Asking provocative questions of top brands

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

I collaborated with The Clearing on a series of videos to promote the release of the agency’s new book, Wild Thinking – 25 unconventional solutions to business challenges, from pioneering thinkers at global brands.

Read more about Wild Thinking on the Kogan Page website…

I developed a content strategy to draw out particularly engaging themes from the book – and conducted piece-to-camera interviews with three key contributors, as well as co-authors Richard Buchanan and Nick Liddell.

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Why leading from the top is outdated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

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 production, copywriting
  • Duration: 12 days

I collaborated with Taxi Studio, developing a content strategy to tell the fascinating story behind its award-winning Carlsberg rebrand.

Following an in-depth briefing, we agreed to focus 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

Repositioning Computer Arts to appeal to pro designers

  • Client: Future
  • Disciplines: Content strategy, editorial, publishing
  • Duration: 3 months

I led a major cross-platform redesign of Computer Arts in 2013, following the launch of Computer Arts Collection, its premium sister title, two years earlier.

From its ’90s origins as a tutorial magazine for hobbyists, my content strategy completed the brand’s transition into a reputable industry title pitched squarely at professional designers and agencies.

Five special issues of Computer Arts from 2014. Image credit: Future

Step-by-step tutorials were replaced with peer-to-peer project ‘diaries’ going behind-the-scenes on live client briefs, to reveal how top agencies solve familiar creative challenges.

With a bold new tagline – Design Matters – the repositioned CA delivered thought-provoking opinions, in-depth industry insights and fresh creative inspiration every month. This included a long-running series of exclusive video documentaries, filmed behind-the-scenes at the UK’s top agencies.

Blog: Why your design agency should invest in video

At the height of the digital publishing boom, the redesign featured a fully-bespoke, interactive iPad edition that went on to win Best Art & Design Magazine three years running at the Digital Magazine Awards.

And to elevate the premium feel of the print edition, innovative covers produced in collaboration with leading print finishing specialist Celloglas brought creative concepts to life in playful and compelling ways, celebrating the unique tactile potential of print.

Four special issues of Computer Arts from 2015. Image credit: Future

These included glow-in-the-dark, heat- and light-reactive inks, scratch-off latex, diffuser foils, textured embossing, playful die-cuts and more.

Watch making-of videos of CA’s special covers on YouTube

The strategic repositioning of Computer Arts proved crucial for the launch of the Brand Impact Awards in 2014, which has gone on to become an unmissable fixture in the professional awards calendar.

I edited CA until 2018. During this period I also launched the UK Studio Rankings – an annual peer reputation survey of the country’s top design agencies – which I continue to manage as an independent consultant.

Contact me to find out more about the survey.

“Nick’s enthusiasm for the re-imagining of Computer Arts was infectious. His unwavering desire to put the needs of the audience at the heart of every decision was truly heartening, and undoubtedly a key reason the project was a huge success.”

Declan Gough – then head of Creative & Design Group, Future

Launching a collectable, high-end design title

  • Client: Future
  • Disciplines: Content strategy, editorial, publishing
  • Duration: 3 months

As launch editor for Computer Arts Collection, I developed a content strategy to appeal to senior design professionals, shifting industry perceptions and moving the CA brand into the competitive set of Creative Review.

The first four issues in Computer Arts Collection volume one (2012). Image credit: Future

This paved the way for the major redesign of Computer Arts in 2013, and ultimately the successful launch of the Brand Impact Awards in 2014.

Packed with insight and inspiration from the global design industry, CA Collection was pitched as the definitive guide to six core topics: graphic design, typography, illustration, branding, photography and advertising.

Each issue included an in-depth report on the latest macro and micro trends affecting each creative discipline, produced exclusively for CA Collection by top creative consultancy FranklinTill.

The first three issues in Computer Arts Collection volume two (2013). Image credit: Future

The lynchpin of the strategy was to treat ‘practical’ content in a totally new way, giving creative professionals unprecedented access to how peers at different agencies solve familiar creative challenges.

In place of step-by-step ‘tutorials’ was an innovative special project section, guest-edited by a different agency every issue. Over 48 pages, the guest-editing agency detailed their creative process from initial idea, through development and into production – including exclusive behind-the-scenes video diaries documenting their progress.

Read other video production case studies

To celebrate the tactile beauty of print, the series showcased a wide range of innovative production techniques – including internal fluoro spot-colours, gatefolds, detachable bound-in prints and fold-out posters.

Promo pack for CA Collection’s launch issue, sent to a hand-picked selection of agencies. Image credit: Future

Launched in 2011, CA Collection comprised two collectable six-part volumes, after which many of the principles behind its content strategy were ultimately incorporated into the 2013 redesign of the parent brand.