Your Story

From a new logo, or uplift of an existing device, to full brand roll outs across all appropriate formats and media, we cannot do anything without a conversation. We need to hear your story, where you would like to go and what your plan is to get there. What do you want your future story to be? Our job is to help you tell it, kicking off the conversation you will need to have with past and future customers, clients, students, stakeholders… To help you start your new story, here are some things you need to know:

open book

Chapter #1

That conversation

Even if you already have an idea, a plan or complete marketing strategy that you need us to “design around” – for us to have a full background, an off the record discussion giving a run-down of the people involved, likes and dislikes, previous experience, history, future hopes and dreams - is as good as gold when we’re looking to be inspired and, in turn, inspire you, your clients, customers, students or stakeholders.

Note: A formal brief is usually advised by consultants, sometimes demanded, to compare pitches from different design companies* we don’t have a problem with that – but it isn’t the best way to get the most creative results. The most important thing in the first instance is who you think you will be comfortable working with.

Our clients have ranged from organisations with highly detailed marketing plans, story boards, professional photography and copy already in place just waiting to be put together - to companies who have never had time to do anything more than have business cards printed. Whatever the scenario, the best time to bring us in is as early as possible: “Creative Marketing” is not PR and can’t be organised through PR, it isn’t practiced by print firms and whereas Consultants will come and go as required, we will partner you regardless of your spending level - for the long run – here to call on whenever needed.

In the first instance, whatever the plan, or lack of one, the result is going to be change, either through re-branding or uplifting an existing brand and producing whatever brand awareness and marketing items are needed to achieve your aims.

This will be an investment in change and change has to be managed – starting before photographs are taken or press releases are written.

Come with all the knowledge of your business or organisation, your audience and your competition, we’ll bring decades of experience and creative insights; then together we will develop everything you need.

*We are members of the Design Business Association, while we are happy to talk we don’t “pitch” or work for free. Once we can give you an estimate of likely costs – which will include a firm price for initial concept work, you should be able to make a commitment based on our discussions and the work we have done for others – then you will start to see the visuals you need and on which we will build your image.

Fancy having a conversation with us?

Drop us a line

Chapter #2

What we mean by “crafting a logo”

Your logo has to “work” that is to say, depending on your business, it needs to look good wherever it is going to be used, in any circumstance – business cards and websites to exhibitions, architectural branding, wrapping oil rigs, carved out of an old tree stump...

That’s the practical and pragmatic side of a logo –It has to be visible and understandable*, but there is also the more important creative side of your logo – honest and open, clean and bright, intriguing and attractive, technical and niche - It may need to be appropriate for your industry or totally inappropriate to attract a greater amount of attention… any combination of the most effective attributes that will work in your market place – but never obvious and bland!

Ecclesfield School Logo

Obvious and bland logos are like leaves in the forest.

Whatever the concept (which we will have garnered from that first conversation), it also needs to “look” right. While all art is subjective there are processes that we use, taking into account not only usage but scale, perspective, structure and spatial qualities that make the difference between any old logo and something that looks “right”.

This is where the Craft comes in – a crafted logo, (as opposed to a clip art logo, a down loaded drag and drop logo or a cobbled together by a well-meaning amateur logo) stands out as being professional, purposeful and fitting for the image you are trying to portray.

When someone compliments you on your crafted logo they may not know why they like it – but you will know, because we will have shown you.

The process goes: Conversation: Concept variations: Approval of chosen concept: Development of concept. Crafting running through all stages and worked on intensely after your concept is chosen.

*understandable does not necessarily mean big block letters, it might do, but not always – e.g. immediate understanding can be useful, but you may need something more thought provoking that grows on your audience over repeated viewings – depends on the product and the audience.

Chapter #3

Another conversation

You have a name; you have a crafted logo – now we need a conversation about how it will be rolled out.

Much of this will have already been covered in the original and ongoing discussions, but now is the time to take a breath and work out not only a list of what needs branding, further concepts from the Logo’s colour palette etc - but when each item is needed, which items will be best produced at the same time and how the branding might be used on future items.

Once all the brand elements have been calculated, devised and tested visually and materially you need to get them into a list of rules and guidelines to ensure consistency.

Design Abhors a Vacuum...

One of the exciting innovations in the last 10 years has been developments in large format printing. You will have seen whole buildings, buses and taxis wrapped in full colour print, – but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Architectural branding has replaced straight signage as a reasonably priced alternative – custom printed wallpapers, cut vinyl lettering and mounted graphics can now be manufactured and installed at virtually any size, moulded onto brickwork and uneven surfaces and wrapping around any shape.

So now all that eggshell coloured wall space you thought was pretty boring can be brought to life, transforming your working environment and completely blowing the minds of your customers.

We are not just here to craft you a logo but to take that logo and all your branding elements to places no man has stepped before!!

Sheffield city lettings

Chapter #2

What we mean by “crafting a logo”

Your logo has to “work” that is to say, depending on your business, it needs to look good wherever it is going to be used, in any circumstance – business cards and websites to exhibitions, architectural branding, wrapping oil rigs, carved out of an old tree stump...

That’s the practical and pragmatic side of a logo –It has to be visible and understandable*, but there is also the more important creative side of your logo – honest and open, clean and bright, intriguing and attractive, technical and niche - It may need to be appropriate for your industry or totally inappropriate to attract a greater amount of attention… any combination of the most effective attributes that will work in your market place – but never obvious and bland!

Ecclesfield School Logo

Obvious and bland logos are like leaves in the forest.

Whatever the concept (which we will have garnered from that first conversation), it also needs to “look” right. While all art is subjective there are processes that we use, taking into account not only usage but scale, perspective, structure and spatial qualities that make the difference between any old logo and something that looks “right”.

This is where the Craft comes in – a crafted logo, (as opposed to a clip art logo, a down loaded drag and drop logo or a cobbled together by a well-meaning amateur logo) stands out as being professional, purposeful and fitting for the image you are trying to portray.

When someone compliments you on your crafted logo they may not know why they like it – but you will know, because we will have shown you.

The process goes: Conversation: Concept variations: Approval of chosen concept: Development of concept. Crafting running through all stages and worked on intensely after your concept is chosen.

*understandable does not necessarily mean big block letters, it might do, but not always – e.g. immediate understanding can be useful, but you may need something more thought provoking that grows on your audience over repeated viewings – depends on the product and the audience.

See what we can do for you

Get in touch

Chapter #4

Branding Bible.

The branding guideline or manual is a valuable asset, it adds value to any future business sale – it can become an asset in its own right, because it defines the Intellectual Property. But its first purpose is to control the use of your logo and branding devices. It saves you money in the medium to long term, protects your image and guarantees consistency (so long as it is followed).

A good branding guideline allows flexibility without loss of continuity, and while it may be a brand managers bible it is also an essential tool for the SME business owner, a school business manager, a distributors retail rule book and an estate managers guide to resources; amongst many other things.

While designing a Brand guideline we try to cover everything from Stationery to Signage, Van Liveries to Web Banners – as well as rules for internal and external use of the logo, fonts and formats – we also expect it to be organic. There are very few businesses that won’t develop over time, therefore the guidelines will need to be reviewed at least annually and updated where appropriate, how much additional work will be needed, if any, after a review, will depend on how well the branding was thought through in the first place and how much the business has changed, grown or added to its offering.

Re-branding a company often adds up in the same way…

“You know, there’s something about solving a math problem that’s very satisfying, you start with a problem that you may not know how to solve, but you know there are certain rules you can follow and certain approaches you can take, and often during this process, the intermediate result is more complex than what you started with, and then the final result is simple. And there’s a certain joy in making that journey.”

From “David & Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell.

Chapter #5

“Marketing” vs “Creative Marketing.”

The huge subject that is marketing is not often discussed in as straightforward a manner it should be.

When we are not working with Managing Directors, Estates Managers and Business Managers we are working with Marketing Directors, Managers and Assistants – some of this latter group are members of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, others have University qualifications in marketing, others are in the job because they have come up through a company or industry and know just about everything there is to know about the products, the competition and their customers.

We love them all, but we would never let them near a drawing board – it only encourages them.

Creative Marketing isn’t about finding new markets or researching them, charts and graphs, projecting sales figures, strategy meetings and market penetration; it’s about a human level connection with the real people the Marketing department is targeting.

So for example – we don’t do market research, databases, telesales, or leaflet distribution (although we do arrange E-Shots and fulfilment of Direct Mail, if you are providing the addresses, as an extension to organising and quality controlling print work). What we do do are the creative concepts; copywriting, art direction, design and project management that will press all the right buttons with the audience you are aiming for.

With companies who are too small to have a marketing department we take the weight off the directors who are trying to wear all the hats at once and produce campaign concepts as well, but in companies with a marketing department or specific job role in marketing we become their best buddies and partners so you have the best of both worlds.

Marketing finds the target: Creative Marketing captures the targets heart: Sales closes the deal.


Chapter #6

Selling the Farm

There’s a story about two farmers, on neighbouring land.

Both are doing well, their families are firm friends, their kids go to the same school. Come planting time and harvest time they help each other out. Then one year a piece of machinery breaks down, let’s say it’s a combine harvester, so the neighbour loans his second combine to his friend. This works out well and there is talk of a sale between the two friends.

This never happens; one is happy to help out his neighbour, his neighbour, being as busy as farmers are never quite gets around to buying the machine, or buying a new one before returning the borrowed combine to be used as an emergency back up by its owner.

A couple of years go by and the farmer with the loaner hits hard times; there’s an illness in the family that affects the time available for work, yields suffer, an experimental crop fails, a safe investment in a blue chip company is lost due to a banking crash.

He is advised to sell up or go bankrupt.

The valuer comes around and estimates there is just enough to cover what is needed – but – you guessed it, the combine was taken into the value and without that bit extra he is stuffed.

Financial Mail on Sunday, 15 Nov 2014

If you don’t own it, you don’t own it, you may not want it, but if you think that now, don’t cry about it later when no one will sell it to you.

When a design company produces your brand they own the copyright, the IP (Intellectual Property) and you can’t use it without their written permission.

(Note: If a designer says not to worry about it, do, if they say they will “give” you copyright you should question the legality of that offer – copyright can be assigned, in writing, but only as part of a valid transaction – in other words if you haven’t done a specific deal to purchase the IP it still isn’t owned by you whatever the designer puts in writing.)

All reputable design companies will discuss copyright with you up front or in the early stages of your relationship, along with any arrangements required to assign copyright at some future point - usually after all the work you need doing is done; if that’s what you feel is in your best interests.

Why wouldn’t you want to own it? Well copyright on say an advert that appears once in a magazine or newspaper before becoming tomorrows chip wrapper, is hardly worth the worry. You may also want to “tie in” your designer to ensure consistency – while ever they own the copyright it should stop anyone in your organisation from going out to other providers who were not invested in the original process and where your brand, even with all best intentions and guidelines in place, will obviously be watered down.

Note: Not all designers are aware of this but their professional status and reputation is also wrapped up in the work they do for you – because of this, even after copyright is assigned to you they can still “object” (under the Copyrights and Patents Act 1988) to how their work is used.

We can advise on the best options for you regarding IP ownership – some prefer an outright purchase at a definite point in the relationship, others a minimum transaction amount after an agreed amount of work has been produced, others a written option to purchase for a fixed amount at any point in the future, usually just before the business is valued for sale or an MBO.

The Trials and Tribulations of not thinking about IP early enough…

In 1998, Vickers sold Rolls-Royce Motors. BMW, who already supplied engines to Rolls Royce bid £340m but was out-bid by Volkswagen at £430m.

Volkswagen Group got the factory plus the intellectual property rights to the Spirit of Ecstasy Mascot and the shape of the Rolls Royce grille.

However, the Rolls-Royce brand name and logo were owned by aero-engine maker Rolls Royce plc not Rolls-Royce Motors. The Rolls-Royce name and logo was then licenced to BMW and not to Volkswagen. BMW paid £40m to license the Rolls-Royce name and "RR" logo, a snip at twice the price. Volkswagen Group had the rights to the mascot and grille but no right to use the Rolls-Royce name and so couldn’t build the cars; BMW had the name but had no rights to the grille and mascot.

The situation was in BMW's favour, as they could withdraw from supplying engines at short notice; not enough time for VW to re-engineer the Rolls-Royce cars to use VW's own engines.

After negotiations, BMW and VW had to do a deal. From 1998 to 2002, BMW continued to supply engines for the cars and would allow Volkswagen use of the Rolls-Royce name and logo. On 1 January 2003, only BMW would be able to name cars "Rolls-Royce", and VW would only build cars called "Bentley". The last Rolls Royce from the Crewe factory, ceased production in 2002, and the factory became Bentley Motors Limited - Rolls-Royce production relocating to a new entity in Goodwood, England known as Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

Time to Change