everyone wants to present their best face to the world – a modern form of branded propaganda, like the official images of Elizabeth I.

I wonder where all this is leading? What impact is social media having on our sense of identity – on and offline?

Do we have multiple identities adapted for different purposes – subtly different for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? Are we witnessing an accelerated evolution of the virtual and individual self towards hybrid personalities?

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Why we blog

This blog is here to help us stop and reflect on our work, share insights we find on the way, and extend thanks to our clients who got us here in the first place. Enjoy.