One Year at AVB Brand – Craig Norwood


Four years ago I discovered graphic design. Until then I didn't know what it was, or how it was used. This form of visual communication soon fascinated me. All it took was one week of work experience at school and I decided; this is what I want to do.

On Monday 3rd August 2015 I turned up to the new studio on Hill Street to start my placement year.

I'm only the second placement student at AVB Brand and I didn't know what to expect. I had been thinking for weeks what my placement might entail, what work I'd be doing, could I do it?

My first morning was getting set up and introduced to how everything worked from saving files on the server to timesheets. I was then given an introduction to how Brand operates, clients they've worked for, how they work and this helped me figure things out. I was mocking up stationery by the end of the day, and by the end of the week I had set up my first brand guidelines document. It was certainly a relief to realise; I could do it.

I was introduced to the Brand way of working. I've definitely got more in line with the process, and adopted their methodology when working. It's very easy to jump straight on the computer and start designing but it's better if you have an idea and some rationale to begin with. It got me to think differently.

I've learnt so much during the year, so here are some key lessons:

Brand is more than just a logo
It was important to focus on other graphic elements, typography, colour, photography – all important parts of a brand that support a logo. One project I realised this was for Blue Horizon, a local property development company set up in 2014, decided on a rebrand and a new website. The name of the company itself and its obvious connotations made it difficult to do anything drastic and the logo was mainly designed for legibility and level of impact. But it was important that everything else was being designed instead of getting hung up on the logo – they asked for a brand, not a mark. A logo is a key communicator for a brand, but not the brand.

The importance of ideas
From sketchbook to big campaign. A single idea can end up becoming the real thing. The new Hughes Insurance logo started out as a simple idea. Hughes positioning was to stand for “all encompassing" and looking after things and so, combining the I of Insurance with the negative space of H for Hughes. It was developed into what is seen today.

Teamwork is as important as ideas in this project, as in any project, to build a better brand. An additional element was added, the speech mark which then becomes the main graphic device housing the icons and key information. All these little ideas from everyone added up and it just wouldn't have been as good if everyone wasn't involved. It's even more satisfying completing a project, especially like this, and to be so part of the team. The brand was created and then handed over to the studio at AV Browne to be turned into a campaign, consisting of TV adverts, press adverts, billboards, signage, posters and so much more. To see a brand come to life, was really interesting.

Working globally

The biggest project I worked on throughout my time on placement was Kerry Group.

A global company with 25,000+ employees, they've been working with McCannBlue, our Dublin-based sister office, for over a year. I was made familiar with the new brand, creating diagrams, mocking up brand application materials and starting work on a suite of almost 140 icons – these were soon being used throughout the new brand materials.

In some instances there were double figures of revisions, or the requirement to work on a PowerPoint template for a week, or the need to trawl stock photography sites for even longer. But looking at the bigger picture, I got to do work that is output to a global audience. There wasn't just a 'brand' guidelines created there was an environmental guidelines for how spaces should be used, what colours, graphics and materials should be applied for branding physical space. This was all new to me, but it has been a fantastic opportunity to grow in my design skills.

Overall, I surpassed myself with my development both personally and professionally, enjoying every moment of placement at AVB Brand. My time working in branding has given me direction for my future, and fuelled my passion for the subject.