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Don't mention the B-word

Don’t mention the B-word

If you’ve ever gone through a rebrand you’ll know it can sometimes cause a bit of friction. The phrase “going through a rebrand” tells a story itself. But it doesn’t have to be difficult – it should be a positive experience for everyone.

7 tips to help your team get behind your rebrand - free download

We’ve put together a series of 7 tips to help get your team behind your brand. If you’re looking to set a clear direction, boost morale and get the most out of your team, download the free PDF here.

In the meantime, this one is maybe the most important tip… 

What is a brand?

When we talk about making your team feel connected to your business, we’re talking about brand strategy. We’re talking about positioning… what makes you different… why you exist… what your values are. It’s all brand.

But whatever you do, don’t call it brand. 

Do not mention the b-word.

The word brand, to anyone who isn’t in the field, means ‘logo’. Or sometimes it means ‘expensive, waste-of-money-when-our-jobs-are-at-risk-logo’.

While it’s not true – and nobody ever spent half a million on a new logo – it makes a good headline, and a powerful morale-buster. Being right in this case doesn’t matter – being effective matters. It’s usually more effective to put it in the context of your team’s day-jobs. 

So, talk about service, experience, expectations, culture – anything but brand. Unless, of course, you’re investing in training for your whole team on what a brand really is. But that’s a different matter.

Remember to download your free PDF for the rest of the tips.

Proffesional attention seekers: We'll serve your guts on a plate

Don’t worry we’re not savages – just professional attention seekers.

As we head into our 17th year, we’ve been focussing on what we do best for our clients.

In a nutshell ‘We’re your gutsy creative agency’.

We’re here to help ambitious organisations stand out and win in their sector. If you work with us, you can expect us to get our hands dirty – poking around until we get to the heart of your organisation. And you can expect big, bold, attention-seeking ideas that get you noticed and remembered.

Gutsy creative agency. New website

If that perks up your ears, head over to our new website
for a look around, call Andy for a chat, or watch our one minute showreel…

And, before you go, we’re sending a HUGE thanks to you all – clients, collaborators and friends. We’ve had 16 fantastic years working with you. Here’s to 16 more!

A reward for reading this far…

Wish your brand was gutsier?

A reward for reading this far

Give us a shout for a free one hour Zoom workshop. No strings attached – an informal chat, some new ideas, some free inspiration. We have 5 slots, when they’re gone they’re gone…



Ok, make that three rewards. If you’re thinking about rebranding, we’ve got two free PDF downloads to help you make the most of it…

Don’t Fear The Rebrand: 5 Top Tips for Rebranding

Get Your Team Behind Your Brand: Employee Engagement Tips


Shout if you want to stand out:

Shout if you want to stand out

Edinburgh’s gutsy creative agency:
Andy@StudioLR.com
0131 454 3200

Brand Strategy for Cheaters

Do you have a clear brand strategy that you keep coming back to? One that guides the way you do things and the decisions you make? If the answer is no, and your budget is zero, it’s not the end of the world. As a bare-minimum, a quick cheat-sheet can make a difference…

There are 1,001 ‘strategy’ and ‘brand’ words out there – don’t worry if you’ve heard some and not others. And don’t let the long list repel you. There’s no exact right or wrong way to do things and no exact right or wrong answer. If your brand strategy answers the question “What do we want to be famous for?” you’re in decent shape.

Brand strategy cheat-sheet – illustration of a character holding the cheat-sheet.

The Cheat-Sheet

Putting together a simple one-page ‘Brand Strategy Cheat Sheet’ will help give you some focus and clarity. Your one-pager should include:

  1. Your brand idea
  2. Why customers choose you
  3. Your personality

Let’s go into a wee bit more detail on those three…

1. Your brand idea

This should be a sort of emotional shorthand for the benefit of choosing you (whether you happen to be a product, a service, even a place). Don’t feel pressure to do it a certain way because you’ve seen it in a case study. Brand ideas come from all angles – from a social purpose to a time-of-day…

Brands with ideas.
Apple = a mindset, creativity.
Harley-Davidson = a feeling, freedom.
Disney = a feeling, magic.
Volvo = an issue, safety.
Innoceny = a personality, chatty.
KitKat = a ritual, break-time.
Patagonia = a cause, save the planet.

While they’re all totally different brands and totally different ideas, you’ll notice these all have a few things in common:

They’re easy to understand
You get the idea in a couple of words.

They’re single-minded
It takes a lot of effort to be famous for something.
It’s almost impossible to be famous for multiple things. Stick to one idea.

They’re specific
Paint a specific picture in your audience’s mind and you’ll stand out and be remembered. Your brand idea can’t be to be ‘good’,  ‘the best’, ‘customer-focused’ or ‘engaging’ … None of those paint any sort of clear picture – they’re all too vague.

A quick and easy test for your idea is ‘Could someone use the opposite of this?’. If yes, you’re onto a winner. For example a motorbike brand could be about Freedom (like Harley) but it could just as easily be about Control. If the answer is no, there’s a good chance your idea is just an expected feature in your sector – like a ‘fun day out’ or ‘reliable advice’ or ‘products that work’. This doesn’t help you stand out or be remembered.

Your brand idea – illustration of a character that stands out.

2. Why customers choose you

Start with a simple statement or list of exactly what type of people you appeal to. Then add what they get out of you – rationally and emotionally. If you haven’t got any up-to-date research, dig through your old surveys, Twitter mentions, Facebook comments, TripAdvisor reviews for the rough raw material.

3. What’s your brand personality?

How do you express yourself? Bigger organisations might have clear values that shape the way they behave and the way they communicate. Or you might have a full tone of voice guide. At a minimum you’re going to need a statement or a short list of adjectives that describe how you want to come across. But make sure they’re sharp, specific adjectives…

Don’t tolerate ‘engaging’, ‘vibrant’, or ‘professional’ here. Aim for personalities that would really shape a brief.

For example… 

  • A fastidious, detail-focused ‘geek’ who can’t wait to show you the special editions in her comic collection.
  • A warm, friendly grandad who greets you with open arms and tells you a story.
  • A rebellious teenager who wants to bring down the system.
  • A well-schooled butler who you don’t even notice is there, but who puts everything in the right place at the right time.
  • A cheeky chancer who’s always spinning a tale (think Del-Boy).

A quick tip 

If you’re doing this yourself and getting nowhere – don’t be afraid to define what you’re not. Find a load of personality trait adjectives and discuss them with some colleagues. When somebody says “We’re definitely not that”, the discussion about why will usually lead you towards what you really are.

Express yourself creatively – illustration of a character with a pencil

And finally – express yourself creatively

With your Brand Strategy Cheat Sheet as a brief, you can now get creative with anything new you put in place. So before you create anything ask yourself – how could we make this fit our personality? How could we tie this into our idea? How do we do this our way?

Do your people know how important they are?

From ‘unskilled workers’ to ‘key workers’ in less than a month, the last few weeks has brought the value of people into pin-sharp focus.

When we eventually reach the other side of coronavirus and our worlds re-extend past these four walls, we wonder what the country will be like. And who its heroes and villains will be.As we clap our clean hands for our NHS heroes, we hope the NHS is given the investment and recognition it deserves. And that those NHS heroes aren’t alone. The posties, binmen, shelf-stackers, till workers, fitness trainers, bus drivers – the list goes on. Despite the darkness, the taken-for-granted are shining as brightly as this sarcastic spring sunshine. We won’t be taking them for granted again.

So many great organisations and unsung heroes are putting people before profit – councils and arms-length organisations providing vital community services; drinks companies swapping beer for hand sanitiser; organisations re-tooling to make ventilators; museums, galleries, venues and artists sharing phenomenal couch-bound culture; teachers and writers sharing exercises and stories to keep the kids going. It doesn’t have to be life-or-death to be meaningful and valuable.

Profit is important in business, but now more than ever we should be acting with kindness, fairness, appreciation and leadership. If you haven’t told your team just how much of a difference they’re making to other people lately, maybe now’s the time? And if you’re not sure what difference your team are making to people – now would be an excellent time to figure it out.

Sanderson RSG rebrand image

Partnership is its middle name

StudioLR was commissioned by Resource Solutions Group (RSG) – one of the UK’s largest independent recruitment companies, established over 35 years ago – to create a new brand positioning and identity that could unite its group and its 4 sub brands.

The new brand, Sanderson, celebrates its long-standing business ethos: bring diverse expertise together, build long-lasting relationships, and become vital partners to clients and candidates.

The Strategy

A high-growth business with a half-billion-pound turnover, RSG currently sits at number 32 in The Sunday Times Top Track 250 list. The initial challenge for us was to find the thread that bound this thriving business together. On the surface it seemed impossible – there was a group brand (RSG); 4 trading brands (Sanderson Recruitment, Resource Management, FirstPerson Executive, and Intelligent Consulting); and 11 offices across the UK and Ireland.

We had to get to the bottom of: what makes this company special as a whole? What unites the group?

The new brand was to take on the name Sanderson but it was important that it didn’t become a rebrand of the old Sanderson Recruitment. It had to bring together the full diverse range of services that the group offers – and the variety of sectors it supports.

We ran group and one-to-one sessions with the RSG Board and uncovered a unique business model… not a salesperson in sight. The new business philosophy was built on reputation – built up through great long-term relationships.

We then ran workshops with over 100 of the Sanderson team – covering their nationwide network and the full range of specialisms, roles and levels – and found the same philosophy throughout. Every single person was in it for the long term – there were no volume-driven sales incentives, there was no hammering of the phones and aiming to fill a million vacancies. There were no egos.

The Creative Spark

We realised that while the company name had been around for decades, it was never taken for granted. Everyone was out to add value to their clients – to become the ultimate partner. And that’s what clients were buying – the collaboration, the understanding and the flexibility… the relationships. The company name was almost secondary.

What if Sanderson was bold enough to put its commitment to partnership before even its own name?

From here an identity was developed that brought the ‘and’ in Sanderson into the foreground – and relegated the rest of the name into the background. Those 3 little letters represent all the brilliant relationships the team have built over the years. The ‘and’ device became a tool to bring together Sanderson’s 4 divisions, nationwide offices, and people.

The Execution

Putting people and their partnerships at its heart, the identity moves Sanderson away from its largely corporate-feeling competitors – bringing together a refreshing and varied colour palette, bold rounded type and iconography, and commissioned photography using the real heroes of the brand – the Sanderson team.


“It was a big ask to unite such a wide range of specialists all across the UK. StudioLR really listened to our people and got under the skin of the company. ‘We’re Partners’ resonates perfectly with our team committed to helping our clients succeed. This new brand emphasises our strengths and the identity will really stand out in our sector. We can’t wait to share it with our clients.” – Annie Latimer, Sanderson Brand and Marketing Director


The new identity launched late November 2019 and is rolling out across a new website, staff and client launch events, office branding, printed and digital collateral, and a digital advertising campaign.


If your brand needs a shake up but don’t know where to start then give us a shout for an informal chat about how we can help.

asva conference 2019

People. Not objects.

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…?


Top takeaways

Simple reminder

Focusing on ways we can increase profitability with these three simple points:

  1. Sell more to existing customers
  2. Get new customers
  3. Do things more efficiently

Nostalgic experience

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:

Climate change

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

  1. Print on FSC paper                          
  2. Promote low carbon transport  
  3. Understand provenance of product   
  4. Be accountable for the carbon your organisation contributes
  5. 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.

Rhona, our new senior designer at StudioLR

Say hi to Rhona, our new senior designer

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.

Rhona, our senior designer dancing away

We can’t wait to introduce Rhona to all of our clients and colleagues over the next few weeks.

Why Strawberry Field matters to us

A brand-new interactive visitor experience in Liverpool has opened its famous red gates to the public for the first time. Experience designers Cubit3D invited our team at StudioLR to help create the visitor experience at The Salvation Army’s Strawberry Field Project.

As Strawberry Field welcomes the public, the red gates open new job opportunities to young adults with learning disabilities, and visitors can interactively experience stories about John Lennon’s childhood.

Their space – it matters to us
The Project also sets the scene for The Salvation Army to counter another of Lennon’s famous lyrics, “It doesn’t matter much to me” with “it matters to us” which is reproduced in the exhibition and the café.

In 1934, The Salvation Army was gifted the Strawberry Field, Victorian house and grounds. A few years later it became a children’s home for girls and then boys and has provided some of Liverpool’s most vulnerable children a safe place for many years.

Fast forward to the present
Developed by The Salvation Army, and in partnership with The City of Liverpool College and local employers, the ‘Steps to Work Programme’ aims to allow young adults with learning difficulties the opportunity to gain the skills and experience they may not have access to elsewhere.

The Salvation Army has identified that there is a gap with national government programmes – 93% of the one million people with learning difficulties in the UK are unemployed. Barriers are now being broken through The Salvation Army’s scheme as these young people have the support to unlock their full potential. 

StudioLR Designer, Nicola Laurie says: “Once you get there, you see that it has a bigger purpose than remembering Lennon and his story. The Salvation Army has made it a place that helps people and does some good.”

Continuing Lennon’s Legacy
It was at Strawberry Field that John Lennon was inspired. As a child, he would often play in the grounds. Subsequently, the song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, was penned. Lennon found sanctuary at Strawberry Field, and this is ensured to continue; with a new hub allowing trainees to develop their skills, socialise, and ultimately move into future employment.

Dave King, our Design Director says: “Strawberry Field inspired Lennon, and The Salvation Army is allowing this to continue for the young children of Liverpool for future generations to come.”

Your space
A mural of Lennon’s face created from built up pictures of the public is also on display; allowing the space to be the public’s as well as The Salvation Army’s. This is expected to develop and grow as more people donate to have their face appear on the wall.

Strawberry Field celebrates pop culture and nostalgia – while supporting the charity through donations and visits. Our team has really enjoyed being part of the creation of such a significant place where Lennon’s words will continue to resonate … “Strawberry Fields Forever”.

We need a designer who can make things happen. Someone’s who’s not afraid of the unexpected, who can manage projects with confidence, and who can transform good ideas into great results. 

Do you want to get stuck into the juiciest briefs? Do you want to create work that sparks something in people? Fancy getting your name on a D&AD pencil? Good! Keep reading…

Who the LR we?

We are StudioLR – a brand design studio in Edinburgh made up of creative people, strategic people, and people people who keep us all in check. Our expertise is in brand strategy, design and activation across digital, print and environments. We’re champions of inclusive design and over the years we’ve had the chance to make a serious impact on people’s lives – from children with care experience to people with hidden disabilities.

We care about big, purposeful ideas that mean something to people. We push ourselves and our ideas as far as they can go and start every single project with the same aim – how can we spark something in people? Provoke them. Get a reaction. Get a result.  

Our work has won a lot of awards – from two D&ADs, to a shelf full of Scottish Design Awards, the Grand Prix at the Nods, and SME Agency of the Year 2019 at the Marketing Society.

The details

We’re looking for a Senior Designer to start immediately with:
1. Minimum 5 years experience (ideally agency experience across
all channels – from concepts to delivery)
2. Experience of managing projects, clients and team members
3. A love for design and a genuine belief in the power of good
strategic and creative thinking
4. An open mind 

We offer a competitive package and a great environment to learn and grow. As well as standing desks, yoga, mindfulness, birthdays off, volunteering opportunities, and some pretty ropey Spotify playlists.

How to apply

Get in touch by 11th October with examples of your three favourite pieces of work, and a brief note explaining why you’d like to work at StudioLR, your ambition and what you’ll bring to the role, and salary expectation.

Email: Michelle@StudioLR.com
StudioLR.com

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