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StudioLR any disability symbol, copyright StudioLR 2019

New ‘Any Disability’ symbol launched at Commons debate

Building on the campaign by Grace Warnock, StudioLR (funded by Life Changes Trust) has designed a new ‘Any Disability’ symbol to encourage awareness of people with invisible disabilities.

Today (Wednesday 5th June), Martin Whitfield, MP for East Lothian, will lead a Commons debate on invisible disabilities and accessibility challenges.

The debate in the Commons’ Main Chamber will also see the formal launch a new Any Disability symbol to more accurately represent the full range of people with various disabilities who use accessible toilets and other facilities.

The development of the new sign was inspired by the success of the Grace’s Sign campaign, developed by Mr Whitfield’s constituent Grace Warnock, a pupil at Preston Lodge High School in Prestonpans. Grace, who has Crohn’s Disease, designed her sign following her own experience of using accessible toilets, including receiving negative remarks from adults who did not appreciate or understand her disability.

Grace has received high level recognition for her inspirational campaign, including a Points of Light Award from the Prime Minister and a British Citizen Youth Award.

The new Any Disability symbol has been designed by StudioLR as an evolution of Grace’s Sign with the aim of becoming recognised by the British Standards Institution as the generally accepted sign for accessible facilities, including toilets, parking areas and assistance points.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Martin Whitfield MP said:

The impact of accessibility challenges faced by those living with ‘invisible’ disabilities has too often been overlooked or ignored.

“However, thanks to the dedicated work of numerous charities and inspirational individual campaigners like Grace Warnock, the issue is finally starting to receive the attention it deserves.

“This Commons debate will provide another opportunity for MPs to speak out on behalf of their constituents who live with hidden disabilities and describe the challenges and negative responses they can experience while going about their daily lives.

“I hope the debate will help to increase awareness around these complicated issues and lead to greater understanding about the daily challenges faced by so many people living with a wide range of conditions.”

Lucy Richards,  Creative Director at StudioLR, who designed the new sign, said:

“The wheelchair symbol is commonly used on accessible toilet signs and Blue Badge parking permits, however this symbol doesn’t represent the people with wide-ranging impairments who use these facilities and services. 

Having followed Grace Warnock’s campaign to raise awareness that some people who use accessible toilets have an invisible disability (for instance Crohn’s disease or dementia) the design team at StudioLR saw an opportunity to build on this. With a Life Changes Trust Award (funded by the National Lottery Community Fund) StudioLR has conceived, designed and tested a new, inclusive symbol that can be rolled out across toilets, parking signs and assistance points. Testing was facilitated by Innovations in Dementia.

We created the new Any Disability symbol because people with a hidden disability have the right to access facilities and services without having to explain their personal circumstances. It’s about building awareness as well as preventing prejudice.”

Grace Warnock said:

“The story of my sign came from my own experience of an adult questioning my use of an accessible toilet this ignorance drove me to design the first Grace’s Sign to educate others on invisible disabilities and to encourage everyone to have a heart”

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