The key to a good brand identity

Feast for the Senses

Feast for the Senses launched this month and we haven’t been this excited since someone stuck a cone on the top of the Cathedral spire.

Cathy from Uniquely Nelson approached us several months ago to float the idea of creating a local festival in the heart of winter. The aim of the festival would be to draw people into the City to experience some of the great eateries and and bring Nelson alive at night. The festival was to be called Feast for the Senses and would encourage diners to experience food from restaurants they may not have tried before.

The brief was simple: make it bright and make it warm. In winter, people are inclined to huddle around their fires at home, and we wanted to give them a reason to go out and have fun, even if it was cold.

We developed the typography and filigree artwork, then printed it out on to clear acetate along with a unique texture of yellows and reds. We then layered these separate sheets over a light-box and photographed it from above.

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We got the artwork printed onto clear acetate.

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We layered each sheet over a light-box, then photographed from above. This gave the image the warm glow effect we were seeking.

The resulting image was a glowing red and yellow backdrop with the Feast for the Senses text seared above. It was warm and inviting, like the glow that spills onto the street from a busy restaurant at night.

We then produced the artwork across multiple formats including a brochure, posters, car signage and website updates. It was a very satisfying job to be a part of, and by all accounts a complete success – many of the events selling out before the the festival commenced.

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The booklets were placed in shops around the city and contained a directory to inner City events that were to take place over the month.

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Posters warmed the streets and shop windows throughout the City.

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Nelson festival gets jazzed-up

When Frances McElhinney from Nelson School of Music approached us about doing the Nelson Jazz and Blues Festival artwork last year, we jumped on it like a boy on a bouncy castle. We have been designing artwork for local festivals for more than twenty years, and our experience coupled with our enthusiasm was well received by Frances.

Due to budget constraints, we only had enough time to have one decent crack at it — limiting how much we could do creatively. The artwork needed to be bold, bright and connect with people in a tangible way.

We began by creating the typography — made by hand, using sponge brushes and paint. This technique gave us big bold lettering with a humanistic feel. We then created the background artwork with a combination of sponges, paint and ink rollers. Hot reds and bright yellows with the Jazz and Blues Festival typography over top created a finish that was exactly what we had been looking for.

It was a bright, fun, and in-your-face design that met the brief and got people excited about the festival. We produced a 24 page booklet, posters, web artwork, and billboards that painted Nelson red for the months leading up to the festival.

It kicked off with Jazz and Blues in the Park at Nelson’s Fairfield Park. The warm sun was joined by a cool breeze on the park’s slopes making conditions perfect. By 5pm the crowd was estimated at 3000, and each following event was a full house.

The festival, overall, was a success.

“It’s looking fresh, funky and very summertime and that’s what it’s all about,” said Frances at Jazz and Blues in the Park.

The letter-forms were hand painted using sponge brushes and paint.

The letter-forms were hand painted using sponge brushes and paint.

The letters were placed on a vibrant red and yellow background.

The letters were placed on a vibrant red and yellow background.

The 24 page booklet and poster.

The 24 page booklet and poster.

Community Billboard.

Community Billboard.

Nelson art — worth its weight in gold

The 2014 Nelson Arts Guide has been out for a couple months now and is flying off shop shelves across the region.

It was a great pleasure to work with the RADi team on this special 20 year commemorative issue of the Nelson Arts Guide. This issue showcases over a hundred artists and craftspeople from Nelson to Golden Bay, as well as many of its finest wineries, cafés and cultural entities.

This year we asked the contributing artists to each create one letter in their style for the cover and set them in gold — ink that is. With classic typefaces and a new larger magazine size, the 2014 Nelson Arts Guide is truly a work of art and worth its weight in gold.


Gold ink on the larger, A4 format book.

Artists created unique letters which we clear-cut and covered in over-gloss to make them shine.

The type was set in Baskerville, known for its readability and timeless presence.

I grew my business without advertising

I was at a business lunch yesterday listening to a talk from a local businessman who is doing a great job. He gave an enjoyable ‘off the cuff’ talk, but there was one thing that irked me. ‘I grew my business without doing any advertising’ he said, and then went on to drop two or three little ads into his talk about his great product. That was a small business myth right there that ‘you don’t need to advertise to grow your business’. I think his first comment was referring to a type of advertising that is loud and brash, the kind that misrepresents the product and sounds like advertising. However, he has advertised because he’s a great salesman and to me all advertising is salesmanship. Advertising may be through a third party or through channels such as: radio, TV, online, in print, as an event or sales promotion; if you are selling it’s all advertising.

Why does advertising get such a hard time? Mostly because advertising interrupts, is annoying and is not enjoyable. The best advertising is the kind that doesn’t look or sound like advertising. It’s the kind of advertising that I enjoy seeing and would miss if it weren’t there. I was in a meeting today with someone who was oohing and aahing over some work we had done. It was nice to see they appreciated the creativity. Just the response we want. ‘It’s entertaining’ ‘beautiful’ ‘makes me smile’. Now what are you trying to sell me?.

Advertising can be great if it is done well. It can even make the world a better place if it’s done brilliantly. It is possible to miss it when it’s not there. It can even make a good business a great business. I’m all for advertising that makes our lives better and enriches the endeavours we are involved in.

A resounding slap of creativity

While a slap across the face is provocative, we actually used projection for a less stinging affect, but still got a lot of attention.

Something bright and bold was needed to kick start the 2014 Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) Creative Industries recruitment drive. The concept recognised that while many people know they have a gift or desire to follow a creative pursuit, they just need encouragement to take the first steps on to the creative pathway. We wanted a campaign to say “hey, you’re creative, put aside your excuses and be who you know you were meant to be” ‘ It needed to encourage viewers to find out more about the suite of choices available from NMIT Creative Industries, including visual arts, digital arts and photography, writing, music and interior design courses.

The resulting ‘Face It – You’re Born to Create’ campaign was literally ‘in your face’ and hard to ignore. We gathered a group of NMIT students, painted their faces white for a blank canvas and then photographed projections of words and images across their faces.

The photographs were used to create images for digital and print advertising. Online ads are linked back to a landing page ( that introduces visitors to an overview of what’s available at NMIT and acts as a bridge between the advertising and the detail of the NMIT main site. Our role was to come up with the creative ideas, collaborate with tutors and students and execute the campaign. This successful partnership created a sense of ownership with management, staff and students and also gave us a rich resource of images.

The results have been excellent with higher than expected click-through rates and good levels of engagement with the NMIT recruitment team. Smiling faces all round!


Landing page website used to capture leads and direct prospects to them main NMIT website.

Postcards and posters used as the first point of contact to lead people to the landing page website to find out more.



Interior design and external signage (Intepeople Part 3)

After rebranding Intepeople and creating a range of promotional items, we looked at Intepeople’s interior design and signage. As Intepeople moved into a new building as part of their rebrand,  we had the unique opportunity to incorporate the new branding into the interior design.

3D model of the new office

Because the building was still under construction, we created a 3D model of the planned interiors in Google Sketch Up (based on the  architects’ floor plans), so that everyone could easily visualise the areas requiring signage and other items of design.


3D mockup of the entrance banner, as viewed from the stairwell.


3D mockup of the entrance doors with frosted glass.


3D mockup of the foyer, showing wall mounted 3D lettering and branded soft furnishings.


3D mockup of the foyer, showing the feature wall.

Actual interiors and external signage

From the 3D mockups and the design files, the interior design elements and signage were rolled out through the building.

Banner in the Intepeople stairwell.

Frosted glass entranceway looking through into the foyer (during Christmas).

Wall mounted 3D brandmark in the foyer.

The foyer at Intepeople, with the feature wall, profile booklets and rack cards displayed.

Tailor-made cushions with Intepeople branding rendered in appliqué. 


Intepeople Managing Director Paul Bell outside the newly branded premises in Whitby House.

Boardroom table centrepiece

A feature of the boardroom is the custom-made boardroom table with branded centrepiece. This 3 dimensional piece is sculpted from wood and painted with a automotive paint finish.


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3D mockups of the boardroom table centrepiece.


The final centrepiece of the boardroom table, a 3D rendering of the Intepeople  icon under glass.

“We are completely satisfied with the end result and feel we have, in partnership ,developed a brand that fulfilled our desires. We commend Downing Design on the delivery of the final product.” Julie Baxendine, General Manager, Intepeople Human Resource Consultants