THE BLOG

23
May

Al Pacino, an embodiment of soul

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A slightly different tack this week. I had the great pleasure of seeing and hearing legendary actor Al Pacino speak at The Clyde Auditorium on Tuesday night. A truly magnificent evening – there were some clips from his incredible back catalogue of films, he sung, he danced, he took questions from the audience and to finish – he simultaneously acted out various scenes from some of his theatre work – acting out the parts of everybody in the scene. A remarkable feat – at one stage when he said ‘You will all be with me after tonight. Soon you will realise that there will not be a tomorrow, and there will not be a yesterday, there will only be today and right now,’ nobody was sure whether he was acting anymore or repeating a mantra of his perspective of life to the audience. Either way, it definitely felt special.

At 75 years old, he both looks and sounds great, he has boundless levels of energy and what was most impressive was despite all that he has achieved he was still hungry for more, much more and to take risks. Not so much for ego or money but for the love of his craft, for getting himself uncomfortable.

Ironically as I get the pleasure to meet and hear from ever more people that are truly outstanding at what they do, the more similar they all seem to be. There is obviously an art in acting, but there is also a science and discipline too. Some of the great entrepreneurs I have heard speak have turned what they do almost into an art form.

I think there are lessons for all of us – the most important of which is doing something we love.

We talk a lot about soul and spirit in our studio, we want to breathe life into everything we do – I seen many similarities with the journey we go on with our work to that an actor does with their work.

Seeing Al Pacino on Tuesday night was a very special and an educational moment. I seen first hand, an incredible life lived and a person with so much more to give.

But more importantly, on giving yourself up to something that is bigger than yourself.

The very essence of soul.

21
May

Introducing Mr Maragno

fabio for blog

Yep, we have another Italian in the studio!
Hailing from Milan, the talented Fabio is joining us here on an internship and has already been impressing us, fitting right into the team.

So here goes the obligatory loft questionnaire to get us all a bit more acquainted..

Name? Fabio Maragno

DOB? 26/3/95

Uni? Duncan of Jordanstone in Dundee and previously Istituto Pavoniano Artigianelli (good luck saying that one)

Favourite Creative? Massimo Vignelli – his work is very clean, simple.. perfect!

Favourite Design Tool? Pinterest – keeps all thoughts in the same place

Favourite Font? At the moment, Futura Extra Bold.. but it changes all the time

Tea or Coffee? Coffee with 2 or 3 sugars.. or 4.. or 5.. it depends on the size of the cup!

Favourite Music? Muse & Radiohead

What do you want to be when you grow up? I just want to love my job

So there you have it.
We’re loving having him here and looking forward to seeing what creative wonders he comes up with..

Check out some of Fabio’s amazing work by clicking here

18
May

7 Tips to building an effective professional services website

Your website is obviously a very important part of your brand, it is sometimes the first part of your organisation that a potential client will see, it can also be used to keep current clients notified of various things that are happening within your company.

However the discipline involved in creating a website for a professional services brand and that of say a clothing company is totally different, one is the marketing and sales of a product to the mass-market. Whereas, a professional services website is about building relationships and promoting reputation. They have to be just a bit more personal and sensitive to the needs of the recipient than a traditional website.

We have built a few websites for professional service firms in our time. We have collated these seven tips to help those of you who are considering the design and build of your next website or are looking to gently refresh what you currently have.

Here are 7 of our tips for effective building an effective professional services website.

1. START THE OTHER WAY AROUND

What do we mean by this?

Many professional service firms will build their website by considering traditional website layouts and structures and then build the content to fit. We suggest that you do the opposite – create your content first – work out what is special about your organisation, the content that you want to share. This will include – team profiles, services, methodologies, news items and may include – culture, research areas, etc. Write every title down – we use post-it notes in the studio to get information down quickly.

Then you can prioritise which content that you want to bring to life with professional photography, copywriting or even video. By starting with content, you can build a more suitable and bespoke web-structure and menu system. Also by prioritising which content to embellish – you will also have a series of images, videos or articles to share on Social Media channels such as LinkedIn, YouTube or Twitter – which is obviously a critical part of your entire digital presence.

Post-it Notes are good for 'Brain-bursts' where you just want to get everything down on paper.

Post-it Notes are good for ‘Brain-bursts’ where you just want to get everything down on paper.

2. PEOPLE, PEOPLE, PEOPLE

Professional services are all about people and relationships – your website should be a natural extension of this. Really consider your audience, this usually means – great images of the people in the firm with personal stories that tell a story of who they are, anecdotes that build this human story, avoiding overly technical language that confuses.

The simple act of creating a simple clean layout with just the right amount of information that a client needs to know is a simple and effective way to build your reputation online – particularly as the majority of your competitors may have heavy, technical web-pages that confuses and bewilders.

Inviting, warm and friendly poses makes any firm look that little bit more inviting.

Inviting, warm and friendly poses makes any firm look that little bit more inviting.

3. TESTIMONIAL SHEET

Not really a website one, but definitely one that will enhance any digital presence – The Client Testimonial Sheet.

Many professional service firms are wary about publishing testimonials, especially on their website, in fear of having their clients poached. We tend to believe that showing others that you do a good job is more than worth the risk. As a design company, our client portfolio and we are incredibly proud of ours, it is obviously critical but the most significant improvement to our Business Development Processes has actually been the introduction of a ‘client and testimonial sheet.’

This 4-page document now has more than 20 testimonials in addition to the logos of the various clients we have helped. We always send it to people that are making fresh enquiries – 20+ testimonials from a wide range of clients gives you instant credibility. We are of the opinion that you cannot have too many of these. Have them on your website but also a simple doc or PDF file to send to new people that you are trying to do business with will obviously increase your success rate with new business enquiries.

We don't believe you can really have enough testimonials.

We don’t believe you can really have enough testimonials.

4. BESPOKE REQUIREMENTS

Let’s be honest, most organisations will have services that are similar if not completely identical to their competitors. Whether it is advising on selling a business, providing an insurance specification or creating a will – we nearly all do the same things on paper. However, the way that you carry out each service will determine your value. Everybody in professional services will know that you may carry out the same service a number of times but the clients needs are always completely different – being able to talk about these differences, your ability to adapt your process and method to those bespoke requirements and the clients obvious satisfaction in going deeper into their requirements will all demonstrate greater values and help you to stand out compared to others.

Not so much what you do but the way that you do it.

Turning a basic info-graphic  into a game with a score-card and cartoon versions of the main characters transformed this project into something of much greater value.

Turning a basic info-graphic into a game with a score-card and cartoon versions of the main characters transformed this project into something of much greater value.

5. TELL A STORY

As a follow-up to the last tip. Your website should have a basic message, theme or a range of ideas that differentiate you in the marketplace. 95% of professional service firms rightly say that client-service is at the heart of their offering – this is a good message – but when everybody says the same thing, you must go further. How do you serve those clients better than everybody else? Are you faster? More dynamic? More precise? More specialised Knowledge? More useful Partnerships? Obsessed about the detail? Pick a couple of ideas, try not to be all things to everybody, and tell a few stories either with your web-copy or images that helps to emphasise and bring these ideas to life.

Having accountants shot in this kitchen of a well-known restaurant tells a great story about really getting to know the number behind a business.

Having accountants shot in this kitchen of a well-known restaurant tells a great story about really getting to know the number behind a business.

6. MAKE CONTACT EASY

A very, very simple one but something which can unfortunately be neglected at times. It is YOUR duty to ensure that the person looking at your content can reach you easily. This means contact details in all the right places – on the home-sliders, on the menu, an easily-accessible contact-page, a good quality enquiry form, social media links or numbers directly to partners. You decide what that line between ‘accessible’ and ‘desperate’ is but it should never be a chore to contact any organisation. Otherwise you don’t deserve the business.

7. CONTEXT

Professional services are all about reputation and relationships. The majority of your clients will have come through referral from other satisfied clients. Having the best website in the world is unlikely to reverse the fortunes of those that provide poor or disappointing service. Unlike in basic consumer marketing – your website has to be pretty stunning to be an effective game-changer.

A great website will help you to get your message across to new clients, solidify your reputation with new and existing clients, help you to share your expertise particularly with social media. Your website.

Once again, and similar to our last guide on building an effective brand. This is not a comprehensive guide to building an effective website but an ‘off-the-cuff’ guide that we hope helps just a little.

Thanks,

Benedetto

BB

Benedetto is a designer and founder of the loft – a specialist design and branding studio based in Glasgow.

The loft takes the true essence of what organisations do and with his team brings those stories to life with a coherence, simplicity and delightfulness that helps companies to create outstanding brand communications.

‘Design with Soul’ is more than a company tag-line to Benedetto, it is a way of life.

His journey has taken him from a career in car design through to his current role. He is honoured to manage a great team, work with great clients and have a lot of fun mixing with so many great people in business.

09
May

7 tips for effective branding

Creating a brand for your company is one of the most fun, exciting and commercially shrewd things you can do as a Chief-Exec or Marketing Director. A new brand with the right meaning is an absolute statement of intent to everybody who comes into contact with your organisation – new customers or clients, your existing customers or clients, your staff, your suppliers, even your board – it is a magnificent way to get on the front foot as a business.

Lots of people are thinking about it, some are about to embark on it and to some it may never have crossed their minds.

Here are 7 of our tips for effective building an effective brand.

1. BRAND NOT LOGO

You want a brand, not a logo. A brand has so much more value and will serve your organisation in a much greater way.

You may ask what is the difference?

A logo is a new mark or shape to represent what you do. A brand goes much further – it captures the very essence of who you are, how you do what you do. The very spirit of your company, product or service.

Both a brand and a logo will have similar outputs but there is so much more thought and intellectual value that goes into a brand which is why it will serve you in a much greater way.

2. YOU’RE SPECIAL

You really are and this is what you want to get across with a new brand. What’s special or unique about your company? What stories can you tell? How are you different or how do you make a difference?

This is a lot less about what you do, a lot more about how you do it.

3. MULTIPLE IDEAS

We say that brands are ‘ideas manifest in form.’ You want to strongly get those ideas across with your branding project.

Believe it or not, people will love your company for lots of different reasons and they may not be the same things that you think they do. Your brand should represent not one single big idea, but a lot of different ideas about what makes you great.

It is an understanding of all of these ideas that will help you to create a richer, better-thought-through and more personalised brand.

4. FORGET COMPETITIVE BENCHMARKING

Well at the beginning at least.

Competitive benchmarking is one of the staple activities of our industry – to see ‘what the competitors are doing’ – it is the comfort blanket that designers retreat too when they are feeling a little timid with their work. This exercise will always guarantee a safer solution, most logo projects for example, will start by cherry-grabbing visual cues from competitors, these are other people’s work – a colour here, a shape there, that nice font that you see. At the loft, we see those activities as recycling of other people’s ideas.

We want to bring YOUR ideas to life, not those of somebody else.

That doesn’t mean that we never do competitive benchmarking – we do – or that we never incorporate other bits of other people’s designs – we do but only after we have a firm grasping of our own ideas.

And competitive benchmarking does a have a part to play sometimes it is useful to know the dress code before turning up to the ball – fashion brands, legal brands, retail brands, etc will all have their own styles which are useful to know. However, for us it is definitely an ‘end-of-project after-thought’ as opposed to a mission critical part of the process.

5. GET EVERYBODY INVOLVED

There will be sceptics, there always is in every creative process but we always find that everybody in an organisation has an opinion and everybody enjoys having their opinion heard. We have been amazed in the past about how involved everybody likes to get in branding projects. Everybody from the office tea lady to the Finance Director likes to have their say and a lot of the time, their judgment is more than sound. It is their company after all.

We always say that something should be so simple to understand that ‘your granny will get it.’ The feedback from lots of different people in an organisation tends to minimise our chances of making a howler or putting out something that just doesn’t work in the real world.

Finally, previous experience tells me that people really appreciate to have their opinion heard – even if a different direction is eventually taken – they like to be considered in the first place.

6. STORIES

Everybody will have their favourite stories they use when talking about their company – a little like your favourite stories about your kids. We have favourite stories about our organisations – especially if you are in sales. The design of your brand should capture some of these stories in its form. We build visual themes into our designs that help to add real meaning to the brands that we create.

Your brand should say what you would like it to say when you’re not in the room to say it and a great brand will make you smile as you tell others about it.

7. UNDERPIN EVERYTHING

We are not the brand police – we don’t believe in stifling individual expression but consistency enhances brands so you want to present as consistently as possible. The research and intellectual rigour that goes into creating a new brand should not be wasted with just the final design. Your branding project should be an exploration into who you are and what you stand for. Throughout the process you will have made decisions about message, tone, formality, values, etc and these will be expressed in colour, typography, photography/copywriting styles. You will want to ensure that you get as much use out of each of these characteristics as possible.

Creating a brand is a path of exploration and an incredibly interesting exercise.

This isn’t a definitive list set in stone but some helpful advice from our past experience in creating brands for lots of different organisations. We hope you find it helpful and you know where to find us if there is some way we can help out?

Thanks,

Benedetto

BB

Benedetto is a designer and founder of the loft – a specialist design and branding studio based in Glasgow.

The loft takes the true essence of what organisations do and with his team brings those stories to life with a coherence, simplicity and delightfulness that helps companies to create outstanding brand communications.

‘Design with Soul’ is more than a company tag-line to Benedetto, it is a way of life.

His journey has taken him from a career in car design through to his current role. He is honoured to manage a great team, work with great clients and have a lot of fun mixing with so many great people in business.

07
May

Bring your ideas to life with us…

Home-Page-Idea1-2

We are looking for new designers to come and join our team.

If you have a great imagination and a desire to spend your days bringing beautiful ideas to life then please check out our job advertisement below…

http://theloft.co/bring-your-ideas-to-life-with-us/