Illustration by Matías Trillo
HOW TO ADVANCE DESIGN INNOVATION STRATEGIES FOR AN ESTABLISHED BRAND TO GAIN COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
Client: SM Puerto Rico
Roles: art direction, senior designer, design & market research
SM is a Spanish publisher with a strong presence in Latin America, operating in nine countries, including Puerto Rico. It specializes in publishing educational texts and materials, fiction for children and teenagers.
SM’s most established products, the Spanish K-6, Social Studies K-6, and Spanish 7-12 textbooks, were all due for their 3rd edition in consecutive years. The plan was to launch the 3 new series under a new sub-brand called Aprender Juntos (Learn Together) in order to distinguish them from the older editions and rebrand them. Some of the innovations offered with these new series posed a few design challenges for the team: creating a shared visual identity with common elements throughout the 3 series but each catering to the study subject and age group; designing and integrating specialized workbooks for each subject; and the first time our team designed products both for classroom as well as virtual learning environments that responded to the current school needs.
Total Individual Components Designed for this Project
Total number of comic strips commissioned for the Civic Education Workbooks
SHARED VISUAL IDENTITY THROUGHOUT 3 SERIES, 3 SUBJECTS, 3 AGE GROUPS - ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SOCIAL STUDIES
I became lead designer around the time we started this series, so one of my first recommendations for the initial design process was stressing the importance of integrating the graphic element into the research stage. This research served as a framework to develop each brand system, implement teachers' recommendations about learning processes and how graphic resources help synthesize or reinforce lessons and understanding. Graphic innovation at the service of content is one of the distinguishing features of this series.
ZOOMING INTO — AND ZOOMING OUT OF — DIVERSE EXPERIENCES
This series sought the development of human values and the strengthening of self-esteem, emotional intelligence and appreciation for the environment and culture. Each cover presents a child interacting with varying imaginary landscapes that try to recreate real-life environments, starting with a child's own "world" (the self) in the Kindergarten cover, and gradually zooming out of contexts, finalizing with a young girl interacting with an imaginary globe, representing a more globalized conscience and knowledge of the world, its History and its Geography.
I was in charge of the conceptualization of each cover, commissioning and handling of the illustration requests, overseeing the subjects' photoshoot, and final design and layout of the covers.
As the user grows in age, the books' themes evolve as with them. Puerto Rico (the target market), America and the World are the themes of the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade books respectively. For these covers we decided to further zoom out and feature children interacting with an imaginary globe that focuses on the specific geographical area corresponding the book's theme. On the 4th grade cover, a girl is plays with a fictional model of the island of Puerto Rico during pre-Columbian times, showing its original indigenous inhabitants and their village; also can be seen Spanish conquistador ships about to arrive on the island.
PART OF THE AMERICAS
The theme for the 5th grade book is the Americas, and in its cover we can see a boy interacting with some geographically and historically important parts of the continents: Brazil's Christ the Redeemer, Peru's Machu Picchu, the Panama Canal with an incoming cargo ship, a Central American Olmec colossal head, Mexico's Temple of Kukulkan and Metropolitan Cathedral, and USA's Statue of Liberty.
CULTURE & FOLKLORE
In third grade, the student begins to learn about the country where he or she lives, and to observe and compare customs and facts in distant places. For this cover, we chose to show a boy playing with a recreation of a very important and iconic local street festival, featuring the typical carnival figures, the historical architecture of where it's celebrated at, and "people" mingling about.
As the student grows, the driving themes stray away from the student's immediate surroundings. The student begins to learn about the community where he or she lives. This is why for second grade, we show a girl playing with a recreation of a community and the different scenes, shops and businesses you would typically find: a school, and ice cream shop, a drug store, a park, a bus picking up passengers, and a parking lot.
In first grade, the driving theme is the family. This is why we chose to start zooming out from the self and portray a boy playing with an imaginary house within a scene that replicates a local neighborhood in all its sense: the type of house, the greenery, the objects within it, and the activities the "people" are realizing in it. This scene allows the student to understand the world of the family in the local environmental, cultural and social context.
A CHILD'S SELF
The self is the driving theme of the Social Studies lessons at this level, that's why we chose a girl interacting immersed in her own "universe": her toys, her colored pencils on her desk, playing and creating, with the idea of showing students their unique place in the world, strengthening their own self-esteem.
Finally, the theme for the 6th grade book is the World. In order to spark curiosity and a global conscience, in this cover we can see a girl playing with a part of the globe featuring some prominent landmarks of Europe, Africa and Asia: Egypt's Pyramids, France's Eiffel Tower, Italy's Colosseum, Russia's St. Basil's Cathedral, Israel's Dome of the Rock, India's Taj Mahal, and China's Great Wall.
SOCIAL STUDIES AND CIVIC EDUCATION GET A FUN AND EYE-CATCHING MAKEOVER
Maintaining some of the design elements created for and used in the Spanish K-6 books, we designed fresh new layouts that catered specifically to the needs of this subject matter, Social Studies, and it's different sections. The eye-catching unit openers that included details from the chapter opener images were a design innovation of these books. I designed and oversaw the implementation of a combination of a bright and inviting color palette, dynamic page layouts, and top-notch illustrations that proved to be a huge success among both end-users: students and teachers.
UNIT & CHAPTER OPENERS
SUPPLEMENTARY COMPONENTS INCLUDED
In addition to the student textbooks, other complementary materials designed for this series include:
Civic Education Workbook
Posters for the classroom
Stickers and cut-outs related to textbook activities with its enclosing folder