Helping local government professionals create engaging communications
At Flux, we develop many projects for local government organisations, often working with communication professionals, people in marketing or PR roles, or event planners. These clients have a unique set of challenges that we are well adept at helping with.
Generally, the core of the challenge is to develop communication outcomes that will engage and inform a council’s residents and ratepayers. But through our extensive experience, we also know there is a second layer of challenges that need to be considered:
- Internal clients
- Multiple levels of management
- Limited budgets
- The need for tight deadlines, or fast turnaround to get management approvals
Some design firms make life hard for these types of clients by being overly rigid with design processes, or being too precious about design outcomes. Our experience tells us that this complexity can be managed best with a spirit of flexibility and collaboration—and so we bring that to every local government project.
Occasionally, our clients at local councils are not communications professionals, or have little or no experience in dealing with communication projects. In this case we are able to provide advice and guidance on the creative, design or production processes. Those who are engaging a design consultant for the first time can be comforted by the fact we have been dealing with this sort of work for almost 20 years and understand they may need some extra help, like avoiding (or explaining) industry lingo.
City of Unley
One of our favourite clients to work with is the City of Unley. Since 2014 we have developed a strong working relationship with a range of wonderful people within the City of Unley, and have assisted with projects spanning across branding, publication and strategy design, user interface design and infographics.
There was one key project that sparked the beginning of our collaboration with the City of Unley: the event branding for the inaugural Double Shot Coffee Fiesta. While the event was initially imagined to have a strong Italian theme, our research suggested that taking a different approach would make the event more unique, since there are already many Italian-themed visual references in the coffee scene around Adelaide. We took a deeper look into the coffee industry and discovered that South America produces the most coffee beans consumed world-wide. From here, we suggested switching out the word ‘festival’ for ‘fiesta’ and giving the branding a South American flavour.
The event was a huge success for the City of Unley, as well as Flux—we won a gold medal for our work on this project at the 2014 Design Institute of Australia SA awards!
Since then, Flux has become a regular supplier of design services to the City of Unley. After working on more event branding projects (including events such as Ni Hao Unley, the Every Generation Festival and Neighbour Day), we began working with different departments within the City of Unley on strategic plans, vehicle wraps, stickers, signage and window displays. We had the pleasure of designing new publications such as the Youth Strategy, Community Engagement Toolkit, Animal Management Plan, Active Ageing Strategy, Commonwealth Home Support Program and the 2021–2026 Cultural Plan.
We also began working with the Environmental Department on various projects, such as the Greening Unley Environmental Strategy and the Verges Planting Guide. The Verges Planting Guide was used as part of a scheme to incentivise residents to beautify their verge, with helpful information on native, environmentally friendly and water-saving plant species. The guide was spotted by the Alexandrina Council, who then requested permission from the City of Unley to re-use the guide for their own council. We then worked with the City of Alexandrina to tailor the guide with the information relevant to their habitat. It was a great project to be a part of, with a real desire to share information and collaborate for mutual benefit.
We also recently worked on the City of Unley’s Climate & Energy Plan, and in the process developed some key graphs. After a good chat, our client walked us through the data, explaining what the graph is communicating. We then developed a graph style that reinforced this message. You can see below the difference between where it started, and the solution we came to:
The main message for this graph was to show the multiple ways in which the council are reducing their carbon emissions over the next 10 years. It was also important to show how the purchase of carbon offsets would help the council to become carbon neutral by 2023. As council emissions continue to decline, the amount of carbon offsets needing to be purchased also declines.
These messages were not coming across in the original graph, which is where our expertise came into play. Once we understood the data, we were able to incorporate additional elements into the graph to help explain the message clearly and simply. We used colour, icons and some key explanatory text down the side, which helps the viewer to understand the current level of carbon emissions and what the council is doing to reach carbon neutrality. The outcome is a clear, easy to follow and visually engaging solution.
At Flux, we love turning complex data into simple, decipherable visuals. Graphs can look great!
City of Unley Testimonial:
“Flux are incredibly responsive. Their customer service and design work certainly surpassed my expectations.”
Our approach has always been to provide a strategic design service, going beyond aesthetics. This is particularly important when working with complex data that needs to be communicated clearly, succinctly and in an easy to understand way. When working on the Asset Management Plans for the City of Unley, the most significant information that needed to be communicated was the way in which the council spends funds to maintain assets. We illustrated and developed an infographic to show this – a streetscape incorporating all assets maintained by the City of Unley. This infographic was used at the start of all Asset Management Plans, with specific assets highlighted for each asset category. This helped to communicate the overall message that the Asset Management Plans contained in an engaging infographic.
With plenty of exciting projects on the horizon, we hope to continue working with the City of Unley for many years to come.
City of Holdfast Bay
Another regular client of ours is the City of Holdfast Bay. After seeing our work for the City of Mitcham Strategic Management Plan 2017–2027, the City of Holdfast Bay approached us to redesign theirs. The challenge that we had for the City of Holdfast Bay’s Strategic Management Plan was that they wanted to move away from relying on photos for visual interest, and instead use an alternative graphic approach.
We researched Indigenous plants and flowers, as well as the topography of the area. This research was then turned into artistic impressions and experiments, which we pulled together to create a unique, fresh and engaging look for the publication.
The illustrations that we developed for the Strategic Management Plan are now used across a broad family of documents that are connected to the Strategic Plan, creating a distinct identity for the City of Holdfast Bay.
Annual Reports & Business Plans
These other documents include the Annual Report, Annual Business Plan and a range of Asset Management Plans. As well as tables and graphs, many of these documents also require the development of infographics, icons or illustrations to help to visually explain the data at hand:
After working on the Annual Business Plan and Summary for a few years, we were given the opportunity to develop a more creative solution. We turned the key points into visual illustrations for maximum engagement. These are now carried through to the full Annual Business Plan as well:
By investing in a striking, vibrant and unique design, these documents are much more likely to be read and engaged with by local residents and ratepayers.
City of Mitcham
Our council clients don’t only come to us for printed and digital projects—sometimes we get the chance to work on something much bigger, literally! After working on a number of projects with the City of Mitcham, they approached us to develop a wayfinding system for the new Mitcham Memorial Library.
This type of project distils design principles down to their core, as legibility, functionality and ease of use are absolutely key for a well-designed wayfinding system. We selected a geometric sans serif font (Sharp Sans) and experimented with type size, position, background and colour to ensure maximum legibility. We also developed a hierarchy system that was applied throughout the library to major sections, bookshelf categories, meeting rooms, amenities, small signs and a library map.
A library is such a valuable resource—one that we know many councils invest a lot of time and money into maintaining and facilitating for the benefit of their residents. A well designed wayfinding system helps to create an inviting, pleasant and accessible experience for all library visitors, and encourages people to visit more often.
City of Prospect
Prospect Places is a project that encourages people to find and give feedback on parks and reserves throughout the City of Prospect through an app. We were lucky enough to be invited to work on this great initiative alongside the Adelaide-based app developer, Appliquette.
The idea behind the development of this app is to receive feedback directly from the community about the council’s proposed plans in their Open Space Strategy, in relation to each park. The success of this wonderful idea relied on people actually using it, which required a well-designed interface for the app, as well as clear signage in the parks to raise awareness and encourage the use of this service.
Since these signs were placed in parks and near playgrounds, we developed a concept for Prospect Places signage based on old fashioned games such as hopscotch and noughts and crosses. This engaged a wide demographic of residents, from young children, right up to older generations who remember playing these games as children themselves. The inclusion of QR codes made it easy for people to access the app and give instant feedback.
The implementation of the Prospect Places campaign ensures that the City of Prospect knows exactly what their residents think of their Open Strategy, which parks require the most attention, and where to allocate resources for maximum benefit to their ratepayers.
Naracoorte Lucindale Council
To celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the Naracoorte Caves gaining World Heritage status, the Naracoorte Lucindale Council held a trail run and festival. The aim was to attract visitors to the local and surrounding areas, and raise awareness about the significance and uniqueness of the Naracoorte Caves—South Australia’s only World Heritage site.
At Flux, we were fortunate enough to work on the identity and branding of the event. We researched the caves, fossils and Megafauna, and became fascinated! We used Megafauna to form the basis of the concept for the identity. Initially to be called ‘Naracoorte World Heritage Festival and World Heritage Run’ we pitched the idea of the alternate name ‘Mega Fest’—a shorter, catcher name that references Megafauna.
We applied the brand to posters, flyers and social media accounts. We also developed and built a responsive website for the event, providing all necessary information for Mega Fest attendants, run participants and potential stall holders. Colour, impactful graphics and playful words across all applications was used to get the audience excited, making sure the event would be as successful as possible.
Other suppliers were also commissioned to produce t-shirts, hats and signage incorporating the Mega Fest branding. The event was such a success that it was held again in 2021—and hopefully will become a recurring event that puts Naracoorte on the map.