Monthly Archives: June 2016

No Wine No See – Packaging

This wine packaging from Taipei is such a great breath of fresh air. Here in SA we are so used to what wine is ‘supposed’ to look like, that when you see it represented in a new way it really makes you rethink how we consider wine design. For us wine (almost) always comes in a 750 ml bottle and is all about heritage and terroir. We want to know which farm made the wine, under what conditions. We want to see a label that indicates mastery and trust.

But what about wine labels that are a bit more loose? A bit more fun and inviting? These are questions that Nio Ni, the designer asked, and answered really well. Here we see a fun, illustrative set of wine labels that change the way we see the category.

It just goes to show, in the world of design and branding, there is definitely more than one way to skin a cat!

Muse Ice Cream – Packaging

Having just featured ice cream packaging on the blog, we though it would be great to look at another new design for ice cream that uses patterns.

Muse Ice Cream, from Spain, uses a lot of soft pastels to bring their brand to life through their packaging. The design is courtesy of Mo Kalache, who has done a great job of bringing a feeling of sophisticated fun to the ice cream category. This is aided by the interesting form factor of the product – this ice cream is presented in block shapes, rather than tubs.

This is the beauty of smart design – you can quickly see when comparing these two brands that one comes from Africa, while another is much more European. And this goes back to one of the most important things about branding and design: You always need to take your target audience into account.

Now if only we could get a taste!


Deutsche Erbschaft – Packaging

Deutsche Erbschaft is a Russian beer with a strong German feel. It was developed in order to increase beer usage in Russia and bring a feeling of heritage and quality to a category that doesn’t always do very well in that country.

What we love most about this design, from Kian – a Russian design agency, is the way the typography has informed the look and feel of the brand. German type is so bold and strong that this seems like such a natural decision when you look at it. This is often the mark of great design: When you look at it, it just seems so obvious and so ‘right’. The harsh angles of the ‘d’ and ‘e’ are used to create a bold demarcation across the packaging that makes for a striking design that anyone would love to have in their hand.

This extends further into the bottle and even the communication design too. We can see on their billboards and posters how they’ve taken this ‘slash’ motif as a strong design element and used it across their collateral: A strong move. If you’re design and typography crazy like we are, it’s so gratifying to see typography being taken seriously and used so powerfully. So often it’s too easy to fall back on illustration, iconography or other design elements to resolve something but here, with a legacy of German type that is so bold and striking, it feels so right to let the type lead the design. It’s clear that we have kindred spirits in the design studio at Kian!

If you would like to know more about typography, lettering and the importance of letter spacing (believe us, it’s more important than you think!) take a look at our design course here. You’ll be a natural in no time!

Shwe Shwe Ice Cream

We love this! Shwe Shwe Ice Cream is a South African brand that not only makes incredible ice cream but also understands the value of great design. Here, they got Fanakalo to design their packaging and we must say, this is some of the nicest packaging we’ve seen come out of SA in a long time.

Using traditional pattern making as inspiration, Fanakalo designed patterns for each flavour of ice cream, resulting in a packaging direction that is unique and instantly recognisable. It is so gratifying to see South African design and creativity represented in this way. Rather than copying international design trends for ice cream (this could easily have ended up looking like a rehash of Ben & Jerry’s or Haagen-Dazs) Fanakalo and Shwe Shwe Ice Cream have managed to create something that is for us, by us.

So… who wants ice cream?

If you think you’d like to learn more about how to create great brands and beautiful design, have a look at our design course over here.

Hubbards Creamy Porridge Packaging

Hubbards is a brand of porridge from New Zealand that makes amongst other things, flavoured instant oats. Rather than focus on speed or simplicity in their packaging design, Hubbards along with their design agency, Coats, have created beautiful packaging that speaks to the quality of the product. From the soft watercolour splashes through to ‘window’ in the packaging that allows you to see the product itself, this packaging tells us that what we are looking at is tasty, quality and good for you too.

For FMCG brands, it is so easy to fall into the trap of designing things that look like ‘FMCG brand design’. While this allows for your pack to be recognisable by consumers, it also doesn’t do much to differentiate you from your competitors on the shelf. This is especially difficult for newer entrants to the market as they do not have a legacy of design from which to draw or that people expect to see. Consider our SA heritage brands like Mrs Balls Chutney or All Gold Tomato Sauce – they’ve been around so long that any significant change to their packaging would only serve to irritate people. Here, Hubbards was releasing a new line of porridges, which allowed them to push the envelope and make something premium and appealing.

And honestly, after seeing this on the shelf in a supermarket, how could you not want to buy some and take it home? This is the power of great design.

If you’d like to know more about packaging and how to create beautiful brands that people can fall in love with, we suggest you take a look at our design stream. In three years you’ll cover all the necessary avenues of design, from corporate identity through to packaging and even further.

You can learn more here.


Jacquelyn Martin – Tribe of Ghosts: Inner Light

Jacquelyn Martin is a press photographer for the Associated Press in Washington DC. She has travelled around the world taking photographs of American diplomacy with both Secretariesof State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.

Here though, she turns her attention to Tanzania, specifically people with albinism. These poignant portraits serve to bring to light the difficulties that albinos are facing in the country. Due to superstition, people with albinism are ostracised in Tanzania and often killed for muti by witchdoctors. It has also been reported that some people believe that having sex with an albino can cure HIV, which has allegedly lead to sexual abuse and rape of young girls with the condition.

Here, we see Martin using photography as activism. Her touching portraits of these people who are forced out of society serve to tell us their story and raise awareness of their plight. While the images themselves are beautifully constructed, they are so much more than mere ‘decoration’ or an image for the sake of it.

While the capturing of images is something we all do on a weekly or even daily basis (thanks to cellphones) this type of photography, where the photographer makes a true statement through their images is so powerful. It shows us not only the beauty of humanity but also the power that an arresting image can have. While we are undeniably living in the time of image overload, this type of work will always shine through.

If you’re interested in learning how to not just capture beautiful images, but also how to use your photography to change the world we suggest you look at our photography courses. We offer both full time and part time courses, from beginners all the way through to a full degree.

Have a look at our full-time photography degree here.

We also offer a one year photography certificate to get you up and running. You can learn more about that here.

Or, check out our short courses here.

Nike – The Switch

In 2016, the prevailing opinion about traditional advertising vs online advertising seems to be that traditional advertising ‘as we know it’ is dead. This is at once entirely true and absolutely unfounded. We are standing right now at the beginning of something more exciting than the heyday of advertising could ever have predicted. We can now produce much longer films than we could in the days of TV (anything longer than around 60 seconds is prohibitively expensive) and on top of this, we are no longer reliant on disrupting people; hijacking their attention while they are doing something they enjoy, watching TV.

Instead, we can create films, no longer just ads, that people actively choose to see. We have transcended simple disruption and are now firmly in the space of entertainment. This brand film from Nike is such a great example of it. Yes, they have the budget to feature some of the world’s biggest footballers (the jury is still out on Messi vs Ronaldo) but they’ve created a short film here that encompasses all of Nike’s core values that runs for nearly SIX minutes that holds your attention and gets you to invest emotionally. This is not trying to fit it all into 30 seconds or a minute, simplifying things and dumbing them down so everyone can understand it as quickly as possible.

Added to this, we have all the hallmarks of Nike’s smartest advertising. Nike is not a headline sponsor of the Euro Soccer 2016, (Adidas is, in fact) but Nike will make a huge ad like this just prior to the tournament and immediately everyone knows what it’s about. They haven’t needed to fork out loads of money to have their brand come up on billboards during the tournament, but they’ve created a huge splash that’s been gaining enormous traction. As of today (15 June 2016) the film has been live on YouTube for 14 days and has been seen nearly 35 million times. That means that 35 million times, people have chosen to find the ad and watch it for themselves. It hasn’t interrupted their lives or gotten in the way of something else they wanted to do (like traditional advertising) instead it has positioned itself as something people actively seek out, due to its entertainment factor.

This is nothing short of advertising wizardry.

So is traditional advertising dead? Yes and no. In terms of the media we use to tell our branded stories, things have changed immeasurably. Online advertising is more targeted, smarter, cheaper (generally) and produces real statistics and info about return on investment. But when it comes to telling a great story that people can engage with emotionally and get inspired by, things have never been better. All the great things about advertising we love are now on steroids. We can tell more engaging stories, over longer timeframes and we can be smarter about who we want to see them and why. Yes, this does place much more pressure on creatives – we need to create work that people would like to actively seek out, rather than something that would at best elicit a smile or chuckle in an ad break during your favourite TV show. But it means the possibilities available to us as ad guys (and girls) are more exciting than they have ever been before.

If you want to get involved and tell stories like this, our Art Direction course is exactly what you’ve been looking for. Learn more about it here.

California Attorneys for Criminal Justice: Ink of Innocence

The California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ) is an organisation that helps defence lawyers and fights for courts and the criminal justice system doing the right thing. This campaign by Grey New York highlights CACJ’s drive for proper DNA testing across the board. But rather than simply communicating that DNA testing should be important, or highlighting the stories of people who were wrongfully convicted in the past, this campaign uses some very clever art direction thinking to make the medium itself the message.

The ink in these posters is carrying the DNA of the people whose portraits we see in these executions, the very DNA that if it were tested properly (or at all) could have proved them innocent of the crimes for which they were accused.

So often we are asked to define just what art direction is (or any of the disciplines we teach) and this is such a great example. While we weren’t in the room at the time of this campaign’s conception, we can let you in on the probable process from the art director’s point of view. As an art director, your job is to best visually represent an idea to the viewer of a piece of communication such that it is as impactful as possible. The idea of testimonials or other forms of telling the story were probably bandied about, but shot down very quickly as they are not always impactful. But then… someone had an idea to use the real DNA of people in the ink to print the ads. We now have a serious synergy on our hands that can make these ads incredibly powerful.

But what about what they should actually look like?

Here, the art director would have found a number of sources, styles or pieces of inspiration to brief an illustrator to bring this idea to life. The messy, ink-blot style itself is indicating to us just how messy DNA testing can be, and how it’s not always done properly or as scientifically as we would think. They would then have provided the illustrator with these references and worked with them to create the portraits. Bearing all this in mind, we can see how the illustration style itself (guided by the art director) is really telling a large part of this story. They could easily have mixed the DNA with normal ink and simply printed photography here, but it wouldn’t have been so arresting. All of these vitally important  decisions are up to the art director to make.

From there, text is added (provided by the copywriter) to add more meaning to the visual and turn it into a fully-fledged advert or piece of communication. And while it’s never as simple and clear cut as we’ve defined in this piece, that’s how you go from a message to an idea to a finished execution.

If this is the kind of thing that excites you, why not look at our Art Direction courses – we’d love to have you on board!

Puma – Big Shot

We love this campaign by Ogilvy Melbourne for Puma. This is the end result of a tryout session held to find young stars in soccer, rugby and Aussie rules football. Young sportsmen (and women) had the opportunity to try out and show their skills, and the top performers were chosen to be sponsored by Puma and then featured in their advertising.

This advertising here shows the end result and while the initial activation is interesting and engaging, we’re particularly excited about the way these adverts were executed. These are such a good example of how many of the disciplines we teach at the Academy can be applied in one campaign.

  1. Great photography – these moody black and white portraits are emotional and engaging.
  2. Clever design and illustration – this expressive typography tells such a powerful, emotional story not only through the meaning of the words but also how they are represented, through line-weighting and mark-making.
  3. Art direction that pulls it all together – these disparate disciplines were all implemented by an art director who would have briefed a photographer to take the image, then briefed a designer/illustrator to do the type. On top of this, all the copy would have had to be written by a copywriter.


When you look at all these things together, you see how strong this campaign really is from a perspective of the creative disciplines available to us. What a great way too, to see how they can all fit together, if you’re new to the creative arts.

Amazing stuff!

Canon – Anyone Can Be A Star

We love this campaign by Ogilvy and Mather Tokyo for Canon cameras. Built on the idea that with the right camera, anyone can look great, this campaign uses the line: Anyone can be a star in front of the right camera. This is then brought to life through images of people who look really close to a number of celebrities we know and love.

What sets this apart though, is the quality of the photography – which you would expect for an ad about a camera; beautiful, crisp black and white portraits that make real people look absolutely like stars.

Can you name them all?