Best Awards 2021: Nothing but the best

The New Zealand Best Design Awards is an annual showcase of excellence in graphic, spatial, product, digital and motion design along with three special awards – Value of Design, Public Good and Toitanga. Our team is honoured to have eight projects shortlisted for this year’s awards!


“It’s fantastic to see our clients and our artists being recognised for what they do so well,” says Phill Small, WMC Creative Director. “Watermark Creative is very fortunate to be surrounded by so many talented and creative people all working on such a diverse range of projects. I must be dreaming. Pinch me!”

Game Change

Game Change is a project that tells the story of three different people who work and play in the world of games. Each story is told in a uniquely interactive way that involves a mix of game design, interactive design, illustration, animation and video.

Game Change’s creators wanted the public to get a feel and appreciation for what interactive media can do. As such, this project uses the innovative design, language, and mechanics of video games but applies them to traditional journalistic storytelling.

The three stories chosen span the spectrum of the video game industry and include Game Face, for which Shannon Jahnel Lanktree created illustrations and animation. Shannon worked on the project with an exceptional cross-disciplinary team of videographers, producers, web designers, storytellers, animators and 3D artists under the overall direction of Allan Walker and Charles Anderson from digital storytelling studio Vanishing Point.

Artist: Shannon Jahnel Lanktree
Agency: Vanishing Point

Nominated category

Small scale websites

The Engine for empathy

Optimal Workshop (OW) provides usability testing tools and research methods to help researchers, designers and information architects improve the user experience (UX) of their products.

Loryn Engelsman was briefed by agency Strategy Creative to craft the hero ‘engine for empathy’ illustration to be used for the brand’s strategy document, intended for OW’s board members, their own people, shareholders, and potential investors.

‘Engine for Empathy’ is a term that is familiar to the UX industry. The concept was brought to life by Loryn’s linear, hand-crafted style illustration of what looks like a large engine being operated by small abstract characters. The engine is shown in its entirety on the front cover, and then deconstructed throughout the document, which is designed to “inspire and engage readers whilst familiarising their quirky, fun brand culture and business ethos,” says Strategy Creative.

WMC artist: Loryn Engelsman
Agency: Strategy Creative

Nominated category

Design Craft

The Group

Photo by Charles Howells

The Group is a co-operative of over 100 Australian wine growers who share skills, knowledge and expertise to deliver a premium line of wines from Australia’s leading wine regions. One Design was enlisted to create an overarching brand to appeal to discerning Australian male wine drinkers.

The brand concept harnesses the idea of collectives that are found in nature, and how they work together to become greater than the sum of their parts. The concept is brought to life on the labels for the first four varietals which show groups of jaguars (The Shadow), crows (The Murder), stingrays (The Fever) and Cobras (The Quiver).

Although the labels were different in subject matter, they needed to look unified in style so they worked as a family. Samuel’s ability to craft imagery with the right balance of detail and masculinity was vital for the project’s success. The finished range is wickedly cohesive yet very individual; a range that boldly commands attention in the cluttered aisles.

WMC Artist: Samuel Sakaria
Agency: One Design

Nominated category


Inter Yeti

Keeping children safe from online bullying, inappropriate content and predators masquerading as ‘friends’ can seem like a daunting challenge. The New Zealand government’s new digital storybook ‘Inter-Yeti’ supports cyber safety education for children, an initiative the Watermark Creative team are incredibly proud to have been a part of.

The Watermark Creative team were briefed by digital creative agency PHQ to provide character design, environment and interactive design, and animation. Over a 3 month period, our team of cross-disciplinary artists brought PHQ’s vision to life, crafting 60 scenes, 25 unique characters and 150 individual character animations. Each scene required storyboards to plan out the visual composition, while the main characters required dozens of unique pose variations (including over 50 for our hero Gunther).

Key to our success was pulling together a synergistic team of creatives who excel at their craft, and who know each other’s strengths and ways of working. We’re incredibly proud of our creative contribution to this project, and the unique elements each team member brought to the process.

One of the most rewarding aspects of this project was seeing how Gunther’s journey developed from an idea in a script, to an animated adventure that educates and inspires transformation. Knowing that the book is actively being used by schools and families to create positive change brings an overall feeling of satisfaction to every hour that was spent on fine tuning and optimisation.

WMC Artists: Anton Petrov, Shannon Jahnel Lanktree, Meng Hong, David Way
Agencies: Motion Sickness, PHQ

Nominated categories

Public good award

Eta chips

Eta was the chip brand people grew up with but it had lost relevance with New Zealand’s younger consumers, and was no longer the brand of choice in the chip aisle.

In order to bring life back into Eta’s iconic Ripples chips and make the brand popular once again, the packaging and brand identity went through a complete relaunch including new branding and packaging to work with the brand’s new ‘Feeding Friendship’ essence.

Daron created stylised characters and scenes for each flavour variant, designed to capture a variety of familiar social occasions, and work in synergy with the bold new graphic branding. The result is fresh, modern and fun, commanding attention in the cluttered snack aisle.

WMC Artist: Daron Parton
Agency: Unified Brands

Nominated category


My Hooman

Currently 500 million dogs worldwide are homeless. Pedigree Petfoods are making it their mission to put an end to this harrowing statistic by campaigning heavily for pet adoption, and addressing the inherent challenges that lie at the core of the traditional adoption model where people look for a particular type of dog, rather than waiting to meet the dog that’s right for them. This results in 20% of dogs being returned to shelters.

The MyHooman app is Tinder for dogs and humans, managed by people who run dog-shelters. A fun profile builder collects user life-style data and feeds it through an intelligent algorithm that matches dogs with compatible adopters, with an aim to matching dogs to the human that best suits their needs.

Shannon Jahnel Lanktree and David Way worked closely with agency Colenso BBDO to bring their vision for MyHooman to life. Shannon’s playful illustration style was perfect match for the initiative, while David’s technical expertise ensured that goals could be achieved in the simplest and most effective way possible.

In MyHooman’s first month, over 50% of New Zealand shelters signed up. Within the first few weeks, 590 animal profiles were viewed 33,922 times and 10 adoptions were processed. A very paws-itive result!

WMC artists: David Way, Shannon Jahnel Lanktree
Agency: Colenso BBDO

Nominated categories

User experience
Digital products


Estimates from 2018 research suggested that 79,000 New Zealand secondary school students experienced psychological distress, with 82% of them not seeking any help or support. A dramatic rise in anxiety and depression amongst young people has been observed, and these mental health challenges are especially prevalent in Māori and Pasifika communities.

From the outset, digital agency Rush was driven to use technology as an effective tool to address the rising anxiety and depression issues. With that in mind, they wanted to partner with a team of designers and artists who would be as equally invested in ensuring the result was as effective as possible.

WMC worked with Rush to create Aroha, a digital friend with whom the user can engage in conversation to receive confidential support, advice and suggestions. In each session, Aroha asks you to rate your worries about COVID-19, giving the user a range of daily activities to try including breathing exercises and coping strategies.

Early evidence suggests Aroha is making a difference for young people. Early usage stats showed that users engaged for an average of 11 minutes at a time, with 70% receiving all of the target psychoeducation information.

WMC Artists: David Way, Simon Shaw, Anton Petrov, Dede Putra
Agency: Rush

Nominated categories

Digital products
Public good award
User Experience

Round Theory

Round Theory Wines is designed for people who like to enjoy a high quality drop, while also making an environmentally conscious choice.

Illustrator Gee Hale worked with agency One Design to craft a divine set of labels that exude style and sophistication. Each label features a playful tiger, intertwined with flowers and fruit depicting the four varietals. Gee was chosen for his unique illustration style and ability to deliver high quality visuals to a tight deadline.


WMC Artist: Gee Hale
Agency: One Design

Nominated categories

Large brand identity



The Best Awards is New Zealand’s most prestigious creative award show, so it’s a humbling moment to take stock of the amazing projects that we’ve had the privilege to be a part of.

“There are some stellar entries from across the industry this year, setting a new benchmark for NZ creative design.”

– Dave Way, Watermark Creative Director.

We wish all of our clients the best at The Best Awards ceremony in February 2022!