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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

TEDx Glasgow 2018

[2 minute read]

At the Nods Awards, we’d just won the Grand Prix when Dave’s name popped on screen. The lucky blighter had also won the raffle: two tickets to TEDx. A day of inspiring talks and demo labs in Glasgow.

So last Friday we set off together on a sun-filled early train, full of anticipation.

At the door of the Armadillo we were met with huge smiles and welcoming waves; handed our ‘Ideas Worth Doing’ notepads; and entertained by a jazz trio playing Stevie Wonder. This was a good start. Not like any other conference (or even ‘unconference’) we’d been to before.

We jostled amongst the 2,000 attendees for a free seat in the main auditorium, ears and eyes open and ready for 9 hours of stimulation.

First up on stage was Van Ives – not a speaker, a band. Two guys playing an engrossing fusion of electronica, R&B and folk. It felt like we were in the TED trance, under the spell already at 9am.

The rest of the day developed into an intensive blur (is that possible?) of inspiration, agitation, thought provocation, humour and arrest. From astrophysics to gluten free baking, robotics to tax avoidance, the perils of fame to the power of hope.

Standout (stand ups) for us were Darren McGarvey, Karen Dunbar, Adam Kashmiry, and Shona McCarthy. Here are three wee thoughts that have stuck with us over the week…

1. Expertise is nothing without the input of non-experts.
Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England, recalled sharing the good news with the world that the UK’s economy was growing again. The people hadn’t noticed. It turned out the only upturn in the entire UK was in London and the South East. If the economy is to benefit the public, a percentage on a spreadsheet isn’t a good enough measure of success. He was talking about ‘harnessing people’s lived experiences’ and we couldn’t help noticing he was sounding more like a good designer than an economist. A great approach!

2. Base change on truth. Brutal, honest truth.
Jean MacAskill Kerr, Leadership and Team Intelligence Consultant at Cisco, talked about how often we change the wrong things because we haven’t dug deep enough and had the awkward, honest conversations. It’s hard to open up and be brutally honest (especially at work) but if you base change on truth you can’t go wrong.

3. Heartstorming not brainstorming. Lifelines not deadlines.
Miha Pogacnik, violinist, leadership speaker and huge ball of energy, put a great spin on the idea of ‘business supporting the arts’. He argued that the arts are now supporting business more. Businesses are getting into the emotion of communication, the purpose that drives their passion – the arts have been doing that for centuries. You can’t give less than 100% when you’re playing Beethoven.

It was a fantastic day, topped off with the news that Edinburgh has secured next year’s TEDGlobal event. See you there.

Let’s talk about bad language

[2 minute read]

Something’s been bothering me for some time. I call it Bad Language and I see it a lot. Especially in public places and services.

I voiced my frustration last November at the OneTeamGov Scotland un-conference https://www.oneteamgov.uk/scotland. I realise the irony of doing this at an ‘un-conference’, but I hoped we might start something together to make things better.

A revolution to make complex communication simple, and human.

My provocation: let’s debunk and reinvent the confusing language used in public services

Bewildering examples are everywhere, you don’t need to look too hard…

On trains we’re told to ‘alight here’ for Falkirk or Croy.

In hospitals we see signs directing us to ‘Ambulatory Care’.

Children in the care of the state are described as ‘service users’, and the services responsible for meeting their needs are called their ‘corporate parents’.

Out there, in the everyday world, we don’t need to use language that de-humanises and trips people up. Let’s not set the train alight… let’s just get off at the right stop!

Please share your examples #letstalkbadlanguage

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

 

Not all good design is good design

[1 minute read]

I recently spotted PR for some new brand packaging for a conserve (aka a jam with less sugar). The designer claimed ‘it was busting out of its health roots and hitting the aisles…’. The pack looked really good with a wee heart graphic supporting the health/superfood message.

But.

I’m not sure a conserve fits with an organisation whose ‘mission is to give people the kinds of foods we should be eating’. Let’s call a spade a spade, this pack is designed to confuse us into thinking it’s a healthy option.

It might have less sugar and better ingredients than its competitors but it still has around 37g of sugar per 100g (which according to the NHS is in the RED/danger zone). This dishonest design isn’t doing anyone any favours.

– Andy Gray

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

Three men standing in a box

From signs in the train station, to information in brochures and websites, symbols appear in a variety of contexts in everyday life. A symbol is simply a mark or thing that stands for something else.

Look a little closer and you’ll find that some commonly-used symbols don’t clearly communicate what they stand for. They rely on learned associations or figurative meanings and can easily be misinterpreted in literal translations.

This seed was sown in a dementia-friendly workshop last year. We were discussing the design of toilet signs when one man pointed out that the male and female toilet symbols were pretty similar and often ambiguous – of little help at a time of need!

So, we wondered if any other everyday symbols might be confusing or misunderstood.

If the stick man and woman represent toilets, then what does three men standing in a box represent?

What, exactly, does ‘P’ stand for?

And should you sit down at 4 o’clock?

Our instincts turned out to be right – the research* concluded that people living with dementia were often confused when faced with many of the standard symbols currently used throughout society.

So, as part of the drive to empower and enable independence for those living with dementia, we’re embarking on a mission to design a new set of symbols. The new inclusive symbols will be more effective for everyone in society – clear, easy to understand and relevant to people’s present day lives.

* The Life Changes Trust solely funded StudioLR to conduct a three month research project across Scotland with a ‘Life Changes Trust Award’. The Life Changes Trust is funded by the Big Lottery Fund. StudioLR worked with support from the University of Edinburgh.

“I like the gaims room” Josh (age 5)

We love this feedback because, when you’re 5 years old, you say it like it is. And StudioLR’s brief from The National Trust for Scotland was to create a world-class visitor experience that would excite and delight visitors of all ages. The revival of the house, set in the world famous Inverewe Garden, is part of a £2m regeneration project for this spectacular destination that welcomes visitors from all over the world.

“Wow! Inspiring, imaginative, great atmosphere and I could add lots more feedback! A huge thanks to everyone at StudioLR, for delivering a high quality and innovative project at Inverewe House.” Connie Lovel, National Trust for Scotland

Inverewe looks forward to Josh’s future visits, comments and spelling mistakes…

As seen on BBC #Landward at https://t.co/eKw3jRn9g1 twelve minutes into the programme.

To find out more about Inverewe follow the link here http://studiolr.com/portfolio/design-in-environments/inverewe-house-and-gardens-the-national-trust-for-scotlandinverewe-pic

Seamab and Studiolr’s sea changers nominated for fundraising award

A partnership between a charity supporting children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and Edinburgh design consultancy has put Studio LR in the running for the Institute of Fundraising’s 2016 Scottish Fundraising Awards.

The unique relationship between Seamab and StudioLR was nominated in the “Best Partner Relationship (Corporate or Trust)” category. Results will be announced at an awards ceremony in Glasgow on October 4th.

Seamab was introduced to StudioLR by one of the charity’s trustees, with a view to creating a new brand. In the past, Seamab had difficulty connecting emotionally with potential donors – for privacy reasons, the charity can’t show the children’s faces in promotional material or tell their specific stories.

StudioLR took on the task of creating a new brand identity for Seamab, visiting the school and meeting with the staff and children to find out what Seamab means to them, and the things they would like to tell the world about what the charity does.

The outcome was the Sea Changers – a set of characters who give Seamab an endearing voice to tell their story. Entitled Free, Hope, Joy, Safe, Brave, Calm and Hug, the Sea Changers are designed to express all the things that Seamab strives to achieve for the children in supporting their physical and emotional recovery from loss, abuse, neglect and trauma. They also introduced three Unwelcome Visitors – Sad, Scared and Angry – to tell the story of some of the challenges the children face.

Chief Executive of Seamab, Joanna McCreadie, said: “The benefits of this partnership have been invaluable.

“StudioLR gave us a brand that would otherwise be very expensive to be able to produce and deliver – as a charity, we couldn’t have afforded this. We’re so grateful to everyone at StudioLR for creating something that not only shows what we do to care for children that have been through very difficult experiences of trauma, loss, neglect and abuse, but also gives the children themselves a means of expressing how they feel.

“We feel honoured to have our partnership with StudioLR recognised by the Institute of Fundraising in this way.”  

 

seamab_balloon

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