If there is one thing that there is no shortage of in the design industry, it is award shows and competitions. From city-specific to regional to global models, there are more than enough opportunities for designers to pit their work against that of their peers and earn a little bit of prestige and validation on their talent and hard work. Even within logo and identity design there are sufficient specialized awards and competitions. So when we decided we would be adding to the glut of publications and organizations asking designers to spend their time and budget on our awards, we wanted to make sure it was not just a well-worth investment of both but that it presented a unique model that celebrated and awarded projects through a scope and approach different than the rest.
One of the biggest complaints about design awards and competitions is that they consist of juries full of designers who then pat other designers on the back, a vicious circle that doesn’t demonstrate how design is appreciated and understood by people other than designers. Our approach was to include “clients” in the jury. After all, it is clients who initiate the process of designing a logo, identity, or brand program, and it is they who must appreciate, understand, and, more importantly, approve for implementation the work we do. We built our jury around five individuals: three designers and two clients, where we asked two of the designers to each invite one of their clients. While we presumed this would work, we were thrilled to see the balance that was actually achieved on judging day.
The relationship between designer and client then became the foundation for the Brand New Awards: In order to be published, all the winning projects would need to provide a statement from their client in which it could be demonstrated that their expectations were met. Some of these client statements provide surprisingly succinct and effective proof that working with a great identity designer, firm, or consultancy is of the utmost importance to any organization. Client statements also helped rid our awards of a recurring malady in other competitions: winning work that was never produced or concept work that never faced the rigors of implementation.
Another important aspect of our model was to establish categories that reflect the work identity designers do, regardless of how big or small their own businesses, or clients, may be. The most popular category was not surprisingly “Logos.” We received 243 of them, ranging from a local laundromat to a global pharmaceutical company. Using the logo as the foundation, we built up in scale and complexity of a project: from “Logo and Identity Animations” to “Basic Identity Applications” to “Comprehensive Identity Programs” to “Guideline Documents.” There are further details and insight about each of these in the category openers of the book.
To complement the traditional “Best of Show” award we added two special awards: one for “Design Effectiveness,” awarded to the project best able to summarize the quantitative and qualitative effects of a project, and the other for “Client Leadership,” awarded to the project best able to exemplify the leadership of an individual or group of individuals on the client side to oversee the development and implementation of an identity. Entrants were given the option to nominate their project by submitting a written summary. Unfortunately, of all the winning entries none provided a nomination and these special awards went unclaimed. We had originally secured sponsorship for these awards so that each winner would receive $3,000 that UnderConsideration would donate in their name to a charity of their choice. Since only Best of Show was awarded — sponsored by Neenah Paper — the other $6,000 secured from Pattison Sign Group and MailChimp were split among the four Best of Category winners in the professional level, each assigned $1,500 to select a charity to donate to.
The Brand New Awards were also open to students as a recognition that imaginative identity work, free of the constraints of professional work, is being done in classrooms around the world.
As interesting as it was to formulate an alternative model for a competition and raise $9,000 for charity, the main purpose of the Brand New Awards was to find the very best identity work being done around the world, and the result is this compilation of 101 projects that represent work from freelance designers to multinational brand consultancies, for indie musicians to global corporations, from Australia to Peru to the United States to the United Kingdom to Singapore and more. Our judges’ discerning selections capture a snapshot of the field of identity design in 2010, reflecting the most successful collaborations between a client and their designer, design firm, brand consultancy, or internal creative team.
Congratulations to the winners and many thanks to all who entered,
Bryony Gomez-Palacio + Armin Vit