Since the pandemic hit and aspiring creatives have had fewer opportunities to get real world experience, D&AD introduced New Blood Quickfire - real world briefs by real companies designed to help entrands build their portfolios and land commissions. In October in collaboration with publisher HarperCollins we put out a brief to reimagine the logo or brand for the classic children's book collection The Chronicles of Narnia.
Impressing the judges with their design ‘Wandering into Abstraction’, inspired by their love of magic and fantasy, Max Rammelt and Miguel Perez scooped the £2000 prize fund. Here Max and Miguel, advertising and PR students from Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain, tell us about what they learned from the process and what lessons there are to share with aspiring creatives on nailing a branding brief.
What attracted you to take part in the HarperCollins brief?
Miguel: The Chronicles of Narnia is one of those magic stories that I can go to when I need some inspiration. I was very young when the first movie came out and it actually motivated me to get into the books.
Also, I think this brief motivated me a lot because of my passion for arts and design. Usually, when one is looking for something to work on, most briefs ask for very specific communication solutions, but this one caught my eye the moment I saw it was for a rebranding.
Max: The Chronicles of Narnia has had this special place in my mind ever since I was a little kid. When one of our professors made us aware of this competition and I saw that it was for Narnia, it took me straight back to the excitement of watching the first movie and being pulled into this magical and mythical world of fantasy.
This brand is so iconic and has such a rich and long history that creating a rebrand seemed like a super challenging and scary task at first, but then I realized what a huge opportunity this was and decided to go all in.
What was the inspiration behind the idea?
Miguel: Magic and fantasy are two of my go-to’s when I'm working on any kind of design. I feel it's very easy to add some whimsy to every design in order to make it special, so I included this keenness to the creative process. Also, a very important thing for me was to keep the essence but to be bold with the proposal.
Max: I have always loved how these fantasy worlds make us feel and are able to spark different feelings in each individual. So, having in mind that we wanted to produce something noteworthy and different, the heavy weight was on putting something out there that would allow the readers not only to connect with the brand, but also interact with it through projecting their feelings and interpretations.
"We wanted to produce something noteworthy and different, the heavy weight was on putting something out there that would allow the readers not only to connect with the brand, but also interact with it through projecting their feelings and interpretations."
How did you take the idea from content through to reality?
Miguel: I think the key word in this process of bringing a project such as this one to life is "simplification". I remember being so excited to work on this, that I experienced a terrible creative block. In order to break through that frustration, I said to myself 'very well Miguel, what makes this logo so iconic?'. This allowed us to draw the most basic possible silhouette that was still recognizable as Narnia and went up from there.
Max: When having so many inputs from such a rich brand, it is really key to strip everything down to the core to get a clear picture. We focused on the logo first, since we wanted it to be a recognisable brand asset, but also be as simplistic as possible to then have an empty canvas to build up the new style on.
We wanted the reader to experience our artwork, and evoke a rare, yet familiar feeling of an upcoming adventure. So, by listening to our feelings, we were able to create a modern-abstract style that could be experienced by the reader who enters this unfolding mythical and magical world as one opens the book.
“We were able to create a modern-abstract style that could be experienced by the reader who enters this unfolding mythical and magical world as one opens the book.”
How does it feel to have the opportunity to design an identity for such a globally renowned brand?
Miguel: It's been a very exciting yet humbling process that has reminded me why I started design in the first place. It was a very rewarding experience because it allowed me to explore new creative places and take risks, learn and grow as a future professional.
Max: To be honest, it feels completely surreal. It took me some time to settle in on the idea that we were creating something for this huge brand that impacts so many lives every day around the world. For students like us, who sometimes feel somewhat far away from the “real professional world” this opportunity has really been a game changer. It’s really been an honor and a blessing.
What does it mean to you to have won this competition at this stage in your career?
Miguel: It's a very nice feeling seeing your work and your creative point of view recognised by such important and respectable institutions, so it's very reassuring and motivational for the future. I think everybody should have an experience like this because it fuels you to strive for the best and actually enjoy the process.
Max: I think that this process has been really reassuring and it showed me that our work actually has meaning and a place to exist out there, in this huge and chaotic world.
Having won this competition now, feels like the right moment at the right time, and it goes without saying that this experience has been empowering and super motivating. But most of all, it has taught me to keep creating bold and different content.
What are your next ambitions now?
Miguel: I'm about to start my final year in Advertising and PR, so I'm taking this time to learn as much as I can, everything related to the design and art direction field, while also expanding my portfolio. I believe this to be a very important step to find the so much valued internships that will take us on in this career path.
Max: As of right now, we have been working on some New Blood briefs, and have our fingers crossed. As we still got two semesters ahead of us before graduating in Advertising & PR, we want to take advantage of all the amazing opportunities organizations like the D&AD offer to students, and participate in contests, grow as creatives, and build our portfolios. With this special win in my pocket, I am hoping to land an amazing internship that can help me with all this. Always staying hungry for exciting opportunities.