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Let design into your boardroom and change your world…

[2 minute read]

I recently attended a workshop organised by our industry champion, the Design Business Association. Held in the spectacular Imagination office in London (where our co-Founder Lucy spent the early years of her career), the day was billed as a chance to ‘explore and debate how to embed design across every business function to harness its transformative power.’

Maybe a few too many big words but we managed to cut through the jargon…

We talked about how to get design onto the top table and how a Chief Design Officer (CDO) can champion design’s value across an organisation… from within the boardroom.

Design can’t be seen as a dark art that takes place in innovation labs and runs sprints and hackathons with co-created blueprints and other such wonders.

Design is fundamental to the success of an organisation, embedding innovation in its culture and DNA. From this position, design can drive businesses forward and make the world a better place to live.

My top takeaways from the day:

  • A CDO doesn’t need to be a designer but has to speak the language of business and understand the impact of design (beyond just the design of the product or service). Strategy, marketing, operations, systems, HR, finance… they can all benefit from design thinking
  • The CDO’s mission is to take design from the design studio into the company culture – encouraging creativity across the organisation to solve problems and drive growth
  • Quick wins are great to galvanise people but it takes time and commitment to change culture

Imagine how great our financial, utility, transport and healthcare institutions could be if they had a Jobs, Branson, Zuckerberg, or Dyson at the helm.

-Andy Gray, MD

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Three men standing in a box

From signs in the train station, to information in brochures and websites, symbols appear in a variety of contexts in everyday life. A symbol is simply a mark or thing that stands for something else.

Look a little closer and you’ll find that some commonly-used symbols don’t clearly communicate what they stand for. They rely on learned associations or figurative meanings and can easily be misinterpreted in literal translations.

This seed was sown in a dementia-friendly workshop last year. We were discussing the design of toilet signs when one man pointed out that the male and female toilet symbols were pretty similar and often ambiguous – of little help at a time of need!

So, we wondered if any other everyday symbols might be confusing or misunderstood.

If the stick man and woman represent toilets, then what does three men standing in a box represent?

What, exactly, does ‘P’ stand for?

And should you sit down at 4 o’clock?

Our instincts turned out to be right – the research* concluded that people living with dementia were often confused when faced with many of the standard symbols currently used throughout society.

So, as part of the drive to empower and enable independence for those living with dementia, we’re embarking on a mission to design a new set of symbols. The new inclusive symbols will be more effective for everyone in society – clear, easy to understand and relevant to people’s present day lives.

* The Life Changes Trust solely funded StudioLR to conduct a three month research project across Scotland with a ‘Life Changes Trust Award’. The Life Changes Trust is funded by the Big Lottery Fund. StudioLR worked with support from the University of Edinburgh.

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“I like the gaims room” Josh (age 5)

We love this feedback because, when you’re 5 years old, you say it like it is. And StudioLR’s brief from The National Trust for Scotland was to create a world-class visitor experience that would excite and delight visitors of all ages. The revival of the house, set in the world famous Inverewe Garden, is part of a £2m regeneration project for this spectacular destination that welcomes visitors from all over the world.

“Wow! Inspiring, imaginative, great atmosphere and I could add lots more feedback! A huge thanks to everyone at StudioLR, for delivering a high quality and innovative project at Inverewe House.” Connie Lovel, National Trust for Scotland

Inverewe looks forward to Josh’s future visits, comments and spelling mistakes…

As seen on BBC #Landward at https://t.co/eKw3jRn9g1 twelve minutes into the programme.

To find out more about Inverewe follow the link here http://studiolr.com/portfolio/design-in-environments/inverewe-house-and-gardens-the-national-trust-for-scotlandinverewe-pic

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Seamab and Studiolr’s sea changers nominated for fundraising award

A partnership between a charity supporting children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and Edinburgh design consultancy has put Studio LR in the running for the Institute of Fundraising’s 2016 Scottish Fundraising Awards.

The unique relationship between Seamab and StudioLR was nominated in the “Best Partner Relationship (Corporate or Trust)” category. Results will be announced at an awards ceremony in Glasgow on October 4th.

Seamab was introduced to StudioLR by one of the charity’s trustees, with a view to creating a new brand. In the past, Seamab had difficulty connecting emotionally with potential donors – for privacy reasons, the charity can’t show the children’s faces in promotional material or tell their specific stories.

StudioLR took on the task of creating a new brand identity for Seamab, visiting the school and meeting with the staff and children to find out what Seamab means to them, and the things they would like to tell the world about what the charity does.

The outcome was the Sea Changers – a set of characters who give Seamab an endearing voice to tell their story. Entitled Free, Hope, Joy, Safe, Brave, Calm and Hug, the Sea Changers are designed to express all the things that Seamab strives to achieve for the children in supporting their physical and emotional recovery from loss, abuse, neglect and trauma. They also introduced three Unwelcome Visitors – Sad, Scared and Angry – to tell the story of some of the challenges the children face.

Chief Executive of Seamab, Joanna McCreadie, said: “The benefits of this partnership have been invaluable.

“StudioLR gave us a brand that would otherwise be very expensive to be able to produce and deliver – as a charity, we couldn’t have afforded this. We’re so grateful to everyone at StudioLR for creating something that not only shows what we do to care for children that have been through very difficult experiences of trauma, loss, neglect and abuse, but also gives the children themselves a means of expressing how they feel.

“We feel honoured to have our partnership with StudioLR recognised by the Institute of Fundraising in this way.”  

 

seamab_balloon

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A typical day in an amazing year … and it was our birthday

Yesterday StudioLR turned 12 years old. And we’re all delighted that this has been our most successful year – from being selected to rebrand a UK PLC to our pioneering design work for people living with dementia. From winning an international design award, to Dave talking on the same stage as design legend Michael Wolff, to our charity work for the Bethany Care Van, feeding homeless people in Edinburgh. And the continuing design support we give to the incredible, life-changing Seamab School and Spartans Community Football Academy… all these things give us the energy to keep striving for the best outcome in everything we do.

Yesterday was a typical day in an amazing year…

Four of us had an early start on the red-eye flight to London to kick off the above mentioned rebrand project.

Lorna had Kippers for breakfast in Wester Ross before the launch of our new brand and visitor experience at – Inverewe, one of the National Trust for Scotland’s key sites.

Back in the studio, we were busy working on a great new brand for the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth, and the next phase of the VIP factory experience for Terex Trucks.

To top the day off we were invited by the inspirational Mr Craig Graham to The Spartans Community Football Academy dinner which raised over £200k to support vulnerable children in North Edinburgh. Watch this film that Something Something made for them – vimeo.com/138290283

On behalf of our team Nic, Fi, the King-man, Mark, Lucy, Rosie, Lorna, Woody and myself I’d like to thank you for your continued and loyal support (and challenging briefs). We look forward to more adventures in the coming year.

We are Designers for Being Human

Andyspartans

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WINNER OF THE STUDIOLR NAPIER UNIVERSITY GRADUATE PRIZE FOR GRAPHIC DESIGN … LEWIS BROOKS.

We welcome this year’s winner of the StudioLR    Napier University Graduate Prize for graphic design … Lewis Brooks.
Launched in 2011, the prize includes cash and a work placement with us.

Lewis was selected for his outstanding creative concept entitled ‘Studio Alfresco’: a bespoke caravan-office (with just enough space for one). He took to the streets to offer his design services to businesses and the community around Edinburgh. It was described as ‘a student project that looks into design’s relationship with philanthropy, suggesting that as designers our skills should be best utilised to help others’. We agree!

Lewis will spend June with us, working as a member of the design team ‘Making The Difference’ for our clients across a range of projects. A key member of the team is Design Director, Dave King who was the 2011 winner and has been with us ever since.

Lucy says “We are proud to support the degree course at Napier. We reviewed all the graduate’s shows and we were blown away by Lewis’ project. It was unique, thoughtful and reflects our philosophy that design has the power to really make the difference”

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561 ways to say ‘thank you’

When a client takes time out of their busy day to say ‘thank you’, well, what a morale booster that is. It really does mean so much to us.

In the last week we’ve had four of these lovely notes, adding to a running total of 561.

I started keeping them in 2006. The first, from the John Muir Trust to thank us for creating a successful fund-raising campaign, and the most recent (today) from a long-time client at Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution for going above and beyond the expected. Added to that some delicious home baking wrapped in a tartan ribbon… we’re being spoiled.

They say you get the clients you deserve and we’re very lucky to have clients that entrust us to deliver important projects for them. And when we do a good job they say ‘thank you’… it’s very humbling.

(Note to self: Do remember to say ‘thank you’. It makes such a big difference.)

‘Thank you’ for reading.

___

Andrew Gray
Managing Director

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Hero to Zero/Zero to Hero

It’s February and the Festive season is just a distant memory. The exception being the occasional bald Christmas tree, tumbling down a wind swept street. The once loved icon of Christmas now stripped of baubles, needles and fresh pine aroma. Once the Hero. Now Zero.

At StudioLR, we got talking about our throwaway culture. We wondered if we could find a Zero and turn it into a Hero? Maybe we could breathe life back into a misplaced object. Give it status in the world again. After all, as designers that’s what we do best. We ‘Make the Difference’ through our strategic thinking and creativity.

Shuffling into the limelight, a humble pair of old leather shoes. You know the ones. Once seen as a wardrobe investment and worn with pride. They helped put your best foot forward, made you stand taller and helped you walk the corridors of power. And yet they are now scuffed, dry and lacking lustre, in the back of the cupboard.

But our resident hipster and shoe shine expert, Dave King assures us that with time and care your old shoes can be revived, to as good as new. An old style skill, it requires the correct kit, a clear process and above all patience. Achieving a Saville Row quality shine, can take 2 or 3 days (yes days). Check out this artful online tutorial. You’ll be amazed and inspired. We are.

ShoeShining4

A warming reminder that by applying similar principles, we can add new shine to our business and our precious assets.

We bring you Zero to Hero.

Have a good month.

____

Lorna Reid
Business Development Director, 
StudioLR

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Do you want their eyeballs or emotions?

An exciting opportunity for brand design.

Once upon a time, and not really so long ago, marketing communication worked by interruption. It might have been of the tv programme people were watching; or of their journey to work; or of their fairly limited choice of provided media. But now there’s been a paradigm shift in how we interact with communication – because today the audience ‘owns’ the media marketing channels. It’s a sobering thought that the ten years or so added to our lifespan since the 1950s are spent looking at a screen.

The watchword today is engagement not impact, and I think that the sad effect of that has been to value quantity at minimal costs over crafted quality and genuinely persuasive creativity. This is not to argue that banner advertising and judiciously-placed Facebook posts have no effect but often it feels like it’s our eyeballs rather than our emotions that are being sought. Where are the new major brands being created in a world of swamping communications?

I would suggest that this is where the power of design is becoming of greater importance to brands. It may be the one relatively permanent element of a brand’s communication…

That’s both a heavy responsibility and an exciting opportunity for designers.

____

Scott Sherrard
Brand Strategy Consultant, 
StudioLR

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Our hands are the Superbug Super-highway

I read a piece in the paper recently about how washing our hands properly – by following the 5-step guide to effective hand washing – could be vital not just for our own or our family’s health, but for that of the country and even the species.

Colds, flu, gastroenteric bugs, even ‘man-flu’ – they’re all hanging around on our hands and every time we touch something or someone there’s a chance that we’ll pass on a bug. Research concludes that only one in five of us washes our hands when we should. I guess that means before and after cooking, eating, going to the loo, using a keyboard, sneezing, coughing, touching other people… In fact touching, or even thinking of touching, anything at all.

This has become a serious issue in hospitals where one in 16 NHS patients ends up with a hospital-acquired infection (according to NICE). Hospitals are meant to be sterile, safe places where we get better, while thousands of patients each year actually end up sicker through systemic poor hygiene habits. Some types of superbug can live for years on hospital surfaces. On a trip last week with my son to the Emergency Department, I noted that the doctor who treated him didn’t wash her hands before or after touching him, the bed rails and the other equipment in the room. She did a great job doctor-wise apart from the potential infection-spreading.

This year in our studio we’ve been designing infection control graphics for healthcare environments – we’ve integrated visual communications onto hospital walls to encourage patients and visitors to wash their hands. We’re adapting the design to remind the busy medical staff too and we’ll measure the effectiveness to check it’s working for everyone.

Sir David Brailsford famously transformed British Cycling’s fortunes with his concept of ‘the aggregation of marginal gains’. His belief was that if you improve every area related to cycling by just 1% then those gains would add up to remarkable improvement. And teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection and illness was one area that led to success.

Meanwhile, Andy Murray carries hand sanitiser gel in his pocket and uses it every time he shakes hands as a precaution against catching bugs that might interfere with his optimum health and performance.

So what can we all do to save the world?

Global Handwashing Day is on 15 October… It’s not the most inspiring-sounding day on the calendar but it’s a great reminder and a call to action. We should be following the 5 steps and washing our hands thoroughly at every opportunity.

And, where possible, stay away from hospitals.

___

Lucy Richards
StudioLR

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