A lot of our work comes from direct referral from our friends and clients and this was no exception. “I have a friend who is passionate about gin and would like to start a distillery and launch a new gin brand’, said Helen, our friend and research colleague. Our initial thought was ‘this is mad; there are over 800 UK gin brands already competing in the marketplace’. But we listened to Nick, the entrepreneur and gin enthusiast, and could immediately see his vision and feel the authenticity of his passion. A passion not only for the drink but also for the Peak District, where he lives. This gave us the spark of an idea for the brand name and its approach based on the unique bounty and geology of the area.
A gin and story forged in the local terroir that literally moves the hand-crafted, premium gin to new depths of taste and experience.
It seems strange to be talking about airports at this time when air travel has pretty much collapsed. However, humanity thrives on connection and people will be flying again as soon as it’s safe to do so. Back in 2019, our story for London City Airport was all about ‘getting fit for a future 5 years in advance’. London City Airport was investing £500m in infrastucture to make it one of the best and fastest gateways in and out of London for both leisure and business passengers.
The Storytellers and The Allotment were appointed to design the airport brand of the future as well as to articulate a brand blueprint, which included helping them to define a bold vision and emotive purpose to deepen engagement with customers, colleagues and Londoners alike.
This long-running relationship is helping the Airport appeal to a much broader audience and has touched every area of the airport from brand strategy through to airport interiors, the private jet centre and their advertising campaigns.
One of our goals is to work with like-minded growth specialists to create value for our clients. We regularly partner with Progressive, an exciting consultancy, which helps large businesses fast-track and scale innovation. Working with them for DFS (the sofa people) we helped create a new online sofa brand called So Simple, which was born out of customer insight that showed how many of us are frustrated by the magnitude of choice and complexity of buying a new sofa. The solution was a streamlined brand that allowed customers to buy a high quality, comfortable sofa from DFS by making three simple decisions.
The brand launch was incredibly successful and generated over £5m of revenue in its first year.
Building on this success we have continued to grow our partnership with Progressive and have now worked for DFS on a number of innovations, such as a new modular sofa system, a promotion for omni-channel access to help make shopping safer during the pandemic, as well as DFS’s corporate ESG strategy.
We love working with start-up or scale-up businesses and especially those tackling fundamental environmental issues, which are striving to make a difference to our world. In 2017 we were tasked with helping Econic to define and articulate its business purpose more clearly in order for it to secure additional funding, and to grow understanding and deepen engagement with its communities.
The new brand, a website with a complex story told simply and emotively, and a movie helped Econic clearly demonstrate their potential as a business at the forefront of sustainability. We successfully helped them secure new funding for their next stage of development and they now have a viable ‘go-to-market’ solution.
‘Passion project’ is a description we’ve heard so often from our team over the last 10 years. It’s a term they’ve used for all of those projects where they’ve loved making a difference, whether it’s been about the success of a business, or about the well-being of people, our society, or planet.
In 2015 we asked all our colleagues to tell us about their dream project. One was to work with the Imperial War Museum (IWM). It took a year for us to build relationships and turn the dream into reality; the rest is history. Well, the story behind history.
Our work focused on re-telling stories of bravery and sacrifice as part of a new retail proposition for the IWM. Some briefs, such as this one, touch us personally. The Allotment Creative Director and Co-Founder, James’, grandfather served at Arnhem, and on many other missions during the Second World War. This made it a truly special honour for us to deliver a strong, creative platform for the IWM to grow its retail offer.
In 2014, our growing agency moved into an old print works on Emerald Street, London. Our award-winning work was increasingly being noticed and we were invited to work on a rebrand of Bauer’s UK-wide network of 43 Radio stations with their 8.7m listeners. It was a complex brief that required the creation of a series of brands, each appealing to a very different listener group yet unified with a common tone of voice and design theme.
The Allotment MD, Paul, recalls: “The success of the project was based on a clear focus on customer insights and the translation of their needs into a simple brand hierarchy that created simplicity, control and clarity.” For James and his team, it was a ‘music passion’ project, which involved creating a bespoke typeface and a dynamic logo system for 43 radio stations and a launch campaign for the major stations across the UK.
Paul concludes: “This project really does demonstrate the power of design to create cohesiveness and clarity in business. Even today, so many businesses have such complex brand hierarchies that opportunities for leverage across customer segments are missed.”
2012 was a big year for The Allotment. We had finally made the move into our serviced studio on Grays Inn Road. It was a step-change for the business with a growing team and client list.”
James recalls: “This is going to sound unbelievable but the very first call on our first morning in the new studio came from Mark Cross, a client of a previous agency, who I’d worked with to reposition the Met Office. He’d tracked us down in his new role as Head of Brand and Design at The Donkey Sanctuary. Mark wanted us to help them ‘tidy up the brand’ with a key instruction: ‘don’t touch the logo’.”
Roll forward several years and our partnership with The Donkey Sanctuary, now a massive £43m* concern, has shown how creativity, even in the midst of a deep recession, can increase a charity’s effectiveness. Our work increased the donation income by 60%, not including any advertising, which meant many more donkeys and mules around the world could be protected.
We finally did get to create a new logo. Today it’s used with pride and is loved by everyone who works for, and supports this amazing charity.
*figure in 2019
We’ve always encouraged our team to search out clients they would love to work for. Radical Sportscars was a passion of our Creative Director and Co-Founder, James. Back in 2012 he sent a radical series of bespoke, teaser mailers to Will Brown, Radical’s Marketing Director.
James remembers: “Radical had just launched a new road legal RXC GT race car. We needed cut-through, so it was a Radical by name, Radical by nature approach.
Having raced go-carts for several years, completed track days and survived a 1080 spin at the Nurburgring, the idea of a pair of underpants with tyre marks running up their rear sprang to mind. This first mailer was accompanied with some witty copy. It was shortly followed by a swear box, then a sick bag and finally we sent a presentation on a USB drive.
The mailers worked. We got a meeting but it wasn’t the right time for us to help them. We stayed in touch with Will, and four years later, following a major boardroom shake-up, Radical were ready for a rebrand.
Combining two passions – design and racing cars – was always going to be a win, win! Our relationship has helped Radical upshift from racing car manufacturer to a global brand delivering an incomparable ‘Racing Experience’.”
In 2013 we were working out of our kitchens and in our small, serviced offices on Grays Inn Road, London. The phone rang out of the blue, ‘Hello, it’s Matthew Higgins from first direct, I have your Jack and the Giant Recession mailer here. We love it. We’d like to chat about an amazing opportunity. We want our sponsorship of the Leeds Arena to reflect our irreverent brand and exceptional customer service, and help us appeal to a new generation of bank customers.’
The thing is, we’d sent that promotional mailer out two years earlier. It had really struck a chord with the client and he’d kept it for future reference.
Several weeks later, with crazy deadlines and many long hours into the night the brand for Leeds’ amazing new music arena and VIP experiences were ready. Every touchpoint was an irreverent and memorable experience – from Wurlitzer cash machines to music inspired VIP lounges.
The Boss (Bruce Springsteen) and lucky fans, including us, had an unforgettable night at the launch. Bruce also played Secret Garden, a rare treat for his die-hard fans.
We created The Allotment at the beginning of 2011 – a challenging year for everyone in business. While in the midst of one of the deepest global recessions, we were still convinced that authentic, creative branding, based around clear and compelling narratives, was the route to survival and growth.
One such business sector that was struggling at this time, due to the rise in oil prices, was the haulage industry. Small and mid-sized operators were fighting for survival against severe price pressure. White Logistics was one those operators. Losing money, they needed to find a way to stand-out in a crowded market that did not see their outstanding commitment to service and delivery. MD at the time, Judith, approached the Design Council for advice and we were appointed to help. Two years later White Logistics was heralded as an example of Design Effectiveness, doubling in size and prospering to this day under family ownership.
The Allotment MD, Paul, recalls: “We hit on a simple thought that haulage and logistics is zero bulls**t, it’s black and white. You either deliver or you don’t. You either solve the client’s problems or not.”
This simple thought led to a defining attitude and brand that became one of our most effective and awarded projects. Ten years on, White Logistics is still used by the Design Council and Design Business Association as a benchmark of the ability of design to solve critical business challenges.