think outside the box for inspiration

As an art director who is in love with stories I’m often looking for new forms of inspiration.

I try not to look at other peoples engagement shoots because I think it’s too easy (even for myself) to copy. Yes there is no such thing as an original idea but it helps to look outside your industry for inspiration.

One of the things I love to use for inspiration is advertising. It can be print media. TV. Tube ads. Even the occasional food flyer can provide inspiration (yes I love my food!).

But I found myself recently captivated by a particular brands advertising style, design and form.

Ever heard of Space NK?
If you’re not from the UK or US chances are you haven’t. They “source and offer a carefully edited selection of high quality, original and effective beauty products”. And they recently launched a beauty bath range called Beautannia which contains three distinct fragrances: Bloomsbury, Brideshead and Balfour.


Generally speaking I’m not big on fragrances and I don’t buy or wear perfume (unless it’s given to me as a present and then I’ll wear it on special occasions). It’s just never been my style. But I do however love a good bath and within a matter of minutes Space NK had me totally in the palm of their hands with this new bath range. I was totally captivated and mesmerised by how they did it.

Truth is I haven’t yet smelt the range (but now I’m dying to!). I was in Space NK over the weekend to pick up my “birthday present”. On my way out I also picked up their publication called The Beautannia Bulletin Issue 1 (note: you can also read an online version of the publication).


What impressed me was they never tried to “sell” me on the new range (well not really). They were simply educating me on their new products. They went to great depths to educate me on the philosophy and vision behind the range. Where the inspiration came from. “Who” it was made for – ie. It was made for three very distinct type of “British Beauties”.

It then went on to tell me what these three types of beauties would typically do for a living, they gave them names. Who they would date (or be married to), what lipstick shade and skin care range they would wear. What they would eat. What music they would listen to. It was incredible. I had a full blown experience of all three Beautannia bath fragrances without even smelling a single one of them.

I remember being on the tube and being captivated mentally, visually and emotionally to a product range that I had not even touched the bottle of.

How did they do it? They told me stories and gave me the freedom to pick and choose which story (ie. which type of British Beauty) resonated with me the most. They treated me like an intelligent consumer and engaged with my mind as well as my senses. And now look at me … I’m a raving fan!

So what’s the purpose of this blog and why am I raving on about Space NK?

Because I believe there are 2 great lessons we can learn here:

(i) Pay attention to which brands and advertising campaigns you are attracted to.
Cut them out, keep them and refer back to them. You might be attracted to their designs, their colours, their ethics or even their display / working space … whatever it is … make a note and keep them. They’ll give you insight to what your brand values and design preferences are.

(ii) Engage all the senses in your work
Treat your readers and clients as intelligent beings with 6 senses and find ways to engage all of these senses in your work. It could be using music to direct a photo shoot (ok that’s a completely different blog) or using stories to engage the imagination and senses. I know photographer Eliza Claire gives English sweets to her clients. Not only does she become memorabel but it helps define her brand and brand experience (ps. for the record I’m not a fan of those retro Black Jacks – yuck!).

But my message here is really simple … think outside the box and pay attention to what inspires you. No matter how strange it might seem … like a bath range you have never smelt!


ps. Want to know how I got a free birthday present from Space NK?
I joined their N.dulge rewards programme last year (for free) and this year they sent me a little birthday email with a present – Eve Lom Kiss Mix. So maybe that’s lesson #3????? : )

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