“It wasn’t until several months later when a live brief landed on my desk…that I realised I was in the deep end”
Something a little different for the blog today as we’re thrilled to introduce our very own designer, Matt. He recounts his design journey up to now, which led to taking on the mantle of lead designer for the first time for our recent, radical revitalisation of Mornflake’s ‘Mighty Oats’ range.
My name is Matthew Pumfrett and I’m a designer at Family (and friends) branding, an award-winning branding and packaging design studio based in Richmond, London.
I joined the studio on an internship in December 2021, having graduated from Norwich University of the Arts’ Graphic Design course earlier that year. I was a graduate eager to learn and grow from the experienced team around me, putting the 3 years of skill development and knowledge into practice in a dynamic agency environment.
Although I had had brief stints at other agencies, I instantly felt comfortable at the F&f studio due to the genuine care DJ and Alex put into every project. For them, it’s critically important to nurture both the brand you’re working on as well as the relationship you have with your client, and this resonates with me as it leads to truly happy and healthy brands.
It wasn’t until several months later in March 2022, when a live brief landed on my desk fresh from the printer, that I realised I was in the deep end. Suddenly it hit me; this was real, not just a university project anymore. Up until now I had been eased into the role, contributing to several projects, but now I needed to step up and generate ideas that would not only impress my new creative director Alex but also our clients.
Morning Foods is a highly established British heritage oat and cereal brand who’s owners have been milling oats in Cheshire for almost 350 years. They came to us to have a look at their “Mornflake” core brand of oats and oatmeal, in the first brand refresh since 2018 which further celebrates their unwavering dedication to sustainability- without losing their highly respected heritage and provenance.
It was a daunting yet exciting thought. If I got this right, I would finally get to see my work on the shelves. No pressure!
Mornflake wanted their ‘Mighty Oats’ range to work towards a new proposition, so working with the F&f strategy team we came up with the big idea of “A Force for Nature” which celebrates their zero food miles, 100% clean energy use and truly positive energy for people and planet for generations to come.
Mornflake’s Mighty Oats had lots to shout about, as they should, they are one of the most ethical and sustainable producers in the UK! It was time they let everyone know.
The thought of ‘Having something to shout about’ was quite powerful to me and sent me into a spiral of questioning.
My research led me to a world of posters, protest boards and bold typography, anything that ‘shouted’ at me in a big and bold way inspired my every thought. This manifesto-like messaging almost jumped out through my screen- it was bold, boisterous and blaring.
This led to my initial concepts being centred around an attention-grabbing logotype, created using bold typefaces in combination with relevant illustrations. It was key that consumers could see the benefits of Mighty Oats on both their health and the planet, so the lower half of each concept was dedicated to this. Whether it be some kind of rating system or statement, this information had to be eye-catching and clearly visible at retail. In the studio we call this “shoppability”.
After several weeks of discussion and creative exploration with the team and having developed various design routes the client decided to go ahead with one of mine. I’ll never forget that feeling. I was elated!
I’m sure many designers can agree when I say it is easy to doubt yourself as a new designer. You see the years of great work being created within the studio walls and question yourself, can I work at this level? So, I truly believe this milestone was a win for me on a personal level, as it gave me the reassurance and confidence I needed to think ‘I can do this!’. This was a huge step in the right direction for my new career.
I will confidently say that being thrown into the deep end was the best thing that I could’ve done so early on in my career. Alex gave me the freedom to develop this project and make the mistakes along the way. I had to remember that I was never going to get this right first time, and this was a key motivation for me throughout the project.
As the project progressed, I noticed that the part I was enjoying the most was also my biggest challenge; the lack of experience I had. This is because every mistake I made led to learning and development, rewarding me with a feeling of accomplishment whenever I overcame them. This ranged from something as small as learning how to correctly save/export the files to choosing the right pantones for print, both of which are equally as important for getting the best printed pack. I was lucky enough to have experienced colleagues around me who were willing to listen and help solve every problem on question I stumbled upon, so for this reason being in the studio allowed me to ask the questions I may not have asked if I had worked remotely.
One thing I think any fresh-faced creative should do is make use of the people around you. Get into the studio as much as you can, surround yourself with creatives, listen to what they have to say and ask as many questions as you need! You might feel as though you’re being annoying after the fifth question of the morning but they’re there to help! Be a sponge and soak up the knowledge in which they offer so that you can learn and take these skills throughout your career and onto other projects. One day, I hope to be the one offering out the knowledge that was passed onto me from my fellow creatives!
If I was to give any other advice to creative students/new designers, the main piece would be to find a studio/workplace where you feel you are at home and not settling at the first place that offers you an internship. After interning at several places, it wasn’t until I got to F&f that I felt as though I had found the studio that felt like I fit. A combination of the projects, the people and the way of working resonated with me straight away, a sense of belonging, a feeling I had not felt at my other internships. This made coming into work every day a joy! From a personal experience I believe having this excitement of coming into work allowed me to progress further and quicker than I might’ve done at the internships where I wasn’t necessarily enjoying myself. Every creative should enjoy the work they’re creating.
Finding the right place for you might mean turning down offers or having to end one internship early to move onto the next, but if you feel as though taking these risks are going to benefit you in the long run, I say go for it! I know I certainly took a few risks to get where I am today!