Tag: design Glasgow

21
Aug

The F-Word

‘A company that pushes the limits of Creativity, Quality and Service.’

These are the latest words we have picked to differentiate the loft from all the others in the tightly packed, multi-faceted and incredibly competitive, creative sector which we operate.

Just to break it down a bit…

We want creative concepts that stir the soul to get us pumped about what we are doing.

We know that quality is a non-negotiable

Finally, excellent service is the foundation to any successful business.

At the loft – we are absolutely obsessed about all three.

How do we achieve the optimal mix?
The secret lies in the F-Word and no not the one you are thinking off.
While some may be terrified of it and others do their best to completely avoid it.

At the loft, we wholeheartedly embrace the F-word.

Failure.

We are comfortable in its presence, we use it as an opportunity to learn and we treat it as rocket fuel to break down those creative brick walls we face on a daily basis.

For us, it is the first step to success.

Fail Fast, Fail Often, Fail your way to Success.

Its something you will hear a lot of in our studio, alongside the example of a rocket which is almost permanently of course as it fails its way to the moon.

A love of failure might seem counterproductive but the biggest problem most creatives face is the enormity of the initial brief.

It can be so overwhelming that procrastination reigns supreme – ‘lighter/ darker, coloured/ monotone, in-line/ staggered…’

Endless analysis is followed by very little action. People build such large walls in their own minds that they are stunted into in-action. So much so, that the scale of even the first task overwhelms them.

At the loft, we just don’t have time for that.

We want to reign supreme in not one but three different areas – who has time for procrastination?

We believe action is key – work fast, smaller actions, quick decisions, minimise guess work, face uncomfortable truths, de-risk the concepts. Each of these behaviours help us to get through a massive workload – we get through more in a day than some would get through in a week.

Oh and it leaves plenty of time for barbecues, parties, drinks and the other fun stuff we regularly enjoy.

What’s more and this is the best bit, working faster and with greater intensity may seem like harder work but actually the opposite is true.
Its energising.

Guesswork is tiring, procrastination robs us of momentum and playing it safe is the surest way to completely lose interest.

Whether it is the ‘Lean Start-Up’ philosophy, the E-Spark philosophy or the Silicone Valley philosophy – it is one that we wholeheartedly believe in and use every single day.

Want to start succeeding, time to start failing.

Benedetto

BB

Benedetto is an ideas-driven Creative Entrepreneur. He is on a mission to unleash the power of creativity to create a better world – for people, business and society.

He is the founder of the loft, a design and branding house which operates worldwide helping companies bring their brands to life in the most imaginative and effective ways possible.

The loft serves companies in every sector and is quite simply the best in the business at creating brands that capture the imagination.

In addition to his role with the loft, Benedetto is an avid supporter of young people into enterprise. Having been supported by organisations such as PSYBT and currently by E-Spark, he does all he can to support young entrepreneurs. He provides assistance to organisations such as Bridge2Business, Young Enterprise Scotland and acts as a mentor for young business owners with Entrepreneurial Scotland.

His support to the next generation doesn’t end there, Benedetto is a big supporter of MCR Pathways, an organisation which helps disadvantaged children secure better futures through mentoring. Alongside his team at the loft, he provides creative support to the organisation as well as specialist work experiences for the students in the studio.

A real man on a mission. Benedetto likes to make things happen and happen fast and in a big way. He always wants things done yesterday and is relentlessly driven in his quest to make tomorrow better than today for his company, the people he serves and the wider community.

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.’

 

 

24
Feb

The Journey of Discovery

Design is never a fixed path. It twists and bends, branching off into different areas and adapting to its surroundings. In this sense, there is no ‘right or wrong’ within design, but a gut feeling that tells you that you’re heading in the right direction.

We met Stan, the founder of a company called Disruptancy. It was a very successful business; expanding it’s client base, continually working on new ideas. But something struck me as peculiar; it had lasted 10 years without any form of branding.

As we live in the information age, branding plays a crucial part to any successful business, yet Stan’s seemed to defy logic on this part. How could a company hold up against it’s competition for 10 years without any recognisable marks that are tied to the title?

Disruptancy works business to business. Organisations come to Disruptancy for a number of reasons — but usually to employ disruptive practises and methodologies to scale or turnaround.

We felt it was important to get to know Stan as a person for this exercise, because you could almost say that he was the current branding of Disruptancy. A lot of his clients came directly to his company not because of advertising, but through word of mouth and a trustworthy founder. The branding would be very personal to Stan and represent his idea of what the company stands for.

We began mind-mapping from a select list of words Stan had used to summarise the business. The mind mapping lead us to some interesting themes:

Integration / The journey / Creative pathways / Fluid movement / Turnaround / Expansion /  Adaptation / Evolution / Growth of a business / Personalised service / Company code

This section of the design process is always energetic; a lot of very initial thoughts with accompanying pathways. No idea has been anchored down to the ground so there’s always a feeling of continual momentum and fluidity.

These words lead us onto research, pulling inspiration from numerous sources; sculpture, architecture, art, print design.

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To convey to companies ideas and legacy, this key was crucial to the success of the branding. As long as the idea had potential, it was pinned up on the wall. As the wall began to fill, it was becoming more and more apparent that the team was all on the same track.

Themes began to naturally emerge, so it was time to categorise them. We collected the initial research in to piles based on their similarities. These similarities weren’t necessarily simply aesthetic, it was more conceptual ideas that tied them together.

After collecting and arranging, we discussed again in detail what the company stood for, what message they wanted to show the world. A good technique for this is summarising the companies themes in as few a words as possible. This then led us on to creating specific names for each concept our research had brought to us.

Conceptualisation was made a lot easier due to our initial research and theme building stages. Any form of sketch that was created was then pinned up (as rough as it may be). In many cases, if I drew a sketch that I wasn’t happy with, another team member may find some inspiration in it, leading us onto greater ideas. We’ve found that it’s always a good idea to put up every idea you have, as small as it may seem.

D_Scan_1

The presentation is dependant on the brief; with this brief, we wanted to present our concepts in a way that highlighted particular traits of our clients company. We chose to recreate the ‘journey’ aspect, and pinned up our concept on the wall, linking them together with red string.

Now that the initial concepts had been created, we felt it was time to bring our client back in to the studio to show the journey so far. After a brief explanation of each concept, we asked and answered questions regarding the ideas. Keeping an open communication is key to a successful project, especially in the early stages.

There were a couple of concepts that really stood out to Stan, one of them being ‘The Möbius Strip’ concept. I explained to Stan that a Möbius Strip is a mathematical object that has one side and one edge, known as being non-orientable. It can be recreated by taking a thin piece of paper, writing it once in the middle, then gluing the ends together. If you take a pen and draw a line down the path, it will cover all faces of the strip, meaning it has one side.

mobius3

But how does this relate to Disruptancy? Well, there were multiple connections that I found between Stan’s company and the mathematical shape:

A strip winds and bends, yet only has one side and one edge
— Disruptancy adapts based on it’s clients, yet only has one objective

A literal 180 degree flip
— The company is flipped on it’s head, with a new outcome

Any object that travels down the strip will arrive at the starting point inverted
— Endless possibilities at the end of the process

Cutting the strip down the central axis results in a larger strip; the strip expands outward and has obtained extra twists
— By disrupting clients’ companies, a dramatic change has been made, only to result in the growth of the business

Stan could see potential in this concept, so we took it forward and began developing this idea. A very important part of this stage is not losing the core meaning of the concept by covering it in an aesthetic facade. Always ensure that the developed idea fits within the mould created by that spark that started the journey.

The comparison of these connections to the initial themes we had thought of was interesting. As the concept begins to take shape, each point that it expresses is refined and sharpened. There were no longer any unanswered questions about the brand, myself and the team could confidently answer any questions regarding the meaning of the logo, ensuring a very clear message is sent across.

The team were very happy with the final design, as we could all agree that it summarised what Disruptancy was all about in a simple mark.

Disruptancy_Logo_Black

I feel that myself and The Loft have learned from the entire process of creating Disruptancy’s branding. I know now not to through away any ideas, because even the most ridiculous will have depth to them. To be honest, it’s usually the most ridiculous that are the most successful. Always stay true to that concept as it is so easy to take it on another path. Working close with the client and building a trusted relationship is key too, is it gives you as a designer freedom to make decisions based on your training and knowledge. Always be abstract and creative, never stop pushing to create something you and the client are proud of.

REISS

Reiss is a multi-purpose designer with a broad range of skill-sets.
He loves being a part of any creative activity — whether it’s mapping out a user experience, getting his hands dirty with some copy or even re-building bits of his motorbike.
A born people-person, Reiss is never happier when showcasing ideas from his vividly wild imagination and working with clients to see them through to completion. Once an architect, he has a keen eye for conceptual ideas and never tires of learning new things.
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.

 

17
Oct

Social Media, A Practical Guide

Social media is quite possibly be the most important part of a company’s brand presence nowadays. Getting likes, being seen and having people engage with you can radically transform your company’s marketing success. A coherent, joined-up and ideas-led social presence will help you attract more clients, staff that share your values and new supporters from all over the world. This is the power of social media.

At the loft, we love social media. We love sharing details of our work, the way we help our clients and also some of the interesting things we get up-too in our studio. We use social media a lot and have therefore picked up some gems that we apply regularly and despite there being many more technical guides online we thought we’d put our feet right in the shoes of those that post on social media to share 10 quick ways to optimise your social posts.

1. Start with the Underlying Message

Before posting, always think… ‘What am I trying to say?’ This is important. Every post says something, consciously or sub-consciously, about your brand. What are we trying to say about ourselves or what we value with the post? We are helpful? We are qualified? We have more experience? Our service is faster?

Marketing is the communication and sharing of values and culture in an interesting way. Make sure what you are sharing displays the values you want it too.

2. A Positive Extension of those Values

As a rule of thumb, the majority of social posts should be sharing something positive! It should be something which people want to read. You have the opportunity to present the best side of your company, your products, your services, your team. Whether it is a client testimonial, something altruistic your team has done in the community or just sharing a very positive benefit of one of your services – more positive posts get more likes and therefore capture the attention of others.

However, more than being positive, consider whether what you are saying aligns with the culture your company is promoting. Doing this will help you be more authentic. Fun posts for fun companies, highly technical posts for highly technical companies, posts about ‘innovation in sustainability’ for companies that value ‘sustainability’ and are innovative around this area. Find the value or the idea and build your post around it. The really great companies do this very well on Social Media.

Everyday Athlete, Glasgow are great at showing their values with every single post.

Everyday Athlete, Glasgow are great at showing their values with every single post.

3. People Love People

Human stories tend to be particularly popular. Celebrating technical attributes or showing thought leadership are both good directions to pursue with social media but human stories such as celebrating ‘service landmarks,’ ‘new-starts,’ or just the good work your team does tend to be more appreciated on social media. Even the most technical companies will have service benefits that apply to human-beings. The more able you are to present the human side of even a highly technical subject – the more likely you are of engaging people with your social posts.

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.

4. Image Tells a Story

Make sure the image you use really tells a story about the post itself. This is important.  If you are posting about a particular product, is that product in the foreground of the photo? Does it stand out? If you are posting about an event you are hosting, does the image reflect the nature of the event? One further thing – a more professional, polished image has value, but a slightly rougher image which tells the right story has a greater chance of being understood and properly appreciated by your online audience.

5. Use your Polish Strategically

Despite this, a little polish is definitely going to help. Your posts will grab more attention. Whether it’s some info-graphics to bring a statistic to life, more professional photography of your team members or some video graphics to illustrate a story. Content that has been presented with more care and attention does stand a greater chance of helping you to engage with others. It is worth getting a designer, photographer or videographer to bring some of your content to life for important posts.

However, the real value is in thinking past one post! If you are going to engage a professional – think how you can extend the value of their service? For example, if you hire a photographer to capture the investment your company has made in a new assembly line  – then while the photographer is on site – get multiple images which shows different facilities in a little more detail and instead of a single post – create a small campaign from these 6-8 images. This will help you get a better return on investment and a full campaign worth of content as opposed to one individual post.

Leverage the time you have with a professional photographer, copywriter, animator or designer to create as much quality content as possible. These shots were little additions provided by our photographer Malcolm when photographing the entire team.

Leverage the time you have with a professional photographer, copywriter, animator or designer to create as much quality content as possible. These shots were little additions provided by our photographer Malcolm when photographing the entire team.

6. Use the Loft Social Cheat Sheet

At the end of the day, a lot of this is trial and error – but there are some rules you can use to your advantage. To really help you maximise your posts – we have created a quick cheat sheet which shows the best times, to post, optimal image sizes and character counts. Download this sheet and the information will provide a further boost to your social posts.

The loft social cheat sheet definitely provides a bit of method to successful posting.

The loft social cheat sheet definitely provides a bit of method to successful posting.

7. Headlines should be to the point

If you read our cheat sheet, you will notice that the first few lines of any social post are far and away the most important in grabbing people’s attention. There are definitely some points to be gained by writing a title that everybody understands straight away. Different brands will communicate in different ways but in the absence of any doubt – simple language works best. Understanding over flair.

8. Use all the channels

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, etc… There are so many different channels now, and it is important to pick the one that works for you. Tools like LinkedIn work well for Business2Business audiences. Instagram or Facebook works better for Business2Consumer audiences. Some are more targeted than others.

However, in all honesty, we recommend using all of the channels all of the time. Once you have picked the right image and drafted the right message – you have very little to lose by taking the time to post in all the channels. Plus, it is interesting how often more light-hearted, authentic, less technical posts are liked on LinkedIn and how often the crowd on Instagram will appreciate something a little more content-rich. Just remember to use the correct-sized images as stretched images tend not to do favours for anybody.  You will get this information from our cheat sheet 🙂

Aggregate softwares such as Hoot-Suite can occasionally be helpful here too.

Technical content can work on B2C channels and light-hearted content can work on B2B channels - give it a go!

Technical content can work on B2C channels and light-hearted content can work on B2B channels – give it a go!

9. Maximise your Content

On that note about maximising all of the channels – make sure you re-use your content too. We spoke earlier on about investing in images, graphics, videos, etc. Once you have these assets, stretch them as far and wide as possible! Get them on your website, use them for your newsletter campaigns. If necessary – use them for print documents such as your annual report or other brochures. This will give you a much greater return for any investment on your marketing outlay.

10. Repeat

Once again, you have invested the time and energy to create content, got a great image and written a strong post. Your postings may be as successful as you want, they may not be. However, you do have the opportunity to have a few more goes. So many people will have missed your post first time round – don’t be shy and give them another opportunity to engage. You may even wish to hone your posts a little – to see if you can make it stronger 2nd and 3rd times round. You have very little to lose and much to gain.

A bit of a whistle-stop tour in how to optimise your social posts – you will find many more technical posts online but we hope that the guide above gives you a practical guide on where to start.

As always if you need any advice…

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.

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.

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.

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.

23
Sep

6 Things I’ve Learned

A few days ago, it kind of felt like I was the only person in the world working. A combination of Glasgow Fair, staff being on holiday and the whole South Block Building having a bit of an empty eeriness to it. As I worked away – I couldn’t help but be distracted with a conversation I had with our team the day before. I asked them to take some time and study each other to look for just one thing that they thought they admired and could bring into their own games to be that little bit better as professional designers.

Of course – as I asked this of them – my mind raced to some of the brilliant lessons, ideas and habits I had picked up from colleagues, mentors and some  inspirational people that I had listened too in previous years and how much certain ideas had helped me.

I’ve credited the people who shared these wonderful ideas with me at the end, and they are in no particular order. But for keen followers of Scottish Business – you can probably guess who said what?

“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Quite possibly my favourite bit of advice and one that completely transformed my attitude to sales, customer service & business in general. I was the guy that would arrive at the client’s office or boardroom and send the prospect to sleep with 40-50 slides of what they were doing wrong and if they only, only listened to me – they could do it so much better. I am sure my arguments were intellectually sound but you can probably guess how much business I won. A big fat zero. I got used to hearing ‘don’t call us – we’ll call you.’ Once I learned to shut-up and learn what the client was wanting to do and spend my energies helping them to find a solution to their challenges that we started to get some movement.

As a neat follow-up – “Don’t sell to the company, serve the individual.” Maybe not the exact words but the message was similar to the previous one. You have to look after the individual and not the entire company – unless your proposing a company strategy – that is their business and not your problem. Have faith that the person you are looking to work with understands their company and their requirements better than you ever could – you must remember that it is a human that signs off the order at the end of the day and you had better build a rapport with them. The better you serve and understand them – the more quickly you’ll be trusted with more.

“Don’t take health advice from a doctor that is always ill.” Another brilliant one – it is amazing how much we open our minds to the opinion of the day or the person that shouts the loudest. Quite simply – if you want to be good at sales – learn from or ask somebody who is good at sales, if you want your company to be financially robust, ask somebody who has a financially robust company, if you want rapid growth – ask somebody who has done it. There are so many talkers, gurus and ‘thought-leaders’ out there. Analyse their results in a particular area and decide for yourself whether that is what you want for yourself in that area. Otherwise, question any advice they give you.

“Go out and speak to 100 customers now!” Absolutely brilliant – it is amazing how often we fall off-track by falling-in-love too much with our own products and services. Brutally honest feedback from customers is usually the much-needed bringing back down to earth that helps us all to improve our businesses and get better.

“Treat your clients budgets as if they are your own” I think this one is absolutely brilliant for anybody that wants to build long-term relationships with their clients, and long-term business is usually the holy grail. If you are prudent and offer value to your clients in the short-term, you will more likely to be trusted with more in the long term.

“See your business in three time-zones. Too many short-term decisions and you’ll make less mistakes but never grow, too many long-term decisions and you’ll never get any momentum and you need momentum. You have to work to succeed in the present day, a month ahead and in a quarter’s time.” This one was a real eye-opener about the importance of balancing long-term and short-term success.

And finally, a little analogy that I absolutely love…

“Building a rapid-growth business is a bit like building a racing car. You want everything to be poised on the absolute limit. If you put too much horsepower in one go, you’re going to blow everything at the same time – there won’t be adequate cooling, the tyres will blow, the suspension won’t cope – it will be an absolute mess and you won’t know what to fix first. Go the opposite direction and over-engineer each of those things for power you don’t yet have – and you’ve got a tank and not a race-car. I think there are a couple of messages here – firstly, do everything in logical increments – do them quickly – but have some kind of order. And fix today’s problems today and worry about tomorrow’s problems tomorrow – if you’re really going to go fast – there will be new problems for you to solve every single day.”

I absolutely love these and hope some of my fellow entrepreneurs find them handy too.

A huge thank you to (and these are in no particular order…)

Jim Duffy, E-Spark
Stuart Macdonald, Seric Systems
Jim McColl, Clyde Blowers Capital
Bob Keiller, Ex Wood-Group
Colin Robertson, Alexander Dennis
Iain MacRitchie, MCR Holdings

If you’d like to work with the loft – please don’t hesitate to 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.