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…)

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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…)


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…)


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…)


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.



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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Employability – it’s not just about qualifications

We have had some fantastically ambitious and creative young interns in the studio recently – all benefitting from the rich and varied work experience on offer here at Playgroup. Like all good agencies, we’re committed to giving design students the opportunity to expand their horizons and experience the pressures of the commercial world in a busy and stimulating environment. Our designers are experienced mentors. They’ve all been through a creative education (some more recently than others) and understand the challenges faced by students and recent graduates. Consistently we’re told that life in an agency is completely different to the art school environment. Hopefully they leave with a better perspective of what life at work is really like.



Banging the Drum for Playgroup

We’re really pleased to have been classified an Elite agency after being ranked 12th by The Drum in the Drum Design Census 2014. The Design Census comprises three polls measuring financial performance, client satisfaction and peer recognition.

We are incredibly proud of this achievement which marks a successful year for Playgroup both in new business wins, ongoing client work and the opening of our new office in Lymington, Hampshire.


Big Ideas, Beautifully Made

‘Big Ideas, beautifully made’ a combination every creative person aspires to.

Creative industry events like Glug offer us creatives a chance to see other sides of the industry that we may not see regularly, whether it be 3D printing, moving image or something more exotic. We aren’t just there to see showreel after showreel of work we already know, we are there to get a real insight, to learn something, to be inspired…



“Bat’s Wings” are 60 years old

As I was getting ready for work this morning I was half watching BBC breakfast, while simultaneously spooning porridge into my 2 year old and straightening my hair! There was a feature on the BBC idents, which are unbelievably 60 years old today! Starting with a circle on a white backdrop they have evolved through globes and balloons to the ‘Circles’ we see today. (more…)

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A green Christmas?

Christmas is in the news again (well the marketing news) with many of the big High Street retailers launching their holiday season campaigns this week – only 47 days to go! (more…)

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A purpose beyond profit

With the horse meat scandal dominating the news at the moment and corporate tax taking centre stage last year, is it any surprise that more and more people are taking a closer look at the companies behind the brands? With corporate governance under increasing scrutiny it’s crucial that companies demonstrate that they share the same values as their customers. When a company’s values are out of step with those of their customers there is a real danger that they will be seen by many to be “part of the problem” – just another big business taking without giving anything back. (more…)


It’s Courier, just… better.

Courier is one of those fonts that everyone knows (it’s the typewriter one yeah?) but not many know it’s history in the lime-light.

Through it’s inclusion with on IBM’s best-selling Selectric II typewriter, it soon became the default typeface of choice for screenplays that wound their way that Mecca of film, Hollywood. (more…)

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King’s Cross – an exciting destination

London is a vibrant and exciting place to be at the moment, and no-where more so than Kings Cross. Yep, Kings Cross!

It was a pleasure to be at the opening of Granary Square last week – now one of the largest public spaces in Europe. The square, as big as Trafalgar Square, is a great place to walk through or stop and relax, with the steps to the canal, the benches overlooking the fountains or the copse of trees at the far end. (more…)

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Is the album cover dead?

This is a question that has been asked so many times it’s probably hugely out of touch for me to even be bringing it up at all. It even appears as a suggested search on google, bad times. I do still think it’s a valid question to ask though so here’s my hopefully valued opinion. (more…)


Who is Smith?

We have recently been involved in the branding of a new social dining platform, designing their identity.

The purpose of Smith is to connect people from around the world that share similar interests and love to push boundaries. Smith brings these people together while sharing sensory experiences within unique settings combined with premium tasting experiences. (more…)

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Can big business be genuinely good?

Today we hear that the energy companies are posting their highest ever profits, despite the fact that their customers have never struggled so much to meet their fuel bills. And for some time, the public have strongly held the view that the banks are modern-day pariahs who are responsible for all the global economic woes. My view is that that has been a team effort, of which they were part and many people should hang heads in shame. (more…)