Tension was high last week as everyone at Kyan Campus watched the Wirehive 100 Awards Twitter feed with eager anticipation. We pulled out all the stops with our entries this year, not only carefully choosing stories, projects and people that had really made a difference at Kyan, but paying particular attention to the way we presented our entries.
Fundamentally, a strong entry will speak for itself, but a well-crafted submission does make a hell of a difference, and this is something I've always tried to dedicate design resource to whenever considering entering industry awards.
To our delight, all five of our entries were announced as finalists. We couldn't quite believe our luck, especially considering the esteemed company that we find ourself amongst this year. Here's a lowdown of our entries, and a look at some of the other agencies and individuals that really stood out to us.
Farnborough International Airshow 2018 official app — Best User Experience finalist
FIA is an iconic event in the aviation space with strong parallels in how our industries are built on innovative thinking and game-changing design. And that was exactly our premise for the app itself — an unrivalled digital experience that perfectly complements such an exciting local event that competes at an international level.
"Coordinate plotting was a long and detailed process with three of us manually cross-referencing specific locations and feeding it into the app. We've no doubt that this vastly improves the digital experience for visitors."
— Jamie Hunter, Tester
Using research and statistics from previous events in the aerospace industry, we learned that visitors often struggle to see even half of an airshow's exhibits, performances or stands due to poor layout, unclear maps or bad app usability. A core objective for us was to optimise people's time to really benefit their airshow experience. This clearly defined our planning and design period, with extra care and attention spent on plotting the coodinates of every single interest point within the airfield. The hard work paid off, with the app seeing just under 34,000 downloads and a 4-star rating across iOS and Android.
Women In Dev — Agency for Good finalist
Our Agency for Good submission focused on women in dev and the wider women in tech movement — an issue that everyone at Kyan is behind. The headline is clear; women have historically been disadvantaged when it comes to career progression or pay equality in many businesses, and we are living in a world now where that cannot be hidden away or ignored. Industrial and technical industries are no exception. At Kyan, we champion gender equality and ensure that we create an environment that is welcoming and fair to any women looking to get into tech or development. Our entry laid out industry statistics and the work we have done and are doing within our agency to change the 'dude-dominated' image of coders that we see in popular culture.
Our entry spotlighted our four female developers—Karen Fielding, Carmen López, Helen McCarthy, Erica Porter—and celebrated not only their individual and group achievements, but the work they are doing in the industry and community to promote and support other women looking to work in web development. Our effots include teaching at Guildford's Code Club, and working with Ninety Consulting to offer coding school places to women in Nairobi. Of course, there is still so much work to be done, but Kyan strive to lead by example and we hope our approach, ethos and our entry alone inspire at least one person to think about how they run their business or behave in their industry when it comes to gender parity. You can read our Agency for Good entry here.
Kyan — Rebrand of the Year finalist
We proudly unveiled our rebrand back at the beginning of 2018 — our first major identity change since Kyan was founded 15 years ago. It was towards the middle of 2017 that it became clear to us that Kyan was about to push through a tremendous period of change. We were already well into the process of a strategic repositoning, we had welcomed almost a dozen new faces to the team, and we’d moved into our grand new space, 'Kyan Campus', deeper into the heart of our hometown, Guildford. As part of the repositioning, we wanted to create a brand that sets Kyan apart from the competition whilst still sitting comfortably within the wider realm of business disruptors.
“Whilst a brand is so much more than a logo type or brand mark, getting that bit right is the cornerstone upon which we built the whole identity.”
— Pete White, Head of Design
The new Kyan identity introduced an entirely new logo, a reengineered design system, an updated website, colour palette and typeface. Our Head of Design, Pete White, wanted a brand that is strong enough to be used in conjunction with our clients’ branding. This was an area we were keen to explore, not only from a visual perspective, but also a metaphorical representation of how we work with our clients, with Kyan often embedding ourselves deep within a client team, to be able to work an extension of them. In terms of longevity, we certainly feel that our logo and palette will stand the test of time. Avante garde brands can get old very quickly – once the novel wears off – however, looking at some of the most long-lasting logos of our time, it’s clear to see that those that have found the balance between creating something timeless yet familiar enough to withstand disruption. No textures, no ligature, gradients, and a very considered use of colour.
Erica Porter — Rising Star finalist
When we started talking about the Rising Star category, most eyes in the Marketing team turned to Erica, whose journey in to development certainly hasn't been a conventional one. After studying Law at the University of Cambridge, completing an MSc in Psychology at Birkbeck, and learning Mandarin at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Erica took the leap into development after finding inspiration from some of the project teams she worked alongside when living in London. As a Back-end Developer at Kyan, Erica is fast becoming one of the most experienced members of the team, having worked on almost every project or build that has passed through the studio.
"Erica has become an integral part of the development team, with an unwavering work ethic and commitment to keep learning. She has proved herself to be an invaluable asset who we can rely on to turn her hand to anything."
— Nick Linnell, Head of Development
Erica volunteers her time at CodeClub, where she teaches young children how to code on a practical level. This is a weekly club at Guildford Library. Erica, along with our other female developers believes strongly in gender diversity in tech, and is working hard to address the inequality within in the industry through talks and teaching.
Laurent Maguire — Agency Leader
Kyan has grown from strength-to-strength under Laurent’s leadership. In the last year, the company has undergone a tremendous period of growth and expansion. Laurent devised WXG, Kyan’s all-inclusive flagship conference which in recent years has expanded to include more diverse topics rather than a solely technical focus. Kyan’s flat structure and ‘pods’ mean that employees can work easily and comfortably together and to serve clients, and Laurent remains very hands on amongst these individuals and teams.
“Laurent, one of our three founders, plays to his strengths of mentorship and coaching whilst also steering the business from a strategic standpoint. The dynamic between him, Piers and Gavin is noticeably well thought-out – each having their own core operational focus without our leadership feeling confused or crowded.”
— Ben Horsley, Marketing Manager
Laurent supports charitable causes, with Kyan sponsoring local charity events, and volunteering his time to speak with students at Guildford College about employability skills. Ensuring that Kyan is part of its surroundings, Laurent has devised vehicles such as WMG (Web Meet Guildford) which aim to bring the local digital community together. Our OfficeVibe results—which is Kyan's staff survey—remain high, with 2017 ending on a fantastic 8 out of 10.
There are some incredibly strong entries this year but a couple really stood out to us, including Studio Republic's entry into the Agency for Good category. Studio Republic are an entire agency for good, who strive for client work that is in-line with their collective conscience. As a result, they have a powerful portfolio of work for ethical businesses, charities and not-for-profits. Keeping Studio's entry to Rebrand of the Year is certainly a worthy finalist too, with their new look really appealing to our clean-cut and minimal tastes. Shoot me for using the age-old cliché, but less really is more.
Best of luck to all of the finalists — we look forward to seeing you on the night. 🏆🥂