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Finance: just because your industry is serious, doesn’t mean your brand has to be

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.

The Brand

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.

Mps support new Any Disability symbol by StudioLR

New ‘Any Disability’ symbol gets resounding Westminster support

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 (lr@studiolr.com)

Why enter a Marketing Society Star Awards paper?

Submitting a Marketing Society Star Awards paper can be time consuming, and we all know that time is precious.

So, why do we bother?

  1. It challenges us to look deeply at our work and ask our clients Did we add value? And can we prove it?
  2. A nomination gives reassurance to our clients and prospects.
  3. Award wins are a great morale boost for our team who put everything they have into their work.
  4. And of course, we love to party.

Marketing Society Star Awards 2019

Winner: Chairman’s Award for SME Agency of the Year
StudioLR

Gold: (Tourism, Leisure and Sport – marketing)
– The D-Day Story / Portsmouth Council

Gold: (Best Brand Experience)
– Volvo CE Rigid Hauler Launch

Also nominated …

Brand Development
– The D-Day Story / Portsmouth Council

Brand Development
– Volvo CE Rigid Hauler Launch

Drink
– 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.

StudioLR any disability symbol, copyright StudioLR 2019

New ‘Any Disability’ symbol launched at Commons debate

Building on the campaign by Grace Warnock, StudioLR (funded by Life Changes Trust) has designed a new ‘Any Disability’ symbol to encourage awareness of people with invisible disabilities.

Today (Wednesday 5th June), Martin Whitfield, MP for East Lothian, will lead a Commons debate on invisible disabilities and accessibility challenges.

The debate in the Commons’ Main Chamber will also see the formal launch a new Any Disability symbol to more accurately represent the full range of people with various disabilities who use accessible toilets and other facilities.

The development of the new sign was inspired by the success of the Grace’s Sign campaign, developed by Mr Whitfield’s constituent Grace Warnock, a pupil at Preston Lodge High School in Prestonpans. Grace, who has Crohn’s Disease, designed her sign following her own experience of using accessible toilets, including receiving negative remarks from adults who did not appreciate or understand her disability.

Grace has received high level recognition for her inspirational campaign, including a Points of Light Award from the Prime Minister and a British Citizen Youth Award.

The new Any Disability symbol has been designed by StudioLR as an evolution of Grace’s Sign with the aim of becoming recognised by the British Standards Institution as the generally accepted sign for accessible facilities, including toilets, parking areas and assistance points.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Martin Whitfield MP said:

The impact of accessibility challenges faced by those living with ‘invisible’ disabilities has too often been overlooked or ignored.

“However, thanks to the dedicated work of numerous charities and inspirational individual campaigners like Grace Warnock, the issue is finally starting to receive the attention it deserves.

“This Commons debate will provide another opportunity for MPs to speak out on behalf of their constituents who live with hidden disabilities and describe the challenges and negative responses they can experience while going about their daily lives.

“I hope the debate will help to increase awareness around these complicated issues and lead to greater understanding about the daily challenges faced by so many people living with a wide range of conditions.”

Lucy Richards,  Creative Director at StudioLR, who designed the new sign, said:

“The wheelchair symbol is commonly used on accessible toilet signs and Blue Badge parking permits, however this symbol doesn’t represent the people with wide-ranging impairments who use these facilities and services. 

Having followed Grace Warnock’s campaign to raise awareness that some people who use accessible toilets have an invisible disability (for instance Crohn’s disease or dementia) the design team at StudioLR saw an opportunity to build on this. With a Life Changes Trust Award (funded by the National Lottery Community Fund) StudioLR has conceived, designed and tested a new, inclusive symbol that can be rolled out across toilets, parking signs and assistance points. Testing was facilitated by Innovations in Dementia.

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.”

Grace Warnock said:

“The story of my sign came from my own experience of an adult questioning my use of an accessible toilet this ignorance drove me to design the first Grace’s Sign to educate others on invisible disabilities and to encourage everyone to have a heart”

The Value of Listening

Co-design in Practice.

At the International Masterclass on Dementia Care, Design and Ageing, Lucy will share insights from our Inclusive Symbols work funded by Life Changes Trust.

Initial research indicated that many of the symbols we encounter in life are not easily understood by people with cognitive challenges. So, we set out to create a new set of 15 symbols, designed to make finding the way easier for everybody.

Sharing progress and revealing the latest work, Lucy will highlight the value of listening to the views of people with dementia to inform the creative process.

The International Masterclass brings together experts from across the globe to discuss ideas from design innovation through research to policy development to support independence and well-being in people living with dementia. 


Co-design in Practice

International Masterclass on Dementia Care, Design and Ageing

Wednesday 15th May, 11.30am

Iris Murdoch Conference Suite, University of Stirling

Tickets available here

Image credits: Messe München

Among the Goliaths…

Brand lessons from our trip to Bauma, Munich.  

Bauma is a triennial trade show with around 3,500 exhibitors showcasing all things construction. It attracts about 600k visitors… it’s massive.

The task Mark and I set ourselves was to visit our clients, and to see what their competition was doing so we could better advise them.

So, what did we learn? Apart from our woeful fitness levels (30k steps!)…

Overwhelming bombardment

There was a relentless, overwhelming bombardment of brand information. The exhibitors had collectively invested high for the week-long event, led by the industry giants like Caterpillar, Liebherr and Volvo CE.

Along with all these branded pavilions and stands (some the size of football pitches), was a huge range of attractions – from ferris wheels and VR games to choreographed dancing diggers and zeppelins!

In our opinion, shouting loud and throwing your message at people seemed to be the predominant marketing strategy. So yes, everything was big. But surprisingly, not that well considered. 

Look slightly beyond the surface and you can see that much of this marketing is lost, and very little sticks. Reliability, Safety, Sustainability and Efficiency… each brand’s claims are so similar to the last. 

Less loud, more memorable

So, how do you stand out? Clearly not by SHOUTING, because someone will always be louder. Great brands don’t need to shout – their reputations are built over time and by consistently doing ‘the right thing’ (or at least by doing ‘their thing’). 

Two top tips

Do what you say – if your product benefit is sustainability, don’t have single use plastic cups. And if you’re a proud British brand, don’t give away Swiss chocolate. The devil is in the detail.

Be honest. Be yourself. Be brave enough to say “this is who I am, and this is how I can help you.” It won’t be for everyone but it doesn’t need to be. They might not be the loudest, but with honesty and integrity, smaller brands can have a much clearer and more memorable voice than the Goliaths they compete with…

Which seems the perfect place to give a special shout out to our client Terex Trucks. Their honesty and integrity could certainly be heard above the noise at Bauma. They design, build and service high quality reliable articulated trucks in Scotland and export them all over the world. One team. One product. One focus.

With Undivided Attention printed above their heads, they practised what they preached – giving everyone their time and a truly unique West of Scotland welcome (and yes, we are a tad biased).

So, bring on Bauma 2022… but for now we will find a darkened room and Goliath down.

………

ps. it wasn’t all work… the Bratwurst and German beer went down pretty well too!

Terex Trucks stand at Bauma designed by StudioLR
Campervan in the Hebrides for a StudioLR meeting

A worthwhale trip to the Hebrides…

[5 min read]

StudioLR is working with the Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust to create the Hebridean Whale Trail. On the surface this is a somewhat counter intuitive proposition – creating a land based trail to watch sealife.

Scotland is one of the best places in the world to see whales. There are many places they can be spotted from shore and with 2020 being the Year of Coast and Water the brilliance of this project is that it will encourage people to go and see these magnificent creatures, and if they don’t they’ll have a wonderful time anyway. So with excitement I set off to the west coast to find out more.

As a city boy at heart, I only took the stereotypical essentials. Insufficient clothing and footwear, laptop & smartphone (with selection of ill fitting cabling) and of course my dog and campervan. I was fully aware these items would almost certainly attract ridicule from all on my trip – putting people at ease is a big part of the collaborative process.

After many hours on the road, and two ferry trips, I found myself with the client at Ardnamurchan lighthouse. A stunning location, particularly on a wild day in January.

After admiring the views and scoping out a load of exciting visitor experience interpretive ideas, my soft southern side started to notice I was wet and cold. But with no cafe open (it’s winter) we headed to my campervan for our follow up meeting, with me smugly making fresh coffee and sharing some hobnobs. It was the perfect site meeting.

Campervan meeting with StudioLR

From conversations with several members of the team in Tobermory my brief visit made me realise the brilliance of the trail intent. By encouraging people to visit amazing and remote locations across the west coast of Scotland, most of which you have to reach by ferry, you are forced to slow down while being constantly on the move. What better way to see these beautiful creatures than by doing as they do – steadily travelling through our Scottish waters.

Not only will attracting visitors to the trail encourage people to engage with our special sea-mammals but the project will also have many spin-off benefits. Not least economic – boosting local businesses and services.

I didn’t see any whales on my trip but I look forward to returning as we work on developing the trail over the next few months.

Mark Wheeler, Design Director

The power of purpose – building your brand from the inside out

[1 min read]

An event hosted by StudioLR at the SCVO Gathering 2019

Thursday 21 February, 11.15am – 12.15pm

By defining the purpose of your organisation and involving your people in the process, you will build an authentic brand and reap the rewards of a united, driven workforce.

Lucy Richards and Joanna McCreadie (Chief Executive of Seamab) will demonstrate the power of this approach by example – sharing the insights and outcomes of their collaboration to create a dynamic and enduring brand for Seamab.

https://scvo.org.uk/the-gathering-2019/event-programme/the-power-of-purpose-building-your-brand-from-the-inside-out/

the gathering 2019, SCVO, Glasgow SEC, february 2019
Spark something in people with your new brand from StudioLR

New year, new brand

[5 min read]

A great brand will add a huge amount of value to your organisation. It can help unite your team, differentiate you from the competition, attract new audiences and customers, shape the way you plan your future, and change the way people feel about you.

Feel.

That’s the most important part. Your brand’s job isn’t to summarise every service or product you provide. It’s to shape the way people feel about you. What’s in their gut when they hear your name? Great brands are relevant, compelling, memorable, unexpected. They spark something in people.

Here are our five top tips to do just that…

1. Think more about your reputation. Less about your logo.
Your brand is what other people think of you – your reputation. Strong reputations are built up over time and come from a tight link between what you do (your products, services, culture, facilities, experience), what you say (marketing messages and campaigns), and how you say it (visual identity and tone of voice). Good brand planning and a strong idea can get all of that pushing in the right direction.

Spark something in people with your new brand from StudioLR

2. Build from the inside out.
Your brand should reflect what people love about your organisation. The easiest way to do that is to involve people in its creation. Speak to people at all levels of the organisation, stakeholders inside and out – and your audience. Brand development is the perfect chance for people to have their say. Don’t paper over the cracks. Be honest and get hopes, fears, issues and strong opinions out in the open early. These are great fuel and often trigger original and authentic ideas. And if your chairman’s favourite colour is red, don’t let that dominate, listen to everybody and make sure personal preference doesn’t overrule sound judgement.

Spark something in people with your new brand from StudioLR

3. Be brave.
Every great brand has a hook. A memorable idea that resonates emotionally. Don’t be tempted to settle for something generic – it won’t get over the challenges that have led you to a rebrand. It won’t attract new customers or audiences. If it makes you a little bit nervous and excited then you’re onto something good. Most people are naturally averse to change but if you’re not aiming to change perceptions why are you rebranding?

Spark something in people with your new brand from StudioLR

4. Don’t stop there.
Set some budget aside for a great creative roll out. This should be much more than just a logo, font or colours applied to things. It’s a chance to bring your brand idea to life in a way people will notice and engage with. Keep an open mind – your brand and audience might suit one kind of media more than another. Fill your brief with outcomes (eg. more customers in the 30-45 market) not outputs (eg. leaflets or advert).

Spark something in people with your new brand from StudioLR

5. Avoid the free fall.
Don’t ask agencies to compete for your rebrand by pitching free creative ideas. You won’t get quality, effective work – you’ll get guesswork. Great results come from collaborative relationships – conversations, understanding, research, development, thought and exploration. Creative pitches are one-sided – undermining the value of your own knowledge and experience, and undervaluing the skills of your agency. Meet up with two or three agencies, share your problems, ask how they would solve them, see what relevant experience they have, and check if the chemistry ‘clicks’. Then trust them to do what they do best.


Our Creative Director and Founder, Lucy will be co-hosting a free event ‘Building your brand from the inside out’ at the SCVO Gathering on 21 February 2019 at SEC Glasgow. Sign up now to book your space.

Andy Purpose StudioLR

On Purpose

[2 min read]

I recently shared an article with our team about how sweet treats (biscuits/cakes) in the workplace are a danger to our health.

I was surprised that everyone responded with their thoughts – although that maybe says more about what I usually share. But they all agreed that it’s really difficult to avoid them.

It made me question how responsible we’re being by having biscuits in meetings and rewarding ourselves with G&Ts on a Friday. It’s all a matter of choice, but with obesity rates soaring, too many of us are making the wrong choices, and workplaces definitely aren’t helping. I heard a nurse on the radio highlight the challenge suggesting that the NHS was neglecting its duty of care allowing boxes of biscuits and chocolate ‘thank yous’ on the ward as the norm.

Our Why

We’ve been on a mission to find our WhyWhy do we get out of bed in the morning? What makes us tick? What do we really enjoy and dislike? And, critically, does this even matter to our clients and their customers?

We help organisations unearth their Why, but doing it for ourselves proved really difficult. We’ve finally got somewhere that we all believe in and can rally behind.

So, what is our Why?

We leap out of bed in the morning to make people’s everyday experiences better. That’s what we’ve always done. From our early work creating distractions around Aberdeen Children’s Hospital, to our recent work creating emotive visitor experiences for Volvo and National Trust for Scotland, to our pioneering work setting new standards for symbols to help people living with dementia find their way around.

By always focusing on the people, we can stir emotions, encourage participation and change behaviours to make a positive difference. Raise a smile. Win hearts and minds. That’s the aim of every brand, every campaign, and every experience we create.

Living our brand

With that mantra in mind, we shouldn’t go too far wrong:

  • In the office, we’ll always be respectful of each other and encourage a healthy environment with our standing desks, yoga Wednesday, walking meetings and adopting a plant (mine’s a bonsai).
  • For our clients, we’ll always go a step further to make their everyday better – simple principles like calling more than e-mailing, being ‘reassuringly challenging’ and not accepting the norm. We create work that makes their people’s every day better and gets them the results they need. And when things don’t go as planned we’re open and honest and do what it takes to get things back on track.

For Society, we do our bit for local charities volunteering on the Care Van to help feed Edinburgh’s homeless people, and helping The Spartans Community Football Academy, Seamab School and participating in the Social Bite Sleep in the Park.

So, that just leaves me with a Bigger Question than Why

“Should we ban sweet treats?”

Thoughts welcome.

– Andy

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