Moments of Perfection at Gleneagles

This week the eyes of the world turn to Gleneagles Hotel for the Ryder Cup.

A recent TV advert promoting the event, featured deer on the course and it brought back memories.

In 1990 I art directed a photo shoot for the ‘main’ hotel brochure, the title of which was Moments of Perfection. The concept was to take each feature of the hotel and give it a slight twist, so the golf course shot was not of a golfer, but of someone on the course, very early in the morning, taking in the glory of the environment and the view – we decided that the photo needed deer in it.

As deer could not be trusted to make an appearance, and to pose for extended amounts of time, even though deer are frequent visitors to the grounds, the only solution was stuffed deer – you must bear in mind that this was pre Photoshop,

So up they came, complete with curator, from an Edinburgh museum. We started very very early. The deer were positioned around the green, with photographer, Nick Price, relaying instructions via walkie-talkie. It was a long shot, taken almost from the tee, so there was no way it could be seen that the deer were stuffed. It was drizzling on and off, so their ‘handler’ kept covering them with plastic.

Gleneagles was unable to close the course, so naturally, players started to arrive. We could hear their excitement at seeing the deer, which then turned into great amusement and fun as they had their photos taken next to them.

The final image worked incredibly well and the whole team was very proud of the final shot.

Gleneagles deer spread

What made this story even more special for me, was my discovery years later that the then MD of Gleneagles had not been told that the deer were stuffed and had proudly shown the image on promotional tours of the US, describing how fortunate we were that the deer had appeared, as if on cue.


It’s great to see deer featuring again on Gleneagles imagery….real ones this time!


Glen cover

Open Champion McIIroy’s Perfect Timing

When Archerfield Links briefed Agrada to create the opening print collateral for the world’s first Nike Performance Fitting Centre, they could only have dreamed that Rory McIIroy would go on to win The Open Championship shortly after opening it.

Agrada created literature in keeping with Archerfield’s brand style and conforming to Nike Golf’s guidelines for its current visual image.

Leaflets and digital downloads were produced, aimed at the corporate market, Archerfield Links members and the general golfing public.




The new Centre at Archerfield, has been built to help golfers to maximise their potential, giving them the ultimate custom-fitting experience, along with a complete analysis of their game from Archerfield’s elite coaching team.


It was great to have the winner of three majors to open the new facility.

The strength of the McIIroy, Archerfield and Nike brands, is bound to be a winning combination and we are proud to be associated with them.




Commonwealth Games Uniform or Textile Design Exercise?

At a time when all our eyes are focussed on Scotland, the design of the Commonwealth Games uniform has hit us right between them.

All of us who’ve had responsibility for a team of designers, no matter what the discipline, know that the design concepts submitted for the Games uniform, could not have been put through the commercial critique that the creative industry applies to any design proposal intended to have a positive impact upon the image of any business or organisation.

We must look beyond this inappropriate finished design solution and question both the brief and the criteria on which the final approval was based.

Design isn’t fine art. The visual manifestation of a completed piece of work must reflect a strategy that was developed out of a detailed brief – what was the brief and who wrote it?

Whilst I appreciate that design competitions have their place, I question the wisdom of such an important project being allowed to escape the rigorous challenges that design professionals subject their work to.

Perhaps a compromise would have been to invite the winning student to work with an experienced designer to produce an appropriate solution and in turn to learn about the realities of commercial design.

Collective creativity in yellow

Well the Yorkshire Grand Depart will depart tomorrow as Tour De France fever hits Yorkshire.

I’m no cyclist and must confess to not being likely to watch much if any of it, but what I am enjoying is the wonderful creativity of the folk of Yorkshire, as they welcome and embrace the event.

Houses, pubs, roads, statues, gardens and even fields are the canvas for an outpouring of humour and inventiveness, harnessing the famous yellow jersey.

The combination of Yorkshire’s famed dry humour and the strength of the Tour de France brand icon, has created more fun and community involvement than I have witnessed at the World Cup or other recent sporting events.

Of course professional designers and marketers have also capitalised on the event, quite rightly, but it’s the homemade efforts that I applaud.

The distinctiveness of the yellow jersey, distilled down to ownership of the colour yellow, is a shining example of how any organisation would love their brand to be recognised. And how Yorkshire humour has handled it, does the county proud.


Creating a golf identity to allow a young PGA Pro to develop his brand

Without realising it, thirty or so of us gathered around Daniel Wood, the Scottish golf professional, the other night and witnessed a demonstration of not only how to hit a range of golf shots but how to line up the important components of a solid brand.

What Daniel also did inadvertently, at his inaugural golf clinic, was to demonstrate his own understanding of the importance of lining up the key factors that affect the success of a brand.

He explained to his audience what he planned to do and why. He executed a range of shots that every amateur dreams of being able to play and gave clear guidance on how the shots can be achieved. He communicated not simply what he is capable of doing personally but what he could do for us. His friendly, unassuming style, won us over and I’m sure that everyone present could see him as our coach.

We have worked with Daniel to create a new identity and a brand new website, which was launched recently. Daniel is young and progressive and we wanted the identity to project exactly that, as well as having all the usual attributes of being easy to apply etc.

His website is strong with clear navigation and the ability to quickly get to the information needed. Daniel has been great to work with and we believe that both the identity and the website, are a good reflection of his dynamic yet accessible attitude. He has a great setup and in our opinion the ability and temperament to both win professional tournaments, and to help us to get our handicaps down.

It’s refreshing to see a young golf professional with such a rounded attitude to his playing and coaching career – the Hirsel Golf Club is lucky to have him.


Where has the year gone?

Hard to believe that another year has gone by and another Gleneagles Style magazine has been produced. It is packed full of information about the Hotel and all the goodies and offerings available there.

And of course not only is Gleneagles Hotel celebrating a 90th anniversary, there is all the build up to the Ryder Cup happening there in September. A very exciting year.








While we designed it, once again the magazine was produced by the great team at Golf Publishing, and superbly printed by 21 Colour in Glasgow. (thanks for the photo!)





Jim, that’s what we sell.

There is an amusing piece circulating social media circles at the moment, involving a designer responding to a client who is asking for free work.

We’ve all been there and making the judgment call on it is dependent upon a multitude of factors – mostly to do with the client/designer relationship.

One of the lines in the social media exchange between client and designer, is the designer telling the client that the design might take a few hours, but will be backed up by 15 years of experience. Well between us, John and I have over 50 years of experience.

A few years ago, I felt rather intimated by all the vibrant youth in the business and wondered if we were too ‘mature’ for the design industry. But then I realised that if you went to a law firm or an accountant and got a senior partner, you’d be delighted, albeit, of course, worrying about the bill!

The same goes for doctors and surgeons – experience reassures.

We’re not comparing ourselves with surgeons, handling life or death situations. We are however dealing with the life-blood of your brands or business, which are different kinds of life or death scenarios.

Neither are we trying to win design awards or the acclaim of our peers; we’re simply trying to do our very best for your business. Our experience helps us to make decisions faster, have the ability to judge what works and what doesn’t, and of course, to identify the good, young and vibrant people to involve in the team when necessary.

As the indignant designer said, “it’s not the time it takes to do the design work but the knowledge that goes with it.”

As with everything, it’s horses for courses – you wouldn’t ask a surgeon to take a patient’s blood pressure. Would you? Taking the time to find the right design team for your needs is a critical part of the process, after which you will have a clearer picture of what you are paying for.

Many years ago a client asked John to attend a meeting saying, “ the ‘meter needn’t be running, all I want is some ideas…”

John responded saying, “Jim, that’s what we sell.”



Productpreneur Clients

As designers there is nothing better than helping a client to develop his or her business, as lets face it, that’s what it’s all about. Design awards and peer accolades are lovely of course, but commercial success and an improved bottom line for clients, is ultimately the most rewarding result of a lot of hard work.

Over the last few years, we have worked with quite a few start-ups or near starts ups, and we like to think that our work and advice has helped some fledging companies, in meaningful ways.

Many of these start-up clients are hugely talented individuals, who have great ideas, drive and determination and work ceaselessly to get their offer to market. Knowing when to get outside help, is of course a hallmark of a true entrepreneur.

One such client is Safedreams, who first came to us in 2010 when the company was just getting established. We created new branding, packaging, exhibitions, and designed the website and promotional materials. We began with the Cotwrap product, followed by a name generation exercise, originating the soft toy names, Hoppy and Patch, designing labels and creating the promotional materials for the products.

WEB_Cotwrap back


NI SafeDreams Ad V2 15_05_12

The Safedreams client never lets the grass grow under her feet and is continually developing ideas and products. As well as running her growing company, she has now published a book,
‘How to get your Product to Market’.

In her book, she clearly lays out lots of helpful advice, from dealing with product designers, manufacturers and brand building, to successful pitching to buyers. This is one highly motivated individual and dealing with clients like that is a fun part of our job.

We wish her lots of luck (and sales!) with her very informative book.


The Shortest Day

We are at the shortest day and the point where I usually revert to my ‘I hate winter’ default setting. This year, I thought I would try to turn it around and seek out the positives associated with this usually bleak period of the year.

Winter means that you can pretty much ignore the garden and have guilt free weekends. In fact the short daylight hours mean you hardly get to look at it.

Warm clothes generally require less ironing, unlike summer linens and cottons.

The food is filling, warming stodge, that’s probably bad for you but really delicious anyway.

Red wine, red wine and more red wine.

Setting aside for a moment the rampant commercialism and excessive spending, you can enjoy the bright Christmas lights and general festive aura that go some way to breaking up what for many, is the longest, darkest and most dismal time of year. No wonder it was the chosen time of pagan festivals…

Bright crisp days can be truly appreciated, along with spectacular sunrises and beautiful sunsets. And there’s no need for sunscreen.

Battening down the hatches, drawing the curtains and lighting the fire, is one of the great pleasures of this time of year.

As the end of the year draws near, we can reflect on the events of 2013 and hopefully focus on the positives. We can learn from the negatives and look forward to the challenges of 2014. With the knowledge that the days will be getting longer quite soon and conclude that there is still much to enjoy about the winter.

With our best wishes to all clients, colleagues and friends for the Festive period and 2014.


A Toast to Loyalty

We believe greatly in loyalty and have always endeavoured to build lasting relationships with our clients and suppliers. We feel that ultimately you give and get a better service when the day-to-day working environment involves relationships that are more trusting and secure.

A very long-term client, who has worked with us on and off for more than twenty years, came to us with a brief to create a brand and a website for his company’s new online whisky shop. We were used to this client having a detailed idea of his requirements and an in-depth knowledge of his target market, however the need for a very extensive and sophisticated website, led to a quite involved process that proved to be open, honest and rewarding due largely to the understanding and trust that has developed over time. From our point of view, it was a great two-way example of the rewards of client/supplier loyalty.

The website went live last week in good time to select one or two of the fabulous and unusual whiskies available, either as Christmas presents, as a special treat, or to simply explore new tastes.

Good relationships, we’ll drink to that!

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