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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

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.

Bring on the trumpets for Brodie Castle

Our work with the National Trust for Scotland at Brodie Castle is nominated at this year’s Scottish Design Awards.

We created a site personality for the brand new Playful Garden – rolling it out across interpretation, experiential design in the café and retail spaces, merchandise, packaging and signage. 

As a family day out the key ingredient was fun. How do we use the Brodie family heritage to put a smile on people’s faces?

A list of adjectives could never capture the diverse personalities that make up the Brodie family. But luckily we had a secret weapon… Daffodils!

When Ian Brodie had to name and register the 414 different daffodils he developed at the Castle, he left behind a goldmine…  daffodil breeds with names like Cheerio, Pomp, Fortune’s Beauty, King of the North, and Laughing Water.

We allocated a number to each daffodil in the Brodie ‘family’ and used their unusual names as a springboard for playful interventions, interpretive stories, marketing and merchandise. With a cast of over 400 unique characters, there’s plenty to be playful with…

Project Team

Architecture: Hoskins Architects

Landscape Architecture: ERZ

Interactive Garden Design: Paragon Creative

Visitor Strategy & Planning: Scott Sherrard


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

Top tips from an award-winning campaign

[3 min read]

As featured on The Marketing Society in Scotland’s ‘What’s Going On’ members update.


StudioLR: top tips from an award-winning campaign

Just over a month ago at the Star Awards, StudioLR took home Gold in the Design category for their work at Inverewe with the National Trust for Scotland. Inverewe’s personality is unique. And as it’s been brought to life over the last two years, it has reaped rewards – family visits are up 28% and overall footfall is up 110%.

Here, StudioLR share their three top tips from the project:

1. If you want to attract a new audience, you need to get out of your comfort zone
Taking obscure plant names and turning them into Roald Dahl-inspired phrases and rhymes will make some botanists anxious. Printing a family’s favourite recipe on their historic kitchen ceiling will make some conservationists anxious. But this kind of approach gets families excited by plants and history. It’s not easy but it works.

2. If you’re going to do something brave, build from the inside out
When you’re breaking rules, or doing something new, it’s important that people internally see why. Otherwise they’ll feel anxious and see no value. Bringing the conservationists, historians, gardeners, and volunteers in on the creative process meant our ideas were much richer, more unique, and easier to make happen.

3. Creativity isn’t just for ‘creatives’
Kevin Frediani, the property manager at Inverewe has taken the seed of an idea and made it flourish. From ongoing marketing to events programming… even setting up an artists-in-residence programme – the idea has flowed through everything. Getting a wide NTS team involved in the creative stage helped build pride and ownership – we were one team. Ideas are poor value if they just belong to agencies… good ideas are for everyone to use.


StudioLR won the Gold award for Design at the 2018 Marketing Society Star Awards. Read more about the Star Awards here.

Can you stay true to your heritage and attract a wider audience at the same time?

With a site personality bursting with colour and rich stories, the Playful Garden at Brodie Castle welcomes visitors of all ages.

[3 minute read]

The newly-opened Playful Garden at Brodie Castle is a place to have fun. A short hop from the castle’s front door, the garden puts a lively twist on Brodie’s long and colourful history. Digging for an idea that could bring centuries of stories to life, we unearthed a secret weapon…

Daffodils!

Ian Brodie developed and registered over 400 varieties of daffodil at the Castle – and he named each and every one. The weird and wonderful names were a springboard for stories that sprout up all around the site – from the origami boat tickets (Sailor #160) to merchandise, decor, interpretation and signage.

Staying true to your heritage doesn’t mean doing things the way they’ve always been done. We can help unearth what makes you different – and bring it to life creatively in campaigns and experiences that spark something in people.

The project is currently nominated at the Scottish Design Awards, along with five of our other projects.


Bring on the trumpets!

The tickets are fun for kids and big kids alike… the daffodil “Fortune’s Arrow” becomes a paper aeroplane, while “Sailor” becomes an origami boat.The daffodil names lent themselves to a huge range of merchandise. “Fortune’s Gift” was a gift for the swing tags. And the most tourist-friendly daffodil names made a great set of magnets and keyrings.

The café space was brought to life with hanging flags, painted tables and custom
packaging – each again highlighting a daffodil name – from “Lemonade” to the
soup bowl’s “Copper Bowl”.

Playful signs around the garden remind people to have a good time. Giant plant-marking lollipop sticks stick out in the garden – each one housing an interpretive panel, using the daffodils to tell a unique story.

 


Contact us at StudioLR to find out how brave design-thinking can help you reach more people.

D-Day: A story we can’t stop telling


‘Best piece of #branding I’ve seen for ages. Can feel the story and history.’ @CatherineAnnR


You might have seen our brand identity and advertising campaign for the new D-Day Story popping up across Portsmouth, on the London Underground, on Twitter, and in Design Week.

Located in Portsmouth, the museum tells the story of the Allied forces’ invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944 during the Second World War, which led to the liberation of large parts of Europe from Nazi control – and ultimately Allied victory.

We worked with Portsmouth City Council to give the museum a new destination brand and marketing aimed at moving expectations away from a strictly ‘military’ brand, to one which appeals to all generations.

Our Associate, brand strategist Scott Sherrard spoke with everyone from veterans to volunteers, and councillors to students, to find out what the D-Day Story meant to them. The resulting brand is built on juxtaposition: The epic made personal, the personal made epic.

The D-Day operation was so huge that no one person could ever comprehend every facet of it – but we sought to make it personal.

There’s an intimacy to the impact that D-Day had on so many individuals – we sought to shine a light on that and make it epic.

The brand uses archived photography and diary entries to get a real perspective.

Marketing and advertising designed to stand out from the crowd.

Inverewe: great experiences get great results

[7 minute read]

We’ve got some great news! We’ve been shortlisted for a WON a Gold Marketing Society Star Award in the Design category [UPDATED].

The Star Awards focus on projects which deliver measurable results to clients. Our shortlisted Inverewe project for the National Trust for Scotland is a wonderful success story that we’re delighted to share with you.

Here are a few snippets from our submission:

Inverewe Garden in Wester Ross is an award-winning, world class garden. But a world class garden no longer guarantees an audience.

The National Trust for Scotland took the decision to open Inverewe House to the public – for the first time in its history.

We worked with them to unlock the vibrant eccentricity of the garden’s founder Osgood Mackenzie – developing an identity and visitor experience to attract a new generation of visitors.

Launched in 2016, the work was evaluated throughout 2017.

Ambition:

Create an experience of marvel for all ages. A day of inspiration and wonder that leaves visitors with a sense of admiration for the place and its creator. Departing without doubt that they’ve been immersed in something special. Something worth sharing.

Key Objectives:

  • Increase visitor numbers and spend
  • Attract a much wider demographic – families, younger couples, non-enthusiasts
  • Maximise visitor experience, enjoyment, interaction and learning
  • Promote community engagement and involvement
  • Tell the story of the garden’s creator Osgood, his daughter Mairi Sawyer, and the house and garden
  • Conserve and respect the integrity of the place
  • Bring key stakeholders on the journey, involving them in the process

We created a vibrant identity with colours inspired by the garden’s plants, eccentric typography inspired by Victorian Circus posters, and playful language that draws poetry from botany.

We then brought the identity to life across the site and throughout the house. Packed full of multi-sensory and interactive elements, there’s a surprise in every nook-and-cranny. From sculptures made of gardening utensils to a recipe printed on the kitchen ceiling; from the giant tea pot outside the café to the tiny drawings on the dining room plates; from the gun-room ring toss to the phone that rings when you walk past (go on pick it up)… There’s something for everyone to discover for themselves, and we guarantee you won’t spot it all in one visit!

The re-invigorated Inverewe has gone from strength to strength.

We have evaluated impact across:

  • social media posts (Twitter, Instagram & Facebook)
  • online reviews (TripAdvisor, Google & Facebook)
  • media coverage & political response
  • visitor book feedback
  • staff feedback
  • visitor numbers

A few examples:

Press:

Online/social:

Many glowing reviews with an overall rating of 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor & Google, 4.7 stars on Facebook.

Get in touch to find out how you can

Tourism: An industry that’s going places

[2 min read]

My top takeaways* from the 2017 Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA) conference.

With ASVA members reporting visitor numbers up c.9% (the numbers have risen year on year since 2012) tourism in Scotland is an industry we can be proud of.  We all play our part in contributing to its success – from strategic, national decisions-makers right through to giving a friend in the pub a recommendation for a weekend activity, we’re all proud champions of what our fine country has to offer.

My Takeaways

N500
Scotland’s very own Route 66 is giving thousands of people a compelling reason to visit the North East. It’s already 5th in Now Travel Magazine‘s “Top 5 Coastal Routes in the World”. The genius part about this project is that the roads were already there and it just took some clever thinking to outline and market a route (or rather two) as a destination.

Whisky Distilleries
From casual visitors interested in learning how our national drink is made, to whisky pilgrims who will travel thousands of miles to visit their favourite distillery, to bag as many as possible. The numbers will only keep growing (c.1.7m people are visiting distilleries each year) which, in some cases, is creating its own challenges. A reminder that a quality of the visitor experience should be at the heart of every tourism plan.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
As well as attracting c.220,000 people to Edinburgh Castle in August (and around 100 million people on international TV each year), the Tattoo (under the leadership of Brigadier David Allfrey) has global ambitions. Last year they attracted c.250,000 people (outselling U2 and One Direction) to five of their shows in Melbourne. This is staggering as it’s only one city in one country… just the tip of the iceberg.

Accessible Tourism
My colleague Lorna spoke passionately about this at the conference. Accessible tourism is a growing, high-value market and Scotland is aiming to be recognised as a leading destination for people with particular access needs. Our Founder Lucy previously banged this drum on the same stage as Chris McCoy (VisitScotland) who is championing accessible tourism.

Film tourism
Movies like Da Vinci Code, Harry Potter, James Bond and Avengers have inspired people to visit Scotland. What other movies can we attract to our unique and wonderful locations?


‘China ready’

The Chinese market is growing. The extent of this emerging trend is not fully known yet but we’re already gearing up to become ‘China Ready’. A typical itinerary for a Chinese visitor might be
London – Dublin – Loch Ness (to look for the monster of course).

More to do

All’s not perfect and we’re arguably behind the toughest competition, like Ireland. Investment is still much needed in many areas like broadband, a new film studio, roads etc, but there’s an army of people working hard to drive this to the top of the agenda. Brigadier David Allfrey also talked about ‘the bits in between’ in the tourist offer, such as clean streets and clear signage which are vital to the quality of the visitor experience. This is a useful reminder for us to consider, how are our ‘bits in-between’?

 

 Pie Bobs, Arbroath, 5-star rating on Trip Advisor

*My Top Takeaway
The best insight came from my local taxi driver. When I explained what the conference was about, he gave me a full rundown on his usual holiday town of Arbroath. The passion he spoke with about Arbroath left me in no doubt I must visit and try the ‘scrumptious steak and gravy pies’ from Pie Bobs Bakery, which has a 5-star rating on Trip Advisor. He even asked Siri on his phone to confirm that Pie Bobs has the best pies in Scotland, which she did.

No doubt in my mind that even the best marketing can’t beat the humble honest word of mouth (from the taxi driver, not Siri).

We’re a tiny country but have so much to offer, and I for one plan to play my small part wherever possible in creating unforgettable experiences.

– Andy

 

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