At Agent, we love nothing more than being presented with challenges that we can get our teeth stuck in to and that really allows us to showcase our abilities as an agency. So, when we were selected by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – part of GCHQ – to work with the team on the design and development of the 2018 Annual Review, we couldn’t have been more delighted.
The NCSC was set up to help protect the country’s critical services from cyber attacks, manage major incidents, and improve the underlying security of the UK Internet. Its vision is to help make the UK the safest place to live and do business online.
Creatively, it was something that we wanted to get involved with, given the importance of the work that the NCSC does and the impact that it has on a wide array of audiences. Annual Reviews are always interesting pieces of work but this one in particular was a challenge that we were more than willing to take on – we felt that we could really bring something to it.
When it came to development of the initial concepts, we provided three options with very different trajectories. We felt that the report needed an overarching avatar to carry across some of the concepts, and to be used as a way of visually conveying the different chapter topics throughout.
Given the prominence and authority of the NCSC, we wanted to ensure that we struck the balance between a playful, relatable concept that was underpinned by great execution and quality finish to demonstrate the importance of the work. It was important that the visual did not come across as too gimmicky, while appealing to a broad audience.
Agent’s creative director, Ben Spencer, at the initial design stage
To achieve this, we used the idea of the bug – which is a well-recognised symbol for some of the problems we face – and linked it to the cyber world.
During the creation of the bug, we were conscious of referencing the insect without it being too similar to any real-life bug. We began by developing a 3D model of the chassis, the body and the wings. We found that the high gloss chrome worked well, along with adding more features to bring focus and beauty to the designs. To ensure a strong and clear link to cyber, we included elements such as a USB mouth and armour scored with circuitry. We also made the bug’s environment neutral in order for it to be used anywhere, without referencing a specific place.
We really enjoyed working with the NCSC team on this project. As always for us as an agency, it was an incredibly collaborative piece of work, exploring concepts together and getting insight into the team’s expertise. It is always fantastic to work with a client that trusts so strongly in the central idea and we’re excited to see where this visual could be taken in the future.
Creative for this project was led by Agent’s creative director Ben Spencer and supported by creative consultant Michael Cottage. The digital elements were led by digital director Rick Blundell, with support from digital consultant, Kurtis Boylan. Check out the final product, here: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/annual-review-2018/