5 Jan 2017
This year's colour and other inspiration
This year, we will mostly be seeing green.
So says colour expert Pantone, which releases what it thinks will be the most influential colour swatch upon us at this time of year. "Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature's greens revive, restore and renew."
Well, yes, but here at Smith and Village we like to think beyond the obvious and look for other indicators to offer some colour inspiration. Green has undoubtedly been making its way into the designers’ consciences in various guises. We used it for the Simkins rebrand last year. The green we used, and one that we think is more interesting, is a rather murkier offering than the vibrant tone selected by Pantone.
Sludgy, dark mossy greens offer a rich contrast to fresher, brighter colours and will become the new black (or dark grey) in interior and fashion design. These tones also set off warm brass and pinky golds beautifully and all indicators are that opulence rather than minimalism will get stronger as we plunge into hard times - remember that art deco was born out of the uncertainty of the 20s and 30s - expect designers and stylists to channel Sally Bowles as we all lurch forward into uncertainty.
As for something uplifting, extraordinary, and the thing that we predict will be massively influential, we give you this years Turner Prize winner Helen Martin. Her combinations of colour, texture and materials are heart stoppingly beautiful, contemplative and yet truly energising. The perfect balance of natural and manmade, murky and fresh, cynical and innocent. Murky greens and sludgy browns set off by a dash of flesh tone and a shot of neon yellow or aqua. Her work feels sort of familiar but at the same time very, very future forward and a bit odd and, on closer inspection, unravelling a bit.
I think we all know how that feels.
21st Oct 2016
Smith &+ Village nominated for two Design Effectiveness Awards
We've won two more Design Effectiveness Awards. That's good, isn't it?
The DBA's shortlist came out this week and both projects that we submitted have won. We just don't know whether it's gold, silver or bronze yet.
This year, our entries tell the story of Booths's bags and the roll out of their own label brand. Both are great stories and conclusively show how clever design make a difference to the bottom line. If you'd like to find out more or get a copy of the case studies, please get in touch. They're just the sort of things we like to show off about!
5th Oct 2016
It's Christmas time again!
The Booths Great Northern Christmas 2016 book has gone into stores today.
I know we're bound to say this, but this year we think it's even better than ever. With its glamorous cover by the inimitable Coralie Bickford-Smith, its new, striking photographic style and page after page of festive deliciousness. It's going to be even more of a success than its predecessors.
To get hold of a copy or to read the book on line, just visit www.booths.co.uk
11 Aug 2016
Ready meals are ready in store
The ready meal packaging that we've been working on since the Spring is launched today.
And haven't they turned out well? Although we say so ourselves, we think these packs are pretty mould-breaking; there's not a gingham tablecloth in sight. What better way to encourage customers to tuck in than fantastic pictures of customers tucking in.
Our favourite is the Whitby scampi. Seriously, if you're in the North West, go and treat yourself.
16th Sep 2016
Cheeses that please
Booths's cheese range wins high praise in The Grocer
It's always nice to have the wider industry recognise your efforts, so we're very pleased that the Excellence in Retail section of this week's The Grocer is all about Booths's cheese range that we worked on at the beginning of the year.
Unlike their competitors, the standard cheeses in the range come from high quality, named diaries and they source their varieties from the regions that they are associated with. Yes, the Lancashire and Cheshire cheeses actually come from Lancashire and Cheshire.
The packaging is simple, elegant and clear, making it easy for customers to shop and leaving them in no doubt about the quality of cheese that they're buying.
28th July 2016
Raise a glass
The first wave of Booths's new wine range hit the shelves today.
Branding wine is notoriously difficult. There's such an established visual language and everyone has such strong opinions about how things should look and what things should say. Add to this the stigma retailers still feel customers have about buying wine with a supermarket name on it and you have a minefield of difference considerations to negotiate.
We've solved the problem for Booths by taking a good, long look at their history. You see, they've been importing and selling the best wines since 1871. Long before they considered themselves a supermarket, they thought of themselves as wine merchants and capturing this heritage has not only helped solved the branding dilemma, but has give a strong creative direction as well.
If they were wine merchants, we thought, Booths would surely sell wine under their official name, E H Booth & Co. So that's how we've branded their new labels, with their crest and an identity that sees them sitting very happily along side the likes of Berry Bros. The other design elements of the labels pay homage to the characters of the individual varieties, whilst keeping them part of a strong, united Booths family.
Cheers to their success!
01 Jul 2016
A new brand for Simkins
After six months working together, our new identity for Simkins launches today.
And we're very pleased with the results. We knew we would enjoy working together when, in our first presentation, we told them that their new identity was going to be a based on a mash up of Robert Adam and David Hockney and they embraced it wholeheartedly. What this has actually meant is creating a visual identity to celebrate the intelligence, authority, excellence and commerciality that have made Simkins London's leading media and entertainment firm since the late 50s.
As we said earlier in the year, Simkins's people are at the centre of the new identity. The other elements, colours, type etc, have an undoubted authority and a timeless stylishness that really reflects the quality of thinking and work that the firm stands for.
25th Apr 2016
Smith &+ Village are working with a wonderful new client, Simkins, one London's leading Media and Entertainment law firms.
After years with a visual identity that did the firm no favours, Simkins have briefed us to make the way they look and present themselves be as good as their legal prowess.
We can't revel much about the new identity yet, but a major theme is to focus on the individuals in the firm that make it so unique. With that in mind, this week we're turning solicitors into supermodels in the Georgian splendour of Fitzroy Square with the help of one of our favourite photographers, Mischa Haller.
19th Apr 2016
Ready, steady, eat
This week, we're in the studio in Manchester, shooting the pack shots for Booths's new ready meals range.
As you know, the expansion and repackaging of Booths's own label product range is well underway. As with all food retailers, in this age of convenience, a significant part of that range is the ready meals offer and we have to say that the buyers in Preston have surpassed themselves with this one. The new range is all made by small, regional craft suppliers and features deliciously authentic grub, like pork belly with black pudding and Thai green curry with sticky jasmine rice.
Of course a stunning new range needs a stunning new idea and we've come up with one that we are sure the punters will like. Ready meals are very personal. They solve the very acute issue of what you're going to have for your tea tonight, or what, if you're rushed for time, you're going to give to your friends who are coming round for dinner. They appeal to very human emotions, so why is the way that they're traditionally packaged and presented always entirely devoid of any human content?
Our designs for the range remedy this. As you can see, the new imagery for the packs is full of human interaction, which makes them warmer, more relevant, much more inviting, and most importantly, all about food and the joy of eating it.
As ideas go, it's not a bad one, and you never know, it might take off.
15th Nov 2015
The packaging for Booths's tea range is launched today.
Of all the products, in all their stores, tea is probably the most significant for Booths. In 1847, the company's founder Henry Booth, started the first store in Blackpool and it was a tea merchant. Throughout their history, sourcing and selling the best tea from around the world has been at the heart of their business. Tea, you might say, positively flows through their veins.
And they're very good at it. Mind you, with all the brews being had in the North West, they'd have to be. We wanted the new packaging to reflect and celebrate this heritage and expertise, as well as convey the quality of Booths's iconic product.
9th Oct 2015
Deck the halls! Well, start thinking about it, any way.
It's been a busy week for Smith &+ Village and Booths. As well as bags, this year's Christmas book has launched too.
Conceived around the theme of the Great Northern Christmas, to show off the very best local products that Booths sells, this year's Christmas book builds on the success of its predecessor.
5th Oct 2015
Money bags (II)
Move over Selfridges and Daunts; the new must-have shopping bag is launched today.
So if you're going to make a big deal about a shopping bag, make it something everyone wants. We love these punchy bags, with their cheeky references to Booths's homelands and we hope that they'll have them queueing in the aisles all over Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Cheshire
The bags have been a huge success generating their own income and spreading the word about Booths with plenty of press coverage across all platforms - they are even being sold on ebay as collectors items. We particularly like it when Booths fans post pictures of the bags in non heartland scenarios like these two here; A Booths bag balancing Balenciaga on the Kings Road and rocking the Preston not Heston look on the beach at the Amalfi coast.
5th Oct 2015
Money bags (I)
Smith &+ Village's response to the new carrier bag legislation will hopefully be a game changer for Booths.
Never let it be said that Smith &+ Village miss an opportunity to think about things more than they ought! We've managed to turn the legal headache of charging customers for plastic carriers into a new brand strategy and, hopefully, lucrative income stream for Booths.
When we first started talking about the 5p bag levy, Booths were aware that they had to do something to change their existing range of carriers and minimise customer irritation. They understood that some sort of higher value bag for life would have to be created but didn't know what form that should take.
When we started to think about this laterally, suddenly a fantastic opportunity presented itself. You see, the shopping bag has always been treated as a brand icon. Traditionally this has happened at the high end but in the past five years, other retailers have managed to create real customer affection and tribalism for their brands through their bags. Just think of all those Daunt Books bags slung over the shoulders of the would-be literati.
Smith &+ Village's simple idea was to do this for Booths: make a range of fabric bags that become icons of the brand rather than just being things to put shopping in. But it went slightly further than that. Trusting in the commercial power of good design, we have decided that the fabric bags should be real stunners and therefore able to become a revenue stream in their own right.
On launch day, we're hoping that Booths's customers are delighted rather than irritated by their new bag policy, so delighted, in fact, that they might buy more than one.
10th Sep 2015
Bangers are a smash
The first big range of our own label work for Booths hits the stores today.
Booths's sausages are a cut above your average banger. They are all produced by the company themselves in their own butchery using the best local meat products and they come in a big array of different varieties, from your traditional pork banger to more a more sophisticated sausage with some fabulous flavours. As you might expect, coming from the North West, Booths are especially good at local specialities and their range of Cumberland, Westmoreland, Lakeland and speciality sausages is second to none.
With such a wide range of product, and with real authority and expertise in the area, the new packaging has to make each individual product sing, whilst creating a strong Booths look. We think that the answer we've come up will make the sausages sizzle on shelf.
21st Aug 2015
Location location (I)
This week, Smith's beautiful C18th house in the South West of France has been the location for a pretty upmarket photo shoot.
A wonderful creative team from Planeta Design in Stockholm has been on location, shooting the new campaign for the super premium Swedish bed linen brand, Dirty Linen.
1 July 2015
Christmas Update part two
It's the hottest day in 13 years. Anyone fancy roasting a turkey?
And a haunch of venison? And nine varieties of pie?
Yes, the photoshoot for this year's Christmas book is well underway, and what an adventurous time we're having. Two weeks to capture over 110 products and create a winter wonderland, when outside the streets of usually rainy Manchester are melting as the thermometer passes 34 degrees.
This year, Smith &+ Village have organised a two-part shoot. Week one was all about lifestyle shots in a disused pub in North Manchester that may well have been used for the seedier scenes of Shameless. Week two is food in the studio, with ovens blasting and the photographers' lights adding to the warmth. As ever, we are joined by the fantastic marketing team from Booths, stylist and photographer extraordinaires, Angela Boggiano and Craig Robinson and the wonderful writer Lydia Slater.
Now let's have a rousing chorus of In The Bleak Midwinter, to take our mind of the sweat.
13th May 2015
Christmas comes but once a year.
This may be so, but for Smith &+ Village, it lasts about eleven months.
Since January, we've been beavering away on the concept and design for Christmas 2015. We obviously can't give much away. but we promise it's going to be bigger and better than last year.
And for the sake of Christmas, we now find ourselves on a road trip through all the most photogenic bits of the North West of England, speaking to suppliers who make Christmas at Booths possible.
Like Booths, they're all small family companies and they're all mad about proper food and drink from their region. Today it's been artisan canapé and pie makers in the Yorkshire Dales and a microbrewery in the Lakes. Tomorrow it's a third-generation sprout farmer on Hesketh Bank. We can't wait for December.
14th Feb 2015
Booths: the whole story
We thought about drafting an acceptance speech for last night's win, with Paltrow-style tears and everything.
Then we realised you'd probably like to know some more about the whole Booths project and why it's become an award-winner instead.
If you'd like a copy of the Design Effectiveness Awards case study, do get in touch and we'll let you have one. It tells the story of all the work we've done, from corporate identity, through own label to Christmas communications and gives some pretty impressive figures to show how well it's all worked too.
13th Feb 2015
Smith &+ Village win at the Design Effectiveness Awards
Last night, all our work for Booths was rewarded at a glittering industry knees-up
We won a silver award in the Corporate Identity category of the world-famous, industry-leading Design Effectiveness Awards.
Needless to say, we're thrilled to ribbons about it. We're especially delighted that our peers have recognised the huge changes we've made at Booths and how important they have been in boosting the company's commercial performance.
12th Nov 2014
It must be Christmas. Pass me the tissues
Hasn't this week been an emotional roller-coaster?
As if the poppies at the Tower, the very moving acts of commemoration at the Cenotaph and two minutes silence on Tuesday weren't enough every Christmas retail advert has been launched to tremulous nationwide weeping and wailing. And what a heart-string-tugging lot they are this year: cupid-playing fairies, lovelorn penguins, awkward children finding redemption through baking, overstretched key workers and, of course, Jim and Otto in no-man's-land.
We can't help feeling rather pleased that amongst all this extraordinary, high-concept, high-tech festive creativity, our own rather down-to-earth, straightforwardly beautiful, titillatingly mouth-watering yet utterly analogue book for Booths has managed to hold its own.
See what The Grocer has to say here: http://www.thegrocer.co.uk/channels/booths-launches-christmas-book-to-showcase-festive-goods/373493.article
And Marketing Week here: http://www.marketingweek.com/2014/11/14/the-marketing-week-59/?nocache=true&adfesuccess=1
18th Oct 2014
Frieze: an annual masterpiece
As well as loving Christmas and dogs, we love Frieze week in London.
This year, Frieze London and Frieze Masters were exceptional.
In terms of branding, we are especially impressed by how seamlessly the Frieze brand, for nearly 20 years the last word in the contemporary art market, has moved into a wider market of 20th Century, Old Masters, Antiquarian and Oriental art with the Masters brand. Two years ago, when the economic world was shakier, those clever people at Frieze realised that unmade beds and stuffed sharks may not be as secure a future as we all thought and started Masters. An extremely smart move for them and a delight for us, as we get to potter down the road to Regent's Park and see something spectacular.
Highlights/observations this year were:
1) The Helly Nahmad Gallery's astonishing Connoisseur's Apartment, illustrated here. What a fantastically exciting way to show the great modern masters in their potential context.
2) Wonderful work from further afield: exciting galleries from South Africa, Lebanon and of course Brazil
3) The rise of textile art, like this engaging installation by the Brazilian Tonico Lomas Auad. You heard it here first (well you may not have done, but we like to think you might have.)
4) Disappointment from New York. No more body parts, please.
5) The absolutely stunning collection of 13th to 17th century Ethiopian processional crosses - beautiful, simple and moving.
10 Oct 2014
Move over Denmark Sweden and Finland
The Norwegians finally have a design classic of their own.
There's a lot of chat in the design world at the moment about Norway's fantastic new bank notes. At Smith&+Village, we love them for several reasons:
We love that two sets of designers, Snøhatta and Metric System worked together.
B) Multidisciplinary design:
We love that Snøhatta are best known as architects. Opera House one year, banknotes the next - that's versatile and interesting, isn't it?
C) Norway takes on the design hegemony of the other three:
We've all got Danish chairs and Swedish cushions and Finnish glasses coming out of our eyes, but traditionally, Norwegian design hasn't got much beyond intricate knitwear. This is a pretty big statement and will make the other Nordics scowl at those oil rich former fisherfolk even more.
D) They totally reinvent the idea of a banknote:
Instead of being the outward manifestation of the state and its economic power, money just becomes an abstraction.
But we suppose when you've got all those petrobillions of kroner in the bank, that's exactly what your currency becomes.
8th Oct 2014
Finally it's here - the Booths Christmas Book 2014
If you scroll down and read about the book we did last year for Booths, you'll see that it had quite an impact.
Wonderful for them, daunting for us, because 2014's book had to be even better.
This year, we've given the whole thing a brand new structure, based on the 12 Events of Christmas, to help customers plan their festive feasting as easily as possible. Everything you need to make Christmas go with a bang is in there, from the first mince pie, to the massive fry-up you inevitably need on New Year's Day.
We worked with a phenomenal team to pull the whole thing off, so Academy Awards style thanks must go to Angela Boggiano for the home economics and beautiful styling, Craig Robertson for the stunning photography, Coralie Bickford-Smith for the cover illustration, Lydia Slater for the copy that's as warm and engaging as a glass of mulled wine and Cai and Kyn for their tirelessness with the design layouts.
5th May 2014
Champagne on Ice
Elegant and understated, the new design for Booths own label Champagne range is now in store.
It's one of those truisms that the simpler a design is, the longer it takes to finalise. Booths's champagne is made by one of the region's last family owned Champagne houses. We wanted to show both this, and the quality of the product through its subtle luxury cues: pearlised metallic papers, foil blocking and thermal print typography.
It's taken a while but now we hope you agree that there are three lovely bottles to raise a glass to.
11 Mar 2014
Growing all over the world
It's always good to catch up with old friends, especially when they've got a spectacular success story to share.
We've just come back from having a cup of tea at First Point Group. Smith and Village first worked with them in the days before Smith&+Village. The company specialises in recruitment for the telecoms industry, not something that we at first knew very much about, or felt we might be particularly good at. As it turned out, the company is exactly the sort of organisation we like to get our hands on and David and Alistair who run it tired out to be model clients.
The world that First Point Group inhabits is pretty low on branding. Corporate culture is largely judged in operational terms and differentiation, in look, feel and behaviour is almost non-existent. David and Alistair absolutely recognised this and decided that undertaking a proper branding exercise could be the key to their ongoing growth and success.
And boy, has it paid off. Their brand has given them huge differentiation from competitors and they now turn over $60m a year in seven offices worldwide and place staff in 140 countries and have won a string of accolades, including a Queen's Award for Exports, National Champions in the 2013/14 European Business Awards and being one of the Times's 50 Companies to Watch.
09 Mar 2014
Best in show
You may have noticed that at Smith&+Village, we spend a lot of time thinking about Christmas and we love dogs.
This means that Best of Show day at Crufts is a bit like Christmas Day for us.
What on earth does that have to do with branding, you might think. Well, on the one hand, absolutely nothing. It's just an excuse for us to say that the Samoyed was robbed.
On the other hand, if you think about the journey that Crufts and its overseeing body The Kennel Club have been on in the past three years, it gives you a text book case of what branding is about.
Do you remember when the BBC did their exposé on pedigree dogs? It showed how over-breeding to create the perfect type was creating cruel, genetic problems that were seriously affecting the health of some breeds. The public outcry was considerable, yet The Kennel Club initially refused to act, causing the BBC to drop Crufts from its schedule and prompting many other sponsors to pull out. People had fallen out of love with the dog world and were dismayed by the arrogance of its governing body.
17 Feb 2014
Take that and party
Last year we were asked to work on the development of a range of new products to expand Booths's own label offer at Christmas.
One category that they was startlingly under represented was convenience party food. We saw this as a fantastic opportunity for Booths to do something that could be build on their brand values and heritage and consequently be an entirely unique take on what can be a rather repetitive offer.
Playing on Booths trump card of regionality, we developed a range that was based on the local specialities of the four counties that Booths operates in. Alongside traditional canapé faves, we added a range of regional soon-to-be favourites such as Morecambe Bay shrimp tartlets, Yorkshire Longhorn Beef and Onion pies, Wensleydale potato skins and Lancashire cheese and damson jelly parcels. A smart Christmas party, the Booths way.
The results have been fantastic.
02 Feb 2014
High praise from Retail Week
It's good to see that the retail sector at large has recognised Booths's stunning success this Christmas too.
This week's Retail Week carried a four-page feature on how the retailer continues to punch above its weight when bigger players are finding it tough.
From our point of view, it's gratifying to see how much both Booths and Retail Week attribute this success to the branding work we've been doing with them. Edwin Booth and a good handful or retail analysts put a lot of the Christmas success down to the sumptuous Christmas book and there's praise for the new in-store scheme that, along with a host of cutting edge new merchandising and operational mechanisms, has transformed the store in Knutsford.
07 Jan 2014
All aboard Brand Portillo
At Smith&+Village, we're delighted to see the return of Michael Portillo to our screens with his improbably compelling rail trips around the country.
We're especially pleased that the first one of this new series starts in Manchester and ends in Chesterfield, passing through practically every town with a Booths store.
As you know, we love a Great British Brand and they don't get much better than Brand Portillo. Awarding him national treasure status simply doesn't do justice to the strategic excellence and creativity that have shifted him from one of Thatcher's darkest knights to media darling. No, he's had the full brand works; perfectly pitched positioning as understated, approachable yet uncontrovertibly brilliant and a stunning new visual identity in very well tailored neons.
Brand Portillo, we applaud you, and we'll follow you wherever your Bradshaw takes you, even if it means foregoing a Virgin Pendolino.
06 Jan 2014
This year I'm going to.....
January is a time for resolutions, a time when we all decide we're going to do things a bit differently and hopefully a little better than we did before.
This year, we've managed to make Booths resolve to treat the dreaded post-Christmas period a bit differently too.
Instead of playing the tactical price promotion game, something that always leaves Booths on the back foot, we persuaded them to take a more branded approach to January and give their customers a real reason to shop with them and not competitors.
Our little new year book has done just that by presenting all those resolutions you make about doing the right thing in terms of the products you need to make them work. Customers get a helping hand; Booths get to promote the products they want. Simple and effective.
So effective that the 6% like-for-like Christmas upturn has continued to flourish in the dark days of January.
03 Jan 2014
The price is right
Getting price communications right is a perennially tricky aspect of shopkeeping.
Booths has historically struggled to make their price communications cut through and consequently has often, and quite unfairly, been perceived as an expensive alternative.
During the last quarter of 2013, the buying teams have done some sterling work so that Booths can now offer customers the reassurance of a Price Match scheme on their branded products. We have worked with them to give them a comprehensive price communications tool kit, including new language, a new graphic style and messaging hierarchy.
The new package has given Booths a definitive way to talk about price and value that complements their brand communications, gives clarity in store and confidence to customers. We've launched it this week, just in time for price sensitive January.
05 Dec 2013
Christmas is coming
Christmas has always been one of the most important and successful times of year for Booths.
This year we have spent a good part of our time working to make sure that in 2013, they really owned it. Our involvement has been pretty comprehensive but without a doubt, the jewel in the crown is the sumptuous Christmas Book that we created, art directed and edited, which highlights the fabulous range of products that Booths stocks to help their customers do their festive frolicking in style.