September 17, 2014

Bring your layouts to life using typography

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Typography is one of my favourite things, and if used correctly, it can add that ‘X’ factor to any of your designs. Most of the time, designers tend to question whether we’ve gotten the balance just right or if we’ve gotten stuck in having too much fun. I say, have as much fun as possible!

Here are a few examples of great layouts that have had fun with their own typography and as a result of it, created a beautiful end product. Feast your eyes!

1. Edison




2. Calexico’s




3. LA Music Fest




4. The Angry Mob




5. Ignition Magazine




6. Transform




If you enjoyed this post, have a look at how you can use typography to improve your presentations and other documents.

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September 17, 2014

CreativeMornings Johannesburg: Color | Anthea Pokroy

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Happy Hump Day, everyone! Don’t worry, in just two sleeps it will be Friday. And then seven sleeps after that, you can come to CreativeMornings Johannesburg, and check out our fantastic speaker – Anthea Pokroy!


Anthea Pokroy is a Johannesburg-based artist and photographer. She obtained her BA Fine Arts from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2007 and graduated cum laude. She works primarily in photography as well as in video, sound, installation and performance.

She has taken part in many group exhibitions since 2005 and has been in the top 100 of the Absa L’Atelier Awards in 2007, 2008, 2013 and 2014, and Sasol New Signatures in 2010. In 2013, she had her first solo exhibition entitled I collect gingers at Speke Photographic/ CIRCA on Jellicoe in Johannesburg. She was invited to present at TEDxJohannesburg about this project. Her work is part of the Wits Art Museum collection, as well as many private collections.

In 2010 Pokroy co-founded, and continues to run, a non-profit visual artist organisation, Assemblage, which provides support, platforms, opportunities and education for emergingJohannesburg-based visual artists.

She also works as a photographer, specialising in cataloguing artwork and exhibitions for leading artists, galleries and museums in Johannesburg.


If you’d like to stay in the loop about CreativeMornings Johannesburg, you can make use of these handy-dandy newfangled social mediaz:

CreativeMornings Johannesburg on Facebook
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CreativeMornings Johannesburg site
or just subscribe to our newsletter!

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September 16, 2014


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Happy Tuesday everybody! Seeing that we all survived Monday, how better than to kick-off the day with some good music wrapped in an exciting animation – maybe even providing you some additional ‘metaphorical’ food to sustain you through the week?

Joel Mackenzie produced and directed a rather exciting animated music video for Rich Aucoin and his song “Yelling In Sleep”. It tells the story of a reformed lumberjack who harnesses the power of nature to fight an 8-bit mutant wasp monster that is destroying his friends and his home. The clip was also recently awarded Best Music Video at Animation Block Party 2014. Rich Aucoin’s album will be released on 9th September 2014.







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September 15, 2014

Let zine culture teach you about branding

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For the uninitiated:

zine (n): a noncommercial (often homemade or online) publication usually devoted to specialized and often unconventional subject matter.

The noble ‘zine has been experiencing something of a renaissance in recent years. DIY print publishing all but died out for a decade or so there; with many of the “usual suspects” one would expect to see making zines favouring to the internet as a more exciting and flexible platform for their ramblings. As we see resurgence in the popularity of more tactile media, the production of real life, honest-to-goodness paper zines is picking up again. Now is as good a time as any to ask, “what can publications put together by amateurs teach “real designers” about design?

Get off your high horse



The triumph of zines as a medium lies in the fact that anyone can make one, about anything. While that level of freedom can be invigorating, it’s also intimidating for a designer with years of training to let go of THE PROCESS and just make something. Approaching a commercial design project from the perspective of a beginner is risky (and not necessarily the best fit for every job) but it can have amazing results.

To see what this approach can do for a brand, look no further than Wolff Olins’ rebrand of Virgin Media – a fun, organic, almost TOO simple concept that made waves in the global industry when it was launched. Their whole concept focused on the idea that a brand is for everyone, to the extent that CEO Ije Nwokorie was wholeheartedly agreed when a critic commented that “the logo looks like it was designed by a child.”

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Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 6.26.52 PM

A brand that meets its consumers at their level is a brand that they can really relate to and believe in.

Work with what you have



Want to make a viral video that sweeps the globe and gets a bajillion hits, just like Coca-Cola? Too bad.

That’s not to say that smaller or emerging brands can’t capitalise on that kind of media (they can, and have, sometimes to great success) but generally speaking these lucky brands are the exception, not the rule. The companies that consistently “go viral” are the ones who can afford to support their content with massive social and traditional marketing campaigns. It’s not unheard of for an Average Joe to go viral, but it sure does help if you’re Coke.

With this in mind, working within the limits of what your brand and budget can do is often a far more prudent way to go – and a more exciting creative exercise to boot. Accepting the reality of your budget and timeline forces you to think harder about what your brand is capable of.


Consider the go-to case study for viral campaigns – The Blair Witch Project. A team of indie filmmakers set out to promote their low budget indie flick, armed only with internet access and next to no money. What did they do? Reject the usual marketing tactics, push the limits of what they could do with what they had, and pull off such a wildly successful campaign that it has been aped more or less constantly by horror filmmakers since its release. Just goes to show what can be done with a tiny budget and a big idea.

Reject rigidity, embrace chaos



The word “chaos” might be a tad too strong. What you SHOULD embrace is the fact that once you send your brand out into the world, it doesn’t belong to you anymore – it is owned by your audience and your consumers. The traditional brand bible will soon be no longer. More and more, designers are choosing to accept that the brands we design will be refined and re-formed with every interaction. We’re approaching branding as a holistic system of suggestions and guidelines, rather than a rigid rulebook with no room to play.

Experimental Jetset accomplished this to great success with with rebrand of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City – their solution was simple, elegant and downright fantastic. If you’re intrigued, you can check out the video below.

Whitney Graphic Identity by Experimental Jetset from Dezeen on Vimeo.

Create in real life



The hallmark of a great zine is that rustic, thrown-together sort of look – there should be no doubt in a reader’s mind that it was made by hand, with love (or some other equally strong emotion). While the handmade aesthetic doesn’t necessarily fit the vibe of every brand, starting off with pen and paper before you jump into computer rendering is always a good idea. It allows for a more natural, fluid design process and keeps you from getting wrapped up in the little details of a design and lets you experiment quickly with multiple iterations of an idea before picking a final direction.

Not convinced? Don’t take my word for it – have a look at this fancy pants article from Web Marketing Today.



All in all, any designer can benefit from a little more fun and flexibility. When in doubt, toss the mouse and whip out the Sharpies and photocopier.

To read more about the logistics of creating a holistic, living brand, make sure you download our handy whitepaper on that very subject.

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September 11, 2014

Dynamic Identities: Trending In Tertiary Education Brands

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Universities and colleges across the world are moving towards a more holistic approach to branding. This comes from an understanding that brands must live across various media. Therefore brands should be adaptable but consistent. Three such institutions that have chosen this approach is MIT Media Lab, OCAD University and Martin College. Of the most recent brands created in this approach was Martin College designed by Born & Raised Agency.







Via: Behance



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September 10, 2014

NYC Signage Manual

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Even if this Kickstarter project doesn’t reach the necessary pledges to receive funding (which seems hardly unlikely), Jesse Reed & Hamish Smyth have definitely achieved something far greater! The effectively complex signage systems that keep NYC’s underground matrix running smoothly definitely calls for a revived appreciation. The 1970 NYC Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual is seen as an amazing feat of logical analysis, wonderfully showcasing design’s ability to translate complex systems into clean, clear and effortless pieces of communication.

Jesse Reed & Hamish Smyth’s Kickstarter project proposes a full-size reissue of the NYCTA Graphics Standards Manual, to celebrate and rekindle the great design work contained within.








Slightly turned on by NYC’s Subway typography? It all starts with choosing the right typeface for the job.

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September 3, 2014

10 Design Principles – Poster Series

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Efil Türk created a series of posters to visualise the most commonly acknowledged principles of design, with great efficacy. Her poster range reveals just how useful and critical these principles are to design. Paying heed to the simple principles of balance, hierarchy, pattern, rhythm, space, proportion, emphasis, movement, contrast and unity, goes a long way – and will also make any designer shrivel with delight! (via Fubiz).












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September 2, 2014

CreativeMornings Johannesburg: Color

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Hello there, dear readers! We are pleased to announce that September’s global theme for CreativeMornings is “Color” – selected by the Paris team, who we had hoped by now would know better than to spell it the American way. As we say in Johannesburg, sies.

Watch this space for more exciting news about our speaker, sponsors and venue!


If you’d like to stay in the loop about CreativeMornings Johannesburg, you can make use of these handy-dandy newfangled social mediaz:

CreativeMornings Johannesburg on Facebook
CreativeMornings Johannesburg on Twitter
CreativeMornings Johannesburg site
or just subscribe to our newsletter!

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September 2, 2014

Nathan Reddy makes meaning at CreativeMornings Johannesburg

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This June, South African branding powerhouse Nathan Reddy spoke to an excited flock of creatives on the theme of Minimal at Anti-Est in Braamfontein, while we were treated to toasty beverages by Father Coffee and some rather inventive breakfast pizza.

If you missed the talk, then don’t despair – here it is for your pleasure. The next one is coming up later this month, and as our 12th CreativeMornings Johannesburg event, it promises to be truly magical. Watch this space!




Nathan has worked on some of South Africa’s most iconic brands, and is the founder of Grid Worldwide Branding and Design. Since 1990 he has worked at FCB, TBWA/Hunt/Lascaris, was a founding member of DDB in South Africa and of TBWA/Gavin/Reddy.

Nathan is the driving force behind GRID’s philosophy, “the world doesn’t need another brand”. #makeitmeansomething.

If you’d like to stay in the loop about CreativeMornings Johannesburg, you can make use of these handy-dandy newfangled social mediaz:

CreativeMornings Johannesburg on Facebook
CreativeMornings Johannesburg on Twitter
CreativeMornings Johannesburg site
or just subscribe to our newsletter!

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September 1, 2014

Coco Chanel teaches us about type

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There’s a fantastic quote by Coco Chanel, that goes something like this:


“Once you’ve dressed, before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.”

As with many things, this sentiment can apply to more than just a lady’s outfit – for us it rings true in the world of typography. As Chanel rightly advises us, the key to a good composition is restraint.

Two massive trends in type design this year are minimalism and “mix and match” – while they seem like polar opposites, one rule applies to both – when you do it right it looks effortless, but when you don’t it’s very obvious.


Juice Meds + ® by empatia studio and Coffee Typography by Tomasz Biernat 

The thing about any kind of minimalist design is because there are so few individual working parts, each one has to work that bit harder. It’s not just about creating something with as few elements as possible – it’s about selecting and arranging each one of those elements exactly where it needs to be. Minimalist design can sometimes be regarded as easy or lazy by the uninitiated, when really it requires as much (if not more) skill as any other kind of design. The temptation to over-design is always there – to add just one more little tweak or small detail, always with the potential to throw the whole thing off-balance.


Effective Editorial Design by Caroline Henson


Colourplan branding by Made Thought 


Minimalist Euro2012 posters by David Watson

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Personal branding by Matthew Brooks

Mix-and-match type, on the other hand, has a whole other set of problems, that remarkably boil down to the same thing – if you put one little element in there that doesn’t belong, the whole thing gets thrown off balance. With so many personalities on the page, a designer has to work hard to keep everything in harmony by selecting typefaces and elements that play well with each other, not against each other. We have to select typefaces and accents with just enough contrast to create visual texture, while still maintaining the harmony of the composition.


Secret of Getting Ahead by Tom Ritskes


Seven Lovely Logics by Nico Lopez


On Photography by yours truly


Travel posters by  Vyacheslav Shestopalov

As one of our own Niceworkians likes to say, “Never trust a designer with terrible fashion sense.” So, in life and design, it’s Coco Chanel all the way. Keep it simple.

Not a designer, but interested in using beautiful typography to make your brand better?

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