"I would under no circumstances do a job for (Donald) Trump today"


Speculative creative work? What value do you place on what you do?

Great film. Thanks to David Airey for recently sharing this on Twitter.


Major update coming soon

SAM 3614


Doing business

I am lucky to have lots of great clients. Every now and again a new one comes along, usually by referral, and even though they can be lovely people on a social or personal level, it soon becomes apparent that they might lack professionalism and experience – and so working with them is likely to be difficult. It is hard to both deliver a project and educate the client at the same time.  

So I do turn away work enquiries from clients whose 'fit' just doesn't seem right. I wish them well and point them in a different direction to a different designer who might be more suited to them. This week I resigned an account because it just wasn't working out and it wasn't in my interest, or the client's interest, to struggle on. We parted very amicably.  

In my time in 'big agencies' I've had colleagues who have declined work for verious ideological reasons. Vegetarian creatives who won't work on meat-related food projects. Others who declined to work on security-related and armaments-related projects. Others who declined political work from organisations whose policies they didnt agree with. Recently the world's top PR companies decided to decline future work enquiries from anyone whom they disagreed with on this issue (although one of them seems to not be so committed).  

From the client's perspective, I've also lost tenders because they believed that another designer was more like-minded and would understand their brief more and so he/she got the job instead. C'est la vie. I'd advise any client to choose to work with a designer who best understands their objectives, their market sector, and their audience, and has the experience to prove it.  

Given recent events this week here in Northern Ireland, it seems I now need to publicly state here that I won't accept every business enquiry. There may be many reasons why. But if I do decline it will be in your best interests - I'll either be too busy to give you the service your work deserves, or I'll not be on your wavelength – but I'll wish you well with your project and maybe in future we might work together on something else.


Authentic Ulster

There are some projects which are an absolute joy. This is one of them. AuthenticUlster™ is now a registered trade mark of a company offering premium tourist experiences. The brand device is a modern combination of the old flax/shamrock/thistle/rose which was once widely-used to communicate the cultural blend of the province of Ulster. Website here.


Rumblers - convenience snack packaging


This project has just been rebranded by the client (it's now called Nomadic), but we loved what we did with it so thought it was worth posting here as a reminder - packed with fun and quirky messages - the varieties were 'Raucous Raspberries', 'Scrummy Strawberries' and 'Chunky Chocs & Curls'. As with all packaging design work, the objective was to have maximum shelf presence and to sell. And it did - a reported 32% uplift post-launch. We wish the client every success with the new direction.


Rumblers blog 1Rumblers blog 2Rumblers blog 3Rumblers blog 4

And here's the previous design approach – research had found it was perceived to be too artificial looking and that the oat message wasn't strong enough..Old RUmblers


Belfast Cathedral - identity, signage & reception desk

BC logo blue

BC Booklet cover copyBC signBC interior


The new abode

It's not quite finished yet, but the new office space is a joy to work in. It's a combination of vernacular proportions and features with 21st century finishes, as well as some creative quirks. Technology now means working from a beautiful rural location is just as accessible as working in the city, and clients enjoy the drive along the coast, as well as the hospitality when they arrive. We're on the most easterly point of Northern Ireland, but just 30min from Bangor and just under an hour from Belfast city centre.

SAM 4541SAM 4545SAM 4546


10 years ago: Corporate identity for the Northern Ireland Executive and 11 departments

In October 2003 this corporate identity project was launched. 10 years later it's still working well for all eleven government departments. Too often design is seen as a short-term measure - here's proof that it can stand the test of time. An 80 page identity manual was also produced, helping the departments and their suppliers to implement the identity system consistently, thereby reducing costs. Back then I remember some comments along the lines of 'it's not very exciting'. Frankly we have enough excitement sometimes in our government - what we need is stability, joined-upness and authority, some of the things this project sought to communicate.



McKee's Country Store - Christmas campaign 2013

The first items are now at the printers and will be in-store tomorrow. Winners of UK Local Food Farmer of the Year 2013.


Branding - Grant Estate Agents

Rebrand for north Down estate agency. Full set of collateral from stationery to sales boards also produced.


Branding - Ulster and the Great War, 1914-1918

Preparation is underway here in the UK to mark the centenary of the Great War, World War One. This simple, emotive, branding combines a number of famous icons of the war.


Peninsula Pens - logotype, sales brochure, display materials

Rebrand for craftsman Terry Williams, whose handmade pens are now selling in Northern Ireland's premier tourist attractions and also by mail order overseas. Studio and workshop photography by Peter Crymble.


Retail - McKee's Country Store entrance branding

A simple but effective improvement to a polytunnel entrance, with A0 sized blackboards for temporary messages.


Branding - Comber Potato Festival 2013



BBC Farm Fixer: Pets Farewell - Pet and Horse Crematorium

Earlier this year I was asked again to take part in BBC Northern Ireland's Farm Fixer, with Nick Hewer, produced by Waddell Media. The business I was teamed up with was an unusual one - a pet crematorium near Moira in County Down with the difficult name of 'Craigycor'.

The name was my brief - to come up with a new one which set the business apart from its competitors and which was trademarkable in the UK and RoI, available as a web address, and which would strike an emotive chord with potential clients. The passing of a much-loved pet is a death in the family, and the grieving owners go through a bereavement experience which is just as traumatic as the death of a human being. The new name needed to really connect with people who are grieving, and give them immediate reassurance that they were putting their last memories of their pet in the hands of an organisation they could trust.

When I met the owners, Ian and Karen Matthews, and spent some time with them understanding not just what they do but, critically, how they do it, we began a process which captured all of the compassion and sympathy which they offer to their clients. The process resulted in the name 'Pets Farewell - Pet and Horse Crematorium', which was presented to them live on camera. Thankfully they loved it (phew). I also gave some simple design advice on using a respectful dark grey as the corporate colour, and created a very simple logo. Some applications are shown below.

Ian and Karen have applied the new name to the business by themselves, and by all accounts it has succeeded in giving them the two key ingredients of any strong brand - standout and trust. Some months later, two friends of mine went to Pets Farewell after the death of a much-loved pet collie. The name was one of the factors in their choice, and the brand experience lived up to all expectations. You can visit Pets Farewell on Facebook here.







The cardinal sin of websites....

... is to not keep them up to date. Guilty as charged! I have a huge amount of fresh work to post here, so don't let the apparent silence put you off. If you're keen to see a selection of the most recent work then drop me a line and I'll send you a PDF showing a range of identity, brand refresh, literature, books, food packaging, exhibition, signage and web design - including a rebrand/renaming project for the forthcoming second series of Farm Fixer with Nick Hewer.


CD packaging design - The Colorado Band - 'Till The End'

'Till the End' is the title of the new 14 track CD by The Colorado Band. Back in July they commissioned me to create the logo, art direct a photo shoot and to then design the packaging for the CD. After an adventure involving sand dunes, a beach with an incoming tide, and an old charity shop sofa (along with award winning Northern Ireland photographer Peter Thomas), the final product has just arrived. Will be mailed to radio stations soon, keep an ear out for them as they tour across Ireland over the coming months.







BBC1 tonight - 'Farm Fixer' with Nick Hewer - Phil's Farm


Hope you've seen our work on 'Farm Fixer' on BBC1 Northern Ireland tonight and have come searching for us online. Our brief for the business opportunity featured in tonight's programme was to work alongside Phil Brown to develop his branding to enable him to potentially expand and franchise his business, which is a mobile petting farm aimed mainly at children.

None of the ideas were actually used, but the concepts below show the general approach which was:

a) to add the suffix 'tastic' to the name to depersonalise it and thereby create scope for other people to franchise it in other locations, and

b) to use a range of creative headline messages where appropriate. Strong branding is about creating a distinctive personality, combining both verbal and visual elements to get the brand's message across.

Advice was also offered on the need for trademark registration, a critical issue for any brand. Phil's website is here. Thanks for watching!



All sort of clients in all sorts of sectors...

...the common factor is that they need strong, effective communications, branding and graphic design. Thanks to all recent new business enquiries which have come in thanks to my brief appearances on BBC Northern Ireland's 'Farm Fixer', and to ongoing clients who are now giving me stick about having become a Z-list celebrity! Website update is still on the to do list, the hardest decision will be which projects to feature there. Stay tuned.