Tag: Communications

26
Feb

Charlie Law – Awards, Ideas and Pushing The Fine Line

Over the years we’ve found that the projects with the strongest ideas pretty much design themselves.

The more inspired the idea – the greater the momentum behind a project.

And those projects tends to be quicker to develop too – great lesson for both commercial and creative enterprises.

Last year – one of our team –  Charlie Law  won the prestigious ‘Marketing Society’s Star Creative Student Award 2016’ for a brilliant campaign to tackle gender equality with a brief set by The Scottish Government.

The students were asked to develop campaign materials to raise awareness of the 50/50 pledge laid out by the First Minister – Nicola Sturgeon. The pledge challenges all public, private and third-sector bodies in Scotland to commit to take action on gender equality, promising to get a 50/50 gender split on their boards of management by 2020.

Charlie’s imaginative response to the creative challenge was the provocative ‘Put Her In Her Place’ campaign.

The campaign is broken down in two parts – the first part shows a series of shocking statements being displayed both online and offline.

‘PUT HER IN HER PLACE’

‘GO ON SHE DESERVES IT’

‘SHES HAD IT COMING FOR YEARS’

Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 22.46.19The sinister use of text neatly accompanying the messages on display.

However these ideas are flipped well and truly on their head when you see Part-2.

‘Put Her in Her Place – Rightfully The Boardroom.’

‘Go On She Deserves It – Having more diversity of thinking in the workplace leads to better performance and a stronger economy.’

‘She’s Had It Coming – Women have never been in a stronger position to lead and shape the economic landscape.’

Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 22.46.51

If a campaign is designed to raise awareness of an issue – then this campaign goes above and beyond and then some. A rightful award winner.

However, more than the quality of the idea, it is the boldness of the thinking behind it. We talk regularly in the studio about ‘pushing the limits,’ this concept really does dance on that fine line of greatness.

We are so proud of Charlie, for what he has achieved with this project before he joined us and for the brilliant ideas he shares with us each and every day.

Ideas, so strong – that they by and large – develop themselves…

Well done Charlie…

ext-2

This post was written by Benedetto but the star of the piece is Charlie Law.

Charlie is one of the new-generation of designers – equally at home online/offline. He has a wonderful imagination and is at his best when dreaming up brave, bright and beautiful ideas in the many sketch-books that he keeps.

A great conceptual thinker, with a special ability to solve challenging problems. Charlie is a real team-player too and most recently the brains behind ‘The Loft-Social.’

 

 

28
Sep

Professional Service Websites – 7 Tips

Where to start when building that website for your firm can be a bit daunting. We thought, we’d take a moment out of our day and see if we can help? 

These are 7 tips to help those who are considering how to build their next professional services website or those who simply want to refresh what they currently have.

1. START WITH CONTENT

Many traditional website designers used to create layouts, structures and then create content to fit. We suggest the opposite – create the content first- and create a responsive structure to suit. The reason being is that content list can be a bit daunting and sometimes it is difficult to know where to start? The list may include – staff bios, service benefits, specific methodologies, images, news items, etc. It may include information on culture, values, vision, etc. Get all the information down in one place – post-it notes, scrap sheets of paper, etc. Anywhere, you can look over it all in one go.

Then work out what’s important? Prioritise which bits of content you want to emphasise? These are the bits where you use professional photography, copywriting or even video. By starting with content, you build a more user-friendly site and are more in control of the areas of your company that draw the most attention. Another really great tip is to use leverage and use the images, videos or articles (content) to share on Social Media channels such as LinkedIn, YouTube or Twitter – obviously a critical part of your digital presence.

2. PEOPLE, PEOPLE, PEOPLE

Professional services are all about people and relationships – your website should be big on this. Bring your people to life online, this usually means – great images of your staff, personal stories, anecdotes, anything that builds the human story. Some like technical but most don’t so keep specialist information in a separate place to more general information.

The simple act of creating a simple clean layout with just the right amount of information that a client needs to know is an effective way to build a good professional site.

3. TESTIMONIAL SHEET

Not just a website one, but definitely one that will enhance any Business Development activities – the client testimonial sheet. Many professional firms are wary about publishing testimonials, especially on their website, in fear of having their clients poached. We believe that showing others that you do a good job is more than worth the risk.

The most significant improvement to our sales process has been the introduction of a ‘client and testimonial sheet.’ More testimonials gives you greater credibility. You cannot have too many of these. Have them on your website but also a simple doc or PDF file to E-Mail to show new people that you are trying to do business with can be helpful.

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

4. BESPOKE REQUIREMENTS

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, ‘it’s not what you do but the way that you do it.’ Being able to talk authentically about the differences demonstrate greater value-add and will help you stand out compared to others.

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 may want to consider going a little further.

How do you serve those clients better than everybody else? Are you faster? More dynamic? More friendly? More precise? Do you have more specialised knowledge? More useful partnerships? A joined-Up Approach? Obsessed about the detail? Pick a couple of ideas and tell a few stories either with your web-copy or images that will help to emphasise and bring these ideas to life.

6. MAKE CONTACT EASY

A very, very simple one but something which can 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 referrals.

Try wherever possible and with whatever means to tell a story – even a short one about the kind of service you provide? There are so many tools out there such as video which allow you to introduce a little more of the human side of yourself. Take a chance and get yourself out there. You’ll be one of the few that do and fortune favours the brave.

If you’d like some 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.

04
Apr

Role of Honour

One of the most interesting parts of being in business is the ‘dreaded’ elevator pitch. For those unfamiliar with the ritual… If you were to walk into an elevator and somebody were to ask about your business. Could you tell them about it in the time it takes for the elevator to go from the bottom floor to the top?

About 30 seconds to be precise.

I’ve spent years creating, chopping, changing and honing my elevator pitch to meet prospective clients when out and about…

But now…

Well I simply give people one of our very special business cards (you’ll hear more about them later…) and ask them to check out our portfolio online.

I generally don’t need to say anymore, our work speaks for itself…

You’ll find most of what we do on our website and Facebook pages but not everything. So here is a quick run-through of some of the other lovely things we’ve been working on recently…

 

Fridge Angels, branding & website

Fridge Angels Branding & Website b

Women’s Enterprise Scotland, infographic

Womans Enterprise Scotland Infographic b

 

Jim Henderson, Blog & Art direction

Jim at Shirlaws Blog b

 

Murphy Insurance, Website Design
Murphy Insurance b

Altia Solutions, Product Logos

Altia Sub-brand logos b

 

Altia Solutions, Updated Brand Identity
Altia Logo b

Every project, toasted with a glass of bubbly…

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 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.

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.

18
Dec

Rules of Engagement…

Well bombarding people with lots of technical information is not a good start. I sometimes think that our job, as a branding consultancy, is to build a bridge between our clients and their audiences.

An accountancy firm’s technical proficiency may be terribly interesting to the firm itself but in all honesty their clients couldn’t care less.

Initially at least…

I have always worked on this premise; clients don’t care HOW you do things as long as you get them done. And you only have milliseconds to interest them.

Now that may be a bit harsh. I am sure several of our clients are very interested in font weights, graphical systems and photography styles. But usually not at the beginning. Get them more into the process and that’s a different story.

‘Strictly come dancing’ is an analogy I enjoy sharing. How many people are genuinely interested in ballroom dancing?

The weekly viewing figures have 10 million souls tuning in for their weekly fix. I very much doubt they’re all ballroom dancing fanatics. However, chuck in some celebrities, Bruce Forsyth and some amusing judges and it becomes a different proposition.

It may be the fluffy stuff that engages us but we get there in the end. What businesses (and professional service firms in general) need to realise is that the fluffy stuff matters. Being interesting is the price you pay for the right to get a good hearing. It buys time and builds the bridge between your audience and the technical data of your subject matter.

It’s why the likes of Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Barack Obama are amongst the more successful politicians of our time. Just human enough to want to hear more but substantive enough to be credible. They bridge the gap between emotive content and technical credibility very well. Technical wonks like Al Gore, Gordon Brown and Hillary Clinton fall just a little bit short.

What I am finding a lot right now is that professional service companies (good companies) are still continuing to bombard their potential clients with heavy technical information at the initial point of engagement. Even, on the front page of their websites and print materials.

Why?

No offense, but would you share every last detail of yourself on a first date?

No

And yes, the other person would rightfully want to run away.

Words are lazy.

Anybody can churn out absolutely everything they’ve got.

That’s the easy bit.

Editing is where the work comes in; thinking about what to include? What to leave out? Too dry? Too coarse? Too technical? Too light even?? This is the process that makes it more palatable to the audience. It’s the most critical bit and unfortunately the most widely ignored.

It’s also where the work is.

“I’m going to give a long speech today. I haven’t had time to prepare a short one.”

Sir Winston Churchill once famously quipped. You could forgive him, he had the right idea.

Yes, the technical info is important; it’s the substance that you need to be credible. But have the good manners to give it to your audience on a need to know basis. Keep it light, make it interesting, images speak louder than words and people are impatient for you to get to the point.

The gap between what you think your client wants to hear and what they actually want to hear, when you first engage, tends to be bigger than you think.

And you only have milliseconds to close it.

I do hope I haven’t ran on…

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.