Re-branding Bright with Vicki and Max Crame

Bright

Having begun my career as a trained graphic designer, I have always loved typography – probably why you have seen Bright’s collection on new fonts over the years.

I set Bright up initially to bridge the gap between unpublished/graduate illustrators and the professional world. When I left Portsmouth University I felt that there wasn’t a natural progression from illustrator to professional working freelancer. So, Bright was set up to enable that. Fun fact about the original Bright brand – it was designed by my best friend Barney Steel, who I studied with at Portsmouth University; Barney himself has gone on to great, great things! He founded the Found Collective  (www.thefoundcollective.com) and went on to set up the Marshmellow Laser Feast (marshmallowlaserfeast.com). His clients now include Mclaren and Saatchi.

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We at Bright hope Max Crame, our new branding and graphic designer, is following in great footsteps to graduate, as Barney and I did from Portsmouth, helping to kick off his career by rebranding Bright’s identity.

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When I can, I aim to support the growing graduate into a promising career, and this year I was feeling Bright’s branding was just not quite right – we needed a re-working on finding a true identity for Bright across the different divisions, and I had a pretty good idea in my head. But with running Bright and with so many new changes in Photoshop, I felt I was too rusty to take it on myself, so sought out new designers to find a design partner that could work with me and create this new vision.

That’s how I found Max! After exploring many different exciting hopeful, I knew Max and I could find a proper middle ground for Bright’s rebranding. His portfolio was advanced, confident, simple, and there was such clarity in what he did and how he worked. His ideas on typography and layout was fresh, he showed great traditional skill but breathed fresh air into it.

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So Max and I began – and we successfully rebranded the company! Without further adieu, here is Max’s story.

Max is available for freelance work (you can contact him via his website: www.maxcrame.is). I would thoroughly recommend his design approach for branding as he listens, is conscientious and just an all round great new talent to arrive on the scene. I hope to use his new structure for all Bright’s internal and external design for years. Well, until I fancy a change.

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My name is Max Crame, I am a one of Portsmouth University‘s newest batch of graphic design graduates, and for the last month I have had the good fortune to be working as a freelancer for Vicki and the team and the Bright Group International.

After a tough final year at university, with more than a few sleepless nights, it was a gratifying feeling to finally be on the way to starting a career in the subject that I love. However, what was not so gratifying was that with the course finished and our deadlines met, my fellow designers and I were now being called ‘unemployed’ instead of ‘students’.

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The time had come to start looking for work and for us, the first step was this year’s ‘New designers‘ exhibition in London. This exhibition is a great place for young designers to showcase their best and freshest design concepts from any discipline. The show has everything from product design to illustration, and exhibiting my work here provided an excellent opportunity to start talking about my ideas and networking with other professionals. It was here where I was first put in touch with Vicki.

As a former Portsmouth graduate herself, I found it refreshing to learn that we shared many of the same beliefs when it comes to graphic design. Vicki seemed to know exactly what she wanted, and I was ready for the challenge.

The Challenge

For the past 10+ years the Bright Agency has become world renowned for its work in children’s illustration. However, alongside children’s illustration Bright also has a strong portfolio of work in an adult market, as well as both literary and art licensing illustrations. With its existing identity, the Bright Group communicates its friendly and vibrant persona, however Vicki and myself both felt that the company needed a more coherent group identity, one that also allowed for the flexibility needed to show off the huge variety of work at Bright. We also felt that the agency’s new identity needed to have a much stronger footing in layout and typography, again to help unify the group as a modern collective.

I had my brief and now all I needed to do was to decide how best to interpret it and make it my own. For the first time I was working for cash instead of credits – an exciting and nerve-racking prospect all at the same time.

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My Experiences

Freelancing at the Bright Group has taught me that designing in the real world can be very different from designing at university, and the first difference I came across is time.

Whilst it is probably true that the week before my final hand-in I did more work than in the whole of the first year put together. It is also true that the projects I was working on each spanned over a length of three or four months, with endless concept changes, evaluations and tutorials. When working in a professional environment spending that amount of time on a project is just not possible. Within the first two days of my time at Bright I had researched, mood-boarded, prototyped and come up with three different concepts ready to be taken forward. It’s not about doing less work, its about being much more concise.

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My second observation between the two worlds is practicality. University is great because it gives you the freedom to explore anything you can imagine, regardless of effort or expense. When designing for Bright, I constantly had to ask myself: ‘Is this practical?’ An excellent example of this would be one of my first concepts for a flexible identity. I had the brilliant idea of using various artists’ artwork within the typography of the deliverables; it would have looked great, but I doubt the lovely agents at Bright would have thanked me for doubling their workload every time they wanted to make a new artist portfolio!

Finally I feel one of the most important differences to mention between university work and freelancing is the necessity of communication. When working at uni you are ultimately working for yourself. You can have late night conversations with your sketchbook to your hearts content, and apart from fitting in tutorials and the odd lecture, you are free to make your own schedule. When working for Bright I was working for someone who had a business to run, other things to do and people to see. It is a designer’s responsibility, as much as the client’s, to keep a clear line of communication open at all times so that both are happy and aware. This is something that was completely new to me and something that I tried keep up with as best as possible.

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Despite the many differences I have experienced over the last month, perhaps one of the most rewarding experiences I found on my first freelance endeavour was discovering what wasn’t different.

I will be the first to admit that entering into my first freelance project was a little intimidating, but as soon as I started work I realised that this is what I have been working towards all along. Research, conceptualise, test, evaluate: the last three years has made this process second nature to all of the graduates at Portsmouth, and realising this gave me the drive to see this project through to the end.

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The Solution

The final solution for the Bright Group rebranding is designed to be a strong, clean and recognisable identity across each of Bright’s divisions. Something that is flexible enough to be built off of to suit the needs of each division.

From the start of the project I wanted typography to play a big part in the flexibility of Bright, and I have implemented this by giving each division its own typeface along with its own logo. In turn, each company has its own unique tone of voice, and an identity that can be seen throughout the division and its deliverables, rather than just in the logo.

Furthermore, each logo is designed to be flexible to the context in which it is used. It is no secret that Vicki is a big fan of the colour pink, and in full colour each logo uses the colour to help link the set of logos together. More importantly, I designed each logo to be scaled for use at different sizes, and each logo works well in both black and knockout white over images.

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In short I have found my time working with the Bright Agency to be eye opening experience. Freelancing in the real world is certainly a challenge, but my job was made easier by working for a company with such a clear work ethic spanning across such a large variety of artwork.

I would like to thank Vicki and her team for being with me every step of the way (a little cliché I know), and giving me the feedback and help I needed at every stage to produce a successful final outcome.

At university we are taught that graphic design is a tool for communication, however from working with Bright, I now believe that it is only until we are shunted into the big wide world, that we learn how to make it work.