The value of purpose

What is brand purpose? Quite simply, it’s the reason a brand exists. It’s the higher-order goal that gives a brand long-term meaning over and above the financial imperative of making a profit, or a Return On Capital (ROC). It’s the ‘Why’ that translates passion into meaning and guides what an organisation does and how they do it. And it’s a powerful thing.

After all, businesses are essentially teams of people and people need a sense of purpose. We seek meaning in our lives, we need to understand why we are here – without it we lose our sense of direction, our motivation. While this deep desire for meaning. significance and personal legacy can be answered for some by religion, by volunteering, or simply by helping others, people increasingly expect the brands they work for and the brands they buy to step up – to offer a shared sense of purpose that is greater than simply generating profit and maximising shareholder returns.

Research conducted by Deloitte, Edelman and Havas Media support this idea. Only 6% of consumers believe the singular purpose of a business is to make money for its shareholders; 90% would boycott a brand if it acted irresponsibly; and 91% of consumers would switch to a brand of a similar price and quality if it supported a relevant cause.(1)

While it could be argued that this has always been the case, because the need for purpose is a human rather than a demographic one, this growing expectation is accelerating the transition to purpose-driven strategies. It’s propelled today by the maturation of millenials; the largest generation group in history. This vast, socially switched on cohort are motivated by doing something meaningful and worthwhile. They seek out brands that align with their ideals – whether as employees or as customers. Brands must deliver something that people care about – be that big, worthy goals such as benefits of sustainability or simply the value of fun and joy in the world. And, with the openness delivered by the digital and social revolution, they are holding organisations to account. We are witnessing a very significant power shift from the brand to the individual. Added to this is the merging of our work and personal lives. We’re ‘always’ on. So it makes sense that we seek more meaning from our pursuits in life.

But what’s interesting is that companies with a purpose beyond profit tend to be more financially successful. They shine out. The belief that purpose drives profit for companies is well evidenced. Research by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, published in 1994 in their book Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, found that between 1926 and 1990 a group of “visionary” companies — those guided by a purpose beyond making money — returned six times more to shareholders than explicitly profit-driven rivals.(2)

Similarly John Kotter and James Heskett demonstrate their book in Corporate Culture And Performance that, over a decade-long period, purposeful, value-driven companies outperform their counterparts in stock price by a factor of 12.(3)

Many of the world’s biggest companies, are shaping their entire business around brand purpose, with notable effect. For example, the global giant Unilever has found that its ‘Sustainable Living’ brands, such as Ben & Jerry’s and Dove, grew faster than the rest of the business in 2016. These brands now account for 60% of total sales growth, increasing from 46% in 2015. (4)

The brand development work we do at The Allotment, which always pivots around a strong purpose, is equally compelling in this regard. Take our multi-awarded rebrand of the world’s largest equine charity, The Donkey Sanctuary. Imbuing their organisation with a deeply authentic purpose that spoke to the origins of the cause – ‘selfless devotion’ – saw the charity’s income rise over 60% between 2011 and 2015. The role that a brand purpose has to resonate with and motivate people is even more remarkable when you consider that this dramatic change of fortune for The Donkey Sanctuary. happened during a period in which giving to animal charities fell by 24%.

Charity Branding

It’s not solely large, successful global organisations like Unilever, P&G, Unilever, Nestle, Wal-Mart, General Mills and Sony that believe in and benefit from a clearly articulated brand purpose. One that is cascaded through every element of the business. For example, our equally award-winning rebrand of White Logistics, a UK haulage company, saw their profits rocket by 403% in just four years, transforming the company and positioning it for the future.

So it’s in some ways surprising that, with such strong evidence for not only the value of purpose to an organisations long-term health, but the desire for purpose among employees and customers, many companies still operate purely on a profit driven model.

But it’s never to late to start. It’s never too late to gain the competitive advantage that moving from selling the ‘what’ to the ‘why’ brings. The question is, with millions of brands in the world today, how do you identify your unique purpose? How do you find your brand truth and express it as an animated idea that will add sustainable, long-term value beyond short-term financial gains?

Developing brand purpose is what we specialise in at The Allotment brand design agency. We help clients discover and define their true meaning. Why they exist? The essence of the brand that resonates emotionally and rationally. That higher-level motive that develops a profound connection between the brand and its audiences. All of its audiences – employees (and potential employees), partners and customers. We do this via our ‘Big Dig’. A process honed over many years of working with brands of all sizes and states of maturity, from start-ups like Progressive and AXA backed Fixter to international charity brands like The Donkey Sanctuary. And through this process we help them discover the tremendous value that brand purpose brings to an organisation.

Start-up design

Of course, once created brand purpose can’t sit in an ivory tower; it needs to be activated and bought to life. It needs to inform ands support the culture, the products, the marketing communications. It needs to permeate all aspects of the organisation – all things that are made stronger and better by a clearly articulated, easily understood brand purpose. It needs to guide and inspire people, who are, after all, the lifeblood of business. But that’s a whole other story!

To find out more about how we build brilliant brands, brands that help businesses grow, visit or drop Paul our MD a line: We’d love to hear from you.






The Game of the Name

In today’s fast-moving, tech-driven world, with new companies, products and services being developed apace, we are often asked to help with the creative task of naming.  Whether driven by a mergers and acquisitions, or by an innovation that aims to solve a customer need, clients seek our expertise in the field because they recognise a number of things. That a name is a primary element of brand communication.  That a strong name is one way to stand out and stand for something.  It is a way to start a conversation and will directly determine levels of audience engagement.  It is a springboard for the brand’s visual and verbal identity.  Thus it not only needs to brilliantly express their purpose and offer – hard enough in itself – but it needs to be ownable and protectable – often globally so.  And as such, finding a name that is ‘on point’ is challenging.   

Why so? Well, in all but a very few instances, there will be other organisations in similar or maybe not that similar fields who will have snapped up the seemingly desirable ‘first choices’. And there will be many more who have explored further, identifying more unusual names and snapped them up too.  They will have secured the URL’s. And trade marked these names one or more categories.  So the need for inspired creative thinking to develop something on-purpose, ownable and protectable is high. 

Once an idea for a new name is generated, it then also needs to pass the ‘new baby’ test.  In the same way that naming one’s new born can be emotionally charged, a new brand can evoke similar feelings in its stakeholders.  When people are highly invested in an initiative, they will often have strong feelings about a potential name and, as with families, one person’s view may differ significantly from another’s. So navigating this potential ‘minefield’ and getting consensus requires skill.

But it doesn’t end there. It may have several more barriers to overcome.  In this increasingly global marketplace there are the practical ones, such as ensuring that a name can be read and easily spoken by people of another tongue – what’s easy to pronounce for an English speaker may be less so for someone in Asia, for example.  Or vice versa in the case of Huawei, the Chinese multinational technology company. Who would have known that it’s pronounced “WAH-way” not “HOO-uh-way”!  A discovery that nearly made the company change their name when expanding into the United States.

A word may also carry different meanings in different cultures. So it may also need to pass linguistic tests in order to avoid what the cautionary experience of Chevrolet who found that the Chevrolet Nova automobile failed to sell in Spanish speaking markets.  The reason – “nova” means “doesn’t go” in Spanish.  Something a small amount of research would have uncovered saving not only corporate embarrassment but also significant cost.  Cost to first change the name to Caribe and then to originate a second set of market specific communication materials.  Fortunately, the Chevrolet Caribe sold well! 

So, how do you win the naming game?

To circumvent these complex and often sensitive challenges, we have at The Allotment developed our own unique process for naming. One that has delivered successfully for many clients in many fields, from the naming of Fixter, an Axa backed tech-driven disruptor for the car repair industry to Sofa Heaven, an online retail offer for a brand store on Amazon, to Streamline, a process improvement service for Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP.

Start-up design

Our approach follows three key principles.

First, we set expectations. We advise clients to keep an open mind. To remember that, while a name can speak volumes, it won’t necessarily convey everything about a product, service or organisation. It can’t emerge full of meaning from the offset; this needs to be built over time. Consider Uber or Google or Twitter.  At launch no one had heard of them, let alone knew what they meant. They sounded unlikely, strange, alien even. But now we all understand and buy into them. These names have huge resonance across the globe. So, while the journey of naming is full of excitement and anticipation the journey can, unless you are prepared to be open-minded, feel at times deflating. So it’s important to remain objective, to not be to quickly judgemental and to focus on the opportunity.

Secondly, while we explore what the brand is and how it works as part of our process, we focus on what it stands for, its purpose.  We’ll consider not just where the brand is today, but where we want it to go in the future, how much it might need to grow and stretch. We define territories that are derived from these aspects and allow us to discover unexpected and inspiring ideas. Ideas that are fresh and apt.  Ideas that are original and somehow exactly right, be they descriptive, evocative or abstract, be they single word names, like Envestry, or names built from a two or more carefully juxtaposed words, such as Sofa Heaven. 

Start-up Branding

We’ll create hundreds of name ideas, and refine these to a long-list that we workshop with the client.  In the ‘hot house’ of creation people often judge names based on what inspires and excites them personally. But we encourage people focus on names that convey purpose and will add meaning to their audience’s lives. We ask them to bear in mind that a name will rarely live in isolation.  It will be enhanced by a carefully crafted visual identity and a brand language  that will provide a greater depth of meaning and personality.  These additional facets will all work together to bring the brand to life in a way that is both relevant and exceptional.  So that on this basis we can together develop the right final selection.

And then thirdly we recommend that clients settle on a healthy shortlist for legal validation and domain name registration.  We encourage them to select a number of names, any of which they would be happy to run with.  So that we can steer them through the inevitable disappointment of the legal and registration process, to an outcome of one, brilliant, beautiful name on which to go forward.  A name that inspires all its audiences – be they customers, partners or employees. A name that sets the trajectory for the brand, now and for the future.

6 tips for evaluating a name

  1. Does it convey your purpose (or a meaningful aspect of your organisation, product or service)?  Does it help you stand out and stand for something?
  2. Is the meaning wide enough so that if you change your offer, or the market changes, the name is not a barrier to momentum. Carphone Warehouse probably did not consider this!
  3. Is it memorable? 
  4. Can you own and protect it in the markets and territories you are operating in? Is the trademark and URL available?
  5. If your chief executive had to introduce your new brand to your audience at a big conference, would it feel credible?  Would people get it?  Would it inspire confidence and allow you to tell your story?
  6. Will the name act as a springboard for an identity that will engage employees and rally them behind the brand?

Words – a brand differentiator?

Imagine if we didn’t have words. We’re the only species on earth to have developed lexical communication. Each word itself is a metaphor, standing in for an image of something physical or an imaginary concept that we’ve managed to internalise.

Terracotta. A concrete word, one that should give us all the same image, but it isn’t an object. Yet, we’ve seen objects wearing this shade, so we can visualise a sample of it in our minds.

Each letter is an invented symbol that someone drew in the sand and agreed that when partnered with some of its neighbours, it would design to build one of these images, metaphors, words. So language is inherently human.

Ironically, that’s a word that’s become an over-used vernacular in the brand practice of developing a ‘tone of voice’. Agencies emphasise that companies should sound more human. But, without wanting to state the obvious, we are human. All of us.

So that’s a difficult command. It’ll be like telling a blonde to be more blonde. The only way to do that would be with hair-dye. Making it inauthentic. Fake news. We run into the same problem here. People are anxiously flexing their verbs and nouns in the hope that they’ll embody this one great human, when really it sounds like an algorithm programmed to whisper pleasantries and rhetoric through the letterbox. Anonymous and creepy.

We’re scared. Of something! That’s why we’re clamming up, reverting to corporate speak and doing the robot. But what’s freaking us out? Certainly a few things: the office, Microsoft office, the blank page it simulates, the sheer size and versatility of language. But there are two things we’re the most afraid of when trying to personify the voice of a company and establish its accent. 1. The customer. 2. Ourselves.

Our concern with what we think the customer wants to see is handicapping us. Kneecapping us almost. Here’s the secret: they don’t generally know what they want. They want you to tell them, clearly, in a compelling way, whilst demonstrating your real purpose and brand values.

We don’t believe our natural voices are the ones to do that. But they are. That’s why we’re here. Have some confidence. Just have a chat. Speak how you speak, not like how an institution is expected to speak. Because we make the institutions; we make the language; we make the decisions. Make it your own. And that will make it theirs as well.

Maybe now it’s time for some juice. Let’s see the swag, the loot – the spoils of a good campaign. I’m not going to use Innocent. Sorry, Dan. Although, here’s a nod, because you are past masters of the game. Rather, let’s shed some exposure on a relatively new seat at the table: Farmdrop. Here’s their spread in the tube:



Now, it’s a bit long, craftily cut up by colour, but it’s on the inside of the tube, so they know they’ve got a captive market while people search for something to do between Holborn and Leicester Square, rather than making a concerted effort to avoid eye contact with everyone else in the sardine tin.

The black bit is what we’re interested in. That tone. Feel it? So easy it’s almost hard to explain. Firstly, this is a deliberately verbal campaign. The visual is simple, unaffected and therefore let’s the words take the spotlight. Step two, you’ll probably (you do) find a similarly laissez-faire, jovial use of language on their website. That’s what tone of voice needs to do – it needs to integrate all platforms and canvases that a brand will appear on. Consistency makes personality. The repeated use of the informal word ‘thing’ shows their subtle desire to undermine their competitors, without being explicitly offensive. And they’re not afraid to face controversy, ‘horse meat,’ but then again, that’s because it’s not their controversy. By telling us what they’re not, they’ve already told us what they are, establishing their brand values, whilst entertaining us.

Bring in the antithesis, the brevity afforded by the established integration of a goliath brand. Think of Nike. Their logo has almost become a letter in its own right. But it’s better than a simple letter. It manages to summon all the ideas they’ve chosen to stitch to it through language. Just Do it. Run. An instruction. An action. A subtitle. A word they’ve almost managed to reclaim entirely as their own.

In an interview with Adweek, global executive creative director of McCann, John Mescall, shared his favourite Nike print ad.

Wieden + Kennedy, 1993

Elaborating on his choice, Mescall explains “there were no words. There was just a little swoosh. But it said everything I wanted to hear from that brand, without saying a single word.”

Now, you might wonder, ‘why finish a piece on language and tone of voice with an ad bereft of almost all words?’ Well, hold your breath, here comes another…

Sports Branding

The power of the swoosh and the family of iconography strategically invested into it is again exemplified. Nike’s message of ambition, no breaks, and personal bravery is saturated into their logo, telling of language’s infinite capacity for association and symbolism. The two halves of the bench are like two lines, and by removing the second one cleverly communicates an implicit line that’s predicated by the single use of the word “RUN… don’t sit.” Their message of courage is matched by their decision to withhold all but one word, which is already one subsumed into their identity. They’ve won. No doubt.

That’s the message, then: be brave. Show how easy it is to talk, even if that means prompting your audience to finish the sentence.

‘Words’ by Jamie Delves


Bauer Media wins Gold

This week we were thrilled to see our rebrand of Bauer Media’s City Network of radio stations pick up Gold for ‘Best Brand Consolidation’ at the European Transform Awards 2016. For almost a decade, the Transform Awards have set the standard for brand development, rebranding and brand positioning around the world and each year, the benchmark is that little bit higher. This year was no exception.

Amongst tough competition, including brand consolidations for DPD, Odeon and Premier Inn, we were honoured to walk away with top honours within the category.

For a closer look at the case study with Bauer Media, where The Allotment helped consolidate over 43 different brands into a single unifying brand architecture around the proposition ‘Your’, please click here.

Design Effectiveness Gold

Last week, The Allotment won Gold at the 2016 DBA Design Effectiveness Awards for our work with White Logistics!

This particular award is special, as it illustrates the effectiveness of our work and the tangible impact it has had on our clients’ businesses. With White Logistics profitability soaring 403% and new business wins rising from 8% to 43%, it was a proud evening for The Allotment and our client White Logistics.

Huge thank-you to the DBA, our client Judith Stracey and to Ellis Pitt, who worked as a Design Mentor on the project for The Design Council.

To see the full case study, check it out here.

Emerging Themes

Once again, The Allotment are delighted to announce the launch of a brand new project with our long-term client, International law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP). We’ve been working with BLP across brand, internal engagement and digital and our latest work, an annual Emerging Themes report is a great example of how design can help grow interest in thought leadership.


We developed  the visual look and feel for the entire report (104 pages), with a monetary theme running through the publication. Tasked with utilising stock imagery, the creation of images with typo interactions and a consistent bank note themed visual style helped bring the various insights and document to life.

A lighter, brighter future for Lucite International

We are delighted to announce the launch of a global employee engagement initiative called Lighter, brighter everywhere for Lucite International, part of Mitsubishi Chemical Company.

The campaign was launched this week to Lucite International’s 2000 employees across three continents – Asia, Americas and Europe/Middle-East.

Lucite International people are passionate about what they do and we wanted to ensure our creative strategy was clearly connected to the beautiful acrylic products that brighten the world and improve the quality of life. We therefore focused on storytelling that uses MMA or acrylic as an intrinsic part of the creative work. The aim is to inspire and help people to understand how together they are shaping a profound contribution to their world.

The internal engagement campaign, translated into six languages, includes the launch of a series of posters for use across 35 global manufacturing sites, an introductory animation, a boxed cascade pack for employee workshops which includes a game to encourage involvement and team working and a new intranet site.

Click here to see the Lucite International case study in full.

Brand Impact Awards 2015

Last Wednesday we attended the 2015 Brand Impact Awards where our new products and retail strategy for The Donkey Sanctuary was just one of nine projects globally to be shortlisted for it’s brand and design work in the Not for Profit Sector. In a very competitive category, dare we say, the most competitive of the evening, we were delighted to walk away with a Highly Commended, alongside 3 other agencies.

To be recognised on a global stage alongside the very best agencies in the world, was a real honour and we’re delighted for everyone associated with the project and of course, our client The Donkey Sanctuary.

A big thank you to Computer Arts and Creative Bloq for a fantastic evening. To see the award-winning product ranges and retail strategy for The Donkey Sanctuary, click here.

Growing The Donkey Sanctuary

Having worked with The Donkey Sanctuary over a number of years across numerous projects, we were delighted to go visit our latest piece of work for the charity: their brand new (and very first) charity shop in Otley, Leeds. The store aptly named ‘For the love of’ is a modern charity shop come cafe concept which was designed by The Allotment and features a number of our new product ranges.

You can click here for a closer look at our retail and product work for The Donkey Sanctuary.

Here’s some highlights from our recent visit to ‘For the love of’:

The Seedling Diaries – Volume 3

Name: Alex Page
Studied: Nottingham Trent University
Interned: June 2015
Likes: Thai food & pub trips
Dislikes: Peanuts
Featured project: A Universal Solution, John Lewis

I came to The Allotment just a week after finishing university and was unsure what to expect. The transition from education to the real world can be extremely daunting and something that cannot be taught. However during my time at The Allotment I felt very welcome and included; it was a great introduction to the industry.

I gained hands-on experience, working on real-life projects and tasks that required me to develop all aspects of my skills. This ranged from from copywriting and idea generation to designing documents. I believe this responsibility has been invaluable, has allowed me to grow as a designer and understand more about preparing myself further for the graphic design industry. These experiences are something that I believe I wouldn’t have been able to gain at a larger agency.

A Champion Fundraising Scheme

Early in 2015, we were fortunate enough to be approached by one of the world’s most iconic animal and conservation charities, previously home to Guy the gorilla and Winnie, a fairly well known bear you may have heard of. The charity is of course The Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

ZSL approached The Allotment to help develop a new global fundraising scheme for the charity, which complemented their new brand proposition ‘Working for Wildlife’. Working closely with the charity, it became clear that the work of their conservation and research teams in local territories wasn’t being communicated to donors and harnessed in an effective manner. With such a substantial footfall in the attractions, something purchasable in-store and online was a necessity.

It was important to bring the new brand proposition to the fore and ask donors to take responsibility, make a difference and take the fate of endangered animals and research development into their own hands, to become ‘Champions’. The idea of ‘in your hands’ became the prominent big idea for the scheme, which encouraged donors to become ‘Wildlife Champions’. We developed two focused schemes under the ‘Wildlife Champions’ idea, one for ‘Animals Under Threat’ and one for ‘Conservation Technology’.

Click here to see how we’ve helped grow ZSL.

A new chapter with QFC

In 2014 The Allotment helped rebrand the UK’s largest sofa manufacturer, QFC. Since the launch, our work for the market-leader has seen a huge change in the business, with internal and external stakeholders alike widely praising the transformation of not only the brand, but the culture of the business more broadly; with a real focus on questions and innovation in every part of the organisation.

To instill this new purpose and proposition even further, we were recently asked by QFC to help develop a new identity for the company-wide intranet, ‘Sofanet’ and a subsequent internal engagement campaign to encourage employees to become more immersed within the business; to become real brand advocates.

Our response was an identity for Sofanet, featuring a subtle sofa within a light bulb, portraying the ambition for ideas-driven thinking and innovation with sofas at the fore. The identity was rolled out across the new intranet (featured below), with the architecture and design being very much extended from the new QFC website we designed.

The logo also featured in the internal engagement campaign, across a range of collateral from posters, roller banners and environmental graphics, where the use of questions pushed traffic to Sofanet to find the answers. In the short period since launch, Sofanet has become the centrepoint for all information regarding the business – a community where everyone can engage with one another and is proving very, very popular.

See more of our work with QFC here.

For The Love Of…

Nearly 16 months ago we sat down with The Donkey Sanctuary in a 2 day workshop, organised by The Allotment, to collaborate and define a creative strategy for the Charity’s vision to create a charity store proposition and a more exciting product range which would be sold online and in the shops via their commercial arm called Donkey World.

The outcome of these deliberations (and a lot of hard work in-between from all concerned) was launched in Otley, Leeds two weeks ago. For The Love Of … Is The Donkey Sanctuary’s new store concept and is an immersive retail experience and community hub which reflects the Charity’s selfless devotion to the welfare of donkeys worldwide.

It achieves this with a sense of wit (people sat in the window look as if they are wearing Donkey ears) and a strong consciousness of aesthetics that flows from their new gift product lines (view a case study here) to the interior design which creates a comfortable and authentic experience.

Two Golds at the EBMA’s

Last month, we were delighted to win not once, but twice at the Employer Brand Management Awards (EBMA) for our work with Lucite International.

Our work with Lucite International overcame competition from The British Army, Transport for London (TFL) and Heathrow to win Gold for best short-term campaign alongside McDonalds which, given the competition, was an outstanding achievement and we’re absolutely delighted for our client Lucite International.

To top it off, our engagement campaign for Lucite International won Overall Best Creative Execution of the Employer Brand for the entire EBMA’s.

The Employer Brand Management Awards exist as the true benchmark of the employer brand management process. Recognising the best work by internal communicators, HR teams, corporate leaders and recruiters in developing, implementing and evaluating successful employer brand strategies, it acknowledges the amount of effort required to create a strong employer brand.

To see the case study, please click here.

Roses are Gold

We were delighted and humbled to win 2 Golds at the 2016 Roses Awards for our work with Lucite International. The Roses Creative Awards recognise the very best creative work in the UK by agencies and clients.

The Golds were awarded for Use of Illustration and Best Art Direction in the Craft Category against stiff competition, including the likes of Umbro, Clarks and Gill Marine.

It’s particularly rewarding to win in the Craft Category- it provides recognition for the passionate attention to detail that we bring to all our work.

As always, a huge thank-you to our collaborators: Geoff Appleton (Illustration), Mike Feather and Andy Grimshaw (Photography) and Weareseventeen (animation).

To see the full Lucite International case study, click here.

The Beautiful Game vs The People’s Games.

As summer kicks off in earnest, sports fans once again mourn the end of another eventful football season, but fear not, we have the Olympics and Euro 2016 to look forward to. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for sport. Put me in front of someone chasing, kicking or batting a ball, or trying to go faster, higher or further than their opponents and I’m probably in. Especially if there’s a pint involved!

It’s not always the action I’m keeping an eye on though. As a designer, I’m always looking at the bigger picture; the design of the kit, the event branding, the on-court design elements. I once bought a Russian rugby top, while great at many things, the Russians aren’t renowned for their rugby prowess, but I’ve yet to find a better rugby logo.

Ask most designers what their favourite Olympic logo is and you’ll get a varied response. Most tend to champion Tokyo’s simplicity, Mexico’s repetitive lines that work across everything bringing a sense of fun and, in stark contrast, Munich’s beautiful use of space, limited colour palettes and crafted minimalism. But ask designers, or anyone else for that matter, to give their favourite Euros logo and they might be hard pushed to name the host nation, never mind recall an excellent logo.

There have been lots of average Olympic logos, so I don’t want to suggest that they have found the winning formula. Similarly, I don’t want to slate a load of logos because there are plenty of places you can go to do that. Instead I want to identify what might improve them. I’ll admit the rest of this article could well sound like a rant similar to that of a disgruntled football fan calling Robbie Savage on BBC Five Live. (What was Wenger doing bringing Walcott on so late?) But it doesn’t stop them and it won’t stop me. So here I go, here I go, here I go…

A lot of the Euro’s logos show generic shapes, almost always include footballs and don’t say much else. It’s all just a bit predictable and lazy. There is real heart in football, but I think it might be found in the stands more than it is on the pitch or in the governing bodies – UEFA, FIFA and their likes. That real sense of heart that die-hard supporters have for the game just isn’t being captured in this iteration of the Euro’s identity. Why?

You can blame the brief and death by committee, but if you look at the Olympic logos that have been done well, they have a simple, singular thought that gives them a memorable look and feel that transcends the entire event.

Take London’s 2012 logo for example, I don’t think this was as bad as it was initially made out to be. Even if you take away the undoubted success of Team GB, I look back at it as a successful identity. What it did was fly in the face of the convention of Olympic logos.

Ive Nwokorie, now CEO at Wolff Olins, said that they always expected mixed reviews and that people, “tend to point out the rules we’ve broken, and in that sense they tend to be correct. ‘It’s too dissonant…’. Absolutely, the dissonance was intentional. ‘It doesn’t reflect any of London’s famous landmarks.’ Absolutely, the world knows about those, we don’t need to tell them. ‘It’s too urban, it’s too young.’ Absolutely.…the reviews shine quite an acute light on exactly the points we were trying to make.”

While in Creative Review editor Patrick Burgoyne perhaps more pithily said: “(the logo) almost wilfully disregards the accepted way of these things: no overt geographical reference to the home city, no ‘welcoming, joyful’ attitude, no rounded, friendly organic shapes.” I don’t think that anyone can fault the reasoning or how brave it was, it’s just the actual execution and style that jarred, which was definitely the intention.

Introducing Progressive

We’re very proud to have helped design and develop the Progressive brand with our friends Matt Nicholls and Ken Valledy. Progressive helps organisations unlock and commercialise new growth opportunities more rapidly than their competition and more effectively than traditional innovation programmes.

It builds faster, more agile, industrial-strength Growth Acceleration Programmes that have a proven track record of enabling senior management to more rapidly define, build and deliver new corporate growth and ROI.

Working across retail, automotive, financial services, media and entertainment, FMCG and professional services sectors, Progressive has already helped organisations bring over 40 new solutions to market.

Big thank-you to Mike Feather for photography and to our friends at Evil Donkey for building the website.


Air Business: From A to Beyond

We are delighted to launch our new rebrand of leading distribution and subscription services business, Air Business and their subsidiary, Quadrant. Our early research indicated that Air Business are the ‘first and last link’ in managing subscriptions and distribution of magazines and newspapers, and are known within the market and particularly by their clients for their reliability, exceptional customer service and human approach.

The ‘Big idea’ was that Air Business doesn’t just take things from A to B – they use their exceptional customer service and support to take clients on a journey spanning acquisition and retention right through to data analysis, physical and digital delivery and beyond. It was this insight that led to the brand proposition; From A to Beyond. This clever twist on language familiar to the sector perfectly sums up Air Business’ strong service mentality and illustrates the added value they provide through their brilliant customer service.

The new brand and proposition has been bought to life across all Air Business touch points, including the website ( The design uses a red flowing line which runs throughout the whole brand, connecting and interacting with human photography and clever brand messaging to tell compelling stories of success.

If you’d like to learn more about The Allotment’s rebrand of Air Business, you can see the full case study here.

Finally, a big shout out to Roll Studio and John Angerson, both of whom we collaborated on throughout the project; Roll on the build of Air Businesses stunning new website and John who shot some beautiful black & white people shots which are integral to the new human look and feel.

The Seedling Diaries – Volume 5

Name: Shohaib Iqbal
Studied: University of Central Lancashire
Interned: February 2017
Likes: Accrington Stanley, design exhibitions & good design
Dislikes: Bad design
Featured project: Peckish Bird Seed Packaging

I have learned a lot during my time at The Allotment.

The Allotment has taught me to dig into a project from the roots and allow each stage of the design to blossom.

I made my move down to London after finishing internships up north in Manchester, allowing me to take a bigger step onto the next big challenge! The Allotment was my 3rd placement in London and has been a memorable experience for me. Talking to the Designers, Strategists and Creative Director has given me a great insight into what The Allotment as a design agency aims for in design; idea solutions and also listening to their experiences, advice and guidance towards making a rebrand meaningful and most importantly, successful.

I have experienced the strategic, ideas and design aspects of the branding process, which has allowed me to grow into a better designer and creative thinker.

BLP Emerging Themes 2017

Following the success of BLP’s Emerging Themes publication in 2016, we were delighted to collaborate once again with our client BLP in developing and producing this years Emerging Themes brochure. The annual thought leadership piece offers advice, practical guidance and opinions on the regulatory risks facing individuals and firms in the financial services sector in 2017.

With uncertainty looming over the economy and Article 50 potentially just around the corner, ‘Redrawing the Lines’ subtly depicts how both negotiations around the EU, and financial regulations more broadly are being redefined this year and beyond. The transition from print to pencil illustrations is a gentle nod towards this uncertainty whilst also beautifully bringing the brochure to life on the cover and divider pages.

Launched in late January, feedback on the brochure has been fantastic with the subsequent Emerging Themes seminar attracting a record attendance.

Radical Sportscars Rebrand

Radical Sportscars have always done things differently. In racing terms; they take their own line.

Radical Sportscars set out 20 years ago to do just that. Our rebrand needed to capture this attitude, evolve the brand and focus on communicating an ‘incomparable racing experience’.

To understand what Radical meant to the drivers of these awesome racing cars our creative director went to a Race Day at the Circuit De Jerez, Spain.

This insightful weekend led to the inspiration for the rebrand. The drivers, including Sir Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny (yes, the Olympians), and the Support Team believe that the Radical Racing experience is second to none. Heart pumping, adrenaline fuelled joy!

This thought led us to the brand proposition that ’Nothing Compares’ to the Radical experience. The identity with the ‘R’ racetrack and the red ‘Race line’ reflects Radical’s maverick spirit, and the uncompromising performance and thrill of the ride. The resulting brand feels premium yet authentic.

See the full case study here.

Imagine a world
without wildlife

We are incredibly proud to see our integrated brand campaign for global conservation charity, ZSL go live today across social, cinema and OOH channels. It’s the first brand campaign in the charities 190 year history and The Allotment have developed a big campaign idea, ‘Imagine a world without wildlife’ to help build awareness and donations for ZSL.

Over the last 40 years, 52% of wildlife has been lost and the campaign depicts this shocking loss of wildlife and their habitats over time and how ZSL is working to protect and conserve these precious animals. The campaign has a twist, in that it shows the impact within the context of people’s everyday lives. It was evident from focus groups and research, that although the loss of animals in far reaching parts of the world is terribly sad and shocking, it still felt very detached from the hustle and bustle of people’s daily routines and therefore, people often wouldn’t act or donate.

By bringing the loss of wildlife into an environment people can resonate with, the campaign will have the cut-through and disruption required in a saturated market.

The campaign will use the hashtag #WithWildlife to encourage consumers to share what they would miss in a world without wildlife and to encourage others to ensure we continue to live in a world #WithWildlife.

The Seedling Diaries – Volume 4

Name: Jack Parker
Studied: University of Central Lancashire
Interned: July 2016
Likes: Bolton Wanderers, good design, beer
Dislikes: Blackburn Rovers, bad design, wine
Featured project: Hovis Anniversary Packaging

I really feel like I have grown as a designer from being at The Allotment.

Having just finished my second year of my sandwich course at university, it was time for me to begin my placement year down in the big smoke.

What I have found so far from being out on placement is that every design agency has different values and views with a specific area they usually specialise in. The Allotment work a lot with charities and campaigns to help better people’s (and in some cases animal’s) lives. It’s inspiring to see the difference a bit of good design can make and working here I have been lucky enough to take part in two briefs that are both focussed on design for good. The Allotment is also a company with a strong reputation for good work and big creative ideas, so coming here as a placement I wasn’t expecting to be granted as much responsibility as I have. They really let you get stuck in and value your opinion with real hands-on problem solving.

Living values

The Allotment have developed a brave and vibrant graphic language for New Street Group’s (NSG) brand new offices in Central London.

New Street Group are a leading recruitment business which has enjoyed dramatic growth. They have developed strong brands in Interim Management (Interim Partners), Financial Services Resource Contracting (BrightPool) and Executive Recruitment (New Street).

Adam Cale, designer for The Allotment, said; “We were keen that the environmental graphics built on the previous illustrations, which were created for their website, in collaboration with artist Tang Yau Hoong, and received such widespread praise internally and externally for their clever use of negative space and messaging.

We wanted to avoid the usual visual clichés and create something that would spark conversation, highlight NSG’s values and create stand out. We developed a set of 12 wall graphics featuring quotes from inspirational individuals that epitomise NSG’s values. The quotes were used as inspiration for a set of beautiful and bold illustrations”.

A welcome to remember

We were recently asked by our client, ZSL to design the brand messaging for the entrance ticket office at the London Zoo car park. The car park is many visitors first experience of the Zoo and the ZSL brand and it was critically important to develop a user journey and design that pushed both Zoo’s (ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo) whilst also promoting ZSL’s wider, global conservation work.

The Allotment transformed the portakabin and payment station to give a big, bold welcome to everyone visiting. It builds anticipation, understanding and excitement of ZSL London Zoo as you enter, encouragement to visit ZSL Whipsnade Zoo when they leave and importantly, builds brand awareness for all those members of the public walking by, to keep ZSL at the forefront of their minds.

This is just one of many exciting developments to come with ZSL & The Allotment.

The Seedling Diaries – Volume 2

Name: Chris Webster
Studied: Norwich University of the Arts
Interned: April 2015
Likes: Rock music
Dislikes: Onions
Featured project: Eden Project Rebrand

It’s been about 10 years since I first knew I wanted to become a Graphic Designer; my first glimpse of Graphic Design was when I was in year 9 at school and completed some work experience with a printing company.

After college I studied at Norwich University of the Arts where I realised that what I had learned up to that point just scratched the surface of what Graphic Design and branding is and what the industry is all about. Having lectures with design agencies, talks and critiques about my work with Tutors and past Norwich graduates was great. What I learned from lectures, the tutors and other graduates is what helped me become the ideas driven person that I am today.

Interim Illustrated

Over the last couple of months, we’ve had the pleasure of working on a transformative and innovative brief with our long-term client, Interim Partners. The Allotment has worked with Interim Partners for a number of years, helping to build their brand from a £1m turnover business to a £30m market-leading interim management recruitment organisation in just 12 years.

We were delighted to be asked to create a new visual style for Interim Partners, which will be utilised on their recently launched website and other vital touch points moving forward. To create this distinctive style with real visual cut-through, we worked in partnership with the Malaysian illustrator, Tang Yau Hoong to help differentiate and visually depict varying parts of the business, from IP’s values, experience and global reach, through to Case Studies, Practice Groups and Return on Interim (ROI). Tang’s style is very unique, with subtle imagery twists and negative space creating beautiful messaging.

Here are some of the final creations and a link to the new Interim Partners website:


We are delighted to announce that our work for Marlin Hawk and Currencies Direct picked up awards at the 2015 Transform Awards Europe, with Marlin Hawk winning Gold for Best Visual identity in the Professional Services sector whilst Currencies Direct received a highly commended for their brand transformation in the Financial Services sector.

The judges commented on the rebrand for Marlin Hawk, saying the “rebrand is the epitome of visual evolution, storytelling, and ingenuity. The visuals present a beautiful balance between the maturity of the brand and the personal stories behind it.”

The Transform Awards Europe set the standard for brand development, rebranding and brand positioning work in Europe. Each year it sets a stronger benchmark with agencies from all over the UK and Europe attending the ceremony in London.

For a closer look at the award-winning work for Marlin Hawk and Currencies Direct, please follow the respective links.

A new perspective creates opportunity

The Allotment has created the new website and a set of internal vision and values communications for Endpoint, an international brand implementation and wayfinding consultancy that specialises in the built environment.

The creative concept is underpinned by the brand story of ‘We see opportunity’. Referencing a brand truth uncovered through research, it refers to the differentiating value Endpoint deliver by looking at the built environment in a different way. They uncover opportunity for clients to improve performance in the built environment – be this strategic, aesthetic or commercial – by bringing a fresh perspective or viewpoint to their work.

The concept of perspective was used in the graphics and messaging on the website and bought to life via parallax functionality (see website).

For the internal launch The Allotment produced a clever booklet that gave meaning to Endpoints vision and values – messaging and graphics in the booklet demanded that the reader physically change their perspective.

A set of large scale posters have also been produced for Endpoints offices in London and Dubai. In each case there is a clever visual trick to engage the passer-by.

Click here to see the Endpoint case study in full.

The new Endpoint identity was created by Goosebumps.

ZSL Membership Pack

For any brand, Membership is a great way to encourage loyalty, belonging and repeat visits. For ZSL providing unlimited entry to their Zoo’s, as part of an exclusive membership scheme, allows people to enjoy the Zoo experience at a leisurely pace knowing they can return, again and again.

Designed by The Allotment, we are delighted to share the brand new ZSL Membership pack and proposition. Using the line ‘Welcome to the Family’, we have created a playful and engaging pack which includes bespoke quarterly guides for both ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos plus tons of surprises for their younger members.

The packs look fantastic in the memberships kiosks at both ZSL London and Whipsnade Zoos. You can also order your membership online.

Tea with a twist

In Britain, a staggering 60.2 billion cups of tea are made every year.

A large proportion of these will be made in the office where making a cup of tea can be a somewhat nerve-racking experience. Is it strong enough? Did she want sugar? How much sugar? He wants fruit tea…what on earth is fruit tea?

One of the biggest decisions in a day can sometimes be ’whose turn is it to make the tea’. This decision can cause tension, arguments and outright war!

At The Allotment we have turned this into a competitive game based on intelligence – well, we are a bunch of designers, so let’s call it luck! But you can join in. We call it the daily Tea Question.

From Student to Studio

When I was younger my dream was to live in a caravan in Weston-super-Mare and become an artist. I had it all planned out; I was going to live in the double bedroom and convert the twin room into a studio. I would look out of my window onto a beautiful sea view for inspiration and I would sell my masterpieces to the abundance of willing customers who would fill the promenade as they clambered over each other to get their hands on my latest works. Thankfully I soon realised that this was a terrible idea as art is notoriously hard to make money from, Weston-super-mare is 98% mud and most importantly, I’m not a retired bus driver. It was probably at around this point that I first looked towards graphic design.

Fast forward eight years and I am just coming to the end of my first year working for The Allotment, but how did I get here? Well, first there were two years of cutting, sticking and learning to draw the perfect ellipse for my GCSE, then there were a further two years at college where leaflets, posters and even the odd business card were thrown into the mix, and then finally there was university which is where it all started to make sense and I was hit with the revelation that ideas are king. I Graduated from The University of Gloucestershire in the summer of 2013 having loved my time there and feeling that I was ready to take on the world (of design). It is only when I look back now that I realise how drastically unprepared I was for what was coming my way. It is for this reason that I am sat here now eagerly typing away in the hope that I can impart some wisdom, help just a few people make the leap from student to studio and guide them away from some of the mistakes that I made.

Top 5 in UK for branding

Design Week have recently released their renowned annual Creative Survey to the public, with creative agencies, and the industry as a whole looking on anxiously to see who made the top 50. Being just 4 years old, making the survey alone is a great achievement, however we’re delighted to announce that in the overall top 50 agencies in the UK, The Allotment came in joint 28th alongside global advertising agency, BBH.

What’s more, in the branding category, we came joint 5th in the UK.

Busy Law 6 – an epic

Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP (BLP) is slightly different to your average legal firm. A top 15-law firm in the UK, one of the most innovative in Europe and an abundance of learning opportunities for both qualified and up-and-coming lawyers, one being the ‘Busy Lawyer Programme’. The Busy Lawyer Programme offers lawyers the opportunity to attend a day of workshops, presentations and insightful discussions. One of the other benefits to the programme, aside from valuable knowledge, is that attendees are able to use the programme towards their accreditation and qualifications.

Each year the highly engaging event uses a fictitious business as a theme for the day. This year The Allotment created a spoof independent cinema chain called ‘Caught On Film’.