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Let’s talk about bad language

[2 minute read]

Something’s been bothering me for some time. I call it Bad Language and I see it a lot. Especially in public places and services.

I voiced my frustration last November at the OneTeamGov Scotland un-conference https://www.oneteamgov.uk/scotland. I realise the irony of doing this at an ‘un-conference’, but I hoped we might start something together to make things better.

A revolution to make complex communication simple, and human.

My provocation: let’s debunk and reinvent the confusing language used in public services

Bewildering examples are everywhere, you don’t need to look too hard…

On trains we’re told to ‘alight here’ for Falkirk or Croy.

In hospitals we see signs directing us to ‘Ambulatory Care’.

Children in the care of the state are described as ‘service users’, and the services responsible for meeting their needs are called their ‘corporate parents’.

Out there, in the everyday world, we don’t need to use language that de-humanises and trips people up. Let’s not set the train alight… let’s just get off at the right stop!

Please share your examples #letstalkbadlanguage

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Mental health: is your mind full?

[2 minute read]

Most people I know, including myself (who I know vaguely), have minds overflowing with stuff and things. We live in a world where there’s so much to take in, and at such speed, it’s a minor miracle we’re able to function at all. To help us, and our brains, mental health needs to be discussed often and freely, so we can create healthy working environments.

At the recent Marketing Society St Andrew’s Day Dinner, Ruby Wax highlighted the importance of mental health in a way only she can – with humour and discomforting honesty.

The analogy I remember most vividly was that the modern stresses applied to the brain are equivalent to filling your computer with files and wondering why it’s slowly grinding to a halt. It reminded me of a quote I’d read recently for a new project…

“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things.” Sherlock Holmes.

All of this got me looking into my ‘attic’ and realising how similar it was to my actual attic. Full of crap. Perhaps I should take a leaf out of my colleague’s book. He’s been abstaining from all news for the last six months. He’s noticeably more relaxed and is blissfully unaware of how angry he should be about all the things he has no ability to control.

I will now attempt to dump enough information so that I can remember my kids’ birthdays…

– Mark Wheeler


End mental health discrimination: https://www.seemescotland.org/

Mental health in the workplace: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-support-mental-health-work

 

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Not all good design is good design

[1 minute read]

I recently spotted PR for some new brand packaging for a conserve (aka a jam with less sugar). The designer claimed ‘it was busting out of its health roots and hitting the aisles…’. The pack looked really good with a wee heart graphic supporting the health/superfood message.

But.

I’m not sure a conserve fits with an organisation whose ‘mission is to give people the kinds of foods we should be eating’. Let’s call a spade a spade, this pack is designed to confuse us into thinking it’s a healthy option.

It might have less sugar and better ingredients than its competitors but it still has around 37g of sugar per 100g (which according to the NHS is in the RED/danger zone). This dishonest design isn’t doing anyone any favours.

– Andy Gray

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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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