Tag: design with soul

20
Sep

Top 5 Frequently Asked Client Question’s

At the loft, we love welcoming clients into our design world. With that in mind, this week I thought I’d take some time to focus on some of the most frequently asked client questions — giving you an initial insight into our world.

What is graphic design?
Technically, it’s the art or skill of combining text and pictures in advertisements, magazines or books. We see graphic design slightly differently. We see it as a way of effectively communicating your message to your target audience, finding the perfect balance between function and aesthetics. We see it as bringing ideas to life.

Why use a design studio in the first place?
Simply put, we make the whole process easier. From finding the most effective way to communicate your message to saving you time and money in the long run, creating finished pieces that are focused on the target audience, formatted correctly and ready to go to print or be used digitally.

How much will my design cost?
Costs can completely vary depending on the project. Unfortunately, there is no ‘one price fits all’ answer to this question. Typically, a branding project can cost anything from less than £1,000 (freelancer) to over £15,000 (large design studio) and anywhere in between. How much you spend on your project depends on a number of variables, most importantly being the longevity of the design. If you are a smaller start up company who is unsure of how your company will progress over the next year, it might be more cost effective to start with a freelancer or smaller design studio. To discuss a project and get a better idea of our costings, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

How long will it take to complete my design work?
Again, this varies dependant on the project. We tackle anything from small one-day projects to bigger, year-long projects. For example, a website can take anything from a couple of weeks to a full six-month project, dependant on its variables. However, no matter the size of a project, we always complete our full design process — from gesture sketches to concept creation to development of the final outcomes and everything else in between. If you have a deadline you need to meet, we are more than happy to accommodate that.

What services do the loft offer?
We offer a range of services, each of which we love getting involved with. We offer graphic design, web design, brochure design, identity design, infographics, art direction, brand love (creating a brand that not only you love, but one that your team and customers will love too), video, packaging, complex 2 simple (creating solutions that help a company prepare their new products and services for the market) , campaigns and vision, mission and values. You can find out more about our full range of services here.

Laura, Designer & Director of Noise

Laura

 

Miss Noisy! The team’s very own socialite and one who masters every situation she finds herself. Laura is the lady for every occasion. She has a formidable array of skills as a creative, diplomat, agony aunt, blogger, Tweeter, art-director, team player and our own favourite — noisemaker. A more perfect dinner companion, you will be hard-pressed to find.

 

19
Sep

Everything You Need – for Maximising Creative Budgets

At the loft, we treat clients budgets like they were our own and look to make them stretch as far as possible. So to best help you maximise your budget for creative projects, we’ve put this handy wee guide together.

Before we get started.

Creative companies bill for time so your final quote is only ever based on two things – (the numbers of hours for a project) x (the agency rate.)

This guide helps you maximise that time to maximise the value you receive.

Accurate Briefs Remove the Guesswork
An accurate brief removes a lot of the time spent on guessing. The quicker we can hone in on the tangible items of a project (number of website pages, style of infographics, types of print techniques required, etc,) the quicker we can focus on those solutions. If you want to know what goes into preparing a good brief check out this post >>>

Leverage Content
Re-using content over different formats is an excellent way to maximise value. For example, can that infographic being used in the corporate brochure also be used on the company website? Could it also be used in the next press release? Could it be put on the factory wall? Could it be divided into different elements and shared on social media? Always look for ways to get a 2nd/3rd/4th use out of absolutely everything.

Talking of social media, team images for the website can be re-formatted for LinkedIn profiles, copy for web-projects can be re-used as mini-campaigns, etc.

Creative Flow
Creatives work best when they are in ‘the flow.’ For those that really want to maximise the value of creative work — prepare as much stuff for your creative to do at one-sitting as you can and take advantage of the creative flow. This can be having all of your people together to get all of your photographs done on-site on the same day or having all of the information ready for your case-studies when sitting down with your copywriter or making sure that the designer working on your infographics has all of the information they need to tackle developments. An un-interrupted workflow really helps the people working on creative projects

Minimise Page Styles
This is a big one. One of the most time-consuming parts of creative projects is the additional effort invested in creating multiple page styles for projects like brochures or websites. Having pages with lots of different styles does make the final solutions more interesting but the creation of new frameworks is time-consuming. What’s more – lots of different page styles can confuse a viewer – it is the reason big brands have very consistent guides for brand communications. If you want to minimise costs for larger projects? Suggest to your creative company to ‘minimise the number of pages styles.’ They’ll know what you mean, respect your pragmatism and re-double their efforts on great content.

Piggy-back Off What’s Gone Before
All creative companies, even those providing the most bespoke of bespoke services, use general templates from what they have done before for brochures, websites and other large projects. As we said above, the creation of new templates is time-consuming and energy intensive, so if you are able to use a template that has already been created, developed and tested by your agency – there are massive savings to be had with no detriment to quality. You are switching the scope of the project from creating a new template to customising a template with obvious savings. How does that work in practise? Simply look at previous examples your agency has done before and ask them for ‘something like that’ and point out what you like.

Blink First
With budgets, blink first and lets us know where  you are comfortable – we can then more quickly make a decision in how best to help. You’ll be amazed at the amount a great company can do to stretch tight budgets.

Think Long-Term
The more you can give work to one freelancer or company — the more they are likely to reward you for your loyalty. This may be a better rate or even some free extras. Always best to think long-term.

And that’s a wrap. We hope that is helpful in allowing you to maximise whatever creative budget you have, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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. A real man on a mission. Benedetto likes to make things happen and happen fast and in a big way. He 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.

19
Sep

Everything You Need – for Website Projects

For many, just knowing where to start can be the biggest challenge with web-design projects. With that in mind, we’ve put together a handy wee checklist (everybody loves a list,) to fill in the gaps.

1. What’s the purpose of your new site?
What’s your new website for — is it to communicate a change of direction for your company? Introduce E-Commerce functionality? Show a new brand position? Generate more sales? The clearer a picture we have of the end goal, the more we can help find ways to achieve it.

2. Can you provide info on your company?
Let’s talk about you a little. Some info on your organisation helps us get a feel for who you are and what you stand for.

Any of the following is helpful.

– What does your company do?
– What makes your company special compared to others?
– Does your company have any specific vision, mission or values?
– Any other info?

Company documents, links to your current website or Facebook page all work.

3. Who’s the target audience?
Another big one. We want to ensure that your new site reaches the right people and engages them in the right way. What can you tell us about the people you are targeting?

Are they…

Young/Old?
Male/Female?
Fun/Serious?
Take their time/Don’t have time to waste?
Any specific legibility issues to consider?
Anything else ?

If you’re targeting all of these people, this is fine – we can factor that in too.

4. Who’ll manage the website after we’re done?
Once the project ends.

We’d like to know the following about the people we hand over too.

– What would be their preferred platform (WordPress/Umbraco/Squarespace/Other?)
– Are they (Beginner/intermediate/advanced?)
– Is any training required after the site is built?

5. Tell us about the pages of your new site?
One of the first things we do with your site is put together a site structure – this includes pages, menu and any additional functionality.

What we need to know?

– How many pages?
– What are on those pages – images/text/graphics/video?
– How will those pages link together?
– What features would you like on those pages?

Features may include

– Social Media Share Buttons
– Contact Forms
– News/Social Feeds
– Video Snippets
– CTA (Call-To-Action) buttons.
– Anything else you may have in mind?

Again don’t worry if don’t have everything,  include what you can and we can help with the rest.

6.  Content?
Our favourite subject – content. Nothing prevents web-projects from going live more than waiting on content (particularly written copy.)

What do we have and what do we need to create? (This can include any of the following.)

– Photographs of the people in the company or main products/services.
– Written copy to go on the site, likely to include about-us text, service text, etc…
– Graphics or infographics to highlight key statistics, customer data or product features/benefits.
– Any videos you have sitting on YouTube/Vimeo?

Like we said, the more you can provide the better.

7. Any SEO goals for your new site that you’d like to implement?
If you have SEO goals, let us know what they are and we can look at ways to implement these into the site.

We’d like to know about any of the following.

– Any data from your previous website (such as a Google Analytics, Yoast or Crazy Egg Reports?)
– SEO actions already taken?
– Information on Keywords/ Meta tags/ landing Pages?

And finally any tools or measures you would like to take with the new site?

8. Do you have brand guidelines?
We are designers, what can we say. Another favourite, if you have them, we want them.

9. Crucial Functionality & Anything We’ve Missed?
There is a whole host of other functional things to consider with your new website.

They can include any of the following…

– Do you have web-hosting?
– If you require web-hosting, are there any particular things we should provide? Additional Security? Database Protection? E-Mail Systems?
– Do you have access to your domain name? If not, where can we source this?
– Do you have a partner that can assist with the technical part of the project – an IT company, web-development staff or separate web hosting company?
– Any cookie requirements/ legal statements to go on the site?
– Anything else we may have failed to mention throughout this list?

10. Time and Budget?
How long do we have and how much do you have to spend?

Starting with time…

Looking past the ‘Go-Live’ date, are there other dates in-between? Website projects can take months or more, so if we’re creating content, we want to make this available to you as soon as possible.

Regarding budget…

it helps to know this as early as possible. It allows us to properly spec the project. Usually a ballpark of where you feel comfortable with minimum-to-maximum spends is fine. We can take it from there. If you’d like help on maximising project budgets, we have a post on that too, check it out >>>

And that’s us. Whether you have everything on the list or not, don’t worry, we can help fill in the gaps and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions?

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. A real man on a mission. Benedetto likes to make things happen and happen fast and in a big way. He 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.

19
Sep

Everything You Need – for Brochure Design Projects

Brochure projects are one of the most enjoyable things to work on. When clients approach us with their brief for brochure projects – there tend to be a lot of unanswered questions, this is our guide to help.

1. What would you like to achieve with your new brochure?
Before we get to creative questions, this is a crucial one. What’s your new brochure for?

Is it any of the following.

– Introduce the company to new customers?
– Introduce a new product or service to market?
– Highlight the value of a particular product, service or even a process?
– Generate more sales?
– Anything else?

All of the above really helps us understand your goals with the new brochure.

2. Tell us about the company?
Depending on what you’re hoping to achieve, it’s important to know about the company being represented. It can be anything from what does the company do? What is it known for in the marketplace? Or any other info which helps us to better understand who you are?

3 Who’s the target audience?
At the loft, we want to ensure that the right messages are presented to the right people in the right way. Some people prefer to read things that are short and sweet, some like friendly pictures and others enjoy poring over technical information. The more you can tell us about the intended audience, the more we can design a brochure that fits.

Can you tell us, is your audience.

Young/Old?
Male/Female?
Fun/Serious?
Take their time/Don’t have time to waste?
Anything else we need to know that we haven’t mentioned?

Of course, if you want to engage with all of these types of people that is fine – we can design that in too.

4. What are the Brochure Basics?
Now, we need to know a little about the brochure itself.

Can you tell us any of the following.

– Landscape or portrait?
– Number of pages?
– What goes on each page, this may include images/words/graphics or information tables?
– Any legibility issues ?

Any of the above gives us a good idea of what kind of brochure you’re looking for and how that works in practice.

5. Do you have content?
Graphics, text, photographs – you’re brochure is likely to contain all three.

What do you have, what do you need and what can we help with.

– Available photography/ stock photography you like?
– Any infographics or other graphical devices?
– Information tables?
– Anything we may have missed?

6. How about written copy?
One of the most important things about any brochure is finding great words that bring it to life. Do you have copy or would you like us or another to help?

Let us know. 

– What you have?
– What you require?

We can help with the rest.

7. What would you like to do with printing?
Once all the hard work is done – you are going to have to print your lovely new brochure. There are a tonne of different options with paper and print techniques.

What we’d like to know…

– Do you have a specific printer to print your brochure?
– How many do you need?
– Any favoured print samples/ techniques?
– Anything special for the covers?

As always, if you have questions, let us know? We’re all print nuts in the studio and love to help clients with their print requirements.

8. Do you have brand guidelines?
It wouldn’t be a loft post if we didn’t mention brand guidelines. In the nicest way possible – if you have them, we want them.

9. What are the key deadlines?
Getting to the nitty-gritty, how long do we have? As with all creative projects, we are guessing you’ll have a big deadline and clear completion date. Thinking beyond the big one for a minute – are there any smaller milestones?

These may include.

– Press releases
– Board Meetings
– Product Launches
– Internal Presentations
– Digital Campaigns

If you have other stuff going on, let us know. Most brochure projects involve creating content, if we have this available, we might can help you before the project is done.

10. Budget?
Knowing a budget to work towards allows us to best decide on resources and plan effectively.

The following is helpful to kick-off with.

– Minimum-to-maximum budgets for the project?
– Any specific content budgets for printing/photography/ copy/ other?

If you are looking to maximise your creative budget, check out the following guide >>>

And that’s a wrap.

Whether you have everything on the list or not, don’t worry, we can help fill in the gaps. Thanks for reading and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

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. A real man on a mission. Benedetto likes to make things happen and happen fast and in a big way. He 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.

19
Sep

Everything You Need for Branding Projects

Branding is one of the most fun, interesting and effective things you can do as a company. The projects helps to bring people together, present a refreshed image to the world and demonstrate a real statement of intent to anybody that’s watching. If you are thinking of re-branding or creating a new brand, this is our guide to help you.

1. Why are you creating a new brand or re-branding?
Before starting the project, we’re keen to know, why are we creating this new identity in the first place?

– You have a new company message.
– Your company has been acquired or has merged.
– The company has changed its general direction.
– It’s just time to refresh the company image.

Or is there another reason we haven’t mentioned?

2. Identity or brand?
Are you creating an identity project that give an external face to your company, product or service or creating a proper brand which determines who you are and what you do? There are also many options in between.

Which of the following do you need?

– Values/ vision/ mission?
– USP/marketing message/ messaging for different stakeholders?
– Identity design?
– Stationary design?
– Brand guidelines?

Or are there other things we may haven’t mentioned like vehicle liveries, signage, merchandise, etc?

3. People Involved?
Who will we be interviewing to get thoughts on the current brand? Who do we work with day-to-day? Who are the key decision makers?

4. Info on the company?
Before we get to the project itself, let’s find out a little more about the company we’re branding.

Any of the following is useful.

– What does the company do?
– What’s the company story?
– What makes your company special compared to others or what is its competitive advantage?
– Any other info on the culture?

Any documents with any of the above or even just a link to your current website or social media pages work.

5. Target Audience?
Successful brands help to bring people together to strengthen existing or create new relationships with key stakeholders.

What we want to know is who are the stakeholders we’re looking to attract/build relationships with.

– Existing Customers?
– New Customers?
– Staff – New or Existing?
– Suppliers?
– Shareholders?
– Other Stakeholders?

6. Ideas being expressed?
What do you want your brand to express.

Is it any of the following. 

– The Founder’s story?
– Core Values?
– Company Vision?
– Mission Statement?
– USP or competitive advantage?
– Simple marketing message?

We don’t like to over complicate things at the loft so if it is just a simple message – that is fine too.

7. Tagline?
Talking of messages, does your company have a tag-line or any other language to describe itself or any of its offerings?

8. Where brand will the new brand be rolled out?
Once we have created this amazing new brand for you, we’d love to know where it will be rolled-out.

Will it be in any of the following places.

– Business Card?
– Corporate Stationary?
– Forms of signage?
– Online uses?
– Custom merchandise?
– Team uniforms?
– Other places?

9. Brand Guidelines?
All new brands come with a range of guidelines, this depends on the size of your company and what you do. When creating guidelines, we like to know, which of the following is useful.

– Typefaces?
– Colours?
– Photography Styles?
– Copywriting Tones?
– Rules for misuse?

1o. Deadlines and Budget?
Two of the most important things to know. How long do we have and how much do you have to spend?

Starting with your deadline, we simply need to know when do you need your new brand-identity as well as the different outputs?

Regarding budget, usually a ballpark of wherever you feel comfortable is fine. Give us a window of minimum-maximum spends, and we can take it from there. If you’d like help on maximising project budgets, we have a post on that too >>>

And that’s us 🙂

Whether you have everything on the list or not, don’t worry, we can help fill with the other questions.Thanks for reading and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions?

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. A real man on a mission. Benedetto likes to make things happen and happen fast and in a big way. He 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.

19
Sep

THE LOFT | Mixtape #1

the loft playlist

Trying to avoid radio stations, at the loft we’ve prepared a special treat for any designers who are interested in fresh music releases. This month we’ve targeted interesting, spatial sounds and electronic landscapes created by the most talented Australian musicians and more.

As people who treat music with huge respect, we’ve decided to introduce some scope of our subjective selection of tunes that we think are extraordinary. Full of intriguing and unexpected passages, our first playlist will give you some chills, auto reflective vibes and hopefully lots of fun. Breathe in and enjoy.

Marek – Designer & Director of Design Hacks & Productivity

marcus

Soulman! The artist of the group and a man who fuses intensity, control and imagination to incredible effect. Relentlessly thoughtful, creative and driven. Our Marek is the man who will go to the ends of the earth to find the true meaning of something. There is no problem that can’t be conquered. A designer with purpose, with vision but most of all — a designer with soul.

18
Sep

Everything You Need – for Writing a Creative Brief

When writing creative briefs. Every hour saved in planning can save days throughout the process – time that can be used to give a more competitive quote or a more valuable service. At the loft, we want to help remove some of the guesswork  so we’ve compiled a 10-point checklist to help you out.

1. What do you want to achieve with the project?
What are you trying to achieve with the creative project? Do you know exactly what you would like to do or do you have some goals in mind.

Goals may include.

– We would like to increase the sales of a various product or service.
– We want our company to buy into our brand values.
– We are looking to change the perceptions of our brand online.
– Anything else

Understanding what you want to achieve lets us consider the best way to help you get there.

2. Company info?
Some info on your company gives us an idea of who you are and what you stand for.

Any of the following really helps.

– What does the company do?
– What is its competitive advantage in the marketplace?
– The company’s vision, values or mission statement?
– Anything else you can tell us?

3. Audience?
We know who you are, now who do you want to talk too? The better we can understand the target audience the more we can create a targeted message to suit.

Tell us about your audience, are they.

– Customers/ Suppliers/ Staff?
– Young/Old?
– Male/Female?
– Fun/Serious?
– Take their time/Don’t have time to waste?
– Anything else we haven’t mentioned?

4. Message?
What’s the message you want to communicate?

It can be any of the following. 

– A general marketing message or the company USP?
– The promotion of a specific product or service offering?
– A series of consumer benefits or features for a product?
– The communication of your core values ?

Understanding of the message, the messenger and the audience for a creative project are fundamental to its success.

4. Who’s the creative team?
Knowing each of the different people that we shall be working with and who to go too is incredibly helpful.

Who is…

– Responsible for the content?
– Going to work through the fine details?
– The person responsible for the final decision?

Are there any other third parties we need to know about – Print partners? IT people? Copywriters? Photographers?

5. Tangibles
Every project has unknown unknowns, known unknowns and stuff we definitely know. (get your head around that.) Tell us about the stuff you DO know – the tangibles.

For example…

– The size or orientation of a brochure
– The number of pages on that brochure or website
– Things that go on each page (images, text, graphics, social media bookmarks, etc.)
– Appropriate call-to-actions.
– Other features such as contact forms, social media links, etc.

We can help fill in the blanks.

6. Good examples?
We love to see what you have in mind for projects whether it is scrap-book cut outs of competitors work, links to relevant websites or just some things you have in mind – it is really useful to see where your head is at with a creative project and we can build on that.

7. Brand Guidelines?
With brand guidelines, if you have them, we want them.

8. Content, Content, Content!
What is the one thing that stalls 90% of creative projects? Yep, you’ve guessed it, it’s the availability of written and image content. Written copy tends to be a stumbling block, particularly for brochures and websites. If you are struggling with copy — speak to us and we will be able to help by either recommending a copywriter, helping you to write it ourselves or working with you in another way to source copy.

9. Key Deadlines?
An obvious but important one. Every project has a fixed deadline but knowing the times for other milestones, such as board presentations, internal reviews or other events mean can be helpful too. It means we can provide bits of copy or other relevant materials for a project in the interim.

10. Budget?
Let us know where you feel comfortable? Even having a ballpark allows us to properly spec your project. It allows us to determine how ambitious we can be creatively. The more time we can spend on your project instead of speccing your project, is time that we can re-invest into the relationship. We also have a separate guide in helping clients maximise their creative budgets, check it out here >>>

And that’s us. As we said above, we don’t need everything on the list above but the more you can let us know – the more able we are to deliver a spec, proposal and eventually a project that surpasses expectations. If you are looking for a hand, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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. A real man on a mission. Benedetto likes to make things happen and happen fast and in a big way. He 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.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
23
Oct

Your website, a birds-eye view

One of the things we love doing most at the loft is creating a new website for a client. It’s the type of project that gives us so many different ways to flex our creative muscles – whether it is creating an engaging user-experience, having the opportunity to work on photography, copywriting and graphic design all at the same time or just building a new digital home for clients.

One of the biggest challenges for any client is just working out where to start with their website project? You know you need to do it. You know what you have is a bit out-of-date. You know that there is so much to be done.

But where do you start? How do you know what to update? What to invest budget in? What is fine from the old site? What should stay? What should go?

Well at the loft, we always start with some tightly defined questions and a birds-eye view (quite literally) of everything.

This is our guide to help you get started.

1. Goals

We say this at the beginning of every loft project. What do we want to achieve? Do we want our customers to know more about out some of the things we do? Do we want to tell people about something our team has done that we’re proud off? Do we want to showcase a new product? A new service? Half of our team has changed and the website doesn’t reflect this – how can we sort that?
Consider all of the different options and look to become crystal clear with what you want to achieve. Great questions give great solutions. The clearer this bit, the easier the process will be.

2. You first

Many people will start by looking at the competition and want to copy a layout or structures or particular detail – we advise doing the opposite for two reasons. Firstly, the best website you can build is one that shows what is great about you and your organisation – not your competition. The other website you may be looking to mimic has been optimised for them not you. Secondly and from a more practical point of view – good practice for modern websites is that they are built content-first, structure second. Start with content.

3. User-Profiles

This part is optional but it can be good practice to create user-profiles for each of the different types of people who’ll use your site – they could include staff members, new clients that know about what you do, new clients that don’t know about what you do, existing customers looking for more information, etc.. For some, this might not be needed (we don’t do this for our own site), but it might be worth some brief thought. Just by thinking about it and writing some stuff down – you will give yourself more ideas about what you want to achieve.

4. Content, content, content

This is critical. We need to list it all down – case-studies, blog posts, staff bios, staff images, customer testimonials, accreditations, partners, service information, service images, event information, office in Glasgow, office in London, partner agencies, etc – list it all down in one place where you can look over it. This is where you can see why we love post-it notes so much. Post-it notes and a big board or wall space is great, but use whatever you’re comfortable with – this is where you want to look over the entire scene. Just being able to do this and stand back will give you a feeling of control over what you are doing.

Then… List everything you have, what you don’t have, what you have but might want to update – you can even have fun and colour co-ordinate different segments.

We love post-it notes as they allow you to be looser and get everything down in one-place! But if you want to be a real pro – you can use platforms such as Dynomapper (https://dynomapper.com) or Slickplan (https://slickplan.com/).

Both of them do the same things and have some very cool features such as the ability to share your map with your team and suppliers remotely, properly co-ordinate content and if you already have a large site – create a draft sitemap and use that as a starting point.

Again, these are cool platforms and cheap too but do whatever you feel comfortable with. Some designers in our studio will use these, I personally, still like the big-board and post-its – each to their own.

5. Categorise
Once you have your list – Now is the time to do some work. Group each of the individual bits of content together – start with the easy stuff.

Group the team members together, the services, the videos, copy and images for the case studies. Group, group, group!

Play with this…

You may find some groups are too busy and need to be divided further.

Some too sparse and need to be brought together.

Each of these actions will help you to categorise your content and voila, you are starting to create a proper layout for your new site.

It’s also helpful as…

i) You’ll be able to tell which pages are ready to be placed into your final layout. Those will be the groups where everything fits together, the content is uniform and it all just makes sense.

ii) You’ll be able to tell which pages are going to require more divisions – those will be the groups of content where there are just too many things going on and they don’t make any sense.

iii) You’ll be able to identify which content is missing or needs updated – whether it is staff bios, new product information or just some new product images.

6. Difficult Calls

Throughout all this – you’ll be able to isolate areas where difficult choices have to be made?

Do you organise your services as stand-alone modules or do you package them for different client groups?

Where do you put your case –studies – all in one index page or do you have them as extensions to certain services?

A big one – what goes on the home page? What should be the first thing a visitor sees?

Is that visitor one user-type or are there multiple user-types to cater too?

At this stage, it is a good idea to re-visit your site goals and these should provide you with context for each of those decisions. Once again, the beauty about using something dynamic to arrange the process is that you can experiment with different layouts – and we very much recommend experimenting with different layouts.

7. Be the User

We already mentioned user-profiles – put yourself in the shoes of the people that will be visiting your site. Think about their individual journeys and how they will interact with the site – then adjust accordingly.

8. Crucial budget

One of the best reasons for having a global view of your information layout is that you are able to assess which content is going to require further investment? Pragmatic decisions always have to be made.

By looking at your layout, understanding your content and assessing your goals – you can decide where energy and budget should go?

Is it on revised photography of the team?
Professional copy for the case studies?
New headline images of the product or service being used?
Graphics to showcase important benefits?

You may not be able to do everything you want but by having it all in front of you – you’re better able to make informed decisions and prioritise where to invest crucial time, energy and budget.

9. Other Vitals

Everybody is different but these are just good-practice.

Is there a ‘Call-To-Action’ on every single page?
Is there any content on your site which is more than 3 clicks away?
Is there any glaring omissions? (Now may be the time to have a quick glance at your competitor’s sites.)

10. A Great Start

By creating your own site map or information layout, you’ll be approaching your agency with a more informed viewpoint – you’ll have a stronger base for discussion and be able to give a more accurate brief. Something that will allow for a more seamless, higher value and mutually beneficial website-project. Any good agency will appreciate the effort.

The exercise we have just mentioned is one we do all the time at the loft – we carry it out for websites, info-graphics and videos. Whether it is a big board with post-it notes or a some more sophisticated digital solution – it should give you a clear reference point, a knowledge on where to invest your project budget and a great tool to brief your agency. Have fun and we wish you luck.

As always if you need any advice…

contact the loft >>>

Benedetto

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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.