Championing a cleaning brand’s sustainable vision

  • Client: Superunion / Delphis Eco
  • Disciplines: Copywriting, brand storytelling
  • Duration: 3 days

I helped Superunion tell the brand story of eco-friendly cleaning company Delphis Eco.

Following a joint briefing with the creative team and the client, I conducted an in-depth interview with Delphis Eco’s passionate, self-confessedly belligerent founder Mark Jankovich.

The first section, below, captures the story’s unlikely origins in the world of cut-throat finance – where Jankovich had the epiphany that drove him to drop everything and radically change his career direction.

“I woke up one day and thought, ‘Enough’s enough.'” – Mark Jankovich

Mark’s story

It was 2007, the year before the finance sector went into meltdown.

Mark had been working on a more joined-up approach to RBS Group’s corporate social responsibility. He argued that the banking giant needed to consider its impact on the world.

But profit was king, and Mark’s holistic plan was laughed out of the room. He quit the next day, with a burning desire to make a meaningful difference in whatever way he could. His goal was simple: build a business, any business, that could have a net-positive impact. After scouring the globe for candidates, he discovered a Liverpool-based chemist making professional-standard cleaning products from eco-friendly natural ingredients.

Delphis Eco leads by example when it comes to sustainability

The business had been struggling, and had racked up significant debts. But despite having no experience in the sector, Mark saw huge potential for social and environmental impact.

Shortly after the birth of his second child, and with no salary as a safety net, he threw everything he had into the venture, adopting a one-star roadside hotel as a rudimentary base near the warehouse in Bootle while he worked to turn the business around.

The brand story is set firmly in the context of the global climate emergency

Mark was prepared to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty. To win one of Delphis Eco’s first major contracts, he spent seven months getting up at 4am to scrub Iceland stores, demonstrating to the supermarket why it should switch.

He also knew he had to get the products into the right hands, so cut out the middleman. Knowing the Prince of Wales to be an ardent eco-campaigner, he cold-called Clarence House and challenged the Prince’s staff to test the products. The risk paid off, ultimately leading to Delphis Eco receiving two Royal Warrants.

At the heart of Delphis Eco’s success story is Mark’s refusal to accept something is impossible, and the passion, belligerence and drive to prove it can be done.

Mark has lobbied the UK government to promote sector-wide change

The story goes on to explore how Delphis Eco has responded to the bigger-picture context of the climate emergency, and reveals the brand’s many sector-leading green innovations and related campaigns – including lobbying for meaningful change at the highest level.

Why we’ve extended the BIA deadline by a month

Submit your best branding by 26 June 2020.

Awards season has unsurprisingly looked a bit different this year. Every major scheme has adapted in its own way to cope with the industry-wide challenges posed by COVID-19.

The Brand Impact Awards is no different: we are officially extending the entry period by four full weeks to 26 June.

Enter the Brand Impact Awards now 

2020-06-26T11:31:00

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2020 entry deadline

It’s no secret that agencies across the board are under pressure. Everyone needs time to settle into their ‘new normal’ – whatever that means – and ensure both cashflow and workflow recovers.

You may still have team members furloughed, or be pulling out the stops to get a key project over the line. By extending the entry period by another month, we hope to give you an extra buffer to do your submissions justice.

Why spend money on awards right now?

At times like these, celebrating the best work is important to keep your team motivated – but also to demonstrate to prospective clients that your agency creates world-class output that breaks category constraints.

You need sufficient rigour to ensure the best work rises to the surface. The BIAs’ narrow-but-deep focus on branding – and its market-sector categories, which consider work in the context for which it was designed – means brave work in conservative sectors has a better chance to get noticed.

It also means you won’t always see the usual suspects in the shortlist, and great work that other awards schemes have passed over could win.

Group debates are a crucial part of the BIA judging process: they enable us to take advantage of the variety of different perspectives and specialist expertise on our world-class panel.

Like every other design award scheme this year, we must shift to remote judging in order to protect the health and safety of all involved, but we will ensure that stimulating group debate remains at the heart of the process.

Plus: three all-new craft categories

Strong, original and client-appropriate ideas sit at the heart of every winning project at the BIAs. But without the craft to bring them to life in a spectacular, engaging way, they might stay just that: ideas.

Craft is crucial to great branding. To recognise the fruitful collaborations that are often at the heart of award-winning projects, this year three all-new categories will reward the very best examples of how copywriting, illustration and typography can help define and communicate brand values.

Each of these three categories has its own world-class jury – a first for the BIAs. So if you submit the same project in a craft category as well as the appropriate market-sector category, that aspect of the work will be independently scrutinised by specialists in that particular field.

All entries must be received by 26 June 2020 at the very latest: there will be no further extensions. Good luck!

Enter the Brand Impact Awards now

Celebrating 50 years of the Virgin brand

  • Client: Virgin / Thames & Hudson
  • Disciplines: Content strategy, interviewing, copywriting, brand voice
  • Duration: 10 months

I am the author of Virgin By Design, a premium ‘coffee-table’ book celebrating 50 years of the Virgin brand.

Collaborating closely with the Virgin Group brand team and the book’s publisher Thames & Hudson, I helped develop a content strategy to appeal to brand designers, creative marketeers and ambitious entrepreneurs.

Rather than a chronological retrospective, we agreed it would be more compelling to tell the story thematically, exploring the unique characteristics that make the Virgin brand special.

Buy a copy of Virgin By Design on Amazon

The process involved over 120 interviews with CEOs, CMOs and other influential individuals responsible for shaping the past, present and future of the Virgin brand – from the early days of Virgin Records and Virgin Atlantic in the ’70s and ’80s, through to present-day innovations from the likes of Virgin Galactic and Virgin Voyages.

Drawing on hundreds of thousands of words of transcript, I crafted the many diverse stories into 10 distinct chapters. These explored areas such as Virgin’s ‘cheeky start-up’ mentality, the importance of taking risks and innovating, the ‘feel-good experiences’ and ‘magic moments’ at the heart of the brand, and how Virgin can stay relevant for the next 50 years.

With multiple senior stakeholders involved – including Virgin Group’s chief brand officer and global CEO, as well as Richard Branson himself – my copywriting brief was to capture Virgin’s brand values, while remaining engaging and entertaining for an external audience.

Nick helped us shape a cohesive narrative from multiple voices. He was quick to understand Virgin’s brand principles and history, and convey it seamlessly throughout the book. Nick’s skill in finding compelling stories translates to a joyful yet comprehensive read. He was a joy to work with.

Charlotte Bufton – brand manager and project lead, Virgin
Virgin By Design’s 10 thematic chapters. Image credit: Virgin

Fascinating archive photography, striking campaign visuals and playful commissioned illustration bring the featured stories to life.

The design, by Pete Rossi at RM&CO, encourages different levels of engagement. Readers can flick through for visual inspiration, or deep-dive into each chapter’s theme.

Content formats vary from bite-size captions to long thematic reads, bound-in as inserts amongst full-bleed images to maximise visual impact. Gatefolds expand the canvas at key points to do milestone campaigns justice.

“Nick’s deep understanding of how branding and design work within a business, and his industry knowledge and contacts, make him an invaluable member of a creative team.”

Andrew Sanigar – commissioning editor, Thames & Hudson

Virgin By Design was published by Thames & Hudson in March 2020.

Awards for Virgin By Design
Silver Award – Graphis Design Annual 2021
Highly Commended – Drum Design Awards 2020

Asking provocative questions of top brands

Cover of Wild Thinking. Image credit: The Clearing
  • Client: The Clearing / Kogan Page
  • Disciplines: Content strategy, scriptwriting, video
  • Duration: 10 days

I helped The Clearing produce a series of videos to promote its new book, Wild Thinking.

Wild Thinking features 25 unconventional solutions to business challenges, from pioneering thinkers at global brands. I developed a content strategy to draw out particularly engaging themes from the book, and conducted piece-to-camera interviews with key contributors.

Read more about Wild Thinking on Kogan Page’s website…

Working closely with publisher Kogan Page, I then scripted a series of short-form videos. This included exclusive cuts for LinkedIn and Twitter, posing bonus questions from The Clearing’s ‘Wild Cards’ – the pack of 100 provocative questions that inspired the book.

Selection of cards from the Wild Cards pack. Image credit: The Clearing

Read more about Wild Cards on The Clearing’s website…

Here are three of the videos:

How mediocrity can be a great motivator

CMO John Allert discusses McLaren’s unapologetically uncompromising culture, and why a fear of mediocrity keeps the team sharp.

Why leading from the top is outdated

Former Dropbox PR chief Nick Morris shares his tried-and-trusted collaborative approach for engaging and inspiring a team.

What ‘brand purpose’ looks like in practice

CCO Juliet Slot explains how Ascot Race Course translates abstract brand values into meaningful everyday actions for its employees.

“Nick has a unique offer – he’s a writer, a thinker, an interviewer and a burst of energy. He immediately became part of our team when we launched our Wild Thinking book, driving content and building relationships for our short films. It was fun, and it delivered great results.”

Jules Griffith, marketing director, The Clearing

Rolling out tone of voice for a European bank

HROD logo showing four quadrants. Image credit: 31% Wool
  • Client: 31% Wool / EBRD
  • Disciplines: Copywriting, tone of voice
  • Duration: 9 days

I helped 31% Wool make EBRD’s HR department more engaging and approachable.

31% Wool’s verbal narrative for the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development’s newly formed ‘HR and Organisational Department’ (HROD) is based on four ‘quadrants’ that play on banking terminology.

All communications are framed in terms of assets, liabilities, risks and returns. HROD might describe people as its “greatest asset”, for instance, or discuss “unlocking returns” for its staff.

My brief was to translate this conceptual approach across a range of materials – from landing pages to onboarding packs – while balancing the need to be punchy and direct, but also warm and welcoming.

Read more on 31% Wool’s website…

Landing pages from HROD website. Image credit: 31% Wool

I also wrote guidelines to help HROD staff maintain this tone of voice across other day-to-day applications.

Tone of voice booklet for HROD. Image credit: 31% Wool

“Nick quickly grasped the intricacies and breadth of the client’s verbal comms, and brought to life some previously quite generic pieces with our new verbal language and a consistent tone of voice. He was happy to turn around some tight client deadlines, and I hope we’ll be working on more projects together in the future.”

Julia Woollams, creative director, 31% Wool

Telling the story of Carlsberg’s global rebrand

Carlsberg’s re-crafted logo. Image credit: Taxi Studio
  • Client: Taxi Studio / Carlsberg
  • Disciplines: Content strategy, scriptwriting, video, copywriting
  • Duration: 12 days

I helped Taxi Studio develop a content strategy for its award-winning Carlsberg rebrand.

The strategy focused on three core areas – the re-crafting of the mark and other brand assets; the holistic design and packaging system; and Carlsberg’s wider sustainability story, in which the rebrand plays a central role.

Working closely with Taxi’s in-house marketing and creative teams, I conducted piece-to-camera interviews in both Taxi’s Bristol studio and Carlsberg’s Copenhagen HQ, then scripted and edit-produced videos that have since formed part of many successful awards submissions.

The videos were accompanied by ghostwritten articles to tell the story in more detail. These became core case studies on the Taxi website, as well as attracting the attention of specialist publications such as The Dieline.

Part one: Crafted to Last

How the rebrand translates across packaging and POS. Image credit: Taxi Studio

We’ve collaborated with Carlsberg on a major global rebrand, unifying its diverse markets with a simple yet versatile identity system that champions the principles of great Danish design.

Following extensive research into the brand’s 171-year heritage, Carlsberg’s famous brand elements have been carefully re-crafted for the first time in several years, striking the perfect balance between form and function...

Read more and watch video on Taxi’s website…

Part two: Danish by Design

Different variants in the holistic packaging system. Image credit: Taxi Studio

At the heart of our global Carlsberg rebrand is a simple phrase: “In constant pursuit of better.” Drawn from the ‘Golden Words’ penned by Carlsberg founder JC Jacobsen, this pledge drives everything from the quality of the brew, to the company’s sustainability credentials, to how its brand is presented to the world.

With no holistic look and feel to tie the regional variants together, or clear set of rules to govern how different assets were used, the Carlsberg brand was presented inconsistently from market to market. Another challenge was to unify all expressions of it as part of a coherent, master brand-led system...

Read more and watch video on Taxi’s website…

“Nick is an excellent writer with a particular set of skills, skills he has acquired over a very long career, skills that make him a dream for people like you. Try him once and you’ll be taken. Just like I was when we worked together on the Carlsberg brand – he’s a trusted ‘go to’ for us.”

Spencer Buck – creative partner, Taxi Studio