Constellation – Overview of my research proposal

What I want to do:

I intend to look into specific aspects of branding within Graphic Communication, specifically the effect of social media on a business, through branding. Branding is how a brand’s consumers, competitors, owner, employees and community view and perceive them as a company. It should communicate what, how and why you do what you do. It’s a brand identity. Social media is now an essential part of a company’s brand, along with logo, typefaces, artwork, promotional material, etc. I wanted to focus on social media’s effects on a brand, both positive and negative. I am particularly interested in the ethics of how larger brands use branding/marketing strategies like using “influencers” to promote their products – this can happen in both positive and negative ways. For example, a brand like Gymshark could approach a fitness Instagram influencer with 3 million followers, and say please promote my products for x amount of money. I don’t see a problem with this, the influencer loves the clothing so shares her outfit with her followers. However, an unhealthy dieting product company could approach the same influencer, and say please promote my product for x amount for money, and I think that this is wrong, as this is not what the influencer has used to “get fit”, and the product is unsustainable and unhealthy. Influencers’ audiences TRUST the influencers massively, which is why I think it’s so important that only products that the influencers actually use and actually think are a good thing to be advertising, that they should agree tot he partnerships or deals. I would like to explore this area further, and look into the in depth rules and regulations to do with social media “ads” and “brand partnerships”. I’m also interested in how social media pages can make a brand viral, by sharing the right images and content. I’d like to explore how brands target their ideal audience, and also how promotional services like “boosting your post” on Facebook or Instagram work in terms of algorithms and display audiences.

Why I want to do it:

I’m really interested in this field, as I find is so fascinating that if done correctly, you can grow a brand solely by using social media, which is essentially “free advertising”. I would love to have my own business one day, which focuses on creating a strong brand identity and popular social media pages for my clients’ businesses. I’m currently doing work experience in a branding and packaging company, which has inspired me to focus on branding more recently. In addition, a local restaurant to my hometown has become immensely popular over the last 2 years, and has gained nearly 20,000 followers on Instagram, and is always fully booked. This showed me that it can be done, if the content posted is perfect for the target audience.

How I will do it:

I will look at a large quantity of varied case studies (for example, small scale – my local restaurant HILLS, larger scale – fitness influencers like Meggan Grubb). I will also use MetSearch to find as many related books and articles that I can find to this subject. I’m conscious that this subject is very current, but am confident that there is plenty of information for me to absorb in order to complete my research proposal on this matter.

Potentially useful links/case studies:

Met Search of keywords:

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After typing in some keywords to MetSearch, I found that there were plenty of relevant articles and videos that I could use in terms of literature for my research proposal.

Sustainable Lifetimes #3


Last week, Huw asked us to create a presentation which outlined 3 household objects, and where they ended up in terms of recycling, waste and sustainability. See my presentation here.


This week, we focused on comparing the linear economy with the circular economy from the Ellen Macarthur website.

  • Linear economy = responds to a lifecycle of taking materials, making products and wasting them. (Fast consumption and is a fairly unsustainable resource.
  • Circular economy = much slower consumption.

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In groups, we each explored some different circular economy theories. Here are the summaries of each theory:

  • Cradle to Cradle: Sustainable business strategy that mimics the regenerative cycle of nature in which waste is reused. Like a food chain.
  • Performance economy – Four main goals: product-life extension, long-life goods, reconditioning activities, and waste prevention. Focuses on the importance of selling services, rather than products.
  • Biomimicry – Janine Benyus, author of Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, defines her approach as ‘a new discipline that studies nature’s best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems’.
  • Industrial Ecology – The study of material and energy flows through industrial systems.
  • Blue Economy – re-using the waste elements from the production process to matter elsewhere. Trying to use the oceans more sustainably, instead of exploiting in smaller pockets/areas.
  • Regenerative Design – Recycling materials and promoting reusability. Putting things back into the environment.

  • PLATE (Product Lifetimes And The Environment) = conference held in Berlin that discusses product lifetimes in the context of sustainability.
  • According to Edwin Datschefski and the United National University, we supposedly discard of 98% of our products within 6 months. Leads to obsolescence topics from Brook Stevens (industrial designer), who talks about two different reasons why we throw objects away at his advertising conference in Minneapolis in 1954:
    • Planned Obsolescence – The act of designing a product with a limited useful life, so that it becomes no longer functional after a relatively short period of time.
    • Perceived Obsolescence – The act of planning or designing a product with a limited useful life, so it will become unfashionable after a relatively short period of time.
  • Why throw away?
    • Obsolescence by failure.
    • Obsolescence by dissatisfaction.
    • Obsolescence by a change in consumer needs.
  • Obsolescence types:
    • Component Failure
    • Technical Obsolescence
    • Economic Obsolescences
    • Psychological Obsolescences


  • The 4 Modes Of Obsolescence:
    • Aesthetic – what is ‘in fashion’ now will soon be ‘out of fashion’ in years to come, it’s a constant changing cycle where new and old things come into play, and out again
    • Social – from time to time, people stop doing certain things, like hula-hooping, or smoking. Some of these obsolescences occur as a social response to a period of pressure for a change related to health or environmental awareness
    • Technological – this occurs when a functioning product is made obsolete when a newer product is released due to technological change (gramophones to iPods, typewriters to computers)
    • Economic – this commonly occurs when repair, maintenance, reuse or upgrading is too costly to incur, for example, upcycling an old sofa would be very costly to be done by manual laborers, or there is an availability of a cheaper alternative to purchasing brand new, so the sofa is left abandoned




Williams, H. (2019). ‘Sustainable Lifetimes Week 3‘ Lecture.

Ellen Macarthur Foundation. (2017). Schools of Thought. [website] Available at:

The Circular Design Guide. (2017). The Circular Design Guide. [website] Available at: [Accessed 14 October 2019].

PLATE. (2019). Plate 2019 Conference. [website] Available at: [Accessed 14 October 2019].

Stevens, B. (1954). InMiller, M. (1985). Which route for routers? (Vol.12 35) Network World. p.55. [Accessed 14 October 2019].


Sustainable Lifetimes #2

Sustainable Development = the ability to sustain, or the capacity to endure.

  • 1972 – Stockholm agreement (environmental, economic, social development).
  • 1987 – Brundtland report (defined as sustainable development that meets the needs…

Three key strands/pillars of sustainability:

  • Economy – local economy, increased jobs, paying tax, innovation, etc.
  • Society – laws, community, good working conditions, etc.
  • Environment – recycling, renewable energy, decreased waste, etc.

Each pillar has equal priority/status.

Hierarchy: Environmental >>> Society >>> Economy.

SATCHEL (1999): Five pillars of sustainable society;

  • Nature conservation.
  • Health and safety.
  • Decreased flows of resources.
  • Social ecology.
  • Cultural ecology.

NOW: UN’s 2030 agenda for sustainability development;

  • 17 goals / SDGs.
  • (expanded from 3 pillars, to 5 pillars, to 17 goals).

NOW: Welsh response to SDGs:

  • Globally responsible.
  • Cohesive communities.
  • Equity.
  • Prosperous.
  • Healthcare.
  • Welsh language.

ACTIVISM: Extinction Rebellion

  • Protesting – positive or negative?
  • – Over the top.
  • – They can annoy people.
  • – Rebellion.
  • – Aggressive/excessive/extreme measures over the actual message.
  • + Direct action.
  • + Using their voice.

ART & DESIGN: Responsible consumption & production (goal 17).

  • Overhaul of our linear take >> make >> waste patterns.
  • Needs to move away from this to a more constant cycle with no waste and more recycling/reusing.

Sustainable Lifetimes #1

This term, my study group is called Sustainable Lifetimes, run by Huw Williams for 7 weeks. We started the session by writing on a post it note, what sustainability means to us. As a group, we shared our results which included words/phrases like recycling, reusing, eco-friendly, bio-degradeable, multiple use items, reducing mass production etc. We then narrowed the phrases down to subject specific sustainability. All the graphic communication students grouped and came up with ideas such as using sustainable materials, designing for sustainable campaigns, reducing waste, influencing people to become more sustainable etc.

There are three main aspects of sustainability: Using sustainable materials, producing less waste, and reusing more energy. By limiting consumption rates, nations can develop for the future in terms of healthcare, nature, etc. This creates a balance (equity). Intensive consumerism is unsustainable because there are limited sources/sinks of space, oil, food, water, forest, etc. Slower consumption is sustainable, but means less profit for businesses, which is why it’s not widely practiced.



The Rise of Un-sustainability:


  • + Sustainable.
  • + Little un-sustainable waste.
  • – No social mobility.
  • – Less opportunities.
  • – No education or healthcare.
  • People only needed the basics (food, water, etc).
  • Local scale produce.
  • Hard physical work (no machines).
  • No intensive industrialisation.
  • Agrarian economy.
  • Renewable resources.


  • Scientific Revolution >>> no longer reliant on religion.
  • Isaac Newton discovered the laws of gravity and motion (1687).
  • Problem solving developed.


  • “Free market economy”, the market determined the economy.
  • Laws of self interest (money), and competition by Adam Smith.
  • These were the building blocks for a capitalist economy.


  • Capital goods emerged (cars, engines, machines, etc).
  • Hand craft >>> Industrial produce.
  • Cottage produce >>> factories.
  • Rural >>> urban.
  • Renewable >>> steam & coal.


  • Introduction of electricity.
  • Increased volume of goods sold = unit price dropped (bulk selling).
  • Produce increase = selling increase = price for consumers decreased.
  • Henry Ford released the first car.


  • Mass production >>> increased wealth >>> saturated market.


  • After 1945, the USA’s dependence increased as consumption increased = wealthier economy.
  • USA increased its mass production levels.
  • Middle income markets = saturated.


  • Dynamic economy = middle class were wealthier so had cars, homes and appliances.
  • Economy = boosted.
  • Increased job opportunities.
  • Buying unnecessary goods >>> fuel economy increased.


  • “Conspicuous consumption”.
  • Buying for want, not need.
  • Buying for status/reputation.
  • Impressing others buy buying stuff.


  • Companies persuade consumers to buy their products by emotional security, love objects, ego gratification, immorality, reassurance of worth, creative outlets, sense of power and roots.


  • Ecological movement; technology progressivism (bigger = better!)
  • Planned obsolesce = deliberately breaking items >>> increased consumption.


  • Green >>> Eco >>> Sustainable.
  • Depths of engagement with environmental issues.


  • Campaigning organisations (eg, Greenpeace).
  • Green = ethical/eco issues.
  • Deep green = all life issues.
  • Pale green = human centred.
  • – Animal testing.
  • + Made business sense.
  • Minimal compliance.
  • Marketing opportunity.
  • “Business as usual”.
  • Cheap.
  • Minimal disruption.


  • Packaging.
  • Only use what you need.
  • Refill.
  • Reuse.
  • Materials (biopolymers, natural cotton, recycled paper).
  • Recycling labelling.
  • Energy efficient lightbulbs.
  • Lorry design.
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