After a very successful inaugural Brand New Awards that celebrated the best identity work from 2010 where we received 547 entries, selected 101 winners, and published a handsome 256-page book and a slick iPad app with the winning selections, our goals for the sophomore effort were to grow the breadth of entries and entrants, streamline the entry process, and highlight once again the very best identity work from around the world as recognized by some of the best designers and clients in the industry.
The first two sets of goals were easily achieved: We improved the online submission process so that all information and work could be uploaded electronically. This accomplished two things: costly and resource-eating shipments were not required and international entrants had one less barrier to submit their work. The result was an increase to 598 entries total and 8% more international entries, accounting for 42% of total entries received, while the remaining 58% came from the United States. Even though all the work was received as digital files everything was printed for when our judges convened in Austin, TX, to select the winning work. While it would now be easier than ever to conduct judging off-site without incurring travel costs for our judges, we strongly believe that judging work online is detrimental to finding the best work and honoring the fees paid by entrants.
The third goal—finding the best identity work produced in 2011—proved to be slightly harder this time around. Although there was an increase in entries, there was an overall decrease in the delight they generated—not just in our judges, but in us as well. The Logo category was especially weak this year, most apparent by the lack of a Best of Category winner. “Considering the opportunities we have today for making identities more subtle and fluid,” said judge Brett Wickens, “I was surprised by how narrow the range of explorations seemed.” To which his client at Autodesk, Michiel Schriever added, “The disappointment was mainly caused by the lack of originality or strong conceptual thinking.” And Paula Scher, who has done and seen plenty of identity work in the last thirty years, concluded that she “Did not feel much of it was surprising or especially innovative.” Hard to hear but would be irresponsible on our part not to report.
However, as this collection of winning work proves, it wasn’t a bleak year in identity design. The selected entries showcase the best the industry has to offer: work that tells a story, is expertly executed, and is appropriate for the client and relevant to its audience. This is especially evident in the larger projects that make up the Comprehensive Identity Programs category, where full-fledged thinking and implementation give visual form to the voice of the dozens of clients whose work is represented here. “Design for branding and identity,” summarizes judge Andrew Blauvelt, “was strongest and most creative as an expression of a holistic and varied program and much weaker when considered as a singular mark or logo or even a smaller-scale program of applications. This approach fits the winning formula of the last decade or so.”
These sentiments, along with our continued interest in celebrating and honoring the best identity work around the world, as well as establishing the highest standards against which all other work is measured, will keep driving us to improve the Brand New Awards each year. As we hatch a strategy for next year and as you and others are busy creating outstanding work in 2012, we hope you enjoy the highlights of 2011.
Congratulations to the winners and many thanks to all who entered.
Bryony Gomez-Palacio + Armin Vit