Since our humble inception in 1997, YO has always been a safe space for creatives to explore their potential and grow as a person, professional and practitioner.
Our coming of age began a personal reflection of the YO ethos, and all that it entails.
In 21 words, this is what YO21 means to us.
We will go up, down, upside down, flip 360 degrees and reach the end destination. We start slow, move extremely fast in the middle and end it perfectly.
We dare to be different and push boundaries, going the extra mile. We are not afraid to go against the ideas of clients and try unique possibilities.
We work as one, in unity and teamwork, to ensure everything moves exactly how we want it to, at the pace we want it to go. Together, we move in harmony and perfection.
ALAN TAI (ART DIRECTOR)
We tell stories not just about ourselves. When others resonate with our stories, the stories become theirs too. Stories create a common ground for understanding and empathy that grows connection.
We operate from a space of authenticity and believe every YO member is doing their best to be authentic. It takes courage to be authentic to others and oneself.
We are human. We are happy when jobs come in and scared when sales fall short. It takes experiencing the negative emotions and figuring them out to see the light at the end. This adds to our experiences and enriches our stories.
SHAWN HENG (GRAPHIC DESIGNER)
We are a young team. 21 years is STILL young.
The essential part. The inner core. Everybody is instrumental. Without a strong core, our structure would not be strong.
YO is the place where you can, and are encouraged to, be yourself.
JANICE POH (GRAPHIC DESIGNER)
We are #foreverhungry… for food, for projects and for any challenges!
We love surprising our clients and ourselves with amazing works each year!
We are multi-dimensional, not just in creative skillsets but also in solving creative problems and managing clients. As a team, we have developed quality of character and it translates in whatever work we produce.
LEE KAY YING (GRAPHIC DESIGNER)
Work-life balance. People may think that most creatives have no life, working day and night for our clients. At YO, we have more life than work. YO supports and values time spent out of work with families, friends and even alone. This culture makes me feel like YO is my second family.
We come up with unique and creative celebrations for the big day. Each birthday is themed and celebrated in the most enjoyable way. Be it creating an aural birthday card via a podcast, or going rock-climbing as a team, we love trying something different for the first time.
Did you know that octopuses are blue-blooded? We are true-blue foodies who are very particular and conscious about what we eat. We love snacking both in and out of the office, with an eye for interesting yet exotic food. There is no lack of quirky-flavoured potato chips and teas in our pantry.
TAN KAI JUN (ART DIRECTOR)
We have a great culture and environment for creatives to grow, as we celebrate everyone’s creative potential, aspirations and success.
We can always count on our teamwork. Even if one fails to do his/her rubbish duty, others will volunteer and help out.
This is a word we live and breathe, always keeping it in mind during our briefs and brainstorming. Holistic design is in our blood.
YEO XIN MIN (CREATIVE WRITER)
YO is like one big creative family (including our clients). We don’t put out work for the sake of putting out work. We don’t take short cuts in coming up with the best solutions we think will work.
We are always listening to the needs and goals of our clients, and always making informed decisions.
YO is a fun and safe space for us to explore our voice and creative expression. We learn from one another, pushing ourselves to do even better.
How would you describe YO? Let us know by leaving a review or visitor post on our Facebook page!
Colour us impressed.
But in the world of design, the brief often gets a bad rep. We can’t live with it, we can’t live without it.
Some see it as an archaic piece of paper. Others, the provenance of every creative spark.
Is it a helpful rope anchoring us from straying too far, or a mind-numbing tether suffocating us from freedom of creativity?
But in this day and age of short and snappy communications, a well-written brief is more important than ever. Here’s why:
Understanding the problem is half the battle won
An ideal brief should be, well, brief. Very simply, the brief is about a problem, not objectives. The ‘objective’ is what the client hopes to achieve; the ‘problem’ is what’s preventing them from doing so. But often, this problem is shrouded amid a fog of information overload on brand personality, media channels, timelines, budget, etc. Understanding this problem is the crux of the brief. If you’re not solving the right problem, odds are you’re not going to find the right solution. After all, you can’t design something you don’t really understand.
Limits can be liberating
Freedom is a privilege. But under the immense pressure of time, this privilege can paralyse you. A well-crafted brief presents a well-defined problem, setting boundaries that can open up the floodgates of creative ideas. The sky’s the limit but the brief keeps us grounded with a clear destination in sight.
Even the most detailed of conversations cannot replace a proper brief. Verbal communication leaves a lot of room for misinterpretation, misunderstanding and misremembering. A creative brief essentially puts these conversations down on paper so that everyone is on the same page. With a brief in place, you will always have a reference point with which to ensure your ideas are strategic and align with the project goals.
Time is Money
Getting the brief right upfront will pay off handsomely when the deadline looms near. It forces clarity upstream, prevents unnecessary revisions, and minimises difficult conflicts during approval. Defending your design also becomes easier when it is produced with the brief in mind. While the tendency to rush into a project without a fully fleshed-out brief is tempting, it can cost you far more time to have to do a U-turn midway through.
In the words of Abraham Lincoln: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Take the time to properly understand and absorb the brief, and the benefits will trickle through every stage of the creative process for both you and your client.
Have a brief for us? Get in touch and let’s chat!
These days, an average individual consumes 12 hours of media content daily. According to Google, only 10% of the content are not screen-based. As digital screens become the default interface of our world, we increasingly seek out physical objects and experiences. Some people even value print as a respite from the noisy internet plagued with fake news and digital threats.
When we put print into the hands of people, they understand and trust the medium. It holds weight. They can be sure that it is not a phishing attack designed to steal their personal information or compromise the security of their devices. That gives us a valuable opportunity to engage with our them in a powerful and relevant way.
People understand and remember your message better
According to neuroscience research, physical media requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media. Brand recall is 70% higher for people who were exposed to a direct mail piece, compared to a digital ad.
John Medina says in Brain Rules that multisensory experiences always do better than unisensory experiences.
When your audience receives a printed collateral such as a direct mail, they feel it in their hands. They hear the envelope tab tear open. They read and take in your design and information with their eyes. They might even be able to smell the paper and ink. Engaging a combination of our senses creates memorable user experiences.
From celebrating achievements and expressing your gratitude, to saying sorry for disappointing the people important to your business, print just conveys it better. Print is personal and communicates sincerity. People do take notice and appreciate that you have gone out of your way to spend time and money on something you plan to give away for free.
Triggers a response
Research done by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) showed that although the cost per acquisition rate of direct mailers is higher than other channels, it continues to provide the best response rates.
Also, the print has longer lasting impact. Print is content on people’s desks and homes, not content buried in their email inbox or feed.
Crafting a persuasive and impactful piece of print collateral requires time, thought, and intention, but from our experience, we know that it will be worth it.
Love to have print in your marketing mix? Check out some of the packaging, collaterals, and reports we’ve done.
These nine words divided a whole nation when Nike unveiled its 30th anniversary campaign last week. The ad was a black-and-white headshot of American football athlete Colin Kaepernick, with those nine words etched above Nike’s iconic swoosh.
The design was simple. The message was not.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour. To me this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” he said.
While Kaepernick earned plaudits for drawing attention to issues of racial injustice, his protest also sparked tremendous controversy. He was quickly dismissed from his team and could not find employment within the league for two years.
By publicly backing Kaepernick, Nike is aligning itself with what he stands for — conviction.
Conviction vs Compromise
Is conviction everything?
The creative process is often about juggling the ultimatum between conviction and compromise. How far should we stray from our ideals to please a client? How much of ourselves should we lose before it’s too much?
The only long-term solution is to recognise that in order to produce meaningful work, authenticity and integrity cannot be sacrificed.
Take a strong stand for what you care about. Only when you are clear about the values that define your work can you begin to defend them to a client.
Our creativity is powerful, our conviction even more so. Conviction translates ideals into ideas, and it is the marriage of product and purpose that will truly stand the test of time.
Moral leadership and the financial health of your company are not mutually exclusive. Nike’s sales surged 31% following its Kaepernick campaign, despite the outrage and calls to boycott the brand.
At the end of the day, not everyone will love your work. You may win some today and lose some tomorrow, but be prepared to do what’s right by your conviction and the payoff will come.
It is not a fool’s game to hold on to the craftsmanship required by paper and print in this era of digitisation. What people view as obsolete or as obstacles, we view as an invitation to innovation. As communicators, it is our collective belief that paper and print will always have its place in the hearts of people.
The print medium connects with people’s humanity and delights in ways that digital platforms can’t. By working with different paper stocks and printing techniques, we made every month a unique sensory experience – both visual and tactile – for the users.
What we saw was this: The demand for quality print materials is real and very tangible. Requests for the calendars poured in and we ran out of calendars shortly after its release.
Through our design and messaging, this calendar is our invitation to all the recipients to take a chance on paper, be open to evolving their craft, and relook the way they approach some things life.
Find out more about our Ace Your Day Calendar.
Make your annual report work harder
It is important that your annual report presents the mandatory facts in an accurate and concise manner. But as a key piece of communication, it should paint a coherent and compelling story about your brand. An annual report done well can do many things for your brand:
Share not only your vision, but your heart. Get your readers invested in the work you do. Inspire them with your mission and the values at the core of everything you do and invite them to join your cause.
Exhibit leadership and introduce who you serve. Provide insight into the state of your sector or industry and the people that benefits from your work. Talk about the challenges or opportunities that you face and what you are doing to address them.
Demonstrate accountability. Build trust in your organisational practices by disclosing your financials. Cue stakeholders about of the priorities of the people they are entrusting their money to and show that you are interested in ensuring every dollar is put to good use.
Celebrate achievements and acknowledge intangible rewards. It’s not always about the numbers. Success can be building a great culture where your team’s emotional well-being is taken care of and everyone is motivated to keep moving forward.
The best way to do all the above in a holistic way is to do it through beautiful stories.
Put it together with storytelling
There are many ways that visuals and creative writing can come together in synergy to tell a holistic story about your brand.
Tell us why your numbers matters. Explaining the meaning behind your metrics helps readers better understand your numbers at a glance. Eg. Our NTUC Income’s annual report 2016 made use of icons such as umbrellas instead of conventional bar charts to illustrate value of their protection plans on rainy days where they are needed most.
A picture paints a thousand words. Using photos that emphasises the human connection generates an emotional response. Eg. The Temasek Foundation Care’s annual report 2016, had their different pilot projects to life by using full-paged photos that captured the essence of the range of work they do.
Make a point with the tactile experience. Be creative with the materials and print techniques available. Eg. The Salvation Army’s annual report 2017, featured a crumpled cover, designed to look worn out with a story of a beneficiary to illustrate their mission to reach out to every crushed, dejected and marginalised individual.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to creating captivating stories.
How are you being bold with your next annual reports?
PM Lee’s National Day Rally speech on Sunday began with a sincere “thank you”. He acknowledged those who helped the world perceive Singapore as “capable of providing the necessary infrastructure and security for the (Trump/Kim) summit”.
Media intelligence firm Meltwater estimates that Singapore had gained $767 million in advertising exposure from the historic event. A staggering 38x ROI, in other words. Numbers aside, perhaps the “real important things” PM Lee alluded to were more intangible, but no less significant.
A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats
The peace summit saw the negotiation of a rare win-win-win outcome. While both Trump and Kim rehabilitated their political image, host country Singapore may have emerged as the biggest victor by scoring a massive publicity coup. Successfully branding herself as a pit stop for diplomatic dealings, Singapore is now slated to host the ASEAN-US Summit and the 13th East Asia Summit in November.
In many ways, branding is akin to making peace. It takes time and effort to build trust, assert your identity and arrive at a consensus with customers about your brand.
At YO, our approach to branding involves:
1) Resolving what’s at odds with your brand vision
2) Demonstrating market leadership through your brand story
3) Building relationships that lead to mutually beneficial outcomes for your brand and your customers
Ultimately, branding should not be viewed as a cost, but as an evergreen tree that keeps bearing fruit by shaping perceptions, influencing behaviours and impacting bottom lines.
If you believe in your brand, look beyond the dollars and cents, because missing out on the golden opportunity to invest in the value of your brand is a far greater price to pay.
Indeed, when we first met YCH’s group’s executive chairman Dr Robert Yap, we were blown by his tenacity, vision and innovative spirit. Here was a local boy, who took over his family’s passenger transport business in crisis and turned it into a logistics giant, far outstripping the imagination and aspirations of the small family business. He left a deep impression on us – a dynamic man forever bubbling with ideas, ideas that were often ahead of his time. Above all, his treating his workers as his family, never abandoning them even in the face of hard times, was admirable. In fact, his love for his community extended to his love for his country and in coming up with the concept of Supply Chain City, Dr Yap, was thinking very much of revolutionising the logistics landscape in Singapore and putting Singapore on the regional and world map of logistics.
Dr Robert Yap’s brainchild, Supply Chain City, was borne out of crisis, when YCH was served an eviction notice, to make way for a new MRT line. Forced to move, Dr Yap boldly decided to transform Singapore’s logistics landscape by building Supply Chain City, a physical set-up designed to encourage social interaction, innovation and business networking through the logistics ecosystem he designed and termed LEARN.
As we learned more of his fortitude and YCH’s story, we became convinced that this is a story that needs to be told, so that hopefully more would be inspired and take up the challenge to make changes that impact the larger community and nation positively. Nowhere is this more urgent than today’s context, where many in Singapore are prone to cynicism, negativity and quick “keyboard warriorism”.
We at Yellow Octopus are proud to have been part of this momentous occasion. Supply Chain City is an impressive building with state-of-the-art technology to build something bigger and better for the Asian market. The book Unbroken: Rising to the Challenge documents YCH’s journey from its humble beginnings to the powerhouse that it is now. We are inspired and moved by Dr Yap’s never-say-die attitude and spirit of bold innovation, and hope that our book can bring YCH’s story to life, inspiring more local businesses to forge forward and thrive in unchartered waters. To YCH, our client, the book’s title “Unbroken: Rising to the Challenge” cannot be more apt to describe YCH’s vision of connecting people with roads, followed by integrating cities to form a logistics superhighway. For us at YO, “Unbroken” is the only right choice, because of YCH’s unwavering spirit in the face of challenge after challenge.
Dr Robert Yap, we salute you, and send you our well wishes that SCC go from strength to strength, always flying the Singapore flag high! Majulah Singapura!
Our short but very sweet time at Babies of Boracay left each of us with precious memories and life lessons. Even in the days after, we found ourselves reflecting on and sharing our personal experiences. Together, we learnt that great things can be achieved with vision, determination, and lots of heart. That it doesn’t matter how old or young you are to start making a difference in the world. And above all, how it important it is to love deeply, dream bravely, and live for something much bigger than ourselves.
The creative team took the opportunity to unleash our campaigning skills on #Kampaign2015 – producing our own version of party posters, flyers and even social media material. What we could never have guessed was the enthusiastic response these garnered on Facebook on the day itself, with lighthearted confusions over Kevin’s actual participation in GE2015 and questions about whether this was a YO marketing tactic. Of course, this generated many interesting conversations with our friends and clients.
Although we never intended to do more than give Kevin 4 Y.O.U. 4 EVER birthday party of a lifetime, the sheer success of #Kampaign2015 reminded us that all successful campaigns truly do start from the heart. As we enter our 19th year as an agency, Kevin’s closing speech round up our thoughts for the future perfectly:
“I want to be a voice, your voice, for the underdogs and champion you the people, through better branding, identity and communication that will give us a better society and give all of you a better life. Let us fight for you. Vote for me, vote for Yellow Octopus.”
As the chief creative brain at Yellow Octopus for the past 18 years, Kevin was one of the 10 masters from the SEA region who had to select two out of 20 young guns aged 30 and below. He chose designers Shu and Sarah, who then had their profiles and portfolios showcased through the 10-20-30 platform – a beautiful publication printed on the best of Antalis papers, no less.
The Singapore leg of the project culminated in a design panel on the evening of 9 September 2015, with our Yellow Octopus Master and his 2 Young Guns taking the stage to candidly share about their work, philosophies and stories from their creative journeys.
At the end of it all, the exclusive project 10-20-30 by Antalis experience served as a meaningful reminder of the importance of faith, attitude and teamwork in the process of good design. The Yellow Octopus story would not have been possible without mutual faith in each other and resilient attitudes to press on despite setbacks.
But most importantly, we are deeply thankful for the support of Antalis and the greater creative community in laying the foundations and constantly improving the way we communicate through our work – breathing new life into our ideas time and time again.
Coming alongside them has always been a meaningful experience that takes us to the fringes of society and reveals the social needs so often invisible to our community. The opportunity to bring these stories of hope and humanity to light is but a small contribution in contrast to The Salvation Army‘s unceasing dedication to serve and love the less fortunate.
The Salvation Army 2015 Annual Report “While It Is Day” was inspired by the Christian faith to convey the urgency and purpose of their cause – to feed the hungry, protect the helpless and comfort the hurting while it is day.
Beyond moving tributes left by a multitude of mourners, people and local media alike observed how his departure galvinised and united our little island on a whole new level, especially as acts of kindness poured forth from the queuing grounds during his lying in state at Parliament House. For all Singaporeans and everyone who experienced the legacy of Mr Lee firsthand, our lives will not be the same again. Yet, we have a hope and bright future as we forge ahead with the exemplary spirit of our founding father. From all of us at Yellow Octopus, RIP LKY. May we never forget all that you have done for Singapore.
We are its Sons & Daughters.
Design has always been a sensorial experience, but knowing that our visuals were going to anchor sonic landscapes inspired us further. We pushed familiar boundaries to create our own psychedelic EDM Goddess for Illumi Nation, and drew from the other spectrum of art to bring classical music to life with soft watercolour hues for Synergy in Music 2014.
And wow… Being there at the actual events and watching the musicians make century old tunes soar with their mastery, and DJs morph digital beats into anthems sung by crowds of thousands… It was surreal! The passion for their craft was not only palpable in every note, but also in every perfectly timed silence. To have our work featured alongside their sheer amount of talent is a privilege we’ll humbly remember for life.
Through watching the diverse performances, we were reminded again that like music, all of design is a conscious act to connect, provoke, inspire. It’s easy to get lost in a familiar beat or to get caught up in the practice towards perfection.
But it’s the little nuances in volume and tone, the honesty that comes with sharing a story, the gratitude towards those who still listen, that are critical to either making our message a life-changing experience, or reducing it to white noise.
After an exciting year of “Attempting the Impossible”, our work for Antalis Singapore’s The Paperweight Awards and APB Singapore’s Brew a Better Future have both won merits, in the “Identity” and “3D Objects” categories respectively.
Yellow Octopus has also won two Bronzes at the Design for Asia Awards 2013 for the “Perfection in Imperfection/Imperfection in Perfection” recipe book and “The End is Near/A New Beginning is Here” calendar.
Flyers were given out to the general public and used to educate those approached by volunteers. As the campaign aimed to generate an awareness to stand up for our mothers and elderly, badges were given to these two groups of people to wear.
Check out the Stand Up for Our Singapore links and videos here:
#1: StandUpForSG Facebook
#2: Stand Up for Singapore Info (Vimeo)
#3: Stand Up For Our Singapore (Vimeo)
#4: What happened at Stand Up For Our Singapore 2012 (Vimeo)
It’s double celebration with an earlier win at the HOW Promotion Design Award for Outstanding Achievement!
Thank you for cheering us on with your continued support and collaboration. There will be greater things for us all in the days ahead. How sure are we? Very. Simply because – believing is seeing.
Chosen from 1,000 entries in 15 categories, 220 winning design projects from the competition were featured in the March 2012 issue of HOW Magazine. These represent the creative best of the design industry and were selected by renowned professionals Steve Gordon Jr. (independent creative at RDQLUS), Ann Willoughby (president and creative director of Willoughby Design), and Dale Doyle, creative director at Landor. These three judges selected the merit winners, outstanding achievement winners (requiring a perfect score from all of the judges), and one best of show winning design, which is selected from among the Outstanding Achievement winners.
How did we do?
We received the Best of Show for Perfection in Imperfection / Imperfection in Perfection. Born out of chef Janice Wong’s sensory experiment, HOW judges have called it “quite possibly, the most gorgeous cookbook in the world” and “a tour de force”, appealing to the professional chef, the aspiring home cook, the poet and the visual artist.” See the article here.
Most of the team had never been diving, so we took part in the discovery pool and dive session. When the time came for us to head out to sea, the weather was perfect, waters were calm and we were anxious – anticipation arose for those of us first-time divers. But all that was quickly replaced by awe and curiosity at the new world we found ourselves immersed in.
This trip exposed the team to situations in which we might never have ventured into when left to our own devices. We had an amazing experience and can’t wait for the next adventure. Bring it on!