The identity and campaign for this year’s D&AD New Blood scheme was designed by The Office of Craig Oldham. Infographic-themed visuals include a wheel of muses, large-scale flow charts and supersized celebratory banners…
This year is the first that D&AD has grouped its annual Graduate Academy, Student Awards and New Blood Exhibition under one New Blood programme. The identity was applied to newsletters, banner ads and posters as well as the New Blood website, with various flow charts and diagrams explaining what the programme is and why creatives should enter.
The New Blood exhibition at London’s Spitalfields Market last week featured large-scale wall graphics, acrostics and wayfinding and at the New Blood Awards ceremony, categories and awards were introduced with a series of idents featuring theme tunes from popular game shows:
As creative director Craig Oldham explains, the branding was designed to clarify New Blood’s new structure, the introduction of white and black pencils for students, and the opening up of the scheme to recent graduates and under 25s in the industry – as well as explain the various opportunities New Blood offers to young creatives.
“There was a hell of a lot to clarify. It was obvious we needed a really simple and versatile aesthetic, something to facilitate rather than just one lead idea permutated out. Otherwise, it was in danger of communicating everything and nothing at the same time,” he says.
“Once we’d got the main content plotted out, we realised just how massive the whole thing was, which was when we started to get excited about it – I think at the back of our minds we wanted to create the world’s biggest flow-chart. The whole point of a flow diagram is that you can use it to illustrate anything. You can diverge, and branch off. There are no limits to what you can do with it, which is as much of a curse as it is blessing,” he adds.
The campaign also featured some amusing copywriting by co-creative director John Goddard, with irreverent jokes and an informal tone throughout. Oldham says this was key to making the programme feel fun, accessible and engaging.
“We had to reconnect with students, graduates, and young creatives again, as we felt that everything was becoming a bit too slick, corporate and, well, professional,” says Oldham. “In creating a relaxed, honest and empathic tone of voice we wanted to encourage rather than alienate—make it about enjoying the process of having a go, rather than winning being the all or nothing,” he explains.
Visuals use D&AD’s black, white and yellow colour palette, with boxes used to break up information “and leave pretty much no other alternative other than to read what we were saying,” says Oldham. Unusual additions at the New Blood exhibition included the ‘official D&AD New Blood Massive Exhibition Entrance Sign’ and a ‘Wheel of Muses’, with suggestions for creative inspiration such as ‘Phone a friend’ and ‘Just Google it.’
“Before we’d even installed it, passers-by were hurdling barriers and security guards to give it a spin. They broke it before the opening. Twice. Then on the private view, D&AD apparently received interest from a few agencies who wanted to buy it, and it was broken furthermore,” says Oldham.
“At the awards ceremony, we had six or so banners and flags with celebratory words like Whooo! and Yowser! on them…for reasons best known to themselves, people were trying to steal them or offering to buy them,” he adds.
Several students created their own takes on the theme, too, with one designing their own ‘Unofficial non-D&AD New Blood Little Exhition Sign’.
It’s a clever and versatile concept, with an impressive range of executions and a refreshingly light-hearted approach. Despite creating a flow chart-themed identity, however, Oldham isn’t much of a fan of data visualisation, and says the New Blood campaign also aims to poke a little fun at the subject.
“The rise of infographics…is as much to do with PowerPoint presentations, rolling-news and chartered accountancy: that corporate instinct to quantify, deconstruct and ultimately own things. For us, it was fun to subvert that, and put it into a world where it didn’t belong. Many people are obsessed with trying to classify and explain creativity – but you can’t,” he adds.