Despite having a forty-year history, the agency still has a young and energetic culture. Inquisitiveness and exploration is encouraged, allowing the team to find new techniques and fresh ideas to keep their design work at the cutting edge. But great design isn’t simply driven by creativity alone, there are fundamental rules at the core of the craft. Designs are always built upon the three pillars of Communication, Hierarchy and Consistency and they should always strive to be smart, commercial and clean. Understanding the business, industry and text are pivotal factors that should never be overlooked. Only once these fundamentals are deeply etched into designer’s minds are the benefits of letting them ‘off the leash’ creatively truly felt. That’s why having design in your DNA is such an advantage.
Mr Charles Cannon
People sometimes still ask to speak to Mr Charles Cannon when they call or send him their CVs, which always results in good-natured chuckling from the agency’s staff. This is in part because Charles Cannon isn’t so much a person as the nom de plume of the agency’s founder Graham Pankhurst, and in part because Graham has retired anyway. Back in 1980 Graham figured that his employers at the University of Adelaide, Australia, may not have viewed his work in the design world as being entirely compatible with his career in academia. So he decided to use his middle names while moonlighting in the communications field. As his workload began to build, he started an agency called Charles Cannon Design with his wife Sharon. Graham’s personal passion was for logo design. Among the well-known examples he created over the years, were the logos for The Adelaide Women and Children’s Hospital and Adelaide Airport. As time went by, the pair also began to work on corporate communications for the financial sector, government departments, Australia’s biggest fabric supplier, festivals and wineries. Many of Graham’s university students became his employees. This literally created the collegiate atmosphere for which the agency later became known.
While the working process in the 1980’s bore little resemblance to modern practices, the fundamentals of good design have not changed. Graham would come up with concepts by hand drawing everything (something our designers often still do in the planning stages). Back then, with a lack of word processing tools available, text had to be sent to specialist typesetting companies, after which the growing team at Charlescannon would physically cut out the copy, paste up final artwork and colour mark-up images for print. In 1986 Graham and Sharon invested 30,000 dollars in the first suite of Apple Macintosh software. This enabled Charlescannon to bring typesetting in-house for the first time.
The same but different
Naturally, these days, the office works a bit differently. Located in a stylish Geneva shop-front, Charlescannon’s studio uses the latest technology to do its design work. The agency still writes and designs annual reports, magazines and brochures. But these days the team also produces motion graphics, writes video scripts, develops communications strategies and strategically positions brands to help them cut through the clutter in increasingly busy markets. They also leverage their content creation capabilities and knowledge of digital strategy to create social media buzz and design major advertising campaigns. Noted for their writing, photography and videography, the agency’s team have been sent on assignments all around the world. They have worked in every conceivable type of environment, from coal mines and oil tankers, to corn fields and F1 circuits. Most interestingly perhaps, given current circumstances, is the agency’s reputation for excellence in producing world-class communications (campaigns, magazines, strategy, posters etc.). Charlescannon’s proven track record in the space includes work for several major international clients.
There is a unique spirit at the core of the agency, empowering everyone to solve challenges both creatively and intelligently. With an international team including 10 nationalities, and skills across eight languages, Charlescannon is quickly establishing itself as the go-to agency in Geneva for global businesses. Particularly those that need partners capable of mixing business flair with creative acumen and productive fun.
We are brand strategists. We are graphic designers. We are copywriters. We are photographers . We are developers. We are video animators and project managers and art directors
We wrestle lions. We build castles. We prune roses. We train magicians. We release butterflies.