One of the joys of being a communication designer is that the process (if done right) forces you to become an expert on the subject matter you’re designing for. Dealing with new subject matter requires a desire to learn new knowledge and understanding, luckily this is one part of my job that I love.
In this case it was thoroughbred horse racing. Before Aquis Farm joined Villain as a client, terms like ‘sire’, ‘dam’, ‘walking in’ and ‘standing’ meant totally different things to me. When I saw the word ‘agistment’ I thought it was a typo for adjustment. After a few months and many intense projects I’ve developed a good knowledge and appreciation for the unique world that is a thoroughbred horse breeding.
As a brand within the thoroughbred racing and breeding industry, Aquis Farm was relatively unknown six months ago. Today, the organisation has grown to employ more than 50 staff and has a roster of high-profile stallions for 2016. New Chief Operations Officer Marcus Langer has hit the ground running, bringing in a wealth of knowledge and experience in promoting this type of business. He has a very clear vision of where he wants the Aquis Farm brand to go. We developed the 2016 Stallions Book to define a new sophisticated look and feel.
After much research into the industry and how similar organisations promote their services, the one thing that stood out to me is that for ‘the sport of kings’, the communication design and branding presented much like dunces. The level of quality didn’t seem to reflect that same level of sophistication and classic touch that we all expect from the sport. The vast majority of pieces that I found were a sensory contradiction. The content presented high-profile horses and people. The investment in the sport was evident, but visually that level of sophistication didn’t translate into the promotional material. It was like drinking a glass of vintage Grange out of a plastic cup.
So when Villain pitched a shift up in class regarding how the brand is promoted, it was an idea borne out of an opportunity to leapfrog competitors and set a new standard of design for the industry.This 2016 Stallions Book was built on high-end finishes, classic design utilising clean lines, plenty of white space and a updated typographical layout that showcased the contrast between the existing main header typeface Trajan Pro and the new modern sans serif typeface, Freight Sans Pro. We also introduced a warm lime green to the palette which offsets the cool aqua-green providing more scope to evolve with flexibility and bursts of impact in different directions. These sets provide extra options and further clarity as the brand moves forward.
A good book design needs a quality finish to evoke the senses and create the desired perception. With purposeful embellishments such as a gold foiled logo that peeks through a circular die cut window from behind a fold out page and an inside-front cover that reveals a stunning image of their star stallion Spill The Beans bringing it home down the straight, the viewer gets all of the impact without it being crass and over-the-top.
The slightly-creamy uncoated Conqueror Wove paper (the same paper the English Royal Family use for their stationery) gives it all the class and sophistication it needs without having to shout at the reader and the design does all it needs before moving aside for the stock and finishes to take centre-stage. A tactile, earthy finish makes the overall booklet feel very relevant to the brand’s natural surrounds.
Digital audiences weren’t forgotten either with Villain producing a responsive online flipbook version of the booklet to accompany the website, EDMs and social media marketing. All-in-all, a successful outcome in which the client was extremely pleased and one that has exceeded expectations.