A guided tour to JRS Knowhow’s design journey with Port Creative

Port Creative were our design partner for both the development of our branding and our website. We interviewed Andy from the Edinburgh based design studio to find out a bit more about the inspiration behind the design journey.


What hot beverage fuels your creative work?

Black coffee – preferably filter but instant will do, as long as it’s strong and black.

Do you prefer starting your ideas with pen and paper or do you immediately start work digitally on a computer?

Ideas can come from anywhere and be influenced by anything, so I always have a pen and pad on me. That said, sometimes the immediacy of an idea can be captured directly on the Mac but, even then, I tend to develop and explore ideas with sketches on paper. Computer app skills are an industry essential but equally, I don’t think you can be a designer without being able to draw to a certain extent – it’s still a very important skill in the creative process.

Who is your design hero?

So many! Graphic designer Saul Bass, Susan Kare (icon and font designer for AppleMac), Margaret Calvert (UK road sign designer) and product designer Dieter Rams. Some of whom I’ve been lucky enough to meet over the years like Alan Fletcher, Ben Kelly and Rodney Fitch. I adore the work of the late, great set designer Kenneth Adam but my absolute hero is the probably lesser known Gillis Lundgren, design pioneer for Ikea. He’s probably best remembered for his furniture design including the company’s ‘Billy’ bookcase range that started the revolution in flat-pack furniture. He was however, a true multidisciplinary designer and, as the fourth employee of Ikea, was initially responsible for the company branding, graphics and catalogue design that we’re all familiar with today.

How did you approach the branding for our new social enterprise?

Every agency has its ‘formula for success’ when creating or developing a brand but for this and most other branding projects and I follow these steps:

A. Dissect and investigate: From the client’s brief distil the information to ascertain the key challenge – getting to a simple, agreed, statement of the ‘nub’ of the issue early on can help produce accurate, focused work.

B. Do homework: get under the skin of a brand, its marketplace, competitors and trading environment.

The knowledge acquired from steps A & B should provide a more focused response not only identifying the commercial challenge, but also serving as a solid foundation for creative development. It’s then important to ensure brand integrity and consistent implementation across all channels.

How did you draw inspiration from our parent charity JustRight Scotland’s branding?

I was very fortunate to have been involved with JustRight Scotland right from its very beginning. Kirsty and Jen’s vision for a new, fresh thinking legal practice required slightly different creative thinking to that of a traditional law practice and we delivered these attributes in a bold, smart and approachable identity. The JustRight Scotland brand footprint has certainly grown as they’ve established themselves as one of, if not, the leading human rights practice in Scotland. I think the logo remains authentic and clearly distinguishable from other brands in that category and the supporting graphic elements created for factsheets, print, website, etc. evoke an immediate response from clients.

The same approach has been applied to the JRS Knowhow. The new logotype incorporates an aspirational human figure icon and faceted star, representing the wide range of services on offer. It has a clear link with the wider JustRight Scotland portfolio but illustrates quite clearly this is something new. To accompany the logo, I developed a range of pictograms and illustrations that represent the accessible, inclusive and fun digital learning experiences offered by this new social enterprise. The visual language populates the new website and will be used throughout future compositions.

What was your most memorable moment creating the JRS Knowhow brand and website?

Completing a job and seeing your work out in the marketplace getting noticed and making a difference is hugely satisfying but receiving a good initial reaction to the first presentation of ideas and concepts is always an exciting moment and confirms your thinking’s on track – for this project, Jen’s email saying ‘Thanks – these are fantastic! …’ was that memorable moment.

How did the Port Creative team approach graphic design and web design with the brief of being accessible and inclusive?

In response to the brief the graphic design elements were created using high contrasting colours, web legible fonts and single column paragraphs to ensure that the site is easy to navigate and can be understood by as wide an audience as possible. Once completed, we self audited and benchmarked the site using the WebAim accessibility evaluation tool – the site achieved AA compliance which is accepted as a very good commitment to accessibility.

If you could interview anyone about their creative process, who would it be?

I’m fascinated by how other creative industries approach their creative process. I particularly enjoy watching or listening to documentaries about how bands and producers create and arrange music – even better if it’s a fly-on-the-wall doc like the Stones creating ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ as featured in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1968 film of the same name. So, it would have to be an interview with current favourite J. Willgoose, Esq (Public Service Broadcasting) or producer Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, Daughter, Savages, Hot Chip, and Gil Scott-Heron).


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