Connect, University of Nottingham’s alumni magazine, is hot off the press and jammed packed with fascinating articles written by the alumni and staff editors. With a circulation of over 135,000, it ‘connects’ past students with the university today, keeping them engaged with developments. Together Design took over the design of the publication three years ago when we were commissioned to refresh the magazine, giving it an easy to digest editorial look and feel. Connect went on to win an international CASE Circle of Excellence Award for Magazine Publishing Improvement in 2016 – the only magazine outside of America to win! Three years on, it has continued to develop, taking a global view, involving many voices and tackling big world issues brought to life through our engaging design. The typography and imagery set an innovative tone for Connect and help to showcase University of Nottingham’s expertise and progressive activities across the world.

For many years at Together we’ve been designing beautiful gifts and seasonal packaging for our clients, immersing ourselves in the latest trends and devising eye-catching ways to surprise and delight their discerning consumers.

We’d long dreamt of creating our own gift store. Then in 2012 we developed a little wooden hanging decoration as a Christmas client gift. The owner of super-stylish interiors store, Skandium, happened to see one, and promptly commissioned us to come up with some more designs. We took this as a sign that it was time to finally establish our own online shop. So we did!

We launched Perfectly Put Together in 2013. A labour of love, it involved the development of a whole new brand, from name, story and ethos, to visual identity, website design and collection theme. Then there was all the other stuff to think about, such as order quantities, marketing, manufacturing, packing, postage and delivery – phew! Our ‘old school’ hands-on approach includes dealing with all the orders and packing ourselves, and gives us a valuable window into our retail clients’ world, full of insights about the challenges they face every day.

‘Something we made, something we found’; that’s the Perfectly Put Together ethos. Each year sees us launch a new collection of objects, mostly designed by ourselves, to test out an idea, story, technique or trend. In design, the hardest briefs are often the broadest ones, and ours is perennially tricky: ‘we can do pretty much anything, so what shall we do?’ At the same time, it gives us plenty of room to experiment and come up with delightfully unusual creative solutions.

We love our shop. As well as being a brilliant testing zone for ideas, it makes us new friends, wins the occasional award and gets people talking. It’s also lots of fun to work on, and has swiftly become part of the fabric of life at Together, providing self-designed festive gifts for our clients and collaborators, and defining the theme for our legendary Christmas/collection launch parties! We’re delighted to have yet another outlet for our creativity, where we can put our ideas in the shop window for everyone to enjoy.

Keep an eye on this space and see what emerges from our imaginations next year.

www.perfectlyputtogether.co.uk

Now we are fifteen…

December 3, 2018

It seems like only five minutes ago that Together Design was taking its first tentative steps in the design business. But then… whoosh… and today here we are celebrating our 15th birthday!

It’s been a decade and a half of exciting changes – not only across our beloved design industry and the clients with whom we work, but also for us as a company. While Together began life in a tiny spare room, this year we finally bought our very own studio – a beautiful light-filled three-storey building with dedicated ‘thinking’ rooms and even a special corner for all those awards we’ve been proudly picking up along the way. We’ve also created our own online shop, stepping into our clients’ shoes and pouring our heart and soul into developing our own product ideas. And while we started out all those years ago with just a single client, we’ve now worked with amazing brands and businesses that we’d never even have dared put on our wish list back then.

At the same time, lots of important things have remained the same. We’ve always thought like a family, and over the years we’ve seen 15 lovely babies born to the Together team. We still gather brilliant people around us then hold them close and don’t let them go. We still wholeheartedly believe in the power of having a great idea and bringing it beautifully to life. Above all, we love what we do and that passion comes shining through, in every piece of work we create.

So there you have it – 15 thrilling years, and plenty more to come. We’re more excited than ever by what’s on the horizon and we can’t wait to get started. We hope you’ll be joining us… here’s to the next 15 years!

Blooming Marvellous

November 27, 2018

From Chelsea to Hampton Court, Cardiff and Tatton Park to Chatsworth, our brief was to create a campaign that brings the nations favourite flower shows to life, celebrating the individuality of the shows and appealing to a broader target audience of both experts and budding enthusiasts alike. Careful considerations of props and seasonal arrangements have been used to bring the unique personality of each show to life in a contemporary, colourful and impactful way.

We worked closely with floral stylists Veevers Carter and photographer Andy Grimshaw, who’s patience and expertise helped us to bring our horticultural vision to life. The campaign is being delivered on and offline, including signage and supporting marketing materials.

A touch of Evergreen

November 15, 2018

For our fifth Perfectly Put Together gift collection ‘Evergreen’ we are celebrating all things green. We’ve been rummaging around in the potting shed to unearth a treasure trove of weird and wonderful vintage watering cans. Each of them has inspired a fascinating story; of their previous lives, forgotten journeys and enduring qualities that make them truly evergreen.They are accompanied by a series of limited edition prints that are available to buy from our online shop as well as other unique gifts. Our bee brooch is a great opportunity to give back whilst you’re giving to friends and family; 50p from every badge sold goes to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Happy digging! perfectlyputtogether.co.uk/evergreen

In search of the evergreen

October 4, 2018

Evergreen brands inhabit a special place in our hearts and minds. They are often wrapped in nostalgia and memories. They are loved; and expectations of those brands are high. Evergreen brands have permission to grow and sometimes even to change, but for owners and managers of these brands, understanding the parameters customers are willing to accept, and ensuring they keep a foothold in tradition, is crucial.

Sometimes old, sometimes new
There’s a perception that evergreen brands are older, wiser and long-established. A brand you knew as a child, perhaps a brand that even your parents or grandparents knew. Some evergreen brands certainly develop over a longer period – take Peter Rabbit or Penguin books. The fact that they are still around is testament to their strength and ongoing emotional pull. Both brands have adopted modern interpretations of key characters and attributes, have been translated to digital media, introduced to new audiences and have extended into a breadth of product areas, but they remain true to the essence of their original concept.

Other brands just seem to have the formula down and are evergreen almost from the minute they are launched. Think of The Gruffalo with it’s authenticity, honesty, a sense of longevity and purpose.

Unfortunately, the fact that a brand, new or old, has the qualities required for resilience and longevity doesn’t guarantee that they will maintain relevance and capture the long-term interest of consumers.

A changing landscape
As we’ve all experienced, brands are increasingly multidisciplinary and nimble. Brand strength used to mean a cookie cutter approach and a belief that repetition built brand awareness. Now we judge the success of a brand, not by its ability to hammer home its brand mark or name, but in its ability to be recognised without its logo. Developing a design world around a brand enables engagement with audiences on a number of levels.

So there’s the quandary, never have brands been more judged, never has the need for careful control been greater, but conversely, insatiable markets and customers have never wanted more.

It’s all about balance
So how do you infuse the personality of your brand, or the story of your business into everything you do? How do you distil, then articulate that personality in the most important tool in your kit bag of brand management – your brand style guide?

At Together, we’ve produced many guides in many formats and believe the best style guides are a balancing act of rules vs inspiration, personality vs mechanics; balancing the communication of the brand story with the technical delivery of hundreds of assets. Here are our hard won top ten tips for success:

1. Identify ‘the’ thing… take time to understand what part of the brand story galvanizes your customers and then amplify that in the design and the copy. Wherever you can – all the way through.
2. Get under the skin of brand’s audience… understand their changing needs and aspirations, track macro trends that affect their behaviour over time and have an eye on the motivations of next generation consumers. Use insights and research; both qual and quant and question throughout.
3. Know your user… who will implement the style guide? How much do they know already? What’s their role, their level of interest, their technical know-how and design knowledge? You never want to talk down but you also don’t want to leave people guessing.
4. Unify your team… licensed brands are usually managed by a very broad stakeholder group. From brand owners to agents, production companies and broadcasters to manufacturers and retailers – everyone will have different priorities, and often slightly varied interpretations of the brand. Get everyone to sign up to a common vision before you start.
5. Ensure it’s not all talk… draw up a long-list of likely end uses for the document itself. How big does the guide need to be? How many assets is just enough? A load of lovely positioning mood boards is useless for a team who need access to usable design files.
6. Reinvent the format… we personally love exploring how the structure of a guide can communicate the brand as much as its content. What are the fun ways to show the colour palette and even the page numbers?
7. .eps, .png, .psd, .tif, .jpg, cmyk, rgb… there’s nothing more disappointing than a guide which looks fabulous but doesn’t supply the right assets in the right formats for a user’s needs.
8. Respect your elders… by which we mean historical imagery, brand marks or other graphics. Treat them with reverence. By all means give things a modern twist, but only for a good reason.
9. Design systems vs asset overviews… give people kits of assets then show them in use. Create design systems with principles and rules you can articulate, rather than giving a huge array of assets without instruction of how they fit together.
10. Aftercare… don’t forget to explain the approvals and queries process!

Darkly Divine new flavours…

September 21, 2018

Fairtrade, farmer owned chocolate brand Divine have launched a new range of high cocoa bars. Working with organic growers on the equatorial island of São Tomé off the west African coast. Rich, dark chocolate is paired with fresh flavour combinations, from Turmeric and Ginger to Blueberry and Popped Quinoa. The five new bars will be sold globally but target the ever-growing organic markets in the USA and UK, and consumer’s increasing appetite for delicious but conscientiously produced high percentage cocoa, flavoured chocolate.

Together created the new look and feel for the 100% biodegradable packaging. Striking colours and bold patterning denote the cocoa and flavour ingredients of the individual bars.

A little bit gorgeous…

July 26, 2018

Restaurateurs, Corbin & King, are known for developing some of London’s most iconic restaurants and The Wolseley is certainly one of the most important jewels in their crown. Adored by locals and international guests, The Wolseley has recently extended its sought after collection of gifts, and launched Café Wolseley at Bicester Village in June – complete with a dedicated retail space.

Together created the look and feel for the packaging of The Wolseley Collection’s latest range of gifts, as well as the take away packaging in use at The Counter at Café Wolseley. Available to purchase now.

A partnership between The Health Foundation and the University of Cambridge made THIS Institute possible and we were honoured to be commissioned to bring their vision to life. THIS (The Healthcare Improvement Studies) Institute has a simple yet important goal: to strengthen the evidence base for improving healthcare. It’s an urgent priority not just for the NHS, but for health systems around the world. Our job was to develop the overarching brand strategy, the name and the visual identity for the new institute with careful consideration of the brand architecture and the role of the partners contributing to the institute’s success.

The name THIS provided huge scope for marketing and campaign development and the visual identity, which uses a wonderful mix of colours, illustration and typography, also lends itself to a broad and deep range of touchpoints and applications. We’ve brought consumer language to a complicated sector and achieved real differentiation. All of which we hope will assist THIS Institute to become a driving force in getting better at getting better.

In full bloom…

March 20, 2018

Our work for Charbonnel et Walker’s Easter collection has hopped onto shelves. An ode to spring time sees illustrations buzzing with colour, wrapped around chocolate boxes, eggs and egg-shaped tins. At least spring has sprung on our chocolate packaging, even if it is still snowing outside! Keep an eye out for these Easter treats in stores now.