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28
Oct

‘Your Brand Squared’

In recent months, we’ve been working with clients who are at that interesting point in the business journey – the point just before hiring their first marketing staff in-house – lots of activities, lots needing done and all hands on-deck for the time-being. In the interim, as long-term suppliers, we’ve been helping them draft their short-term plans and define activities during a crucial period. Most of the time, detailed marketing strategies have value in defining who to target, how to connect, the link between product, pricing and the messages to use.

We created ‘Your Brand²’ a couple of years ago to give organisations a framework to create quick, action-based marketing strategies that help build momentum and in recent times we’ve referred back to it in helping existing clients.

‘Your Brand²’s’ beauty is that it allows you to work on much smaller actions that create momentum, get quicker results and build confidence before moving to larger set-piece projects.

It’s a 7-step process , it can be carried out by pretty-much anybody and it gives you a fool-proof method to de-risk working on activities that may be ineffective or waste time. To carry out the process to its best effect we recommend using the help sheets with the bottom of this mail, post-it notes are tremendously helpful and working quickly on multiple strategies at once then comparing best plans at the end helps to overcome procrastination.

Most company owners and marketing directors instinctively know what they need to do and ‘Your Brand²’ is the best possible method to draw that information out.

1. Define your Commercial Goal

Every single activity, action, modification or amendment must be weighed against a commercial goal. Your Brand must serve the commercial objective and not vice-versa. Write out a couple of commercial goals and go for detail. This really helps in framing the brief for what you are trying to do.

We want to increase the sales of a particular product by 30% over 12 months within our current marketplace with existing clients.

is much better than…

Double the company turnover.

What products/services do you want to increase? When do you want to do it? Are you doing it in new markets or existing markets?

The more specific the better.

Goals can also be emotive or commercial – sometimes you have to do stuff that just feels right. If brand-building is all about capturing the spirit of the organisation – then it is critical that there is some spirit in the business in the first place.

2. People and Relationships

The (number of) and strength of personal relationships between your business and stakeholders is going to define the quality of your brand presence and its ability to help you achieve your commercial goals. We have to define who are the people that your brand should be building relationships with? Existing customers or new customers?

Both have value.

What sector? Tell us more about them? Old? Young? What are their interests in your product or service? What are their interests full stop? Again, the better able you are to define the people that you want to build relationships with – the better able you are to target them with the correct messages or CTAs (Call-to-actions) to achieve the desired result.

3. Big Idea

These can be big and global. Apple – Think Different, Nike – Just Do It, The Loft – Design With Soul, (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.) These are the ideas that bind your company or brand with the stakeholder (person with whom you have a relationship.)

For most companies, set-piece tag lines give way to something a little more practical and benefits-based.

Examples include…

‘Software tools that improve productivity and increase efficiency’
‘A company that wholeheartedly believes in sustainability of production’
‘A professional services company that believes in fast, round-the-clock service.’

Have some fun thinking about the various ideas or benefits of your product or service that your customers buy into. Knowing these will help you align the right messages to the right people. You will usually find that you have multiple big ideas that you will share with your audience.

Write them all down!

4. Channels

Once you know what you want to do, who you need to build relationships with, the main benefits of your service (and therefore what messages should go to different stakeholders.) It is time to think very rationally about which channels are most likely to reach the people that you want them to reach.

– Trade Shows
– Digital Mailshots
– Personal Relationships & On-going dialogues
– Printed Mailshots
– Google AdWords
– Printed Ads
– LinkedIn Groups

These are just some examples.

We highly recommend for this type of quick and dirty marketing campaign – building on existing channels, working what you have in a creative way as opposed to doing anything too new. Of course if the people you are targeting can be found in a new way then go ahead but 95% of the time, we find that people can do a lot more with what they have as opposed to doing new stuff.

5. Little Ideas

Now is the time to get creative. You will have mapped out a pathway (Goal > People & Relationships > Ideas/Messages > Channels.) You should now know exactly what kind of activity you are going to do and who you are targeting. Now is the time to get creative! Get the pen and some blank paper out and start thinking about some ideas that will really make an impact!

Trade shows are big for you? How about more people on your stand or a promotion for people that attend the show only. What more can you give away?

Networking is your thing to win new business? Then you should have the best business card in the room – it will give you a talking point with everybody else there.

Professional firm with lots of clients working in a rapidly evolving landscape for your subject? How about some E-newsletter sharing helpful, targeted, byte-size information with complimentary blog posts?

Google AdWords? Then how good is your ad? How about a punchy image-ad that really shows your product off to great effect. How about a GIF-advert?

Sales based mainly on professional relationships? How about some very informative visual information that can be bespoke’d for different clients.

Most of the time, you would engage a professional or an agency at this stage but you might want to have a little fun yourself. Once you start coming up with ideas, they will keep on-coming. This is a great feeling and opens up new possibilities for you and your business.

6. Measure

Whatever you do – measure its effectiveness! You don’t need to get too carried away with data if it isn’t your thing but digital activities in particular should have measures in places to gauge effectiveness.

7. Action

Our favourite word here at the loft.

Action!!

Just do something. Even if you do something and it doesn’t give you any immediate success – you will have learned something new and that has value. We highly recommend doing multiple versions of everything – instead of one plan – do 3 and that way you won’t be too precious. Preciousness and procrastination are the biggest enemies here against starting new activities. This whole post and guide is about reducing the size of unknown actions required, de-risking the amount of energy required and just helping you to get going.

Go for it!!

And have fun…

Download the help sheets >>>

Or contact us if you need a hand>>>

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
Oct

MCR Pathways ‘Talent Taster’

We always say at the loft, to ‘design-with-soul,’ you have to have a soul so we were absolutely delighted, humbled, honoured, all-of-the-above to have some of the incredibly gifted students from MCR Pathways join us for a Talent Taster. MCR Pathways are one of the organisations that we love helping the most at the loft and it was a real privilege to work with their young students this morning as part of a ‘Talent Taster.’ MCR Pathways are an amazing charity doing great work at a phenomenal pace for the kids of Glasgow and beyond. We highly recommend getting involved, there are details at the bottom of this post.

Just in case, you don’t know…

Who are MCR Pathways?

MCR Pathways are predominantly a Glasgow-based organisation. They acknowledge that there is amazing potential and talent in young people. Varied, unique and inspiring. Is every single one. But for many, that potential has yet to be discovered. Life experience has knocked the confidence out of some, firmly locking away those seeds of flair and hope. It is their aim to uncover, nurture, develop and help to realise the skills and capabilities in looked after young people. They know that each person has a specific set of abilities and passions and they want to see them flourish in the arena that is right for them. MCR Pathways support looked after young people practically. Guiding them on pathways to education, employment and fulfilling lives.

What’s A Talent Taster?

Talent Tasters provide a unique opportunity to experience the world of work in a way that is more engaging and inspiring for young people, and sustainable for the organisation and staff delivering it. The tasters are designed to motivate the young people and help them make positive choices about their future careers.

Think of Talent Tasters as concentrated, high quality work experience. Three hours to get to know more about a company and a particular job it offers. There are 2 other levels to see what a manager does and even time with the boss.

Perhaps it will be the defining moment in a young person’s life. The moment when they say: “I could do this”.

Talent Taster

Wendy Jordan, Project Co-Ordinator extraordinaire for MCR Pathways wrote a blog post this morning. One that is going to appear on the MCR Pathways website later today but we thought we’d steal a march, pinch her words and get it out there as a guest-blog post first. I am sure she won’t mind.

Over to you Wendy…

It’s a clear autumn morning in October. I’m waiting outside South Block, an artist’s collective based in Osborne Street near Glasgow’s Merchant City, for today’s Talent Taster students.

The four young people are from secondary schools across Glasgow. All have an interest in art and creative industries. They’re here for a ‘Design / Web design’ session at The Loft run by creative entrepreneur Benedetto Bordone. Benedetto is going to help the young people design their own personal brand. This is going to be great!

Talent Tasters, by MCR Pathways, are two to three hour sessions for secondary school students who want to learn more about the jobs they think they might want when they’re adults. The Talent Taster team is working with organisations like Wheatley Group, the Citizens Theatre, The Loft and many, many more to deliver these sessions. The aim is to create a spark in the young people that will make them want to stay on in school, gain qualifications and get the job (and life) of their dreams.

Back to the Loft…

We all make our way upstairs to the airy, bright studio where Benedetto and his team work. They work with organisations like Alexander Dennis, Percepta, worldwide software companies, whisky distillers and global automotive companies on their brands, websites, publications and videos. The team of 5 does the work of 20 but they’ve set aside the whole morning to work with our Young Glasgow Talent to help them find, grow and use their talent. We can’t thank them enough.

Benedetto first takes the group of young people on a tour of South Block, showing the youngsters what a creative work space is like. It’s an amazing place – there’s even a ping pong table.

Then he pairs each of the young people up with one of his designers: Reiss, Aiste, Charlie and Adèle. They’re given an introduction to the creative process from mood boards to finished products.

It’s amazing to watch. The young people come out of their shells, start chatting, interacting, engaging, having fun. This is what we at MCR Pathways have always known. Young people just blossom when they get one to one attention from someone who cares. That’s why mentoring works.

The personal branding exercise starts with a questionnaire. What’s your name? What’s your favourite colour? What’s special about you? What logos can you think of? What are your hobbies? This is followed by a creative exercise as the young people start to design their logos based on who they are. Suddenly the room is quiet. You can hear the scratching of pencils. Quiet laughing. Intense discussions between the designers and young people. Everyone is smiling.

It’s time to fire up the Macs – we’re going to use Adobe Illustrator to make the young people’s sketches real. There’s some amazing, really inspired work here. We’ve got one young man whose personal brand is his glasses and hairline. It looks amazing. A young woman on the Taster has created a flowing, stylised version of her first initial – K – cutting through a bevelled rectangle. It’s really beautiful. The designers scan in the sketches by the young people and start work on making the finished, professionally-designed product.

You can see a light in the young people’s eyes – they’re watching the designers closely, taking it all in. It’s such a buzz for everyone. Their designs are becoming real.

And all too quickly, it’s over, but the young people have something great to take back with them – their own personal brand – and a more realistic view of what it means to be a designer.  You get the feeling some lives might have been changed for the better today.

1297035

Wendy Jordan is a Project Co-Ordinator for MCR Pathways. She has the best job in the world, helping Glasgow’s talented young people find their purpose in life, raise their aspirations and create an amazing life for themselves.

www.mcrpathways.org
info@mcrpathways.com
0141 221 6642

Get Involved!!

25
Oct

Frictionless Experience In a Disruptive World by Alan Meldrum #GYPSeminarSeries


 
At the loft, we get involved in so many different things in and around of design, branding and business and one of those things is ‘Professional Development.’ Growth is actually one of our values and everybody in our company is a learner in one way or another! We love learning and one of the most fun things that we’ve been involved in the last 12 months has been the Glasgow Young Professionals #GYPSeminarSeries which the loft helped to start-up, organise and assist with creative support.

One of our favourite events was several months ago – Alan Meldrum, Global Vice-President for Strategy and Client Services for Percepta, shared some wonderful ideas with the GYP audience about why – in an increasingly disruptive world it’s never been more important for businesses to deliver a frictionless stakeholder experience. It was the 4th part of a fabulous #GYPSeminarSeries at SocietyM and Alan was terrific in sharing his views of a great customer and staff experience. We were so happy with Alan that we asked him to do a follow-up in front of the camera and that camera was very kindly provided by Gylen of Boardman Media. What you are now watching is the first part of a new video series of Alan Meldrum’s #GYPSeminarSeries.

We are delighted to be involved with The GYP team, Boardman Media, The Percepta Team and most of all Alan Meldrum who gave his time and also some brilliant insights into modern-day customer-experience.

Part 1, Vision – At the Heart of ‘Frictionless’

We were very careful to use the word ‘stakeholder’ above as Alan says that empowering and engaging employees is every bit as important as engaging the customers themselves in creating a frictionless customer-experience. He speaks of the need for companies to have a vision with everybody buying in and contributing to that vision. Alan talks about empowering staff and goes as far as saying that sometimes admitting that you got it wrong as a provider and looking to right that wrong goes a long way to building long-term relationships with a brand.

For anybody that is truly interested in any part of the brand/staff/user/stakeholder/customer experience, this is well worth a look and keep an eye out next week for the follow-up in the series.

You can also check out the people who helped to make this clip below…

With thanks,

The Loft Team

Alan Meldrum of Percepta >>>

Boardman Media >>>

GYP >>>

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

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.

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.

28
Sep

3-Steps to launch

3-Steps to launch!

You spot an opportunity, a gap in the market, an extension of what you do – a way to help more people or provide greater service to existing customers. You want to create, launch and market a new product or service but aren’t quite sure where or how to start?

This is our simple guide to help you get going.

It’s a 3-step process we’ve used many times with current clients.and it is short, fast and to the point.

1. WHERE’S THE VALUE?

You have to start with customers.

Your new service or product is likely to be related in someway to what you are doing and it’s essential to know from the outset – the practical advantages that your new product or service is going to offer. Nnderstand the value for them and this value should also go beyond theory.

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Tell a story with your images – human stories are better.

A technology company that offers ‘more flexible working’ sounds good to a business owner – in theory. However, the ability to download, edit, re-upload documents to a shared workspace, anywhere in the world from the phone of one of your staff-members paints a much, much more vivid picture of value to the business owner – your potential customer.

Understanding the human value and beginning to paint this picture in your marketing is important and as you go forward, you will find even more practical benefits to solutions. It is important to know and list what they are as you begin creating your new product/service brand.

2. PRIORITISE ACTIVITIES

Most will think you need a brand first, then a website, then some marketing materials, then a product name etc… As advocates of ‘the lean start-up’ approach – we think the most important thing your new product or service needs is revenue and sales. A new product or service should be approached almost like a ‘start-up’— they burn development cash, there is no income and most of it is still not properly understood yet and will need time. We believe you should do the maximum with what you have to get your new product or service off the line as quickly as possible.

List all of the different things you can do – website, microsite, flyers, business cards, E-Newsletters, Printed mail shots, logos, Product names, advertorials, print advertisements, etc, etc… We would do the bare minimum to get you going. If you have 10-12 activities that you want to do, prioritise those that are most likely to get you going and start. The chances are later items will change in nature or content once you begin. You will establish quick wins that you’ll want to build on and this is likely to change the rest of the list. The scope of a first project may be the release of a simple flyer with some pictograms telling the story and a call-to-action to your first 500 prospects.

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Sometimes a simple descriptive image is enough.

Also, consider the best ways to tell the stories that matter to customers – there is a wonderful example above of the beauty of a ‘clear-desk.’ Build on the positive human stories. Pictograms, visual systems, eye-catching images, short videos will all help you paint a better picture of what your new offering can do for the people you are looking to gain as customers.

As we have said, all start-ups have limited marketing budgets and (at this point,) no revenue. So we suggest that you really prioritise and maximise your budgets to give you the biggest bang for your buck – build momentum so you can move fast, launch quickly and start obtaining some happy customers.

3. ACTION

This wouldn’t be a loft list, if it didn’t contain the word ‘ACTION’ somewhere.

Launch!

Get it out there in all its raw and imperfect glory. Talk to customers, sell your first products or services and then build from there. As stated, it is only by doing that you will be adequately informed where to go next, that you will have something to build on. At the beginning – there isn’t a right or wrong way and a more optimal way will become apparent in time. This will be as true for the operational efficiency of your product or service as it will for your marketing efforts.

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Be bold and have some fun with your marketing

Don’t forget to be bold, focus on results over methods and have fun. By acting this way, it will unlock a whole new raft of unseen creative ideas which will set your new product or service apart and take it to another level. Good luck.

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.

28
Sep

Making Magic Happen Every Single Day…

The loft is one of Scotland’s most dynamic, imaginative and effective design & branding agencies. We have an incredibly enthusiastic team who brings ideas to life every single day for our clients in brand-identity design, website design, graphics, art-directed photography, social content and videos.

We literally make magic happen every single day, its just that we call it ‘Design With Soul.’

Contact us to find out more>>>

 

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