Gathering Inspiration

19.11.21

Where do you find your inspiration?

Here at O Street we like to tackle it with a bit of fresh air. For years, we’ve been keeping our eyes open for visual oddities out-and-about, then sharing them in an aptly named collection: Ospiration. It comes in many forms: the typography on a takeaway menu, a brick wall covered in peeling posters and graffiti, book covers, foreign registration plates, scattered light on a city skyline. Even some quote-unquote old junk found in the attic can be creative fuel (see: Label O’ Love).

Some of our favourite pieces of Ospiration take the shape of aged shop signs, with their effortlessly timeless typographic flair, weathered paint and battered colours that have faded over time. We’re surrounded by a rich history of design, with creative beauty wherever you go.

If you’re ever feeling uninspired, taking your eyes for a walk can do wonders. To get you started, take a look at a few of our top bits of Ospiration collected over the years:

Branding & Marketing Beer in a Weird New World

14.08.20

Amid a pandemic and a shaky economy, it’s a scary time for craft breweries. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re riding out the storm, here’s eight tips for branding and marketing beer.

Tip #7: Know what people are picking

The world being in turmoil doesn’t mean craft beer aficionados have given up on seeking out what’s next. Whether it’s low-cal hazy IPAs or quality NA’s, keep your ear to the ground and try to offer the latest trends.

Tip #6: Double down on the merch game

You need your walking billboards more than ever. Give customers a chance to show they’re wise to craft beer trends by making your online shop easy to navigate.

If you’re sitting on old stock, encourage people to make their first online order with a giveaway (free tees perform miracles).

Tip #5: Lean into local love

In the wake of economic destruction, consumers are rallying for the little guy. In many areas of their lives, people are hesitating when they reach for brand names and saying, ‘maybe I’ll try something local.’

Make that your opportunity to become a staple in their beer rotation.

Tip #4: Plan on pick-up for the long haul

Don’t mistake pick-up and delivery for temporary, situational phenomena. Brands like Starbucks are planning their real estate futures around pick-up-only locations—are you?

Tip #3: Dig in on social media

Now’s the time to go all-in on social media engagement. Craft beer is a space where consumers love a behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on. Pick a platform and check in daily to share your beer making process.

It doesn’t have to be a massive commitment—one quick video a day is a big step up from none!

Tip #2: Get you beer on people’s doorsteps

Maybe you’ve got the packaging, but how do you get on board with deliveries? Team up with local restaurants to offer beers with their food deliveries. If you’re a bigger operation, look into pairing with specialty delivery services like Drizly.

And anyone can do local deliveries themselves—even if it starts with you doing it yourself with a bike and a basket!

Tip #1: Find new ways to package six packs

Carry beer away

Consumers are more comfortable than ever picking up and having products delivered straight to their door—beer included. Rethink how you bundle beers and take advantage.

You might offer variety packs and other incentives. And of course there’s the packaging itself. Pair up with designers to make sure every six pack your customers carry down the street is a billboard for the best beer in town.

We’ll release a new tip every week, but you can get a sneak peek from O Street director David Freer.

How to Pass the Nine Foot Test

06.07.20

Here’s how to pass the nine foot test:

1 Catch the eye
2 Put brand first
3 Test for legibility

A brand where we recently put the nine foot test to work was Full Circle Brew Co., where we had the advantage of A/B testing can designs as we developed them against craft beers already in the market.

But what exactly is the ‘nine foot test’? It’s a simple idea. When a person stands three meters away from a shelf at the pub or shop, your product should stand out and your branding should be recognizable. That’s it.

And while the idea is simple, execution is a different matter. That’s why we’ve got a few tricks to help beer cans and whiskey bottles sell in a crowded market. Not surprisingly, they’re timeless design tactics.

1 Catch the eye

Whether it’s bold colour, a geometric layout or an unusual material, the first step is to catch the eye. Take this whisky for the otherwise traditional Glenglassaugh; in a market where the ‘proper’ whiskies tend to play it safe, the circular and textured tree illustration grabs your eye.

2 Put brand first

A strong visual brand helps loyal fans find your product. When we branded Fyne Ales, we created the ‘farm house’ graphic to anchor every can, bottle and cask tag. Even when product names and auxiliary graphics change, the brand consistently attracts repeat customers.

3 Test for legibility

A poster or billboard is only effective if it communicates from a distance while the user is moving—treat your products the same. Put your label designs up on the wall and walk by to see if they can be read at a glance. Wherever you can adjust typography to make it more legible, do it. We recently used this test for McHenry Brewing Co.’s new crowler cans to help introduce them into local markets.

While there’s no surefire way to win the battle of shelf recognizability, putting nine foot test to work will give you an advantage. What’s your favourite example of a product that pops off the shelf?

We Got a George

02.07.20

The O Street team is chuffed to announce we’ve added a new designer to our Glasgow team. Meet George Creese.

George Creese

George is yet another Edinburgh College of Art hire for O Street (we swear it’s not intentional). He brings a good pair of design hands and a keen eye to the studio. It’s a strange time to be joining a design team, with on-boarding taking place over Google Meet and Slack. However, the O family is used to remote practices and George takes our video conference dad jokes like a champ.

Design folio 1 Counter Culture Poetry book George Creese Instagram

Keep an eye out for his addition to our ongoing list Love in the Time of Corona.

Remotely Interesting: We’re Going to Manchester

13.01.20

With a decade behind us, it’s now the 20s and we’re looking forward. As a small team and creative business founded by two blokes who’d done the whole Big Agency thing, flexibility is integral to keeping us afloat. We’ve made work/life balance integral to how we operate and how we grow our business.

From unique internal processes and flexible working hours to annual fishing trips and a weekly beer o’clock we’ve figured out a few things along the way that work for us and our team. When we keep the balance with everyone, it keeps us on an even keel at the same time… and stops us from being left high and dry. Too far with the fishing trip metaphors?

What I’m trying to say is, that there are a few things we bear in mind as we grow our team and expand our horizons.

First up, we try to maintain a sense of purpose behind what we do. What’s the big picture? Are we proud of our work? Are we making positive contributions to the world? This might come in the form of side projects that add value to what we do in a different way. Or it might be working with clients who are literally impacting the world in a positive way. Whatever it is, we like to dream big and beyond our humble graphic design studio status.

An arrangement of burnt tortilla chips. Inspiration everywhere.

Secondly, we keep an eye on our company progress, but not in the traditional sense. Success is often measured in terms of profit margins or hours worked, but we’ve found that allowing the O team a wee bit of extra time each week to work on ‘fun stuff’ can lead to unexpected results. Results we wouldn’t have achieved otherwise. Allowing Tessa her sketching hours, Jonny his random 3D animations and me my nap time (only almost joking!) means there is learning and growing happening over a longer period of time. It might not be measurable in the same way, but the results are tangible.

We also want our team to have freedom; to balance their personal and professional lives; to solve problems how they want; to structure their workday so they can be their most productive. It’s about working smarter, not harder, and if that means taking time out to attack the woodpile? Well, who are we to judge?

All of these ideas are helping us to become a company that embraces the future of business and the importance of work/life balance. A key aspect of this balance has been our ventures into remote working. There’s no argument that remote working is on the rise. Over the last couple of years, both employees and employers have seen the advantages and started remote working schemes. This enables employees to have a flexible schedule and work from any corner of the world where they feel most productive.

Alongside productivity and balance, creating opportunities for employees creates opportunities for business at the same time. When I moved to London, it meant meeting with some of our bigger music mogul clients much easier. Since opening our USA branch of O Street, we’ve worked with some amazing folk — including a maverick distillery owner, a new cannabis brand and a national fabric dye producer. These are projects that wouldn’t have come knocking at our door—we branched out.

So what’s next?

We’re expanding again, this time to kick-start a fledgling O Street hub in Manchester in the North West of England! Our creative designer Tessa Simpson will be taking the helm, going back to her roots and tapping into (not entirely) unchartered territories. We’re excited to revisit some of our previous projects down that way, continue collaborating with folk we admire and to grow our creative circle.

Most of all we’re excited to see one of our employees, who joined us a fresh-faced junior, continue on as an O ambassador. Tessa will be spreading the word, branching out into new markets and continuing to work on all things O Street. We’ve invested a lot of O Street’s ethos in Tessa and she has grown into a formidable creative force who is ready to venture onwards to the next step, flying the O ST banners.

Tessa is moving as of March this year, camping out with the wonderful Creative Concern at their Oxford Road studio space to start off with and exploring all Manchester has to offer. If you’re based that way, we’d love to hear from you. Friends, collaborators, clients — drop Tessa a line at tessa@ostreet.co.uk and go grab a cuppa with her. She’s just as smiley in real life!

—David

Ten Years and Counting Mixtape

13.01.20

We do like a good music compilation. And as we come from the mixtape generation, all we need is half an excuse for a theme—hey, a fresh decade will do! We thought we’d celebrate with a Ten Year Mixtape, looking back at a decade of O Street, big news stories and year-defining tracks.

Remember this guy?!

2009

This was the year where we began to feel like a proper grown-up business. We realised there were other great studios starting in Glasgow and had to take it up a gear. O Street expanded to a three-man band, hiring Ed Watt and continuing our growth in the culture industry with work for the likes of Edinburgh International Film Festival and BAFTA Scotland.

 

Steve Jobs releases the first of the ten commandments.

2010

The Ten Year Mixtape moves to the year we started our work with the flourishing Celtic Connections music festival in Glasgow. With this, our team was enlightened to the wonder of free gig tickets (which only unravelled backstage at the Royal Concert Hall when Neil almost got into a fight with one of the Chieftains).

 

A pretty memorable global moment.2011

After making the move from Otago Street to a remodelled launderette shopfront on Bank Street, we considered changing our name to B Street (and thankfully didn’t). With a growing client and employee base, we now we had a shiny new studio to match. We hosted—and performed in—the National Theatre of Scotland’s Five Minute Theatre project and won a national award for our whisky themed, social media-fueled #oHeresTo event.

 

Don’t forget about that logo either.

2012

This year was the peak in our cultural work, with a complete rebrand of the National Galleries of Scotland and their four venues, we spent most of our time in 2012 working with the Galleries. The year ended with a big party to celebrate founding partner Neil Wallace’s fiftieth (you’d better believe the Ten Year Mixtape contribution for this year is his). The studio also had our first job with one of our longest-standing clients, digital data music platform Last.fm.

 

Hooray for love!

2013

This was a momentous year, our work on the HOME arts venues in Manchester won a handful of national design awards, and even included collaboration with design titan Peter Saville. We began work creating interactive maps for the Scottish Government and David opened our first satellite studio just outside London. Vapp, a mobile app side project we developed was listed as a top 10 photo app in the Daily Telegraph and won the Glasgow’s Got Business Talent award.

 

Déja vu? Is that you?

2014

This was the year that with a heavy heart, we branched out from our cultural clients. Arts funding was drying up and marketing spends seemed to be the first thing to disappear. So we tried our hand at something different and began working with clients in the music (the Brit Awards) and whisky sectors, a heady combination. 2014 was also the year Tessa Simpson entered the scene, followed rapidly by a bouncing Josh Peter. Both have helped shape the studio ever since.

 

The dress that divided a nation.

2015

The big one for us this year was working on the development of the new polymer banknotes for the Royal Bank of Scotland. Designing money! Hard one to beat, although we tried with the beginning of a working relationship with the team at BrewDog in our first foray into the craft beer space!

 

The app that got people into parks again.

2016

We finally made time for a client we’d been avoiding for years: O Street. It was time to refresh our own brand and build a new website. Spinning out of this grew a short documentary about the typographer who drew our logo (Tam) which we created with pals and collaborators Pretend Lovers. The short film won a place on a BAFTA film festival and is still touring globally in 2019 with the Craft Council. We followed the work with O Street with a slightly bigger client called Google and ended the year with a live gig in the studio by long term idols of ours, The Burning Hell.

 

#throwback

2017

We started the year with the surprise commercial success of our fingerless BUCK–FAST gloves, selling out in a week. It was also the year O Street went international, with our very own Josh Peter opening an O Street studio in Denver, Colorado. Long term client relationships brought us work with both Sony Music and Spotify as our creds in the music sector grew and grew — keeping our new hire Jonny Mowat busy, busy, busy!

 

How the mighty have (not) fallen.

2018

The talented Anna Dunn joined the team and wriggled mackerel-like out of our ill-fated annual fishing trip on Loch Fyne. This was the year we managed to beach our boat two miles up loch! It honestly had nothing to do with the free samples from our latest client Fyne Ales which we had been reviewing on the boat… honestly. We were already oiled on other stuff.

 

Brexsh*t

2019

This year has been about more than Brexit with exciting new work coming from our US office (such as a full label suite for Denver Distillery), Tessa running branding workshops in Kenya and Anna taking numerous sixteen-hour train trips to a museum in Leeds. We also managed to not sink the new fishing boat plus taught Jonny how to play the Harmonium. Ten Year Mixtape sorted.

2020
Now we’re into a new decade, what’s next?

We’ve got a few things up our sleeve, with a new Scottish brewery rebrand, another campaign for Scottish Book Week and the launch of our third issue of CRUSH zine. We’re also excited to announce that we’re expanding* this year, read our Remotely Interesting blog to find out more!

So here’s to the next decade, onwards and upwards.

*sideways rather than out, but if you are a young gun looking for a new role, consider sending us your portfolio.