For two days this week, hidden away in a small room in the corner of the exhibition behemoth that is LabelExpo (who knew the label industry was so vast – well, I guess they are literally everywhere) was the Dieline Forum.
While the seven cavernous halls of Brussels Expo echoed to the sound of deals being done over tank-sized printers, at the Dieline Forum we had a different experience. We heard tales of the birth of Venus and the Welsh Goblin Hill. We sang along to a nursery rhyme. And we were inspired.
A plastic free future
Day one was given over to the topic of sustainability, so who better to kick us off than Jemma Wong, CMO of PlasticFree taking us through the online education tool the organisation offers creatives. She delivers a message that truly matters: all the plastic ever made is still with us, while the FMCG industry alone creates more than 141m tonnes of plastic every year. Any designer who has ever cared about this, has ever wanted to do something about this, has ever wished there was some way they could deliver on a brief while also taking plastic out of their solution should take a look right now at plasticfree.org.
We heard about TEKLA bedding from Derek Ercolano, Design Lead at Oslo agency Goods, and then Andrew Gadea, Product Design Manager at Valencia agency Lavernia & Cienfuegos showed us their work on personal care brand Ecoalf.
Hands up who’s ever sung Row, Row, Row Your Boat at a conference? Or any other nursery rhyme for that matter. Well, that’s how Tess Wickstead, Strategy Partner at Here Design wanted to conclude her talk and so that’s what we all did. But don’t let that put you off – her talk was brilliant. It was an exhortation to brands to tell bigger, weirder, cooler stories around sustainability. Why do none use the story of the birth of Venus – unimaginable beauty born of boiling oceans - she rightly asks.
Stories that endure
And so to day two. The branding day, and an opportunity to hear David Jenkinson, Partner: Design & Experience at Pearlfisher as well as Jonas Andersson, CEO at Brand Union Stockholm talking us through some case studies, and Matt Lurcock, Creative Director at Turner Duckworth make the case beautifully for the power of brand.
Matt opened with a frankly awesome tale. Goblin Hill was a prominence near the Welsh town of Mold. For many, many years, locals talked of how the area was haunted by a spirit they named King of the Hillside. It was described as the figure of a giant man, "glittering and shining in gold."
On 11th October 1833 Goblin Hill was dug up - a new landlord wanted it for farmland – and they discovered a 4000-year old grave containing a few long-crumbled bones, some amber beads, decayed scraps of cloth, and a gold tunic, the largest piece of prehistoric goldwork ever uncovered in Europe.
Today the Mold Gold Cape rests in the British Museum, but as Matt pointed out, from a branding perspective the key fact is that the story endured. For 4,000 years the legend of the golden cape was passed down from person to person, generation to generation. Memory was associated with a place. It had a brand.
The Forum ended with Jo Tulej, Creative Director at Mother Design, brilliantly taking us on a whistlestop tour through four projects - Nuud, Fluus, Arley’s and Cora – all of which showcased that agency’s fast growing reputation for helping the brands that matter truly stand out.
It was an inspiring two days and a welcome opportunity to visit the charming city of Brussels. We’re looking out for details of the next Dieline Forum, but wherever and whenever it is, we’ll be there!