Celebrating 20 Years of Success Stories at TOTEM

Our timeline below takes a look back over the last two decades, displaying the evolution of our work at TOTEM, while also remembering some national and international events that captured our imagination and attention.

A historic summer.

June 2002, a hitherto unknown island in the western Pacific ocean – Saipan – is on everyone’s lips. Ireland’s football captain and talisman, Roy Keane, has been sent home from the World Cup. Catastrophic!

Civil war ensues, during which TOTEM was inaugurated in a humble ceremony from our first home, a small garage in Villierstown, West Waterford. Certainly a memorable summer.

A year of firsts.

In the year that Dublin’s iconic landmark “The Spire” was completed (engineered and built by Radley’s in Dungarvan) TOTEM’s first South East Guidebook was published. This was the annual flagship brochure for South East Tourism.

TOTEM also got to work with Student Counselling and Development (a department in UCC) and received an Irish Design Effectiveness Award – TOTEM’s first!

Art For All

The Irish rugby team wins the Triple Crown for the first time since 1985 and George W. Bush is re-elected to begin his second term as president of the U.S.

TOTEM work on creating an annual report for Waterford Chamber of Commerce as well as an imaginative art catalogue with KCAT, an arts organisation who believe that everyone regardless of age, gender or ability, should have access to the creative world.

A Tale of Two Cities

Cork becomes the European Capital For Culture and The Tall Ships Races arrived to the quays of Waterford city for the first time. Angela Merkel is elected as German Chancellor and serves for 16 years and 16 days!

TOTEM worked with Eirgen Pharma to create their new brand identity by capturing the essence of the then start up business – making generic, high potency oncology drugs that were no longer patent protected. We also completed a new brand identity for construction company Terra Nua and various packaging designs with Rose Confectionary.

In Pole Position

In the year that iTunes billionth song was downloaded, TOTEM were delighted by winning the Grand Prix at the Irish Design Effectiveness Awards for our work with YouGetItBack.com, Irelands first 24/7 on-line lost and found service.

We created a brand identity, using a loveable fun mascot called Fetch and his favourite red ball. This in turn was used as a visual metaphor for the service – no matter how far the ball went, Fetch would always bring it back!

A Leap of Faith

This was a landmark year in the history of tech with Steve Jobs and Apple launching the first iPhone, changing the face of communication and design forever by making the smartphone mainstream.

TOTEM took a leap of faith of our own by departing the nest, our garage in Villierstown, moving into our new Dungarvan studio. We also got to work with the Irish Alzheimers Society on their award winning “My Life Story” project.

Quality Over Quantity

The global economy changed forever when the banking system completely imploded, the Irish housing market crashed and every family and business large or small was effected. The Great Depression – a 4 year global recession followed.

TOTEM maintained a focus on the quality of our work and we were rewarded with awards for The Tannery Restaurant’s website and Alan Dalton Goldsmith’s new identity, two of our local Dungarvan clients.

Yes We Can!

This year marked the historic election of the first black president of the U.S., Barack Obama, who plagiarised Bob The Builder’s Slogan! It also saw the unfortunate death of the king of pop, Michael Jackson.

TOTEM worked on a series of marketing collateral for the recently launched Cliff House Hotel, winning a HSMAI award for best brochure design in the process.

Sink or Swim

The iPad is released by Apple, changing the face of web design forever. Websites now had to be designed to automatically respond and change format based on the users device, screen size and orientation. This became known as “responsive web design”.

There were no instructions for this new formatting and the TOTEM team were thrown in at the deep end! No time to find their goggles, our team learned by doing.

All Aboard

A year that marked the finale of the decade long Harry Potter film franchise, was also the same year that TOTEM created a “Quayside Odyssey” for the return of the Tall Ships Races to Waterford city.

Our campaign created a fun, family friendly feel, celebrating the coming together of cultures, crews and communities along the Waterford city quays. The Tall Ships turned out to be the biggest outdoor event of the year, drawing over 200,000 people to the city over four days.

A Decade In Design

In the year that Facebook goes public, Wolff Olins design and brand identity for the London Olympics doesn’t quite bring home the public opinion gold medal. But Katie Taylor certainly does for Ireland.

At TOTEM we got the chance to help Flahavan’s with their world record challenge for the largest bowl of porridge at Waterford’s Harvest Festival.

Hunger For Freedom

The death of the legendary South African leader Nelson Mandela places the spotlight on his brilliant biography “Hunger for Freedom”. This was also the year of the inauguration for Barack Obamas second and final term as U.S. president.

TOTEM worked with Gorta (Ireland’s longest running International development organisation) designing their annual report, that highlighted the key work they carry out around the globe in the fight against hunger and poverty.

Rock In Rio

In the same year that Germany reach the promised land in Brazil and are crowned football world champions for the fourth time, TOTEM re-branded Waterford Treasures, creating a brand identity for its three separate museums, and rolled out the visual language to all marketing collateral.

We also designed websites for U.S. company ARA Construction and The Tannery Restaurant. The latter winning an IDI award.

Pride of Ireland

On the 22nd of May 2015, Ireland voted yes for same sex marriage, becoming the first country in the world to do so! This remains one of the proudest days in Ireland’s recent history.

TOTEM help design a wide range of collateral for MS Ireland, in collaboration with Ask Direct (Ireland’s leading fundraising agency), in support of their annual read-a-thon. We also completed brand identities for both Ortus Technology and Flynn Hotels.

The Trail You Can Take and Taste

In the same year that saw the deaths of some of the greatest musicians of all time in David Bowie, George Michael and Prince, also saw the people of Britain vote to leave the EU – Brexit begins!

TOTEM complete a brand identity for Taste The Atlantic – a dedicated seafood trail by Board Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) in partnership with Fáilte Ireland. It’s a whole new way to experience the Wild Atlantic Way and to learn more about the heritage of how Irish seafood is caught and farmed – “The Trail You Can Take and Taste”


A Beautiful Journey

The Brexit negotiations begin, and Donald Trump begins his first full year as the 45th president of the United States! Jacinda Ardern is elected Prime Minister of New Zealand, becoming the youngest ever female head of government at age 37.

TOTEM bring the nations attention to the newly launched Waterford Greenway, making it a massive success both nationally and internationally. It’s appeal is enduring as the Greenway was voted as Ireland’s top tourist attraction by the Irish Independent readers in January 2022 🙂

Love Taking Off

Another historic year for Ireland, forever etched in the memories of millions as the year the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution was repealed by the Irish public – legalising abortion!

TOTEM repositioned Cork Airport, creating our “Love Taking Off” campaign, which placed a spotlight on Irelands second largest and best connected airport.

End of the 20 Ten's

As the 2010’s come to a close, TOTEM worked with WCCC, Shanley Industrial Engineering and a number of other local businesses to bring light to Abbeyside bridge, a previously dark area on the Waterford Greenway. We engaged Waterford Walls as well as the help and creativity of a young graffiti artist Curtis Hylton, who illustrated local flora and fauna on the bridge.

TOTEM worked with U.S. Chinese company “Heng Tian” (meaning infinite sky), renaming and rebranding them as “horizon8” for the North American and European markets.


The beginning of the 2020’s started on a high, with everyone motivated and optimistic for the new decade. But 2020 soon became one of the most forgettable years in recent memory, with the COVID19 pandemic sending global society into a near 18 month lockdown.

TOTEM help horizon8 to create a striking brand identity and fluid online presence for their game-changing new digital product – valid8me – which exists to change how we share our most sensitive, personal information in the digital world.

We also rebranded Waterford Suir Valley Railway for their 20th anniversary!

Adding Value, Always.

Despite the growing anguish around the world amidst the COVID 19 pandemic, moments like Joe Biden’s victory in the U.S. election still managed to steal the headlines.

TOTEM got to work with Fitzgerald Power to help reposition their business. Encapsulating their creative personality and outside of the box thinking in a potent brand promise “Adding Value, Always”.

We also got the opportunity to rebrand IT company HCS and design an engaging new website for Focus Ireland.

20 and Counting

Just three months into the year and COVID 19 seems to be in the rear-view mirror. But Russia’s appalling invasion of Ukraine make for very worrying times ahead. The people of Europe’s inspiring response to the refugee crisis show that even in the darkest of times, there remains light through kindness.

Some of our current projects include Homebidding – a real time bidding platform for buying and selling property online. And Compliant Cloud, the first digital product for Kildare based company Odyssey Validation Compliance, providing compliance professional services to the Life Sciences sector.