Are pharmaceutical scientists from The Parc open to fresh design ideas? How are the trophies for The Parc awards made? And who comes up with the ideas? If you want to know answers to these questions, read an interview with Adrian Jansa, one of the core creators of The Parc brand.
Graduates of the Faculty of Art and Design in Ústí nad Labem. Adrian and his colleague Martina Cejpová form the Marathon Studio in the spirit of the motto: “Brands with stamina”. For The Parc, Marathon Studio developed the entire brand strategy, from the logo, through promotional materials and the website, to The Parc Awards trophies.
Marathon Studio is dedicated to a number of projects – I read on your website that you have worked with various artists, designers, a diverse range of different companies, you have put together an editorial design for the UCT – there is a lot of it. How does The Parc stand among those clients?
Parc is one of our long-term and cordial clients, because we have been with you from the very beginning. From the beginning, the brand’s strategy was well set. At that time, we were invited to the project by brand consultant Tomáš Hrivnák, who has extensive experience. He mapped the situation in the world, provided research in the form of interviews among leaders and students of Parc. This served as the basis for a marketing strategy on which we could base our creative part of the work.
We always serve a purpose with design. It is not free art. Each brand has an identifying and distinguishing function. The identification component tells us what the mission is and what the brand values are. We base that on interviews with stakeholders. The distinctive component of the brand is used for navigation. To do this, we need to map the market to know who the competitors are and how we can be different, so that we are unique and therefore well recognizable.
The mission and values of The Parc are close to us and that is why it is a pleasure for us to work on the brand.
The Parc is creative, friendly and although its members take their work very seriously, they do not try to present themselves too seriously.
I think it was also very interesting for us to take part in the whole process of creating the brand – especially the interviews, the research among students, which you mentioned. We talked about how great it is to have a friendly environment in The Parc, that there is no strict hierarchical structure where we would be afraid to come up with our ideas. It was then interesting to see how it manifested itself in the resulting visual communication.
An important stimulus from the research for us was to see how other functioning organizations seem to be inapproachable. They have names composed of abbreviations that give no meaning to general public. In visual communication, they use technical, withdrawn elements far removed from human expression. Their work with the brand often ends with a logo. Everything else seems to be done randomly without clear strategy.
The brand, on the other hand, is a complex environment of relationships. We can compare it to people. We are each basically a brand. The logo can be our signature or nowadays rather a profile photo on social networks. Our brand summarizes our whole presentation. What we do, what we say, how we say it, what relationships we have with other people, how we dress, what it looks like at our home, what our history is or what our plans are for the future. All this says something about us and it determines how much, and if, others want to talk to us at all. An authentic and clear presentation opens the door to opportunities to establish contacts with other like-minded people or partners.
To direct our conversation to The Parc Awards, even though it is probably tightly connected with the whole visual identity, how difficult is it for you to connect with the world of chemists? To me personally, it seems like quite different worlds – design and chemistry. How hard was it for you to get rid of the concept of some classic trophies?
We build on the definition of the brand, which we formed together at the beginning. We try to avoid visualization of chemistry. You will be surrounded by chemistry anyway, it’s your job. Moreover, such communication would not differentiate you from other institutions with a similar focus.
We did not think about standard prizes in the sense of gold cups. We try to come up with souvenirs (trophies) that are the bearers of the organization’s values and thus continue to represent the company culture. The gold cup in this case would be just an empty stereotype. In contrast, for example, stones – prizes from 2020 come from the park. The motifs of the park resonate through the entire brand The Parc and in connection with the slogan “Your paper rocks” we get an unexpected trophy that makes perfect sense.
This is an interesting comment that you are not particularly attached to the chemistry, that you rather want to bring something new.
We focus on the practical and human dimension rather than hardcore science. This makes The Parc more attractive to a wider audience.
And what about the fact that it’s an atypical item, which can somehow make the whole ceremony more entertaining – a cute, fun thing. What do you see as more interesting moment – that the prize will then remain showcased somewhere and arouse discussion later on or the very moment of the awards ceremony?
We strive for both aspects :-) Humor frees and breaks the ice. After a year of demanding research, The Parc Awards should be a recreational celebration where you will gain energy and motivation for the next project.
Equally important to us is the message behind an atypical trophy. One may be irritated by it, others may defend it. And this is the moment when the brand begins to live. Our intention is to provoke a discussion that will work as a reminder of why The Parc is here at all.
Have you ever found yourselves in a situation where the representatives of The Parc would tell you that your idea is over the edge? Something like “... a stone as a trophy? No, that’s it, that’s too much...!”
That hasn’t happened to us yet. We were most worried before the first presentation until we saw each other. After meeting the clients, we can better estimate how far we can go.
What is your idea of the life of the prize after the award ceremony takes place? When the student has it displayed at home or in a laboratory somewhere – then what is its purpose? To add a personal experience, I was a little tempted when I got the big woodpecker toy with a birdhouse two years ago, to put it somewhere in the park and let it be inhabited by birds. A colleague who won a branch told me that he had already thought of a lot of creative uses. Is this a good sign to you that the prizes inspire us in this way, or do you rather feel that the prizes should not do this. That they should rather act representatively somewhere and serve as a design element in a laboratory or office.
Both scenarios are welcomed. In my opinion, such a second life, for example in a park, is a more interesting use than when the prizes are locked away to a safe spot, where they are just dusted off.
That’s great, so maybe something similar will happen. And maybe this colleague will really buy an iguana for that branch :)
So it’s a very exotic idea that makes me very happy. The branch gets an iguana. Or does the iguana get a branch? :-)
Personally, it seems to me that some development can be observed from the prize from the first year of presentation to this year – perhaps from a more straightforward motif to something more abstract. Is that an intention? Or is it a reflection of how Parc or the style of communication is evolving? You talked about the fact that if you have a brand concept at the beginning, there are many ways where it can lead – is the form of prizes a natural development or have you already planned where it could go at the beginning?
For many things, we think about the future to avoid dead ends, but for prizes, it is more developmental. We completely outsourced the production of the first prize and we were not satisfied with the result. Therefore we made the other prizes ourselves.
This is a new piece of information for me, that you also produce prizes yourself. I imagined you would have a company that does it. So everything is actually handmade?
Basically yes. For example, in the case of branches with engraved text, we cooperated with a company that has a laser, they can engrave the text according to a template into the branch, but otherwise from finding a suitable wood to the final processing, it is handmade.
How long does it take to prepare such a prize? And where do you get inspiration from?
Well, it starts with the idea. My colleague Martina and I complement each other well. She’s a great idea maker and I always try to provide some frame. Martina usually comes up with a lot of unexpected ideas. We then present only the best of these to the client. After approval, we can proceed to production.
I took several trips because of the stones. In our work, it is not possible to determine exactly how long it takes, because an important part of the work process is inspiration somewhere outside in your free time, where you constantly think about the project. You have to live by it. Sometimes we are inspired by extreme dilettantism. When something is so bad, it becomes interesting.
Do you have an example?
I recommend the Graphic Waste Facebook page (Grafický odpad in Czech). More than 100,000 fans say that these extremes can be fun for the general public.
So, in short, the inspiration comes not only from within, but also from public space in general.
Certainly. We also do our own projects that broaden our horizons. We participate in professional competitions. We like to work with humor and minimalism. Our minimalism is a response to this era. On every corner we are attacked by various information stimuli. People are visually oversaturated. That’s why we try to be as concise as possible. Getting rid of everything unnecessary naturally leads to minimalism. There must be nothing extra and there must not be too little. If we succeed, we get an ideal shape that effectively bears the message.
How do you actually approach finding the degree of that minimalism so that it still carries the required message?
Well, that’s always something to be balanced. We make more variants of the design – and we have the advantage of being a duo. When one creates something, he may be so immersed in it that he loses judgment. You will get it only after a few days break. My colleague Martina and I discuss this and we are able to get to the final form faster.
This function in this partnership with Parc is to some extent performed for you by its leaders, to whom you will present, for example, a few proposals and, according to their reactions, you estimate which resonates the most?
We make the basic choice. Usually we also have our favorites that we try to enforce. Thanks to our experience, we can assess what can work better, but then of course there is a room for discussion. As a client, you put on our work and it must suit you. You have to feel good about it, otherwise it won't work.
Do you already have ideas for the coming years?
If you mean the prize, then it has already been approved. But what it is, I will not tell you yet, it will be a surprise for the next year :)
And about other areas? Does The Parc brand still allow you to be creative? Are new ideas still coming?
Yes, so far it is going well and we enjoy working at The Parc. We hope that The Parc will prosper and eventually, it will get its own building. We love to work on branding across media and space so that would be a pleasure for us.
For anyone who would like to get to know more, you are invited to read The Parc case study by Marathon Studio on their website. Please note that it is only available in Czech language.
April 12. 2021