Inspiration in the ordinary

Us designers sweat over ideas, based on a client brief and deep understanding of their business challenges, carefully styled and crafted to reflect the brand personality and tone of voice. On the other hand is the vernacular, the incidental designs in our every-day environment which people have crafted to communicate what they need.

From the delightful to the cringingly bad, this art of the people, or mingei (as it’s referred to in Japan) is often the wallpaper of our urban lives. Being influenced by the rude and crude (rudimentary and unpolished) of ‘street style’ is nothing new. In fashion for instance, the UK was an outstanding influence on Jean Paul Gaultier in the 1980s and graffiti in many forms has found its way into mainstream design.

It’s when we are experiencing the unfamiliar surroundings of a foreign country that the ordinary really comes to life. Well, at least that is what I found when we were recently visiting northern India. Here are a few examples of what we captured, some are designed brands, the rest is created from necessity or the love of making something special.

As designers, our way of seeing the world around us means that we are influenced consciously and unconsciously by our experiences, often recording in our memories or photo, those things which build our visual resources. We believe what we do is more than mark-making. With an excellent idea, design becomes memorable, impactful, and able to change perceptions. This also happens in great vernacular design.

I hope you enjoy this small selection from our way of seeing in northern India.

Ghandi’s signature has become his brand, along with his spectacles.

Le Corbusier: Branding an Indian City

Sharing inspiration from the world around us

We’ve been visiting Chandigarh in North India last week to see Le Corbusier’s civic buildings throughout the city (a World Heritage site), along with his clever symbol for the city. 

Designed after WW11, an outstretched hand, forming a bird of peace, his rationale, ‘an open hand cannot hold a gun’, straight to the crux of it. An excellent example of brand design based on a strong idea, beautifully executed, which lasts the test of time.

In the true unkempt Indian style, it remains pride of place on government department signs around the city, and public information signage as well as the original sculptural form. Standing at 26m high, rotating with the wind direction, above of a sunken public speaking/meeting place for the local people. Sunken to keep it cool and contain the noise of city gatherings.

How brand and web design can boost your profits

Leicester Business Festival

Newenglish Design were proud to give a half day seminar for the Leicester Business Festival (24 October–4 November 2016) which featured 80 events over two weeks, 25 of which were sold out including our seminar on brand and web design.

The seminar took place at our studio in Leicester and was attended by both small and large businesses.


The first part of the seminar was about brand. First impressions count, and emotional connections create effective bonds. Wendy, Creative Director, gave thoughtful insight about how businesses can connect deeply with their customers through honest branding:

It’s about clearly and consistently applying your values to everything that you do.

Ask yourself the question, how do we as consumers engage with a brand on an emotional level? When a strategically defined brand gets it right, what happens is like when people fall in love with each other. This is the same for all businesses, big and small.

This leads to:

  • Loyalty
  • Advocacy and
  • Can protect your price in times when competitors rely on promotional discounts to drive sales.
  • The ideal platform from which to extend your offer or range

A great example of a brand that invokes a moral ethos and shared value is Macmillan cancer support. The obvious shared value is that cancer sufferers deserve compassionate care. Wendy went on to unpack the Macmillan brand values which are all embodied in the simple advertising below.

no one should face cancer alone

Our own big brand example is Honda. Newenglish has been one of their major creative agencies for 19 years to date. Reflecting the brand personality through design, digital and advertising in a perpetually competitive market place. This is how Honda describes itself, below, followed by one of our advertising campaigns:

honda design

Our small brand example is brü, a brand for which we were tasked to bring big brand success into something which looks and feels independent, but that is replicable in roll out to other cities. We came up with the name and a brand which looks professional, local, warm and individual.

The success of the Cafe speaks for itself, as after just over a year, the brand rolled out a second store in London:

Take home messages:

  • Identify your core values
  • Promote a consistent image & message
  • Involve your staff
  • Remember everything you do is linked to your brand.
Web Design

The second part of the seminar focused on web design and how useful, well designed websites can bring amazing results.

Clients often need a little help thinking through some basic questions, and these can sometimes be overlooked even by experienced marketers.

Carl, Creative Director, asked 2 simple questions:

1. Why do you need a website?
2. What do you want it to do?

A demonstrable example of a website that enabled the business to save tens of thousands on recruitment costs was a website we did for Building Services Design (BSD).

147 unique views

This is a working example of good web design, with simple navigation that subsequently resulted in reduced overhead and ultimately a happy client.

Take home messages:

  • Think about mobile strategy
    Look at your google analytics and see what percentage of visitors view your site on mobile/tablet as well as desktop
  • Gain inspiration
    Look at your competitors and non-competitors and see why you like them. Communicate with your web design to ensure that you and your organisation stands out from the crowd
  • Content
    Make sure you know what you want on your site and make your images personal to you and your organisation
  • Strong call to action
    What’s in it for a visitor to your site, what will they gain?
  • Trust
    Believe that the web designer know what they are doing, let them do what they do best, making it more likely to meet or exceed your expectations.
Feedback from the seminar

Thank you for the seminar and the warm welcome today. I enjoyed the seminar and found it informative. It was clear, concise and easy to follow. The statistics for the sites you had designed were amazing. The networking was an added bonus and your coffee is quality! Thank you once again.

Thank you so much for your time yesterday. You covered so much in two hours, it was fantastic and really got me thinking.

Madisons cafe: interior

Just completed. Madisons cafe on London Road in Leicester has undergone a makeover, featuring 400 hanging cups, teapot lamp shades, bespoke wallpaper, and a new brand identity.

Madisons hand makes its delicious Galato on the premises, and serve hot food, such as pasta and pizza, plus pastries and delicious coffee.

The new look and feel creates a unique interior that works well with the elegant high ceiling building.

Humphris Signage Installation

We’re delighted to see our latest signage project being installed!

Over the past few months we’ve been creating a new brand identity and website for Humphris Funerals based in Banbury, Oxfordshire.

Here are a few snaps (taken on our phones) showing how we’ve applied the new brand to the building and fascia. Watch this space for further updates and the website launch!

Hollowells Funeral Directors

A happy for Monday for Newenglish Design as we see the launch of our project for Hollowells Funeral Directors in Northampton. The family run company commissioned us to create them a new brand identity, advertising campaign, and website.

At Newenglish we are highly skilled at changing perceptions. The funeral sector is one that is seen as being rather old fashioned on the whole, despite being extremely professional and caring. We wanted to ensure that their professionalism and modern approach to funerals was conveyed, changing the perception of funerals.

Being able to make the difficult experience of losing a loved one a better experience by using our design and communication expertise is a genuine pleasure.

As part of the rebrand we shortened the original name ‘B. Hollowell & Son’ to Hollowells and created a brand style that is both classic and modern.

New signage for their branches is being installed today, ready to show the Northampton public the new face of the company.The signage features a unique H and flourish that we hope will become recognisable across Northampton.

We’re really proud of the finished results!

Brü Coffee Shop

Coming soon to Granby Street in Leicester (just round the corner from our studio) is a new independent coffee shop called Brü. Newenglish have created the name and brand of the coffee shop and designed the interiors including some bespoke illustration.

We’re very excited to be installing at the moment; seeing our designs come to life. This is the start of a bigger project which will also include product packaging design and web design and development. Keep checking back for updates on the project!

18 months of achievements for Millennium Point

In just 18 months, under the direction of CEO Philip Singleton, Millennium Point have seen a raft of positive changes come to fruition.

We were asked to design a simple 2-3 page document to outline these achievements for distribution to key stakeholders of the organisation… but we saw a great opportunity to make this document really creative.

Posted out to the stakeholders, each would receive an unassuming cardboard postal tube which inside contains a scroll of information (which rolls out to over 1 metre long!) taking them through, step by step, all of the achievements from the last year and a half. The scroll format gave an air of ceremony to the document, and works on an easy to read, close-up level and a dramatic scale as a whole.  

A high impact solution for a high profile document!

What did Millennium Point think?

…you turned prosaic prose into a striking idea.

Marvellous feedback! 

Millennium Point Hoarding Creative

On our visit to the Millennium Point team this week we were able to see our hoarding creative in place.

MP are in the process of replacing their cafe, and they had a lot of hoarding white space begging for something to brighten it up. The creative showcases all of the exciting upcoming events and art installations MP have lined up and uses their beautiful, vibrant new brand identity throughout.

The solution? Creative printed directly on to 5mm foamex to avoid showing lumps and bumps and give a sharp finish.

The result? Exciting and eye catching use of some key space within Millennium Point. BE AMAZED!