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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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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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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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…)


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.



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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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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.


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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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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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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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.


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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Work Experience at Playgroup

My week had started out by staring at the greenery and trees turn into skyscrapers, on the train. I’m born and bred in East Devon (much to my dismay as a teenager) so London was going to be a different style of living for me. The thoughts running through my head were ones of worry and excitement; the UK’s capital is one of my favorite cities so I couldn’t wait to be commuting in it. But, sitting on that train I was asking myself if maybe 15 was too young for what I had set out to do? Was it a too bigger jump from my sleepy village? (more…)

Digital Revolution Installation At The Barbican Centre

Digital Revolution

It’s a digital revolution at the Barbican and we went along and had a look. Digital has come a long way since young Matt designed his first graphics with a Mac Colour classic 25 years ago. We now have lasers left right and centre, movement tracking cameras, 3D projection mapping, the world wide web, fibre broadband and phones that would have been capable of launching a man to the Moon in the late 60′s to name a few. (more…)


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.



The World Cup!

The World Cup is well and truly underway, England have been and gone, Robin Van Persie, James Rodriguez and Tim Cahill have all scored stunners, Suarez has bitten someone else and Spain forgot how to play football, we’re loving it. We recently received this beautiful World Cup wall chart from our friends at Team Karoshi, the World Cup is a great excuse to wheel out a nice a bit of graphic design so we decided to go looking for more. We found loads, so here are a few of our favourites plus a few classics.



Design at play

Yesterday I popped next door to have a nose around the Clerkenwell Design Week exhibition in the Farmiloe Building. Playfulness in furniture, object design and interior accessories has been a trend for some time, but this year tops it all. A chair is no longer just a chair to sit on, a cable organiser isn’t just doing it’s job and who said that a table top has to be flat?! Objects no longer simply serve a purpose, they are here to entertain and they are full of attitude. They surround us and reflect our personalities. Some try a little too hard but others just get it right. The rule is that there isn’t one. Anything goes really. A mix of different materials and finishes, flat colours, gradients, patterns etc. All very tactile and sensory and a joy to behold.



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.


Two Weeks at Playgroup — Not a finger-painting in sight

Travelling up to London on route to Playgroup design studio was an apprehensive experience for me. My studies as a year three Graphic Design student would be tested as I undertook a two-week placement in the studio. I feel like I should be more prepared for the experience, confident that my studies will help me out in every way, shape and form. But, as I got closer and closer to Liverpool Street station I started to question myself. “What if they don’t like me?” “Will they trust me to design?” and, the one that runs through most student’s heads, “Am I good enough?”



Secret 7”s: Virtuous Vinyl

Ask any designer or illustrator about their dream brief and quite a few would gladly offer up their right eyeball to design a record cover for an established artist. We are, therefore, super-excited to have two contributors to this year’s Secret 7”s amongst our ranks. (more…)

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United Visual Artists: Momentum

United Visual Artists’ ‘Momentum’ project comprises a series of 12 objects that slowly oscillate in the dark void of the Barbican Curve Gallery’s space. The installation is based on the idea of Foucault’s pendulum, an instrument designed to visualise invisible forces, such as the Earth’s rotation.