Meet our Friends... Design Assembly

Meet our Friends... Design Assembly

By Design Assembly

Our Design Director, James Nielsen spoke with Design Assembly as part of their ‘Meet our Friends’ series. This series celebrates and shares a little about the diverse studios that make up their DA Friends and to learn more about their studio team, culture, and design philosophy.

Where are you based and what shape does the 4AM team take? 

We are based on Sale Street in Tāmaki Makaurau. General operations and campaign creative is headed up by the two founders Steve Thomson and Kurt Bradley, while our Design Director James Nielsen oversees all things brand, with Helen Prangley as our Client Services Director. We are a small team of creative thinkers focused on solving complex business problems by combining the sharpest strategic minds with the best creatives in Aotearoa. 

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Can you share with us what a typical day at your studio looks like?

Everything starts with a coffee from our La Marzocco coffee machine. It went for a service last week, a very sad day for the team but I’m glad to say it’s back in action and we’re fully caffeinated. We’re guided by our values of innovation, collaboration, people, ownership, and flexibility. It’s important to remember that innovation never happens while working in isolation. For this reason, there’s a lot of collaboration, no one person has the right answer all the time. So in short an average day in the 4AM studio goes, coffee, clear emails, chat, work, lunch, coffee, chat, work… get the kids, surf, or walk the dog. 

What projects have you been working on recently?

It’s been a busy 12 months working with a wide range of clients from Hydroflow, Fox Group, Ayrburn, Good Drop, Dilworth, Emborg, Northbrook, and Winton

Of note, is the nationwide rollout of Northbrook. A completely different offering to what is currently on the market – Winton’s luxury later living offering – Northbrook locations are always spectacular and will eventually include Wanaka, Wynyard Quarter, Arrowtown, and Avon Loop. Facilitating a brand guardianship role, 4AM oversaw the design and roll-out of the identity, sales collateral, nationwide campaign, and digital experience. 

Ayrburn deserves special mention as a food and beverage precinct that sits within the picturesque mountains of Arrowtown, Central Otago. Routed in strategy the master brand tells the story of a truly unique experience from a truly unique location with a remarkable history. 4AM has been across all aspects of the precinct creating the master brand, followed by the eight venue identities, The Manure Room, The Barrel Room, The Woolshed, The Dairy, The Burr Bar, The Bakehouse, Billy’s and R.M Specialty Meats. All with their unique point of difference they tell a story of attention to detail and craftsmanship. 4AM has gone far and wide with this precinct and the results are truly compelling.  

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What does the 4AM design process and philosophy look like?

We work with pace, energy and aim to deliver real momentum for our clients. Through an understanding of what’s important we can create dynamic ways to keep brands moving forward in a dynamic market – propelling brand growth, deepening connection, and creating real impact. Everything 4AM does is deep-rooted in strategic thought, it informs the brand design to advertising transforming business outcomes.

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Favourite tools in the studio to help your team manage the day-to-day?

Gmail, Streamtime, Drop-Box and the full Adobe Suite. 

What recent achievements or projects are you most proud of?

Other than all the amazing client work, the transition from Brandspank to 4AM has been both emotional and invigorating for the studio.  It’s been quite the journey and we look forward to what 2024 has in store. Onwards and upwards. 

Where to next for 4AM, what is your team working towards for 2024?

2024 marks a massive shift within the agency, shedding the cloak of Brandspank, 4AM is working towards cementing itself as a strategic creative agency producing award-winning work for a range of future focussed clients. We’ve recently had two new fantastic clients join the roster so really looking forward to sharing that work soon.

This article was originally published on Design Assembly