It’s not so easy to smile these days but 5 projects on the NODS shortlist for brand and digital design helped us this week. Well done Team StudioLR and our clients Spentwell, Sanderson, Life Changes Trust, and The Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust.
The Independent Care Review was set up to identify and deliver lasting change in Scotland’s care system. As the first review of its type anywhere in the world, it promised to put care experienced children and young people at the heart of its recommendations, leaving a legacy that will transform their wellbeing.
The Care Review evolved and learned through four key stages of work, each guided and informed by the findings of the previous stage. In three years, the Care Review heard from over 5,500 people – including 2,500 care-experienced children and young people.
Love became a key theme. We heard how children and young people wanted to grow up loved, safe and respected. And we’d heard the First Minister say that “My view is simple: every young person deserves to be loved.” It was groundbreaking for love to be talked about so much in a sensitive review of this kind – it was important that we embraced that. We had to build an inspiring and positive identity with love at its heart.
Strategy and Design
At the outset, we held virtual design workshops with care-experienced children which informed the development of a distinctive brand identity system using simple language, icons and visual elements. In addition, the identity had to be capable of evolving throughout this dynamic process, to help build awareness, ownership and momentum.
To succeed, the Care Review identity needed:
- To be embraced by care experienced children and young people, and people working in the care system. Their voices were pivotal to its success. The identity had to be positive, uplifting and completely non-stigmatising. This would help build pride in people, encouraging them to take part, voice their opinions, and share the message far and wide.
- To be embraced by people from all political allegiances. Although launched by the First Minister, it was essential that the identity was nonpartisan. The Care Review was completely independent and needed the support an backing of MSPs from all parties, and media from all corners of the political spectrum. This support would encourage people from all backgrounds to take part, and would help force its final recommendations into reality.
With love as a recurring theme, iconic hearts became powerful motifs throughout the review. For the final launch materials, we created a distinct heart symbol that could be easily shared on social media. Drawn by the review’s chair Fiona Duncan, the heart represents the vision of the new care system – as explained in the review documents.
It was important the Care Review documents didn’t feel like corporate audits or static reports. They had to inspire action. Nicola Sturgeon had made a promise to deliver a ‘root and branch review’ of the care system – so three years later the final report played that back to her loud and clear. Nobody could ignore this report.
In February 2020, the review delivered its conclusion in the form of six reports:
- ‘The Promise’ detailing specific problems and how they could be fixed
- ‘The Pinky Promise’, a child-friendly version of those recommendations
- ‘Follow The Money’ and ‘The Money’ explaining the current human and financial costs
- ‘The Rules’ explaining how legislation and the system must change
- ‘The Plan’ outlining next steps
Just hours after the review was made public, the First Minister announced her commitment to implementing the review’s recommendations, which is a sentiment met with cross-party support in Parliament.
There’s been an overwhelmingly positive response to the Care Review findings and support for its Promise:
- 6,104 Twitter followers for @TheCareReview
- The day after the launch there had been: 6,000 #carereview posts, 5500 users talking about #carereview reaching a whopping 11.6m people
The reports were so eagerly awaited that the website was struggling under the weight of visitors trying to download the documents.
The Care Review has been widely covered by the news media, including BBC, ITV, The Guardian, The Times and The Daily Record.
If your organisation is making a positive change in the world then please do get in touch to find out how StudioLR can elevate your message and reach the right people.
Nominated as a Finalist in the New National Treasure category for the National Geographic Traveller Reader Awards 2019, StudioLR was the creative agency behind the new Hebridean Whale Trail brand and website.
The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) is well-known for its marine wildlife conservation work in the Scottish Hebrides – tracking and caring for whales, dolphins and porpoises. But it wanted to bring the magic of these creatures to a wider public audience by encouraging people to see them first-hand and connect emotionally with the conservation efforts.
We were brought on board to help develop the Hebridean Whale Trail
– a visitor trail formed with 30+ sites across the Hebrides, linking breath-taking scenery with the opportunity to watch for whales, dolphins and porpoises. The trail has come together to further promote Scotland as one of Europe’s best whale-watch destinations and champion conservation of the Hebrides’ unique, globally important marine wildlife and environment.
From dramatic headlands and sea lochs, to white, sandy beaches and bustling harbours; the Whale Trail showcases special places where land meets sea; where natural and cultural heritage are interwoven.
Through branding, a new website, a digital marketing campaign and on-site interpretation, we’ve helped to bring the Hebridean Whale Trail vision to life.
When marine wildlife is migratory by nature and the opportunity to spot it is often by chance, the design challenge was:
“how do you emotionally connect the places on the trail to the whales, even when you can’t see them?”
Our response to this challenge was to focus on the places themselves. Each spot along the trail has its own unique sense of place, with stories that instil wonder in the audience. Encouraging visitors to feel the magic of the place that attracts the sea creatures back time and time again.
With the Trust, we engaged with stakeholders and the community to explore and curate local stories. This also brought the communities on board as supporters and champions of the project.
We created a brand to connect emotionally with the audience. From romantic illustrations of sea creatures to playful fonts and ambiguous messaging, it was carefully designed to instil a sense of wonder about the places and the marine wildlife.
With ambiguity and romance you can create a trail for people AND whales, it’s unexpected… making it more memorable. Visitors are encouraged to feel like the whales and dolphins are there (even when they’re not).
The Whale Trail website is the central hub of the trail, where people have immediate access to the trail sites and begin route planning. To make an immediate impact, the website opens with a video of stunning footage of some of the key sites. The video interwoven with animated illustrations of the creatures, setting the tone of the trail. Throughout the website, each site is given a unique sense of place through storytelling, imagery and illustration.
Social campaigns were aimed at both sea creatures and people alike – welcoming them both to the sites across Scotland.
Illustrated panels and banners at the sites share the stories of the place. They have information about wildlife spotting and encourage people to join the Whale Trail. Made to complement the natural heritage in a sustainable way, sites are also pinpointed by HWDT Whale Trail plaques made by a local Scottish designer, Tiree Glass, from recycled sea glass.
Make waves within your own sector by chatting to us about your brand, your purpose and how you engage with your audience.
StudioLR was commissioned by Resource Solutions Group (RSG) – one of the UK’s largest independent recruitment companies, established over 35 years ago – to create a new brand positioning and identity that could unite its group and its 4 sub brands.
The new brand, Sanderson, celebrates its long-standing business ethos: bring diverse expertise together, build long-lasting relationships, and become vital partners to clients and candidates.
A high-growth business with a half-billion-pound turnover, RSG currently sits at number 32 in The Sunday Times Top Track 250 list. The initial challenge for us was to find the thread that bound this thriving business together. On the surface it seemed impossible – there was a group brand (RSG); 4 trading brands (Sanderson Recruitment, Resource Management, FirstPerson Executive, and Intelligent Consulting); and 11 offices across the UK and Ireland.
We had to get to the bottom of: what makes this company special as a whole? What unites the group?
The new brand was to take on the name Sanderson but it was important that it didn’t become a rebrand of the old Sanderson Recruitment. It had to bring together the full diverse range of services that the group offers – and the variety of sectors it supports.
We ran group and one-to-one sessions with the RSG Board and uncovered a unique business model… not a salesperson in sight. The new business philosophy was built on reputation – built up through great long-term relationships.
We then ran workshops with over 100 of the Sanderson team – covering their nationwide network and the full range of specialisms, roles and levels – and found the same philosophy throughout. Every single person was in it for the long term – there were no volume-driven sales incentives, there was no hammering of the phones and aiming to fill a million vacancies. There were no egos.
The Creative Spark
We realised that while the company name had been around for decades, it was never taken for granted. Everyone was out to add value to their clients – to become the ultimate partner. And that’s what clients were buying – the collaboration, the understanding and the flexibility… the relationships. The company name was almost secondary.
What if Sanderson was bold enough to put its commitment to partnership before even its own name?
From here an identity was developed that brought the ‘and’ in Sanderson into the foreground – and relegated the rest of the name into the background. Those 3 little letters represent all the brilliant relationships the team have built over the years. The ‘and’ device became a tool to bring together Sanderson’s 4 divisions, nationwide offices, and people.
Putting people and their partnerships at its heart, the identity moves Sanderson away from its largely corporate-feeling competitors – bringing together a refreshing and varied colour palette, bold rounded type and iconography, and commissioned photography using the real heroes of the brand – the Sanderson team.
“It was a big ask to unite such a wide range of specialists all across the UK. StudioLR really listened to our people and got under the skin of the company. ‘We’re Partners’ resonates perfectly with our team committed to helping our clients succeed. This new brand emphasises our strengths and the identity will really stand out in our sector. We can’t wait to share it with our clients.” – Annie Latimer, Sanderson Brand and Marketing Director
The new identity launched late November 2019 and is rolling out across a new website, staff and client launch events, office branding, printed and digital collateral, and a digital advertising campaign.
If your brand needs a shake up but don’t know where to start then give us a shout for an informal chat about how we can help.
The recent Doti-fest did a really great job of being brand-authentic. ‘Design On The Inside’ is an un-conference organised each year by our friends at Snook and it takes on some of our planet’s biggest challenges from critical health services to designing a truly inclusive world.
What stood out for me most though was Snook wearing its heart on its sleeve at every touchpoint.
- The straw bales we sat on.
- The give-away inclusion tickets being funded by the profit.
- The dog-friendlyness.
- The creche.
- The strictly quiet space.
- The real fireside-chat format interviews.
- The dairy-free coffee bar.
And the genuine encouragement to bring our whole self (personal interests and vulnerable bits) to each workshop.
It all speaks of a caring and inclusive intention and delivery.
And a powerful brand.
I also jotted down some gems about clicktivism and emotional poverty, all giving me plenty of reasons to care:
- A reminder to not to focus on design. Focus on better. Most people don’t really care about design. They just care about something being better
- Accountability is king. It enables autonomy and ownership, empowers people with a powerful can-do attitude, and kicks a not-my-fault mentality into touch.
- Everyone should start (at least) one petition – petitions can start a powerful halo effect i.e. tampon tax and period poverty.
- A stark fact – Dundee has the highest number of drug related deaths in Europe. Made me think back to the amazing, inspiring talks of Sir Harry Burns. If you’re interested in community asset-based approach for health improvement then watching Harry speak is time well spent.
- Show the love to your customer. Don’t talk about yourself but talk about your customer in presentations, pitches, and social media. Spend time with customers listening to their needs and concerns. Knowing and solving their pain builds trust.
Is your organisation’s purpose clear? Chat to us about how we can help bring it to life through your brand.
All the best insights we gathered from the ASVA conference 2019…
Last week’s ASVA conference 2019 came to life with a stellar presentation by Bernard Donoghue – he’s the Mayor of London’s Culture Ambassador, CEO of ALVA, and an all-round top banana.
Bernard suggested that there’s a hint of a slowdown approaching which could easily turn into a recession. The strong visitor numbers of the last few years won’t continue across the board, so how can we all continue to flourish?
Above all, Bernard reminded us that it’s the people, not the objects, that make a visitor attraction a roaring success. Five-star Trip Advisor reviews typically mention a staff member by name, where four-star reviews generally don’t.
Way more than looking at objects, and reading panels, visitors love to see and hear human stories. They’ll pay money to see and get involved with makers crafting things, gardeners growing things, and narrators (ideally dressed in costume) telling stories.
So, think about what story your attraction is telling and be creative about how your people can bring it alive to build memories for the visitor. Make people feel something and create memories that even the most engaging and interactive interpretation panel will struggle to challenge.
Think about how you want your visitor to feel and, critically, what do you want them to share on social after they leave…?
Focusing on ways we can increase profitability with these three simple points:
- Sell more to existing customers
- Get new customers
- Do things more efficiently
Though counterintuitive, the visitor sector is in an ideal position in a time of future uncertainty. When the economy slows, we all like nostalgic experience as it provides us with reassurance and escape… i.e. Downton Abbey, Great British Bake Off, Shakespeare’s Birthplace
Stretch and add to our offer
How can we stretch our brand offer while staying true to our purpose and cause? Can we be braver and maybe take a few risks? Some great examples of this are:
- Van Gogh blue bedroom – sleep in a painting on AirBnB
- Crazy golf in Rochester Cathedral – massive increase in visitor numbers
- Sleeping under the (fake) dinosaur in the National History Museum
- Helter Skelter in Norwich Cathedral
- NTS, Hillhouse – House in a Box
It’s a hot topic. But what if really cold winters and really hot summers are the new norm, how are we adjusting our business plan and offers to cope?
We visited the National Trust’s Hanbury Hall this year for the outdoor cinema event but had to cancel because the weather was too hot (at 6pm!).
Green Tourism UK gave us a timely reminder of how we can do our bit
- Print on FSC paper
- Promote low carbon transport
- Understand provenance of product
- Be accountable for the carbon your organisation contributes
- Take part in the @Refill campaign
Kiss (or CISS) your Customers
Stuart Cassells, GM at The Macallan Estate shared his strategy to recruit customers from other spirits and not from other whisky brands.
Clarity – about why / purpose
Involve – your customer in the process of what you do (demonstrate distilling)
Senses – ensure visitors enjoy the whole sensory experience
Story – tell your unique story in unforgettable ways
Scottish Tourism Alliance is launching its ambitious vision for Scotland to be a world leader in 21st century tourism by 2030. They want to enrich lives and preserve our places in the industry by acting as pioneers for delivering responsible tourism. We need to build a 21st Century tourism industry for all – our visitors, our people, our businesses, our communities and our environment.
We all have our part to play.
Get in touch to find out how we can help put these into practice for your visitor attraction.
It’s the end of Rhona’s first week here at StudioLR… So it’s the perfect time to introduce her.
Let’s get to know our new senior designer with a few questions.
Tell us about your time before StudioLR
I’ve been working as a designer in Edinburgh for 15 years in SME agencies like StudioLR. I’ve worked across a wide range of industries – including finance, life sciences, engineering and education. After my studies In Graphic Design at Cumbria Institute of the Arts I ended up in Edinburgh for work placements – I loved the city and couldn’t leave. Somehow, fifteen years later, I’m still here!
What made you want to join StudioLR?
I’ve been aware of StudioLR for a long time – I’ve known people who have worked here and they’ve always had kind words to say about the place. I’m excited to be part of a team that puts such a high standard of work and social conscience at the forefront of their business. Plus everyone seems nice, which is an added bonus!
How has your first week been?
It’s been a busy one! Learning lots, and enjoying getting familiar with names and faces of clients. I’ve definitely hit the ground running.
What are you looking forward to working on here?
My expertise lies in brand and I am really keen to learn more about the areas of the industry I’ve had less exposure to – for example visitor attractions. Can’t wait to meet more of our clients and see how projects unfold.
Tell us about two brands you admire and why?
- Nike, in terms of their dedication to positive, empowering brand positioning, and solid product design.
- Apple, not so much from an innovation perspective these days, more their customer experience – if I’ve ever had a problem with a product, I’ve always left the store feeling good.
What do you do outside work which sparks joy for you?
Gigs! I love listening to live music across a wide range of different genres, my taste is quite eclectic. When I’m not gigging, I’m trying out new foods – whether it’s in restaurants or at home cooking. To balance out my love of food, you can also often find me gym-ing away.
We can’t wait to introduce Rhona to all of our clients and colleagues over the next few weeks.
A brand-new interactive visitor experience in Liverpool has opened its famous red gates to the public for the first time. Experience designers Cubit3D invited our team at StudioLR to help create the visitor experience at The Salvation Army’s Strawberry Field Project.
As Strawberry Field welcomes the public, the red gates open new job opportunities to young adults with learning disabilities, and visitors can interactively experience stories about John Lennon’s childhood.
Their space – it matters to us
The Project also sets the scene for The Salvation Army to counter another of Lennon’s famous lyrics, “It doesn’t matter much to me” with “it matters to us” which is reproduced in the exhibition and the café.
In 1934, The Salvation Army was gifted the Strawberry Field, Victorian house and grounds. A few years later it became a children’s home for girls and then boys and has provided some of Liverpool’s most vulnerable children a safe place for many years.
Fast forward to the present
Developed by The Salvation Army, and in partnership with The City of Liverpool College and local employers, the ‘Steps to Work Programme’ aims to allow young adults with learning difficulties the opportunity to gain the skills and experience they may not have access to elsewhere.
The Salvation Army has identified that there is a gap with national government programmes – 93% of the one million people with learning difficulties in the UK are unemployed. Barriers are now being broken through The Salvation Army’s scheme as these young people have the support to unlock their full potential.
StudioLR Designer, Nicola Laurie says: “Once you get there, you see that it has a bigger purpose than remembering Lennon and his story. The Salvation Army has made it a place that helps people and does some good.”
Continuing Lennon’s Legacy
It was at Strawberry Field that John Lennon was inspired. As a child, he would often play in the grounds. Subsequently, the song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, was penned. Lennon found sanctuary at Strawberry Field, and this is ensured to continue; with a new hub allowing trainees to develop their skills, socialise, and ultimately move into future employment.
Dave King, our Design Director says: “Strawberry Field inspired Lennon, and The Salvation Army is allowing this to continue for the young children of Liverpool for future generations to come.”
A mural of Lennon’s face created from built up pictures of the public is also on display; allowing the space to be the public’s as well as The Salvation Army’s. This is expected to develop and grow as more people donate to have their face appear on the wall.
Strawberry Field celebrates pop culture and nostalgia – while supporting the charity through donations and visits. Our team has really enjoyed being part of the creation of such a significant place where Lennon’s words will continue to resonate … “Strawberry Fields Forever”.
We need a designer who can make things happen. Someone’s who’s not afraid of the unexpected, who can manage projects with confidence, and who can transform good ideas into great results.
Do you want to get stuck into the juiciest briefs? Do you want to create work that sparks something in people? Fancy getting your name on a D&AD pencil? Good! Keep reading…
Who the LR we?
We are StudioLR – a brand design studio in Edinburgh made up of creative people, strategic people, and people people who keep us all in check. Our expertise is in brand strategy, design and activation across digital, print and environments. We’re champions of inclusive design and over the years we’ve had the chance to make a serious impact on people’s lives – from children with care experience to people with hidden disabilities.
We care about big, purposeful ideas that mean something to people. We push ourselves and our ideas as far as they can go and start every single project with the same aim – how can we spark something in people? Provoke them. Get a reaction. Get a result.
Our work has won a lot of awards – from two D&ADs, to a shelf full of Scottish Design Awards, the Grand Prix at the Nods, and SME Agency of the Year 2019 at the Marketing Society.
We’re looking for a Senior Designer to start immediately with:
1. Minimum 5 years experience (ideally agency experience across
all channels – from concepts to delivery)
2. Experience of managing projects, clients and team members
3. A love for design and a genuine belief in the power of good
strategic and creative thinking
4. An open mind
We offer a competitive package and a great environment to learn and grow. As well as standing desks, yoga, mindfulness, birthdays off, volunteering opportunities, and some pretty ropey Spotify playlists.
How to apply
Get in touch by 11th October with examples of your three favourite pieces of work, and a brief note explaining why you’d like to work at StudioLR, your ambition and what you’ll bring to the role, and salary expectation.
When we say ‘financial planning company’, what does that make you think of? Important life decisions? Lots of jargon? Does it feel scary / risky / overwhelming? Does it make you think “maybe later”?
We wouldn’t blame you for feeling this way.
But let us introduce you to Spentwell
Spentwell is a new kind of financial planning and investment management firm. Whatever image that brings to mind, think the opposite. Spentwell is transparent, relaxed and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It puts people at ease – making finance easy to understand and relevant to people’s lives. It might even be fun. It’s not all about attainment of a huge end goal in a future that’s unimaginably far away. It’s about building an understanding of finances, so people feel comfortable, confident and able to enjoy all of life’s surprises… now and in the future.
We’re here to help people enjoy their financial journey and ultimately live the life they want.
After all, what’s life if it isn’t Spentwell?
Spentwell was started by Keith Boyes – an experienced Chartered Financial Planner with over a decade of industry experience and a hatred of industry jargon. Keith’s worked in many of the industry’s biggest financial planning firms and had a spell in Hong Kong, advising ex-pats.
Keith is motivated by providing the joy and security that sound financial planning allows. He genuinely gets a kick out of helping people get the most they possibly can from life. It’s important that his brand conveys this – as well as helping people to see that finances well-managed is a happy, accessible thing.“
It started with the name. We needed something that would plant the idea that sound financial planning can help you make the most of your time – giving you the freedom to spend it well. It’s that simple.
Your money. Your life…
Let’s make sure it’s Spentwell.
Dare we say the F-word? Visually, we wanted the brand to convey a sense of Fun (without taking away from the importance of the service). From bold colour choices to playful charts, the brand is designed to stand-out from the competition.
Are you having a graph? Inspired by the familiar patterns of finance-sidekick Microsoft Excel, the Spentwell brand playfully uses charts to highlight the joy that planning your finances can bring – whether it’s saving for a big event or giving you the peace of mind to enjoy the small things.
All together now. With a strong series of patterns, holders and bold colours we’re sure Spentwell will be able to take its new brand and creatively run with it. It’s versatile and flexible across different media, leaving the door open for unique and distinct marketing.
“How do you create a brand that embodies your vision, excites you about your firm and the possibilities, and leaves you with an immense sense of pride – You work with StudioLR.
The team has turned my vague, muddled ideas into a real brand that has impact. They took the time to listen and understand, drilling down into what’s important, using their expertise to turn my vision into reality. I’m delighted with the process I’ve gone through, all their tireless work and the fantastic outcome. True experts in design and branding who I can’t recommend enough. ” – Keith Boyes, Spentwell