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.
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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.
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.
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
To find out how we can make your brand cut through the noise of your industry then get in touch.
Building on the campaign by Grace Warnock, StudioLR (funded by Life Changes Trust) has designed the new ‘Any Disability’ symbol to encourage awareness of people with invisible disabilities.
Martin Whitfield, MP for East Lothian, led a Commons debate (here) on invisible disabilities. Receiving full cross-party support, the new Any Disability symbol represents the full range of people who need to use accessible toilets and other facilities.
The symbol has received public shows of support from people who have experienced prejudice when using accessible facilities. This demonstrates how design can help change people’s everyday lives.
Justin Tomlinson MP – Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work – had some very supportive words to say about the project:
“…Making a real difference, not just in the UK but internationally”
Lucy Richards, our Creative Director explains: “We created the new Any Disability symbol because people with a hidden disability have the right to access facilities and services without having to explain their personal circumstances. It’s about building awareness as well as preventing prejudice.”
The symbol continues to receive strong cross-party support. After a drop-in event to rally MP support (with over 50 MPs attending) they have pledged to promote the symbol in their constituencies. On the day of the event (23 July) it was the most frequent hashtag amongst politicians (even above the #BackBoris campaign).
It’s also resulted in the creation of an All Party Parliamentary Group on Disability Signage to support the implementation and development of improved disability signage.
Read more about the project and debate here.
Or please feel free to get in touch with Lucy directly (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Submitting a Marketing Society Star Awards paper can be time consuming, and we all know that time is precious.
So, why do we bother?
- It challenges us to look deeply at our work and ask our clients Did we add value? And can we prove it?
- A nomination gives reassurance to our clients and prospects.
- Award wins are a great morale boost for our team who put everything they have into their work.
- And of course, we love to party.
Marketing Society Star Awards 2019
Winner: Chairman’s Award for SME Agency of the Year
Gold: (Tourism, Leisure and Sport – marketing)
– The D-Day Story / Portsmouth Council
Gold: (Best Brand Experience)
– Volvo CE Rigid Hauler Launch
Also nominated …
– The D-Day Story / Portsmouth Council
– Volvo CE Rigid Hauler Launch
– Cushiedoos Premium Scottish Tonic Water
And congratulations to Volvo CE for winning the Chairman’s Award for First Time Entry, and to Jacqueline Reid of Volvo CE, for her nomination as Inspirational Marketing Leader of the Year.
We are StudioLR, a design studio made up of creative people, strategic people, and people people who keep all the other people in check. We come to work every morning with the same goal to make people’s everyday experiences better.
Our expertise is in brand strategy, identity design and activation, marketing campaigns, environments, print, digital and inclusive design. Most importantly, our work isn’t for our clients – it’s for the people they want to reach.
What this looks like day-to-day varies from designing purpose led brands, to designing and testing inclusive symbols that make a difference to people from all walks of life, to making a 100-tonne truck disappear in front of a live audience.
We’re a bunch of hungry fighters always pushing ourselves and our ideas as far as they can go to create work that sparks something in people. At the Marketing Society Star Awards 2019 we were awarded the Chairman’s Award for (SME) Agency of the Year.
We’re looking for a Senior Designer to start immediately with …
- Around 5 years experience across all channels, delivering purposeful design that’s executed beautifully from concept through to delivery
- A real belief in the value of great design
- Experience managing projects and clients, as well as team members
If this sounds interesting and you feel like a new challenge then please do get in touch with a brief note explaining why you’d like to work at StudioLR, what you’ll bring to the role, your ambition and salary expectation.
Please apply to Michelle@StudioLR.com