Instead of sending one-off news posts every so often, I thought I would take the time to post a weekly update on all the happenings at the Loft. A kind of blog, but more personal and geared towards the daily ins and outs of running a design business instead of talking about design per se.
It has been a very, very exciting time for the Loft with so much going on. Everything from moving premises to welcoming new clients on board to actually starting to consider the company’s future strategy in a radically changing digital world.
As some of you may know, the Loft has been renting its studio from the Go-Group in George Square since September of last year. The Go Group have been very welcoming since we moved in, making me feel like one of the team and I have formed excellent friendships with so many of them. They are an excellent company and a great bunch to boot. When I was told that the company was moving premises to Bothwell Street, it only felt right that the Loft should move with them. So last week, for the first time, I was able to check out the Loft’s new purpose built studio in the Bothwell Street Complex. It promises to be an exceptional location and even though the studio was minus walls, doors, fittings etc. It was still an exciting moment, it was also good fun messing about with Gayle and Carol from Go as they were envisioning the space with desks. We will be making the move in the final week of May, and I promise that this time we will officially inaugurate the studio. Sometime in the summer I would think. So keep an eye out for that…
The Loft has now been going for two and a half years and I am not sure if many of you are aware of this. But we actually set up with backing from the Prince’s Society of Youth Business Trust (PSYBT) back in 2008. Amazingly one week after Lehman Brothers collapsed. PSYBT’s financial support, and more significantly the pastoral support from Walter and Stewart in Ayrshire were initially, a massive help. The Loft has moved on from its early days when I was operating out of the loft of my mum and dad’s house in Kilmarnock. But PSYBT have remained a constant presence. I had made a decision late last year that the Loft would dedicate one day a month to helping charitable causes, and it quickly became apparent that there was no better organisation to help than the one that had done so much for me, PSYBT.
Ironically, when the Loft moved into its new premises last September. PSYBT were also there too, sharing with the Go-Group guys. Represented by two lovely young ladies running the Glasgow office, Sarah and Gina. Along with Emma, from head office, these girls have been brilliant to me and it was with great pleasure that I worked very closely with Sarah to design the new branding for PSYBT’s ‘elevator’ evening as well as the promotional flyer. What gave me even more pleasure was that ‘Elevator’ on Wednesday night at Sloans in Glasgow was a massive success. I can honestly say that everybody enjoyed it and got something out of it. The format was exceptional, David from Digital Goldfish gave a very inspiring talk and Sarah was an exceptional host. You honestly know a good networking event, and I have been to my fair share recently, when the delegates are getting kicked out at the end. It was great to catch up with Gordon Lundie of ‘Logic of 8,’ Laura McMenemy of ‘Truly Irresistable’ and Kenny of ‘Where to now.’ Furthermore, the buzz on twitter was all very positive. It was also really good to see some exceptional and creative brand identities from some of the younger businesses I am really looking forward to working on more graphical work with PSYBT for oncoming events as well. I must also say a big thank you to Jeff, who very kindly gave me a PSYBT pin badge for my jacket, a very kind gesture. Jeff, a PSYBT ambassador, has also been a massive source of support in the last few months as well as a really good friend. Yes, I would wholeheartedly recommend PSYBT to any aspiring entrepeneur.
Check out the rest of the photos from the event taken by the very talented Joem Blair
This week was a great one as we welcomed a number of new clients to the Loft. I will talk about some of the others next week. But in the meantime, it is an absolute delight to be working with Nicole Scott of Making Trax Ltd. Nicole is a very driven and ambitious girl setting out in business for the first time. It gives us great pleasure to be designing Making Trax brand identity as well as their website and promotional material. Making Trax Ltd is a travel company aimed at helping take school kids who play sports on those special away days. Nicole will be arranging trips all over Europe for thousands of kids in the West of Scotland. After a few initial meetings, I have absolutely no doubt Nicole’s business is going to be a massive success. Watch this space to see the new Making Trax brand identity and website.
As well as new clients, it was an absolute pleasure to welcome Nisha to the Loft for her loft-experience. I met Nisha at the Elevator event on Wednesday. Still at the early stages of creating her business plan, Nisha plans to open a very modern and innovative shop for Asian Grooms wear in the autumn. This ‘future tycoon’ has some very big ideas about building a great brand with customer experience at the heart of it. Her loft experience was good fun as we generated some great ideas about her brand, which I may say is already sounding very exciting.
Along with Nicole, watch out as both of these girls are ready to take on the world!!
#TDBB & now ‘the digital banterers’
One of the nicest surprises of the last couple of months is finding ‘Business Banter.’ A networking event ran on a Thursday morning by Think Different’s Martin Jack (Jacky to friends.) #TDBB as it is known on Twitter is held every Thursday morning in the basement of Esquires coffee shop, Renfield Street from 0800 to 1000AM. It is one of the nicest events to attend as it is full of great people who are just in for a chat, I cannot tell you the number of great people I have met from this event. What I really like about it is that you are free to come and go as you please, it costs just a price of a coffee and because there is no agenda – you are just left to get on with it. Which I think is to everybody’s liking and makes an exceptional environment to do business.
Well, last week I received an e-mail from Jacky saying he was interested in trying something new and I was to be invited with some other people to brainstorm future technology ideas, not really sure what we’d be doing. So on Tuesday along with Colin of 5th Column, Lynne of Polr, Brian of Aillum and Jacky himself. The digital banterers were borne. I dont quite know why or how we got to it. But somebody thought it a good idea, that collectively we would be a good team to be able to audit people’s websites. Everything from graphics to the usability to the Analytics. Before we knew it, Jacky had got us our first client before we had even left the building. Now that’s what I call speed. So this week we look forward to auditing Gary Macmillan of Macmillan & Company’s website. Gary is the first person we are going to pilot the scheme with. But there are some very talented people on board so it will be interesting to see where this little venture takes us. And yes, yours truly will be auditing the looks of the sites and how they connect with their audiences.
‘The Violence of the new!’
One thing the digital banters is doing that vaguely chimes with the Loft is its embracing of the future. I have been saying for a while that as Glasgow based businesses, if we want to win work from other countries or from our London based rivals, we must be one step ahead of them in terms of digital innovation. It is something that I am massively passionate about. I am toying with the idea of creating a LinkedIN group, simply used as a knowledgebase to share new ideas, new innovation. However, it may just be one commitment too far. What does really annoy me is people simply jumping on the bandwagon. There must be hundreds of so-called social media consultants appearing with the dawn of Facebook, twitter etc. All hailing ‘Social Media’ as a new thing. Yet with very little vision of how this tool can be used in an innovative way. Social media has been used by some companies for more than five years now, so its hardly new. This kind of mentality isnt going to get us anywhere, what I want to know more about is-what is next??
LinkedIN, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc. How can we use them to better enhance our marketing activities? We know the present, but what is the future? One man that does seem to have a better grasp of the future than most and has been talking about social media with conviction for a number of years is Gary Ennis of NS Design. I had coffee with Gary a couple of weeks ago and it was first, very inspirational to see the way he has built NS Design into a great and award winning company, but also to hear that we shared many similar points of view on the future of the web. We are definitely going through the next generation of the web, it is no longer enough just to have a website. Companies have to be aware of their ‘web presence.’ Yes websites are still important, but so are e-mail newsletters, social media channels, mobile sites etc. Each and every exponent as important as the other. Instead of bemoaning the fact that we may lose business in websites, we should be prepared to lead the way with things such as facebook integration which may mean companies having multiple mini-sites. This can only be good for the digital community. So this along with many other innovations such as Bar-Codes are things that we want to be leading from the front at the Loft. So this is what we mean by embracing the violence of the new! And you are going to hear us talk a lot more about it in the future.
Finally, Some Special People!!
Just briefly while I am speaking of people that get the whole Social Media thing. I must mention twintangibles and in particular Daniela. A girl that has about three jobs, nevers stops working and thanks to social media, actually never sleeps or so it would appear. Daniela is definitely somebody with a vision of social media and how it can be used effectively. Along with the charismatic Tim, they form a great little company, twintangibles. Indeed, they organised the ‘Social Media Unleashed’ event a couple of weeks ago at the Glasgow Light House. Check them out…
As far as business coaches go. Jim is definitely one of the best, like most coaches he has an exceptional knowledge of his subject but unlike many, is able to relate to it in practical terms. He has written some very insightful things recently (maybe not his early morning jokes on twitter)but his very first blog post is definitely worth a read. A fellow Kilmarnock person to boot, check him out…
And the man who is the brains behind ‘business banter.’ I think that about sums it all up…
The one and only Martin Jack, Jacky of Think Different Events
Finally, massive congratualtions to Brian Canavan of Aperture Marketing who became a proud father for the first time. We wish him and his new family all the best.
I hope to do one of these updates every week, depending on time. I am sure next week’s will be quite a bit shorter, so if you made it down to the bottom, thanks for reading folks. I am heading outside to enjoy the Glasgow sunshine…
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