Chief creative director
Even a legendary designer like Martin Lambie-Nairn can experience an occasional sinking feeling: the dreaded professional crisis of confidence. But the key to recovering from that "uh-oh" moment, he says, is to quickly rise above and beyond it.
"There are plenty of times when you get to a point and fear you have gone too far. You wonder: 'Is this [promo campaign] making sense?'" says Lambie-Nairn. "But you have to believe in yourself because you have only yourself to hang onto."
To graphic designers in many parts of the world , Lambie-Nairn's 40-year career is well known, starting with his first job as an assistant at the BBC in 1965. Today, his UK design work is still making news, including cutting-edge projects like the new pan-Arabic news channel, Alhurra; Norway's new TV2 channel; and the Sci Fi Channel.
One of his most notable campaigns was the 1982 full-court press to launch Channel 4, the first British TV channel since BBC2 started in 1964. The identity campaign was the first corporate-wide branding initiative designed to develop as the character of the channel evolved.
In another case, BBC One needed to reflect the heritage and history of the country as the nation's No. 1 channel choice.
Lambie-Nairn took the "traditional" image of the channel and gave the graphics a more expressive tone meant to exude diversity but with a feeling of oneness and unity. He latched on to the concept of a "world balloon," a customized hot-air balloon that floated to various locations around the country to highlight the channel's goals. It was designed to celebrate the brand's value to the nation with the tagline "BBC One brings the world to every corner of the UK."
Occasionally, retooling an image requires creating a concept that helps the client reinvent itself. In the case of BBC2 in 1991, the programming was fine, great even. "But its packaging was as dull as 58-year-old men in cardigan sweaters," says Lambie-Nairn, referring to how out of sync the image was with its programming.
"We had to bring the channel brand up to the programming," he says. Out went the stodgy stagnant logo consisting of the word "Two" in green, red, and blue letters—a design that would interest only the typographers among the viewing audience, Lambie-Nairn says.
Instead, he devised a scheme casting the numeral "2" in a series of eight-second films, which were used as bumpers to promote upcoming programs. To date, after two phases of this decade-long "2" promotion, a library consists of dozens of the mini-spots. Initially, they were produced in live action, but computer technology later choreographed the 2's as they morphed into cartoon-like characters.