Clients and ad agencies always hope to work in a spirit of harmonious partnership, full transparency, and seamless collaboration—with a goal of creating campaigns that please both parties and motivate the audience. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen that way.
But sometimes it does.
The Seattle Mariners came to us in the fall of 2015 with a behemoth of an assignment: Redefine and redesign their brand look and feel. A challenge, to put it mildly.
From top to bottom, there existed hundreds of discrete marketing materials that the new design would ultimately affect. Everything from television end cards, to pocket schedules, to bobblehead giveaway promotional graphics. Most of which would then be executed internally by the clients’ in-house team, not ours.
Frequent meetings; no egos
The key to success here was—stop me if you’ve heard this one—collaboration. How? We all spent lots of time together. In the same actual building. In the same actual room.
I talked to the Mariners’ VP of Marketing Kevin Martinez about the process, and the result.
“The Mariners and Copacino+Fujikado have always enjoyed a collaborative relationship, so the working sessions didn’t feel entirely different from other projects,” he said. “C+F went above and beyond by taking a look at the various ways we would need to use the design, and helped us develop a solution for each asset.”
What began as a series of weekly meetings steadily evolved into frequent group sessions that featured walls plastered full of work, multiple directions we were exploring, and a distinct lack of ego. In the early going, everyone brought in examples of work they liked, as well as work they didn’t, within the category.
Those weekly meetings sometimes became twice weekly. We spent them exploring, building out, refining, repeating. We found ourselves self-editing less, as we preferred to have an open discussion first about why something was or was not working.
The critiquing process was simple: if someone didn’t like something, they’d candidly explain why, we’d set that work aside or try to fix it, and we’d move on. Nobody got their feelings hurt, and nobody bogged down the process—the agency and the client marched on towards the promised land of great design.
“Bringing our designers together with the agency designers was incredibly valuable,” Martinez said. “Our designers were able to communicate how functional the design needed to be and how numerous aspects of the design would need to be turned around quickly due to the daily nature of our game.”
Both the type treatment in general, and the rhombus specifically, suggest a sense of dynamic movement and athletic energy—evocative of how the game of baseball should be played.
“The use of the rhombus, a clean readable font that evoked the baselines on a baseball diamond, and the inclusion of Mariners branding elements created a fresh design that has been well received by Mariners fans,” Martinez said.
In early 2016, the design started showing up around the city in every form imaginable, blanketing the city in all things rhombus-infused Mariners Baseball.
“Everyone involved from C+F brought tremendous creativity and energy that resulted in one of the best designs the Mariners have employed in the last twenty years,” Martinez said.
And without the true partnership of the longest-term client at the agency, we wouldn’t have landed in such a harmonious, happy place.