CR Blog

John Lloyd: 50 years in graphic design

Graphic Design

Posted by Gavin Lucas, 14 September 2010, 11:30    Permalink    Comments (15)

John Lloyd may not be a star name but over the course of his 50 year career in graphic design he has created brand identities most CR blog readers will recognise - and many that are as fresh today as they were when they were originally created. Logos for BAA, The British Medical Association, John Lewis and Morphy Richards, to name but a few, feature in a freshly launched online archive of Lloyd's work...

Above: John Lloyd designed this programme for a symphony concert at London College of Printing, 1967

Lloyd began his career as a graphic designer when he embarked on a graphic design course at the London College of Printing in 1965. Ten years later he set up a design studio and branding consultancy with his friend Jim Northover - Lloyd Northover - a company that now has offices in Barcelona, Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore - as well as London.

 

Poster for a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Twelfth Night, designed by Lloyd Northover, 1987

 

Recently retired from the business, we caught up with Lloyd last week and asked him to select and tell us about five brand identities from his archive of work - and took the opportunity to quiz him about his career...

 

Creative Review: Your website, johnlloyd.uk.com is new, right?

John Lloyd: Yes, it went live this summer.

 

CR: You've recently retired - why post this work up now?

JL: Throughout my career, my focus has been on achieving results for clients. Design effectiveness and the proven benefits of design have always been more important to me than seeking creative plaudits from peers. This approach has resulted in Lloyd Northover winning many awards for design effectiveness, including the Grand Prix in the first ever Design Effectiveness Awards in 1989. That's not to say that our work hasn't been acknowledged for its creativity; we have, for example, won an International Gold Award from the New York Art Directors Club.

Lloyd Northover won a Gold Award for Packaging at the New York Art Director's Club in 1989 for its Asda own-brand packaging designs

 

But, over the years, I have kept a relatively low personal profile. The full range of what Jim Northover and I did together, and the quality of our work, was never promoted by us and, therefore, never fully appreciated by the profession. Much of my early work, too, has not been widely exposed. This stuff is easily lost and forgotten and by publishing the archive I wanted to ensure that the work survived. Furhermore, after fifty years in the business, and as an examiner and visiting educator at design schools, it occurred to me that the archive, which spans the decades from 1960, when corporate design really took-off in the UK, and which includes some ground-breaking and influential projects, should be preserved as an educational resource, if nothing else. So, the website is conceived as a contribution towards the online preservation and curation of graphic design history.

Also, through my career, I have been involved with design education and I have seen the art and design schools become transformed into universities. As a consequence of the courses becoming more academic in order to satisfy the requirements of classic university assessment criteria, the teaching of basic design skills is often overlooked. I see graduates with high degree classifications who are unemployable as designers in a creative practice. In design schools, you hear a lot of talk about 'graphic authorship' and students 'finding their own voice'. If you want to use graphic design as a fine art medium, that's fine, but I have always believed that a graphic designer working in the real world should express his client's personality and messages, not his own. A corporate designer is a hired gun. I am not against designers being given an academic appreciation of their subject. But, design is a vocation and students should be equipped to practise design when they graduate. So, the archive aims to tell it how it is - to show that corporate design is about client-expression, not self-expression.

Lloyd Northover created the identification and wayfinding system for use at Britain's major rail stations. The system included a new family of pictograms, a custom-designed typeface and new formats for each type of sign

CR: When you left college, you were obviously already good friends with Jim Northover. Where did you cut your teeth / what or who provided your first big break? And what was the commission, brief or client that gave you and Jim the opportunity to set up shop together?

JL: Jim and I first started to work together at the LCP in 1965; some of the work in the archive was designed in collaboration during those art school years. We graduated in 1968 and went to work with different design companies: I joined Allied International Designers and Jim worked with Michael Peters, Terence Conran and others. By doing this, we gained a huge amount of experience working on significant projects at home and overseas. It wasn't until 1975 that we set up Lloyd Northover. We didn't really have a 'big break' that enabled us to establish the business; we started modestly - just the two of us, and grew the practice organically. We kept our costs low - we didn't pay ourselves a salary for the first year or two. We were able to do that because, as well as starting Lloyd Northover in 1975, we both got married in that year and our wives, who worked for others, were able to support us until the business got off the ground.

D&AD's famous yellow pencil was deconstructed and rearranged to create a series of abstract images for use on the 1984 D&AD Annual cover and section dividers

Logo for National Savings and Investments

Lloyd Northover refreshed the logo and created fresh packaging for Morphy Richards back in 1985


CR: You've done dozens of great logos over the years. How did you get into doing logo design - who was your first client logo-wise?

JL: At Allied International Designers, I specialised in corporate identity and created identities for all kind of organisations including, in The Netherlands, ABN Bank, Meneba and Euromast and, in the UK, Nicholas International. So, logo design was very much part of what I did. In the early years at Lloyd Northover, because we were a small consultancy, we started by doing mainly print and small identities but our ambition was always to move into corporate identity for major organisations. One of our earliest clients was the English Tourist Board for whom we did a lot of branding work for promotional and marketing campaigns. Our first really substantial corporate identity project came in 1986 for BAA (British Airports Authority). Thereafter, the emphasis of Lloyd Northover's work shifted from print design to the design and implementation of substantial corporate identity programmes. In addition to BAA, key identity projects from the 1980s include Courtaulds and the John Lewis Partnership.

As you may have gathered from the Archive, I am very pro-logo. It has become fashionable to knock the logo and to claim that corporate branding is about everything else - customer service, product performance, viral marketing, consumer communities and so on. But, there is no denying that the logo plays a central and, in my view, invaluable role in corporate branding. This is explored in the article, The art of corporate design, in the Reflections section of my website.

CR: Could you select five logos / identities that you're most proud of creating?

BAA (British Airports Authority)

JL: This device is the key visual component in a corporate identity system that was designed to link all Britain's major airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Southampton. The symbol consists of three green triangles that clearly suggest airport-related activities. It was designed in 1986 and is still in use today and, because the form is so simple and pure, I think it is a good example of lasting and timeless design - something I have always tried to achieve.


John Lewis Partnership

JL: This identification system has made John Lewis one of the most instantly recognizable UK department store brands. The core element - the diagonal motif - is not simply a repeated stripe. It is a subtly constructed unit that can be used singly or in multiple units to create a branding device for any context and any length required. I think this is a good example of flexible branding; the visual identity system is variable and versatile and is not constrained by being reliant on a logotype with a fixed single form.

Courtaulds

JL: This project won the Grand Prix in the first ever Design Effectiveness Awards in 1989. The soft curves and hard lines in the Courtaulds 'C-Mark' reflect the corresponding qualities of the company's products - textiles, fibres and advanced materials. The project broke new ground - for the thoroughness of the worldwide programme of research and employee involvement, and for the creative solution. I particularly like the unexpected asymmetrical and wayward symbol.

Meneba

JL: This identity was designed in 1968 at Allied International Designers. Meneba is a Dutch milling company and producer of grain-derived products. The symbol, which encapsulates stooks of corn against the sun, is still in use today - a further example of how simple and reductive graphic design can last.

 

Priba

JL: This is an identity for a chain of supermarkets in Belgium. The Priba logo frames an ever-changing array of images, colours and patterns to reflect the diversity of products and services and is another example of flexible branding. I think the logo still looks as fresh today as it did when it was designed at Allied International Designers in 1973 in collaboration with Geoff Gibbons.

 

CR: Lloyd Northover is now an international company with offices around the world... Can you give us a little overview of what's going on in LN at the moment? Some projects the company is working on at the moment?

JL: Today, Lloyd Northover has offices in London, Barcelona, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai; all are thriving and Dubai is still going strong, despite a challenging local market. Our first major project in Asia was a huge corporate identity and design management programme for the Hong Kong Airport Express involving train liveries and interiors, signage, uniforms and passenger information. We set up the Hong Kong office to service that project and that office, together with the Singapore office, has gone on to become one of the foremost design consultancies in the region working in the transportation sector. Current projects in London include continuing implementation, design management, and communications for NS&I (National Savings& Investments); corporate branding for Transcom, London Southbank University, University of Bedfordshire, Grayling (the global PR group); and design management and website design for the Design Council.


CR: If you had to pick just one project you've worked on to date that you're most proud of - what would it be and why?

JL: I think I'd probably pick the BAA symbol - for its utter simplicity and longevity.

 

To see more of John Lloyd's work, visit his archive at johnlloyd.uk.com

To find out more about Lloyd Northover, visit lloydnorthover.com

 

 

15 Comments

Absolutely delightful.
action man
2010-09-14 13:29:31


It's good to see identities with simplicity and context as the core drivers behind them. Far too many aren't, and as a result are often redundant and have no real impact or longevity. This collection is a great example of how designing identities around fundamental values and ideas creates meaning and relevance, and an identity that echoes the business and speaks to the audience.
david
2010-09-14 13:48:02


This man is a legend.
Alan
2010-09-14 15:01:00


I love this man's work... (there was more i knew than didn't).... Brilliant and Beautiful!!!!!!
GEORGE VRANJKOVIC
2010-09-14 15:06:45


I'm a former Courtaulds marketer and this identity was a delight to work with - incorporating it into our design publications gave just the right sign off. Simple and effective. I haven't seen it for years and it still looks good.
Caroline
2010-09-14 18:20:14


I'm a former Courtaulds marketer and this identity was a delight to work with - incorporating it into our design publications gave just the right sign off. Simple and effective. I haven't seen it for years and it still looks good.
Caroline
2010-09-14 18:39:39


Poetry
Javier Garcia
2010-09-14 20:31:33


@Alan: You can say John Legend, but do not be confused with the singer.
roundabout
2010-09-14 20:56:11


Wow, what a prolific career!
Sherman Unkefer
2010-09-14 21:54:18


Bloody marvellous!
Bip
Bip
2010-09-14 21:57:59


Fantastic post CR. A great inspiration and a real reminder to the true worth of altruistic graphic design.
Adam
2010-09-15 02:05:20


Fascinating to see the image housing Priba logo, particularly as ‘it's a trend that appears to be gaining more and more traction with identity designers and their clients’.
http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2010/february/mtv-refreshes-logo
MLA
2010-09-15 11:36:28


" and many that are as fresh today as they were when they were originally created. Logos for BAA, The British Medical Association, John Lewis and Morphy Richards, to name but a few, feature in a freshly launched online archive of Lloyd's work..."

This is so true. John Lloyd is a legend in my eyes... he's my inspiration as a young graphic designer.
Stylo Graphic
2010-09-17 17:20:29


"If you want to use graphic design as a fine art medium, that's fine, but I have always believed that a graphic designer working in the real world should express his client's personality and messages, not his own."

If only all graphic designers would take THAT on board, there would be a lot more happy clients. John and Jim were never design prima donnas and John's professional modesty comes through in this interview.

I am surprised to see that the Enterprise Neptune ID is not here as I think it's just THE best. (http://johnlloyd.uk.com/ln_sub_content.php?ident=Enterprise%20Neptune&imgid=4&main=2&chp=1)

I am fortunate to have worked with John many years ago and to still have him as a friend. With a body of work behind me like this, I'd die a happy designer!
Roger Fuller
2010-10-08 21:54:10


Impressive. This man has handled a lot of high profile clients.
Karen Cayamanda
2010-10-14 08:30:40


Tell us what you think

What happens with my feedback?

We no longer require you to register and have a password in order to comment, simply fill in the form below. All comments are moderated so you may experience a short delay before your comment appears. CR encourages comments to be short and to the point. As a general rule, they should not run longer than the original post. Comments should show a courteous regard for the presence of other voices in the discussion. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments that do not adhere to this standard.

Get the RSS Feed
NULL