storm from the east

Crowdsourcing your brand design: doing the maths

» Branding, Branding advice series

The idea of crowdsourcing design is tremendously appealing at first, but when you work through the math, it just doesn’t work out. There has been lots of buzz about the process (“the wisdom of crowds!”), but little evidence of effective branding results coming from it.

Very interesting article on the Forty website. Well worth a read, especially if you're considering crowdsourcing for your next design project.

City of Everett logo 'chosen'

» Branding, Design

Back in October I linked to a design competition for the City of Everett in the US. There were some truly ghastly logos on show but, sadly, the page showing them all was quickly removed as the process of choosing a winner gathered steam.

Now a logo has been chosen, but that's far from the end of the story, as Brand New and the Seattle Times report. A logo design competition that didn't go swimmingly? Imagine that...

Design for a difference: Bump Mark

» Culture, Design, Design for a difference


Solveiga Pakštaité has won the national leg of the James Dyson award for Bump Mark, a brilliant gelatine-filled expiry label for food packaging.

By altering the amount of gelatine in the label, Bump Mark can imitate the decomposition of various foodstuffs and more accurately predict when it needs to be thrown away. The label works on a simple, but incredibly smart premise: if the label is smooth, the food is okay to eat, but if it's bumpy you should throw it away.

Read more on the Guardian.

Consider bartering for goods and services

» Work

The news is full of hunger, food banks, poverty, austerity, homelessness and other none-too-cheery stories, which is hardly very heart-warming in the lead-up to the holiday season.

Many people are struggling to make ends meet, including business owners, so perhaps it's time to consider forms of payment beyond cash. I've bartered before and would happily do it again.

Bartering has a number of benefits, including:

Continue reading "Consider bartering for goods and services" »

John Holcroft's take on modern life

» Culture, Illustration


If you're not familiar with British illustrator John Holcroft's work, you should be. Aside from client work for the likes of the Guardian and BBC, he creates illustrations which look at a few modern social issues in a wonderful retro style.


See more at

Hotel Cycle, Hiroshima

» Architecture, Bikes, Branding, Design, Japan


This is awesome. Hotel Cycle in Hiroshima offers, amongst other things:

Check-in while still on your bike (the first in Japan)

Bike racks in most rooms

Public areas for repair and maintenance (rental tools available)

Not only that, but the design is lovely too, with the space design by Suppose Design Office complemented by a brilliant graphic identity by Uma Design Farm.


Working with clients, not for them

» Branding, Branding advice series, Design

Yesterday I talked about how to explain things to clients, so today I thought I'd give a personal example of how I initially confused the hell out a client, then managed to put things right.

Continue reading "Working with clients, not for them" »

How should I explain the design process to clients?

» Branding, Branding advice series

Although designers and writers (amongst others) have lots of stories about clients from hell, like being asked to "make it pop" to creating "normal size" illustrations, there are also plenty from the client's side.

Our work puts us on both sides of the creative process because we sometimes work as intermediaries to stop problems from happening or getting worse. Having your work questioned is a pretty shitty thing, especially when you've put an enormous amount of effort into it. Having your professionalism and integrity questioned in the process only adds insult to injury.

What can you do to minimise the risk of confusion?

Continue reading "How should I explain the design process to clients?" »

Are you making yourself invisible?

» Branding, Branding advice series, Culture

On this side of the planet it's getting cold and the days are getting much shorter. For people who like to run and cycle (like me), that means a lot of our runs and rides will be done in the dark. I've bought lights, a relective band to wear around my torso, and tend to choose bright, reflective clothing.

The reason's pretty simple: I like to be seen.

Recently, however, I've seen more and more people running in black from head to toe. Not surprisingly, this makes them very hard to see, especially on unlit paths and roads. Drivers, cyclists and even other runners can't spot them until the last second. Does it look cool? Perhaps. Do people notice you? Nope.

Then the other night I saw an older gentleman walking and carrying a flashing baton, the kind used at construction sites here in Japan, and wearing a reflective vest, also common on construction sites. Did he look cool? Not particularly, but I'm guessing looking cool wasn't his priority.

Not only was he incredibly visible, traffic noticeably slowed down when coming close to him. There are a couple of reasons for this:

1) He stood out.

2) Drivers may have expected to see some roadworks or other construction, and slowed down as a precaution. Whatever the reason, there's no doubt his effort was effective.

Are you making yourself invisible?

The whole thing got me thinking about how companies brand themselves. Although we think we're seeing the big picture, we might be missing details that throw everything off: we're running to be healthy, but choosing attire that puts us in danger.

People who choose largely unedited website templates, for example, are going to largely blend in because nothing makes them stand out.

Spending a fortune on a brand identity but failing to implement it properly is like lighting a match and thinking it's a state of the art bike light.

Businesses that fail to communicate their aims, ideas and goals to their employees - and get them involved - will be mistrusted by those employees and their customers.

There are loads more things I could add to that list, and I'll go into more detail later in the series, but the point is pretty simple: you need to pay attention to every aspect of your brand, because neglecting any part will affect the whole.

New logo and identity for DIN by Kleiner und Bold

» Branding, Design
DIN logo before and after from Brand New

When I saw Brand New's comparison of the old and new logos for DIN, my first thought was "is that it?" Yeah, reducing the size of the D has tidied and balanced things quite a bit, but it looks pretty much the same.

Then I saw the rest of the identity by Kleiner und Bold...

Continue reading "New logo and identity for DIN by Kleiner und Bold" »

Hello. こんにちは。¡Hola!

We run a small studio in Japan providing branding advice, courses, workshops and design services to nice people all over the world.


Branding advice & consulting


About & work


Get in touch:


Branding advice series

Hello. storm from the east is about branding, design and communication. We live in Tokyo.

If you're stuck on how to improve what you've already got, you want to start something new, or you're sick of seeing people doing worse work for more money, maybe we can help.

Get in touch:

© storm from the east / Compass Language Studio 2006-2014

What we do

From our workshop we help people understand their business better and make everything run much more smoothly. We help with design, marketing, language and more.
Grab your tools and let's get started

Stuff to read and look at

Concept room

Our other work

We're also the founders of Compass Language Studio focusing on language and education.