No longer is a brief just about colour, clean lines and paper stock weights. Increasingly, explains Matthew Remphrey (Principal & Creative Director, Parallax Design), being a designer is about understanding identity, markets and strategy.
“We’re getting more projects with more of a strategic angle, where we help clients with how to reposition their business, or whether there’s a gap in the market that a client could potentially fill. As designers, we can look at a business project in a completely different way. The outcome might not be a new logo.” Parallax Design, established in Adelaide in 2001, has a varied portfolio, but one of their clear passions is wine. With clients ranging from the colossal (Lion Nathan/Petaluma) to the boutique (Henry’s Drive), Parallax understands what makes wine – and its drinkers – tick. In the case of Henry’s Drive, their expertise and care led to Parallax not only naming the Padthaway wineyard’s signature lines (Pillar Box, Dead Letter Office), but the winery itself. “The reason behind it was: where the cellar door and vineyards are in Padthaway, that used to be the halfway point for the mail coach going from Adelaide to Melbourne, and they used to rest their horses there,” says Remphrey. “The proprietor of that coach was Henry Hill, so that’s why we called it Henry’s Drive with everything to follow on a postal theme.” Naming a winery – naming a client’s company – is one of the unique services Parallax provides. They can even design and commission Fathers’ Day socks if required. But so changed is the business of design in modern times. Developing logos, labels and business cards (and even knitwear) is not enough for a business to compete. Creativity, strategy and attention-to-clients are the new imperatives. Wether it’s the internet age or the contemporary trend towards multi-skilling, but in Remphrey’s experience, businesses and consumers are savvier and have higher expectations of brands. This means brands have higher expectations of what design firms can bring to the table. “One of the other changes that we’ve noticed is, say 10 years ago, quite often advertising agencies would hold the clients and you would get projects out of ad agencies requesting you to come and do the design work for them,” says Remphrey. “The advertising agencies would almost be the brand custodians for their clients and they would commission design work out. Now what we’re finding, with some of our wine clients like Wirra Wirra and Lion [Nathan], is that we’re the brand custodians and we’re now interviewing ad agencies for that. So we’re developing the brand stories and then briefing ad agencies on that and how to roll that out into their campaigns.” While aesthetics and the traditional ‘design’ aspect of their work is still vital, sometimes their projects come to aesthetic-less conclusions. “We did a project with a financial association and they wanted to introduce a new logo and a new name, but the main thing that came out of that project with them was the introduction of a new level of membership, which completely solved most of the problems they were facing. “Yes, it was a non-design outcome, but it comes out of that [way of] looking at a problem and thinking about it differently. In that instance, they didn’t need to have a new business card; there was another way to solve their problem.” These new responsibilities are not daunting, says Remphrey. “I think it’s good; that’s what drives us and gets us up in the morning. It’s a much more fulfilling role to play than just saying ‘Oh, we just need a label at the end of the day’.” parallaxdesign.com.au