Love the Unmistakable™
Our approach to design is simple. It is to love the unmistakable™. To love the logos, patterns, colours, images and forms that have the power to bring a brand to mind–and to make assets of them. We design assets that creative people of all kinds love to work with, and that keep a brand top-of-mind across all media and across culture.
We have won most of the world’s top brand identity and packaging design awards including the first ever Cannes Grand Prix for Design, and we are the only design company to have our work inducted into the CLIO Awards Hall of Fame. We even won a Grammy for our design work for the rock band Metallica. The awards attract the best talent to our studios and also to our clients' companies.
We work with many of the world’s leading brands including: Amazon, Burger King, Coca-Cola, Elemis, Kraft Foods, Levi’s, Miller, Oreo, Reese’s, American Red Cross, SKYY Vodka, Samsung, Sprite, Tassimo, Toblerone, Tuborg, The Glenlivet, Waitrose and Visa. But we also work with entrepreneurial brands like popchips, Liz Earle and OpenTable. We apply the learning from the big brands to help start-ups make it big, and infuse the work we do for global giants with the entrepreneurial spirit.
Bruce Duckworth and David Turner started Turner Duckworth in 1992. They are both designers by training and remain responsible for driving design excellence within Turner Duckworth, strategic leadership for clients and leadership in the design community at large. Creativity magazine named them two of America’s fifty most creative people.
Bruce focuses on providing leadership to the design community at large. He has judged most of the best known international design awards including serving as Foreman of judges at D&AD and President of the Cannes Lions design jury. He has been on the executive committee and management board of D&AD, a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an honorary fellow of Falmouth University. He is in demand as a speaker for design and marketing conferences giving keynote speeches in Mumbai, Seoul, Chicago, Brussels, Barcelona, London and Cheltenham, amongst others. He has been an external assessor for Falmouth University and Somerset College of Art and Design and given guest lectures at many universities including the Royal College of Art, Norwich University, Winchester University, Falmouth University amongst others. Bruce is based in London.
David focuses on providing design leadership to CMO’s of global brands including Coca-Cola, Visa and Samsung as well as entrepreneurial start ups. He has judged many global design competitions including serving as Chairman of Judges for the Clios and Foreman of judges for D&AD. He is an occasional speaker at design conferences including keynote presentations at FUSE and The Dieline conference. He taught a class for Art Center Pasadena entitled “Packaging a brand” for which he created the curriculum. David is based in San Francisco.
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Unlike most international design companies, we don’t have a head office. Our three studios are equal partners who work together all the time. It’s been that way since we started back in 1992. Collaborating on projects across 5,362 miles isn’t always easy, especially with the time difference, but we’ve persisted because it really helps to make our work better. We believe it’s our secret weapon.
In our “Distant Crits”, (“Crit” is an Art School term for an informal critique of creative ideas) designers send a project’s work in progress to their “shadows” in the other studios. The “shadows” judge the work on its merits. There are no punches pulled because they don’t know who has done what, and they have no pressure to compromise because they are not responsible for timing and budget (or even keeping the client happy!). They are free to comment, advise and contribute design ideas with the sole purpose of making the work great. So every project gets filtered for creative excellence twice and is subject to two very different sets of cultural influences. During this process the work becomes clearer, simpler and richer in meaning. At the same time, we celebrate individual achievement, encouraging our designers to, “win the job”. In the early stages they compete with each other and if their ideas are chosen, they get to see them through to completion. This ensures that the people working on a design concept are always passionate about it. We call this competitive collaboration.
We think of strategy and design as a single discipline. We’ve seen too many “Strategy decks” that make great reading but don’t translate into original visual designs. Over 25% of designers are dyslexic*, so a twenty-page text-laden document doesn’t cut it! Designers think visually and differently. Our briefs combine the strategic vision AND inspiration for designers to use their natural abilities. Our briefs are co authored by a team that includes the designers who are responsible for the end product. Our briefs are short, clear and visually rich. They provide springboards for visual ideas that are strategically distinct and genuinely inspiring for designers. We call them “Clarity Briefs”.
*Source: The Dyslexic Advantage, Brock L Eide MD MA & Fernette F Eide MD
Today’s successful brands are not the two dimensional facades they used to be, defined by marketing campaigns. Modern brands are cultures; rich and nuanced with clear beliefs and values, and they encourage their audiences to engage and even shape them. Their visual identities don’t exist in brand guidelines; they exist in the physical stuff consumers see and touch in their everyday lives. So we focus on that stuff from the start. We begin projects by taking a cold, hard look at the reality of a brand’s “material culture” because an object tells you a lot about the people who made it. A brand’s material culture needs to accurately reflect the brand’s purpose and values. We design and orchestrate that material culture, ensuring that everything a brand makes tells the right story.
To compete in today’s rapidly changing and increasingly complex world, brands and their visual identities must be instantly recognizable, but they must also constantly evolve to keep pace. It’s costly and ineffective to keep re-inventing the wheel, but an identity that doesn’t change is quickly obsolete. So for every visual identity we create we face what seems like a paradox. On one hand the identity requires the rigorous consistency of an unmistakable look. Not just unique or different, but unmistakable. You see it; you know the brand immediately. On the other hand the identity must have unlimited potential for future interpretation; it must be flexible enough to adapt to every context and culture and have the depth of meaning to inspire a multitude of great ideas. It’s very tough to resolve this paradox. The answer is what we call a layered visual identity. It has no unnecessary elements and the potential for future adaptation is baked in. In the end, it looks deceptively simple, but as the great dancer Fred Astaire once said, “If it looks like hard work, you’re not working hard enough”.
We’re in business to help our clients grow their businesses. To do that effectively we need to attract the best talent. The most motivated people want to work somewhere where great work is valued and celebrated. So we’re always pushing ourselves to do influential work that wins design awards. This isn’t vanity. Design awards may not be perfect, but they do put our work up against the best in the industry to be judged by our peers. Our consistent success over the years in design competitions has built our reputation, which has attracted the best talent. This in turn fuels our ability to produce commercial results for our clients. The awards also benefit our clients directly, helping them to recruit higher calibre people for their own organizations.
A consistent, motivated team produces the best work. We have one of the highest retention rates in the industry. Why? Because we understand that creative brains need constant stimulation. We keep a good mix of clients large and small, culturally significant and entrepreneurial, all with a common desire for design excellence. We move our designers around from brand to brand to stop them getting in a rut (yes, it happens) and to bring fresh thinking to all our clients. We even have a job swap program in which designers change places for a month or so with a colleague in the other studio. It’s a chance to experience a different culture, to learn some new best practices, and to freshen up their thinking. Most importantly, it builds the personal connections that make collaborating over long distances possible. And that collaborative culture is our secret weapon.