Bass - Trademark No1

In my Classic Brands series, I am going to feature interesting facts and a brief history to some of the world most iconic branding and packaging designs. I couldn't think of a better place to begin the series than with the worlds very first registered Trade Mark.

A great conversational piece at any dinner party is the question, ‘what was the world’s first brand identity?’ The answer is the instantly identifiable red-triangle of the Bass Pale Ale logo. This distinctive identity was registered under the United Kingdoms 1875 Trade Mark act. Due to the fact that the act actually came into effect on 1st January 1876, an employee of Bass queued outside the registrar's office for the whole of the New Years Eve night to ensure that they were the very first in line to register the trademark the following day. Thanks to the efforts of that Bass employee, Ratcliff & Gretton Ltd received the first two registrations, the Bass Red Triangle for their pale ale and the Bass Red Diamond for their stronger ale.

The Bass red triangle is such a significant brand icon that it features within a number of the worlds best known works of art and novels including Édouard Manet’s 1882' Bar at the Folies-Bergère', Pablo Picasso's 1914 'Bottle of Bass and Glass' and James Joyce’s 1922 ‘Oxen of the Sun’ episode of 'Ulysses'.

William Bass founded the company in 1777, in the English brewing town of Burton Upon Trent. At its height one quarter of all beer sold in Britain was produced in Burton on Trent. Bass Pale Ale was exported throughout the British Empire and by 1877 had become the world’s largest brewery, producing an output of over a million barrels of beer a year! In the early 20th century Bass took over a number of large breweries and in the 1960’s a merger with Charrington United Breweries made them (at the time), the largest UK brewing company. By the 1980's only three main breweries remained in Burton upon Trent, Marston's, In Coope and Bass.

In response to consumer demand for premium bottle ales, in 2013 the product was made available in a 500ml bottle size for off trade. Furthermore, the company also changed the products name to ‘Bass Trademark No.1. This fully highlighted the importance of this legendary brand and fully celebrated it's place in history as the world’s first registered trademark.

Today, the Bass pale ale brand is part of the worlds largest brewing company, the Anheuser-Busch InBev and is available in over 50 countries, on draught, in bottles and cans. Since 2005 Bass Draught has been brewed under contract by Marston’s for AB-InBev who are still based in Burton Upon Trent, however bottled products for export are now brewed at AB-InBevs own brewery in Samlesbury, except for the United States and Belgium where Bass is brewed locally.

With its simplicity of colour and form, the Bass logo is a prime example of branding at its very best. Immediately identifiable it is without doubt a pioneer of international Branding and worthy of its place as our first featured Classic Brand.


My Design Life

In a recent interview for a design magazine I was asked, "who and what inspires me". It's a question that I am often asked and my initial reply is usually "everything", from my family (my wife and son are without a doubt my biggest inspiration) to the great icons of our industry such as Paul Rand and Soul Bass to the the work of Henryk Thomaszewski, Jan Lenica and Henri Matisse (the list could go on and on and on…) I wake up inspired almost every morning and by the time I am in my studio, or out with my family on the weekend, I have often seen something to trigger creativity. It really does come from everywhere, from a texture, a colour, a conversation, a story to something quirky!

In Iconoclasts Season 6, Episode 5, Paul Smith tells how he was once walking down a street with an advertising exec. The marketing person says that he sees about three things whilst Smith sees around Fifty!

I am a huge fan of designer Michael Wollf and his thoughts on what he describes as his three muscles of creativity. "I have three muscles, without which I couldn’t do my work. The first is curiosity. (You can call it inquisitiveness, you can call it questioning.) The second muscle [is] the muscle of appreciation. It’s not questioning so much as it is noticing… how joyful things can be, how colourful things can be, what already exists as an inspiration. The muscle of curiosity and the muscle of appreciation enable the muscle of imagination."

But surely this intuition must take time to develop, nurture and mature. The incredible talents of David Beckham, Tiger Woods or Beyonce Knowles can be tracked back to a very early age! This started to make me think deeper about my very own personal development and the reason I think and see the world in the way that I do. I thought it would be an interesting exercise to write about my design life and to encourage readers of this blog to also share their inspirations.

I was very fortunate in that I have always known that I was creative. As far back as I can remember I have loved drawing and mark making and then the reaction or emotion that it creates in others. I can still see myself sat in the lounge of my family home in front of the fire with a pack of crayons, drawing anything and everything that either caught my eye or inspired me. I loved the feedback I got from my free thinking parents who always supported me creatively. I have a deep emotional connection with colour. One of my earliest memories is walking with my mum and dad picking up coloured discs. I have grown to assume that the discs were leftover following a sporting event as we were walking on what I believe was a running track and the discs were yellow (gold for first place), blue (silver for second place) and red (bronze for third). My connection with colour grew over the years and I can still remember the kit of football players (from my dads Subuteo set) or the historic red uniforms of British soldiers to be of great interest and then communicating what I had seen with my pen and paper. I loved how you could combine colour to create mood and feeling. I enjoyed Lego, preferring my own constructions and not necessarily those shown on the box. I once built a whole underground train system from Lego bricks.

One of my prize possessions to this day is a 1969 copy of Tiger annual and 1960 copy of Beryl the peril. I love everything about them, from the illustration styles, the colours used, the style of print and even the smell of the ink and the paper. I was born in the 1970's and culturally, 1960's Britain holds a great of interest for me. I enjoyed the illustration quality of Tintin, Asterix and the Star Wars comics from the 1970/80s . They all inspired me early on to create my very own comic books and graphic novels. I still have my spin on Star Wars called Battle for the Stars!

I also distinctly remember in the 1980's having a great interest in video box cover art. I absolutely loved how the illustrators would capture the whole essence of the movie in one image. It was story telling and I admired the style of illustration and photography so much so that I tried to make my very own films. I would draw my own movies on a long roll of paper, then make my very own television by inserting two cardboard rolls into a cereal box. I would then wind the whole movie onto one of the card rolls and then pull down and attached to the other roll so you could wind the movie one frame at a time past a screen that I had cut into the box. Of course I had to also paint the cereal box in black for authenticity. Once again it was also important to see the reaction from my friends that I showed the movies too.

Also throughout the 80's, when not at school, I taught myself to program computer games. Most at my school loved playing them, but I preferred making them and spent so much of my recreation time either playing football, making dens, riding push bikes and motorcycles or in my bed-room taping away at my Sinclair spectrum. I became reasonably proficient and produced a few games including one (unofficially) for the popular television series at the time 'The A Team', yet preferred making the covers for the games so, so much more!

There was also an enjoyment to how my creativity could work for business. Making video games, movies and comic books wasn’t just about being creative but about entertainment, creating emotion and sometimes even charging for it. I wasn’t even ten years of age and had a concept of starting a drinks company with a friend. We built a makeshift shanty factory in my parent’s garden out of my father’s wood and made a drink from black berries that we picked from the field behind my garden. I even designed the label and here I am thirty plus years later a brand and packaging designer!!! The stains from that factory are probably still there to this day.


My love for all things creative was clearly evident throughout my school days. At junior school, my glowing end of year report was often blemished by the fact that I was often caught daydreaming! I find this of particular amusement to me in adult life as these days I am actually paid to dream big ideas each day!!! I strongly believe that time should be made for children of all ages to daydream. It shouldn't be seen as a negative but a huge plus. This is creativity! I am not condoning children that can't hold attention in class (as I probably did back then), but instead to make the time to dream so that they actually do focus in other lessons. I also look back to this time with great fondness as all of my classroom walls would be adorned with my colourful images, mainly of stock cars as my father would take me to car racing events on a Sunday afternoon in the west country mendips raceway. Another great inspiration for my drawing at an early age.

I also put a real emphasis on the importance of good teachers. I remember Mr Hawkins who saw my artistic talent and was the first teacher at junior school to hang my pictures onto the classroom walls.

Other than my family, one of the most important figures to me becoming the creative I am today was my secondary art school teacher Mr Sowden (I think Derek Sowden). Many would comment on him having one glass eye, however I never noticed! He spotted my artistic talent and was one of the greatest supports I have ever had. As I write this today, I realise just how much I owe to him for his support back then. I wasn't all that good, or that interested in anything other than art, design. I enjoyed sport but art and design really made me excited! I can still remember many of the artworks I produced, especially my final GCSE piece that tackled homelessness. A pretty large subject for a 14 year old. I still view this particular piece as one of my most important. If my mind serves me well, I was the only person in the whole year to achieve an A in art. Many took the subject believing it to be an easy way out but Mr Sowden could clearly see my absolute love for everything creative. I was a shy kid at school and being from a different part of town, I received a fair amount of bullying in the first two years of secondary school but as the word went around of my drawings on the wall of the art class, I became know for something positive and the bullying seem to suddenly cease. My creativity gave me a voice. Learning the importance of humour also helped a great deal.

I went on to study A levels at college and again had great teachers. This time a man and wife team (Davis if I remember correctly) that taught me the importance of integrity within my work (more on this in future posts). I continued to approach important issues within my work. I remember learning the art of screen printing and created the piece shown in my intro to this article, that tacked issues of politics, famine and disaster. I was incredibly interested in how activist art and design could make a difference.

After my A Levels I I did a year BTEC National Diploma as a way of foundation for University. My brilliant teacher Nick was the first to introduce me to the Mac and the amazing software, Aldus PageMaker, Freehand and a brand new application called Photoshop. At this time I was being heavily influenced by the work of Neville Brody and the flashy MTV visuals.

My activist creative streak continued to my University days where I wrote my thesis on Polish posters and how they used metaphor as a way of freedom of speech and past the watchful eye of the controlling government of the day. I did clash heads occasionally at university as many lecturers wanted the three year to solely be a place of discovery. I agree the importance of this, but I also wanted to be better prepared for life in the real commercial world of design. I had a lot more respect for the teachers that had spent time in the commercial environment and had practical experience over those who had spent their whole career in education alone. One of the great things about the university where I studied was that it was one of the last (I think even THE last!) universities in the country to continue to teach letterpress and hot type which I absolutely loved. It taught me so much about the art of typography. Another huge love of mine!


After my degree show and achieving a good grade in my BA (Hons) in graphic design, I was encouraged to send work to the Young Designer Awards. For this I must thank the teaching team of Gwent College of Higher Education, especially Mr Terry Illot who was another massive inspiration to my career. I went on to be a winner of these awards, which became a stake in the ground and a real transition point into the commercial world of design. I have heard many say that awards aren't important, but this award changed my life. It still opens doors to this day and has led to many other awards. Most importantly it gave a huge amount of belief and courage to a un-confident young boy who grew up in the west of England. It took me to the countries capital London and then around the world. Ive worked in many design studios and Im currently based in Cape Town where Ive lived and worked for the past six years. It also just happened that the works that I had entered for the New Designers competition were large format posters made from cut paper and inspired by the Polish Poster artists, Henri Matisse and Sonia Delaunay. The inspiration I got from my design hero's once again helping my career!

In fact everything I have mentioned has played an important role in who I am today as both a designer and a person. At the core is a true love for what I do. My work these days is about designing success for businesses and products. I take meetings with the CEO's of large companies and direct design teams. I have had the great fortune of meeting many leaders within the design industry, including one of the most memorable being the late Massimo Vignelli. Two decades later I am still a commercial designer and continue to be as hungry and as foolish as I was in my earliest of memories, drawing in front of the fire with crayons.

I would love to hear your personal experiences and memories that play a role in either making you the designer you are today, or inspire you to be the future of the design industry of tomorrow.


Design Your Success - Do It For The Love Love Love!

I have a belief that love and hard work go hand in hand! I strongly believe that if you don't love what you do then you'll be unable to dedicate yourself fully to it and it's unlikely you'll be able to produce great work! It may be hard work to get out of bed and drive to the office each morning. It may be hard work to get through each day, but that doesn't mean that your actually working hard at what you do! if you don't love what you do then how can you invest yourself to the fullest and do what it takes to be the very best you can be. As with any relationship, if there is no love, how do you get through the tough times?

There will always be days that test you, but it's how you deal with these situations that really count. You will always fight for what you love. So if you love what you do, giving up is never an option and you will stick with it through thick and thin to find a solution. The simple truth is, if you love what you do then no one can take it away from you! Nobody can tell you that you can't do it, because its your love! Somehow you will find a way. I know for a fact, if I weren’t employed as a commercial designer, then I would be doing it in my evenings or weekends as a hobby. I'm not alone in my belief.

In Richard St.John's 8 steps to success, he says "don’t be a ‘workaholic’, be a ‘workafrolic’!" "Do it for love, Not for money", and quotes Paul Graham, co-founder ViaWeb who says, " “Do what you love.”

In his now famous 2005 Stamford commencement address, Apple co founder Steve Jobs outlines the importance of loving what you do: "You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."


South Africa's Township Barber Shop Art


I’ve been living in South Africa for almost six years now and anyone that knows me will also know that I am an avid collector of anything of visual interest. In fairness most would think what I find visually interesting strange. It can be anything from a texture on a wall, aged billboard signs, street art, old architecture to vintage branding, signage and packaging design. The cell phone camera and large hard drives have saved my family home from a man cave cluttered with all the stuff. In my defence though, I am a commercial designer and being aware of your surroundings and able to see the world differently is so important. One of my pet hates are freshly briefed designers rushing off to Google for their only stream of inspiration. They miss the amazing visual library that surrounds them daily on the way to the office. My reference of collected visual interest has been invaluable to me over my two decades of a designer.

When I first moved to Cape Town in 2009, I went through a creative sensory overload. So many incredible cultures, new brands, fantastic new foods to discover and such a visual feast that I suddenly had laid out in front of me. Of great interest were some of the cultures from the townships. Areas where many had warned of crime I saw a great deal of culture and interest. Early on I started to notice that there was a unique, almost naive art style to the signage of the barbershops, which over the years has developed into one of my many visual collections.

The South African barbershop is far more than just a house of grooming but also a social space where many gather to discuss and gossip. From within townships, salons appear from one day to the next, coming and going on a dream of becoming a local entrepreneur, where the usual rules to beginning a business are very different to that of the city.

I found the signage of great interest, as the style of illustration, usually of a male head and shoulders, is pretty much the same throughout the country. What makes this even more interesting to me is that the visuals seem to of developed from a form of colloquialism from within the informal townships instead of any real intention to create a unique style.

I hope that you enjoy the images below. They are a very small selection from a rather large collection but I think that they really capture this cultural visual phenomenon of South African barbershop art.



What Makes A Truly Great Logo?

Joe Posner at Vox Video asked the legendary graphic designer Michael Beirut to explain the elements of a great logo design.


Symbol by Steven Bateman & Angus Hyland


I am an avid collector of design books. Its a real love of mine. I’ve built up quite a comprehensive library and I am always suggesting or lending my books to my team. Recently, readers of this blog have also been asking for book recommendations, so I thought that I would post a few of my personal favourites.

Symbol by Steven Bateman and Pentagram partner Angus Hyland has been a valuable source to me when developing logos and brand identity systems. There are over 1300 logos included with the book divided into groups that relate to their visual characteristics. There is also a number of case studies that give a great back-story to some of the worlds most recognised symbols including that of Apple, Nike and Continental Air by Soul Bass.

This is a book that I can really recommend to anyone working in branding and logo development. Its also different to many other tittles I own as I rarely lend it out as it's been such a great source of reference over the years.


An overview of the book:

Symbols play an integral role in branding programs. This book explores the visual language of symbols according to their most basic element: form. Over 1,300 symbols from all over the world are here categorised by visual type, divested of all agendas, meanings, and messages that might be associated with them so that the effectiveness of their composition and impact can be assessed without distraction and so that the reader can enjoy them as a pictorial language in their own right.

Every symbol is captioned with information on who it was designed for, who designed it, when, and what the symbol stands for. These sections are interspersed with short but detailed case studies featuring classic examples of symbols still in use, and exceptional examples of recently designed symbols.

This comprehensive volume is an indispensable resource for designers working on identity systems, and an engaging showcase of this exciting field.

About The Authors:

Angus Hyland is a graduate of the RCA and a partner at Pentagram Design London. He is the author of C/ID and the best-selling The Picture Book.

Steven Bateman is a freelance writer who has worked with some of the UK's leading design agencies. A regular contributor to Grafik magazine, he also writes for ISTD Condensed, Nico and Varoom.

You can order symbol at Amazon or the publisher Laurence King.


The Story of Hungry Jacks & A Packaging Rebrand for Burger King

Burger King as a brand has long interested me. Ive spent time in Australia where the franchise is instead known as Hungry Jacks. In 1971 the company wanted to make a move into Australia with it's first franchise in Perth but was unable to use the Burger King name as it was already trademarked by an Adelaide based Food Shop.

I am currently living in South Africa and Burger King only arrived here in 2013, with it's first franchise opening in the may of that year in Cape Town. This was 18 years after it's competitor Mc Donnalds arrived. Burger King however decided to take a similar tack as Nandos when the South African Company opened in the UK. To differentiate it from KFC, Nandos positioned itself as a higher end brand offering. Burger King used this same tactic when moving into ZA and it seems to be working for them, at least for now, with huge cues outside it's restaurants. That said the company currently have only 12 outlets compared to over 200 McDonnalds franchises.


So you may ask, why have I decided to give insight into the branding of Burger King? Well it's been announced that design agency, Turner Duckworth, previously responsible for rebranding the likes of Coca Cola, Waitrose and Amazon, have just completed a global packaging rebrand for the franchise.

The new visual language is fun and colourful, utilising a colour palette of red, green, yellow and brown to represent the ketchup, lettuce, cheese and the flame grilled beef burger. The design adopts a distressed and hand printed effect to create the feel of individuality that the flame grilling gives to each beef patty.The design was also created to help staff serve food faster and be more efficaint. The symbol of the spatular helps staff locate the burger on the wrap and the packet for the fries creates a smile out of a chip (the mouth) and ketchup (Tongue). Coffee cups have symbols representing the power shot you get from the hot beverage and the paper takeaway bags use the striking four colour palette.

This striking new design will soon be rolled out to Burger King's thirteen thousand stores, in almost 100 countries. You can read more at the Dieline by clicking here.


A History of the KFC Brand & the New Design!

A brief History of the Kentucky Fried Chicken brand.

Kentucky Fried Chicken was founded by Harland Sanders, who began selling chicken from his roadside restaurant in Corbin Kentucky in the 1930's. An entrepreneur, Sanders identified the potential of franchising his restaurant concept and the very first "Kentucky Fried Chicken" franchise opened in Salt Lake City in Utah in 1952 by Pete Harman who was both the owner of one of the cities largest restaurants and a good friend of Sanders.

Harman hired a sign writer named Don Anderson to work on the first restaurant, who coined the name "Kentucky Fried Chicken" creating a good product differentiator (being chicken) and a vision of southern hospitality for the brand. Harman also introduced the "bucket meal" and trademarked the phrase "Its finger Lickin' good", which over time have both played an important role within the companies identity and advertising. With my interest in branding, packaging and 1950's Americana, I was very keen to visit when I passed though Salt Lake city back in 2002.


Today KFC is the second largest restaurant chain with 18,875 outlets worldwide. Only McDonalds has more! So whether you like the food or not, thats an incredible business achievement and an interesting piece of history.

Harland even branded himself as Colonel Sanders and became a prominent figure in American history. KFC diversified the fast food market and challenged the popular hamburger. Saunders sold the business to a group of investors in 1964.


Bringing back that Heritage - The 2015 Redesign

Last year KFC began using ad agency Wieden + Kennedy. The agency hired Darrell Hammond of "Saturday Night Live" fame to play KFC's founder Colonel Sanders, who would once again become the centrepiece to all brand and marketing.

This move back to a more traditional vision for "Kentucky Fried Chicken" has been reinforced further by the recent brand and packaging re-design by New York agency Grand Army, who have brought back the famous stark red colour bars and a minimal black and white illustration of the colonel. This new look brilliantly recreates the nostalgia of the past, yet still maintains a connection to the recent looking image. The only criticisms of the redesign I have heard is that the logo does have a tendency to look a little like a stick figure with a large Colonel Sanders head. I will let you be the judge on that one!!!

The brand move on is a great example of how a visual change can help your business look somehow more genuine and homemade. I for one love what's been done for this re brand by Grand Army. Bringing back some of the companies vintage aesthetic into it's future vision is my kind of design! Well thought out and for me a lot more of a timeless solution, proving further that its often that intellectual extraction and what you don't put in to a design that can often make it a success and easier for the consumer to connect with.