In the stimulating surrounds of DixonBaxi's East London studio, we got the inside story on a remarkable recent collaboration with Channel 4.
Earlier this year, Channel 4, and its in-house agency 4creative, partnered with branding and creative agency DixonBaxi to create a new identity for All 4, and an adaptive digital-first experience, for application throughout all channels.
The outcome was a seamless, cross-functional brand identity; and on the evening of 11th April we were generously welcomed into the DixonBaxi studio to learn from the client and agency team behind the effort. Leading the conversation, moderated by YCN’s Katy Kent, were Landy Slattery, Creative Director for All 4 and Harry Ead, Associate Creative Director at DixonBaxi.
Together they talked us through the origins of the partnership, their methods for getting everyone onboard and how, sometimes — just like in the fairytales — great things do sometimes just magically come together.
Here’s what we learned:
• Be brave
Presented with a challenging three-month window to complete the project (ensuring it could be unveiled as part of an iOS update) – DixonBaxi arrived at the pitch meeting with a pretty-much completed concept almost identical to what ultimately went live. Inspired by the ubiquitous streaming ‘playbar’, the team had conceived a new All 4 logotype, revealing a 2D version of the iconic original with a streaming bar at its core.
Believing in your work and having the confidence that your first ideas is the right idea, was a key message from both Landy and Harry, who went on to describe the process of taking stakeholders with you who might want to see further development before committing: “Any creative process is 30% coming up with a good idea, and 70% selling it”, he explained.
• Less can be more
A timeframe of just 12 weeks could on paper be terrifying. But according to Harry, it actually proved to be a “blessing in disguise” as it forced focus, removed over-thinking and smart working methods were welcomed. Or as Landy succinctly put it, “When you have no time, it’s great. Having too much, leave us too much freedom and decisions will take longer to be made.”
Harry described how the conviction that came early really carried things through: “I think having that initial idea quickly really helped us believe in it, and created a single-mindedness among us”. But just because you’ve got somewhere quickly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still look to simplify further. “I’ve never worked on a project where personally for me I’ve stripped things back so much and it’s got stronger every single time”, explained Landy, “That was my personal learning curve, being brave enough to keep taking things away.”
• Chemistry counts
An agency's past projects are key to starting a conversation, but without chemistry there’s nothing. And we learned from Harry and Landy how ‘click’ among the project team was a big driver in the project’s progress right from the off. “Obviously the work needs to be good, but we’re also getting a feel whether you can work with other people. It really does feel like speed dating,” explained Landy, when describing an early meeting. Harry added how pitching can often be quite a “stone-faced” experience, but right from the beginning of this project, everything felt more animated: “it makes a difference when people are smiling at you, rather than just waiting for the next slides. There was a lot of connectivity and appreciation, which was nice.”
When Katy opened up questions to those in the audience, one brought us back to the point around bravery — asking if there were ever any personal suspicion about first ideas that might “get through too easily”. Harry was quick to point out that he didn’t believe that was the case: “you put everything under the same scrutiny, and so even though the first concept didn’t change much, it still went under the microscope in the same way.” Landy agreed: “sometimes you get those Goldilocks moments where everything just lines up and it’s just right. There’s taste and then there’s practical workability. This clearly did both.”
Clearly a combination of creativity, bravery and conviction will take you far — and a big thanks to Harry and Landy for their candour around the project, to DixonBaxi for hosting the event and to everyone who came along to share their perspectives and questions.