Who's Listening

In March this year (2023), me, Elliott, Lead Designer here at WL, packed up my Macbook in my backpack and flew out to Milan, where I began a three week journey by rail across 6 of Italy’s most incredible cities. I thought it would be interesting to share with you how that all came about and what designs inspired me throughout the trip!

After my partner and I had spent months trying to buy the house that we were renting in Gateshead at the time, the survey came out with all sorts of expensive problems that we didn’t know even existed.

So with our tenancy coming to an end, we said why rush to buy a different house when we can move back in with our parents at the age of 25 (who wouldn’t want to do that?). But our real reasoning for taking this backwards step was to make the most of our minimal outgoings and do some travelling while working from abroad. Amongst an approximate 300 slices of pizza, 50 bowls of pasta and an indefinite amount of Aperol Spritzs, I had my nerdy designer-eye out for bold and effective brands that smash through the language barrier and grab the attention of myself my partner Ellie, who is also a graphic designer. So here are my top brand identities I found across Italy!

Hu Openair – Venice

This one was definitely a surprising one…

Definitely our cheapest stay during the month was in Venice. Hu Venezia Camping In Town is a place we may have usually turned our noses up at, but in our new semi-nomad mindset, we took one look at their £35 a night web banner and booked it immediately. It’s essentially a chain of trailer parks, complete with their electric yellow brand-colour splattered across the face of everything in the park. Sounds pretty tacky, doesn’t it?

In actuality, Hu’s brand looked pretty smart and youthful. For a budget option, they had clearly spent some money on their appearance. With subtle and strong (and well-animated) typographical patterns as a driving force throughout their online presence and mobile app, their brand collateral was equally well thought through. It included sharp yellow keycard holders, head-to-toe yellow and black casual uniforms for staff (including varsity jackets and caps), mural-sprayed walls and loads more.

Ferragamo – Milan

I couldn’t spend five days in the fashion capital of the world without picking out a high-end fashion brand. In fact, finding this brand (founded by legendary Italian shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo) on day one inspired this entire blog post.

We walked past this humongous store in Milan at night-time near the City Centre and Duomo, where a huge rig had been set up in front of the shop. We didn’t know what it was when we saw it in the day time, but when the sun goes down, you see that the rig projects vibrant red across the whole store – and anyone who walks past. Its one of those things you just have to see, and it definitely made an impression earning a spot on my list (congrats Salvatore).

MooneyGo – Rome

MooneyGo is the all-in-one public-transport app designed for locals and tourists alike to get around the massive city of Rome. On our trip, we relied heavily on the buses, as while we were working from our Airnbnb throughout the day – we wanted to spend as much of our evening as possible in the city rather than taking the long walk in and out. So were over the moon to find out their app actually worked really well, and their buses are (usually) on time.

Their app is pretty nice, and clean to look at, as is their branding — but there was one ad that I just kept seeing plastered across every bus and billboard, which I really loved the execution of. That was their ‘Swiss-army app’ ad shown in the pic above, where each tool and blade is shown as a form of transport being flicked out of the app’s mockup. Simple but super effective and well done!

Propaganda – Milan & Venice

Being a huge cheapskate myself, it definitely spread shock across my partner’s face when I genuinely considered spending almost £200 on a hoodie at this store

Proudly spreading Italian underground culture since 2006 is this brand’s motto, and their rugged and bold streetwear does just that.With hundreds of designs in various styles, covering various sub-cultures, it was easy to waste almost an hour trying on clothes at this one (much to both the shopkeeper and Ellie’s annoyance). The design and brand identity of Propaganda and it’s catalogue are right up my street, but it’s price point sadly was a few blocks over.

Although my trip ended a couple of weeks ago now, I still often think back to these brands for inspiration in my own design work. It really goes to show how much of an impact great branding and marketing can have in such a short space of time, even if you’re only in a place for a few days.

I’ll be looking out for more brands on my next trip, to Krakow in May – so keep an eye out for that blog coming soon too.

If you’re considering updating, extending or even totally rebranding your business’s visual identity, consider reaching out to us at Who’s Listening for a no obligation and no B.S. chat about your brand’s potential.

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