Designing Tomorrow’s Cycling Trends
Market-leading bicycle distributor, Accell North America, improves collaboration with Adobe Creative Cloud for teams.
Bicycling has surged in popularity in the United States. According to a report from the US Census Bureau, the number of Americans biking to work jumped by about 60% between 2000 and 2014. Accell Group, widely known as one of the strongest players in the mid-range and high-end segments, serves the fast-growing bicycle market. After acquiring well-known brands such as Raleigh and Seattle Bike Supply, Accell North America serves the North American market with fun and functional bicycles, bike parts, and accessories.
“At Accell, we’re always drawing inspiration from the latest trends,” says Josh Podolske, associate art director and designer at Accell North America. “We try to predict what customers will be looking for in the upcoming months or year. That means we need to stay ahead with the most cutting-edge software and technologies to support our designs.”
Designing for a fashionable market
Since the merger, designers for the Seattle Bike Supply and Raleigh brands have worked closely from their respective offices in the United States using Adobe creative tools to produce professional designs. The brands’ colorful bike, helmet, and glove designs are redesigned regularly in Adobe Illustrator CC to reflect current fashion trends and capture customers’ attention.
In addition to product designs, the designers also create the catalogs and flyers that provide vendors with clear and accurate product information. For the most complicated document, a 150-page parts and accessory catalog, character and paragraph styles in Adobe InDesign CC go a long way to improve consistency and designers can easily import assets from other Adobe apps, such as photographs edited in Adobe Photoshop CC or graphics created in Illustrator CC.
To consistently create high-quality content, the designers share and reuse brand logo and product images throughout their designs.
“Before we merged companies, Seattle Bike Supply worked on a private server while Raleigh worked with Egnyte cloud sharing services,” explained Podolske. “The IT department for Accell operates out of Holland, so it’s not easy for IT to just pop over when we need them.”
Rather than consolidating, Accell kept each brand on its own design server. Although the separation didn’t affect most daily design tasks, inefficiencies occurred when trying to share assets. If a designer for Seattle Bike Supply needed a brand logo on Raleigh’s servers, the designer needed to request the file from a colleague. As a result, designers could spend a lot of time waiting for a response—time that could be better spent adjusting artwork or layout.
In addition, designers from the two brands had previously worked with slightly different versions of Adobe Creative Suite. After the merger, it made sense for everyone to be on the same version of Adobe tools to improve their ability to collaborate across the team.
Connecting through Creative Cloud Libraries
While the designers continue to work on separate servers, brand assets are shared through libraries accessible through Creative Cloud for teams. Designers can quickly search for assets they need, easily bring those assets into projects, and continue work. The result is greater brand consistency and productivity.
“Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries saved the day by helping us work around our file-sharing challenges,” says Podolske. “We share color palettes or campaign graphics for more consistency across projects. It’s a wonderful alternative to integrating our servers, but without needing to invest resources in a server migration.”
Inspiring the latest trends
The Accell designers are constantly looking around for inspiration and trends that will influence their next product designs. “We never know what will inspire us,” says Podolske. “A billboard may use colors that would look great on a bike. A graphic on someone’s bag could be transformed into a cool pattern on a helmet. We’re used to finding inspiration on the go and working with our phones to capture that inspiration.”
The Adobe Creative Cloud mobile apps tie work done on smartphones directly into the creative workflow. When working on a new glove, a designer might start out with a physical sketch. Rather than scanning the sketch and trying to recreate the shape in Illustrator CC, the designer can simply take a picture; Adobe Shape CC turns the sketch into a vector image and uploads it to Creative Cloud Libraries.
To achieve a unique, organic design on a glove, designers may use Adobe Brush CC on a found shape or fun sketch, turning a picture into a custom brush in seconds. For the final step, Adobe Color CC turns a photograph into a fashionable color palette.
“When I’m out on the street, I can use Creative Cloud mobile apps like Adobe Color to take pictures that inspire me and have the palette waiting for me when I get back to work,” says Podolske. “We even use Adobe Color to instantly identify colors from our manufacturers’ swatch books. It saves us a ton of time that we used to spend physically comparing colors.”
With Adobe Creative Cloud mobile apps, designers no longer need access to bulky scanners. A picture from a smartphone automatically turns photographs into usable assets.
A recipe for success
Accell North America designers love the frequent software updates through Adobe Creative Cloud for teams and take advantage of it to experiment with software. Rather than relying on outside resources, designers try editing video themselves with Adobe Premiere Pro CC, or redesigning the website with Adobe Muse CC. “Adobe Creative Cloud apps all use similar interfaces, which makes it easy to pick up new software,” says Podolske. “With access to all of the apps in Adobe Creative Cloud, we’re expanding our skillsets and bringing more creative work in-house, making better use of company resources and expertise.”
Adobe Creative Cloud for teams also helps Accell’s remote IT team in Holland manage software halfway around the world. It now spends 50% less time managing licenses and eliminated the need to store software serial numbers. “With Adobe Creative Cloud for teams, we’re collaborating easier and working more efficiently as designers,” says Podolske. “I don’t have to wait for IT to enable certain software. I can just download and update what I need in Creative Cloud. The smooth workflow helps us concentrate on shaping our ideas into great designs that reach a growing audience for cool biking gear.”
Read the Accell North America case study.