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Matter and Diageo

The Project Brief:

- How can we use design to generate fresh insight for established global brands?
- The importance of understanding these brands; the history and heritage that surrounds them, the subtleties of the visual language and formal qualities that makes them individual, and perhaps most importantly, what all this means to the people that connect with and buy into them.
- How design can turn a solid understanding of these abstract qualities into tangible, Intelligent and brand relevant pieces of product and pack design.

The Design Opportunity:

Students were asked to investigate consumer relationships with a number of Diageo’s brands, Smirnoff, Guinness, Baileys and Johnnie Walker. What were the emotional triggers within these brand experience’s that made connections with people and how can we translate theses insights into stimulating and exciting pieces of design.

Project Scope:

Some students were asked to work on Diageo’s brands within the context of North America, others with a brief centered around emerging trends and consumer behaviour closer to home, in the UK. This split helped students build an appreciation of how cultural subtleties and unique consumer preferences make brand activity in these two markets very different.

The starting point for the briefs were established brands and real consumer data provided by Diageo and Matter. The students were asked to develop design solutions that communicated one of two specific qualities identified by Diageo as motivating benefits for consumers in the two respective territories.

Phase One - What we did and how we did it:

From the outset the intention was to create a ‘real world’ atmosphere, as close to professional consultancies working for clients as possible. The students were split into ‘mini consultancies’ of three designers, complete with self-created branded identities. Although initial consumer insight briefings were carried out with the whole group, all subsequent interim reviews and presentations were private sessions with each individual team, Matter and Diageo. Creating a healthy sense of competition between the teams that undoubtedly contributed to the high quality of creative output and some students going that extra mile.

The first stage of the project comprised of the teams working independently to develop their understanding of the brands they had chosen to work with. They were encouraged to take an experiential approach to this initial creative work. Diageo’s brands do not exist in isolation as product and packaging propositions so exploring the wider brand experience was an important consideration.

As project initiators and consultants to Diageo, Matter played a key role in the project. After the initial briefings Matter worked with the students on a regular basis, providing additional support and guidance ensuring the teams creative work remained focused on developing solutions with a strong fit with Diageo’s brands.

Phase Two - What we did and how we did it:

The teams now focused in more closely on one or two concept areas, working in finer detail, the teams began refining concepts. Many of the teams took a hands on approach creating mock-ups and quick rigs to illustrate their ideas during interim review sessions. The continued engagement with Matter and Diageo throughout the project allowed the students to really develop all aspect of their project management and communication skills, learning to talk with confidence and clarity about there work with experienced creatives and brand managers.

The lead concepts were refined, resulting in a series of more polished visuals, models and presentations. These presentations captured each individual teams complete journey through the project. How they had explored and developed there understanding of specific brands and the markets they were active in.

The Results:

The high quality of the creative work and level of professionalism shown by the students was commended by Diageo and resulted in the students being invited to present their work in front of senior personnel at Diageo’s headquarters in NYC.

Everyone involved in this Collaborative project showed commitment, stretch and creativity akin to any Diageo brand agency. Matter, in turn, brought a discipline and direction throughout all aspects of the project which meant that the students and their deliverables emerged polished and passionate.

Concept Development Manager, Matthew Blackmore, Diageo Innovation

Matter and Diageo’s investment of time and desire to work seriously with undergraduate designers paid off with a body of useful and inspiring creative work, with a number of the teams presentations providing stimulus for Diageo’s ever evolving global project pipeline. 

Course info

UCAS Code W245

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 4 years Full Time

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

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