The Church of London has created a brand book for Microsoft and ex-Nokia employees to mark Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services business. As well as some archive photography, it features an intricate embossed cover and original illustrations throughout…
The much talked-about deal was completed last month. The Church of London was asked to create a book outlining shared values and a vision for the future for the new Microsoft Devices Group, and has created a colourful publication that uses illustrations and icons instead of dull corpoate imagery.
“When companies join together, it can be quite stressful,” says creative director Timba Smits, who designed the book with CR’s art director, Paul Pensom. “[The idea was] to give employees a keepsake to mark the first day of the new business, and they wanted it to be something the staff could keep and use,” he says.
The book is divided into three sections: A History of Firsts charts Nokia and Microsoft’s early days and historical achievements, What Drives Us outlines their ideals and principles and Unlimited Possibilities is an illustrated notebook, designed to allow employees to ‘write the future’ of the new company.
The third chapter also include some interesting Nokia and Microsoft trivia – such as the fact that on the anniversary of their employment, Microsoft staff often bring a pound of M&Ms to work for each year of service, and that Microsoft 95’s start-up sound was composed by Brian Eno.
Each section opens with an illustrated spread featuring a range of computer related icons, which appear throughout the book and on its cover. Both the icons and the cover design have a slightly Art Deco feel, but feature imagery of computers, controllers and consoles.
“One of the first things we thought about when designing the book was ‘how can we make this so it doesn’t feel too corporate?” says Smits.
“We worked with an amazing printer in Michigan [Thomson-Shore], which has been printing bibles and encyclopedias for almost a century. As this was like a brand encyclopedia, we wanted it to have the same feeling of craft but with a modern twist,” he says.
Special projects editor D’Arcy Doran adds: “From a distance, it looks like something that could have been made fifty or sixty years ago or more but up close, you can see the gold detailing [a reference to computer chips] and modern tech iconography. The image of shaking hands on the cover also represents the idea of the merger,” he says.
The book’s opening section features an image of the original Microsoft team, Nokia’s original headquarters and a 1987 photo of Mikhail Gorbachev using Nokia’s first mobile (later nicknamed The Gorba), but photography has been kept to a minimum. Instead, TOC commissioned a number of illustrators including Eliot Wyatt, Eleanor Taylor and Paul Blow to create original artworks.
“We were sent a lot of images from the archives, but they were really poor quality – a lot of them were taken on disposable cameras in the nineties. It would have looked a mess if we used them, so illustration was a way to bring everything together,” explains Smits.
One of the most challenging aspects of the project, says Doran, was working with various teams around the world and designing to a near-impossible deadline. “[They] came to us just before Christmas, and wanted it to be written, design, printed and shipped to 53 countries in a month and a half, which threw up some interesting challenges,” says Doran.
The studio was also asked to use Microsoft’s brand colours and fonts when designing the book but says otherwise, the brief was fairly open. The book has since been made into a poster campaign, printed in seven languages, and an animated video that was broadcast online.
“It was a really ambitious internal communications project, but it was interesting working with the two companies and finding a way to combine their individual pasts and what drives them forward…We didn’t want to focus on the company’s products but rather, how they’ve tried to change the world,” adds Doran.
This story has been amended to clarify the fact that Microsoft acquired Nokia’s devices and services business only. The two companies have not merged and Nokia remains a separate company