Case Study: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

Over a decade of brilliant creativity for the world's favourite broadcaster

The BBC is a long standing client of Firedog's since 2005. We have delivered brand and digital creativity through our membership of the BBC's digital roster.

We have assisted the BBC in key projects providing strategic, branding, vision and digital services.

Firedog is a supplier on the BBC digital services roster. We have worked with most departments, with a particularly large portion of our work being commissioned for the Radio, Music, Education and Learning divisions. Have a look at some of the key case studies below.

Pastiche : The concept which won the pitch was formed by combining portraits of the presenters with found objects. Inducing an individual and often comedic result.
Individual : Whilst the look and feel consistantly represented the overall 6music branding, each show page carried its own spirit and message through the careful selection of graphic bric-a-brac.

6music visual identity

Following a two stage creative pitch, BBC Radio 6 Music contracted Firedog in to work collaboratively with the interactive team to re-design and re-fresh the look and feel of the 30 individual online presenter show pages on bbc.co.uk/6music. The brief was to create new visual assets to reinforce and communicate each of the show personalities and brand values – developing stimulating, presenter relevant, creative header and footer assets to top and tail the show page content. The new brand toolkit needed to consist of a visual design system to complement the existing 6 Music brand assets, but convey the breadth and depth of the music played on 6 Music and the individual flavours of the shows.

Firedog decided the most authentic creative result would come from using image assets directly from the presenters themselves.

We provided a consistent design concept that could be maintained across the suite of shows, that could also be suitably adapted to represent the individual presenters. Firedog developed a short questionnaire for the presenters – in order to gain an insight into the show themes, unique traits, representative abstract objects, mood, listener personalities and visual stimuli. Findings were used to direct the image selection for each presenter. Firedog decided the most authentic creative result would come from using image assets directly from the presenters themselves. Jarvis Cocker, for example, sent us a favourite book ‘English Cheeses of the North’. The supporting images were then integrated with the concept visual look and feel, BBC 6 Music brand assets, presenter shots, font styles, a community illustration (to represent the listeners) and dynamic light waves – the result being highly creative, stimulating visuals with a true reflection of the 6 Music show family of radio personalities.

Conceptual thinking : All our ideas worked off the belief that whilst the 6music listeners varied their tastes in genres, they could all be seen to be independent thinkers.
Show branding : The show names are locked up into panels falling within the show graphics - Keeping vital information on a legible background.

The project was undertaken at a very difficult time in the channels history – At a period where it was looking to be cut along with a host of other stations and initiatives. Thankfully, there was a large uproar from the greater 6music community. As the creative launched at the same time, it neatly dove-tailed into feeding the flames of resistance – Via generating a great deal of interest and discussion online.

Blast identity

BBC Blast is a creative forum that aims to inspire and motivate young people in the UK to realise their talents in art, dance, film, music and writing. The initial Blast brand was a 3-year pilot that had achieved sufficient interest and support within the BBC for it to become a mainstream BBC Learning and Education brand. The primary focus of the initiative is ‘Blast on Tour’ which is taking to the road this summer with a mobile creative studio offering digital media and creative experiences to young people. It’s more than a truck – think dream mobile workshop space crossed with a fully equipped media production studio.

Firedog was awarded the contract to create the Blast brand for the BBC after a five-way creative pitch. The challenge with BBC Blast was that it was essentially a brand that had evolved over a three year period and had, to the point when we started working on it, been controlled by the Blast youth panel. We felt that it would be dangerous for a London branding consultancy to descend upon the brand and reinvent everything according to their own house style.

Engagement : The target audience engaged both in workshops and learning environments and also utilised the supporting online creative social network.
On the road : A powerful application for the brand was a set of articulated trucks which toured the UK for a period of eight months, designed to bring creativity to the far reaches of the community.

A brand that could not only adapt to anyone’s sense of style, but also change with the times

Our research indicated that young people are very much into personalising their experiences and are becoming resistant to demographic profiling that places them into a particular youth segment. From these strategic pointers, we realised that we would need to develop a brand that could not only adapt to anyone’s sense of style, but also change with the times – as to maintain its street credibility. We developed a “perimeter” illustration around the core brand, which will be able to be customised at will by the audience. The teens are able to download a spacing template from the Blast site and literally create their own brand experience. Whilst this strategy raises obvious challenges for the Blast team, we believe that its real power lies in the future potential of the brand evolution process.

Messaging : We created all the brand messaging. The strapline encourages young people to have the confidence to turn their skills in producing creativity for real, as opposed to just a vision.
Blast assets : We created a number of branded illustrations, a punk inspired typographic feel and a harmonious suite of graphic devices.
Dynamic look and feel : The brand graphic devices were created with an exceptionally freestyle framework. This generated a dynamic visual identity which did not look tired or dull.

The Blast brand became a leading beacon for engaging with young creative youth around the UK.

The Blast brand became a leading beacon for engaging with young creative youth around the UK. The brand subsequently extended from an online environment onto the television medium with a number of hosted creative festivals. Firedog needed to be responsible for the full brand creation remit, which extended to the following elements: Brand strategy / Key messages / Testing / Visual brand identity development / Brand guideline bible / Truck branding (including interior graphics) / Print, merchandising & promotional / Online brand (for interim & full launch website) / Motion graphics for TV, big screens and online / Mobile brand guidelines.

Max and Lara’s adventure book

As part of the Parent Phase of the RaW initiative, the brief was to create a pack that would inspire and motivate non-reading parents to engage in storytelling, reading and writing with their children.

The pack required a populist, entertainment approach, with highly visual content, and full of creative ideas and activities for parents and children to do together. This was to be underpinned by a strong educational pedagogy to support the adult literacy objectives of the campaign. The ultimate goal was to create a fun and interactive experience that would give parents more confidence with storytelling and the written word, and enjoy getting involved with learning alongside their children. The pack is to be distributed for free via a television campaign, and through libraries and other RaW centres throughout the UK.

Finely illustrated : The characters and story were sketched up loosely before being digitally illustrated and formed.
A wonderful world of weirdness : The concept of space circus allowed us to create a myriad of weird characters - Such as Kooloo the space hamster.

Firedog created a concept set in the fantastical world of ‘Max and Lara’s Amazing Travelling Space Circus,’ and developed a fully illustrated 44 page storytelling activity book. The story portrays the adventures of two young siblings, Max and Lara, as they unexpectedly land on a strange orange planet. They discover and befriend some strange creatures, and overcome a dangerous plot by the evil General R T Facts that threatens to destroy the space circus. The book is full of interesting and humorous characters, and combines a highly imaginative narrative with full page illustrations to engage readers with the story. Aimed at the parent’s children, aged 3 – 10, it is they who become the protagonists for their parent’s learning.

The book printed with a run of 750,000 copies.

‘Give it a go’ activities are woven into the plot and are designed as fun exercises for the parent and child to do together. As a reward, stickers can be collected for each completed activity to build up a colourful picture of the space scene on a large wall poster that accompanies the book. Developed in partnership with education consultants from London South Bank University, a framework of over 20 educational exercises established a firm foundation for the fun activities intertwined with story. In addition, Firedog produced marketing collateral to support the release of the Parent Pack, to boost uptake by advertising the publication through posters and postcards distributed nationwide.

The book printed with a run of 750,000 copies and was released a further three times before being extended across an additional range of short story formats.

Hinting : This editorial device allowed the audience to fully engage with the stories little challenges.
Key characters : Max and Lara are a representation of adventurous young people and their ability to approach challenges with an open mind.
Typographic style : A relatively tight family of typefaces and a layout grid held the chaotic content together.

Masher identity

Masher’s technology allows users to create quick & easy video mashups on the fly within Masher’s website. We were tasked with creating an engaging online brand identity aimed to appeal to Masher’s core audience (12-18 year olds). Firedog also delivered visual positioning, messaging and logotype.

We created a whole raft of logotypes all with very specific visual identities. As the market is typically viewed as disaffected and brand cynical, it was important that the graphical tone was correct and not too cheesy.

Brand icon : The Masher identity is inspired by the notion of dicing and slicing content - Hence the wordmark has been cut into numerous parts, a graphic representation of this idea.
Interface concept : We also advised on the design of the software interface, creating a unique yet functional feel.

The final logotype selected uses the principals of slashed up typography to convey the mashing process

The final logotype selected uses the principals of slashed up typography to convey the mashing process that the user might go through. Splicing, hacking and shredding through still images, video, effects and typography in a very fast spontaneous fashion is the given with this brand, so the mark needed to reflect this somewhat chaotic working environment. Mashing is the process of creating unique clips from existing footage, soundtracks and digital still images. Once the audio and visual content is mashed into place (using BBC’s Masher interface), the user can distribute the mashup clip via their mobiles or social networking sites. This makes it really easy for users to create quick, tactical little clips to send to their friends for birthdays and other occasions.

After a consortium of private investors acquired the platform from BBC worldwide in 2008, the business has won a first round investment of £550 K and has won 2009’s Digital Ad Campaign of the year.

Headroom Identity

Firedog was asked to originate the brand identity and a look and feel for Headroom, a new campaign for engaging the public with issues of mental health and well-being. The project required a complete set of guidelines for the BBC’s internal design team to roll out the brand to both on and offline environments within the BBC.

Look and feel : A person sits within a typical british landscape, the graphics indicating all the issues that may trouble the modern mind.
Ambient media : The unique and simple graphic language ensures standout amongst an often frenetic marketing environment.

 The look and feel used photography of people, carefully shot and post produced to evoke a contemplative mood and sense of empathy.

Firedog conducted a visual orientation exercise using mood-boards to work collaboratively with the BBC team. This evolved into a strong editorial and visual style for the campaign, built around the strap line, ‘Unwind Your Mind.’ The look and feel used photography of people, carefully shot and post produced to evoke a contemplative mood and sense of empathy. This was combined with thought provoking words floating away from the subject’s head, with contrasting typography to convey conflicts of thought. The overall concept was to enable people to project their own ideas and emotions onto the brand look and feel.

Firedog developed detailed guidelines for the brand, including the use of the logo across different platforms, and the application of the brand to print and the Headroom website. These included tools for the BBC design team to create their own visual communication collateral, including how to post produce imagery with the new brand look and feel treatment.

Brand mark : The headroom brand is rendered in a semi formal cut serif italic, which is accessible yet somewhat respected.
Imagery : We allowed for a suite of imagery to support the brand communications.

WORDS: firedog