CDS produce Global Strategic Trends report and video for MoD

The 300-page publication shapes the UK Defence policy in responding to emerging threats.

Global Strategic Trends

The Requirements

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) wanted to produce the most ambitious edition of their high-profile publication and film, Global Strategic Trends, which is published every five years and looks ahead at the next five years.

It is published by the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) and describes a future context for defence and security out to 2050.

The publication shapes the UK Defence policy in responding to emerging threats. It provides the context under which they may come about and gives alternative outcomes under the influence of varying factors. It is anticipated by a wide audience.

The Solution

As a key MOD communications supplier, CDS was tasked with producing this important document and film. 

Although the MOD brand is ideal for short reports, it did not lend itself to a 300-page publication. CDS looked at how the brand could be applied. 

Mock-up pages were designed and produced to allow the customer to see and approve the ideal layout.

We then agreed on a font sizes, footnote styles and the colour pallet with the customer. We used the prescribed brand primary, secondary and highlight colours. This preserved the MOD brand look and feel whilst signposting (with the use of icons too) the various topic areas.

Our next task was to map out the requirements chapter by chapter. So that we were able to communicate, allocate and manage the various graphic requirements amongst the design team. 

We then managed the creation, proofing, and approval of all these through master spreadsheets. And we were able to collaborate with the customer on the progress and approval status of each component, recording customer comment and approval.

We had to adjust each graphic, by simplifying the data sets into decade blocks so that trend data was visually clear when it represented longer periods. 

After the graphics were approved, we laid out all pages using the brand template previously agreed to produce a series of proofs, section by section. This allowed the customer a spread of approval workload to suite their staff availability for the task. Once all sections were approved, we were able to finalise artwork and proceed to the printing process.

At the same time, a four-minute video was created by CDS to support the publication. The video was created in collaboration with a range of stakeholders within DCDC. We created an outline storyboard. Various script edits, footage searches and voice artist auditions were managed by us. We then created the first edit for approval and following a final edit the finished film was produced.

The film conveys the pace of change occurring in the modern world today and how this will accelerate in the future. And how the complexity of today’s geopolitical outlook will be shaped by population, energy, and climate change over the next decades.

The initial meeting with DCDC was held at Shrivenham in February 2018. The first graphics and icons briefing was in July 2018. Design for the book and film took place during July and August, with the book going to print in late September for launch in early October.

The Results

The Sixth Edition, The Future Starts Today is the most ambitious far-ranging episode so far. The publication informs defence strategy for the UK, our NATO allies and worldwide partners.

It contains vital information from many research bodies and governments, and incorporates national and international statistics. The copy was written by numerous specialist contributors and then edited for Plain English compliance.

Global Strategic Trends is an informative read and is rich in data, statistics, global trends and analysis. Extensive use is made of maps, graphics, charts and graphs to support the narrative and create a compelling view of the future. 

We worked with DCDC over a nine-month period to bring the document and video to life.

The production of the Global Strategic Trends and film was a collaboration between CDS and DCDC. With complex data to be presented in an understandable way, the DCDC team spent many hours with our design team to produce the graphics, layout and look and feel they wanted.

This high profile publication was produced to a tight deadline. It cements CDS’s credentials in providing solutions for customers’ critical activity. Bringing a creative flare to complex data presentation enhances the compelling nature of the publication. The fast-paced supporting film conveys the complexity of the world today and the increasing complexity expected in the future.

CDS and DCDC have had a long-standing close relationship, which has been enhanced by the collaboration needed to meet the tight deadline and extensive design requirements.

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The close working partnership between the DCDC Futures Team and the CDS Team was crucial to bring together the complex elements that make up the Global Strategic Trends sixth edition. We collaborated continuously throughout the production against a tight deadline with trust, integrity and good humour, to produce an excellent document and supporting film.

Simon Cole

DCDC-AH Futures