Tag: culture

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.

12
Jul

A Golden Age for Designers

As I write this post, I don’t think there has ever been a better time to be a designer.

I am Benedetto Bordone and I run The Loft, a design and branding studio based in the heart of Glasgow. Like most of my peers, I have witnessed the down-sizing of the creative budget, the commoditisation of basic services and as a designer’s designer (I started my career as a 3D designer and not a graphic designer,) the reducing importance that design seems to be given at agency level in contrast to digital/development/marketing.

However, I remain more optimistic than ever about the future of design and this is why…

– Noise. We are bombarded every single day with more people trying to get our attention – whether it is via digital channels – E-Mail, Social Media, Search Engines or more traditional media outlets such as newspapers, radio or the television. Everybody wants our attention. The beauty about this for a creative is that although there may be no shortage of people offering commoditised services to make the noise – it is only those that are capable of making sounds worth listening too that people truly engage with. Those that can make the complex – simple, those that can make the intricate – beautiful, those that can make poetry from prose. The more commoditised and sub-standard communications on the market, the more the good stuff shines like a beacon. Why are we all so drawn to certain brands? Because there is a purity about the way they communicate and only the best know how to get this across. The more savvy clients in this smaller and joined-up world know this and are more than willing to pay for it.

– New Channels. Digital has already created an entire new ball-game and range of tools for designers to express themselves – Websites, E-Mail Campaigns, Social Media Content, apps, etc have all provided new opportunities. However, there are incredible cross-over opportunities on the horizon with new technologies such as 3D Printing, Augmented Reality, Artifical Intelligence – companies are going to soon be able to create a whole raft of products that bring their brands to life in ways that just weren’t possible before. The modern-day Polymath is going to be more and more critical in bridging the gap between technologies to communicate messages to new people in new ways. Going way beyond the company website, business card, company brochure, etc. There is an incredible range of opportunities here for those designers that wish to look just a little left-or-right of centre.

– Storytelling. A picture speaks a thousand words and most people don’t have time for a thousand words. Metaphorically speaking – give them a good paragraph and they may read the full text. Only the most skilled creatives can write that great paragraph. In the last 18 months we have had so many things land on our desks that sit squarely outside what you would expect for a design and branding agency. We have been asked to illustrate complex business plans, we have been asked to graphically create memorable sales systems, to bring life and make effective – flow charts and operational procedures. International legal firms have even discussed with us how we can use graphics and info-graphics to more effectively communicate their cases in court. For the open and prepared mind, there is a raft of new opportunities out there.

– Leadership. Designers can be the new leaders. For the designer that can be both creative yet commercially literate – there are huge opportunities. Brands now communicate over a huge number of different channels, almost relentlessly. The communications must be on-message, be true to the values of the organisation, be authentic and be worth seeing or being listened too as well as being relentlessly consistent. This is an incredibly important job and work that great designers, with their heightened intuitive faculties, are better equipped than anybody else to do. Sir Jonathan Ive is now “one of two of the most important people at the world’s most valuable company – Apple.” His presence extends way beyond that of the designs of the products; he is the ‘guardian of the brand’ and what it means to people. Many may not consider themselves in this way and Sir Jonathan Ive may be a man with very special abilities, however the opportunities are there for every creative and this role is going to become more widely available in the future.

Every industry or sector must go through periods of renewal and creative services, it seems ours is following that course, but for the designer that has a commitment to excellence, a positive attitude and retains a very open mind. If they unwaveringly focus on the people they are serving and concentrate a little more on the result and a little less on the method. I think they will eventually come to see that today we do indeed stand on the precipice of a golden age for design.

“Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around us in awareness.”
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.

24
Apr

The West Wing Effect

It took about 10 years of my friends telling me ‘You have to watch the West Wing, you’ll love it.’ for me to take their advice. I know the first West Wing was shot in 1998 and the final one in 2006, so I am about 15 years late to the party. But a couple of months ago I got the box sets and before I knew it I was on to series 6. I got to admit, my friends were right- what a show! Packed full of drama, great personal and political stories and from what I understand- a reasonable insight into what life is really like inside the White House.

What I like most about the West Wing is the culture within the organisation, the human tales – the energy, the sense of purpose, the sense of unity. I must admit it reminded me very much of my time at Alfa Romeo nearly 10 years ago. Awake at 6AM, in work for 7AM, incredible energy, incredible passion, fierce debate, a little bit political. You seldom left before 7PM, you’d regularly still be around at 9, midnight and beyond was never out of the question. It’s probably the hardest I’ve ever worked and it was a combustible mix of passion, energy and chaos fuelled by espresso of course. Working hours were horrendous, pay was incredulous but it’s one of the experiences I look back on with the most fondness. I think it’s why I’ve enjoyed The West Wing so much. One is design, the other politics but the fundamental attributes of passion and a clear ‘sense of mission’ is evident in both.

Alfa Romeo and the President of the United States are two very emotive causes. Its crystal clear what you’re working for, the sense of mission is evident and these organisations have people that put the cause before their own needs.

Why?

Not because they have too. But because they want too.

It’s the invisible force that drives people to do better that I’m fascinated with- finding it, unlocking it, releasing it and letting it grow to let companies do better, to let people do better. To outperform the market. It’s evident in sport too. I was fascinated and delighted that Iain MacRitchie, chairman of Hobbs, at a recent dinner agreed with my question that companies could use sport teams as examples to endow their people with a sense of pride in the organisation. If you play for The All Blacks or Manchester United, you play as much for the jersey as you play for yourself. I have friends that work for companies such as Nike who are endlessly reminded of what it means to work for such a great company as well as being aware of the company values, vision and culture.

This sense of purpose.

This sense of cause should be at the heart of every organisation. Brand communication has a true role to play. To communicate a vision, you must firstly have a vision. It has to come from the management team. The people at the top must understand, live it and buy into it before anybody else can. Thereon in afterwards, it’s about telling and re-telling that story – to staff, to clients, to prospective clients, to suppliers, to investors. Getting buy-in from each of the individual stakeholders is what will propel your company forward. It will be the invisible force that enhances sales, client loyalty, client satisfaction, productivity and overall happiness in the workplace. It will be the passion that fuels new thinking and innovation.

We are officially launching a service – initially for large law firms- called Loft Legal. Long term, we’ll work with other service providers. We know that most top firms have a culture, but all too often it is hidden away. We intend to bring it out and turn it into something that can motivate, educate and inspire people to do better. Everybody knows what they do in a professional services firm and how they do it. But many just need to be reminded a bit more often, why they do what they do. Call it the ‘invisible force’ or the ‘West Wing effect.’ Given the right place, it can help to drive your company forward.

Benedetto

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.