City of Culture

My neighbour, whose son was on the steering committee and is just returned from delivering the bid in Londonderry, announced the news this morning with uncontained delight. And I thought that bringing the Olympics to London was a long shot…

Kingston upon Hull. Perhaps not a city you’ve visited, perhaps not a city you intend to visit, not even ever! Were it not for the fact that I have roots here, I’m certain it’s a sentiment I would share. People of note are a bit thin on the ground – Philip Larkin, William Wilberforce and Amy Johnson head the list but when you discover that John Prescott and Maureen Lipman generally occupy the next few places, you realise that it’s a short one. And why would you go to Hull anyway, unless you were on your way to catch a ferry or got lost in Lincolnshire and were forcibly redirected over the bridge? It’s on the way to nowhere is it not? But in truth I have a strange affection for Hull and always have had. Many of my ancestors are from the city – my paternal Grandfather was the first curator of the Ferens Art Gallery, (one of the few standout pieces of architecture in an otherwise uniformly grey metropolis); a little oasis of colour and culture right at the heart of the city centre. My maternal grandparents, as children, remember seeing the zeppelins caught in the search lights during occasional bombing raids on the docks in the First War. The city was bombed most terribly during the Second, many of the grand civic buildings were spared but the hotchpotch of concrete that sprung up to replace the damage, the tenements and high-rises, the underpasses and multi-stories are as ugly as any in Britain. My Grandfather became Treasurer of the University at the same time that Larkin was the university librarian and my grandparents knew him well. I did a year’s Foundation Course at the College of Higher Education, a magical year in which I discovered art, creativity, self-expression for the first time. If ever there was city more ridiculed, and yet more deserving of this accolade, this opportunity to show what it can do, and more importantly what lies at the heart of it’s appeal, and always has… the folk who live there, it’s Hull. ‘Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough’, Betjeman could have been writing about Hull. Instead we have Larkin who made Hull his home for the last 30 years of his life and who, in spite of his taciturn and misogynistic outlook on life, has become synonymous with the city. David Mark, in his debut novel, Dark Winter, described Hull ‘as a city on its arse’ and in recent article for the Guardian writes’ It’s not the prettiest of places, and the wind that tumbles in from the sea can eat through to your bones, turning the citizens into gargoyles as they wince into the gales’. But David has lived in and around the city for 12 years, he probably has the same strange fondness for it that Larkin did… that I do.

“Come on you Ull” they shout every second Saturday at the KC Stadium. Come on indeed, here’s to 2017, here’s to all the hard work that got us here and to all the hard work between now and then to get the old girl ready. Perhaps finally, it’s time to revise the joke book and abandon the well worn clichés.

Congratulations to Hull. Named City of Culture for 2017, yesterday!

Ben Galloway

Are we on your Christmas card list?

Brand Inventions E-card 3 2013It’s that time of the year again when all of our senses are tantalised by those little things that make us smile – Christmas trees; mistletoe; mince pies; mulled wine; Christmas cards. And talking about Christmas cards … how many times have you found yourself hunting in vain for a really unusual and nicely designed Christmas card? Well, your hunt is over! At Brand Inventions, we understand that every business is different. You are unique and so are your clients. Christmas is the perfect opportunity to make your clients feel special and let them know how much you appreciate their custom. E-cards provide an inexpensive and greener alternative to traditional greetings cards and in times of austerity that has to be good news! Choose from one five different views. The cost is only £95 (plus an additional £5 if you would like us to supply you with all five views). The different views, labelled A to E, are illustrated below.

A Christmas in Montmartres
 View A
B Christmas in Montmartres View B C Christmas in Montmartres View C D Chistmas in Montmartres View D E Christmas in Montmartres View E Do also remember that if you would rather commission a traditional Christmas card that you can send out, we will very gladly design it for you at a cost of £95 +vat. We can either obtain a print-estimate from one of our trusted suppliers or alternatively, we will happily supply you with print-ready artwork that you can give to your own printer. For further examples of E-cards designed by Brand Inventions, please visit our portfolio at Pintrest at Please contact me with your requirements at  With seasonal best wishes, Marian Brand Inventions E-card 2013

Throw Momma from the Train!

Wordpress website launch image

We unveil our new look today. The results of our recent rebranding exercize are made public with the launch of a new website. We would be delighted if you would take a look and let us know what you think.

It has been a long and at times, difficult, process. Designing for your own company is surprisingly different to designing for a client. In every other instance you are adhering to a brief that has been discussed and agreed in advance. Our role is to interpret and implement that brief, (not always slavishly as I mentioned in an earlier article (The Role of the Designer), but nevertheless there are parameters and usually a clear steer on the project. When trying to create an identity for your own company you are having to put yourself in the position of the client. What is our brand? What do I want the brand to say about our company and the services we supply?  Who am I and where am I going… or very nearly! It is harder perhaps to determine these things for yourself, for your own business, than it is for another’s. Furthermore, not having quite the same time constraint makes the job harder, not easier. If you have an unspecified amount of time to complete the task, no rapidly approaching deadline, the focus on the project can slip. Creative types, on the whole are perfectionists, precisionists, anal retentitives, who care about the position of every mark, every comma, every full stop. Without a brief, without an overly attentive or anxious client, without a cheque at the end of the job to sugar the pill, it’s a surprisingly different experience; much like a painter and decorator whose own house is in need of attention and requires him to spend endless weekends at home on the DIY… or so I would imagine. The creative gift can sometimes feel like a curse. If ideas are like children, they can be long in the conception, difficult to give birth to and the product of your labours can often feel.. well, downright ugly. I think all creatives are familiar with those kind of feelings – the doubts, the endless revisions, the changes of heart or direction; the about-turns; the stops; the false starts.

And so it was for me over the last few months as I set about a new website for Brand Inventions. The equivalent of ‘writer’s block’ loomed large on a number of occasions. The remedy always, is just to keep going, even if you doubt the quality of the output. Inactivity is fatal. In ‘Throw Momma from the Train’ in possibly the wittiest & best-scripted scene from the film (and there are plenty to choose from); college teacher Larry Donner (Billy Cristal) ends his creative writing classes by reminding his pupils that “a writer writes, always”.  And so it has to be, for anyone who needs to earn his living through creative endeavour. An inventor invents. A designer must design. Everyone knows the difficulty of making the first brushmark on the big empty canvas, the first tentative mark on the brilliantly white sheet of paper, but harder still, inevitably, is knowing when you’ve made the last. At some point, you just have to put it out there.

Well, we’ve put it out there. It’s not perfect, it never is. Design, being a collaborative process, differs from fine-art in the sense that the painter treads his own solitary path – consensus and compromise are part of the designer’s art by its very nature. There’s a trade off between the role of the artist and the role of the marketeer. A website maybe a fancy shop window and ought to be dressed beautifully if it is to attract and inspire confidence but first and foremost, it’s a marketing tool, the most important asset in your armoury and it needs to be working hard for your business. We hope you like what we’ve put out there and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

What’s in it for me?

Sign-up for our free newsletter using the opt-in form (which can be found on the homepage or on the contact page), we will keep you informed of discounts, offers and special promotions which will save you money.

Contact us at Brand Inventions for all your creative design & print needs.

We look forward to your reaction to the website.

Ben Galloway

The Role of the Designer

As a creative design company we strive to be inventive, our company is called Brand Inventions after all. But design isn’t always about trying to conjure up something new. By definition, the creative process demands invention, but invariably it has more to do with reacting to what is already there. The broad brushmarks of language or style have often been established, the colours and hues are usually present, they simply require orchestration. The craft of the designer is akin to that of the goldsmith, rarely the alchemist.

The single most important thing a designer does is listen to their client. A designer cannot create a coherent message about the values a company wishes to project if they are uncertain as to what they are. The design process starts here, at the briefing stage. A good designer will be skilled at interpreting the brief and translating it successfully, but equally, a good client will be able to articulate the values and associations they wish to have expressed. Good design is about effective communication.

A dynamic relationship between client and designer, which fosters a process of critical thinking and debate, is paramount. Good design is also about balance. It isn’t about the designer getting their own way, nor is it about him slavishly bringing about the ideas of others. A designer is more than just a craftsman, he has to be an artist too. His vision and intuition are fundamental to the creative process. He listens, but then he must react. A designer must deliver on brief and achieve specific client objectives, but he is also responsible for creating something original, something both he and his industry can be proud of, something that bears scrutiny in its own right – in short, something that ‘stands up’. I suppose in this sense a designer can be described as an inventor. Artist, craftsman, inventor?  A good designer needs to be all three!

Ben Galloway

Design Matters

I have chosen to call our blog ‘Design Matters’ – partly because it will focus on a wide range of design related subjects, and secondly, quite simply because design matters, it does, clearly! Anyone unconvinced of this immutable fact is missing a trick and a business that is not entirely dialed into the received wisdom, is surely under achieving.


Vashti slide for WordPress


Our blog will hopefully function on two levels. On the one hand it will provide a platform for my musings and mutterings – a haphazard and discursive list of the things that interest, inspire, annoy and sometimes anger me. In that sense it is a purely self-indulgent exercise for which I make no apology since it is entirely therapeutic, though I readily welcome your replies and contributions. And on the other, it provides the opportunity to share some of the knowledge and experience that our company has acquired. The basics tenets or guiding principles of design are no carefully guarded secret, but at the same time they are so often undervalued by companies and on occasions, are overlooked altogether. It is my sincere hope that this blog might entertain and illuminate in equal measure. I look forward to sharing something of my passion for design with the outside world, the world outside this studio where I spend a great too much of my time and if, in so doing, we as a company can impart a little wisdom or can profit you or your organization in any way, then it will have been a more than worthwhile exercise and a mutually beneficial one at that.

Ben Galloway