Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Lucy's view: Ben Affleck as Batman? Just think of it as a rebrand

Batman Superman logo 2015
The logo for the Batman and Superman
film to be released in 2015.
There seems to be a lot of negativity around the decision to cast Ben Affleck as the new Batman, and I can see people's concerns. But let's face it, this is not the first time this has happened and it will not be the last, I am sure people remember the media hype around Daniel Craig being cast as James Bond, and look how that turned out. For the record, I am aware James Bond is not a superhero, but his character is treated in a very similar way. Everyone has a favourite 'Bond' just like everyone has a favourite Superman, Spiderman, and obviously Batman, and I think it's pretty obvious that every actor brings something different to the role.

We oppose change

We humans are creatures of habit, and tend to resist change, and this is true across every aspect of our lives. And shaking up the casting of our favourite superheroes is always going to cause a stir. But superheroes are not the people in the suits, they are the characters with compelling stories, from comics dating back to the 30's (DC was founded in 1934, Marvel in 1939). Having a brother who is majorly into his comic books, I am learning that there are so many different story lines and variations in characters, that there is no way that the films can even keep up!

Also, these superheroes do not seem to age much. Kirk Alyn was the first actor to play Superman, way back in the 40s, there is no way he could still be playing the role now! And I am sure there was some upset when he was replaced, just like what's going on with Batman now.

Another factor to consider is that different comic book writers have brought their own spin to the characters, take the Tobey Maguire "Spiderman", and Andrew Garfield "The Amazing Spiderman", both actors are portraying a different Spiderman, created by two different sets of writers. Both required different actors, as both are essentially different characters, just they have the same name. It's a lot more complicated than it seems on the surface, which is why I trust the people casting for these roles, they know what they are doing! Ultimately, times change, roles and actors change, and thus people are replaced.

Tobey Maguire Andrew Garfield Spiderman
Tobey Maguire as Spiderman (left). Andrew Garfield as "The Amazing Spiderman" (right).
You can tell the character / icon is still Spiderman, effectively the character has just been rebranded.

"It's simple we kill [rebrand], the Batman" - The Joker

Whilst thinking about the news of Ben Affleck's casting, I couldn't help but notice the similarities between this situation and rebranding, as essentially, that is what's happening. Batman is still Batman, there is just a different guy behind the mask. He still has the same name, he just looks and acts a bit different, within the constraints of the character. Sound like a rebrand to you?

Batman is technically a brand, his suit and logo are icons of his brand, and it is a brand's icons that stick with you as a consumer. But, as Interbrand so succinctly put it:

"Icons are tremendous assets with incredible value, however they require regular updating to infuse them with new and relevant meaning."

As much as we like things to stay the same, we sometimes have to admit to ourselves that things have got a bit tired, or, if we're savvy, we may decide to freshen things up whilst we're still onto a good thing. And this is when we decide to rebrand. It's probably a good job Christian Bale got out now, soon we'd be complaining things had become too 'samey'. At some point, you, or in Batman's case Warner Bros., have to take a leap and change things, and wait for both the positive, confused, and negative reactions. Nobody is ever going to please everybody!

We feel strongly towards our favourite characters because we have empathy with them. When a different comic book writer writes about a well known character, or a new actor is cast for our favourite superhero, they are going to bring their interpretation to the table, it is still the same character, but just slightly different. Superficially our feelings may change towards the character, maybe because we don't like the new writer or actor as much, but remember, it's the writer or actor you're not keen on, not the character itself. The same rules apply to rebranding, people may initially not warm to a new look, but it's what's underneath that retain customers and keeps people interested. Like a brand, the suit and, the character's name, are just the first of many layers that people experience when interacting with a brand.

Change is good, but remember your story

itv rebrand
The itv rebrand caused quite a stir when it was launched, now it is
accepted as "the norm".
In a rebrand, you may change your logo, colour palette and strap lines, you may even change your name! But underneath you are the same company, probably with the same mission and values. You are essentially the same, you just look a bit different, you may even act a bit differently. During a rebrand you might strengthen your policies, tighten your internal operations, and become bigger, bolder, and better. One of the most important things to remember in business is that your brand will mean different things to different people. Individuals will interpret your brand in different ways, and this is how a unique business to customer relationship is formed. If you change things peoples feelings may change, but you are likely to attract more people to your business if you are brave, change things, and throw yourself out there. What makes you shine more than any of this is your story, both as a company, and as an individual, this is your continuity, what carries through your old and new brands, this is what people buy into.

As previously mentioned, the decision to cast Ben Affleck has caused controversy, but the experts have selected him for the role, and I am sure they have considered Batman's characteristics when making this decision. In the same vane, when undertaking a rebrand, it is important to consult experts. You know your brand better than anyone, but it's the expert that will help you to unearth the true potential of your brand. An expert will help you to reinvent, reinvigorate and rejuvenate, whilst making sure that there is a clear continuity between old and new. 

Let's not write Ben off just yet, let's embrace change and give it some time to become the norm, then we can start complaining all over again when Warner Bros. decide it's time for another recast, sorry, rebrand!

We'd love to hear your opinions, tweet us @ubd_studio

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Yorkshire Day- a reason to celebrate Yorkshire's finest food and drink

Here at United by Design, we are very proud to be situated in Yorkshire. You could probably already tell this from our previous blog post, highlighting some of our favourite places to visit from around the county. We're back today, on Yorkshire Day no less, to sing the praises of some more of our wonderful clients, who produce some award-winning food and drink goodies right here in the heart of Yorkshire.


Sloes, damsons and cherries, plucked straight from the hedgerows and orchards of Yorkshire, are the key ingredients for the delicious range of spirits, chocolates and chutneys available from award winning SLOEmotion. The spirits can be enjoyed on their own, or as part of a cocktail, (see their website for some great ideas), and their SLOEmotion No.7 fruit cup is a great addition to a summer party.

SLOEmotion can be found at many of the fayres and shows around Yorkshire, the next place to spot them is the York Food & Drink Festival coming up on September 20th - 29th.

Sloe Motion Miniatures
Sloe Miniatures. 

Choc Affair

As we've discussed before, York has strong ties to chocolate, with some of the worlds most well-loved brands starting their lives in the city. Nowadays chocolatey innovation is still taking place, and Choc Affair are really pushing the boundaries of pairing chocolate with unusual, yet delicious flavours – Lucy recommends the lime and lavendar. Their brightly packaged bars, lollies and other yummy treats can be found in several stores around Yorkshire (see their website for more information), and you can even go and visit the factory (enquire online).

Choc Affair flavour range
Just some of the flavours available from Choc Affair.

Lu Lin

From sourcing the leaves, to it arriving in your teapot, Lu Lin oversee everything, ensuring you the highest quality loose leaf tea. It's that good that you can find it in Harrods, and the company have won several Great Taste Gold Awards. Lu Lin also have all the kit to make your tea time special, including teapots and teacups especially for loose tea. Their Tea Cubed and blooming teas are real innovations and bring a sense of the futuristic to a drink that has been a world favourite for over 4000 years.

Lu Lin Tea Range
Lu Lin Tea Range.

Treboom Brewery

Currently undertaking their first foray into bottling, Treboom's mission is to bang the drum for good beer, and as far as we are concerned, they are succeeding. Their beers can be found on tap in several pubs around York, and we can expect bottles to be hitting shelves some time in the next few months. Treboom have won several awards for their beers, have brewed a special beer, Myricale, in support of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, and their Kettle Drum Best Bitter is being used in Harrogate Preserves Co.'s Ale, Fig and Apricot chutney, they are a very busy brewery! But they even made time to have an art, beer and food festival in June, called Brewery Beats. We are sure there are even more great things in store for Treboom, so make sure you keep an eye out for those new bottles!

John and Jane, Treboom
Jane and John at Treboom Brewery, Image from York Press.

Elland Brewery

Originally formed in 2002, Elland Brewery ales can be found on tap and in bottles. The brewery has won several awards from SIBA and CAMRA, and this year launched a Pale Ale, Charity, at Clifford Beer Festival, to help raise money for FDM (For Disability Mobility). Elland's beers have been sampled by Christine Talbot from Calendar, who attended the brewing of Charity, and Holly Willoughby on This Morning. We are very proud to have worked with Elland on the design of the pump clip for Charity, and hope that it's success has helped FDM in their hard work.

FDM operate a specially modified minibus to provide transport for the elderly, disabled adults, people with mobility problems, and children in the south Leeds area. The bus can be used for shopping trips and days or evenings out.

Christine Talbot Elland Brewery Charity
Calendar's Christine Talbot at Elland Brewery.

Indie shops and food festivals

As big foodies, we love to shop from the independent stores, and Yorkshire has no shortage of those! From York, Leeds and Malton, to Bridlington, Hull and Whitby, everywhere has their own specialities to shout about, and this makes Yorkshire a great culinary experience for all. One of the best things about Yorkshire's love for food is the vast array of markets and festivals that can be found around the county. Market towns are aplenty, and one in particular, which we're quite fond of, Malton, have a monthly food lover's market, you should check it out, you may even see some of our lovely clients there! We're also looking forward to York's Food & Drink Festival, which we've already mentioned is coming up soon.

York Food & Drink Market
York Food & Drink Market.

Happy Yorkshire Day everybody!

Do you have a favourite Yorkshire delicacy, or a favourite indie food shop? Let us know, tweet us @ubd_studio

Monday, 22 July 2013

Plenty of reasons to holiday in Yorkshire

With the weather the way it is, there is no reason to need to head on over to Spain or the south of France for your dose of sunshine. And as for things to do, the UK, and in particular, Yorkshire, has a wealth of places to visit and things to see. So whatever you're planning to do with your time in the sunshine, Yorkshire has something for you. Here at United by Design we are proud to work with some of the wonderful attractions situated all around Yorkshire, here are just a few:

Heading to the city?

York is a beautiful city, full of history, as well as beer gardens to sit and soak up the sun in! But if the sun is getting too much, and you're looking for some shade, as well as a place to soak up some culture, then York has some really great options.

York Mansion House sits right in the middle of the city, and for over 300 years has been the official residence of the Lord Mayor of York, one of only two Mansion Houses remaining in the UK, the other one being in London. This beautiful house runs tours Thursday - Sunday, or you can book one of the themed tours for groups of between 10 and 30.

York Mansion House
York Mansion House

Another magnificent building in the centre of York is the Merchant Adventurers' Hall. Originally built 650 years ago as a meeting place for Medieval merchants, the building now houses silver, furniture and art collections which help to tell the story of the hall. Throughout summer the house is open every day. The beautiful gardens surrounding the hall are a great place to stop and get out of the hustle and bustle of the shopping areas.

Undercroft in Merchant Adventurers' Hall
The Undercroft- Merchant Adventurers Hall

And if you're visiting York then you may be looking for a place to stay. It's a lesser known fact that York Conferences offer bed and breakfast facilities within the halls of the York University, for very reasonable rates. The Uni is situated around 2 miles from the city centre with regular buses to and from the centre and the railway station.

Cooling off on the coast?

Situated on the picturesque headland at Flamborough you can find the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Living Seas Centre. The centre is free to visit and provides you with information about all the work the YWT is doing to protect the marine habitat. You can get involved with seashore safaris, beach cleans, living seas safaris and much more! There's lots for the kids too, the centre has a 'magic floor' and provides marine themed arts and crafts activities, so grab a cuppa while the kids are entertained, then head down onto South Landing beach to get up-close and personal with some of the Yorkshire coastal wildlife.

Living Seas Centre at South Landing, Flamborough
The Living Seas Centre at South Landing- Flamborough.

If you're heading a bit further south then it's definitely worth checking out Spurn Point.  This unique spit of land is a great place to relax, take in the sea air and witness some of Yorkshire's diverse wildlife; the area is very popular with bird watchers. When the road is open you can drive down the spit, but please check before visiting, sometimes the road is shut due to poor weather.

Lighthouses at Spurn Point
Lighthouses at Spurn- Credit Kelvin Percival

Prefer the countryside?

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust guidebook will tell you everything you need to know about all the nature reserves throughout Yorkshire, but there are a couple that we have worked with closely that deserve a special mention.

Potteric Carr, just outside of Doncaster, is great place to spot Kingfishers and other species that enjoy wetland habitats. The Kingfisher Tearooms are a great place to stop before or after a walk around the reserve, and the paths are even suitable for pushchairs. Check out their sightings blog on the website to get an idea of what you might spot when you visit.

Potteric Carr
Potteric Carr- Credit Paul Carter.

Another wetland habitat worth a visit is Staveley Nature Reserve where otters are spotted regularly. Visit the viewing hides so you can take in the peace and quiet, and observe some of Yorkshire's varied and beautiful wildlife.

Aerial shot of Staveley Reserve
Aerial shot of Staveley.

Or are towns more your thing?

One town you must visit is Malton, especially if you are a foodie. Malton hosts an annual Food Lovers Festival, as well as an annual Beer Festival, both of which are popular with locals and tourists alike. There are also monthly Food Lovers Markets, and the town boasts about it's independent food shops, which are supplied by the rich farmland surrounding the town. If you're in to fine dining then you could always book a table at James Martin's restaurant in the Talbot Hotel.  As an added bonus, due to the generosity of our newest client Fitzwilliam Estates, parking in the town centre is free (2 hours), meaning you will have plenty of time to explore and taste some of the delights the town has to offer.

Malton market square
Malton's market square.

As you can see, with all this on your doorstep, (or a few hours drive at most), why would you need to go anywhere else?

Where is your favourite place to visit in Yorkshire? Do you have a favourite attraction? Tweet us @ubd_studio

Friday, 19 July 2013

Guest Post- Luna Moon iPhone Case

Kiera's broken HTC phone
Kiera's HTC phone!
For the last two weeks we have had two more members of the United by Design team: Kiera and Esme, students from Joseph Rowntree School, through the NYBEP immerse education programme, who have been here on their work experience. As well as working on some of the live briefs in the studio alongside Annabel and Ross, the pair have also been introduced to the social media side of things, and we tasked them with writing a blog post. Having looked at our previous posts, the girls were inspired by the Apple accessories post we released last week. They have found another great accessory they wanted to share, the Luna Moon iPhone Case.


This week I upgraded from my old HTC to an iPhone. To say it was in less than good condition would be an understatement. My phone I’d had before the HTC was also smashed to pieces. So considering the condition of my previous phones, I thought it was probably a good idea to actually purchase a case for my new phone.

The problem with trying to buy a phone case is the fact that there are just so many to choose from. Unless you are looking for a particular type of case, you could very easily end up scrolling through endless pages of cases, that all look pretty similar.

Whilst browsing for inspiration Esme came across the ‘Luna iPhone Skin’.


The skin is made from a thin, flexible concrete, and has individual craters on it’s surface. The innovative design is unique to each skin, no two are the same. The product is named ‘Luna’ as the finished result looks like the surface of the Moon. The skin sticks on the back of the model, like a screen protector. We really liked the design as it was innovative and unmatched. As it is one of the sturdiest backs for an iPhone that you can buy, I think Kiera needs one.

Luna iPhone Skin
The Luna iPhone Skin.

"We’ve both been on work experience here at United By Design for the past two weeks, and we’ve loved being here. Our work placement has been interesting, educational, and everyone has been really helpful and lovely. It’s fun too. Thanks guys."

Sources of information:

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Owen's View: 'Branding' yourself- tattoos

Examples of sugar skulls
Examples of sugar skulls
Since my college days I have been thinking about getting a tattoo, but haven't yet made the commitment to a design that I am prepared to wear on my body for the rest of my life. Our recent work with Treboom Brewery, and our research into sugar skulls got me once again thinking about tattoos, but also branding, and how the two are alike in so many ways. 

Tattoos symbolise being part of tradition, part of a group or clan, or to stand out and even shock. In the same vein, the reason businesses and individuals 'brand' is to differentiate themselves from the next person or business.

Recently the worlds of branding and tattoos have mixed quite dramatically, with huge brands including Reebok, Red Bull, HBO, ASOS and Sailor Jerrys offering free tattoos at various film and music events. The number of willing participants just proves how dedicated some brand fans can be, and that tattoos are no longer a symbol of rebellion.

And what about being dedicated to your company? I have thought about having the United by Design logo tattooed on my body, but this is my business, it's a part of me and something I feel strongly about. But I am not so sure about what's going on over in New York at Rapid Realty, the company is offering a 15% rise in commission to every member of staff who has the company's logo tattooed on them. Over 40 staff have been inked so far!

Tattooing is highly profiled in the media. The rise in popularity of shows such as Miami Ink is inspiring more people than ever to go out and get inked. The amount of celebrities now sporting tattoos makes the once frowned upon art-form even more part of the norm. After the 2012 Olympics, several of the GB athletes, including the majority of the women's basketball team, went and had tattoos incorporating the 5 Olympic rings, highlighting their dedication and pride to sport, Great Britain and the Olympic games.

Azania Stewart- member of GB women's basketball team with tattoo
Azania Stewart- Member of GB Women's Basketball team with her tattoo.

On the other hand, there is still a certain amount of prejudice when it comes to those with tattoos. Air New Zealand have been forced to rethink their policies after being slated for turning away a prospective employee due to her moko, (Maori), tattoo on her forearm. It is reasonable to say that some tattoos are offensive or inappropriate, but taking in pride in your heritage is no bad thing!

In Japan, tattoos still shock and unnerve people, as the showing of body art by Yakuza gang members is considered a sign of aggression. Attitudes are warming slightly to the tradition, as more and more people have started experimenting with irezumi (japanese style of tattooing).

As for my tattoo, I am inspired by japanese, polynesian and moko styles, in fact I have a Pinterest board dedicated to the tattoos that inspire me, check it out here. While I continue to make my mind up I may experiment with some temporary tattoos, such as these by Lydia Leith.

And just like tattoos, branding is something that has to be thought about and considered carefully. There should be a meaning behind your choice and why you are going ahead with such an investment. With regards to both tattoos and branding, seeking advice from an expert, and doing your research, are paramount. It may cost you, but you want the job to be done properly- money definitely well spent if you're going to have the branding, or the tattoo, for a VERY long time!

Are you inked? Tweet us some inspiration @ubd_studio

Sources of information:

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Lucy's View: Weird and wonderful Apple accessories

Whilst browsing Reddit over the last couple of days, (the place a lot of my blog inspiration comes from), I noticed that there seems to be a few accessories for your Apple products that would probably raise a few eyebrows in Dragon's Den. However, as ridiculous as they may seem, these products exist, and some of them seem to be doing pretty well. Here are the top three Apple accessories that I have found on Reddit this week:

The iPhone lifejacket:

At first this product seemed a bit ridiculous to me. But, the more I have looked at it, and read other people's comments, the more it makes sense. This piece of kit will set you back around $40, but that's a lot less than the damage that could be caused by drowning your iPhone. The lifejacket is not waterproof, so you would have to get a waterproof case separately, but the LifeProof lifejacket will stop your phone from sinking, which is pretty important if you're into sailing, kayaking, or even just lounging around in a jacuzzi, and you like to have your phone on hand.
iPhone lifejacket

Lapka- taking being aware of your environment to an extreme:

Ever wondered how much radiation is in the air around you? Been out for a meal and wondered how organic your steak was? Wanted to know the humidity in case your hair might frizz? Well this little set of beautiful designed tools can tell you all that, and more. Incorporating a Geiger counter, electromagnetic field meter (EMF), humidity and temperature gauge, and an organic meter, these little blocks are designed to make you more aware of the world around you, and how it could be affecting you and your family. The associated App stores your readings, so you can keep track of what you are being exposed to on a daily basis. I am sure there will be more meters added to the collection over the years. The set will cost you around $220, and if you're into science and being more aware of your surroundings, I guess it's worth it. The designers of Lapka said the look they were aiming for was "YSL meets NASA" and personally I think they have pulled this off beautifully.

Lapka iPhone meters

A $15million yacht that can be controlled by your iPad? I kid you not…

And now for the most extravagant accessory that possibly will ever exist. I already thought it was pretty amazing that remote controlled helicopters can be used with an iPad, but this really does take the biscuit. The stunningly designed superyacht can be controlled by an iPad up to 50 metres away! Looking like something that has just come out of Star Trek, this really is the ultimate gadget.

iPad superyacht

Have you spotted any weird and wonderful Apple accessories? Tweet us @ubd_studio

(I am not sure whether any of this technology is available in the UK yet, all the prices I can seem to find are in dollars)

Source of Information:

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Lucy's View: Dolby Atmos- bringing sound in the cinema to life!

Logo and strapline for Dolby AtmosI love the cinema. For ages I just didn't go but recently I can't get enough! Maybe it's because production companies are bringing out films that I simply can't wait to see, Despicable Me 2 being the next on my list. Or maybe it's the atmosphere, and sharing the hype that goes with being one of the first to see a new release. When Iron Man 3 came out I was there for the 00:01 showing, because that's how excited I was, call me sad / nerdy, but we all have things we 'geek out' on!

That being said, you can probably imagine how excited I was when, flipping through E&T magazine, I read about the latest advances in cinema sound. What with 3D now common place, sound needed to catch up with the visual feast that goes on when you go and see that latest blockbuster on the big screen, and that's where Dolby Atmos comes in.

What is Dolby Atmos?

So far, in the UK, there is only one cinema that has this new technology installed, and of course you will find it in London: Empire's Leicester Square complex. This 3D sound system will integrate up to 64 speakers, all of which can be individually isolated to pin-point sound to a certain location in the cinema. Not only that, but because of the isolation of the speakers, the sound can move, dragging you further in to the cinema experience and immersing you deep into the movie atmosphere.

comparison of Dolby sound systems currently available
Diagrams comparing the three Dolby sound systems available at present. (From the Dolby website)

A few films have already been released supporting this new sound format, including Star Trek Into Darkness, in which people have claimed they found themselves ducking to avoid overhead space craft! This is the first time speakers will be placed in the ceiling, leading to a depth of sound never experienced before in the cinema. However it seems that the home cinema craze have already adopted this trend, Bang and Olufson, Bose, and Harmon Kardon have developed speakers specially designed to be installed into the ceiling.

Not only is the new technology exciting news for the average cinema buff, but film developers will no longer have to mix their sound to suit the number of speakers in the cinema, Dolby Atmos will do this for them, making the most of the speakers available, whether it be in a huge cinema, or a smaller independent establishment.

Rollout of this new sound technology may take some time. Cinemas will have to close in order to have their systems upgraded, and I doubt that it will be cheap. But I for one am looking forward to my cinema experience being all the more exciting!

Source of Information:
E&T Magazine Vol. 8 Issue. 6 July 2013