Read our researcher reflections on what can be learned from grime music by clicking here.

Our task, to inform a visual re-design of the BBC Radio 1Xtra and 1Xtra Live brands. Our destination, the subculture of second-wave UK grime music.

This underground scene, although increasing in popularity, is still very much a closed community to the world of brands and business. To authentically research the culture and people on a fast turnaround project was a pretty tall order!

We combined a process of netnographic discourse analysis, on the ground participant observation at grime events, and tapped up some co-researchers from our youth network including DJ’s, producers, super-fans and bloggers.

Authentic engagement with our co-researchers was critical to success. From our own research we knew that social media is the hub for grime music (most artists self-publish and spread the word via social media), we facilitated the project using social media channels – Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Snapchat – all of which created a highly engaged and brutally honest environment. Following up with ethnographic deep-dives.

Through our semiotic and cultural analysis we distilled the key indicators that informed the possibilities for a new visual identity. And once key concepts had been mocked up we got our co-researchers to feedback on the designs.

Ultimately, careful listening, rigour and creativity of approach enabled a strong visual identity to be pursued with confidence.

Check out our researcher reflections on this project here.

Photography credit: Courtney Francis