We’ve been asking around our Studios to find out which brands people would love to get their hands on and redesign. This time round Ben suggests British icon WHSMith, Bhavya chose global cosmetics brand M.A.C., and Natasha shares something very close to all our hearts that she feels could really benefit from brand design expertise…
Chosen by Ben Farrell, Senior Designer, Amsterdam
According to consumer magazine Which?, WHSmith has been voted the worst shop on the British high street for an impressive EIGHT years running. Whenever I am back in the UK, my fond memories of visiting to buy my first French curve dissipate as soon as I enter the maze-like environment of harsh halogen lighting, garish yellow offers at the cash desk, and sparse shelves in forgotten corners.
With competition from specialised retailers like Paperchase and Waterstones, and shoppers demanding more from physical store experiences, it seems long overdue that the brand gets with the times.
From the 70’s to the 90’s, the WHSmith had an iconic ‘giftbox’ logo, reflecting the diversity of products it sold. It would be awesome to revive this in a contemporary way, a bit like how the Co-op supermarket recently reintroduced heritage back into its brandmark (more on that over on Brand New). I would love to re-inject pride and quality back into WHSmith, reminding people why it’s been in their lives for 226 years.
Chosen by Bhavya Jagadesh, Junior Film & Animation Designer, Singapore
If I had the chance, M.A.C. Cosmetics would be the brand that I would love to redesign. Why? Well, it’s a fantastic brand. It’s reliable in delivering top quality products, has a strong reputation dedicated to cosmetic artistry, and the technical skill to command looks and styles. MAC has always positioned itself as an inclusive brand, trying to accommodate all different skin types, colours, ages and genders.
However, I feel that the brand’s visual identity is due an update. The simple, all-black packaging is iconic, but I feel that the logo can sometimes be difficult to see and can get a bit lost, especially in advertising.
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There are plenty of new, young cosmetic brands that also use minimal design – Glossier and ColourPop being two that spring to mind. The idea behind their packaging is similar to MAC, but their logos really stand out, and these are the brands that are popular with younger audiences.
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I would like to streamline MAC’s visual identity, putting the logo first in the hierarchy and ensuring that it can be used consistently across all touchpoints, for different audiences, all over the world. I’d also like to create a cleaner, more flexible approach to packaging design that can carry through the core range of products as well as collaboration lines. Combining this with the brand’s rich history and strong presence on social media reach, MAC could be unstoppable.
Chosen by Natasha Supple, Senior Film & Animation Designer, London
My sister Melissa is special needs and the schools she has been to have been such an important part of her life. It’s where she learnt to make eye contact. It’s where not just Melissa learnt sign language, but also where my mum, dad and I learnt it so we could communicate better with her. With all of the schools, and particularly at Sixth Form, the classes were very practical and hands on, even for the students in wheelchairs – being in a chair wasn’t going to stop them from getting outside and exploring the world. The teachers at Melissa’s schools had to cater for so many individuals with different disabilities and specialist equipment, and they did everything they could to get very best out of the students, helping them develop their confidence and ultimately bring them so much joy.
What always struck me about Melissa’s schools was that there was so much colour and art throughout the buildings. They all championed creativity, and creative subjects like Art and Cookery are really important for pupils as it can calm them and give them focus, as well as allowing them express themselves. The more traditional subjects like Maths, Science and English are taught in a completely different way to how I was taught at school, tailored to the students’ needs.
Long story short, the life of a special needs student, regardless of disability or condition or age, is full of symbols, sounds and colour. They need sensory and interactive experiences. So rather than redesigning a brand, if I had the chance, I’d love to work on a multi-sensory identity system that could be used in special needs schools to elevate the day-to-day for parents, teachers and students.
I can imagine how this could translate into all aspects of school life, such as way finding; enabling the students navigate the building in a new way, and helping them develop their confidence and independence.
All of these schools are reliant on funding – my parents have always been heavily involved in fundraising for Melissa’s schools, and my Dad even did a stint as Father Christmas! – and I’d love to be able to use my skills in design to contribute to the amazing work these schools do.
Lead photo by Kelli Tungay on Unsplash.