‘Paua Aotearoa’, adults and kids T-shirt, four colour print on navy and black fabric.

Surface Active: Making waves in a sea of sameness

Surface Active art-to-wear, T-shirts in the spirit of fun

Surface Active made in Aotearoa, T-shirts main neck label.

Surface Active T-shirts main neck label.

By the mid 1980s T-shirts had become hot promotional items, garments on the outskirts of fashion, and a relatively new medium for the Graphic Designer’s art. What had for a long time been considered a poor medium for Graphic Design grew to an almost essential one. All you have to do is walk down the street anywhere in the world since the early 80s to see what a ubiquitous promotional vehicle they have become. If you mail out 100 potential clients a direct mail brochure and perhaps 200 people will see it. But mail out, or better yet, sell 100 T-shirts, and assuming they’re at all decent looking, you launch 100 walking billboards.

The trend over the past several decades has been to embrace more casual clothing, to the point of stone-washed and distressed, though this has in no way meant this sort of clothing has become less expensive or stylish. Brand awareness, including personal brand awareness has been part of this trend—to such and extent that people want, or are at least willing to flaunt, the name of the brand or designer of their shoes, jeans, and bags on the items in question. In short clothing manufacturers made their products promotional vehicles for themselves.

Surface Active art-to-wear

Promotional teeshirts take this walking billboard concept one step further by being clothing that promotes other products and services in such a way that the wearer is willing to be identified—whether through a sense of aesthetics, humour, social responsibility, or irreverence, or loyalty to a watering hole, cultural institution, environmental organisation or charity. People are willing to wear someone else’s message because they feel it says something about themselves—which is the essence of fashion.

‘Kiwi Space Shuttle’ T-shirt, six colour print on grey marle fabric.

‘Kiwi Space Shuttle’ T-shirt, six colour print on grey marle fabric. Placement; six colour front, one colour woodcut around hem front and back.

Initially our Surface Active art-to-wear T-shirts were designed to be retailed by us and also to be wholesaled to environmental organisations such as Greenpeace and the Maruia Society, for inclusion particularly in their annual pre-Xmas direct mail catalogue campaigns and sold in their retail stores.

As design pARTners in the visual arts Chrissie Terpstra and I sought to apply our teeshirt design skills to everything from promoting small businesses and one-time events, to our Surface Active art-to-wear wildlife, Kiwiana and nuclear free collections for the likes of Wild Places and The Epicentre, Christchurch’s two ecostores, and for Greenpeace and the Maruia Society. Our market developed to include DoC visitor centres and similar conservation themed retail outlets in National Parks the length and breadth of the country, and the prestigious Te Papa store at the then brand new National Museum in Wellington. As our business and reputation grew we were commissioned by the likes of the International Antarctic Centre, Orana Park and certain Doc conservancies to design and produce custom ranges of adult and children’s shirts.

‘Adelie Penguins, Antarctica’ adult’s and children’s two colour T-shirt print on white fabric.

‘Adelie Penguins, Antarctica’ adult’s and children’s two colour T-shirt print on white fabric. Placement; Complementary graphics, two colours front and back.

This delightful collection is from our SurfaceActive Art-to-Wear range 1996–2000.

In terms of our T-shirt design itself, it evolved from straightforward application of a symbol or logo, screenprinted on the kitchen table in our flat in 1986, sometimes hand painted to finish, to approaches that treat the shirt as a canvas, involving printing the garments as piecework prior to being stitched up by local seamstresses. Whereas our early designs simply applied graphics to the front of the shirt, our designs developed into appearing on the front and back, wrap around, and encircling the hems and sleeves. Treating the T-shirt we were printing on as the design of a piece of clothing in the round. We also developed from printing initially printing white and light coloured shirts to having our locally made pure cotton garments custom dyed in vivid dark hues in small batches prior to their speciality “dark shirt” printing.

The mechanics of hand-screen printing fabric

When you are printing on cotton fabric with seams you cannot get the kind of fine detail you can printing on paper. The fabric absorbs the inks or dyes and the colour spreads through the fibres—the fabric equivalent of dot gain.

Surface Active print shop, Jewelled gecko hand pulled eight colour Teeshirt printing in progress.

With our layered or hand-separated multicolour designs the colour is laid down in areas with the hand-pulled silk-screening process, with “flash-curing” of the print between colour passes, in some cases up to 10 passes to print one garment, front, back, hem and sleeves, one colour at a time.

Fabric colour and the issue of “hand” or feel of the fabric printing inks

‘Jewel Gecko - New Zealand’ eight colour T-shirt print on dark green fabric.

‘Jewel Gecko – New Zealand’ eight colour T-shirt print on dark green fabric. Placement; Eight colour front print, one colour kowhaiwhai print front and back around hem.

The other reason other than avoiding toxic (and highly hazardous) solvents that are used for printing “Plastisol” inks, and for selecting water based inks and dyes as the better option is that of the “hand” or feel of the ink. Water-based inks have a nicer feel to them but they are more difficult to work with as they easily cure, “dry in” or clog the stencil especially in peak demand hot summer weather, rendering it useless and in need of remaking. Waterbased dyes have no “hand” to them as such as the screenprint literally dyes the light coloured fabric.

Custom designed and built in-line printing workshop

We developed a custom in-line sequential printing methodology, rather than rotary print methodology in our back-shed “sheltered workshop” to successfully overcome the drying-in drawback of soft-hand waterbased printing dyes and Supercover inks. It was achieved by way of additional manual labour and an innovative use of my own design of home-built screen holding humidifier boxes for keeping the ink and screens moist between print runs. On the 8-colour garment designs the period between each colour being printed could be up to 40 minutes.

‘Harlequin Gecko - New Zealand’ eight colour T-shirt print on charcoal marle fabric.

‘Harlequin Gecko – New Zealand’ eight colour T-shirt print on charcoal marle fabric. Placement; Eight colour front print, one colour woodcut print front and back around hem.

If you want to lay down a light colour on a dark shirt you have to use acrylic Super-cover inks, in some cases laying down two light coats to best build opacity while preserving detail. Flash curing in between, or lay down a base of light grey first then flashing off is the only way ensure print quality is maintained throughout the garment print run. If your dark shirt design has a lot of solid light ink coverage you end up making something that has the feel of a bullet-proof vest when you’re wearing it. We avoided this by planning our designs to combine both ink and dye passes, colours darker than the fabric colour are dyes, lighter ones are super-opaque acrylics, all required flash curing between.

The other huge benefit with water-based inks, aside from wash-up with water, and their “thinners” being water, is that the finished garment once flashed off to the point of being touch dry is given a final cure in just 20 minutes in a domestic tumble dryer rather than a 6m long high-tech curing oven.

Surface Active wildlife collage design fabric print on bedding set.

Surface Active wildlife collage design, step and repeat one colour fabric print on custom bedding set.

Optimising the illustration workflow for easy printing and graphic quality

‘Ocean - New Zealand’ one colour children’s T-shirt print on navy blue and jade green fabric.

‘Ocean – New Zealand’ one colour children’s T-shirt print on navy blue and jade green fabric. Placement; One colour front and back. ‘Puff’ printed emboss effect ink.

One of our specialities is one colour “puff printed” designs, the so called puff inks contract when cured and so draw up the fabric surface. This has a tremendous tactile and visual effect on single colour dark shirt prints such as the Tuatara and children’s Ocean and Forest floor designs.

I developed a variation of drawing wildlife art for reproduction from classic zoology methods, using mixed media charcoal pencil with pen and ink on coquille board to achieve a crisp “line and tone” effect from one colour “line” images.

Garment prices scaled with print cost

With hand-pulled screen printing the cost of printing a batch of shirts scales with the number being produced up to a certain point, set-up and clean-up time being equal regardless of quantity. The number of graphic “placements” (a graphic on the front is one placement, front and back, two placements, etc.), and the number of colours, type of ink used,. per graphic also determines the printing cost.

Regarding the gallery and our T-shirt models

As with other some portfolios on the site Archive the over 40 designs included here are collected from the period between 1988–2002 of our Surface Active printed garment editions. Other than ordering them from monoprints descending to multicolour designs I have made no effort to force the shirts into defined categories; rather, I present them in a manner intended to inspire and entertain—an approach appropriate to the spirit of fun that T-shirts represent.

‘Weta - New Zealand’ T-shirt, adults and kids, on oatmeal and grey marle fabric.

‘Weta – New Zealand’ T-shirt, adults and kids, on oatmeal and grey marle fabric. Adult garment a six colour print. Placement; piecework, front, back and sleeve.

In that light-hearted vein a shout-out must go to our T-shirt models from back-in-the-day, the kids are all 20-or-30-something now at time of writing. Our compliments and lasting gratitude are also due to their T-shirt modelling parents, our friends. SurfaceActive employed most of them as our highly-trusted sales crew selling from our stall at the weekend Christchurch Arts Centre Market, come rain or shine, year-round 1988–2002.


Design and Art Direction: Design pARTners, Chrissie Terpstra and Shaun Waugh
Illustrator: Shaun Waugh
Hand-pulled screen printing: Surface Active: Chrissie Terpstra and crew

©magentadot brands

Sillicon Planet’s world-wide smile promo

When it comes to promoting entertainers, creating distinction is key. Because of the tremendous competition in the market, promotions for Circus-Arts performers, children’s entertainers need to be well thought out, comprehensive and entertain as they capture the attention of any audience world wide. Sillicon Planet’s audience is a mash-up of schools, festival and event organisers, corporate clientele and talent agencies.

The demand to create distinction and call attention to the Sillicon Planet brand meets high quality low cost colour digital printing

To create distinction and call attention to the client’s brand, the designer must producing memorable promotions that reveal their client’s capabilities and their brand’s personality.

The advent of high quality, low cost, colour digital printing opened up the opportunity to design and produce innovative promotions, from a production standpoint, for my small business clients like Sillicon Planet. It also opened up the opportunity to also produce keenly strategic ones where the overall messaging is mindful of and well attuned to the prospective client’s needs.

Direct mail forms the cornerstone

The second of Sillicon Planet’s full colour, two-sided business cards features their emblem.

This business card features the branding emblem, a lateral visual answer developed the question in the client’s mind “Sure the name is a cute word play, but what exactly does Sillicon Planet mean?”

This promotion has a direct mail piece as the cornerstone of a larger rebranding project. This promotional brochure also serves the secondary function—as a demonstrations of Chris & Lisa’s full range of capabilities, and/or it functions as a keepsake that significantly increases the longevity and effectiveness of their promotional budget dollar. In Graphic Design terms with this project I was able to rethink the functional components of Direct Mail marketing and also, due to colour digital printing, able to make strides into what is possible in the form and quality of the return on the small business promotional dollar.

Printed brochures demand our interaction

The simple joy of turning pages, of unfolding, and revealing, of scale, of texture and ink on paper, and of the physical presence of print in the hand. There is something inherently human about it, you can touch it, pick it up—it has weight—you can even smell the ink. You sense the artful hand, the care and craft. It sits there, not moving, and when you come back the next day, it’s still there going strong.

A well-executed brochure allows multiple facets of a company’s personality to shine. The format forms and informs the flow of narrative. The pacing and rhythm of graphics and type shape the experience. Brochures feature and showcase not only the client’s brand but also design and photography, illustration, writing, fonts, colour, materials and texture—and the art and craft of printing.

Effective promotional contact strategies

Effective contact strategies are important in an age where online communication is prevalent. To make more personalized promotions, many firms are narrowcasting by creating smaller, more targeted promotions. They are also aligning their thinking in terms of a campaign, uniting all their messaging and correspondence to ensure it is clear and consistent in the marketplace.

To maintain that vital connection with prospective and existing clients, creatives many notable occasions worthy of a promotional message, from moving announcements, anniversary celebrations, and holiday greetings to the announcement of awards and achievements and the addition of new staff members.

Whether a company is new and embarking on a launch or a pair of seasoned professionals such of Chris & Lisa who were in the midst of their rebranding and promotional effort, securing a prominent market position is challenging. It requires research, evaluation, planning, and commitment in order to make the desired gains. But for those firms who are willing to venture out with a unique voice and vision, it can be an empowering experience.

Want to successfully stand out in the marketplace? We can help you with that.

If you are finding yourself getting caught up in the day-to-day so much that you’re losing sight of what is important, MagentaDot Brands have the ability to work with you on the design of a pragmatic creative path to your successfully stand out in the marketplace.

At MagentaDot brands I am always striving to produce the best advertising, graphic design, websites, photographs and conceptual collateral pieces money can buy. And these days I’m well aware you want your communications to work hard. So to see more proof have look around, or just call me at; +64 21 067 6176. Or email hello@magentadotbrands.com


Project name: Sillicon Planet rebrand, brochure and direct mail promotion
Graphic design / Illustration / Print production / Promotional design and advertising / Typographic design
Client (Industry): Sillicon Planet Theatre Company (Entertainment/Education)
Formats: Booklet / Brochure / Direct mail / various
Date: 1999


Printer: Colour Digital Printing (CDP)
Design firm:
 Surface Active Graphic Design
Copywriter: Chrissie Terpstra
Creative director / designer / illustrator / print production: Shaun Waugh & Chrissie Terpstra
Font credits: Giddyup, Allise, Flora, various
Costume design: Carrot & Pickle costumes co-designed stitched by Chrissie Terpstra

©magentadot brands

WorkPace Ergonomic resting software draft packaging concept 3D digital rendering.

Great brands stand out: WorkPace Packaging

Whenever I am working on a packaging design project I’m focussed on one thing, how can I add value. How can I by research, writing, developing messaging and design elements add value? What strategy can I develop that will make the WorkPace breaks and exercises software brand better and stronger? What can I develop that will help create engaging packaging design concepts that appeal to office workers and their managers?

Visual interpretation of the brief

Visualising design ideas with digital renderings conveys how a packaging design will work as well as how each package will relate to itself, in the round, and any other sales collateral while on display. Digital renderings are also a low-cost option in comparison to physical prototypes when working on the early package concepts.

Amazing possibilities arise out of digital renderings, seeing concepts fully realised allows decision makers to immerse themselves in their choices.

The WorkPace Ergonomic breaks & exercises software packaging project

WorkPace Ergonomic resting software final packaging.

Final packaging using supplied elements as briefed. My contribution is the overall layout, photo composites and the one-page capabilities brochure on the reverse of the package.

The concept and material for the packaging redesign was a straightforward one. Feature image, typography, colours, brand look were all a given. Among the value I added to this project was the illustrated selling message on the reverse, the new set of colour exercise illustrations and other illustrative design elements.

Developing a small set of draft packaging solutions that meet and stretch expectations

With this project I also took the opportunity to explore a number of concepts with the client for future creative direction. I was concerned that the brand needed to stay ahead of trends, as the received look appeared to be becoming out of date, not least due to advances in the computer hardware and office attire. The dark heavy, overall sombre, almost oppressive mood of the feature image, and the split focus between computer operator in the foreground and her male colleague or manager in the back, while a credible office vignette, the first impression lacks impact and single-minded focus. The blue and yellow colours of the brand are a bright, fresh and youthful colour combination, the legacy packaging look relegated colour to play no part in the impression created by it.  My strategy developed around the observation that colour was a significant brand asset that was completely overlooked.

Hundreds of brand equity studies confirm that consumers recall the colour of a package first, the shape or structure second, and the style of a brand’s logo third. This proves the most recognized components of a brand are design-related, first and foremost colour.

WorkPace Ergonomic resting software draft packaging concept 3D digital rendering.

Blue and yellow youthful and fresh colour concept, easy monoline expressive modern illustration with legacy logo. Positioning statement and Illustration express single-minded proposition of injury prevention for computer users. Strong colour blocking distinctive from competition, thereby avoiding brand parity on the shelf.

I refined a couple of fresh creative directions upon this strategy and presented mockups to the client that you see in the gallery.

The goal was to have a visually informed discussion with the client regarding my strategic idea that the package needed to be able to convey three powerful points;

  1. the manner in which the software behaves in such a way as to actively care for computer users,
  2. the comfort of knowing that something is installed on your computer by your employer which is actively looking out for you, and
  3. the feeling of WorkPace being as essential to highly productive computer users as the office chair that they sit upon.
WorkPace Ergonomic resting software draft packaging concept 3D digital rendering.

Blue and yellow youthful and fresh colour concept, front panel of carton fold-out reveals details of software capabilities.

I was aiming for the affect that when you look at the package you say,

“Yes it does look like this product is good, easy to use, technologically advanced, and it will keep me safe from repetitive strain injury  in the workplace.”

The packaging design process

A simplified overview of the steps which a package goes through from concept to completion. This process is a model modified to suit each project. The factors that affect the flow and order of the steps are:

  • Market research and client research,
  • Brainstorming & ideation of draft strategies and thumbnail visual ideas,
  • Establish the messaging & communication hierarchy,
  • Competitive product, retail environment boards, style/mood boards,
  • Explore form & structure,
  • Prephotography, preillustration,
  • Concept development,
  • Presentation of designs.


Testing the concepts rendered in 3D context provides insights very difficult to grasp by just creating a flat design in 2D on a page. Adapting the design based on the client’s review of renderings can improve the chances of success without diluting the original concept.

Brand Personality

The brand personality must come to life and deliver its largest impression the moment someone picks up your package. From this point, it helps to think of the brand personality in terms an actual person. Now, who is this individual, they have to appeal to millions of people. Shrewd consumers who spend time with brands can feel the inconsistencies between a brand and its packaging. And how they feel is the operative word. They may not see it, or articulate it, but they know when something is right.

WorkPace Ergonomic resting software draft packaging concept 3D digital rendering.

Clean minimalist white space blue yellow accent colour concept, legacy logo. Messaging shifts focus to express injury prevention for computer users. One page brochure on back contrasts with the front’s clear-cut image and white space which places undivided focus on purpose of software. The back encourages engagement in competitive evaluaton instore.

It’s about being true to that brand personality. That consistency is where brand strength is built.

Knowing the personality requires clear definition of the creative brief before conception and then continuing to research as the brand matures.

Because the brand does not live in a vacuum, and because the cultural context around it is constantly emerging, it requires gaining additional knowledge and a process of continuous refinement. As a person matures so does a brand. Once it has been defined, how far you push the personality depends on your place in the history of the product or service category. If you’re first to market, you have a greater obligation to identify the optimal brand personality in the category and lead from the front.

WorkPace Ergonomic resting software draft packaging concept 3D digital rendering.

Blue and yellow fresh, youthful colour concept, clean, strong sans-serif font WorkPace logo redesign. Positioning statement shifts focus from RSI disease cure to intelligent RSI prevention. Truth to materials, visual elements of the software, 8bit icons, form the lively collage. Clearcut typist has undivided focus. Short copy encourages a brisk engagement. Strengthened Niche logo to compare and contrast with legacy one.

WorkPace Ergonomic resting software draft packaging concept 3D digital rendering.

Blue and yellow fresh, youthful colour concept, legacy WorkPace logo. Legacy Niche logo to compare and contrast with stronger upgrade proposal.

Visual interpretation of the creative brief

Concerns to be addressed;

Strategic alignment. Designers and clients must be clear on the objectives. If any doubts exist, ask, discuss, challenge if necessary. Better to probe sooner than argue later. Also, loose ideations and conceptual approaches can be helpful if offered by the creative team to tactically zero in on the client’s goals and expectations.

Going too far off-brand in the name of creativity and violating the brand’s personality.

Design iterations rather than multiple designs. Designers are sensitive to small tweaks and confuse such possibilities with creativity. This is especially the case with digital design. Be sure to show the agreed number of designs/concepts in the form of truly different designs. Iterations should be justified only in terms of the strategy and not just presentation filler.

WorkPace Ergonomic resting software draft packaging concept 3D digital rendering.

Light and lively collage concept, strong sans-serif WorkPace logo upgrade. Messaging expresses single-minded proposition of injury prevention for computer users. Visual elements of the software, exercises and emoticons portrayed in the collage grid. Short copy encourages a brisk easy engagement. Niche logo strengthened.

Too many design options tends to backfire. An agreed number of designs/comps for first exploration takes into account not only budget considerations but also the client’s appetite for creative choices. Presenting significantly more than the agreed upon number of comps can:

  • Upset client confidence that you’re sure of the goals and objectives,
  • Make the firm appear overzealous and not budget conscious,
  • Take too long to present and be overwhelming to absorb.

Creating consumer preferences through package design

Research shows that well over two-thirds of consumer product purchase decisions are made at point of sale. In some categories, impulse purchasing at shelf accounts for 85% of sales. It is evident that brand identity and package design drive this important dynamic. In terms of recall, also known as “brand equity” cross-category studies show that in unaided awareness tests consumers remember more about the package than they do about advertising or promotions. Hundreds of equity studies confirm that consumers recall the colour of a package first, the shape or structure second, and the style of a brand’s logo third. This proves the most recognized components are design-related.

Don’t settle for parity in your packaging design

Many packages are overlooked on the shelf; in fact over 30% are not even seen by consumers. Achieving shelf impact doesn’t just consist of shouting louder than the products next to you, it means understanding what will draw your consumer to your package. The target consumer may be lured by packages featuring clean simplicity, a photographic style, certain shapes and colors, or certain kinds of typography. Whatever the design specifics, a package must become the only one a target buyer sees.

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Design easy differentiation, don’t drown in a sea of sameness

Unfortunately, too often, consumers find lots of similar-looking packages that form a sea of sameness. There is parity, or seemingly equal value, in packaging and products. Many companies start out with a hiss and a roar but fail to keep pace with how consumer and cultural trends work in packaging.

Designers and marketers must observe a product’s position in relationship to its competition by determining where it falls on the parity line. Is the brand taking risks and standing out by being above the line? Or is it playing it safe, blending in with competitors, and staying below the line?

Fighting parity within your category is worth working through being uncomfortable. Great brands stand out.


Project name: WorkPace ergonomic rest display packaging
Graphic design / Illustration / Print production / 3D Rendering / Typographic design
Client (Industry): Niche Technology (Software engineering/RSI prevention)
Format: Packaging
Date: 2000


Design firm: Surface Active Graphic Design
Copywriter: Client, Shaun Waugh
Creative director / designer / illustrator / print production: Shaun Waugh
Font credits: Akzidenz Grotesk, Handel Gothic, Compacta

©magentadot brands

Packaging carton for MyoPace EMG Equipment for Physiotherapy

MyoPace EMG carton

The power of packaging for your brand

As a manufacturer it is your job to package your product well, advertise it to your audience nationally and internationally, take orders, ship your product, collect revenue, handle accounting and so on.

The presentation of the product in the competitive in-store environment needs to be carefully considered and when shipping online orders the customer unboxing experience must be taken into consideration also. In the case of the MyoPace EMG device the display carton was encased within an outer shipping carton to ensure the customer’s device and the display carton housing both arrived in pristine condition for un-boxing.

Packaging design tangibly bridges the gap between business strategy and design.

MyoPace outer-shipping carton. Printed one colour, black, onto corrugated Kraft board.

MyoPace flexographic printed outer-shipping carton. Printed one colour, black, onto recycled corrugated Kraft board. Due to rough irregular surface of board medium to coarse halftones are required at no more than 65 line screen. The 27.5 line screen used for the EMG device creates an “organic” recycled look.

Creating consumer preferences through package design

Packaging is arguably a brand’s most valuable touchpoint. Well researched packaging design is a great opportunity to exercise the power of attractive and useful design.

Packaging requires the expertise of multiple disciplines: strategic planning, market research, elements of consumer psychology, graphic design, print production and retail environmental considerations to name just a few. A final piece of successful packaging synthesises this complexity to deliver the brand message to consumers tangibly and directly.

Every packaging solution is seen by 100% of a brand’s market, as a result the retail marketplace is highly competitive as products are striving to position themselves distinct from their competition in innovative ways.

People crave novel experiences and ideas that remind them of something they have never seen before. Whether browsing for a product on a shelf, internet shopping or stumbling upon them in print media advertising, everyone enjoys the act of discovery.

MyyoPace software CD and jewel case.

MyoPace Software CD and jewel case.

Brand expression applied to package design adds value

This MyoPace packaging design uses visual language as well as text expressing information to capture and hold the consumer’s attention. It is a packaging that informs, entertains the eye and using good, visually stimulating design aesthetics to really influence the consumer to buy.

Packaging design is an enjoyable discipline as it brings rational scientific considerations together with emotionally informed creative design and with craft, meaning that you care about and you know what you are doing.

Good package design builds upon creative talent, it takes design informed by an understanding of human behaviour that targets consumers in a compelling, fresh and entertaining way.

Packaging carton for MyoPace EMG Equipment for Physiotherapy

MyoPace EMG Equipment for Physiotherapy carton.



Project name: Myopace EMG display packaging
Graphic design / Illustration / Print production / Promotional design and advertising / Studio photography / Typographic design
Client (Industry): Niche Technology (Electroninc engineering, Software engineering)
Formats: Packaging
Date: 1999


Printer: Colour Digital Printing (CDP)
Design firm:
 Surface Active Graphic Design
Copywriter: Client, including product naming
Creative director / designer / illustrator / print production: Shaun Waugh
Font credits: Cheltenham, Frutiger, Sytnax

©magentadot brands

MyoPace EMG brochure makeover

The MyoPace EMG product capabilities brochure presents the utility of a high tech piece of medical equipment beautifully and inexpensively. The brief was for a product brochure makeover. A plain sheet of paper is transformed into an engaging, easy-to-read A5 three-panel brochure with full bleed printing and two rollover folds.

By combining well thought out and carefully art directed studio photography, a large format pastel illustration and clear typography the new brochure tells a user-friendly story in words and pictures.

MyoPace: EMG equipment for Physiotherapy and Occupational Health Professionals

The Niche technology EMG (Electro Myograph) brochure was direct mailed to physiotherapists in New Zealand and abroad, given out by hand, displayed at trade shows for customers to take and distributed to their wholesale customers. This capable feature-packed device represented high performance and great value for money and was successfully retailed and wholesaled by Niche technologies at trade shows domestically and internationally.

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Though the specialist audience is familiar with the sales literature for medical devices, telling the clear story of the Myopace EMG in words and pictures is as demanding for this device as it is anywhere.

The “before” lacks interest and impact

The data is all here but go beyond the product shot and there’s not one visual cue to let us know this fact sheet is about an item of medical equipment. A product capabilities brochure needs the reader’s eyes to do what merely reading dry text can’t—persuade the audience that this piece of equipment is essential and easy to use. That requires beauty and functionality.

The “before” lacks impact due to unappealing colours and a beige generic case housing the device. With the introduction of basic identity elements and well thought out art directed studio photography, the “after” succeeds with focussed compositions and photos in a flowing and nicely paced rollover fold brochure.

The message is part verbal, part visual and clearly expressed.

The 6 panel well organised layout has variety and a clear design goal. Where appropriate, on the cover and page two, the material conforms to fitting into individual panels. For the three panel inside spread the folds are ignored and the design is the entire page.

Good looking images working together as storytellers

The MyoPace EMG device modelled in therapeutic use in the workplace measuring a typist in a typical occupational overuse situation.

People see before they read so to attract customers images have prominence in the design concept. The photos were all visualised up front prior to the studio shoot. The images convey the utility and benefits of the EMG and it’s bundled software and some were clear-cut, without backgrounds or edges.

Easily read typefaces

Type was chose for its clarity and power. I chose two highly legible modern sans-serifs, Frutiger and the humanist sans Syntax for headings, and for the text, up-to-date yet classic Cheltenham, as with its larger x-height it is a Roman face that works as well on screen in smaller sizes as it does in print.

Wide screen interior layout

The interior layout ignores the folds and treats the entire page as a single canvas. The layout can conform to the information that is necessary to convey, from the information out. It makes use of curved graphics and photos with and without edges to show the Myopace EMG “in the round”. Along with that is a composite illustrating the bundled software and a shot of the EMG device modelled in therapeutic use.

Front cover design sets the stage

Strongly focussed full bleed image, the photo presents the device in such a way that it is both framed, clearly named, and by the means of an oblique view, shallow depth of field and a one light lighting setup the EMG device appears to pop-up forward, almost leaping clean off the page. To the audience the anatomical life drawing of musculature tells the story in one picture of what the Myopace device is and what it is used for.

Product name, positioning statement, selling message and branding elements are well organised in a size and colour coded visual hierarchy.

Dual purpose back cover

One of the first things read, yet it must also work as the conclusion. It is the best place for the dry product specifications data sheet, guarantee, contact details and an empty space for the dealer stamp. Cinema credit style typography for the specification list keeps the list typography well anchored in the layout and is optimal for reading quickly in a single bite.

Fold in panel, a welcome message that compliments the cover and the inside spread

Sequence matters, message and brochure format present the story, best foot forward. The chief product benefits are simply put using image, colour and type with poster-like clarity and emphasis on this standalone page, the reader is encouraged to take the plunge and read on.

Inside: the brochure core

The inside is taken in all at once so the layout has been designed to best fit and express the capabilities of the feature packed EMG device. The client assisted the design goals by providing concise, pragmatic copy, just the facts. The text is extremely clear with wide line-spacing, set in columns of optimal width which can be read easily and quickly. Readers are pulled into the story by eye catching callouts that set the design theme. Generous white borders around the non-bleed elements give the layout a fresh, organised look. Multiple captions on the product images have tremendous value because every image has several stories to tell.

Grandad is mentoring son Maurice in the life skill of shoe polishing to a standard.

MyoPace EMG Equipment for Physiotherapy carton.

These days I am well aware you want your branding and marketing communications to work hard. As hard as, let’s say, these Da Vinci brochures do. So to see more proof just have a look around or call Shaun on;
+64 21 067 6176.
Or email him hello@magentadotbrands.com


Project name: Myopace EMG brochure
Graphic design / Illustration / Print production / Promotional design and advertising / Studio photography / Typographic design
Client (Industry): Niche Technology (Electroninc engineering, Software engineering)
Formats: Booklet / Brochure / Direct mail
Date: 1999


Printer: Colour Digital Printing (CDP)
Design firm:
 Surface Active Graphic Design
Copywriter: Client, including product naming
Creative director / designer / illustrator / print production: Shaun Waugh
Font crédits: Cheltenham, Frutiger, Sytnax

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