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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.

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
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

Going, Going, Gong?

Our launch of Volvo CE’s flagship rigid hauler (featuring a disappearing hundred tonne hauler) has attracted the attention of judges after being shortlisted in the Scottish Design Awards and The Nods awards.

The launch introduced the world to the R100E – celebrating the expertise and hard work that went into making it. And building relationships to help sell it around the world.

The new hauler has no unexpected features… because Volvo has been listening to customers and developing products based on what they want. The R100E was loaded with the customers’ experience as much as Volvo’s.

We developed the theme ‘Made by you. Built by Volvo’ and all creative for the event – including the unveil of the new hauler and a tour guiding delegates around a factory filled with 2D and 3D graphics, interactive displays and videos.

What Volvo had to say:

“The launch event, which was recognised across the Volvo CE Group, was a major success. As well as launching the new rigid hauler to the world, it helped celebrate and inspire the whole team.

The team at StudioLR presented an exciting concept, something different and brave. We hoped the event would help us make trucks disappear but we didn’t expect to do that literally! ‘Made by You. Built by Volvo’ resonated with our ethos and all the expertise that went into creating Volvo’s first rigid hauler.

Even months on, our company, dealers and customers are still talking about the event. Together we created a unique experience – one our customers and colleagues will never forget.”

Jacqueline Reid

Interim Director – External Communications, Volvo CE

A wee thanks to a few those who helped us make it happen:

And shortlisted in the Best Brand Experience category 2019.

To find out more about the award-winning work we do at StudioLR, please get in touch.

The brand experience at Terex Trucks gets the Big Nod (the grand prix)

“Creativity for an audience in a place where you wouldn’t normally expect to find creativity” – Mt RAINEY, chair

Last week, we were over the moon to be standing on the stage at the Nods Awards in Glasgow to be picking up two awards for the Terex Trucks brand experience.

Including:

  • Best Brand Experience
  • The Big Nod (grand prix)

Here’s Nic and Dave picking up the Big Nod (sponsored by Jura) from Muriel Gray:

About the winning work:

Mental health: is your mind full?

[2 minute read]

Most people I know, including myself (who I know vaguely), have minds overflowing with stuff and things. We live in a world where there’s so much to take in, and at such speed, it’s a minor miracle we’re able to function at all. To help us, and our brains, mental health needs to be discussed often and freely, so we can create healthy working environments.

At the recent Marketing Society St Andrew’s Day Dinner, Ruby Wax highlighted the importance of mental health in a way only she can – with humour and discomforting honesty.

The analogy I remember most vividly was that the modern stresses applied to the brain are equivalent to filling your computer with files and wondering why it’s slowly grinding to a halt. It reminded me of a quote I’d read recently for a new project…

“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things.” Sherlock Holmes.

All of this got me looking into my ‘attic’ and realising how similar it was to my actual attic. Full of crap. Perhaps I should take a leaf out of my colleague’s book. He’s been abstaining from all news for the last six months. He’s noticeably more relaxed and is blissfully unaware of how angry he should be about all the things he has no ability to control.

I will now attempt to dump enough information so that I can remember my kids’ birthdays…

– Mark Wheeler


End mental health discrimination: https://www.seemescotland.org/

Mental health in the workplace: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-support-mental-health-work

 

Let design into your boardroom and change your world…

[2 minute read]

I recently attended a workshop organised by our industry champion, the Design Business Association. Held in the spectacular Imagination office in London (where our co-Founder Lucy spent the early years of her career), the day was billed as a chance to ‘explore and debate how to embed design across every business function to harness its transformative power.’

Maybe a few too many big words but we managed to cut through the jargon…

We talked about how to get design onto the top table and how a Chief Design Officer (CDO) can champion design’s value across an organisation… from within the boardroom.

Design can’t be seen as a dark art that takes place in innovation labs and runs sprints and hackathons with co-created blueprints and other such wonders.

Design is fundamental to the success of an organisation, embedding innovation in its culture and DNA. From this position, design can drive businesses forward and make the world a better place to live.

My top takeaways from the day:

  • A CDO doesn’t need to be a designer but has to speak the language of business and understand the impact of design (beyond just the design of the product or service). Strategy, marketing, operations, systems, HR, finance… they can all benefit from design thinking
  • The CDO’s mission is to take design from the design studio into the company culture – encouraging creativity across the organisation to solve problems and drive growth
  • Quick wins are great to galvanise people but it takes time and commitment to change culture

Imagine how great our financial, utility, transport and healthcare institutions could be if they had a Jobs, Branson, Zuckerberg, or Dyson at the helm.

-Andy Gray, MD

What makes a brand Remarkable?

A perfect storm of key insights, bold ideas and a brave positioning (and client). That’s exactly what we’ve done for Scotland’s definitive people development organisation, Investors in People Scotland.

Their new brand, Remarkable, launched on the 20th of June in Edinburgh.

Clients say it best.
“We faced an awesome challenge of building on the success of the hugely well known brand of Investors in People, whilst developing something distinctive and aspirational for Scotland.

The outcome is remarkable in all senses and we believe it will capture the imagination of employers and stakeholders. StudioLR rose to the challenge set by our Board of finding a brand that spoke of what could be and who we wanted to be. We are delighted.”
 – Peter Russian, CEO Remarkable

It’s a bold move to secure its position as a leading people organisation. The new branding places Remarkable as an insightful and critical friend with a heartfelt belief in the potential of people.

Challenging Behaviour

We’re always up for a challenge and quite enjoy being pushed out of our comfort zones. In that spirit we’re trying a few things out over the coming weeks. We’ll be taking turns to have a go at the challenges below and would love to hear from anyone else who wants to try them. Let us know how you get on and we’ll report back on our findings…

1. Get up, stand up
Spend at least 2 hours of each working day standing up, for a week. Standing burns calories, improves posture, increases blood flow and makes you feel more assertive and energised. Make it easy by standing up for four 30-minute chunks or try standing up every time you make a phone call.

2. Don’t mention the weather
It’s a predictable opener for every meeting and every morning – can we avoid it for a week? Making a real connection with somebody through stimulating, thoughtful conversation is good for your health and happiness. Relish the challenge of getting to know them a bit better.

3. Try a Digital Sabbath
No internet connection, no laptops, computers, tablets or smartphones for a whole day. The great outdoors and a great book will help with this one (I’d recommend the Alan Partridge autobiography). Spending time outdoors can significantly decrease stress, reduce anger and fear, and increase pleasant feelings.

4. Write to your friends
Send a handwritten postcard to a different friend or family member every day for a week. Taking the time and effort to write to someone (especially someone who doesn’t have the internet or a mobile) is a gesture that will be sure to put smiles on faces. I’m not sure if the biggest challenge is making my handwriting legible or thinking of something interesting to say.

Good luck!

___

Dave King
StudioLR