25 years ago in September of 1998 REAL DESIGN was born. Mobile phones were like bricks, the internet was only just becoming accessible to commercial business and video was shot to tape in in 4:3 aspect ratio.
When we started we carved out a niche in interactive CD-ROM design and development, this quickly became what we were known for. CD-ROMs were like websites that were self launching and could deliver both audio and video in an age when internet speeds were not up to the task. We created ROMs for clients such as Smith & Nephews, Polestar PLC, Hull College to name just a few.
The CD-ROM era was brought to an end by the increase and rapid uptake of fast internet. This allowed us to move our interactive design to the world wide web with the use of frames, tables and Flash. We adapted to the technological change and began creating award winning sites for clients in a time when creativity was king. The beginning of the internet uptake was a wild time when wow factor was valued above all else.
The REAL team Rapidly expanded to 4 members, working in all fields of media; from graphic design, print, website development, interactive touch screen kiosks, MTV music videos and interactive DVDs.
The wild west of the internet creativity boom was slowly reigned in and tamed by corporatisation and once again the technology and techniques changed. We started moving the majority of our online sites from Flash to PHP database driven websites, creating interactive environments with more focus on search engine ranking. The industry began to prioritise search engine position over wow factor, once again we adapted with 80% of our sites ranked page 1 for their main keywords.
As we began creating our own in house content management systems to create websites with, our team expanded to 7. We were involved in one the first live streamed internet music events which we later expanded on by developing our own internet streaming rigs. This expanded our video capabilities from shoot and edit to live events. We extend our reach into Augmented reality with one of the first fully 3D magazine covers and working with Aston Villa Football club to develop some immersive interactions.
Recently we achieved a long standing dream by opening our own photography and video studio. Fully equipped with a complete lighting rig, green screen and sound proofing, we finally have the dedicated creative space we have been craving for decades.
Relationships are at the core of REAL DESIGN. The majority of our work has come from word of mouth client recommendations and we still work with 90% of the customers we started with in 1998, here are a few words from our long standing client and friend Graham Henderson;
“I’ve been in business for 34 years and have known Breon and REAL DESIGN Studios for most of that time. At one point, when he’d only recently established his offices in Wincolmlee, we toyed with the idea of a few new start-ups sharing managed premises in the city centre. Breon’s decision to stay on his own was undoubtedly the right one and I quickly extricated myself too, when others in the partnership got into financial difficulties. I have valued his professionalism and expertise in helping with website creation and logo design especially. You’ll realise how long ago it is when I say he was the first to design me a CD-Rom to showcase our work to clients!
I would say we’re both survivors. Being self-employed can be a rollercoaster ride and the owner has to steer a steady path, especially with employees on board. Real has changed and adapted across the years and Breon is to be congratulated on his 25 year anniversary.
6 years ago I went back to employment, helping young people set up in business. That was meant to be for a year and six years later I’m retiring – but my freelance work will continue, while people value and are prepared to pay for my work. I’m sure Breon and REAL will continue to bring fresh and creative design ideas to clients for many years and I wish them well for the future.”
Graham Henderson, GH Events
And the people we work with (and have worked with) are at the centre of the business, Graham our longest serving employee shares his thoughts on his journey with REAL;
“REAL DESIGN started at the infancy of digital media. New ways of creating media and art were ravenously perused by a new generation untethered from the traditional industry constraints.
We travelled the length and breadth of the country filming music acts touring around nightclubs, training videos for industry leading print companies and even created three feature length carp fishing DVD’s.
Filming the carnage of a live nightclub event, dealing with the frankly hostile environment of booming music, no light and the attention of ever curious drunk punters was an exciting challenge. Filming on the streets of Blackpool at 11pm on the busiest ‘hen’ weekend of the year was quite an experience.
In contrast to the chaos of the nightclub gigs, we produced six documentaries on the different types of print processes. Capturing techniques that work at incredibly high speed with micron precision presented a unique challenge. Conveying this information to the audience required us to really push our filming, editing and post production work.
Carp fishing was a huge part of our video work. We had traditionally been filming short scripted events indoors with all the comforts that that provides. Suddenly being in the great outdoors waiting for someone to catch a fish was an aggressive and welcome kick out of our comfort zone. The uncertainty of whether or not we would get the footage we needed was as exhilarating as working in the great outdoors. Of course we had to do it in true REAL DESIGN fashion, camping out overnight in -6 temperatures on the banks of a lake in Oxford to get the perfect sunrise shot, and editing a slow relaxing sport with three cameras and a drum and bass soundtrack. We calmed down a bit for the next one and dropped the drum and bass soundtrack, shooting it instead in the champagne region of France all be it in 40° plus temperatures.
Possibly the pinnacle of our video work was being flown out to Monaco during the F1 grand prix weekend to film the Amber Lounge uber club. A dream job and destination only slightly spoiled by the eruption of an Icelandic volcano that absolutely had to erupt that particular weekend. Travel chaos ensued. It was difficult not to be overwhelmed by an iconic city during a legendary event, once again out of our comfort zone filming on party yachts while F1 cars blasted past mere metres away. Documenting a fashion show during golden hour on the meridian attended by royalty and Hollywood A-listers was about as far as we could get from our north-east of England routes.”
“Of course this is the fun aspects of the job, and negates the month long 6 day a week late night editing session, the travel woes, some awful hotel rooms, and seeing how many people you can cram into a standard travel lodge room. But that is all easily ignored when you are young and having the time of your life with your friends.”
I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude. First, to our wonderful clients - thank you for choosing to work with us over the years. Your ongoing partnership, challenging projects, and loyalty continue to push us to grow and improve. We are honoured to collaborate with you to build your businesses.
Second, to the entire REAL team, past and present - your hard work, creativity, and dedication are what make this company so special. From Graham, Mark, Jamie, Dave, Alicia, Martin, Allistair, Colin, Rachel, Andy, Ross, Zack, David, Jon, Matt, Pete, Chris, Damian, Sarah, Ben, Richard, Jason, Tony, Paul, Nathan & Mike, Will, Lucy and so many more - you each contribute unique talents and ideas that drive our progress.
Finally, as we look to the future in this ever-changing media landscape, know that we remain committed to advising, guiding and creating innovative solutions to meet your needs. New technologies like AI and shifts in the industry will not stop us from delivering excellence.
Thank you for being part of the REAL family. I am proud to be on this journey with you.
Posted on 28th Sep 2023 12:13:17 by surrect.media
While design comes from creative minds, trends are also borne out of the context of their era. Much of the optimism from 2022 remains for the coming year, but it has been somewhat dampened by the increasing inflation and the worsening climate crisis, amongst other things.
Graphic designers and creatives alike respond to these circumstances in different ways. Some lean toward excitement and curiosity for what’s ahead as technology inspires them to explore the unknown, such as virtual reality graphic design mentioned above and AI-generated art. While others react to restrictions and anti-establishment emotion with defiance, through styles ranging from an escapist yearning to revolutionary innovation, all the way to reusing styles from a simpler era.
Anti-Design and Brutalism
The brutalist trend breaks the rules and captures attention through the use of unconventional elements such as bold fonts and non-traditional imagery.
This trend allows for the exploration of bold and unusual design solutions, pushing the boundaries of traditional design. It encourages the use of unconventional colour schemes and layout in the creation of websites and pages.
In order to attract the attention of potential customers, especially for hype products, manufacturers must find ways to stand out. This can be especially challenging as companies compete for their target audience. Many firms collaborate with influencers to create visually appealing marketing campaigns, but these can lack the unique and unexpected elements that truly capture attention.
Balenciaga Fashion House’s Unusual Effect - a collaboration with Fortnite
One trend that has been emerging is fashion brands forming unusual partnerships with other companies, creating a “wow” factor through the unexpected union of two different industries.
Photography Heavy Design
The use of high-quality photographs in design, known as photography heavy design, has gained popularity in recent years and is expected to continue to be popular in 2023. This style utilises photographs to create a visually striking and memorable design.
High-resolution photos grab the attention of viewers and effectively convey a message. It is important to use high-quality, genuine, and relevant photos in order to create a powerful and unique design.
By incorporating photography heavy design into their branding, businesses can create a memorable and impactful visual identity that resonates with their audience.”
The Return of the Sans Serif
There has been a shift in recent years from the use of serif typefaces to sans serif fonts in design. Sans serif typefaces, which are favoured by graphic designers, minimalists, and those concerned with web accessibility, are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. The saturation of serif logos has led designers to seek out new and innovative options, such as geometric sans serif or Swiss-style grotesque typefaces.
Sans serifs not only curate a clean, minimalist style for branding, packaging and other print designs, but they also improve legibility and accessibility on apps and websites. As more brands tune into the need for digital output to be fully accessible, we can expect sans serifs to take on a more dominant role online. Look to classic sans serif fonts in the Swiss school tradition such as Neue Haas Grotesk and Univers, or take a quirkier sans for a spin such as Ginto or Everett.
Colourful Nostalgic Illustrations
The vintage revival trend, inspired by the 1990s, is a clear example of how the pandemic has influenced design. The desire for a sense of nostalgia and familiarity during the COVID-19 crisis has led brands such as MTV, Google, and Later to embrace a retro aesthetic. This trend showcases the significant impact the pandemic has had on the design industry.
So add some nostalgia to your future designs by looking to the past for inspiration. Because who doesn’t love a good opportunity to reminisce?
Surreal and maximalist aesthetics, characterised by larger than life, psychedelic imagery and elements that challenge reality, have gained popularity as we strive for a sense of freedom post-pandemic. Brands such as Coca Cola and Adobe have embraced this trend, using visual storytelling to create impactful designs that break away from minimalism and realism.
Maximalism, which rejects the traditional design principle of “less is more,” involves the use of bold colour combinations, layered images, prominent typography, and repeating motifs to grab attention. The incorporation of variable fonts, which can be expanded or condensed, also adds to the maximalist aesthetic. This design style maximises the use of space and encourages designers to push the boundaries and defy common rules of graphic design.
Have you played around with OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 yet? Since its public release, the AI powered image generator has impacted the design world in a huge way, influencing imaginative works and memes alike.
Despite concerns over copyright and the displacement of human creativity, it’s clear this trend isn’t going anywhere. And with notable brands like Microsoft and Notion releasing their own design tools featuring built-in DALL-E integrations, you can bet we’ll only see more AI art in the new year. (Especially considering OpenAI’s GPT-4, the next machine learning iteration set to launch soon!)
AI is evolving rapidly as the technology matures and companies discover innovative ways to incorporate AI into intelligent products and services. No organisation will be immune to AI’s transformative impact, and executives should begin now to ensure they are preparing their companies for the AI-enabled future.
As we move into 2023 and beyond, the post-pandemic world will present new challenges and opportunities that will encourage a more experimental and eclectic approach to design and media. Brands and consumers alike will embrace a more diverse and open-minded approach to design as we navigate this changing landscape.
Posted on 5th Jan 2023 14:37:02 by surrect.media
2022 has been a super exciting and challenging year, from creating daily generative art in January for #genuary2022 to HEYLEP live stream event from Hull City Council, we have worked on some amazing projects with our fantastic clients. Here are just a few highlights
Ørsted Safety Awareness Campaign
At the beginning of 2022 we were asked by our long standing client Ørsted to create a set of safety awareness videos for an international campaign. With a tight turn-around needed, we spent a week filming at the UK’s head office creating a set of 5 exercise videos which challenged the viewer to ‘spot the safety concern’. Each video was then narrated and translated into 7 different languages.
Navitas Facebook Campaign (ITV)
Navitas asked us to create a set of online PayPerClick adverts to promote the business and acquire new leads. We created a set of 3 personas based on market research and then tailored our marketing videos, message and landing pages towards each persona. The results were so incredible we had to turn the campaign off, so the client could accommodate the volume of leads. As a result of the successful campaign Navitas were featured on ITV News, garnering national attention.
Ever since the pandemic we were forced to transition to a remote workflow, so our main office was not being utilized to its full potential. We decided to consolidate and upgrade the combined work spaces we have into the studio we have always wanted, adding additional storage space, new lights and backdrops. Our studio can be used for both photography and video offering our clients a quiet, well equipped space to produce everything from TV commercials to product photography. We are now taking bookings for the new year, so if you would like to hire the studio, please get in touch.
Trust Marketing Award
As part of our day to day work with Trust electrical heating, we were asked to create their submission for the Entrepreneurs Circle Marketing 2022 Awards. We created some great graphics, from 3D to vector illustrations, which were compiled into a set of printed documents for submission. We’re very happy to report that the campaign was a success, with Trust taking home several awards!.
Harrods x Dior Project
With Christmas rapidly approaching, we were asked by Studio McGuire to provide expert After Effects support for this ‘once in a lifetime’ project. Dior took over Harrods in London to showcase ‘The Fabulous World of Dior’ - we helped Studio McGuire by creating projected assets, particle system styles and custom expression setups, all to facilitate production flow on a very tight deadline with multiple moving parts.
Pace Comm & VIP Studio
Our last booking in the studio was full of Christmas cheer. The chaps from VIP Creative asked us to help light and coordinate a set of green screen shots for the eagerly anticipated 2022 Pace Communication Christmas video. VIP creative did a fantastic job with the edit and post-production.
So as this year draws to an end we once again would like to thank our fantastic clients for challenging us on a daily basis and keeping us on our toes. We will be taking some time off over Christmas break (21st of December 2022 to the 5th of January 2023) but we look forward to more exciting projects in 2023.
Merry Christmas from the team at REAL DESIGN!
Posted on 15th Dec 2022 12:59:45 by surrect.media
Marketing success is not determined only by the frequency of how often you communicate with your audience but also depends on other factors such as content, presentation and creativity. Below are 5 more simple things (previous 5 Simple Marketing Tactics) to include in your ongoing endeavours.
Got It? Brand It!
Anything and everything possible should have your business details, contacts details and core message stamped all over it. Make a list of all the places someone comes in contact with your business – your mail, your packaging, your premises, your email signature – if you’ve got it, brand it.
Call Past Customers
Past customers are one of your best sources of new revenues. Make a habit of phoning or writing to a few each and every week to keep in touch and find out if there’s anything you can do to help them.
Ask For Feedback
If you truly value customer service and want to deliver the best service or products possible, then you need to know what your customers think. A simple question to ask is why they chose your business over another one – the reason they buy from you is the same reason future customers will too. Plus, asking for feedback makes your clients and customers feel involved and valued.
Your staff can become a huge asset in marketing your business. Challenge them to come up with new and interesting ways to get people talking about the business. Set down a competition – and a reward – for the person who successfully creates the most buzz about your business using some of the ideas here.
Hug A Journalist
To really get your media coverage going you’ll need to get to know the writers in your target publications. Phone through to find out who writes about your industry or speciality and then arrange a quick chat with them on the phone.
Journalists, especially those on local papers, need a constant supply of good stories – you can help them and they can help you.
It’s also useful to create a media sheet about your business that you can send out to journalists. A media sheet is a simple summary about your business and key personnel that journalists can keep on file. It’s a good introduction to you – making it more likely they’ll take notice of your releases – and is a useful reminder when they need someone to comment on a related story.
Marketing With REAL DESIGN
In today’s marketing environment, it’s important to ensure that the return on investment relates to brand exposure, sales or customer engagement. Whether you’re looking for ways to build customer loyalty, increase customer retention or drive sales.
Whether you’re launching or intensifying a marketing campaign, we’d love to help you find the best solution for your business challenges. At REAL DESIGN we are an all media production studio who will never try to sell you more than you need, transparency and communication are how we have built decade long client relationships.
Posted on 24th Nov 2022 16:13:30 by surrect.media
Hey, want to see a Giraffe with arms punching an alien? Of course you do and now you can thanks to the latest internet trend. As predicted in our upcoming trends guide at the start of 2022, images created by Artificial Intelligence have exploded into the public consciousness. But are they a passing fad, a useful application of technology or a genuine threat to creativity.
I first watched a short documentary in 2016 about how a new ‘original’ Rembrandt painting was created 347 years after his death, using some clever code, intelligent algorithm and a dataset of Rembrandt’s back catalogue. The results are quite incredible, but the whole project was based around one outcome… jump forward to 2022 and AI imagery has leaped to the next level. With the recent unveiling of DALL-E the GAN scene has just exploded.
AI imagery has been around for a long time but in the last few months has exploded with ‘prompt’ generated services, generative adversarial network (GAN).
So what is AI generated imagery, an AI model that can generate images from any ‘prompt’ you input. The model is trained by looking at millions of images from the internet with their associated captions. Over time, it learns how to draw an image from a text prompt.
Some of the concepts are learnt from memory as it may have seen similar images. However, it can also learn how to create unique images that don’t exist such as “the statue of liberty landing on the moon” by combining multiple concepts together.
You can try it here; https://www.craiyon.com/ , just type in a ‘prompt’ something like; “ninja cat” or “godzilla baking a cake illustration” which will then present some interesting results.
Very quickly other services have launched, along with algorithm updates with much better quality and more variations but now with monetary options too. With all the attention we signed up to MidJourney a discord based service that was showing some amazing results.
(Images Credit: MidJourney users)
Now the results are incredible BUT it opens up a very emotive and interesting discussion about AI created art. These algorithms are learning off data online; learning different artistic styles and techniques, and with every ‘prompt’ accelerating its machine learning. So where does this leave the original creators of these styles or current artists trying to create new art? And are the tech companies putting the revenue they get back into the creatives?
(Image Credit & Prompt: cute tentacle monster by realdesign via MidJourney)
I am a massive advocate of tech in art, we still use a custom randomiser script we wrote years ago to create some of our bespoke designs and elements, so I relish innovation in the tech but I worry about the damage to the creative process.
So my question to YOU is; Is this technology a good or bad evolution for the creative industry? It’s here and how we work with the medium will dictate its future. What do you think?
Posted on 29th Jul 2022 15:08:44 by surrect.media