Bluemarlin’s London and Bath studios recently ventured out to the sleepy town of Bruton to view Jenny Holzer’s exhibition, Softer Targets at Hauser & Wirth Somerset. Showcasing both new work and a selection of significant pieces drawn from over three decades of the American artist’s career, the show takes its name from its headline artwork that features enlarged redacted texts from a classified 2004 Federal Bureau of Investigation report entitled The Terrorist Threat to the US Homeland: An FBI Assessment. On page 26 there is only a single surviving line, which is “ Shifting from Softer Targets.”

As designers, it’s easy to get caught up in the visual as in our craft we deal with imagery, texture, colour, etc., but Holzer’s work reminds us of the powerful and profound effect of using language as art to express complex ideas and emotions that are often difficult to articulate.

Hauser & Wirth Somerset is a truly spectacular art destination. Comprised of an ensemble of renovated buildings that were once the Durslade Farm, it boasts five gallery rooms, a cloister courtyard, a mouthwatering restaurant (we highly recommend the Roth Bar & Grill), a bookshop, and a breathtaking garden. This environment successfully brings together the historic with the contemporary, the rustic with the cosmopolitan, creating a conducive atmosphere for awestruck inspiration.

Take the Time: Visit Hauser & Wirth Somerset

Jenny Holzer’s Soft Targets ends on 1 November 2015

img_3194_720Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 16.12.17

After a rigorous 11-year Save Dreamland campaign and £18 million later, the seaside park in Kent was restored to its former glory and reopened in June 2015 for a new generation to experience its magic. The retro park had previously been closed and remained empty and decrepit. Bluemarlin recently paid a visit to Dreamland and we can say that the re-imaged park lives up to its name!

The rebranding of the park can best be described as ‘old fashioned, yet oh-so-fashionable’ and we absolutely LOVE it: it feels like you’re having a pastel coloured dream that takes you on a journey from the roaring 20s to the edgy 80s. Besides being retro-chic, the park holds a certain wittiness to it with sayings written on the lockers like, “Scream if you wanna go faster” and “Kiss me quick”.

With each ride comes a new wave of nostalgia and each is themed to the decade in which it originated. Dodgems gained popularity in the late 1970s so in turn, famous singers like David Bowie and Madonna are plastered on the front of the Dream Dodgems. Rock and Roll music blasts as you crash your neon cars into your fellow park goers.

This eclectic amusement park has brought visitors from all over the UK to Margate and has given it a breath of fresh air that it so desperately needed. The clever branding is key to keeping the park from appearing cheesy and will bring the money Margate needs to return to its past self. Dreamland will host a Halloween event in October called ‘Screamland’ and more expansive design work is planned.

We are so jealous that Hemingway Design created the ‘charmingly cheeky’ design of Dreamland Margate with the help of local artists. What a dream it must’ve been to work on this project!

maxresdefaultListerine has created a mobile app that uses augmented reality and facial recognition technology to help blind people know when someone is smiling at them. The emotional effect of this app is evident in the short film below, directed by Lucy Walker.

Shifting away from the familiar mouthwash territory of leveraging the importance oral health, Listerine is connecting with consumers at their emotional core, helping them recognise and appreciate the power of a smile.

In addition to pulling our heartstrings, this brand building campaign from Listerine highlights the small, quotidian ways brands can create real change and make a big difference. Every brand has this power. Whether it is a personal care brand celebrating Real Beauty or a soft drink brand encouraging us to Open Happiness, every brand has a true north purpose in the world.

Listerine has clearly found theirs.


Apothecary inspired design ignites nostalgia whilst also providing an aesthetically pleasing way for brands to communicate and highlight key benefits of their products. Using medicinal motifs, elegant flourishes and hand-drawn illustrations, apothecary styling successfully blends science with beauty. The “prescribed” look and feel conveys a level of premiumness along with a powerful sense of authority.

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These days more than ever, consumers want to know exactly what they are putting into their bodies. Actually, it goes beyond that. From food to alcohol to personal care to cleaning products, consumers want detailed knowledge about ingredients and benefits. That’s what makes the apothecary trend is so appealing across several categories.

Construction workers discovered a metal shoe like box at a site near Kingussie in the Cairngorms, Scotland. Inside they found a newspaper from 1894, a paper scroll and a whiskey bottle – still full.


It has not been confirmed whether this is a branded whiskey or a personal bottle, and taste tests of the 121-year-old spirit have yet to be conducted.



All jokes aside, this is a pretty amazing discovery. What we found particularly interesting is how the structure of this whiskey bottle oddly resembles the iconic Absolut bottle. Time has passed and the world has advanced in so many ways, but regardless of the seemingly endless push for innovation, this structure has remained key for packaging and experiencing spirits.


From a branding point of view, it begs the questions – what makes this structure so iconic? Is this structure something that we are simply used to and expect or does it appeal to us on a deeper, subconscious level? And how do we do it again? How do we capture the essence of iconic?

Almost every brand out there wants to achieve iconic status, but at the end of the day, there is no exacting science or philosophy to follow. Becoming an iconic brand is not a formulaic process, but rather the result of an inspired, magic moment with several factors dovetailing together – a fantastic product that people love, packaging that is striking and functional, and a meaningful message that resonates. To bring these forces together takes smarts, guts, inspiration and a little touch of magic.


All the findings from the time-capsule been donated to the Highland Folk Museum in Newton.

Courtesy The New Yorker.

The World Beer Awards wasn’t exactly what I expected. A celebration of the very best internationally recognized beer styles, the annual taste event selects, awards and promotes the ‘World’s Best Beers’ to consumers and the trade.

While the competition primarily focuses on taste, the brands are also judged on their label design. I had the privilege to serve on the panel for this category last Wednesday.

Coming from the design world (and being a keen beer lover), it was a real thrill to see and taste a wide range of leading and challenger beer brands from around the globe. As each region takes a unique and different approach to expressing its identity, it was an excellent source of inspiration. While the event clearly targets and attracts brewery companies who want to put their products’ taste to the test, I think there’s a missed opportunity here in putting more focus on recognising branding and design as a powerful asset in building a successful beer brand, especially when in competition to find the World’s Best.

While there were definitely star brands with truly inspired and category-breaking visual identities, there was also a sea of sameness. Regrettably, this was particularly true in regards to British brands.

While our traditions anchor us to who were are, the refusal to evolve could leave us dusty and antiquated. Last week, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) reported that 29 pubs a week are closing across the UK. This should serve as a warning. If British beer brands want to not only survive, but thrive, they are going to need to start working a bit harder to generate some excitement and movement in the beer category.

However, all is not lost. The British are nothing if not resilient, especially when it comes to lager and ale. But the first thing we need to do is to recognise the design trends that are driving the market. Below are three key directions that are gaining momentum within the category.

Courtesy of Vinepair

Beer acting like Wine

There’s a global shift towards larger 75ml bottles, made for sharing and pairing with food. This is reflected in the design with simple, understated visual cues that offer a more sophisticated note than traditional beer bottles.

First World Problems Stewart Brewing, Eastern Scotland
            First World Problems, Stewart Brewing, Eastern Scotland

A Break from the Beer Badge

There’s a noticeable break from beer brand “badge” – usually a circular holding shape smack centre on the front of the bottle. Instead, brands are employing the entire surface area of the bottle as a canvas for the visual brand expression as opposed to keeping within category conventions. For example, some brands were using medieval paintings in their eclectic designs while others used large abstract typography to illustrate their brand personality.

Brewery vs. Product

As breweries continue to innovate with exciting processes and flavours to create specialty craft beers, the product is being illuminated as the focus of attention rather than the brewery itself. Each unique beer becomes king in its own right as the brewery takes a back seat, allowing the beer to sell itself.

At the World Beer Awards, I saw some fantastic design work coming out from all over the world, with Canada and Japan in particular. Overall, the most exciting brands were the ones that owned their own aesthetic identity and enabled the bottle to reflect the vibrant and notable tastes inside. There are a few British brands that are succeeding in this way, such as Brewdog, Camden Town Brewery and BBNo (Brew By Numbers). But there is ample opportunity here for British beers to raise the bar and create impact on a global scale, leading the way in effective and engaging beer design.

About the Author:

  Hamish Shand

Associate Creative Director

A highly talented creative with a passion for brand world thinking, activation, and making our clients dream, Hamish has won several awards for his creativity across corporate, broadcasting and FMCG brands. Recent awards include a D&AD InBook award for his work on a super premium beer brand.

This week the official logo for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was unveiled. Designed by graphic artist Kenjiro Sano, the logo is a celebration of Japanese culture and a symbol of togetherness. As a symbol of the most significant global event in the calendar, the design has quickly garnered attention and sparked debate in the design community. tokyo olympics 2020

For our part, we’re advocates and believe it is a strong, clean identity that succeeds as an emblematic celebration for both the Olympics and Japan. The design makes powerful use of the red circle making connections to the rising sun on Japan’s flag, the Olympic rings, and the world. The negative space elegantly transforms when used in the Paralympics logo into an equal sign, the universal symbol of acceptance. It would have been easy to overcook the red circle idea, but here it feels fresh. It is cleverly incorporated into the design to create the serifs and the holding shape of the T, further reinforcing the Team, Tomorrow, Tokyo idea. The red circle also has a sensory effect, alluding to the sound of the O’s in Tokyo.

tokyo olympic logos

The logo plays to a fine art sensibility, using abstract and minimalistic techniques that reflect a Japanese aesthetic. The design also harkens back to Tokyo’s 1964 Olympic logo, offering a small homage to tradition while being forward-facing. The logo also comes equipped with an animation, which breathes life into all of the elements of the seemingly static mark.

While critics feel the logo is too corporate and perhaps inaccessible to the general public, we see its dignified simplicity as a success. It builds a bridge between tradition and innovation, a fusion between East and West. Plus it’s a sophisticated shift change from the colourfully exuberant logos we’ve had in the past few Olympics years.

olympic logos

Seeing as how 2020 is five years away, we imagine a little controversy and debate to keep our eyes on Tokyo has been welcomed. What do you think of the new logo? Comment below or tweet us your thoughts @bluemarlin.


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