As the UK enters its second month of lockdown we’re all getting used to new ways of living and (if we can), working. For employers and employees alike the new realities around the government employee furlough scheme mean we’re all having to be even more flexible, patient, understanding and focused than usual, and those of us who are still working are often finding ourselves stretched in ways that we may not have been before.
For example, 8pm last night saw me dodging (the admittedly light) traffic outside Belfast City Hall, as I filmed clips of bus drivers with Translink Chief Executive Chris Conway and NI Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon, all clapping in support of our health, care and essential workers across the UK, to be used in their social media feeds.
Nothing necessarily unusual in that (Translink being a client and film production one of the services we provide for them), except that it was me, a time-served graphic designer on the camera, rather than one of our regular film team. Fortunately the shoot wasn’t beyond my skillset, but I was definitely more self-aware than I would typically be working on a brand identity or advertising campaign - definitely my ‘happy place’.
The buses you can see in the main image above are one expression of Translink’s support of the UK-wide #ChaseTheRainbow campaign. Other iterations include the now locally-famous Whitenoise designed and produced ‘Trainbows’ as per my recent posts, here and here. and also below:
The language around this campaign has been sharp, snappy, memorable and universally accepted, with ‘When it Rains, Look for Rainbows’ aligning with ‘Let’s Do It Together – Stay Home, Save Lives’ to deliver a compelling message of solidarity. See the film below, comprising clips from Translink staff, service users and us:
This form of highly direct and instructional communication is often reserved for times of collective crisis, celebration, decision-making or change – all of which can apply in part or whole to the current pandemic-induced lockdown. Such broad-spectrum campaigns have famously included the wartime messages ‘Your Country Needs You’, ‘Dig for Victory’ and ’Careless Talk Costs Lives’. In more recent times in the field of politics we’ve seen Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’ and Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’. Closer to home, former party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘For the Many, Not the Few’ rubbed shoulders on billboards and social feeds throughout the UK with Theresa May’s ’Strong Stable Leadership’ – neither quite fulfilling on their promises.
Currently, the UK government narrative is the starkly direct ’Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’. Regardless of your political persuasion the effectiveness of this simple and quotable proposition can’t be denied - it is highly utilitarian and ubiquitous, appearing everywhere. Despite its wildly inconsistent design (with a ‘men at work’ colour scheme of hi-viz yellow, black and red) its workmanlike, ‘un-designed’ appearance only adds to its power. That, and the constant repetition on-screen, in print, online and across all forms of media of course.
As a Belfast based graphic designer I’ve had the privilege of working with or creating many local, regional and national campaigns over my career which rely on this type of simple yet highly evocative use of language. At heart, these work best when they are based in an undeniable or incontrovertible truth – truth well told, to lift ad agency McCann Erickson’s famous mission statement, first coined in the 1920s.
In days such as these, with so much mis and dis-information, ‘fake news’ and the supremacy of opinion over expertise and confidence over competence in social media, we need truth, told well. It’s the job of branding agencies such as Whitenoise to deliver these messages attractively, authoritatively and memorably, regardless whether through print advertising, digital platforms, animation or film. That’s what we live to do – it’s what we’re working for.
You may have enjoyed reading this, or it could possibly have driven you to distraction. Either way, let me know and if Whitenoise can help you tell your truth, get in touch – it’s always good to talk.
Whitenoise is pleased to support Translink and the #ChaseTheRainbow campaign with footage of one of our beautifully branded #Trainbows pulling out of Belfast's Great Victoria Station...
What do you get when you cover two Translink trains with over 220 square meters of printed vinyl? Read on to find out...