London: After three years of intensive design effort, UK cabling specialists VDC Trading has launched two major new products – a fabulous website covering everything you ever wanted to know about cabling AND a comprehensive catalogue containing over 8,500 product lines plus endless permutations.
The birth of these non-identical twins has not been easy. Much pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth was needed to ensure that the website and catalogue lived up to expectations. But the end results bear testament to all the hard work put in by VDC and the design teams at Flea Marketing and Outsorcery, not to mention the labours of Italian printer Graphicom, which was responsible for printing the catalogue.
“I don’t mind admitting that I was fussy – and I’m sure there were times when the designers wanted to kill me,” says VDC’s managing director Niall Holden. “But this was such an important re-branding and catch-up exercise for the company that we just had to get it right. Both the VDC and Van Damme logos also came in for a re-vamp, a task that involved creating large stainless steel and resin models so they could be photographed. What we’ve achieved is spectacular, especially the catalogue, which has to be the most definitive guide to cables and cabling solutions that the audio-visual industry has ever seen.”
Printed at a cost of £50 each, the 450-page full colour catalogue gives VDC customers access to the company’s entire range of cables and audio solutions in one easy format. The product lines and services range from the simplest cabling requirements, to system design, to the specialist cables and connectors that have given VDC its reputation as a leading force. Easy to use with glossy photographs and full product descriptions, it’s the one-stop shop for cabling solutions.
Colour was key to the design concept. After months of agonising over what to use, Niall Holden had a ‘eureka moment’ and came up with the idea of incorporating a range of vintage 1950’s guitar colours to segregate the various sections of the catalogue.
“I’ve always been a fan of vintage guitars,” says Holden. “As design icons, guitars like the Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul are just perfection. In the 50 years they’ve been around they’ve never been bettered. During the 1950s, Rock and Roll artists led the demand for brightly coloured guitars. Prior to that guitars were usually a dark brown sunburst that didn’t look good on monochrome TV of the time. Leo Fender was one of the first to introduce custom colours, which were based on the vibrant colours used by the US motor industry. In fact, it was General Motors’ supplier Du Pont that actually made the paint for these guitars, which is why they are so evocative of that era. As many of our customers come from music and recording industry backgrounds, I thought they’d love the choice of colours as much as I did.”
Having a great idea is one thing, but actually carrying it through is something else. VDC’s design team debated for weeks the best way to reproduce these colours to match Holden’s 1950’s dream. Where on earth were they going to find original Foam Green, Candy Apple Red, Shoreline Gold, Burgundy Mist and Lake Placid Blue colours?
The solution was to approach vintage guitar guru and repairer Clive Brown who had the expertise to reproduce these original colours. At his workshop in Ripon, Brown set about spraying and distressing various A3-sized MDF boards to get exactly the right aged effect. These were then digitally photographed to create the section partitions and headings for the catalogue. The same colours were carried through to the new website to reinforce VDC’s brand image.
Andy Ray and Eddie Haydock, at Flea Marketing, also designed a range of big icons such as light bulbs and connectors that were used to represent the individual section headers. There is also a fascinating commentary running through the catalogue that gives the reader a full-circle tour of music industry trivia, starting and ending with Les Paul’s contribution to the guitar world.
“Attention to detail was key to the success of this project,” Holden adds. “Even the binding for the catalogue had to be specially sourced because I wanted it to be tough and to allow the pages to lie flat when the book was opened. We used the largest Canadian wirobind on the market. In fact our printers tell us that this is the biggest wirobind catalogue ever produced in Europe – and they should know because they were one of only two European printers who could physically handle the scale of the production.”
After such monumental efforts, Niall Holden felt the launch of the catalogue and website deserved to be properly marked. So, as the first production run rolled off the presses in Italy, he took everyone involved in the project over to Venice to receive them.
“It was arranged for Graphicom to deliver them to us while we were having lunch in Venice and I was so overwhelmed I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry,” he says. “Seeing the proofs was nothing like seeing the finished article. It was amazing, especially after all the hard work; it blew every one of us away.”