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How we helped bring the Ivy & Alex brand to life

May 27, 2015 by Klaus
Late this past winter, an acquaintance approached me with a branding and design dilemma.

Her 11-year-old daughter, Alexandra Dinsmore, had designed a dress in four different colours, with the idea of supporting World Vision causes – the blue dress to provide clean water; the green dress to provide nutritious food; the pink dress to provide funds for education and medicine; and the red dress to support local programs in North America. She called the line “Ivy & Alex” (Ivy for I Value You and Alex after herself). The line of dresses was to be laterally branded to sync with her mom’s line of children’s apparel.

When we were approached, the fabric’s print design had been chosen, the reversible dresses had been designed, a day of fashion photography had been completed, and video had been shot to eventually tell the Ivy & Alex story and promote the products. What was needed, was creative that tied all of these moving parts together.

Through graphics and colour palettes, we seamlessly connected each dress to each initiative. That was the easy part.

The greater challenge was connecting the Ivy & Alex brand laterally to the Flapjack Kids brand without losing the graphic and colour effect of tying the dresses to the causes they supported. They needed a lateral connection so that everything appeared as if they came out of the same mixing bowl.

The original Flapjack Kids brand featured icons of little boy and girl stick figures. And so, we seamlessly integrated the two lines by creating a chorus line of little girl stick figures – wearing the different coloured dresses of course. There were now little girls wearing the different dresses while playing soccer or skipping rope. And, the stick figures all showcased the dresses’ ability to look good as a dress or as a tunic – in other words the dress grows with the child.
Once the branding was complete, collateral material was needed. As creative lead, I directed catalogue design and trade show graphics to ensure a cohesive look and feel and it rolled out across cards, tags and everything required to promote an initiative that gives back.

The end result was a complete brand and a great idea that supports great causes.

Check out the Ivy & Alex Project page.

Pantone’s Colour of the Year is a splash of optimism

May 06, 2015 by Klaus
Pantone’s Colour of the Year for 2015 has everyone seeing red. And that’s because the colour is Marsala, a rich and warm almost terra-cotta shade of red.

As we’ve had a few months to digest this colour choice (it was announced last December), it’s worth considering how we feel about it now. Because when it was first announced, reactions were mixed. Some loved it; others were not so impressed. Colour is after all, a subjective, emotional experience. And Pantone’s colour selections have a wide-reaching effect. They’re used in many industries, including fashion, home décor, interiors, graphics and packaging. In other words, Pantone’s colour choices dictate colour trends.

Marsala is a warm, comfy and homey colour. It feels like a nice, heavy glass of merlot, so what’s not to love about that! In fact in a press release, Pantone Executive Director Leatrice Eiseman compared the colour to the wine that gives its name. “This tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal, while its grounding red-brown roots emanates a sophisticated, natural earthiness.”

Marsala is another in a string of warm colours from Pantone over the last 10 years. And that’s because warm colours like Marsala evoke feelings of optimism. And in a world where our thoughts tend to linger on more sombre subjects, a splash of optimistic colour is exactly what we need.

Especially here in Canada where our personal colour palette tends to lean towards dark colours rather than bright, optimistic colours. Think of a subway ride in the middle of winter. What colours are the coats on almost every passenger? Black, brown, grey and maybe dark blue too. And where is the only place you see colour on this same journey? Usually on the coats of children.

Pantone’s colours of the year are not meant to be the end all and be all of colour every year – instead they’re meant to accent those darker, neutral or cooler colours.

And as such, notably absent from Pantone’s colour of the year selection in the last decade have been cool colours. Even previous colours of the year in the green, blue or purple ranges (colours usually associated with “cool” colours) have been lush and vibrant shades. In fact, Marsala is the darkest warm shade that Pantone has selected in some time.

So what does this year’s, or any year’s, colour shade really mean? Well to the graphic design industry, not much. Unless you’re creating a lifestyle brand or a point-in-time event initiative, you’re not likely to specifically seek out using the Pantone colour. Corporate branding and other such projects need to shy away from trends or risk quickly looking out-dated.

Because who knows where the colour choices will go in the future. If history tells us anything, trends, and colour choices, most definitely change.