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Remember your 17th birthday?

Today is our birthday and we’re not likely to forget our 17th year in a hurry. Somewhere between the million Zoom calls and the ebb and flow of anxiety, we did some of the gutsiest work we’ve ever done with some of the gutsiest people we’ve ever known.

A huge, huge thank you to everyone who supported us on this rollercoaster year. 🙌

And since the world isn’t quite ready for blowing out candles and sharing cake just yet, we’ll save the party for next year. But for now we’d like to celebrate the two things that matter most to us – looking after our people, and making gutsy work for clients we respect and who respect us…

Substance and Standout

A few of our recent favourites

Who the LR are we?

A tight-knit team of total troopers. Some of this year’s highlights:

  • 🌟 Nic won Rising Creative Star at the Marketing Society Star Awards
  • 😎 The incredibly talented quartet of Mel, Ben, Joy and Lisa joined us, and instantly made us 50% cooler
  • 🙌 Andy was nominated for Inspirational Agency Leader of the Year
  • 👴 Dave celebrated 10 years at StudioLR
  • 🎓 Mark, Rhona, Andy and Dave all completed Mark Ritson’s Mini MBA in Marketing (and swear they didn’t copy each other’s answers)
  • ❤️ We were named the Marketing Society Scotland’s Employer Brand of the Year

Shout if you want to stand out

Andy@StudioLR.com
Lisa@StudioLR.com
0131 454 3200

Wanted: Strategic Copywriter

Calling all nub hunters!

We’re looking for a ruthlessly curious copywriter who loves to dig a little, think a lot, and get to the guts of every brief.

If you enjoy wielding razor-sharp words that stand out and get noticed, we need you NOW. You’ll have an obsession for ideas, the guts to be different, and a hunger to learn and succeed.

We’re open-minded on the role, but ideally you’ll have at least 3 years’ top level agency experience and a keen interest in strategy. You might even have some experience developing brand and campaign strategies – and an appetite to learn and develop in this area.

You’ll work on all sorts of cracking briefs – from tone of voice and brand development to campaign ideas, social content and long copy.

What can you expect from us?

Stand out and get noticed

We were awarded the Marketing Society’s Agency Employer Brand of the Year 2020 for the way we look after our people…

You’ll be treated right – in a supportive environment where you can shine and grow. We take professional development seriously and you’ll get a load of opportunities to learn and be inspired with training courses from the UK’s brightest and best.

Then there’s the perks great and small – from pension contributions to IFA advice, weekly yoga to monthly mindfulness, Vitality Healthcare, volunteering opportunities and your birthday off.

Apply now - copywriter

Apply now…

Please send your top 3 pieces of work, the thinking behind them, your CV and your expected salary to Mail@StudioLR.com. We’re looking for someone as soon as possible so please get in touch straight away, but no later than Friday 27th August.

How to kick off a creative project with substance

Every successful project starts with a good brief. And every brief should be given a good shake. You never know what’s going to fall out.

Our clients value this process – it usually highlights new angles and opportunities. At worst it makes sure we really understand the brief. Like a pitbull in a butchershop, we don’t stop til we get to the guts.

The line of questioning varies depending on the brief and the brand, but there are themes that always come up. Whether you’re a creative, strategist or marketer looking to bullet-proof your brief, here are over 50 questions to ask yourself…

What is the brief aiming to achieve?

What do we want to happen … what do we want people to do?
Why do we want that?
Is it possible and what are the barriers?
How will success be measured?
Are KPIs already defined and, if so, can they all be realistically affected by this brief?
Is it clear which KPIs are the real priority? (focus is key!)
Are there any other potential outcomes (positive or negative) that haven’t been considered?
Is the belly as big as the eyes? (does the project have the senior backing, timescales and budget to make the impact it aims to?)

What’s the context for the brief internally (for the brand)?

What’s the brand’s big idea? Its focus? 
How does this project tie into that?
Where does this project fit in the full plan? What else is going on around it?
Is it co-reliant on any other project’s progress? 
Why is it happening now?
Has this been tried before? If so was it a success? What can we learn?
Are there any ongoing projects we can learn from or collaborate with?
Are all the right people involved and invested in the project?
Are there any politics around it?
Does this message complement or clash with anything else the brand is doing or saying just now? If so, why?
Does the brand have a clear visual identity and tone of voice?
Is there any good reason to deviate from that? (eg. is it a collaboration?)

What’s the context for the brief externally (for the audience)?

Firstly, do we know enough about the audience? 
What research is available and is it up to date and relevant?
What do the audience currently think?
What led them to think that? 
How deep-rooted are those beliefs or opinions? 
What are we looking to change or build on?
Why should people believe what we say?
What else is going on that could affect the way they think about this? (it could be a competitor offer, new technology, new regulations, cultural/behavioural trends, seasonal changes/events)

Is the medicine right?

Is the brief prescriptive of outputs rather than outcomes?
If so, where did they come from? Are they definitely right for the job?
Is there a better way to reach the audience?

What do we know?

What experience do we have of this type of project or industry?
What can we learn from previous work? 
What precedents are there for this type of project? 

What don’t we know?

What doesn’t add up or make sense?
What are we missing?
Who could help bring this project to life with knowledge we don’t have?

The race to stay objective

Should you leave the sharp edges on your creative?

A good sound engineer is a marvel to watch. The pace they work at is incredible. They hear a problem, fix a problem, test the fix, and fix it again before you even notice the song had stopped in the first place. But it’s not just slick skills – it’s a necessity that we could all learn from.

In the world of sound production, it’s a race against time for objectivity. The longer you spend listening to a song in the studio, the further you drift from what the audience will actually hear. Every time you hear that drumbeat on your 500 quid headphones, it becomes less and less like the first time you heard it. It takes on different meanings, you notice tiny subtle details, you start to obsess over details that don’t matter, you stop noticing big things that do matter – and in the end you upset the overall balance of the song. Without even notice you’re doing it.

And the same goes for creative development. In the months a campaign or identity takes to develop, it can be almost impossible to keep a grasp on objectivity. We’re human. We can’t stop ourselves smoothing out all the rough edges and unusual details in the idea – changing a headline here, an image there. At last, every single part of our mix is unobjectionable.

This is when you know your idea is dead. 

Because there’s no such thing as a diluted idea – there’s just a dead idea. Even the best lager in the world tastes rubbish when you dilute it. 

Unfortunately, the audience never get to see all the strategy and conversations and initial thinking behind an idea. They haven’t heard the drumbeat a hundred times before. They’re not interested in what went into it. They don’t even care about the end result – they just happen to see it in passing. And boring and perfectly sanitised just won’t cut it. The only way to cut through is with a sharp idea. An idea without the edges smoothed off. 

hit the green button for objectivity

If you find yourself sanitising your ideas into boredom, don’t worry it’s natural. Just take the subjectivity out of it. You don’t personally have to like every little detail. Come back to your strategy – is this right for our brand? Does this reinforce the one sharp thing we want to be famous for? If the answer is yes, hit the big green button before you change your mind…

Making windows punch holes in walls. How to generate stand-out ideas.

How to generate original, stand-out ideas

Intuition is great but everyone else has it too. The most valuable ideas are the ones other people don’t have yet. Finding these stand-out ideas takes a bit of counter-intuitive thinking. Like the Buddhist fishermen who claim to ‘save fish from drowning’, it’s all about finding a new perspective on the familiar. 

Whether you’re just starting out your creative career, or you’re looking to get some fresh ideas into your team, here are a few tips and techniques for generating NEW stand-out ideas. They won’t all work for every person or every subject, try them out with an open mind and see what works for you. Remember, all you’re looking for is the spark of something new, then you can allow your logical brain back in…

Top tips for generation stand-out ideas.

3 Top tips for generating stand-out ideas

The golden rule – think first, edit later

Creating and judging are two different things. Never confuse the two and never judge your ideas until you’ve put them down on paper and said them out loud. Your brain is wired to avoid embarrassment and will censor out anything remotely interesting or new if you let it. Do not invite a ‘devil’s advocate’ into idea sessions. They are useful after you have a list of ideas, not during the creative process. All they will do is shut down everyone else’s creativity.

Enjoy it

Don’t be too serious about all of this. Serious makes people nervous and nerves kill ideas – encourage a laugh and the ideas will flow.

“When work sucks, the work sucks”
– George Tannenbaum

Search yourself, not Google

You’d have to be very lucky to find a genuinely new, stand-out idea on Google or Pinterest or Reddit or Twitter. They’re great sources for background info and even audience insights but once you’ve got those, shut the tabs and do some of your own thinking. You can always come back when you’re working up the idea, but for the initial spark nothing beats brains.

Try this when generating stand-out ideas.

8 Techniques to try

Technique 1 – What if it didn’t?

1. List all the expected features of your subject. For example if you’re talking about restaurants, you’d list tables, chairs, menus, chefs, food, etc. Aim for 10 things.

2. Now take those things away one at a time and imagine how your restaurant could still work. For example – maybe a restaurant with no chefs is an open kitchen with ready-recipes and some porters. You book a slot and make dinner with your friends, using the best quality produce and kitchen facilities, the porters take care of the dishes etc and you pay less than normal.

3. Keep repeating Step 2 until you get to an interesting starting point for an idea that you’ve never heard of before – now develop it up.

Technique 2 – Bad ideas

The easiest way to come up with good ideas is to come up with lots of ideas and throw away the bad ones. Build your team’s confidence up by sharing deliberately bad ideas. For example, think of 10 innovative ways to lose a football match, bankrupt a business, or ruin a meal.

Technique 3 – 50 uses for…

1. Get a few sheets of blank paper and pick a simple object to do with your subject. For example, a brick, a spoon, a saw.

2. As fast as you can try to come up with 50 alternate uses for the object. What else could you use the brick for?

Technique 4 – What’s going on in this picture?

1. Find a photograph that relates to your subject and write down what’s happening in the picture.

2. Now make-up 3 alternative explanations of what’s going on in the picture. Be as wild as you can.

3. Now imagine what you’d think was going on in the picture if you were:
a) An alien
b) A child
c) A dog

Technique 5 – Non-stop writing

1. Agree the subject that you’re thinking about and set a timer for 5 minutes.

2. Write about the topic non-stop for 5 minutes – don’t stop to think, don’t lift your pen off the paper. Just write everything that comes into your head to do with the subject. Don’t stop to judge whether it’s good, bad, boring or interesting – write everything.

3. When the timer stops, go back through your notes and circle anything unusual that makes you think about the subject in a new way. Try to develop the circled bits up into an idea.

Technique 6 – Non-stop drawing

Repeat technique 5 but instead of writing for 5 minutes, draw for 5 minutes. 

Technique 7 – Idea swapping

1. Pick a challenge related to your subject – for example ‘ideas for a new restaurant menu theme’.

2. Fold your paper into three columns and on the left column write the numbers 1 to 5. Now quick-fire think of 5 initial ideas and write them beside the numbers.

3. Swap your paper with a colleague. In the second column, they add 5 new ideas based on your 5 original ones. They can vary from slight tweaks to the original ideas, to whole new ideas inspired by them. Repeat with a third partner in the third column. With just 3 people in 15 minutes, you’ll now have the start of 45 ideas. Do it with 10 people and you’ll have a lot more…

4. Gather in all the sheets and review them as a team, circling the interesting starting points and deciding who will go and develop the best ideas.

Technique 8 – Forced connections

1. Make a list of verbs from a certain field, for example sports – jump, punch, kick, pull, lift, bend, climb. Aim for 10.

2. Make a list of nouns to do with the field you’re working on – window, jacket, rug, car, cobbles, radiator, light switch, roadworks. Again, aim for 10.

3. Combine them and see what sticks out as an interesting thought and the starting point for an idea. For example… windows punching holes in walls, roadworks jumping out of the ground, the light switch pulling your room into the light, or your jacket bending your arms behind your back. 

4. Repeat the process with adjectives rather than verbs. So you might end up with a musclebound promise, a tall noise, or an arrogant morning. You’re looking for phrases you’ve never heard before that make you think of something in a new way.

good luck generating your ideas

Look for the start, not the end

None of these techniques are going to hand you your golden, stand-out idea on a plate, but collectively they’ll help you find new perspectives, and stop you banging your head against a brick wall. Go easy on yourself. You don’t need to find the final version of the idea or the fully fleshed-out idea, you just need to find the start. Good luck!

Wanted: Gutsy Middleweight Creative (Full time – permanent or temporary).


If you enjoy creating attention-seeking work that stands out and gets noticed, we need you NOW.

We’re urgently looking for a super-talented creative with campaign and brand experience. You’ll have an obsession for ideas, the guts to be different, and a hunger to learn and succeed.

Ideally you’ll be a multi-disciplinary creative with at least 3 years’ top level agency experience – focused on ideas first, and as comfortable writing headlines as you are creating visuals. But we’re openminded and keen to hear from you – let us know what you love and what you’re good at, and if you’re not right for this one we’ll keep you in mind for future opportunities. We’ll put you on the best briefs around, and treat you right in a supportive environment where you’ll be able to shine (albeit from home for the next wee while).

Salary dependent on experience.

Please send your top 3 pieces of work and a covering note to Mail@StudioLR.com before Monday 8th March 2021.




Creating brands that stand-out AND stand for something.

We’ve raised a few eyebrows with all our talk about guts. Particularly when we promised our clients we’ll serve up their guts on a plate. But it’s really not as aggressive or messy as it sounds. At StudioLR, ‘guts’ stands for two things – substance and bravery. If you’re looking to sharpen up your brand and stand-out, here’s where we’d start…

Part 1. Strategic substance
(AKA: Getting to the guts)

Dave Trott quote about creating brands that stand out and stand for something.

Having guts doesn’t mean shouting the loudest, or being the brashest brand in the room. It’s about knowing exactly what you stand for, and having total conviction in it.

It’s a question of focus. Sharp, single-minded focus. What is the one thing you want to be famous for? Don’t confuse narrow with small – a sharp, singular focus will propel you much further than a vague notion. Like a powerful power hose, rather than a sad puddle.

Here’s an example…

Imagine you just wanted your business to behave and be known as ‘good’. Seems fairly safe territory, doesn’t it? But think of the resources you’d have pour into covering all that vague ground. And think of the contradictions you’d have to make to your team and your customers…

  • You’d have to prove you were fast and responsive (because that’s ‘good’) but also that you were considered and fastidious with the details (also good)
  • You’d have to prove you were big and reliable but also small enough to be personal and to really care
  • You’d have to prove you were interested in unity, teamwork, and community but also that you had ‘stand-out’ and valued individualism
  • You’d have to prove you took safety and security seriously but also that you took risks to innovate

To be useful, brands have to be much sharper than people.

You’re probably familiar with these ‘everything to everyone’ sorts of strategies. The definition of ‘good’ is so wide that it’s almost impossible to convey and is an instantly-forgettable brand. Brands built on vagueness become walking contradictions that stand for nothing. They’re more expensive to build as they have to cover so much ground. Their employees don’t know what’s expected of them – so they don’t give a consistent service. And their customers don’t feel anything about them beyond the function of the product.

People are walking contradictions. We all are. But people care about people. Nobody inherently cares about your brand. Nobody will devote the time to really get to know every side of your brand. 

A singular, sharp focus will make you stand-out, be memorable and easier for people to understand. And, if you’re really lucky, to relate to too.

Getting to that singular focus takes a lot of gut-digging – poking around deep in the workings of your organisation, asking awkward questions about your leader’s vision, your competitive landscape, and your customer’s wishes. But once we get it, the rest is (almost) easy…

Part 2. Creative bravery 
(AKA: Having guts)

Armed with a single, sharp focus, we put our efforts into magnifying, dramatising, and following through on it – 100%. 

The beauty of focus is that it takes some of the subjectivity out of judging creative work. And it takes some of the personal risk out of making ‘brave’ work. 

We’re no longer looking for ideas we ‘like’, or the ‘best’ ideas. We’re looking for ideas that are right and ideas that are the most [insert your brand focus here].

For example…

If your brand was focused on freedom (like Harley Davidson), whether you’re judging a new product idea, a sponsorship opportunity, a new product name, an ad campaign,  brand identity development – your question is always ‘Is this the most free?’ rather than ‘Is this the best?’ or ‘Do I really like this?’.

Not everyone in your team has to like it. But everyone should remember it. And see how it fits your brand’s sharp focus. Remember, camp-splitting is usually the sign of a high-impact idea – it’s hard to have a genuinely strong opinion on a bland idea.

Focus gives you a license to think big, and create surprising, eye-catching, stand-out work. Safe in the knowledge that it’s underpinned by a sound, consistent strategy. It’s not about a marketer’s ‘bravery’, or willingness to gamble with their career. It’s about their guts to believe in their decisions, to shun vagueness, and to commit to building a sharp, valuable brand.

Wanted: Gutsy Middleweight Creative/Designer

Gutsy Middleweight with digital experience for immediate start, three month full-time contract with potential to extend.

If you enjoy creating attention-seeking work that stands out and gets noticed, we need you NOW.

We’re urgently looking for a super-talented middleweight designer with the guts to be different, a keen eye for detail, a love of the visual craft, and a hunger to learn and succeed.

Ideally you’ll have at least 4 years’ top level agency experience and be able to handle strategic brand briefs – especially brand identity schemes, campaign design, and content.

We’ll treat you right in a supportive environment where you’ll be able to shine (albeit from home for the next wee while).

Full-time temporary contract with potential to extend to permanent role. Salary or contract rate dependent on experience.

Send your top 3 pieces of work and a covering note to Mail@StudioLR.com before Monday 4th Jan 2021.

Bitesize Bravery: Encouraging schoolkids to stay creative

Bitesize Bravery: Encouraging schoolkids to stay creative

At StudioLR, creativity is the name of the game. Strategy, ideas, execution – every stage is a creative task. It doesn’t matter whether we’re working with a CEO to craft her business vision, or working with a photographer to craft the perfect shot. To succeed, our work needs to be new, novel, stand-out, attention-grabbing. Creativity is the one ingredient we couldn’t do without.

Kids are creative geniuses

Kids are the most creative people in the world. But sometimes we push them to unlearn that skill as they get older. They get used to learning in blocks. An hour of Maths here, an hour of English there. They can start to see creativity as something that only belongs in the Art Department. But it doesn’t.

From the Fosbury Flop to the Ford motor car, creative thinking has changed on the world. Sport, business, science, conservation, entertainment. You name it, creativity powers it.

A simple, bitesize lesson plan

Working with Daydream Believers, we’ve created Bitesize Bravery – a framework for short lessons that bring creative thinking into every classroom. No matter the subject.

The framework is simple. Teachers can pick and choose to suit their plans – building lessons that last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. In Part One kids fuel their imaginations by finding and exploring examples of creative bravery in their subject. Then in Part Two they stretch their own creative muscles with an exercise. These exercises are all based on tried-and-tested tools that we’ve used in the studio.

It’s been great to hear positive feedback from teachers and we hope the lessons help a few bright sparks to carry on sparking.

Get the teaching tools

You can watch a re-run of Dave chatting through the lesson plan at the Creative Bravery festival below. Or download a free PDF of the lessons and get stuck right in. Rachel Nesbitt, a talented Edinburgh College graduate, designed the slide pack. (Thanks Rachel!).

And finally, make sure you have a look at the Creative Bravery Festival. There’s a tonne of great ideas and resources over there from so many great contributors, including everyone’s favourite company. (Lego, of course!).

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