Critical Reflection Essay

Samuel Martin (4123)

Critical Reflection on Component 3


A promotion package for the release of an album, to include:

  • a music video (major task)

  • a social media page (minor task)

  • a digipak (minor task)


Table of Contents


  • How do the elements of your production work together to create a sense of ‘branding’?
  • Focus on all products
  • How did your research inform your products and the way they use or challenge conventions?
  • Focus on music video conventions
  • How do your products represent social groups or issues?
  • Focus on digipack
  • How do your products engage with the audience?
  • Focus on social media page


A brand needs to be a motif, a repeatable device that is instantly recognisable and a story which plays to the heads and hearts of the audience. Any media that brand puts out must have a correlation to their existing media. Hall described the interrelation and interaction in how meaning is encoded and decoded in the minds of the audience as much as the minds of the producers. A passive audience will take the meaning of the message at face value, the Nike tick is just a logo, whereas an active audience will look for a deeper meaning within the encoded message, the Apple logo of an apple suggest life. Our star has ideologies that they express in the media they produce. They strive to create a world of peace and acceptance through teaching about mental health and trying to rebel against a government they don’t agree with.


The first image that I have chosen is from our music video. It shows the star of our music video crying at the loss of his friend. A passive audience might see this as a friend grieving; however we wanted to encode a deeper message that relates to our star values of mental health awareness. The crying protagonist mainly relates to our mission statement and how men specifically need to be more open about their mental health instead of keeping it hidden.

The second image I have chosen is from our digipak. It shows a pool of colour behind a distorted layer of black and white. A passive audience might decode this as just a cool design however, to an active audience, we wanted to encode a deeper message. We think that this represents how creativity can overcome the plain reality of existence. This relates to how a lot of artists express their mental issues through the medium they work with be it music, paintings or anything else, therefore relating back to the branding and star values.

The third image I have chosen is from our social media page. The image shows our logo of a brain with the name of our artist in the foreground. The brain is what we wanted as the main image of our brand and the logo was the best way to incorporate it. It encodes the theme of our brand’s ideologies as mental health and the brain are one in the same. The brain represents the thoughts of our audience, our star and everyone and the different coloured gradient represents a fractured mind, much like it might feel to have mental health issues.


Genre is the similarities and differences (Altman) between music videos, films and other forms of media. Genre is a blueprint and conventions are the tools which producers use to create media in a certain genre. Our music video was in the genre of indie rock and so we watched music videos that were also part of that genre. To help us understand the conventions, we watched professional music videos by The Arctic Monkeys as they are in the same genre. The short film narrative was a big inspiration especially in the music video for ‘Fluorescent Adolescence’. We took inspiration from their mise-en-scene, themes, narrative and camera which meant our music video would be more like a short film. The film style is very surreal, with the theme of nostalgia being explored through a broken friendship. The mise-en-scene creates a divide between ideologies with one side dressed as clowns and the other side dressed as gangsters.


The first screenshot that I have used shows the iconography and how we followed the conventions of the indie rock genre by making our main character have a skater aesthetic. This represents our character as the rebellious teen that is the largest demographic of our music genre and therefore tries to relate to that audience as they are likely to have similar ideologies to our artist and therefore use our preferred reading. The theme of friendship is also typical of the indie rock genre with the idea of having nowhere to go except to close friends is also typical in films for the same demographic, having the youth rebel at the world for feeling forgotten. A music video that inspired us was the ‘Honey Sweet’ video by the Blossoms. While it isn’t exactly how our music video turned out, this gave us a basic blueprint of how we wanted to make our music video.


The second screenshot displays an important moment in the narrative. We used narrative to echo our star values and how mental health is the theme of our video.  This relates to 

the teen audience of our genre as they are an audience who struggle with mental health. The use of short films as a narrative without any performance also breaks the convention of the genre as most of the time, there is a performance aspect to the song. We also decided to not have a star image, challenging the conventions to make a statement about the issues in 

the video being more important than the star. However, we kept the themes of the video in line with the ideologies of our star to still incorporate the meta narrative of our artist.


The digipak we made was a graphical design, allowing us to create everything from scratch. This allowed us to encode meaning within the digipak. Using semic, symbolic and cultural codes (Barthes). We were able to produce a digipak that represented the ideologies that we wanted to communicate through our star, using a psychedelic graphic, representing mental health as a mind breaking, damaging experience that large sections of our audience may experience. The relation between our star and mental health issues gives them a sense of relatability and with Dyer’s theory of the star image, makes them seem ordinary and present in the audience’s life.


The first screenshot shows the front cover of our digipak.. We used the black and white lines to encode a symbolic meaning of prison bars. The distorted lines and the bright neon colours of the typeface gives a trippy experience, representing the issue of how many teens struggle with mental health. The head behind the lines implies a sense of being trapped, just like how our audience can feel trapped by something that they look to rebel against such as their parents.


The second screenshot shows the back cover of our digipak. It presents the text in a neon pink and blue with a shadow against the black and white background. We used semic code of shadow to represent the music being dissociated from the plain background.  This represents a sense of creativity, escaping from the black and white, echoing how creativity can overcome the bleak existence of modern reality. The shadow also gives an added layer of perspective onto the design, denoting the darkness as a black hole that the audience can fall into, just like how drug use can be psychedelic and lead into a spiral of further anguish.


Media has many uses & pleasures. Blumler and Katz proposed the uses and gratification theory to try and explain the ways audiences use the media as part of their lives and derive pleasure from it. The uses and gratification model is how the audience uses media for pleasure and utility. Social interaction, social identity, information and entertainment. Music, being our stars profession, would be placed in the entertainment category but our star and the merch they sell also promote a social interaction & personal identity that relates to the audience. The social identity is what will generate advertisement through things such as word of mouth. Social interaction is also a large driving factor for audiences and so we used things like a competition to give the audience a chance to interact with the star. It is also how the audience form friendships, discussing the media they enjoy to form a bond with other people through a shared pleasure.


The first screenshot shows a competition that our artist is running that the audience have to share a hashtag to win. This gives the audience a chance to interact with the artist, a chance to win a signed album and get a free copy of the album. This fulfils the social identity, social interaction and entertainment aspect of Blumler and Katz uses and gratification theory. By fulfilling these, it is more likely that our audience will interact with competition, gathering word of mouth advertisement through the use of the hashtag, which is the most effective type of advertising as it can draw in more of the audience of the indie rock genre that may not have heard of the artist. This is specifically designed to promote social interaction on the platform and cause our content to go viral. This is a type of earnt advertising.


The second screenshot shows our artist at an interview. This is earnt advertising which works to connect our artist to the audience even more, through the relatable aspect of the interview, with the star being in a calm demeanour and speaking about his life experiences that people can connect with. This can create buzz and excitement as it allows the audience to relate to a star on a personal level, allowing them to feel like they can become just like the artist. This will also get them talking to their friends about the interview and earning advertisement through social interaction and word of mouth.


Critical Reflection Prep

Before I started writing my critical reflection, I drafted it on the document below.

This allowed me to plan what I was going to write and also where I could make changes and improvements to the drafts. I also planned what images I would use as my examples and I had a wide variety to use which meant that I could talk about many different ideas and aspects in our project.

Social Media Page Terminology

Above is a presentation that we created to analyse the structure of a social media page in a similar genre to our own. We took some screenshots of the main areas of the page and decoded what they mean.  Doing this helped us to learn the specific terminology that we need to help create our own social media page.  Looking at a similar artist to our own also showed us what we will need to put into our social media page and how we can use images and text to create meaning.

Digipak Draft 1

This is draft 1 of our digipak for our artist:

So far, I like the style of it but there are many things that need to be improved.

Things I like:

  • The white and black lines work well with the brand of the artist as it looks like cells and the colourful background looks like the artists imagination escaping out.
  • The colours work well with the theme and brand of our artist as they are very colourful like joy which our artist is trying to bring to the audience.
  • Having the artist with galaxies in his eyes was definitely unique but at the moment I don’t know how I think it looks. I think it works well with the themes of the digipak but it is just to obvious compared to the rest of the front cover. However, I think it is definitely a good start at some creative design within the digipak.

Thinks That Need Improvement:

  • Some areas need clean up such as the edges of the middle black and white pattern on the back cover. The cut is very obvious and it takes away from the meaning of our digipak.
  • The font does not work great with the pattern as the thin parts blend in with they white. Switching the fonts or adding a border may help with this.
  • We need to add a few more tracks to the back of our digipak as currently it is looking very plain and boring.
  • The front cover is very plain and empty at the moment. To fix this we can add another graphic design element or move the artist name/ album name to be more obvious and add more interestingness to the cover.

So far I like our design and I think it is a great platform for improvement. We have the time to experiment with ideas and we are going to use this to our full advantage.

Photoshoot / Design Production Meeting And Risk Assessment

For our digipak we decided to follow a conventional look and therefore we had a think about what our design would look like. We decided to go for a fully graphical design, using examples from artists like Tame Impala and Arctic Monkeys.

We think that using a conventional design to our digipak will attract more of the existing fans of the indie rock genre as our star values also align with the main values communicated in the indie rock genre.

A big source of inspiration for us was Pinterest. This was a great place to find a bunch of existing digipaks that gave us ideas about our own digipaks. One digipak that we took a lot of inspiration from was the Tame Impala digipak for the album Currents. This trippy designed album gave us a lot of ideas of ways we could make our own digipak interesting and unique.

Hand Drawn Mock Up

Here are the first graphical ideas that we had for our digipak:
I think both of these are good first attempts however their is clear improvements needed:

Colour – The colours look okay however we still need to decide on a final colour scheme. I really like the black and white stripe pattern that gives the feeling of jail cell bars that traps the colourful inside as it displays a sense of being trapped which our artist is trying to convey with this album.

Album/Band Name – We still need to include our album and band name which we haven’t fully decided on yet. Knowing and creating some mock-ups for the text will help to also develop the graphical element of our digipak.

Back Cover – since we were doing a graphical mock up, we didn’t have much time to also work on a back cover. I think creating a mock-up of this will help greatly with not only the design of our front cover but also the design as a whole.

Overall I am quite pleased with how this idea has turned out and I think that graphical is definitely the way to go for our music genre. I think with some more thoughts and ideas about colour and design we can get a very coherent piece of art for our digipak.