InDesign may well be conquering the world of DTP, but can it cut it as graphic design tool par excellence in the world of branding and graphic design? Digit found out.

Adobe InDesign CS is a world-beating package. It has grabbed the high ground in the battle for the world of desktop publishing, and it is rampaging through the layout landscape like nothing before. For many users, the war between QuarkXPress and InDesign is over, with many layout artists making the switch and not looking back.

But is InDesign more than a powerful layout tool for newspapers and magazines? With its close ties to other creative tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator, can it be used at the coal-face of creativity, for designing branding and graphic art on a global scale?

The result surprised us. We asked some of the world’s leading design and creative agencies – one’s working for the likes of Apple, Disney, British Airways, Revlon, Mitsubishi, Volvo, and Hugo Boss – how they used InDesign in their creative work.

We expected brochures. Instead, we discovered that many of them are using InDesign as their main creative package, designing award-winning poster campaigns, marketing material, and even exhibition stands, using InDesign.

So here, then, is an unabashed look at the joy of InDesign as a creative tool that seems to do everything. Award-winning designers and brand makers have put forward their take on why they work with InDesign, how it removes creative barriers to create truly memorable graphics, and why all designers should make use of its advanced tools to create graphics that previously simply weren’t possible.

InDesign is being used for more than page design – it’s creating the branding and visual imagery that surrounds us. The results surprised us; they may well surprise you. And that really is the joy of InDesign.

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<h2>Agency: Deutsch, Inc</h2>
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<b>Clients:</b> Revlon, Mitsubishi, Monster Worldwide, Expedia, Old Navy, Tommy Hilfiger, TGI Friday’s, Coors<BR>
<b>Contact:</b> <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.deutschinc.com" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">www.deutschinc.com</a>
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It takes a special type of person to work at Deutsch to contribute to our DNA,” says Robb DeFilippis, senior vice president of print services, at Deutsch, Inc. “We love what we do. We have brainpower with a left-of-center twist. Drive. Guts. We’re relentless. We are creative business people and business-minded creative people.”
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Strong words, but one that has lead to a phenomenal success for this global branding and creative agency, which has won Adweek’s Agency Of The Year gong for five years running, and has over 150 designers and artists deploying InDesign on a range of commercial projects. 
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Output includes everything from package design and full-blown collateral programs, to traditional brand advertising and everything in-between.
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And DeFilippis knows his stuff. After starting his career as a photographer and developing a creative eye and “a certain quality aesthetic”, he witnessed technology gain a tighter grip on his craft, and so leapt over to the production side and embraced what it offered as an artist. 
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Now, as the director of a diverse group of artists, producers and technicians, he says he draws on his creative experience as well as recently acquired technical acuity on a daily basis. “This ensures that my staff offers our art directors and clients technically sound creative solutions to their visual challenges,” he says.
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“One of the most exciting things about our niche of the business is that technology is lifting barriers each and every day,” DeFilippis says. “What used to take days to create now takes seconds. 
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“The tools and techniques that are regularly introduced by software developers and hardware engineers allow artists to take their vision to places they never would have dared attempt with older, more conventional methods.”
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Yet even with its structured approach to design, which has seen it scoop awards such as the American Design Award and a gong at the Society of Publication Designers, Flat is most definitely fluid when it comes to design. It has recently completed work for the 2004 NYC marathon – “before we worked with them, their stuff was invisible” says Ringbom – as well as projects for Knoll and Reuters.

“Our practice is predicated on the belief that good design facilitates the smooth flow of information, and enlivens all forms of social discourse,” he says. “In less formal language, I like to say we make surprising things for happy clients.”

“I’ve always been interested in making work with a fluid interaction between type, illustration, and photography,” says Ringbom. “The NYC marathon is one of those projects where it felt natural to go beyond the typical advertisement methodology of big type and big image.

“We wanted the project to fall between an ad and a poster; it had to grab your attention on the street and look good on your wall at the same time. The solution that has really carried through all three campaigns we’ve done for the marathon was to show the huge mass of the race while highlighting individual achievement.”

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A key element to the campaign’s success was Flat’s use of InDesign – a tool Ringbom started using in 1999 from version 1.0. “I never liked Quark, and figured that InDesign had to coexist better with Illustrator and Photoshop,” he says.
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InDesign was used in the NYC marathon campaign to overlay photographs with illustrated details, says Ringbom – with InDesign making it simple to scale and resize the composite for the numerous formats the campaign was destined for. 
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“We took great advantage of the six colour process available to us by printing the illustrated elements in solid PMS ink,” he says. “It looked really sharp and the ads got a lot of attention – they basically take over the town for the month of October; they’re on buses, in the subway, on phone kiosks, everywhere.”
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So why is design with InDesign a joy? The secret, says Ringbom, is the fluid interaction between text, shapes, and illustrations as you compose a page.
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“The fluid interchange between Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat is really the biggest benefit. When you work on many different projects at the same time, anything that makes your life easier is a good thing
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“The Story function is certainly a treat,” says Ringbom, warming to the subject, “hanging punctuation at the click of a button. Of course, turning type into a vector path and working with that way is cool. I haven’t gotten into OpenType yet, but that

As to 2005, things look good for Flat, says Ringbom. “In terms of the economy, I’m more optimistic – we see more work than we did two years ago. In a broader sense, it seems to me this industry is dividing into two categories – the huge branding machines, and the smaller, mostly entertainment-oriented image-making shops. Staying both frugal and interesting, without getting pigeonholed, is really Flat's biggest challenge.”

Agency: Warren Group/Studio Deluxe

Clients: ABC, Disney, Mattel, Capital Group, Balance Pharmaceuticals, Heritage Sports, Nouvelles Frontieres, Magic Hour
Contact: www.studiodeluxe.com

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Warren Group/Studio Deluxe is one of the world’s leading design agencies, and has scooped numerous awards for its work with the likes of Disney, ABC, and blue chip clients, including awards from the Art Directors Club New York and the International Association of Business Communicators. 
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The firm’s work is showcased in the US Library of Congress, where it is part of the Permanent Design Collection. Recognized for its print design, the group – led by Linda Warren – is a keen advocate of Adobe InDesign.
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“The bulk of our work is editorial design,” says Warren, “and we can be working on multiple projects at once, so it is important the software we use can handle complex documents and images, and it’s critical that it happens easily. 
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One of the things about InDesign is I don’t have to think about it in terms of software – I just know that it works for me, and there are many things that make my day easier. We’re not spending time solving problems or it crashing.”
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It’s the small things that helped Warren come to understand the joy of InDesign: “The first time I use InDesign, I simply could not get over contextual menus,” she says. “Adobe seems to have thought through all the things I might want to think about at that moment – such as add a soft space or hyphen, add a registration mark, change the case of the text, and so on. It’s initiative and thoughtful.”
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Another favourite is the glyph menu – Warren marvels at being able to pull up the entire character map of a font, rather than jumping to a separate font program. “That is a marvellous feature,” she says. “I also enjoy the fact the print and export dialogs are separate,” meaning she doesn’t have to alter the settings when printing or exporting to PDF.
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Other key features that help the studio’s work include the ability to bring in EPS images at full resolution, and zoom in to 1,600 per cent and line it up perfectly.
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“A couple of tricks include being able to do drop shadows on the fly – and we all love the transparency palette, although designers may burn out on that, but it does bring a new dimension to work,” she says. 
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