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.
Category / For Visitors
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.
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!)…
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!
[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.
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
[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.
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.
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.
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?
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).
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.
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…
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.
Shortlisted for two Scottish Design Awards and a The Nods award, our brand identity and marketing campaign for The D-Day Story are attracting a new audience to the museum.
The rebrand aimed to move perceptions on from ‘just a military museum’, to help keep the stories alive among a younger generation.
Our Associate, brand strategist Scott Sherrard worked with everyone from veterans to volunteers, and councillors to students, to find out what the D-Day Story meant to them.
“It’s about real people who acted heroically not heroes”, “it’s not a military story” and “it’s not about remembrance”. These were all defining messages that came out of early sessions with stakeholders.
The resulting brand identity is built on juxtaposition – the epic operation, the personal experiences, the darkness of war, the light relief. The new name, the logo, the colours and the copywriting all play on that juxtaposition. Never losing their focus on the human side of the story.
At first glance, the logo looks like a bullet hole, a rip in a uniform, a barbed wire tear, but if you look closely you’ll spot the coastlines of England and France, with distressing around the areas most boats left from and arrived at.
The copywriting opens with something expected and then offers a second perspective that sheds new light on the story. The aim was to be relatable and thought provoking – what would you feel like if you were involved?
The poster series brings new life to archive imagery, with colour and text layouts that reinforce the juxtaposition. Which helps The D-Day Story stand out as a vibrant, modern visitor experience.
To find out more about the award-winning work we do at StudioLR, please get in touch.
[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.
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…
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.
‘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.