Creatively Charged: Award Winning In-House Projects

Managers and designers know that it’s hard to keep your ideas fresh and to keep your creativity going with in-house projects. Sometimes it’s difficult to know if the idea you have is pushing the innovative envelope or if it’s a rehashed idea — and that’s where competitions like HOW’s In-House Design Awards come in handy. They’re a great source for idea generation and showcase an in-house team’s creativity. And with an early bird deadline of June 2 fast approaching, you might be on the fence about entering.

Let’s look at several of last year’s Outstanding Achievement winners along with the judge’s comments to see how these projects, and the ones you do every day, stepped right out of that constricting box to become winners. After all, you’ve done some great, innovative work this year that our judges would love to see.

Dunlop Jimi Hendrix™ 70th Anniversary Tribute Series


This Outstanding Achievement in the Consumer category was to honor Jimi Hendrix’s 70th birthday. Dunlop Manufacturing’s art department partnered with Authentic Hendrix, the official Jimi Hendrix online store, to help produce four effects— the Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face, the Octavio, the Univibe and the Jimi Hendrix Signature Cry Baby—to celebrate the artist’s legacy.


The judges weigh in
Adam Ladd, HOW art director: “What impressed me was their ability to take colors that would typically create a lot of tension when paired together and use them to really engage the viewer. The psychedelic color schemes and the bold, weighty type present an energy that feels appropriate to the subject matter.”

Jessica Kuhn, HOW editor: “There’s something to be said about packaging that yearns to be a collectible. To achieve such a feat, the design has to both be relevant to the target audience and stellar in terms of execution.”


 Concierge Gift Box


Emma: Outstanding Achievement in the Technology and Science category

At Emma, receiving a blue envelope is more likely to make your day than freak you out about the possibility of getting fired. This tech company uses the “kick-ass cards,” complete with a friendly “good job!” note and gift card, to say thanks to hardworking employees. The blue envelope was later extended to Emma customers as a reward for “great e-mail campaigns, thoughtful feedback and recognition in their industries.”


The judges weigh in
Adam Ladd, HOW art director: “The whole package just feels pleasant and on-brand,” says “The cards with positive messages all have a nice selection of typefaces while carrying an encouraging voice. The shirt continues the personality of the brand with a simple and fun illustration.”

The shirt’s tag provides normal wash instructions and an explanation of how to eat the shirt, as if it were cereal. It’s this sort of playfulness that took the piece to the next level. And as Jessica Kuhn, HOW editor, puts it: “The design and copywriting sets a pleasant and friendly tone, giving you an idea of what it’d be like to work with Emma.”


Apples +

Apples+(2) During the Great Recession, Leo Burnett began a tradition of offering free apples to its employees and clients as a way of showing appreciation. Decades later, this Business to Business Outstanding Achievement was created by Leo Burnett Chicago’s Department of Design as a tasty throwback piece. Employees received this clever cookbook as a gift to inspire them. The overall idea was to showcase the power of creativity “to transform anything, even something as simple as an apple.” In the recipes, apples are sliced, chopped and diced into everything from pie filling to pork loin stuffing, and the strong presentation means everything looks good enough to eat.

The judges weigh in

Jessica Kuhn, HOW editor: “From the spot illustrations and photography to the concept and storytelling nature of it, this project has it all. It’s clear that Leo Burnett can celebrate its history with a modern and clever twist that shows that they are forward-thinking.”

The contemporary update also caught the eye of Adam Ladd, HOW art director: “I like the rather unconventional approach of showing cookbook style food images. The designers paired the good feeling photos with detailed, single color drawings and laid it all out in a structured grid. Along with the natural color schemes, this approach made for a really fresh yet modern piece.”



If these winners didn’t spark a few ideas for you, don’t hesitate to check out the Best in Show winner from last year. Enter your work today — this year’s BOS winner will also score a trip to 2015 HOW Design Live in Chicago, an event you won’t want to miss.