Google_Office_01

Beyond the playful workplace

The past decade has seen a rise in the concept of the playful workplace. Inspired, amongst others, by Google’s unique and unconventional culture, it’s not uncommon to see shipping containers, climbing walls, caravans and even pirate ships vying for space with the photocopier and filing cabinet. It seems it isn’t enough to have staircases in offices these days, we need a helter-skelter slide or fireman’s pole to transport our giggling employees from floor to floor. But do these seemingly frivolous additions to the workplace have a benefit beyond that of attracting and retaining a happy workforce? (more…)

Power_of_animation_header_distillation

When commissioning an animation or corporate film, it’s worth thinking about this quote from Wally Olins:

“Overall, because branding is about creating and sustaining trust it means delivering on promises. The best and most successful brands are completely coherent. Every aspect of what they do and what they are reinforces everything else.”

It’s rare to find much advice or specific guidance (if any) on creating moving image in an organisation’s brand guidelines. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to go completely off-piste. All too often corporate films contain none of the brand’s essence or visual identity at all.  (more…)

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Hiring@2x

We have a fantastic opportunity for a designer with a minimum of 2-3 years experience to join our creative team. We’re looking for someone who can demonstrate creative flair, confidence and a genuine passion for design, especially branding, web design and motion graphics. We’ll expect you to have a real can-do attitude and a desire to keep learning and progressing. In exchange you’ll get to work with some great clients and contribute to a broad range of projects and pitches in a busy and friendly studio environment.
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Power_of_animation_header_distillation

Have you thought about how much data we’re exposed to every day? From social media, TV, advertising, work emails, the conversations we have, there is huge amount of information associated with every spect of our lives. One of the key challenges for brands therefore is to simplify the complex.

Animation can be an effective way of responding to these challenges. It can speak across cultural boundaries, simplify the complex and surprise and delight with its visuals.
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Power_of_animation_header_distillation

At a time when technology advances and the proliferation of channels have made it easier and quicker for brands to distribute and promote rich content, the use of animation has flourished – largely because it provides a remarkably effective way of distilling information into a pure, focused and compelling message. (more…)

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Workplace for a younger generation

Workplaces for a new generation

It’s always been a challenge for organisations to embed the shared values and behaviours that embody and define the brand, but a recent report by the Chief Marketing Officer Council has highlighted just how important this is for attracting and retaining younger employees.

The millennial generation (I hate that term), those born between 1990 and 2000 and now entering the job market will shape the world of work for years to come. For employers, attracting and retaining the best of these workers is crucial to the future of the organisation. After all, it’s their attitude to work, career aspiration and knowledge of emerging technology that will define the culture of the workplace in the 21st century. (more…)

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A place for identity

For much of my life I have lived in, or close to, the city of Southampton. As a kid growing up in the 70’s and 80’s we lived just a short ferry ride from the city centre – close enough for the sound of the foghorns to rattle our windows whenever the sea mist rolled in. I still live close by. It’s a place that I feel I know pretty well and it’s a place that has a lot going for it. (more…)

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What can advertising learn from branding?

Traditionally it has been said that branding starts where the advertising finishes; that somehow branding and advertising are different things. Often, with this mindset, the nearest the ad agency would get to thinking about branding, is placing the client’s logo in the bottom right hand corner of the ad.

The thinking was that it was the product that was important and it was the ad agency’s job to work out what it was about the product that was better than the competitions product and find a memorable way to communicate USP. The branding was just there to make sure the product stood out on the shelf. This has been the way ad agencies have operated for pretty much as long as anyone can remember.

Of course brand agencies have always argued that this way of looking at things was back-to-front! (more…)

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Recognition driving business success

There can be few more effective ways to engage employees than through recognition of their effort, endeavour, achievement and success. Recognition programmes have the ability to make people feel good, improve relationships internally and create a thank you culture. But there is more to Recognition programmes than a ‘nice to have’ engagement initiative. (more…)

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Soaring ahead of time…

Occasionally, someone designs something that is so ground-breaking, so leftfield, so far ahead of it’s time, that it is misunderstood, ridiculed or even discarded before it’s given a chance to shine. This is true in every creative discipline; in architecture, fashion, art, product design, the performing arts, music, car design, hair styling, cake decorating… and it’s true in branding.

Twenty years ago when British Airways made the undoubtedly audacious decision to move away from their quintessentially British tailfins to a series of striking, but seemingly unconnected ethnic patterns, reactions were polarised. (more…)

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The World of Charles and Ray Eames

A last minute visit to The World of Charles and Ray Eames exhibition at the Barbican was well worth the visit.

Everyone knows Charles and Ray Eames for their instantly recognisable plywood chairs and their “least money” approach to design, but this show highlights how multidisciplinary their appraoch was. For example it includes , a scale installation of Think – the multi-screen film presentation shown in the IBM Pavilion at New York’s 1964-65 World Fair and a set of Ray’s covers for Art and Architecture.

The show ends on Sunday, well worth a visit this weekend.

Covers

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trends-for-2016

Trends for 2016

1. It’s all about the experience

Yes, we’ve been talking about it for a while now, but 2016 is surely set to be the year that marketing departments start to move from silos of advertising, online comms, high street retail, towards joined up experiences that are part of the sales cycle and an extension of customer service. The term omnichannel may be a buzzword, but it marks a real shift: customers expect brands to provide an integrated experience, regardless of device or channel. Of course, brand identities that transition beautifully between the physical and digital worlds to achieve this are vital. (more…)

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Saluting the Tour de Playgroup

So the Tour de Playgroup, our annual charity bike ride, is over for another year and we’re already missing the banter in the studio. This year, as last, there were no sprint finishes, no chasing peloton, no fanfares or winners medals, just three very tired looking guys coasting wearily to a halt near Brighton Pier. (more…)

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Pedal power

Sometimes in life something demands that you sit up and pay attention. For me it was going with my wife to our local hospital and being told that she had a tumour, most likely cancerous. It was 29th January this year, she was 34.

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Tour de Playgroup 2015

Tour de Playgroup 2015: London to Brighton

Now that Froomey has pedalled his way to another success on the Champs-Élysées it’s time to look forward to the other great cycling event of the year, The Tour de Playgroup 2015. On the 18th September a group of us will be dusting off our old pushbikes, struggling into lycra and heading off on the 70+ miles (not forgetting 1,391 vertical meters) between Playgroup Towers and Brighton Pier.

Inspired by Nairo Quintana’s staggering attack up the Alpe d’Huez on Saturday’s penultimate stage, we’ll be hauling our sore backsides up East Sussex’s notorious Ditchling Beacon, famously used as the hill climb on the UK stage of the 1994 Tour de France. Hopefully we won’t have to get off and push – in fact, we’re determined not to. (more…)

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Craft Beer

The real deal

It’s easy to see the recent growth of “authentic” brands as a reaction against globalisation. The idea that in Mexico, Tokyo and London people are all eating the same breakfast cereal, using the same deodorant and eating the same burgers seems somehow to be bland and uninteresting. It goes against our sense of individuality. (more…)

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The book of Comms 10:1

From cascade to conversation

Employee communications were traditionally built around a simple belief that senior leadership knew more about everything than their employees. Internal communication strategies were built around this concept aimed at finding ways to get information from leader’s heads into the hands, hearts and minds of all employees. Cascading messages through layers of management to ensure that employees all got the same message, in the same manner, at the same time. This top down approach focused upon monologue rather than actively encouraging participation, discussion and dialogue. For many years this one size fits all approach was based upon traditional employee communication channels such as town hall meetings, newsletters, emails, magazines and bulletin boards. (more…)

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Granary Square Kings Cross

Creating a sense of place

Great placemaking is about understanding and defining what makes a place unique, developing a promise and authentic vision, then applying that through the physical environment, the branding and the marketing. Curation is key to bringing the right mix of retailers, businesses, cultural events and public art into an area.

King’s Cross is a great example of what can be achieved in transforming and rejuvenating a neglected area. Once an important Victorian industrial heartland, it had, by the 1970’s, become a post-industrial wasteland with a notoriously poor reputation. Lack of investment in the infrastructure, in business, retail and residential properties had created the perfect breeding ground for antisocial behaviour. (more…)

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Bling watch

Have Apple reinvented luxury marketing?

The Apple Watch went on sale today and while many in the tech industry have been wondering if Apple have once again created a new tech market – doing for the smart watch what they did for digital music players in 2001 – from a marketing perspective it’s perhaps more interesting to consider what effect they will have on luxury marketing. (more…)

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Content is king

Content is king

People say Seth Godin is the Godfather of content marketing, but way back in 1996 Bill Gates wrote a now – mostly – forgotten blog post called “Content is King”.

It’s worth remembering that this was two years before the term blog was ever used, nine years before YouTube and eleven years before, Tumblr and WordPress. The Internet was a different place back then. Fast forward nineteen years: Blogs are ubiquitous, content is everywhere and everyone seems to have agreed with Seth Godin’s famous quote “Content Marketing is the only marketing left”. The thing is, too many of us seem to have forgotten what Gates had to say all those years ago. (more…)

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No more white walls please!

In fact, no more walls at all, thanks… not how we currently know them at least.

It really is the end of those narrow corridors, identical desks and chairs in their hundreds in dull, uninspiring spaces with low ceilings and lights that turn you into a zombie by midday. Goodbye to those rigid, so called ‘formal’ meeting rooms, tiny kitchens and limited social spaces.

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Trends for 2015

Trends for 2015

It’s that time of the year again. Time to look ahead and see what the immediate future looks like for the world’s top brands.

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pressplay

Getting animated in 2014

The past 12 months have been full of firsts for Playgroup, and one of these ‘firsts’ that really really stands out for me — not least because I’ve found myself saying this word about 50 times a day for the past few months — is animation.

At Playgroup we have managed and delivered many extremely successful, engaging and well received animations and videos for clients in previous years, so animation in and of itself is not new for us. What is new however, is that rather than working alongside various talented freelancers and external studios to handle the end-production as we have in the past, we made the decision to change things up and bring it all under our own roof. (more…)

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Tour de Playgroup: Poster 2

To commemorate our charity bike ride in aid of Tommy’s we have designed a set of posters to represent our intrepid journey from our office here in London to our office on the south coast.

This is the second of our series and we will be releasing one every day until Wednesday 17 September. Check out yesterdays poster here.

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Blog

Tour de Playgroup: Poster 1

To commemorate our charity bike ride in aid of Tommy’s we have designed a set of posters to represent our intrepid journey from our office here in London to our office on the south coast.

We will be releasing one every day, from now until Wednesday 17 September. (more…)

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TdP_Blood_Sweat_Gears_Blog

Blood, sweat and gears

So the Tour de Playgroup is less than five weeks away and I thought I would give a brief update on our training and perhaps just a few thoughts on why the challenge is so important to me. I think it’s safe to say that some of us are taking training more seriously than others – I am most definitely one of the ‘others’. Kudos to Paul for getting out in his lycra come rain or shine. (more…)

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