How Little Projects Win Big Awards

by Smart Creative on Friday, February 25, 2011

Okay, I'll admit it. I actually tried to talk us out of working on this project. The client had no money, a journalism background rather than our preferred client-side marketing expertise, and I think maybe I even ended up paying for lunch. (Maybe not, but it makes the story that much better.)

And yet, Chuck Welch of Lakeland Local pitched me a vision whereby the downtown area we work and play in could be pedal-friendly, with residual benefits for everybody. Less traffic, less pollution, better parking, healthier living and more members of the creative class who gravitate towards that lifestyle. How could we say no? Or worse yet, how could we let it have an ugly logo?

We worked with Chuck on creating an accurate and detailed creative brief that spec'ed everything from the audience to the brand voice to the shelf of brands that Bike Lakeland would be compared to. We didn't spend an eternity on it, and in fact, he did most of the legwork.

And then Tymn, one of our rockstar designers, did his thing. I thought it was awesome. Chuck thought it was awesome, and we didn't shift a single pixel (well, vector). And then, not surprisingly, a panel of our peers choose it as their collective favorite piece from every single entry in this year's Polk ADDY competition.

So for those of you who are wondering, here's how an identity development project with no budget wins a top spot at the ADDYs. First, we had clearly defined objectives. The creative brief was well-written and took into consideration a lot of the behind-the-scenes marketing stuff that positions a brand for success. We were smart.

Second, the concept was both clever and thoughtful. (And I get to brag on my designer because it was all his idea.) Lakeland has the iconic swan, and Tymn found a way to make this very subtle illustration where the saddle of the bike was also a swan. You don't necessarily catch it on the first look, but once you see it, you won't miss it again. He executed the concept well, with a great color palette, good typography and interesting juxtapositions of the other elements. We were creative.

And then the final reason this design turned out so awesome is because NOBODY TOUCHED IT! Sometimes a designer's instinct is so dead-on, that it needs no revision. As the project manager, I could have messed with it. The client could have asked for any number of changes. But, in the end, Chuck said "You're the designers. I trust your recommendation." We had the right client.

And so the result wasn't just golden, it was the judges' pick for their favorite piece. It's a classic win/win/win - for Smart Creative, for Bike Lakeland, and for good advertising.

One comment

Such a thoughtful design. Tymn is so talented. Love the logo. Besides, we all know how wise and thoughtful Chuck is, so that's no surprise. You are so right, it's so nice when the client lets the designer do their job. Otherwise, next thing you know, it's a big green-eyed monster using some bold version of comic sans. Oh my.

by bshendr on February 25, 2011 at 12:15 PM. #

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