FMP: Visual language developments

After my tutorial with David and my peers on Monday, and carrying out some more in depth research surrounding my project, I have decided to develop the visual language.

Current visual language:

This visual language is too soft, caring, feminine and motherly. David and my peers suggested that I made some changes to the colour pink used within the visual language to be a more powerful, harsher pink. I also decided to alter the character “Anti Pat” to be less personalised, and more ambiguous. Finally, I altered the script style typeface to be less soft and rounded, and more professional and strong. Overall, the branding needed to look more powerful and less caring. This is the result:

I also introduced a bright, contrasting yellow colour which I think works really well. The yellow colour is a lightning bolt shape which symbolises power, strength and destruction – which is exactly the message I am trying to convey. I have decided that the style of my project is not a stereotypical feminist “we are women, we are strong” protest, but more of a “straight to the point” problem solving mechanism.

I need to think of a tagline for the brand which conveys the message of “equalising unnecessary female expenditure”, but needs to be a bit more snappy and memorable – as it’s a bit of a tongue twister at the moment!!!

Afterlife: Common Curiosity

This weeks Afterlife session lead by multi-disciplinary company Common Curiosity with owners Paul Felton and Alex Woolley. They’re a two person studio based in both the Birmingham Custard Factory and the London De Beauvoir Block. Although they only formed their company in 2017, they’ve already worked with some massive brands such as Royal Mail, Google, Sculpt and The Crowd. Having a minimal team of two people helps them keep in touch with the clients regularly, and helps to build really strong relationships as nothing is lost in translation. They showed their six tips which they applied to their own case studies for the brands they’ve worked with, which was super insightful:

Tip 1 – Give it meaning.

Paul said that it’s essential to stand out from the crowd “the pretty things just because they’re pretty”. Adding meaning to work makes it stand out more, and also makes it more memorable. Substance over style every day. It tells a story rather than just a photo. The case study Paul chose to show for this tip was their work for Kilder Craft Beer. They branded a new bar in Digbeth, Birmingham with a completely one-off name and location – when working with new brands it’s so important to find their unique selling point, something that makes them different than their competitors. For Kilder Craft Beet it was definitely the name and location. The visual language was created with the location, environment and product in mind and has been stretched across all means of communication such as typefaces and stationery products.

Kilder Craft Beer Bar

Tip 2 – Be curious.

Paul highlighted that it’s sometimes really hard to find inspiration, especially when we’re working from home and not in our usual habitat of a design studio. The best way to find inspiration, is to work to find it – do the necessary research and work hard, and the inspiration will find its way to you. Paul highlighted the quote “inspiration will find you hard at work” which I think is such a lovely quote! I can definitely relate to this. The case study they related to this tip was for Royal Mail where they created a stamp book to celebrate 100 years of the RAF. They started their research by visiting RAF Costford and absorbed everything they could about the knowledge and history of the location, and noticed how the rivets of the planes visually linked with the edges of a stamp. By applying this knowledge through in depth research they came up with a beautiful visual identity system which backs up just how beneficial extensive research like this can be.

RAF Costford

Tip 3 – The brain is mightier than the Apple.

The importance and benefits of starting to come up with initial ideas on paper – this helps to visualise and get out ideas in the purest form rather than worrying about whether it works from a software point of view. The case study they showed for this tip was for Sculpt, an interior design and architecture workshop based in Birmingham. The business said that they design “the space within” the four walls which Paul thought was a lovely touch and a great starting point. The S shape they created for this was adaptable for every context – it was constantly evolving to whatever orientation it needed.

Sculpt

Tip 4 – Question everything.

When getting a new brief, in uni or in freelance or industry, you should completely dissect the brief as ask yourself “is what I’m being asked to do the correct thing, is this what I should do?” multiple times throughout the project! Learn to challenge the conventions of what’s expected. They linked this tip to a case study of their work for D&B books, a small independent publisher who’s brief stated they wanted to showcase the book cover design that didn’t make the cut – displaying 25 designer book covers and for each, 4 rejected designs. Paul said that at the early stages of this project they had to churn out all the ‘bad’ ideas to get to where they are now, and although it felt like they were failing at the time, they were actually making massive progress, via the process of elimination. From this experimentation they created the visual system of the x’s which helped to form the navigational system, one that didn’t take away from the work itself.

D&B Books

Tip 5 – Work with words.

Paul then went on to talk about when working on a new branding project they try to articulate the idea in 3-4 words or one short sentence to explain the reasoning for why things are why they are. They linked this to their work for Ravensden who are an animal themed toy brand. When working with this client, they specified how they wanted to keep the Raven in there existing logo as it had been in their family and represented their farm for over 100 years and had great sentimental value to them. They also needed to move away from their competitors and the cliche of the tropical safari products and create a succinct and well-designed catalogue for their customers. When speaking with the client, they spoke about their business in a very mechanical way which focussed primarily on numbers, but toys for children are so much more than that, they’re companions for them. This idea of companionship was built within the new logo which showed the curve of the R as an arm hugging the raven.

Ravensden

Tip 6 – Graft and graft.

Common Curiosity said that designing is tough. There is no set process or right or wrong method that works for everyone, and there definitely aren’t any magic, quick, or easy solutions. The key is to experiment with everything whilst conducting in-depth research. They linked this to another case study for Royal Mail where they worked on a set of six stamps to reflect 50 years on the subject of British engineering.

Royal Mail

References:

FMP: Research – why do women buy female targeted products?

Marketing towards females:

In most aspects of life, men and women act and react differently to different situations. This suggests that their responses and buying decisions regarding advertising and marketing will also differ. According to Richard Johnson (writing for Optimonk) When selling to females, brands tend to use descriptive words, include disclaimers, use soft, calm words and most importantly – the message must end in a way where it gives the feeling that the brand understands them, and will support them. In contrast, when targeting men, brands messages are generally concise, clear and straight to the point. They use “power words”, and back up what they claim with facts and figures. They also tend to provide solutions to problems, via the products they are selling. In general, women take in more information from an advertisement than men, but they require far more exposure to the advertising to be convinced by it.

Although there is not much evidence of physiological differences in male and female brains in terms of decision making, but this does not mean they do not exist. When you think about how your father or brother or any male you know, compared to how you think (or vice versa if you are a male), you instantly think of the differences and that men generally think differently to women.

Why do brands feel the need to target women and men separately?

According to Red Evolution, in general, females are the primary buying deciders within households, especially during festive periods, such as Christmas. Most female partners will be able to relate – they are the ones left to organise every Christmas gift (and everything in between) for the family, his family and everyone in between. This is because females are thought to be more organised and thoughtful when it comes to gift buying, but in reality, it’s mostly that gift purchasing is just hassle the men don’t want to deal with. This trait can be seen even day to day when it comes to advertising for the likes of household products such as washing powder, fabric conditioner and even your grocery shopping – for example Iceland’s slogan ‘That’s why Mums Go To Iceland’. Although these facts may not be politically correct when written down like this, they are true in most areas within the UK. Brands’ advertising agencies know that typically, the females of the households will be the ones making the major buying decisions, and therefore they are the ones who should be primarily targeted, in addition specific female products should be more expensive than male’s – which brings me back to the Pink Tax.

Female targeted packaging design

According to Intermac processing and packing, almost 60% of all consumers in Germany decide on buying a product on the based on its packaging. Even children know that shower gel in a dark bottle is for men, and lighter coloured, slim bottles are supposed to appeal more to women. These features are exploited by brands and the packaging industry, as well as in the price. Recently, the UK brand Boots, was criticised, and was forced to review its pricing structure. Until then, women had paid £2.50 more for eye cream than the male equivalent, and over 50p more for a pack of 10 identical disposable shavers. In France there is currently a public debate about a ban on such practice, and in California and New York it has already been banned. Following a comparative study of 800 products, US financial experts are currently paying €1.15 more for similar products at the Big Apple than men. Only one seventh of all packaging did not carry higher price tags.

REFERENCES:

Richard Johnson. (2021). Gender Differences in Advertising Between Men and Women. [online] Available at: https://www.optimonk.com/gender-targeting-the-differences-between-men-and-women/

Red Evolution. (2015). Why Do Marketers Target Females? [online] Available at: https://blog.redevolution.com/why-do-marketers-target-females

Intermac processing and packing. (2015). GENDER MARKETING – PRICES AND PACKAGING. [online] Available at: https://www.interpack.com/en/TIGHTLY_PACKED/SECTORS/COSMETICS_PACKAGING/News/Gender_marketing_%E2%80%93_prices_and_packaging

FMP: M3 – the Visual Language

Today I had a group tutorial with Carol and some of my other peers that were completing a project similar to mine (a piece of “service” design). It was really refreshing to see some new ideas and reconnect with my peers.

Please see below for the presentation that I showed:

The aims for the visual language for equality money software AntiPat are to portray a soft, feminine vibe but also a strong and independent message to communicate the unfair problem we face as females. I have incorporated illustrations of character Auntie Pat” and also developed an illustrative, vector style brand pattern which could be used across different areas within the project. In addition, I have created a mockup of how the software would work via a web browser extension and how it would display the potential savings a women could make by buying male or unisex alternatives to products already in their shopping basket. I have also noted my next steps at the end of the presentation to show my vision for the project going forward.

Feedback: Overall, I was quite disheartened by my feedback from Carol today. This was the first time she’d seen my project in the 3 weeks that I’ve been working on it. She didn’t seem to like or understand any aspect of what I’d shown, and questioned the overall point of my project because she couldn’t see the need for a service like this, so that made me feel quite unmotivated and disheartened at the time.

  • Why? Carol said that I needed to find out the motivation and reasoning for women to buy female targeted products over male or unisex products – which I thought was a simple “because females are told to buy female items since birth” but I have realised that there are more deep reasonings so I will definitely carry out some more in depth research as to why females want to buy female products.
  • Character: Carol thought that the character “Auntie Pat” is far too motherly and caring and needs to be rethinked. She also said that I shouldn’t portray the character as a woman or a man and that gender should be left out of the equation all together to avoid any controversy. She noted that she thought my illustrations were strong but just the idea wasn’t really appropriate. She noted that the character should be more angry and strong and protest-ish.

Going forward I think that I need to take a step back and ask myself what is the message that I want to communicate through this project. I need to determine this and carry out some more in depth research. After thinking about everything this afternoon I have decided to take most of Carol’s feedback on board, but I will also be going against some of it as otherwise I would have to completely rethink and recreate every aspect of my visual language so far. I will develop some questions to ask David and Carol next week to make myself feel more confident and motivated to get stuck into the project again.

Afterlife: Friendly Giants

Today’s Afterlife session was run by Gavin from Friendly Giants (formally known as Little Hawk). Former BAGCW210 students Maria & Kieran now work for Friendly Giants, so that was really inspiring and relatable for me. Gavin gave a really open and raw insight into the journey of Friendly Giants as a business, working with famous brands like ITV, Netflix, BBC, and many more. The main message that I got from today’s session was that Friendly Giants want to help people and do good within the industry.

It was really great to get some insight from Maria and Kieran who haven’t been working with Gavin for that long, and also to get their opinions on remote working and ‘WFH’ life in the real world of work. It was comforting to know that everyone was struggling slightly with working from home now, and that not being in a creative space can really take its toll. However, they also gave some great tips on how to maintain creativity while stuck inside which was really helpful for me.

Gavin went into great detail in one of their most recent rebrand projects for Go Ape. Gavin showed us the process of the brief from the start finish, which was super insightful and helpful for me especially. It was really useful to see and apply similar methods to my freelance working methods. Friendly Giants’ mission was to create a brand-new brand identity for Go Ape, that would appeal to younger adults and to new customers without completely ignoring its original and primary target audience – families. The problem was that Go Ape had started to lose some young-adult visitors on the basis of that it was seen as a family brand ONLY. They particularly needed to focus on updating their tone of voice and brand values to enable a new area of customers. They wanted to change the whole mindset of their customers to a more motivated and positive one. Carrying out a large volume of primary research was an essential stage of the brief as they needed to research the reasons that people wanted to visit Go Ape in the first place, what made it fun, exciting, adventurous and overall what motivated them to think this.

The branding for Go Ape is absolutely beautiful graphic design, and seeing the whole process from the ideation stage, development stage that went into creating the brand was so insightful. This really helped me with applying the design process methods to my freelance work. It gave me a clear insight to how to run a business and also how to guide clients to the right ideas even when they originally have different visions.

From today’s talk from Gavin, Maria and Kieran, the key points that I’ve taken away are as follows:

  • MOODBOARDS & MOCKUPS ARE EVERYTHING” – they allow clients to visualise the designs in context which helps to apply their brand vision to real life scenarios.
  • PRIMARY RESEARCH IS ESSENTIAL” – Research is the most important stage of any branding project. Understanding the brand and its values is vital for a successful rebrand.
  • “TALK ABOUT YOUR IDEAS WITH OTHERS” Teamwork is vital, especially when you’re stuck on an idea that you can get out of your own head from.
  • “LOOK AT THE VALUES OF THE BRAND” This will help you to navigate your research and best create a brand suitable for your client and for their audiences.

References

Friendly Giants. (2021). Homepage [online] Available at <https://friendlygiants.com/our-work&gt;

M2: Three strong approaches & group tutorial

Yesterday was M2 (Three Strong Approaches) in the Final Major Project. It was really beneficial to talk about and see everyone else’s work so far, especially considering we are working remotely, so we haven’t really seen much of each other’s work as we usually would under normal circumstances.

My 3 main ideas were:

  1. PAT (pink Added Tax) – a campaign with a mascot (pat)

Pink added tax = PAT, like value added tax = VAT. This abbreviation was a great opportunity to bring a mascot or character into my project – meet Pat! Pat is a unisex name so could work well within this project without causing controversy. Maybe Pat is angrily added tax onto all of the female products, or maybe Pat is angrily taking the tax away from all of the female products… it could go either way depending on what route I take.

FEEDBACK: Characters or mascots help a campaign with recognisability so that’s positive. Maybe people will hate the character if they’re adding tax though? How about having an “Aunty Pat (or Anti Pat) where aunty Pat is fighting to abolish the Pink Tax by looking out for fellow females?

2. Documentary raising pink tax awareness

This would be posted on social media platforms and include interviews, surveys and experiments. the main goal of this documentary would be to educate people and to raise awareness of the Pink Tax.

FEEDBACK: How is this different to anything that’s already out there? It will be challenging to make it different. This is a lot of work and also difficult during the current lockdown restrictions.

3. Money saving (equality) software

This software would work in a similar way to “Honey” whereby it’s an add on to a browser (such as Google Chrome) and can be activated at checkouts of e-commerce sites. For example, I might be buying shampoo on Superdrug’s online store, and at the end, when I activate the software, it will automatically search for male or unisex alternatives of the same shampoo which are cheaper, and ask me whether I’d like to substitute them out in order to save £X amount of money. This idea would also be applied in participating stores whereby a card or app would be scanned at the checkout. This would be directly linked to that store’s inventory and would search for cheaper male or unisex alternatives.

FEEDBACK: This is the strongest, more innovative idea. Maybe a combination of this and idea 1 would be really strong (or even just help to develop an initial name for the software). This is functional and there is a motivation for your audience to use/download it.

Before today, I felt really lost and almost disheartened by my ideas as I couldn’t picture any of them being a “Final Major Project”. However, I found the tutorial extremely helpful and felt so much clearer in which direction to take my project in now. My next steps are to apply David and my peers’ feedback to my money saving software idea and start to develop a visual language for the software, informed by my recent visual research.

FMP: Research – The Pink Tax

The pink tax

Unfortunately, women are still at an economic disadvantage compared to men (even in this day and age). Women are generally paid less than men, for the same job roles and workload. In 2019, the figure was that women earned around $0.80 for every $1 that men earned (which equates to a 20% gender pay gap!). In addition, women are frequently charged a higher interest rate for mortgage loans, have higher insurance prices, despite their generally higher credit score ratings.

So, what exactly is the pink tax?

The pink tax is the additional amount of money that women/females pay for general lifestyle products (such as razors, shampoo, clothes, dry cleaning, and more). This hypothetical “tax” which is added to certain products, from girls toys and school uniforms to canes, braces, and adult diapers. The prices on individual products may not seem that different — say, $3.79 vs $3.99 for deodorant — but over time, these little increases can add up. In fact, according to axthepinktax.com, the pink tax has cost a 30-year-old woman more than $40,000. A woman in her 60s will cough up nearly $82,000 in unfair added fees that men don’t have to pay. Currently no federal law prohibits companies from charging different prices for identical items based on gender. Social media hashtags such as #genderpricing#pinktax, and #AxThePinkTax have brought attention to the issue of gender-based pricing.

Real life example of the pink tax

In 2015, a study of gender based pricing in New York found the below examples. Retailers often take pains to keep similar products with different prices separated so it’s not easy to notice the difference!

On average, the study found that women’s products cost 7% more than similar products for men, including 13% more for personal care products, 8% more for adult clothing, and 8 percent more for senior/home health care products.

How long has the pink tax existed?

Since at least the early 1990s — that’s when California began to study the problem. A 1996 report from the state’s Assembly Office of Research found that 64% of the stores in five major California cities charged a higher price to wash and dry clean a woman’s blouse compared to a man’s button-up shirt.

REFERENCES:

FMP: Research – visual style and aesthetic

In order to move forward with my FMP research, I need to look at different projects (not directly surrounding the Pink Tax in particular) to develop inspiration for an aesthetic style that works well within my project.

  1. Illustration

This project by Alice Skinner is related to the Pink Tax, although is outdated now as the tampon tax has thankfully been resolved in the UK. However, I really like this style of illustration. The colours used also work well, I just wonder whether the style would seem too soft and not “tough” enough for the message that I want to put across.

Alice Skinner Illustration

I also really like the idea of using visual metaphors within projects as I feel it gives aspects of the work a hidden meaning while also communicating a strong message.

@sasa_elebea on Instagram

2. Photography

I really like the idea of incorporating edited photography into my project. I would love to experiment with photography and editing to create powerful pieces that could feature throughout my project. Please see below for some examples of work that I think work well:

3. Typography

I think that my project needs to feature strong, feminine style typefaces paired with rough, jagged typefaces to convey the message of anger within women about the Pink Tax. I really like the idea of using 3D style typefaces as, to me, they seem really strong and bold. I also think that repetition typography can be really useful when trying to convey a specific message. Below are some examples of typefaces which would suit my project:

Unknown

ALEX MARINO
typutopia on Society6

FMP: Group Tutorial #2

Today was my second group tutorial with David and my peers. I went into this tutorial feeling a lot more confident in my ideas and having a much stronger approach to the project as a whole. This is the presentation I showed in the tutorial to give David and my peers an idea of the research and theory behind the idea for my final major project:

The general feedback from my peers was that this direction was much stronger than what I had last week (which was to brand a business). Everyone was surprised to find the extent of “the pink tax” and how much more women really pay just because the products are targeted towards them.

David was much happier with my ideation at this stage and thought that this direction was a much better choice than the branding option. However, he did question the outcome context (a campaign), as he reminded me that I’d already produced a campaign as my outcome for the Design for Real Life project. I agreed and David suggested maybe focusing on a campaign but in a non-traditional style – for example a documentary/video or animation.

Everyone agreed that I should go forward with focusing on general life products (as opposed to focusing on motorsport products specifically) as there was just more options for it and it would be more relatable to more people. David said that he thought my idea of “PAT = pink added tax” could be really playful. I mentioned that I pictured it as an old lady or man called pat just adding tax to these things for women and he said that it was a really strong idea and that I should definitely experiment further with the idea.

In reflection, my next steps will be to develop my research and expand my knowledge on the pink tax in order to gain a better understanding of the subject as a whole. This will inform my developments of the projects going forward.

FMP: Research – existing material

At this stage of my FMP, I think that I need to do some more in depth research of existing work surrounding the Pink Tax in detail in order to widen my knowledge, and also to determine how and where I will make my project different to what’s already out there.

  1. European Wax Center – Ax the Pink Tax

European Wax Center is a major chain of hair removal salons that offers waxing services as well as products in the skincare, body, and brow categories. They wanted to connect with their consumer on a more personal level, so they took up a cause that affected their strong, confident, female consumer base and worked to build awareness around it. That issue is the Pink Tax, a “taxation” on basic goods and services marketed towards women. For example, razors, body lotion, baby bottles, clothing etc. They let their customers know just how crazy the Pink Tax is with an integrated campaign, leveraging digital, print, OOH, influencers, retail and even a comedy show, all showcasing how EWC is committed to leveling the playing field for women.

I love the aesthetic and style of this campaign – I like how tough and powerful it feels, which is something I’d like to come across within my designs. I also love the combination of photography and graphics within the project – it feels like a mixture of 2020 and 1995 – like a retro-modern pink aesthetic style. The use of the colour pink is consistent throughout but is a strong and confident pink as opposed to a soft, baby pastel pink. Lots of imagery of women throughout the campaign helps to convey the message and also makes it more relatable to females too. The use of figures is really clever as it is a motivation for women to invest into the project and to research the problem further.

2. Burger King – Chick Tax

“Introducing Chick Fries! The same Chicken Fries you love, now available in a pink box so we can charge chicks more for them! Sounds ridiculous right? It is. Women’s products cost more 42% of the time. It’s called the Pink Tax. The BURGER KING® brand believes everything should be equal, so we created Chick Fries to shine some light on gender inequality, but our Chicken Fries are $1.69 for all. To help put an end to the Pink Tax, ask your congressman to support the Pink Tax Reform Act.”

3. TikTok

There have been several viral TikTok videos recently which involve the Pink Tax, mainly people showing examples and raising awareness about the problem. Although this isn’t something I’d plan to do, I think that the tone of voice within this content is powerful, impactful, and really attention-grabbing. This is something I’ll consider when determining the overall tone of voice of my project. Please see below for some examples:

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMeSUXqAw/

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMeSUTaum/

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMeSUGbbC/

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMeSUW6DD/

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMeSU7XKM/

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMeSUQU11/

REFERENCES

European Wax Centre. (2019). #AxThePinkTax [online] Available at: https://247laundryservice.com/case-study/european-wax-center/

Burger King. (2018). Chick Tax. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rtHmSfYDbs