Tag: branding and psychology

21
Feb

Great brand?? It’s already there…

Unsurprisingly for a branding and design house, we are often asked about the best ways to build a great a great brand?

And we always do our best to keep it relevant to the people we are talking too – ‘your brand should be shaped by your commercial objectives,’ ‘every brand is different,’ ‘branding is an extension of values’ etc, etc…

But more often than not and with the sincere desire to be helpful – we’ll say to people that they probably already have a great brand story and it’s just a case of bringing some more of it to life.

Yes, campaigns can help.
Yes, logos are important.
And yes, tag lines do make a difference.

But it’s the small intangible things that really make a difference and most of the time they’re already there.

Its the stories of great customer experiences, examples where staff went above and beyond, particular achievements, values that you live up to every day, ways that you do things that are unique to you, products that make a difference.

Everybody has these and they are the building blocks to that great brand that you want to build.

Creating great brands is less about set-piece activities and more about capturing the spirit of the organisation.

While compiling The Sustainability Report for Scottish Leather Group in 2016. (An easy task because Scottish Leather Group have outstanding sustainability achievements.) We completed a special feature on the sustainability of the workforce of Scottish Leather Group companies.

John from Scottish Leather Group was celebrating more than 41 years of Service and Social Media definitely appreciated it.

John from Scottish Leather Group was celebrating more than 41 years of Service and Social Media definitely appreciated it.

As we found – at the heart of Scottish Leather Group’s sustainability achievements was the retention of their staff where they have a tremendous record. One page of the report featured John – one of their operators, who began working with the company in 1975, we recorded a timeline of his service showing how he started as an apprentice and is now helping other apprentices.

What was incredible was that we shared this image as a piece to show what the loft could do on LinkedIn and we were inundated with comments and likes each celebrating and congratulating the well-deserved success of a Scottish Leather Group employee. It shows how the small things can truly make a difference.

A wonderful piece of brand storytelling for Scottish Leather Group and something we still get asked about today.

It is the small things that bring a tender to life, makes a presentation memorable and helps a company to build a reputation.

Bring your culture to life and you’ll bring your brand to life and the best bit is that for most of you – it’s already there.

BB

Benedetto is an enthusiastic Creative and Business person.

‘Design with soul’ may be the company tag-line, but to Benedetto, it is also a way of life. He believes that creative and commercial enterprise is about purity of thought, honesty of construction and boldness of execution.

He believes in bringing out the true essence of human endeavour and considers his job of articulating the great work of people and companies an absolute privilege.

His journey has taken him from a career in car design through to his current role as the Founder and Creative Director of the loft, a branding consultancy in Glasgow.

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.

 

11
Oct

Creating Your Values

Values. They’ll help you hire the best staff, retain the best staff and win tight pitches. They’ll help you make quick decisions and give you the best chance to grow.

At the loft, we’ve worked with several companies – helping them to develop their values. Sometimes with company owners in isolation, sometime with management teams and sometimes with entire organisations. Questioning them, getting to know them and eventually trying to define who they are.

There are many ways to create a set off values, some ways require more time than others, some are more long-term than others.

But for this post, we’re sharing a simple method that will allow you to create your very own – right from the get-go.

Here we go…

1. You don’t have to call them values!

Not everybody likes the term values – or its sister term – ‘Mission Statement.’ If that’s the case – let’s go for ‘Beliefs’ or how about ‘Who We Are & What We Do.’ Different companies will have different ways of speaking to each other. Choose the language that feels right for you and your company.

2. What do you like about your company?

Yes, it is as simple as that. What do you like most about your business? What are the action/behaviours/results that please you the most?

Here’s a real tip – look out for are the simple things that people in your team does.

a) The staff in our accountancy firm always take the time to walk guests back to the exit in the other side of the building even though there are signs everywhere and they wouldn’t have any problem getting out.
 
b) Our creative team always delivers to tight deadlines – always! They actually seem to revel in the challenge of a tight deadline.
 
c) Our IT staff are so helpful to customers that when they’re out on-call, they even fix things that aren’t theirs to fix. They just can’t help themselves.
 
d) The analysts in our software company are usually more on-top of legislation changes than the legislators themselves.

You can have some real fun by writing them down – you may have hundreds of them. Get them down. (Post-it notes and a big board can be a great prop for these types of exercises.) It’s a great exercise to carry out and you’ll love your business even more after this.

3. From behaviour to value…

Once you have your list of favoured behaviours all down – its time to think of the value that person had that has caused the behaviour. This is how we get your values.

a) The staff in our accountancy firm always take the time to walk guests back to the exit in the other side of the building even though there are signs everywhere. (behaviours) = show me don’t tell me (value)
 
b) Our creative team always delivers to tight deadlines – always! They actually seem to revel in the challenge of a tight deadline. (behaviours) = love of a challenge (value)
 
c) Our IT staff are so helpful to customers that when they’re out on-call, they even fix things that aren’t theirs to fix. They just can’t help themselves. (behaviours) = going above and beyond. (value)
 
d) The analysts in our software company are usually more on-top of legislation changes than the legislators themselves. (behaviour) = A pro-dative approach. (values)

If you take the time, suddenly you will have a very impressive first draft.

4. Drafts 2-3-4

Now you have your list – you have to decide which ones are most important to you and how many you want? Most companies have between 5-7 values.

5. Use Them With Pride

The way you decide to use your values depends on what kind of company you are? You can use them on your website, the entrance to your office, the second page of your tender or on the introductory slide of a presentation. They do help you stand out from others and you are more likely to attract the kind of people and relationships you want into your business.

6. Live them and update them

Every company will use their values in different ways and some will take them more seriously than others. Real values-led companies hire/fire/assess staff performance all based on their values. Your values should be updated in-line with the people in the company, within the management team and your own business journey too.

We wish you well in creating your values, we hope you get something out of this post and you know where to find us if you would like some help?

contact the loft >>>

Benedetto

BB

Benedetto is an enthusiastic Creative and Business person.

‘Design with soul’ may be the company tag-line, but to Benedetto, it is also a way of life. He believes that creative and commercial enterprise is about purity of thought, honesty of construction and boldness of execution.

He believes in bringing out the true essence of human endeavour and considers his job of articulating the great work of people and companies an absolute privilege.

His journey has taken him from a career in car design through to his current role as the Founder of the loft, a design and branding studio based in Glasgow.

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.

25
Sep

‘1000 songs in your pocket’

1000songs

Creating a brand is a never-ending job, there are many things to be done – getting the messaging right, building your digital presence, ensuring there is consistency through all the channels, getting buy-in from multiple stakeholders, etc, etc.

And with each of those questions.

Do we do a new website? Is it time for an E-Mail campaign? Shall we revise the photography of the team? What shall we do with social media?

Where do we start???

At the loft, we believe that the question is usually more important than the answer.

Once you have a clear idea of the question you are asking, you suddenly have a focus and a much wider range of options to play with. And that question is always, always, always better when it starts with people and the type of relationship you want them to have with your brand.

Great questions are the first part of great solutions. Here are some great examples.

“We want to increase our sales with existing customers in Canada because we have the operational capacity to serve more people out there.”

“We have a brilliant opportunity for clients who are looking to scale and we want them to know about it so they can take advantage of it immediately.”

“We want to build a brand so well-known that customers have heard off us before we’ve even finished telling them our company name.”

“We want our customers to benefit from the full suite of services available with our software.”

“We want to do something to unite our team and show the outside world our company is on a new and exciting path.”

Each of the outcomes above have come from projects we’ve worked on – questions that we’ve developed with our clients.

They’ve come from people and brands we’ve worked with -helping them to build better relationships with their customers, suppliers or staff – helping them to achieve their commercial goals.

Strong and worthy questions based around people can only lead to effective solutions. As a company, we wholeheartedly believe in ‘pleasing results over pleasing methods.’

One other person who believed in this was Steven Jobs, and after having read his book, there are similarities.

What made Apple great in the first place? FaceTime gave people easy face-to-face video calling, the original I-Phone gave people an ‘internet communicator, revolutionary mobile phone and I-Pod all in one device.’

And my personal favourite – ‘A thousand songs in your pocket.’

When Steve Jobs presented the original i-pod in 2001, he had a slide which showed the question he asked his team to answer? How can we make a device that gives our customers a 1000 songs in their jeans pocket. What a great question. One which was relevant, worthy and had people at its core. Unsurprisingly, a brilliant start to what became a completely game-changing product.

Like Apple, solutions also have to be flawlessly executed and there has to be a commitment to answering the question properly but nothing will help you achieve successful outcomes quicker.

Not sure about the answer? Think again about the question.

Or we’ll happily help – contact us >>>

Benedetto

BB

Benedetto is an enthusiastic Creative and Business person.

‘Design with soul’ may be the company tag-line, but to Benedetto, it is also a way of life. He believes that creative and commercial enterprise is about purity of thought, honesty of construction and boldness of execution.

He believes in bringing out the true essence of human endeavour and considers his job of articulating the great work of people and companies an absolute privilege.

His journey has taken him from a career in car design through to his current role as the Founder of the loft, a design and branding studio based in Glasgow.

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.

28
Sep

10 ways to win and retain clients

A couple of weeks ago my company created a brand–experience chart to compliment a presentation about ‘Branding for the 21st Century.’

It can be found here…

http://www.theloft.co/loft-brand-experience-map.pdf

The chart demonstrated the importance of company culture in creating brands that people wish to engage, and more importantly, continuously engage.

Client/customer/employee loyalty is one of the most important aspects of commercial success.
VW sell close to a half million cars in Europe every year and have done so for a very long time, it is the bed-rock of the company’s success and future growth. Customer loyalty is one of the most fundamental attributes in helping a company to scale.

This can also be true with employer-employee experiences, but this post will focus on the client/customer journey.

Here are some of our top 10 ways to building a brand experience that helps to win and retain customers and clients…

1. Create your own map

As a starting point, for brand experience; start with a single client/customer group. Anything your company does that engages the five senses of the end client is a touch point. Consider direct (your communications and activities) and indirect (press coverage, word-of-mouth, market perception, etc) touch points. Touch points can range from the initial hand shake and swapping of a business card to the client’s viewing of your website, through to your e-mail system (we have a blog coming up on the dangers of poor e-mail campaigns.) There can be thousands of interactions depending on the size of your company; take the most important ones and break them into sub-categories (website – home page, about us, contact form, twitter feed, etc…) or (people – dress attire,)

2. Look out for red flags

Ruthlessly vet your business for hygiene factors throughout the ENTIRE EXPERIENCE. These are interactions that will kill the brand experience in an instant and make it almost impossible to do business with your company in the future. Obvious ones include – slow website, broken web-pages (particularly important with multi-browser compatibility,) overly aggressive sales technique, spelling mistakes, un-expected price hikes or change in ‘terms of conditions,’ any form of over-promise and under-delivery.

There are also some really trivial touch-points which may seem obvious but you’d be amazed – members of the company dealing with the client/customer who may have a limp handshake. A really trivial thing, but along with others, can damage the brand experience beyond the point of no-return before a sale has even been made.

3. Don’t forget in-direct factors

Examples of bad press, poor reputation management or the ascent of your rivals in terms of reputation and perception will reduce the quality of your brand experience. These have to be identified and confronted as quickly as possible.

4. Differentiate yourself

You have to strongly differentiate yourself in the market for anybody to take notice of you. There are mainly four ways to define a brand in the market. How you deliver your product/service, what the product or service is, who the individual in the company is and why the company exists.

How you deliver your product/services | A key differentiator may be a special warranty, Hyundai made great hay when it began offering 5-Year warranties as a symbol of their reliability. It could be a unique client experience; one accountancy firm gave their clients jelly? No I’m not kidding; one of the fastest growing accountancy firms in the country actually gave their clients jelly as part of a zany brand experience. Not everybody wants jelly from their accountants but some did and loved it… However, make sure whatever you do is in keeping with your own culture.

What you do | Do you do anything that your rivals don’t? EE, for a very limited space of time, are the only provider of 4G phones in the UK. This differentiates them. ‘Law At Work,’ one of the fastest growing legal firms in the country, is a legal brand that only operates in the area of ‘employment law,’ this exclusivity of service re-defines their expertise for a very specific type of legal work. They are perceived as specialists in a market full of generalists.

Who you are | People defined brands, brands with superstars that front them up – including all of the following – Jamie Oliver, James Dyson, Mary Portas, Gordon Ramsay, Richard Branson but more interestingly many companies/individuals still pledge allegiance to the partner as opposed to the firm in professional services.

Why you do what you do | The big one! Why do you exist as a company? What is your purpose beyond profit? The most intangible of differentiation points but the most potent. Apple are defined by ‘thinking differently,’ Google are defined by ‘indexing the worlds information,’ and the Ritz for providing the best customer experience in the world.

This may seem a bit flowery to some but it is unbelievably important to driving client/employee loyalty.

The companies that can define themselves in this way are the ones that will create a real bond with their clients, customers and staff.

I suggest that you take a piece of paper. Make a set of axis and create 4 quadrants – why, who, what and how; list all of your rivals down and see if there is any great differentiator in a clients mind between yourself and your chief rivals.

5. Watch Simon Sinek, ‘Why great leaders take action.’

For more information on creating your differentiation by ‘why you exist,’ I really advise watching Simon Sinek, ‘Why Great Leaders Take Action.’ It is a 20-minute TED talk which beautifully explains the importance of your purpose beyond profit.

6. Find out why existing customers/client choose you?

Really drill down into WHY your company wins business. Is there a real compelling reason? Is it a logical or emotive reason? Most importantly, is that reason present throughout the entire experience? A contradictory competitive advantage or brand experience pretty much kills any chance of a second sale. People struggle to trust brands that contradict themselves so finding that out should be a matter of priority.

7. ‘Walk the talk’

For existing clients/customers, failure to ‘walk the talk,’ is critical. Any form of broken promise pre-sale will be punished when it comes to product/service renewal. Whichever feeling you decide to invoke in ‘sales/marketing’ has to be consistent throughout the experience. You must ‘walk the talk.’ If you’re selling safety as the differentiator in your service, this has to be evident throughout, if you’re selling a commitment to people or social justice, this can never be contradicted throughout the entire experience. Even if there is short-term pain, a betrayal of values damages the brand, brand authenticity and relationships with clients/customers and staff.

8. Build the emotional case

For marketing and sales, I briefly mentioned technical and emotive information. People make decisions based on emotion and then justify them with logic. That doesn’t mean that logical information such as price, location, delivery of service, size of company, etc will always be overruled by pure emotion. But if all logical elements are comparable, people will make decision based on emotion and gut-feel. If a brand can invoke some kind of natural feeling, this will help considerably in getting the company over the line in winning competitive pitches or tender against their competitors.

9. Work out your ‘purpose beyond profit’

Companies with distinctive cultures and ‘a sense of mission,’ will out-perform those that are purely ‘results driven.’ They allow for more consistent brand experiences which in turn drives loyalty, companies with genuine culture have an authenticity and ‘real-ness’ that people buy into. Furthermore, evidence of a unique or strong company culture will become the best marketing collateral that you will ever have. Don’t just have values, create a set of behaviours to sit beside the values and tell the whole world about them.

10. Build the brand from the inside out.

Think of your brand as a method actor/actress. 90% of what we communicate when speaking to others is in body-language not words. When actors/actresses have to depict their roles on stage, they naturally find it impossible to control every single part of their body language and also recite their lines at the same time. This is where method-acting comes in, the actors/actresses immerse themselves in the characters to become them in their own minds’ this allows the performance to flow and create a more natural and authentic performance.

For anybody with staff and particularly those of you that runs larger companies with potentially hundreds of thousands of touch-points, you aren’t going to be able to micro-manage every single interaction – like the method actor trying to control every part of their body language, it is impossible. The only way to allow for some kind of consistency of brand experience is to immerse your staff and suppliers, into the company culture. Define your culture strongly and then communicate it internally with as much rigour and gusto as you would with external communications.

These are just some of the main ways that you can build a brand experience that helps your company to win and retain clients.

For any further advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us…

Benedetto

BB Profile Pic Small

Benedetto Bordone

Creative Director of the loft.

Benedetto runs the branding consultancy, the loft. Based in the centre of Glasgow, the loft creates emotive brands.

Benedetto began his design career aged 9, sketching cars in the loft bedroom of his parents house. Even then he realised some eternal truths. Alfa Romeos are infinitely cooler than Ferraris and always have been. Time has only hardened this opinion. Since then, he has been on a journey taking him from his hometown in Kilmarnock to Coventry, studying car design aged 17, three separate spells in Italy followed where he interned, worked & freelanced for distinguished design companies – BeeStudio, Alfa Romeo, Honda Advanced design & Stile Bertone.

Setting up his own business was a natural step for somebody as independently minded as Benedetto. The loft was set up in 2008 and offers a comprehensive branding and communication service to its clients. The company combines a deeply analytical approach into the clients culture and commercial targets before engaging in creative design and strategy work to build emotive brands.

25
Mar

out of your head…

‘Hierarchy of information’

Remember those words.

Yes it is pretentious ‘designer-speak.’ But it is also one of the pivotal factors in the success of your website or digital presence.

Why, what, how?

Who, where and when?

These are all questions that must be considered when building new digital communications. One of the common questions we get asked from clients before building their websites is please justify the added expense of doing this activity. What’s the ROI? A question that once had me hiding underneath the table in worry is now one that I take delight in answering.

Whilst working with professional service firms I tend to notice that the partners tend to have good conversion rates when sitting in front of a prospective client. Their technical expertise and professionalism will usually win the day when speaking with new clients. Conversion isn’t as much a problem. Something I hear more of, is that they just don’t receive enough new qualified leads to convert.

And this really is the tricky bit.

This is where the company’s overall marketing and brand communications holds greater significance. Getting the right message to the right market gives you a better chance of getting more leads. And obviously your web presence is a pivotal part in this. We also find, when speaking with prospective clients, that if you ask any good accountant, lawyer, broker, advisor etc how they’ve helped their clients in the past. They’ll have wonderful and nuanced examples of how they’ve worked with different clients in different ways.

Call them ‘great stories’ or ‘great case studies,’ they have undoubted value to the people that are browsing your website, blog or LinkedIn profiles.

Where can you find these great stories?

Unfortunately they seem to live only in the heads of the people telling them. This clearly means that nobody, with the exception of those that know them or deal with them regularly, are going to know of the additional and specialised expertise.

A potential client almost certainly won’t.

Not only should they be online but they should be easily accessible too. Most people talk a good game but at some stage you have to show more.

Who? What? Why? Where? When? How?

Hierarchy of information means that you are brutally selective about the layering of information on your website or any communication platform for that matter.
Let’s be honest, we all try a little bit harder on a first date don’t we? We don’t show the other person absolutely everything on day 1 do we? Well not at the start anyway. We put our best foot forward and hope we build enough of a rapport for them to want to learn more. So why would you not approach your digital presence with the same attention to detail.

People in business are mightily busy.

Mightily busy.

So to just get a hearing, you have to remove every possible stumbling block between a prospect and what you can do to assist them.

I have said this before but Winston Churchill once apologised to his audience for a speech being too long because he just didn’t have the time to edit it for their ears.

You can forgive him.

He absolutely had the right idea. It’s YOUR responsibility to ensure that people get to see the right information, the information that can make a difference to them.

The information that justifies your fees.

It’s no good in your head when hundreds of people visit your website daily.

Well actually it’s really our responsability because that’s what we already do for all our clients. Hierarchy of information: layering the information in just the right way to help generate more sales leads. It takes time, intelligence and understanding but will make a significant difference.

How many client accounts do you have to win to justify the additional price of the website?

Yes, you’re right. It’s an absolute bargain.

Benedetto

About the Author

BB Profile Pic Small
 
Benedetto Bordone

Creative Director of the loft.

Benedetto runs the creative design consultancy, the loft. Based in the centre of Glasgow, the loft creates emotionally engaging brand identities.

Benedetto began his design career aged 9, sketching cars in the loft bedroom of his parents house. Even then he realised some eternal truths. Alfa Romeos are infinitely cooler than Ferraris and always have been. Time has only hardened this opinion. Since then, he has been on a journey taking him from his hometown in Kilmarnock to Coventry, studying car design aged 17, three separate spells in Italy followed where he interned, worked & freelanced for distinguished design companies – BeeStudio, Alfa Romeo, Honda Advanced design & Stile Bertone.

Setting up his own business was a natural step for somebody as independently minded as Benedetto. The loft was set up in 2008 and offers a comprehensive branding and communication service to its clients. The company combines a deeply analytical approach into the clients culture and commercial targets before engaging in creative design work to build emotive brands.

14
Mar

The 3-Word Challenge

Those of you that read last weeks post would have noticed that we’re talking with various legal firms about their brand identities. I did a quick-snap poll of a few business people that I knew whether they could tell me what a couple of various firms stood for?

Why they would maybe use them?

Unfortunately, nobody could give me a reasonably consistent answer for one firm. It got me thinking about the whole challenge faced by all professional service firms in this climate. They may be very good at what they do and quietly do an effective job for their clients but if the clients can’t meaningfully describe why another person should use them then they have no means to refer, no real message in the marketplace. Unfortunately it means they have a very weak brand.

In addition to what I said last week – the vocabulary we use as designers – vision, values, brand, culture, DNA etc may not be the language everybody uses to discuss their companies. But, everybody both internally and externally should instinctively know what their firm is about and why people should engage them.

‘They’re the great corporate firm.’

‘They’ll look after you.’

‘Boy they’re expensive but worth every penny.’

‘They may be lawyers but they party hard and you’ll enjoy their company.’

‘They are ruthless.’

‘They are technical wizards.’

Don’t be fooled. These conversations are going on at dinners, at events, at networking breakfasts etc all over the country.

What do you think they’re saying about your firm?
Are they saying anything noteworthy?

I don’t really go for one-size fits all theories or process diagrams that tar everybody with the same brush but I have always said that there are two fundamental rules to branding.

1. Strong message
2. Consistency

The message has to be unique in the marketplace. If I hear another lawyer or accountant tell me they want to have a relationship with me or that they’re trustworthy and have integrity I am going to scream. No thank you, that’s the least of what I expect from another professional. Tell me something more interesting??

And consistency?

Well if you tell me your firm is ‘X’ and I buy in for that reason. When I meet somebody that also requires assistance with ‘X’. I want to make sure that everybody in your firm is going to provide ‘X’ kind of service.

Otherwise I am going to be let down or can’t refer.

Great brands are pre-dominantly one thing and are known for that one thing. And please don’t think only multi-national companies have brands. They may use different terminology but it’s as applicable to your favourite restaurant as it is to your firm.

The challenge is in the message. Who has the time to read war and peace when selecting a professional? We’re all busy people. So think of the perception you want people to have about your firm. Keep it brutally simple and work backwards from there.

This is where you really have to do some work. It’s you that wants the business isn’t it?

If it’s a paragraph, it’s too long and you’ve failed.

If it goes over a sentence you’ve failed.

If you can sum it up correctly in one word, you’re a genius.

But let’s say three words!

Give yourself three words to describe why anybody should engage with you. Short, concise and easy for people to remember you by. You’ll have to go through one hell of an exercise to get it down to three words. Those three words really have to be all-encompassing and appropriately meaningful.

But you’re smart people and it’s worth the pain. Ours is ‘design with soul.’ A huge amount of work went into those three words. A momentous effort with endless trials and errors.

But those words underpin everything we do as a company

– The way we work
– Who we recruit
– What services we develop
– Who we work with
– Selecting strategic partners

Its one of the key reasons we chose not to develop services such as online marketing, web-development, web hosting, etc. Even though they may seem like more natural fits to a company that’s most popular service is still web-design.

That doesn’t mean those exact words are used when people talk about us.

But…

‘passion’ is,
‘boldness’ is,
‘excitable’ is…

Work out how you want to be perceived and work backwards from there.

Or even better, give us a bell and we’ll work on it with you.

Benedetto

About the Author

BB Profile Pic Small
 
Benedetto Bordone

Creative Director of the loft.

Benedetto runs the creative design consultancy, the loft. Based in the centre of Glasgow, the loft creates emotionally engaging brand identities.

Benedetto began his design career aged 9, sketching cars in the loft bedroom of his parents house. Even then he realised some eternal truths. Alfa Romeos are infinitely cooler than Ferraris and always have been. Time has only hardened this opinion. Since then, he has been on a journey taking him from his hometown in Kilmarnock to Coventry, studying car design aged 17, three separate spells in Italy followed where he interned, worked & freelanced for distinguished design companies – BeeStudio, Alfa Romeo, Honda Advanced design & Stile Bertone.

Setting up his own business was a natural step for somebody as independently minded as Benedetto. The loft was set up in 2008 and offers a comprehensive branding and communication service to its clients. The company combines a deeply analytical approach into the clients culture and commercial targets before engaging in creative design work to build emotive brands.

10
Mar

Passion and Innovation

I think in a few years time when I look back on the loft and its journey; this last week will be one that lingers in the memory. There were SO many important events this week I wouldn’t even know where to start. But I am going to select three and try to join the dots as I go along.

On Monday, I had a very interesting meeting with a partner in a large law firm. We are working more and more with professional service firms and starting to create individual propositions to them each that better serves their needs. Loft Legal will be a specialist brand communication service for law firms looking to strengthen their brand in the marketplace. At this stage, we’re still talking it through with different people and seeing where our services can fit.

The meeting on Monday was hugely significant. When asking the legal partner about the company vision and values; not only did he know them off by heart but gave individual examples about how he had applied them in his legal work. This was fantastic, I was impressed by the passion and resourcefulness- my only question, as an aside, was why these examples weren’t more evident on their web-presence but I’ll get back to this part of the story later.

Onto the next related event…

Tuesday saw the release of the awe-inspiring ‘LaFerrari’ at the Geneva motor show – outrageous, dramatic, truly-beautiful. There are no words. I love the design of this car; Ferrari has made more ugly cars than beautiful ones in the last twenty years but this one is stunning. Above that the engineering is breathtaking. They’ve built a semi-hybrid powered car that will go to 60mph in less than 3 seconds, weighs less than 1300 kilos and laps Fiorano, the Ferrari test track more than 5 seconds quicker than its predecessor the Enzo. At first I thought, this car is 12 years in the making. But no it’s more than that – the pulling together of all the resources and expertise of a company means this car is 66 years in the making. 66 years of moving the game forward. Of using its pedigree in racing to build faster cars.

How do they continue to do this?

Innovation.

What fuels this innovation?

Passion.

Ferrari is a small company, tiny on the grand scheme of things. They do not have limitless resources. But Ferrari behaves more like ‘a cause’ than a company. Everybody at Ferrari knows what the company is about and they do a fantastic job of getting this vision across. One of the great aspects of small companies is the compactness of the organisation. The sense of a shared purpose. ‘LaFerrari’ has one or two big innovations but the main body of work is in the details. Thousands of small, iterative details that have been lovingly created to build something out of this world. Collectively they all combine to help form something incredible.

Its innovation and passion that lies at the heart of a number of companies – those are also the ones that happen to have the strongest brands in the marketplace.

Coincidentally, this was further confirmed on Thursday when Paul Fletcher of Edinburgh University put together a strong presentation on that very subject at Thursday mornings Comms Breakfast. He spoke of the problems with companies being overly-results focussed and why ‘innovation’ is the only way to climb ourselves out of difficult times. But he also spoke of the issues with innovators – difficult to manage or control, disruptive, etc. He even went as far as stating that nobody in the room would have had the patience to deal with a young Steve Jobs in their companies.

Difficult to believe as that is.

Innovation in itself is difficult to do but I was delighted that he agreed afterwards with my analysis that innovation is fuelled by passion. And that it has to be fostered from the people at the top. The relentless march of progress is driven by people that love what they do and strive for better. It’s present in all of the great causes of our time and is the invisible hand that enables people to drive companies forward.

Which takes me back to Monday’s meeting.

I am afraid to say that I was unsure if the legal sector would be a good fit for the loft. I was delighted to hear that there are culturally aware firms that were enacting on their vision. I have been saying for a long time that to build stronger brands; Behaviour is more important than words. In this meeting, the passion was evident. Passion which is sometimes difficult to see with legal firms. Imagine the possibilities if you could leverage the entire workforce – all of the junior associates, trainees, partners, managing partners, strategic partners to innovate on behalf of a company’s vision and values? Furthermore, imagine if you could leverage the entire company to communicate this online or offline.

From a ‘brand’ point of view. what can be stronger than a passionate 200-300+ brand advocates enthusiastically articulating the company message at events, dinners, when speaking with family and friends, online?

Call it advocacy, call it internal marketing, call it whatever but it’s a tremendous opportunity. I only realised on Monday that we may have an opening for ‘Loft-Legal’ and it lies in this area. Having vision is important but it has to be articulated properly. It has to be crystal clear – it’s what the likes of Ferrari do very well. But not just big multinationals you’ll find this sense of purpose in restaurants, engineering firms, charities, etc. They may not use our words – brand, vision, values etc but it’s definitely there. This is an area we can definitely help.

My company is ‘design with soul.’ But what is becoming apparent is we need the ‘soul’ bit to come from the client to do great work. What was most exciting about Monday was that we can build a service and proposition with the loft potentially innovating on our own vision. Doing something innovative and delivering something of additional value to clients. Traditional design channels work remains incredibly important – photography, fonts, graphics, motifs, messages etc. We’re amongst the very best at it but I realise that we operate in a hugely competitive marketplace and we must continue to innovate to build a better business.

Through the Finance Gap, we’ve got designs on advocacy too. But that’s a story for another day. Like I said, it’s one of those weeks I think I’ll look back on as a significant turning point. Loft Legal has the potential to make an impact for both legal firms, but other professional services too.

Watch this space.

Benedetto

About the Author

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Benedetto Bordone

Creative Director of the loft.

Benedetto runs the creative design consultancy, the loft. Based in the centre of Glasgow, the loft creates emotionally engaging brand identities.

Benedetto began his design career aged 9, sketching cars in the loft bedroom of his parents house. Even then he realised some eternal truths. Alfa Romeos are infinitely cooler than Ferraris and always have been. Time has only hardened this opinion. Since then, he has been on a journey taking him from his hometown in Kilmarnock to Coventry, studying car design aged 17, three separate spells in Italy followed where he interned, worked & freelanced for distinguished design companies – BeeStudio, Alfa Romeo, Honda Advanced design & Stile Bertone.

Setting up his own business was a natural step for somebody as independently minded as Benedetto. The loft was set up in 2008 and offers a comprehensive branding and communication service to its clients. The company combines a deeply analytical approach into the clients culture and commercial targets before engaging in creative design work to build emotive brands.

07
Feb

As easy as 1,2,3…

I don’t really like ‘one-size-fits all solutions.’ Never have done. Maybe it’s due to my ‘let’s say’ diminutive stature – short in height, slim waist, broad shoulders and heavy thighs. Its proportions like these that have made finding jeans, that fit, incredibly difficult over the years and a need for a tailor after almost every purchase.

Whether its clothes or where I go on holiday; I have very particular needs and I like bespoke solutions. I need bespoke solutions. What’s more I don’t mind paying more for them. Anything less tends to just disappoint me.

Why I am I going into this?

Well recently, we’ve been working a lot on professional services, an awful lot. Some are client accounts, some are with our new venture, The Finance Gap, and in addition to that we’ve been researching other sectors such as the legal sector – who we’d like to work more with. During my research I’ve happened to stumble on some competitors offering integrated services with ‘ready-made-solution’ usually with some ingenious diagram to demonstrate the worthiness of their proccess. I am starting to get a Primark feeling here!

I’ve seen diagrams showing the marketing process, the sales process, business cycles, and social-media graphs. Now most of them look nice, look professional and they do give some structure, this is undeniable, but like my shirts before I’ve been to the tailor, they just don’t fit very well. And more importantly, they are more about getting clients in and out of the door quickly than truly addressing your particular needs.

That said, the problem I have is that these diagrams/illustrations are important, undeniably so, to show a client that you do have a process or some structure to the way you work. But some of the ones I have seen are slightly ignorant to the people that they’re suppose to be helping. It’s like saying we have answers to all of your problems before we’ve even listened to you. Like I said, it’s not that having a process is bad, it’s just that most of the ones I have seen are, a bit presumptuous and, if truth be told, a bit rubbish.

So onto mine…

Recently, with the launch of our Finance Gap (a specialist resource for companies in the finance sector), I’ve been thinking a lot about how to communicate our process. While obviously wanting to avoid one-size-fits-all- and ready-made-solutions we do need something to describe how we work, a methodology.

Now we truly don’t know whether social media is the answer for you, or an online marketing campaign or new networking groups? Why? Because we haven’t listened to your challenges yet.

I can safely say from the huge amount of research I’ve done, that most professional service companies are facing similar challenges in one way or another…

– Growing legislature requirements
– Greater commoditisation of the service
– Much tougher competition
– Poor client relations
– General mistrust of marketing/communications

I would never say Twitter was the answer, on a whim, or a funky new re-brand or telemarketing or even an app?

Why?

Bespoke problems, bespoke solutions.

Most of the time, you get what you pay for. However, I have created a process, and after much soul searching, I hope it helps to analyse the problem whilst being sufficiently flexible to meet our clients needs.

In essence, most clients in professional/finance services should be looking to…

1. Leverage existing clients and networks.
2. Analyse current business model and put a proper strategy in place to drive growth.
3. Get involved in new activities to drive new sales.

And that process is in no particular order. How we do each of the above, in what order they go and where to prioritise depends on the dialogue with the client and which areas to address first.

Activities are imperative for new sales. Analysis and strategy allows you to see what’s working and build on it. Making further sales to existing clients and asking for referrals from satisfied clients is just common sense.

I will say that it’s a never-ending cycle and one if used correctly can properly drive growth. I’ve deliberately left enough flexibility in it so, like my trousers, they can be tailored to fit.

With this in mind. I can’t end without a small plug for The Finance Gap. It’s been a bit of a journey putting a team together, but we have, and it’s a great one. Instead of having one company that claims to do everything we don’t. We have 4 exceptional individuals from companies that do one thing and do it well. We work together and lead the way in what we do. Jordan Fleming and Designate are leaders in their field for strategic marketing, what Robin Mehta, MD of Union Technology, doesn’t know about the digital landscape isn’t worth knowing and Mark Poulson is one of the UK’s leading writers and experts in Financial marketing, who also happens to have an exceptional technical knowledge of finance.

What to say about my own company, the loft?

Well, let’s just say we’re happy to put our company’s portfolio against anybody else’s to see just how strong our design work is. That is the core team; we also have exceptional partners in PR, printing, photography etc. But the beauty about what we do is that we provide a properly bespoke solution. We listen first, extensively so, analyse the best way to help and put together a strong team to help you drive growth in your business. We’re just like a good fitting suit, made to measure and appropriately personal to you.

Give me a bell if you’d like to find out more…

Benedetto

The loft is hiring>>>

About the Author

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Benedetto Bordone

Creative Director of the loft.

Benedetto runs the creative design consultancy, the loft. Based in the centre of Glasgow, the loft creates emotionally engaging brand identities.

Benedetto began his design career aged 9, sketching cars in the loft bedroom of his parents house. Even then he realised some eternal truths. Alfa Romeos are infinitely cooler than Ferraris and always have been. Time has only hardened this opinion. Since then, he has been on a journey taking him from his hometown in Kilmarnock to Coventry, studying car design aged 17, three separate spells in Italy followed where he interned, worked & freelanced for distinguished design companies – BeeStudio, Alfa Romeo, Honda Advanced design & Stile Bertone.

Setting up his own business was a natural step for somebody as independently minded as Benedetto. The loft was set up in 2008 and offers a comprehensive branding and communication service to its clients. The company combines a deeply analytical approach into the clients culture and commercial targets before engaging in creative design work to build emotive brands.

17
Jan

Are you memorable?

Are you memorable, truly memorable?

I read a good book over Christmas. Now I am not one to overly indulge in ‘business books.’ Wisdom like everything else is a commodity these days and I think they only really work if you immerse yourself fully into the theology of what they’re about. Few of us have the time, discipline and patience to do so.

However, I did enjoy reading ‘Bold.’ A. Story about 12 companies who had grew their businesses considerably due to their bold actions. Gratefully, they had ‘branding & positioning,’ (what I do) at the heart of their success. But it was alongside other activities like ‘customer experience,’ ‘marketing,’ ‘HR’ etc. Now I won’t bore you with every detail of the book. But needless to say ‘boldness’ was at the heart of their argument and when discussing proposition, marketing and communication, they spoke a lot about the importance of being memorable. Truly memorable!

Having a bank that is laid out like a retail store, conducts ‘random acts of kindness’ while giving its clients a free workspace with wi_fi is memorable.

Why is this important you may ask? Well anybody who reads this and runs a business will know. Your most valuable asset as a business is your existing client bases. They are people that you’ve convinced of your company’s merit, skill and trust. That battle is a long one. Supposedly it takes five times longer to convert a new client than it does to sell to an existing one. That’s five times more time, money and effort however you quantify it. What’s more, your existing client base is your best source for referral business; the pre-qualified leads they provide only take half as much time, money and effort to convert than completely new clients.

You may see why being ‘memorable,’ ‘truly memorable’ is becoming more important. But I must qualify ‘memorable.’ ‘Memorable’ means outstanding, special, something totally new or different. Not what everybody else is doing, and no, being professional should be the absolute minimum you offer not your key differentiator. Being memorable begins with the service/product you sell, involves the way you market yourself all the way through to the customer experience itself.

In almost every sector from retail to construction to accountancy to law. There is just not enough business to go round. Every market is saturated.

I spent the whole Christmas working out myself whether the loft really is bold enough amongst our many, many competitors. Yes, we’re different, I wouldn’t dispute that. I would say in terms of the quality of our work – we’re absolutely class leading. But truth be told, in terms of ‘boldness.’ We’ve got the volume at about five for too many aspects. Forgive me, even for branding people, it’s truly hard to analyse your own communications. But this year we move that to ten.

It’s really the only way, with new clients and opportunities so hard to come by. Offering your existing clients a memorable experience that they can refer you by, is one of the quickest ways to success.

One lovely quote from the book…

”Marketing is a tax you pay for being boring”

The best way is to maximise what you have is to be memorable from the outset. Brand communication is a big part of this (you know I wouldn’t finish this blog without a plug.) So if you’re looking to embolden your business and its communications.

Drop me a line.

Benedetto

About the Author

BB Profile Pic Small
 
Benedetto Bordone

Creative Director of the loft.

Benedetto runs the creative design consultancy, the loft. Based in the centre of Glasgow, the loft creates emotionally engaging brand identities.

Benedetto began his design career aged 9, sketching cars in the loft bedroom of his parents house. Even then he realised some eternal truths. Alfa Romeos are infinitely cooler than Ferraris and always have been. Time has only hardened this opinion. Since then, he has been on a journey taking him from his hometown in Kilmarnock to Coventry, studying car design aged 17, three separate spells in Italy followed where he interned, worked & freelanced for distinguished design companies – BeeStudio, Alfa Romeo, Honda Advanced design & Stile Bertone.

Setting up his own business was a natural step for somebody as independently minded as Benedetto. The loft was set up in 2008 and offers a comprehensive branding and communication service to its clients. The company combines a deeply analytical approach into the clients culture and commercial targets before engaging in creative design work to build emotive brands.

14
Nov

More Pirlo, less Parker…

Most of you who know me understand that I can be slightly excitable at times. And nothing gets me more excited than watching the beautiful game, particularly in the big set piece events every second summer. As you may guess from my name, I usually support Italy, particularly as Scotland hasn’t qualified in a while. And this summer, as an Italy fan I was able to enjoy the genius of Andrea Pirlo. 131 passes made against England this summer, 114 completed. His accuracy and precision in the quarter final giving his team an almost total dominance of a game they should have won sooner. Many of you may remember Pirlos penalty which was itself, the height of precision and execution.

You may ask yourself, why am I talking about football?

Well, you see the analogy came back into my mind this week. The loft is building a new co-operative called The Finance Gap. The Finance Gap currently consists of two companies – our own and Designate Marketing in Edinburgh; we are likely to grow in size but it is our intention to offer a specialised service for the finance sector beginning with IFAs, accountancy practices and small investment houses. We are still at the pre-launch phase, discussing it with our friends and associates. The reason for my excitement is that the more we discuss it with others, the more valuable I think our service will become.

The main problem with the branding and communication work I do is that its commercial success lies, to a great extent, in where and how it is used. The most beautiful or interesting poster, website or brochure isn’t going to make the slightest bit of commercial impact if it’s aimed at the wrong market. And the biggest criticism I would have of my own sector, the creative sector, is that we aren’t really qualified to be doing the marketing part. It’s just that a lot of my colleagues seem to have forgotten that. In this respect, they are all a bit Scott Parker. Just hit it and hope for the best. The problem with a great number of marketing companies (and there are exceptions) is that many of them think they are creative agencies and offer every creative service under the sun, none of which they tend to be very good at. The general consensus among a lot of my colleagues is that lots of activity is good activity, well actually it isn’t. It’s simply wasteful.

With the Finance Gap, both the loft and Designate believe in delivering work that has the highest commercial impact. Not the highest quantity but the best quality. We don’t stray onto each other’s turfs and we can work together to benefit the client. We are the antithesis of the wasteful integrated agency.

Last week I met several associates who could become potential clients of the Finance Gap and with every good conversation we had; we began to chat about business and the challenges they faced. As with most conversations I can’t help but discuss what kind of brand they could build. I definitely believe that the loft could assist most of these companies carve out a unique position in the marketplace. So we started to talk about all of the different, interesting things that could be done to help build this great brand which I am sure would add value.

But there was one thing missing, we both had lots of ideas about how to potentially market this great brand but neither of us had a clue which way would be the most effective way. Which are the profitable revenue streams, who to target, how you find them, which channel is the most effective?

And this is where we missed the involvement of our partners Designate. Where we missed some good strategic marketing advice, not a company who wants to do lots of things for the sake of it but one that knows how to get the most out of a given marketing budget. And every company has limited resources, no matter how large.

We may be able to fire the bullets, but we need great partners to show us where to point the gun.

And that is as the heart of the Finance Gaps proposition. As a designer, I have dedicated my whole adult life to my craft, I have my 10,000 hours of experience, I probably have double that. So why would I want my company to delve into unfamiliar territory? We stick to what we’re good at and let others experts shine in their areas of expertise. Our partners in the Finance Gap, Designate have a similar expertise and focus.

It is our collective independence that allows us to stick to what we do best, but it’s our ability to work together that creates a formidable combination. One of the very good things about start-ups or smaller companies is that they are not wasteful with money, they try and eek out every last penny out of whatever budget they have. Such are the economies of scale; bigger companies tend to not be so lean. However, we don’t believe that efficient, resourceful marketing and communications should be the sole privilege of smaller companies. That doesnt mean we’re cheap but we offer tremendous value.

We want to work with our clients for a long time to help them grow but the best way to do that is by sticking to what we’re good at and collaborating where necessary. It’s why I am sure the Finance Gap is going to be such a roaring success. More Andrea Pirlo and less Scott Parker.

Watch this space!

Benedetto

About the Author


 
Benedetto Bordone
Creative Director of the loft.

Benedetto runs the creative design consultancy, the loft. Based in the centre of Glasgow, the loft creates emotionally engaging brand identities.

Benedetto began his design career aged 9, sketching cars in the loft bedroom of his parents house. Even then he realised some eternal truths. Alfa Romeos are infinitely cooler than Ferraris and always have been. Time has only hardened this opinion. Since then, he has been on a journey taking him from his hometown in Kilmarnock to Coventry, studying car design aged 17, three separate spells in Italy followed where he interned, worked & freelanced for distinguished design companies – BeeStudio, Alfa Romeo, Honda Advanced design & Stile Bertone.

Setting up his own business was a natural step for somebody as independently minded as Benedetto. The loft was set up in 2008 and offers a comprehensive branding and communication service to its clients. The company combines a deeply a