THE BLOG

01
Oct

Meet Ellen

 

 

The lovely Ellen is joining us in the studio this week while Reiss is sunning it up on his well deserved holidays. And what better way to get to know Ellen than some quick fire questions?

1. What’s your name?
Ellen McLean

2. Your age?
22

3. Where did you study?
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee.

4. Favourite piece of work?
This is a tough one. I think the Selfridges Sustainability Animation by Anna Ginsburg & Sara Andreasson because I like that it is illustration combined with animation.

5. Favourite designer & why?
Kate Moross — the first designer that showed me that you could combine illustration and graphics.

6. Favourite design tool?
Always sketchbooks and pens to start off with. Digital-wise, it has to be InDesign.

7. Your go-to font?
Value serif or the classic GT Walsheim

8. Tee or coffee order?
Oat milk flat white

9. Favourite studio music?
A mix of upbeat songs. Something that will keep me awake and inspired.

10. What did you want to be when you were younger?
It’s always been an artist. Both my grandparents are artists, one in textiles and the other in fine art, so originally I thought I wanted to be a painter.

We are really looking forward to working with Ellen over the next week and seeing all of the awesome ideas she comes up with.

16
Aug

Let’s Get Social

Social media platforms definitely like to keep us all on our toes. The constant changing of image sizes and algorithms make it hard to keep up. So to make sure you stay on top of your social media game we have put together a handy Social Media Cheat Sheet (yours to download and keep — and don’t worry it’s printer friendly) that contains all the latest sizes, best times to post, and a little top tip thrown in there for good measure. In this blog post, we’re going to break down each platform and delve into each section of the cheat sheet to give you some extra information.

Twitter
Starting with Twitter, our most social of the platforms. Focussing on creating a community, engaging with your customer, and keeping the sales advertising to a minimum is the best way to approach this platform. Giving behind the scenes access or sharing information that is valuable to your customer are great ways to build a personality for your brand.

The best days to post on this platform are during the working week (Monday – Friday) with people being most active during their lunch hour through to the afternoon (12.00 – 15.00). Another great time to post is around 17.00 when people are likely to be commuting home from work looking for some post-work light relief.

When sharing images the best size is 1024 x 576px. While the desktop version can support square images, the mobile app chops your images into a rectangle shape so keeping to this aspect means that no important information will be lost when sharing on mobile.

Top Tip: Brand Recognition Through Hashtags
Creating a branded hashtag is a great way of tapping into user-generated content and engaging with customers easily. This means you won’t miss any tweets related to your brand if they only use the hashtag and not your company’s Twitter handle.


Example: Alzheimer’s Research UK uses the hashtag #sharetheorange to not only create awareness of their campaign but to collate user-generated content that they can retweet and share on their own social media channels.

 

Facebook
Next up it’s a social channel that most of us are very familiar with; Facebook. With so many people and businesses across the world using this platform, it really is a must have for any business.

The best days to post on this platform are during the working week (Monday – Friday) with people being most active between 09.00 – 15.00 (when most people should be working — but we will keep that between us). By posting between these times, it gives your content a good chance to be seen throughout the day and ready to hit that key sharing time (18.00).

So now that you know when to post, let’s talk about what to post. For Facebook, the best size to use for posts in 2000 x 2000px. This gives you more vertical real estate making your images a greater chance to be seen and clicked on when scrolling through the newsfeed.

Top Tip: Human Stories
People like people. So whether it’s a member of your team raising money for charity, somebody making a great contribution to the company, or even a birthday celebration — let your viewers get to know the people behind the brand for maximum engagement.


Example: Our ‘Meet The Team’ campaign last year featured each team member and a few of their favourite things. This allowed our followers to gain an insight into the people behind the designs. Using a short gif made the post visually interesting and helped keep viewers engaged for longer.

 

Instagram
Now for our most visual platform — Instagram — where your images really do the talking. Whether you are using photography, graphics, or video, this platform is a great place to promote your brand and it’s personality.

Engagement on Instagram is pretty constant throughout the week with Sunday being the only day that can see a slight dip. Again, commuting times (07.00 – 09.00 or 16.00 – 18.00) and lunch times (11.00 – 13.00) come out best for engagement so you want to have your post ready to hit these key times. With video engagement on the rise, the best time to post these is before 21.00.

Instagram has been pretty constant with its image sizes, with the standard size being 1080 x 1080px remaining unchanged since the platform launched. They now offer portrait and landscape alternatives, but square still remains the most popular.

Top Tip: Use Hashtags Quickly & Effectively
Keep a pre-organised list of hashtags that relate to your content in your emails or on your phone so they can quickly be copied and pasted into the comments section. You’re allowed a maximum of 30 hashtags per post.


Example: At the loft, we keep between 15 – 20 key hashtags saved in the notes section on our phones. This means when we post a new image, we can quickly copy and paste the relevant hashtags into the first comment of the post. Putting the hashtags into the comments section rather than including it in the caption ensures that the post doesn’t look messy.

 

LinkedIn
And last but certainly not least, the business heavyweight; LinkedIn. Professional and a great way to make some key B2B connections, LinkedIn is the perfect place to show off your expertise.

With work on the mind, the best days for engagement are between Tuesday and Thursday once again with commuting times (07.00 – 08.00 or 17.00 – 18.00) being the best time to post. Avoid between 22.00 – 06.00 when engagement will hit a lull.

Like Facebook, posting square images gives you more vertical real estate on the LinkedIn newsfeed and luckily using the same post size (2000 x 2000px) works perfectly. This will make your post stand out while the image quality remains high on both desktop and mobile.

Top Tip: Educate & Delight
Infographics are 300% more likely to get shared than any other content. Label each infographic with your LinkedIn page as the source so viewers can easily find your page.


Example: GE Renewable Energy used an infographic to explain the benefits of their product quickly and easily to their customers. Keeping it simple and highlighting key details makes the infographic effective and it definitely attracted attention with over 400 likes in just one day.

We hope this blog post has unravelled some of social medias greatest mysteries. Is your media in need of a refresh? Let’s get social, find us on all good social media platforms @tlcstudios.

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.

13
Aug

Tradeshow Banner With A Difference

At the loft we love a challenge, so when the Violence Reduction Unit Scotland came to us and needed a unique, bespoke tradeshow banner in 48 hours we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. As part of the Police Scotland, the Violence Reduction Unit Scotland was formed to target all types of violence — ranging from gang fighting to domestic violence to bullying in the workplace and schools. The work they do is incredible and we have had the pleasure of working with them over the past year.

VRU Scotland didn’t want a pull-up banner, they really wanted something bespoke, that was in keeping with the graffiti visuals we had created for them. With this in mind, we came up with a few alternative ideas to the traditional tradeshow banner. In the end, it involved some MDF, vinyl and a whole lot of black spray paint. And here is how we did it.

 

VRU_1

1. Vinyl & Vans

The tradeshow banner was for one of their projects, Street & Arrow. This project hires former offenders for twelve-month blocks. During that time workers are paired with a mentor who can help them master everything from basic employment skills like time management to managing money and relationship issues. The design we went with included the Street & Arrow visual which features a man taking his hoodie off to reveal a chef’s uniform. This visual comes with a double-take message on perceptions.

In order to get the Street & Arrow visual on to the MDF board, we decided to use vinyl as a stencil. First we started with creating the artwork and sending it off to a printer who was able to get the vinyl cut and ready for us the next day. Next, came the problem of working out how we were going to transport a 2-metre tall piece of MDF to the warehouse (where we were going to create the tradeshow banner) and back — introducing the van.

 

VRU_2

2. Prime & Prep

Van hired, vinyl collected and MDF bought, early the next day we headed to a warehouse to get started. Before we could apply the vinyl we needed to prime the wood. For this, we used two coats of clear primer. This took the better part of the morning as each coat needed a good few hours to dry. Once they had dried we applied the vinyl. This part of the process was the most delicate and had to be carried out slowly. Starting at the top and only applying a small section at a time, we smoothed the vinyl so that there was no bubbling. To ensure this we got inventive and used a credit card to smooth each section. Before peeling off the outer layer of the vinyl to expose the stencil we sprayed the board lightly with water to make it easier to remove.

 

VRU_3

3. Spray & Reveal

Vinyl applied and ready, it was time to spray paint. One bit at a time we covered the full stencil in black spray paint ensuring we kept an even coverage across the whole design. While we waited for the spray paint to dry we went for a quick donut and coffee stop. Feeling re-energised it was time for the big reveal, after double checking that the paint was dry, we removed the vinyl stencil piece by piece to expose the final design.

 

VRU_4

4. Display & Deliver

Next, we attached a fixing to make it stand. To make it easy to transport we went for a photo frame style stand. Now at the loft, we love any excuse for a couple of photos so after we finished posing with the completed tradeshow banner, it was time to put the banner carefully back into the van ready to be delivered to the client early the next day.

Creating the tradeshow banner was a whole lot of fun, the client was really happy with how the banner turned out and Reiss got to fulfill his lifetime dream of driving a van!

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.

16
Oct

the loft’s Design Glossary: Binding

Baffled by design terms? Pulling your hair out trying to decipher this secret language your designer is using? Not to worry, help is here. Every week, we will be compiling some of our most frequently used design terms and putting them into more digestible terms. Starting off with the thing that holds it all together — Binding:

Binding refers to the process of combining all the printed, individual sheets together to form a finished book/brochure. Depending on the type of document you are making, the number of pages the document and/or the finish you are looking to achieve all will help to determine the type of binding you will need to use.

 Saddle-stitched binding

Saddle-stitched
Fast, inexpensive and widely available, saddle stitching is one of the most commonly used types of binding. Printed, folded spreads are bound together by stapling them down the fold. This binding is perfect for magazines, reports, brochures and catalogues. However, it can only be used in documents with a low page count in order to maintain the bindings longevity. Here are some examples of saddle-stitched binding in action:

Saddlestitched

 

Perfect bound binding

Perfect Bound
The perfect finish for your document. Perfect bound, while more expensive, offers a high-quality finish to any document. Creating a spine that can be printed, this form of binding binds the cover to the inside pages using a strong yet flexible thermal glue. Best for reports, brochures, magazines, paperback books and catalogues that have a high page count. However, if perfect bound is the finish you are looking for, make sure to leave an extra day or two for binding. Here are some examples of perfect bound binding:

PerfectBound

 

Spiral Bound Binding

Spiral Bound
Need your document to lie flat? Then this is the binding for you. Spiral bound is the most adaptive of bindings, it can be used for low or high page counts and is readily available. Printed pages are bound together using a spiral-shaped piece of metal or plastic which allows the pages to open freely and allows for the document to remain open with ease. Best for binding reports, sales presentations, proposals, directories, cookbooks, instructional books and maintenance manuals. Here are some examples of spiral bound binding in action:

SpiralBound

 

Case bound binding

Case Bound
Case bound, also known as hard back,  is a form of binding that most people will be familiar with. Case bound books are built to last which makes them the ideal candidate for commemorative books, fiction/non-fiction books. This is the most expensive and timely option but if you are looking for strength and longevity, then this is the perfect binding solution. Here are some examples of case binding:

Casebound

Of course, there are other, more bespoke, types of binding which can help to add a little bit of extra personality to your document. From stab stitching which can add a decorative, handcrafted feel to screw post binding and loop stitched binding which are great alternatives to standard binding techniques.

Binding_Other

Next week, we will be deciphering the wonderful world of type.

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.

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

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.