Making a splash overseas

PERTH-BASED design duo Tanya Sim and Mark Braddock may not be among the big names in Perth’s advertising circles, but that’s just the way they like it. They’d far prefer to make a splash overseas.

Back from working at big international agencies they established Block Branding just more than a year ago, having set up their own studio and settled in the city they wanted to live, Perth.

“We had been living overseas. We were in Edinburgh, Scotland and then New York and then Richmond, Virginia,” Ms Sim said.

“We never intended to stay in America, we were going to go to Melbourne or Sydney because that is what you do, but we love Perth and we have close family and friends and we love the lifestyle.”

Ms Sim said they packed up their international client list and continued working from their Leederville office.

“We had always wanted to set up our own business and we got our own first two clients while we over there [in the US],” she said.

“We started working with the animation company FilmTecknarna, which is one of the world’s best animation companies. We re-designed their brand and re-designed everything from business cards to packaging to DVD covers.

“The other company is 3Sports. We started working with them before they opened their store.”

Block Branding contracts, whether local or international, are usually derived from business relationships, contacts or friends. The pair admits that while they are in the game of promoting brands and advertising design, the company itself is rarely a billboard beckoning in new work. Instead, work generally flows from word-of-mouth.

“We are not the type of business that will be seen in the phone book,” Ms Sim said.

Block Branding’s most recent work with US-based sports retailer 3Sports, and ongoing design and brand contracts with Swedish based animator FilmTecknarna Animation, is helping local industry players who have been selected on project teams to develop aspects of the brand.

Local beneficiaries include web design outfit Kuban Empire and communications specialist Danica Quinlan.

Mr Braddock said putting together project teams from outside the company was different to how the general industry worked, and it provided better results.

He said working with international clients but being based in Perth has several advantages.

“We can get a full day’s work in and send it overnight on emails and they get it first thing in the morning over there. It can get problematic if it needs to be done in a rush but generally it works well,” Mr Braddock said.

“Production costs are so much lower here and communication does not matter that much.”

However, Block Branding does work in the local scene, and has recently sent Craftwest’s Designing Futures book to the presses.

“We have just finished the Designing Futures book. We have published the essays and images. We had someone like Bruce Mau from Canada and really well known down to people that were from local areas and talking about their ideas,” Mr Braddock said.

The pair said working on quality projects was what the company would continue to do, whether they were local or from overseas.

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