Home > Other, Photography, Visual Design > Visual Design around Birmingham (part 2)

Visual Design around Birmingham (part 2)

After my last blog about Visual Design in Birmingham I expressed that I thought it would be useful to blog again about the use of design in Birmingham. I though that this would be an appropriate time to do so because I have learnt more about design since then and I think this would help my overall evaluation of what I saw in Birmingham (to see my first post on this subject, click here)

Comparison 1: Birmingham Moor Street and Birmingham New Street.

As part of our trip we looked at two contrasting trains stations within Birmingham to see how design is developing overtime and the connotations of each station. One important thing I noticed within this comparison was how the street signs were used to epitomize the train stations.

It is clear straight away that there is a big difference between the two signs. New street represents a more modern side to Birmingham which is clear through the simple logos employed, manipulation of the Sans Serif font through italics and bold and also the decision to etch the images and text onto a glass square highlights an innovative idea that encapsulates the creative and modern progression of central Birmingham. The Moor Street sign on the other hand represents the more traditional Birmingham,  with the plain white and blue metallic sign that you can see littered all around Birmingham. The sole purpose of this sign is to direct not show creative development in Birmingham or to promote the station, highlighting perhaps the industrial or business mind set of Birmingham. Through these signs a shift in signs, promotion and image in Birmingham is visible which is very interesting when mapping the creative transitions and movements over time.

Visual design analysis 2: Billboard promotions

Billboards have become an increasingly more popular way of advertising products, businesses and concepts by manipulated techniques of visual design. With this increase in popularity, the need to make your designs more modern and stand out is becoming more a necessity. Becks have come up with this unique design that uses typography, colour and materials to make a stand out billboard with excellent visual design properties. The use of the white sans serif font on the black canvas offers a point of contrast to the whole background, additionally the font used is reminiscent of something digital which ties in with their offer and what the promotion is about. The colours used on the rest of the image are bold and almost cartoony which offers a fantastic contrast to the photographic image of the product in the center (which is another great use of composition), the bold cartoon colours make the beer stand out and visa versa. However, my favourite part of this design is the use of CD’s in constructing the image and the pattern. The CD’s visually represents the offer they have (a free music download with every art label) but also adds depth to the billboard and makes it stand out – Love it! The placement of this sign is between the central Birmingham (Selfridges etc) and Digbeth – the creative industry. The piece combines the creative essence of Birmingham with the modern and artistic development which is visable through buildings such as the Bullring and Selfridges.

Comparison 3: Business promotion comparisons

In recent years boards like these have become increasingly popular. They’ve developed from the plastic or blackboard signs to a statement for businesses and a blank canvas for businesses to promote themselves with a unique and particular image. In these two examples, it is clear each company has manipulated the basic board to turn into pieces of visual arts and a method of promotion. In the top example, a recognisable parking board has been changed by the addition of a simple black silhouette of a Violin and the company name. I thought that the image of the violin was a very clever way to visually understand what the company is for, however the dark black against the relatively dark blue doesn’t contrast or work particularly well especially with the white standing out so much. However, contrastingly I really think the Urban Village board stands out and is extremely effective. The black typography (consisting of two different Sans Serif fonts varying on weight and style) stands out strongly against the metallic silver board. The overall composition and aesthetic gives of a masculine perspective that perhaps is reflective of the past (represented through the iconic target logo commonly associated with Britain). These two contrasting how key visual design choices such as colour can really effect the overall appearance and success of a piece.

However, while going around Birmingham I also found other examples of innovative ways businesses are promoting themselves through incorporating visual design elements. A popular example is by printing stickers and promotions  onto vehicles, in which people are employed to drive around. Since Birmingham in ways is famous for it’s traffic i.e. Spaghetti  Junction, having something that is portable, widely seen and that stands out is a fantastic way of promotion. This is one of the  vehicles I saw when on our trip and I thought this was visually eye catching and effective as a form of promotion.

The striking shade of bright purple against the contrasting black makes the car automatically stand out and catch your eye.  Aditionally, through composition the logo is placed somewhere near eye level so it’s the first thing you see when you look at the  car so it’s more memorable.


In this post it is clear to see that visual design in Birmingham isn’t only represented in graffiti, architecture and clear billboards  but also in street signs, advertisements and even transportations. The concepts I have talked about within the post are elements  of visual design that can be replicated to any city any where to generate advertising and fantastic visual design.

  1. November 24, 2010 at 9:22 pm

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