Designer Spotlight: Remembering Ken Garland And His World of Brand Design

Ken Garland is a widely recognized name in the world of graphic design. He not only influenced elements and principles of logo design but also highlighted the importance of using letters, shapes and objects to communicate with the viewer.

The designer was one of the pioneers of the industry and has played a crucial role in changing how people perceive branding in the modern day. Garland’s world of brand design was unique and dynamic. He aimed to keep things interesting through constant change and you can see that in a lot of his work too.

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About The Designer

From an early age, he was interested in the world of design, however, he did not enroll at a school to study it until 1954.One of the most renowned designers of the era, Garland graduated from London School of Arts and Crafts where he studied with Colin Forbes and Philip Thompson. A lot of Garland’s early work was influenced by elements of his childhood in Southampton and British pop culture.

Since the graphic design industry was beginning to generate a lot of interest during that time, Garland found it quite easy to start out and make his mark. He later talked about his experience about becoming a graphic designer in the 1950s and 60s in an interview.

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Garland began working as an editor for the Design Magazine and continued to further his career in the field until 1962. In the six years he stayed with the publishing company, the designer made quite an impact with his designs. He was also chosen to study graphic design in Switzerland later on. After leaving his job, Garland established his own firm by the name of Ken Garland & Associates.

Over his career, the British designer worked with some of the most renowned names in graphic design such as Daria Gan, Peter Cole, Anna Carson and Ray Carpenter. His clients included the Labour Party, Paramount Pictures, Galt Toys, Dance & Hearne, and Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament.

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Old and Redesigned Logo By Ken Garland. (Image Source:

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Did You Know? Garland chose the name ‘Ken Garland & Associates’ to show that the firm was more than just the designers. It was also made up of assistants and helpers who ran day to day errands.

His Impact In Brand Design

When it comes to branding and its impact in marketing and business, Ken Garland has played quite an important role. His idea of visually communicating with elements of design such as colors, typography and symbols became a game changer in the industry. While working as a designer for Galt Toys, Garland also designed the famous ‘Connect’ board game for the company.

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In an interview for DesignBoom, he stated that this project was among his top works and a design that brought him a lot of satisfaction as well. Apart from the branding, he also began designing toys and games for the company which remained a long-time client of the designer.

Ken Garland is also associated with some of the most renowned work produced by CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament).He made some changes to the peace sign used by the organization and came up with different variations of it during the 1960s.

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Designer Tip: Keep it simple but relevant and communicate with visuals. Sometimes, black and white can work better than any color!

Butterley Bricks

While Galt and CND remain his most popular works in graphic design, Garland also worked on redesigning the brand of Butterley Company. From the logo design to brochures and flyers, he was heavily involved in coming up with all of the material that helped the business become a huge name in manufacturing.

Logo For Butterley Bricks. Image Source: Pinterest

Garland’s work with the company proved to be quite a success. He changed the brand identity of the construction firm and helped them reach out to their target audience effectively. His striking designs were featured on information brochures as well as other mediums of print marketing. With striking colors, shapes and use of lines, Garland brought a positive change in the brand’s image that showed a shift towards modern practices.

Designer Tip:Show the audience what they can get!

Keniston Housing Association

At Ken Garland & Associates, the designer also worked with the Keniston Housing Association and introduced their new brand identity to the audience. His logo for the organization attracted a lot of attention for Garland at the time. He produced variations of the wordmark with different letters in a unique typeface. However, each one still appeared similar and stayed true to the font style.

During his career, Garland worked closely with the Association and produced a lot of promotional and branding material for them.

Logo. Image Source: Pinterest

Variations. Image Source: Pinterest

Designer Tip: Experiment with typography and find unique ways to engage the viewer.

Published Works On Brand Designing

It is a little known fact that Ken Garland was a famous writer who was vocal about his opinions and views on brand design. He wrote a lot of articles and even a manifestor that was signed by several graphic designers in 1963. The First Things First Manifesto is one of his most popular works that was adapted once more in 2000. Garland spoke about the mainstream elements of advertising and how they were taking the meaning away from graphic design.

In the manifesto, Garland stated that design should be more focused on signs, catalog and manuals instead of promoting ‘detergents, coffee or dog biscuits’. This was what Garland believed and taught from the beginning as well.

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When it comes to brand design, the work that he did as a writer is quite important. His opinion and views are valued to this day and taught widely in graphic design as well. Garland famously called Coca-Cola’s logo a ‘bore’ and believed in keeping things fresh and interesting.

What Did We Learn? Good Design is all about creating what makes you happy. As long as you focus on that, you can produce quality work that sends out the right message and tells an engaging story as well.

Wrapping Up

Garland was an innovative graphic designer who is remembered till date for his creativity and out of the box designs. He passed away in May, 2021 and has been a huge influence in the lives of his students and collaborators.

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