Remember when an international corporate rebrand would be back page news? Those days are gone. Now, design is everywhere. In a time when individuals showcase their own lives like well-maintained brands, manicuring each post with precision, actual brands have to keep pace. That’s where in-house design departments, like Capital One Canada, come in. Get ready to have your eyes opened.


Fresh. Creative. Groundbreaking. In-House. If one of these things seems not like the others, you’re behind the times. But just in case you’ve been in a bunker for the last few years, we’re going to let you in on something: in-house creative design has grown up, and today’s in-house design teams are putting out thoughtful work that competes with any agency, anywhere. They’re integral to maintaining brand integrity in a world increasingly aware of design, especially when it comes to melding print and digital aesthetics together.

This trend has become so strong, The Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) created an award show just to highlight the incredible work happening in-house all over Canada. The competition concentrated on collecting digital and print pieces that would really wow and show the chops of in-house teams. When asked why RGD felt the need to create a separate show just so in-house designers could compete, Bob Hambly, VP of Communications replies, “Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen growth of in-house design departments. They now take up a substantial part of our membership [at RGD], and they’re doing great work! And we’ve learned a lot of in-house people feel left out of the mainstream because they’re only doing work for one client. That’s not really fair because they’re doing groundbreaking stuff.”

With such incredible work increasingly coming from in-house design teams, not to celebrate them would be to undercut some of the best design minds in the business today.


Take the creative featured for the inaugural RGD In-House Design Awards, for example. Layering colors upon colors and featuring a soft, rounded typeface, the creative for this award show set the bar high for all subsequent years. Created by Capital One Canada, this creative walks a fine line: be interesting enough to stand alone and do justice to in-house creative expertise, yet be subtle enough not to outshine the work being showcased at the competition.

When asked about the work, Michael MacVicar of Capital One Canada muses, “To us, the letter forms feel modern and progressive, and with the overlaying of the letters there was a sense of digital, even though it was print. There was movement! And it felt future forward.” The work does an excellent job of utilizing what is unique about both print work and online work, melding them into one colorfully cohesive theme. There’s interest, there’s movement, there’s life in this campaign that lent itself to looking beautiful both online and printed.

In>House… To THE SHOW

By being in-house, this team had insider’s knowledge to create and execute a well-thought-out campaign. Their teamwork and ability to think as a unit really shows in the final campaign—every piece has color, vibrancy and consistency. To accomplish this goal, Capital One Canada worked closely with their printers to get the right feel. “We really wanted to showcase the winning work…and there was such variety!” Elyssa Schmid says, ruminating on the specific printing challenges of this project. “From book design to digital apps to retail environments and even aircraft livery, each project had to be represented in print with consistency and vivid accuracy.” Through close work with their printer, Somerset Graphics, the team landed on Cougar®, Super Smooth Finish. Elyssa notes, “There was a fantastic, refined quality to the paper that reproduced the colour with beautiful intensity.”

With the excellent execution and the feeling of celebrating an ever-growing sector of design, this first show got everybody excited. “This project was a game changer for us. This is the kind of work that really shows off our team and shines a light on in-house talent,” Bob Hambly states. It’s a challenge to brand something in a way that resonates, yet when you see it complements the award-winning work itself. “How do you do that?” Bob Hambly questions rhetorically. Here’s how Capital One Canada did it: use saturated color and unobtrusive type, create an intelligent concept and utilize a cohesive blend of printed and online materials to accomplish your mission.

We at Blueline Magazine sincerely hope that if you haven’t paid attention to the fresh work coming from in-house design teams, you start to watch them. In a world where a logo change can cause a complete brand uproar and individuals are curating their images with the vigor of a celebrity, in-house design teams are the true insiders these days. Innovating from the IN-side…out.

Hungry for more tips on print, paper and the omni-channel approach? Download the digital version of our Blueline Magazine today!


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