Transforming Pentawards into a creative canvas for change | #BehindTheBrand

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In 2020, Vault49 Co-Founder John Glasgow was invited to speak at the Pentawards Festival and joined the international awards jury. At the beginning of 2023, John was appointed Co-President of the jury, and the Vault49 team was asked to be Pentawards' creative partner for the year.

Their challenge to the team? Create a new visual identity and campaign for Pentawards 2023. Vault49’s solution? Transform Pentawards into a creative canvas for change.

To learn more, we spoke to Lucie Mouchet, Design Director at Vault49.

What was the brief for the rebrand?

Our brief was pretty simple: define the big idea and visual identity system for Pentawards 2023. 

The key to unlocking this brief was flexibility as it would be rolling out across different mediums and formats, with the ability to switch in different calls to action, award-winning work examples, and highlighting different jury members. 

From a design perspective, we were asked to consider patterns, abstract graphics and typography as these had worked well in the past, but the rest was up to us. 

How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?


This opportunity came about through our existing relationship with the Pentawards team. Further to Vault49 having won several Pentawards over the years, John Glasgow, our Co-Founder, has been speaking at Pentawards events and a jury member since 2020. Appointed Co-President of the jury for 2023, the Pentawards team asked John if Vault49 would also be their creative partner – and of course we said “yes”!

We approached this brief in a collaborative way, opening it up to everyone across our New York and London studios to contribute to – creatives, strategists, client management, operations and all. Everyone’s ideas were collated and debated by the global creative leadership team, then the strongest concepts were taken forward into development and presented to Pentawards’ team. 

‘The Change Makers’ was their chosen route, which was all about transforming the Pentawards visual identity into a canvas for change and encouraging everyone in the industry to make their mark, using design to create change for good. 

The next phase took us right back to our roots in craft, and we held a crafting session in our New York studio to bring the Pentawards logo to life through this lens. The team got hands-on with all sorts of different materials, tools, and techniques such as spray painting, screenprinting, freehand painting, and stenciling.

Describe the purpose of the brand and its target audience

Pentawards’ aim is to connect and inspire the global packaging community, and celebrate the very best in packaging design, so our target audience was very close to home; packaging design agencies, brands with packaged goods, and other partners across the packaging industry.

What was your thinking behind the rebranding solution?


A wise man once said, “With great power comes great responsibility”, and we believe that the design industry has the power (and responsibility) to create change for good. By transforming the Pentawards visual identity into a canvas for change, we can empower people to make their mark on society in a positive way. 

Inspired by messages of protest and activism, our street art roots, and our collaborative approach to craft, our impactful type treatments complement the more graphical visual expressions of change. The resulting look and feel and our new tone of voice is bold, disruptive, active, and full of energy.

Did you learn anything new during the project?

Because we opened up the initial brief to everyone at Vault49, it was amazing to see how everyone got behind it, and we had creative ideas coming in from every corner of the team, not just people with “creative” job titles. It’s a timely reminder that good ideas can come from anyone, anywhere, and that you can approach diversity in different ways.

What was the biggest challenge? How did you overcome it?


Once the visual identity was set, we had a fairly tight timeline to work to for the first phase of rollout. It was fast-paced, so our biggest challenge was respecting the time needed to create the hand-crafted assets before translating them digitally.

What kit/tools/software were used to create it?

Miro was our friend in the early phases of the project to collate ideas and collaborate across studios and teams. Our hand-crafted elements were made using a mix of brushes, paints and spray paints, POSCA pens, and handmade stencils.

We also made use of our in-house screenprinting facilities in the New York studio. Cameras, scanners and, of course, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator also came into play.

What details are you most proud of and why?

Probably our hand-drawn typography. This was a really collaborative project and the type was crafted by multiple people from the team – true diversity baked into the heart of the creative output.

We’re also proud of the relationship we’ve built with the Pentawards team. Allowing us to hi-jack the logo on their website with our spray paint version demonstrates their commitment to using their platform for change, and the trust they put in us as their creative partner. It’s not often that a brand allows you to push their logo that far.

What visual influences fuelled your solution?


Naturally, we wanted our design to be rooted in authenticity and craft. We drew inspiration directly from the street art and graffiti of London and New York (our two homes), as well as protest posters, including our own screenprint series supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

Our bold colour palette and typography styling references homemade protest slogans and placards, and the repetition of graphics is reminiscent of guerilla fly-posting. Many of our designs have hand-crafted hi-jacked elements like stencils spontaneously spray-painted on top of messaging, communicating that raw, immediate, and human touch.

What do you hope it achieves for the brand?

A couple of things:

  1. That Pentawards can inspire everyone on the importance of diversity, and how they can use their platform and skills to promote positive change throughout the industry. 
  2. The importance of collaboration, craft, and human connection in the creative process. 
  3. And, finally, while digital has advanced our industry, we should never forget the importance (and joy) in making something by hand. 

What would you do differently if you could do it over again?

No process is ever perfect, but we approached this brief in a way that is 100% authentic to Vault49, our people, and what we believe in. Would we do it the same way if we had to do it all over again? Absolutely.

Credit list for the work?

  • John Glasgow - Co-Founder
  • Leigh Chandler - Executive Creative Director
  • Sam Wilkes - Creative Director
  • Lucie Mouchet - Design Director
  • Graham Erwin - Associate Design Director
  • Joe Wanovich - Senior Motion Designer
  • Rebeca Anaya - Senior Designer 
  • Christian Adamsky - Designer 
  • Sam Billman - Designer
  • Jake Maguire - Designer
  • Susan Levy - Head of Client Management
  • Anna Stanford - Senior Marketing Manager 


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