Case Study — VirtualDJ 2020 Vinyl design

You can guess what happened, or didn’t. 

I have a story to tell. 

It’s September 2019, and Atomix preemptively released VirtualDJ 2020. It’s a landmark version and turned out to just be the beginning of reimagining VirtualDJ as a serious player in the DJ software game. Seems to be working.

But I digress.

When I saw 2020, it was the first time that I’d seen a brand embrace the start of the next decade. And as a branding and marketing device, “2020” had so much promise. 

But I saw something else. To me, 2020 was more like 20/20, as in 20/20 vision1. I saw VirtualDJ 2020 as the rebirth and a clear vision of the future. 

1. Interesting fact — 20/20 refers to being able to see perfectly from 20 feet away. 

But how could I turn 2020 into a tangible thing? By making a DVS vinyl pack of course. But what form can this take? I wanted it to be impressive, so a gatefold pack has more impact. And nobody needs one special edition control vinyl. Doubles or death2.

2. Now that’s a niche DJ t-shirt waiting to be made.

But how does that translate to 2020?

My Vision

A classic Snellen Chart and my VirtualDJ 2020 remix.

When checking our sight, we are routinely put in front of what’s called a Snellen Chart3. We’ve all seen them and attempted to bluff our way through to vainly avoid the need for glasses. 

3. Another interesting fact — rather than the whole alphabet, the Snellen chart uses a special font and a very limited number of characters.

I found a font that matched the special limited one used on the chart, and messed around with copy  until I found something that sounded right and fitted the concept.

Viola — a VirtualDJ 2020 eye test. 

Looks like my Fiat 500. No. This isn’t DJ Virtuale.

One thing that I noticed was the use of red and green on some of the charts. It’s called a Duochrome test and I don’t understand is very complex to explain. But it became a design driver for my first mockups. 

Hmmm… no matter what I did, all I could see was some sort of overwhelming Italian theme. Even now, I’m looking up from my screen to the driveway and see our special edition Fiat 500 in exactly the same colour way. 

No. This was not going to work. 

Ooof. That’s looking the part now.

But red is the VirtualDJ brand colour, and allows me to simplify the design and the production. This could basically be two inks — special red (or worst case a M/Y process mix) and black, something that pleases my design and repro heads. 

The icing on the cake to make this work was to use clear vinyl. Again, clear = clarity, and they also resemble lenses. 

That’s the inside and vinyl sorted. Now it’s coming together. 

Do you see?

Every time I see this, my heart aches that it didn’t happen.

So to the sleeve. It’s the first thing you see and needs impact. The perfect fit in my head was a pair of round glasses across the front and back. A quick Google search yielded a suitable image for mockup purposes.

Aaaand it’s done. Looks the part and pushes VirtualDJ to a new design level. Importantly the theme represents the brand and is prevalent throughout. 

As an added extra, I suggested sourcing pairs of cheap round red lensed glasses to give away as promo pieces at NAMM 2020, if there was time to get this together for the show of course (three months at this point). I also suggested 400 sets of vinyl, because that’s 20×20. 

I was very excited by what I’d created, and importantly what had awakened inside me. This project and the future potential is part of the reason you’re reading this here.


I must stress this — I do this kind of thing all the time, mainly in my head but occasionally makes it to some sort of more coherent form. Now I want to make it part of my future professional offering.

So I did this purely as a passion project, with no hope of if going beyond a “thanks we’ll get back to you” response. I made a deck, with the top image as the first page. 

But they liked it, and wanted to do it. 

Reality bites

But then 2020 hit, and all that came with it. I still held out hope mid-year that it might happen, but each passing day reduced the impact and desirability of any 2020 themed thing. That and 2020 being an unmitigated shit show that is best forgotten.

Now you’ll understand why VirtualDJ 2021 arrived so early. 2020 was a brilliant branding device best forgotten.

More of this

There will be. So much more. The creatives juices are flowing, stronger than ever.