Rock Bird Prints takes off! 

Our creative director, Nick, has launched his own illustration website, Rock Bird Prints, selling a gorgeous – and growing – collection of birds as high quality art prints. The prints are something he’s been working on for some time, but it was only when the COVID pandemic hit that he found himself with some free time on his hands and he turned his attentions back to drawing, photography and collecting reference to complete a series of compositions.

As Nick says:

“I’ve always been interested in illustration, but I’ve never quite worked out a style I feel most comfortable with. When the pandemic lockdown hit two years ago, it coincided with a difficult time in my own life. Everything seemed to get magnified big time and I realised that unless I found some hope and a focus I was seriously going to struggle. Getting out every day for walks in the Colney Heath countryside provided the tonic; it’s a special place and the fact you can walk in your own peace made me see nature in a totally new light.

I’ve long been fascinated by birds and so I used these quiet times out walking to look, listen and watch. I was also attending a weekly therapy group and the counsellors would encourage us all to walk with our heads up, not looking down. It’s amazing how a small thing like this can change the way you see and interact with everything. Over the weeks after lockdown, new people came into my life, in particular, a bunch of local birdwatchers who rekindled my interest in birds. I now regularly return to the studio with a headful of ideas to develop.”

Nick’s bird illustrations and prints are fresh and eye-catching. He puts each bird centre stage, framed by stylistic foliage or landscape elements, making it the sole focus amongst the rush of everyday life we live in. But what makes his birds even more endearing is the human names he gives them, adding personality and a touch of humour to each artwork.

Head over to to explore the flock!

Does your brand need some TLC?

As we shift into Autumn, we’ve been reflecting on the lovely outside space we have in front of the studio cabin. It’s been a labour of love over the Summer and an essential place to take some time out to relax, think and find inspiration. We’ve enjoyed breakfasts, client lunches, welcoming the neighbours, chilling with a glass or two of red at the end of the week and debating our favourite music of the 70s, 80s and 90s.

Without a doubt, the star attractions have been the bargain bin plants we’ve acquired at various times that were pot bound, neglected, ravaged by drought or simply looking past their best. With some TLC and a bit of gardening knowledge (watch out Monty, we’ve been reading up!!!) they've flourished and their amazing colours speak for themselves.

Whilst we’re still a long way from calling ourselves experts in plant care, we do know a thing about brands and how best to tend them if they're struggling. Like plants, brands needs regular TLC. Leave them to their own devices and they can wither a little!

The past months have shifted markets hugely. Many businesses are now needing to work hard to sell themselves again and to redefine their objectives, whilst watching costs. As a small design agency, we offer cost-effective brand and design services so that you get all the experience of the big agencies but with the costs of a small one.

If your brand is pot bound and you’d like to put some new colour into your business, speak with us!

'Just need a logo'?

We get asked all the time to design logos for businesses. Often, the client comes to us saying that they 'just need a logo'. Whilst we can and do design a logo for them, we also always try to help clients look at the bigger picture. Creating a whole brand image will say much more about you and your business than a logo in isolation will. However fantastic your logo is, if you don't make it part of selling your overall brand you might as well use clip art.

Our work for The Tree Council captures this perfectly – no more so than on its stationery. Here, our design combines a simple but thoughtful logo, memorable tagline and interesting imagery. If you see their business cards, letter heads, event banners, etc., etc., they are instantly recognisable as belonging to The Tree Council. It builds customer awareness, as well as that all-important trust. Even the smallest business can benefit from getting their branding basics right and stand out alongside branding behemoths like Coca-Cola! From a huge billboard advert to the back of a business card, it all matters.

Next time you 'just need a logo', do consider the bigger picture and how it can make your brand really sing out. It’s a guaranteed way to get potential customers to notice you and remember what you do.

Need some help? Contact us!

Making waves in HR

We were appointed at the beginning of the year to help create the name, brand strategy, identity and content for a brilliant new human resources app. Our name, Paddleboard, immediately made waves with the client, who thought it struck exactly the right balance and reflected the product's objectives perfectly. We love it when our ideas create ripples of excitement!

The name is now registered and we've set about creating the logo, design and page templates to help this exciting new product set sail. (And that's the last water sports-based play on words in this post, we promise.)

We'd love to say more but you'll have to wait until the app launches! Keep your eye on the horizon for a new case study on our website this summer.

Born out of a passion for South Africa

Creating the visual identity and packaging for a new ethical jewellery brand was a departure from our more recent work with breweries. Different industries, but with equally passionate clients – something that always makes the design process a pleasure.

ZuluZulu jewellery and accessories are handmade in South Africa and are born out of the South African founder’s love for her country’s landscape and people. Our brief was to create an identity that reflected this passion, drawing on the handcrafted, artisan nature of the products – ‘understated, yet gloriously unique’.

The typeface captures the raw, irregular beauty of the natural environment. The yellow in the colour palette picks up the glorious South African sunshine. And the ZuluZulu icon is influenced by African textiles – creating a memorable repeat pattern that will be printed on their packaging.

Watch out for a full case study on the website soon.

You can buy ZuluZulu products here.

Happy New Year!

The design studio was joined by a new friend this Christmas to mark our name change to Blackbird Brands. Not only does this little fella celebrate a year of new beginnings, but he also symbolises the surroundings that have kept us going during lockdown. Our designs get lots of inspiration from nature – our work with Thundry Hills Gin being just one example – and we’ve never been more grateful to live ‘almost in the sticks’ than in 2020.

As a friend recently wrote during Storm Bella:

“What I noticed being up at 4.15am on a stormy morning is that the morning birds still sing through the storm. Quite a good outlook to have.”

Hear, hear. Wishing clients old, current and future a very healthy and happy 2021!

PS. Our lovely stoneware blackbird was created by the talented Jude Allen:

Just LoveLeigh!

You wait ages to design a new lager and then two come along at once! Here's our new work for Leigh on Sea Brewery, a deliciously refreshing Helles-style lager called ... wait for it ... 'LoveLeigh Lager'!

By taking Leigh on Sea Brewery's logo and reproducing it in a Warholesque repeat pattern, we've produced a can design with great stand out and appeal – just like all the work we've done with the brewery, one of our favourite clients. With everything that's going on in the world of brewing at the moment, it will hopefully help lift the brewery's online sales and be an interesting tipple for those wanting to indulge in something new during the festive season and new year.

Lift off for a new lager

Due to COVID-19, it's been a tough year for lots of our clients. Many of them have had to think quickly about how to adapt to different ways of selling and reaching their market. In August 2020, Wales' leading family brewer, Evan Evans, launched their very first lager. With their 250-year history of brewing beer, this marked quite a departure, but they knew that if they wanted to counter the dramatic drop in footfall in pubs, they needed to think innovatively and include a lager in their online sales offering.

And so Liberty was born. We were delighted to create the identity for the label, plus keg badges and box packaging. The word 'liberty' prompted some great ideas for designs, but to convey the idea of 'freedom' we decided to use the image of a bird in flight, set against a beautiful sky blue. The ideas of liberty and freedom strike a chord with many of us as we slowly make our way out of the pandemic. Here's to getting our hospitality industry back in full flow as soon as we can!

Watch out for a full case study in the new year. But if you're thirsty already and would like to try Liberty, head over to the Evan Evans online shop.