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Don't mention the B-word

Don’t mention the B-word

If you’ve ever gone through a rebrand you’ll know it can sometimes cause a bit of friction. The phrase “going through a rebrand” tells a story itself. But it doesn’t have to be difficult – it should be a positive experience for everyone.

7 tips to help your team get behind your rebrand - free download

We’ve put together a series of 7 tips to help get your team behind your brand. If you’re looking to set a clear direction, boost morale and get the most out of your team, download the free PDF here.

In the meantime, this one is maybe the most important tip… 

What is a brand?

When we talk about making your team feel connected to your business, we’re talking about brand strategy. We’re talking about positioning… what makes you different… why you exist… what your values are. It’s all brand.

But whatever you do, don’t call it brand. 

Do not mention the b-word.

The word brand, to anyone who isn’t in the field, means ‘logo’. Or sometimes it means ‘expensive, waste-of-money-when-our-jobs-are-at-risk-logo’.

While it’s not true – and nobody ever spent half a million on a new logo – it makes a good headline, and a powerful morale-buster. Being right in this case doesn’t matter – being effective matters. It’s usually more effective to put it in the context of your team’s day-jobs. 

So, talk about service, experience, expectations, culture – anything but brand. Unless, of course, you’re investing in training for your whole team on what a brand really is. But that’s a different matter.

Remember to download your free PDF for the rest of the tips.

Proffesional attention seekers: We'll serve your guts on a plate

Don’t worry we’re not savages – just professional attention seekers.

As we head into our 17th year, we’ve been focussing on what we do best for our clients.

In a nutshell ‘We’re your gutsy creative agency’.

We’re here to help ambitious organisations stand out and win in their sector. If you work with us, you can expect us to get our hands dirty – poking around until we get to the heart of your organisation. And you can expect big, bold, attention-seeking ideas that get you noticed and remembered.

Gutsy creative agency. New website

If that perks up your ears, head over to our new website
for a look around, call Andy for a chat, or watch our one minute showreel…

And, before you go, we’re sending a HUGE thanks to you all – clients, collaborators and friends. We’ve had 16 fantastic years working with you. Here’s to 16 more!

A reward for reading this far…

Wish your brand was gutsier?

A reward for reading this far

Give us a shout for a free one hour Zoom workshop. No strings attached – an informal chat, some new ideas, some free inspiration. We have 5 slots, when they’re gone they’re gone…



Ok, make that three rewards. If you’re thinking about rebranding, we’ve got two free PDF downloads to help you make the most of it…

Don’t Fear The Rebrand: 5 Top Tips for Rebranding

Get Your Team Behind Your Brand: Employee Engagement Tips


Shout if you want to stand out:

Shout if you want to stand out

Edinburgh’s gutsy creative agency:
Andy@StudioLR.com
0131 454 3200

Brand Strategy for Cheaters

Do you have a clear brand strategy that you keep coming back to? One that guides the way you do things and the decisions you make? If the answer is no, and your budget is zero, it’s not the end of the world. As a bare-minimum, a quick cheat-sheet can make a difference…

There are 1,001 ‘strategy’ and ‘brand’ words out there – don’t worry if you’ve heard some and not others. And don’t let the long list repel you. There’s no exact right or wrong way to do things and no exact right or wrong answer. If your brand strategy answers the question “What do we want to be famous for?” you’re in decent shape.

Brand strategy cheat-sheet – illustration of a character holding the cheat-sheet.

The Cheat-Sheet

Putting together a simple one-page ‘Brand Strategy Cheat Sheet’ will help give you some focus and clarity. Your one-pager should include:

  1. Your brand idea
  2. Why customers choose you
  3. Your personality

Let’s go into a wee bit more detail on those three…

1. Your brand idea

This should be a sort of emotional shorthand for the benefit of choosing you (whether you happen to be a product, a service, even a place). Don’t feel pressure to do it a certain way because you’ve seen it in a case study. Brand ideas come from all angles – from a social purpose to a time-of-day…

Brands with ideas.
Apple = a mindset, creativity.
Harley-Davidson = a feeling, freedom.
Disney = a feeling, magic.
Volvo = an issue, safety.
Innoceny = a personality, chatty.
KitKat = a ritual, break-time.
Patagonia = a cause, save the planet.

While they’re all totally different brands and totally different ideas, you’ll notice these all have a few things in common:

They’re easy to understand
You get the idea in a couple of words.

They’re single-minded
It takes a lot of effort to be famous for something.
It’s almost impossible to be famous for multiple things. Stick to one idea.

They’re specific
Paint a specific picture in your audience’s mind and you’ll stand out and be remembered. Your brand idea can’t be to be ‘good’,  ‘the best’, ‘customer-focused’ or ‘engaging’ … None of those paint any sort of clear picture – they’re all too vague.

A quick and easy test for your idea is ‘Could someone use the opposite of this?’. If yes, you’re onto a winner. For example a motorbike brand could be about Freedom (like Harley) but it could just as easily be about Control. If the answer is no, there’s a good chance your idea is just an expected feature in your sector – like a ‘fun day out’ or ‘reliable advice’ or ‘products that work’. This doesn’t help you stand out or be remembered.

Your brand idea – illustration of a character that stands out.

2. Why customers choose you

Start with a simple statement or list of exactly what type of people you appeal to. Then add what they get out of you – rationally and emotionally. If you haven’t got any up-to-date research, dig through your old surveys, Twitter mentions, Facebook comments, TripAdvisor reviews for the rough raw material.

3. What’s your brand personality?

How do you express yourself? Bigger organisations might have clear values that shape the way they behave and the way they communicate. Or you might have a full tone of voice guide. At a minimum you’re going to need a statement or a short list of adjectives that describe how you want to come across. But make sure they’re sharp, specific adjectives…

Don’t tolerate ‘engaging’, ‘vibrant’, or ‘professional’ here. Aim for personalities that would really shape a brief.

For example… 

  • A fastidious, detail-focused ‘geek’ who can’t wait to show you the special editions in her comic collection.
  • A warm, friendly grandad who greets you with open arms and tells you a story.
  • A rebellious teenager who wants to bring down the system.
  • A well-schooled butler who you don’t even notice is there, but who puts everything in the right place at the right time.
  • A cheeky chancer who’s always spinning a tale (think Del-Boy).

A quick tip 

If you’re doing this yourself and getting nowhere – don’t be afraid to define what you’re not. Find a load of personality trait adjectives and discuss them with some colleagues. When somebody says “We’re definitely not that”, the discussion about why will usually lead you towards what you really are.

Express yourself creatively – illustration of a character with a pencil

And finally – express yourself creatively

With your Brand Strategy Cheat Sheet as a brief, you can now get creative with anything new you put in place. So before you create anything ask yourself – how could we make this fit our personality? How could we tie this into our idea? How do we do this our way?

Do your people know how important they are?

From ‘unskilled workers’ to ‘key workers’ in less than a month, the last few weeks has brought the value of people into pin-sharp focus.

When we eventually reach the other side of coronavirus and our worlds re-extend past these four walls, we wonder what the country will be like. And who its heroes and villains will be.As we clap our clean hands for our NHS heroes, we hope the NHS is given the investment and recognition it deserves. And that those NHS heroes aren’t alone. The posties, binmen, shelf-stackers, till workers, fitness trainers, bus drivers – the list goes on. Despite the darkness, the taken-for-granted are shining as brightly as this sarcastic spring sunshine. We won’t be taking them for granted again.

So many great organisations and unsung heroes are putting people before profit – councils and arms-length organisations providing vital community services; drinks companies swapping beer for hand sanitiser; organisations re-tooling to make ventilators; museums, galleries, venues and artists sharing phenomenal couch-bound culture; teachers and writers sharing exercises and stories to keep the kids going. It doesn’t have to be life-or-death to be meaningful and valuable.

Profit is important in business, but now more than ever we should be acting with kindness, fairness, appreciation and leadership. If you haven’t told your team just how much of a difference they’re making to other people lately, maybe now’s the time? And if you’re not sure what difference your team are making to people – now would be an excellent time to figure it out.

Putting love at the heart of the Care Review

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Response

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.

Creating a National Treasure for Scotland – the Hebridean Whale Trail


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.


Background

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.

The Challenge

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?”

The Places

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.

Brand Execution

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).

Digital Design

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.

On-site Interpretation

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.


Commended with a Wee Nod for Best Digital Design in the Nods 2020 awards.


Make waves within your own sector by chatting to us about your brand, your purpose and how you engage with your audience.

Sanderson RSG rebrand image

Partnership is its middle name

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.

The Strategy

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.

The Execution

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.

DOTI-Fest 2019

Being authentic

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.

-Lucy


Is your organisation’s purpose clear? Chat to us about how we can help bring it to life through your brand.

asva conference 2019

People. Not objects.

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…?


Top takeaways

Simple reminder

Focusing on ways we can increase profitability with these three simple points:

  1. Sell more to existing customers
  2. Get new customers
  3. Do things more efficiently

Nostalgic experience

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:

Climate change

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

  1. Print on FSC paper                          
  2. Promote low carbon transport  
  3. Understand provenance of product   
  4. Be accountable for the carbon your organisation contributes
  5. 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.

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