Apprentice Fever

Hi folks, welcome to the Loft’s weekly news. This week, with Apprentice excitement hitting fever pitch, we discuss the merits of winner Tom and the wider role that creativity has to play in business. We also discuss some of the other things that have been happening recently at the Loft.

Creativity Conquers All
So Tom Pellereau has won the apprentice and I for one could not be happier. As well as being a gentleman, Tom’s main skill is his creativity and innovative thinking, both traits that can be overlooked in the cold hard world of business. But thankfully, ones that weren’t overlooked by Lord Sugar this time round. Tom may have studied mechanical engineering and is widely described as an inventor but Tom is an idealist, a problem solver, a visionary and above all else – a creative. Creatives do tend to have an uneasy relationship with business, arty-farty and airy fairy are two unfair clichés labelled to creatives. But while most in business are inwardly looking at eking out smaller profits on a quarterly basis, the creatives are those that inject those all important ideas that add real value to businesses. Think of any great company these days – companies such as Google, Apple or Facebook (sorry to be boring but they are the best examples) and you’ll find that they are tirelessly innovating to improve their product or service. Looking outward and not inward.

Tom’s story in the apprentice has been remarkable to watch as his ideas and judgements have tended to be trampled all over by the ‘egos’ in his team. Each time, with hindsight, his judgement has proved right. Where do I start with Tom? The first I noticed his different approach was during an awkward brain-storming session in app-development in task 2, where Tom followed the actual and correct rules of brainstorming. The rules of brainstorming are there are no rules. For 15 – 30 minutes, anything goes, no matter how ridiculous the idea may be. Tom was slightly ridiculed by shouting out the first thing that came into his head when suggesting traffic lights etc… But this type of creative exercise is more conducive to great ideas.

The next example saw Tom being overruled by motor-mouth Melody who conducted the most awful and one sided ‘market research’ known to man in selecting the teapot light as opposed to the car seat-rucksack. What was interesting next was Melody’s apparent heroism in selling the niche object to small boutiques in Paris leaving Tom to flounder. However, their task was akin to push treacle up a hill as they fundamentally had the wrong product. Melody could have sold all year long and still not attained the sales of the other team who saw the potential in the innovative car seat rucksack. In between, there were lots of funny moments – ’emergency biscuit’ anyone? But the thing that really stuck in my mind was his approach to branding the new ‘All British’ Fast Food Restaurant. Whereas the other team could do no better than Mexican clichés; cactus and sombreros. Tom decided to take his little digital camera into a baby store and start taking pictures of random objects in the store and in other shop windows. Sir Alan’s main aide Nick had a look of absolute puzzled bemusement on his face at the method being instigated by Tom. Yet this crazy method resulted in a very sophisticated concept called MyPy with a lovely idea for naming the pies after famous voyagers (Yes the Columbus thing was embarrassing) but as a concept, it was an absolute winner. Furthermore, I would struggle to believe that any other of the candidates would have been able to dream up such a sophisticated concept.

See I have been saying for a long, long time that creativity and innovation must be placed at the heart of any organisation that wants to succeed. The real problem is that there is a lack of understanding between design and branding. Branding and communication is exceptionally important in crowded market segments where performance or functional requirements of various products or services are equal. The choice becomes more about the image of the brand. However, what most companies forget is that if you truly understand your consumer, and can make their lives easier, make their experiences better by design more innovative products/services. You will re-define the paradigms of that market and you will (for a moment) have that market place to yourself. The beauty of dealing with the future context if your marketplace is it’s a lot less crowded. Much more exciting and rewarding than constantly looking over the shoulder of your rivals and trying to pinch ideas. Think of something recently such as the self-service check-outs in our supermarkets? That involved somebody thinking about customer service, looking at the problem of massive queues and idle staff at supermarkets and deciding they were going to do something about it. In a busy city environment, they work fantastically well. I would seldom visit a shop without one. It is this kind of lateral thinking that enhances the brand and more importantly, the bottom line.

There has been a lot of talk recently about where Britain fits in the modern world? In today’s developed economy, where 82% of an I-Phone’s value is in the branding and technology, it is this type of value-add activity that will make companies serious money. Both proper holistic design and smart branding. Your Melodies and Jim may be able to talk all day and sell ice to the Eskimos, and your Helen’s will provide exceptional organisation skills but it is the creativity of the Tom’s of this world where the real money is. The sooner we take Lord Sugar’s lead and realise it for ourselves the better.

#Future Forward

This week we submitted our event to the organisers of Social Media Week Glasgow. The name of the event is ‘Future Forward,’ and we’ll be dealing with a lot of the themes mentioned above. We intend to place creative thinking at the heart of our event and how social media can be used to enhance the creative process. We are looking to collaborate with another company and the event details are still to be completely confirmed.

In the meantime, Social Media Week is going to be a very exciting time for the city with a number of great events taking place. The list is already looking very promising… ‘The T-Shirt Design Freak-out’ by the mighty new fashion brand ‘Freak Dem’ shall definitely be a highlight. The debate… ‘Crowd sourcing – Killing Creativity’ by Cullen Skink looks set to be a might interesting conversation. An extension to the much loved ‘Business Banter’ with a daily meet for every day of the meeting shall definitely get each morning of the week of to a good start and ‘The Transatlantic Innovation Challenge’by PSYBT Glasgow definitely looks like a super event. There are also a number of other great events being lined up that week so check out the link… Or follow Social Media Week Glasgow @SMWGlasgow

New Clients

It’s been another great week for us in adding ‘Get Gigging’ to our client portfolio where the Loft will be designing a new brand identity for their owner Iain Mcniven. Get Gigging is a new online service for music lovers that want to follow the live music of their favourite bands and keep in touch with their favourite venues as well. In addition, we are delighted to confirm that we shall be designing and building a new website for health and fitness company ‘The Team’ led by Nadia De Marco. You can follow Nadia on Twitter @thedemarco

And finally, we have finished the branding for new fashion label Freak Dem.’ As already stated, Freak Dem is more than just a fashion label, it’s going to be a full movement for building a positive urban community. Their owner Raschique Narwan has big, big plans starting with bringing renown gospel artist Jason Dolphin to Glasgow for Social Media Week. We’ll be doing a much fuller piece on Freak Dem soon. You can check out Raschique on Twitter @ChiqueFreakDem

Freak Dem Worn In Progress Page

For all of you in Glasgow, enjoy the holiday weekend. And lets hope the sun stays out…

Have a great week folks…


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Misunderstanding Change

Welcome to the Loft’s weekly news folks, this week we give you our take on the News of The World Phone Scandal, we put the spotlight on Cruinn Design and give you the rest of the news from another packed week at the Loft.

Misunderstanding Change

Well the biggest news this week has been the phone hacking scandal at the News of The World newspaper. Like most, We are absolutely disgusted by what has happened. This goes without saying. We were already outraged by the first allegations of phone-hacking of politicians and celebrities. But the allegations this week bring a new low to our so-called journalists and their behaviour. However, it is emblematic of an industry that is in terminal decline, these were the acts of desperate people in an ever more desperate industry. The News of The World editors and journalists being those that seemed to cling on hardest to their perceived entitlement.

You see, the shifting sands of change stop for no industry. Newspapers are no different. The Sun, Mail, Mirror, as we know them in their current formats – will soon be extinct. The internet and more recently social media has redefined the landscape again. Most people can follow the things/people/companies that interest them on Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc. We no longer need the newspapers to tell us, with their skewed tones, what is happening. We’ve basically cut out the middle man. And I think this is a refreshingly positive thing for society as a whole. If the newspapers are willing to break the law, and some of the allegations are awful, to source a story then who is to stop them for false reporting to enhance their own ends. There will always be a place for good journalism, but like so many extinct sectors, it will remain at the upper end of the scale. Papers such as the Times may have a future if they remain newspapers of quality, reporting on events and opinions that cannot be easily reproduced by the enthusiastic amateur. But it is the only way they will be able to survive as nobody is willing to pay anymore for the kind of information they can pick up for free.

Ironically the Murdoch empire, now finds itself on the opposing end of change. Never wildly sympathetic to some of the factory workers, ship builders or miners etc who themselves found themselves on the wrong side of change in Britain in the eighties. The Murdoch empire and his newspapers, in particular, are now victims of progress. And with regards to the News of The World, I have very little sympathy. I have always been highly sceptical of the methods employed by various tabloids but the News of the World and its sister publication ‘The Sun’ took the biscuit. I always found it incredibly sinister that both papers were written by highly intelligent men and women (usually being educated from Oxbridge) who would deliberately and patronisingly dumb down the content to appease their perception of the common man/woman. It was this attitude that made me believe that these publications didn’t exist to serve anything other than their own ends. The claims in recent days by some of their staff that they were dealing in ‘highly investigative journalism’ is laughable. We all enjoy a little gossip, who doesnt? But the News of the World took this to new levels of gutter press and I for one am glad to see the back of it. It also signals the end of media moguls such as Murdoch having such power over our society as a whole. This can only be a good thing.

You see this isn’t the first time that Rupert Murdoch has misunderstood the digital revolution. His insatiable eye for profit saw him buy Myspace in 2005 for 580 million dollars, only to sell it five years later for £35million dollars. And in the process, costing his company a cool billion dollars. He has also bought and sold sites like Photobucket (remember that?) and a host of other failed internet ventures. In each and every case, the Murdoch empire has failed to grasp that the internet changes everything. This is a new landscape. The consumer now holds all the cards, we really don’t want to be told what to watch, or read, or buy. The big mistakes in all of Murdoch’s internet ventures were trying to turn communication channels into broadcasting channels, where they know best.

The beauty of Twitter, Facebook, the internet as a whole is that we are empowered to follow what we want to follow, read what we want to read, or buy what we want to buy. Myspace at one stage, resembled a spamming site, with horrible pop-up ads appearing all over the screen. Absolutely dreadful compared to the super subtle use of adverts on Facebook, and endemic of the Murdoch’s apparent lack of understanding of the internet. The days of the hard sell are over. News International have been guilty of trying to suppress and not empower people. The empire really could learn a thing or two from companies like Google, Facebook or even Amazon that takes the time to build an intimate connection with its audience, before subtly suggesting things that may be of interest to its audience. Or even companies like Apple which profit from simply giving them the means to get on with it in products such as the I-Phone. Its empowerement and not suppression that counts these days.

Which leads me to News International’s great white hope, the purchasing of the remaining 60% of BSKYB. Firstly, it should not be allowed, but it may be poetic justice that Murdoch gets his way and purchases the remaining 60%. He may just get himself the biggest of white elephants. Sky may be in rude health at the moment, but it is also living on borrowed time. With more content coming online and proper internet TV’s just around the corner, you can guess how many people want SKY to tell them what they can and cant watch as part of their packages. Inevitably, the broadcasters will once again decide to cut out the middle man and sell directly to the consumers. Unless News International can learn that in today’s digital age, where we the consumers expect greater attention, intimacy and trust before purchasing anything. They will eventually sell nothing. Be under no illusion Murdoch’s power and influence is crumbling. Time stands still for no man or industry, but in a quickly changing world, Murdoch may find that the News of the World may well be the beginning of the end.

Cruinn Design

This week, I had great pleasure in meeting Richard Smith from Cruinn Design. An outstanding interior design consultancy. I first met Richard about 6 months ago at a 4-Networking meet and was instantly impressed by his knowledge and passion for design.

Well this week it was great to catch up with Richard and find out what he had been up to recently. What impresses me most about Richard is his love for true creativity. This mainly involves working on challenging projects with real-life design problems to solve in terms of functionality and user interaction. Not indulgent flights of fancy. He is an exceptional manager of budgets and resources. Being able to achieve a very lot with spectacularly little.

Furthermore, this approach tends to lead to very exciting and creative solutions being used that go against the grain and very obviously avoid cliched solutions that many in his sector lazily employ for the ‘wow’ effect. Don’t get me wrong, Richard is as capable as any interior designer of producing tremendously stylish works of design. His conceptual dentistry is as much testament to that. But Richard’s personal style and ethics lead to a much more sophisticated and durable style of design. One that is honest, resourceful and tremendously creative. In addition, the Cruinn logo, designed by Richard is a beautifully subtle design and further testament to his ability to cross disciplines. A hallmark of a great designer.

Richard is a graduate from the Glasgow School of Art in 2006 with a first class BA(Hons)design and also won the Stakis prize for Interior Design. At the Loft, we cannot recommend his work highly enough.

You can check out more from his folio at and follow Cruinn @cruinndesign

T in the Park

At the Loft, we are massive fans of rock music and so it was great to see the return of T in the park. This year’s highlight? Probably the magnificent Foo Fighters for their passion, humility and energy. At one stage, playing in front of the audience in kilts. Absolutely brilliant…

And also, we absolutely loved Radio one’s brilliant advert ‘Scottish Is..’ From a design/branding/marketing point of view, we can wax lyrical about its humour, personality and the fact that the statements were crowd sourced using social media. But in general we love it because we just know its true. If you haven’t seen it yet. Enjoy…

Have a great week folks…


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Exciting Times

Hi folks, it is indeed exciting times here at the Loft with a new addition to our client portfolio, social media week, our violence of the new project and the completion point of a range of projects coming closer.

The Team Sub-Brand

We are delighted to welcome Nadia De Marco of “The Team” to the Loft for the design of her sub-brand ‘Wonder Weightloss.’ Nadia’s health and fitness company is about assisting people to get into great shape in a healthy way. No crash dieting or crazy weight loss programmes but honest realistic exercise and diet control that is both achievable and enjoyable.

Nadia has already laid the foundation of a very personable and human brand with her efforts thus far. We look forward to working with her in bringing a great programme to life through its branding and communications.

One funny part of the week was telling Nadia of my own urge to indulge in ‘pain au chocolate’ or muffins after a heavy gym session. Well it turns out that the personal trainer is indeed human, texting me on Tuesday night to confess that she was in a chip shop of all places and couldn’t resist some chips. Nadia has also been accompanying me to the banter recently, luckily as well as being an exceptional PT, she is also great conversation. So if you see her, pop bye and say hello… Or check her out on twitter @thedemarco

Aperture Marketing

It has given us real pleasure recently to work with Aperture Marketing in assisting them to create their banners and publicity material for the B2B show in Edinburgh. Brian Canavan of Aperture Marketing was amongst the speakers and gave a very insightful seminar on marketing. You can find out more about Aperture Marketing on Twitter @aperturemarket

Freak Dem, Coffeze & Making Trax

We recently confirmed that we were delighted to be working with Making Trax, Freak Dem and Coffeze. All three projects are close to completion and we look forward to presenting them to you very soon.

Making Trax is a travel company in the process of being set up by Nicole Scott. We have been lucky enough to design the website and branding for Making Trax and we look forward to unveiling it soon. You can check out Making Trax on twitter @Making Trax Ltd

Coffeze by Jonny Peyton shall be Scotland’s first drive thru coffee shop. We are very much looking forward to presenting the new Coffeze website, once the new store is open. Check out Coffeze on Twitter @coffeze

And finally Freak Dem by Raschique Narwan. Freak Dem is a fashion label with a difference, doing more than just designing clothes, they are building a movement that will also help build communities through the sharing of positive values. Its a great pleasure working with Raschique too, very much the social entrepreneur, she is always good fun and the Loft truly appreciates some fantastically positive tweets this week. Her branding is almost complete and we are over the moon with it so far, so we very much look forward to showing this soon. Follow Raschique, her brand FreakDem and some very colourful tweets on twitter @ChiqueFreak

Violence of the New!

The Loft made good progress this week on its new facebook mini-sites, e-newsletter system and mobiles sites, being co-developed with Aillum Marketing. The majority of the design and concept work has been completed and we look forward to developing our own versions of each product before being able to offer them to our clients. Aillum are a really great company worth checking out in more detail on twitter… @Aillum Ltd

Social Media Week

This week, the Loft met once again with both Daniela and Tim of Twintangibles to discuss the plans for Social Media Week. We are still at the draft stage of our own plans but we can now say that the event we host will be a celebration of both creativity and social media and the way both can be married to do something special. Once we have finalised our event plans, we will be seeking collaboration and assistance from all our fans, followers and associates on social media. We are hoping to announce our plan in full detail next week.

One issue that became very apparent from both Tim and Daniela was that this is Glasgow’s Social Media Week. They want as many companies as possible, old and new, large and small, to engage with the values of Social Media. Which include the potential for collaboration and the ability to communicate globally with ease. There is a real potential for some great events and the organisers want as many people as possible to engage. Check out Social Media Week at

Finally Twintangibles, themselves, are offering some very interesting course themselves, including one this week on Crowdfunding and Social Media. Check out the slides from the course below or to find out more about Twintangibles at

Inspirational Type

Finally, we were taken aback by some truly beautiful posters which made a creative use of typography.Iironically, we particularily liked this one on Crowd Sourcing. Check the rest of them out at…

Have a great week folks…


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