After being awarded a bursary placement at Brand Union during my second year my reaction was happiness and excitement, kind of obvious really. It was the first work placement I had ever done, which was ever so slightly worrying. Additionally, it was in London; and as many people who know me understand, I am not a big fan of London. Regardless of this I was still excited, the part that calmed my nerves more than meeting the lovely people who worked there was the knowledge that my friend Jon was going with me.
We arrived in London, put our things in our hostel room (traveller tip: do not spend two weeks in a hostel, seriously), had some food then decided to find out where we needed to be the next morning. No problems so far. Until we got lost trying to find the place of course. This is all part and parcel of the experience however and it all ended with a soothing beer, no complaints there.
The first day and we entered looking rather dapper, in a casual sort of way, we were escorted upstairs to re-acquaint ourselves with the man that deemed us worthy enough for the placement, Mark. We were given the guided tour and then shown to our desks (sat upon which were 30 inch Mac cinema screens, very nice). We were then told what we would be doing for the week. We where to research competitors for Mortein bug spray. Research is a large part of the design process, I had no idea how large it actually was until I was given a glimpse into the big bad world of commercial design. Especially with packaging, it is imperative to know your rivals and current trends within the market. The research we undertook was time consuming and yet important, finding countless designs for each prospective rival and comparing them to the current Mortein brand. RDE boards were then explained to us. This technique is a way of visually communicating the way brands have developed their looks throughout the years. Residual images were those of the past, where brands began and how they looked. Dominant brand design is what is currently in the market. Emergent is the way brands are re-designing and imagining their brands for the future, with this type of product it meant a trend towards more friendly, family orientated and eco friendly designs. Friday brought about the “Re-Union”. This was a weekly get-together of all of the staff to review what had been going on throughout the week, I was also an excuse to down tools an hour early and have free pizza and drinks. An enjoyable end to the week.
The second week saw Jon and I splitting from research duties as we moved on to separate projects. I was tasked with helping to develop images for a pitch for a company undergoing a re-branding. These mock ups included billboards, posters and the layout for an iPhone App. This kept me busy for a day. The rest of the week saw me designing an in house leaflet that would be given to new employees to help them with the transition into the job. It gave information on places to eat, to drink and socialise, as well as other points of interest around the area. I was given freedom on this project and was pleased with my outcome at the end having developed an interesting visual style for the document. Again, cue the “Re-Union”.
The two weeks at the Brand Union were eye opening to say the least. The inner workings of a large design studio became apparent, also being surrounded by designers of all ages that had “made it” was reassuring. Everyone working there was very helpful and friendly, I was never worried to ask questions or just chat. The insight into the mechanics of the beast was very helpful; to see the hierarchy in action was a glimpse into what will be. Additionally, I developed a greater understanding and respect for the role research plays within the design process.