Creativity & Productivity- Is it possible to balance both?

What is creativity?

Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity is characterised by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing.

If you are lucky enough to be described as creative, this means you have the ability to see hidden patterns, make connections between things that aren’t normally related and regularly come up with new ideas to implement.

Business owners and managers worldwide are always looking for creative individuals to join their company, no matter what industry they may be a part of. Implementing creativity within your business and having creative employees gives your business that competitive edge. As a result of this, companies are actively fostering creative thinking, to enable them to outperform their rivals in revenue growth and other key areas.

Let’s start with looking at some creativity methods…

1. Flex your creativity muscle every day

In order to foster creativity, treat it like a muscle – one that needs to be regularly worked out. Just as though you were going to the gym, set yourself an hour every day to be creative. This could be anything from writing, drawing, watching a tutorial or listening to a podcast. Make sure you use this time to be creative, perhaps step away from your desk and open your mind to new areas of possibilities.


2.Discover your time of day

New research has shown that UK employees feel at their most creative in the morning, with exactly 11:05am being the peak time for productivity.

Whenever your ‘time of day is’ make sure you make the most of it, listen to some music that keeps you in a productive mood, grab a coffee before you start and start cranking out your best ideas.  There is a whole science to it and you need to be increasingly selective and disciplined about where and when your focus is invested each day.

3. Recognise when ” circuit breakers” impede your energy.

When you are in a creative mode, “circuit breakers” can creep up and divert your thinking. These circuit breakers may be defined as doubt, conflict, fear, stress and clutter. A number of these circuit breakers may occur if you feel like you are working under pressure or to a tight deadline. One practical way to remain focused is to build a distraction-free environment.

For example if you want to focus on your writing, turn off your phone and tidy your desk before you sit down. You could also strategically place material by writers you admire the most on your desk and pin inspirational quotes up where you’ll see them if that helps you to remain focused. If you stop giving yourself the chance to get distracted, the less likely circuit breakers will affect your creative activities.

Additionally, you could build in your distractions as a reward then you are taking breaks off your own terms.  By taking control and deciding after half an hour’s work, you’ll spend 15 minutes making a coffee and listening to a podcast you stop yourself from becoming unwittingly distracted during your creative time.

A great Podcast all about Social Media Marketing, that’s entertaining but also productive

Six thinking hats technique

This popular technique was developed by Edward de Bono in the early 80s; it is now used in many businesses all over the world. The technique involves putting on a selection of metaphorical hats when it comes to making a decision; each hat represents a different direction of thinking. This allows you and your team members to learn how to separate thinking into six clear functions and roles. Each different thinking role is identified with a coloured symbolic hat. By mentally wearing and switching your hats around, you can focus, redirect thoughts, the conversation or take control of a meeting agenda.

The advantages of using this technique is that your whole team can be focusing on the same thing at the same time, which we understand in a creative agency can be a rare moment. Therefore, you can have a variation of ways to approach the situation from every individual in the team.

  • White Hat– Facts
  • Red Hat – Emotions
  • Black Hat – Judgement, Caution
  • Yellow Hat – Logic
  • Green Hat – Creativity
  • Blue Hat – Control

What is productivity?

Another main trait employers search for in their staff is productivity, which is defined as the efficient use of resources, labour, capital, land and information in the production of various goods and services. Higher productivity means accomplishing more with the same amount of resources and time. Therefore, productivity benefits are obvious and widely felt when implemented in any business environment. An increase in productivity can result in an increase in profitability, optimising resources, seizing opportunities for growth, improving engagement and morale, enhancing employee well-being.

So, now we have covered a few creative hacks and methods we thought it would only be fair to discuss a few productivity methods.

Kaizen technique

Firstly, Kaizen translates roughly to “good change” and it is a Japanese productivity philosophy that helps you organise everything you do to be more productive. In short, it means “constant, continuous improvement” and is a mindset you can apply anywhere in any job.

The Kaizen technique can be broken down into six steps:

  1. Standardise – Come up with a process for a specific activity that’s repeatable and organised.
  2. Measure – Examine whether the process is efficient using quantifiable data, like time to complete, hours spent on the work, etc.
  3. Compare – Now it is time to compare this new method, does this process save time? Or is it the opposite, does it take too much time?
  4. Innovate – It is always important to search for new, better ways to do your daily task. Look for smarter, more efficient routes to the same end goal but make sure they boost productivity.
  5. Standardise – Create repeatable, defined processes for those new methods you have created making sure they are more efficient activities which links to being more productive.
  6. Repeat – Go back to step one and start the process again.

The Kaizen technique is largely associated with the Toyota Production System, as they use the Kaizen technique as one of their main business principles.  Any worker on a Toyota assembly line could stop the line at any time to address a problem in production, correct an error, or suggest to management a better way to do things which could reduce waste or improve productivity.

How to implement the Kaizen technique in your workplace

Kaizen is easy to implement as it is a mental philosophy more than an actual structure methodology. Therefore, there are no tools to buy, resources to spend on or apps to download – it simply just means changing your teams approach to their work.

Advantages of using Kaizen

Worthy targets – Kaizen recognises and rewards the efforts of employees, by so doing it gives them a sense of worth in the organisation. This means it is not only beneficial to the business but also beneficial to self-development and the organisation as a whole.

Improves teamwork – The Kaizen method is driven by teamwork, it does not benefit only a selected few, but everyone involved in the business process. Employees are able to work together with a fresh perspective. Furthermore, teamwork can help build cross-functional collaborations, combining employees across different departments combining their skills and helping to improve the efficiency of the company.

Builds leadership skills – Every Kaizen team must have a team leader, responsible for organising and coordinating implementation.  This does not mean that this person has to be in a management role to qualify as a team leader. It gives the employee the chance to present an opportunity for employees to take on leadership roles.

Improves efficiency – The major Kaizen advantage is that it improves efficiency, for example Toyota Motoring Company employs Kaizen in its production process, they deploy muscle-memory training to train their employees on how to assemble a car.

Waste reduction – Kaizen reduces waste in the business process. Management and staff are responsible by implementing constant changes; the business can determine the root cause of wastage and help fix the problem. This method of continuous improvement applied in Kaizen helps businesses to achieve great success and easily recognise areas of improvement.

Disadvantages of using Kaizen

As soon as Kaizen is implemented in an organisation, it becomes very difficult to return to old management systems. It can be a very difficult task to change the entire management system of a business and get everybody on board with this new form of management.  Employees may feel like because they are given a management role and can make decisions within the Kaizen approach, that they deserve a promotion or an official management title.

Training requirement – A disadvantage of implementing the Kaizen method is the time that is needed to be spent on training the workforce.  As a result employees will need to take time out from work to undergo this training.  More so, the time allocated for training may not be sufficient for employees to grasp the entire concept of Kaizen. As such, employees may not be willing or may struggle to understand this new productivity concept.

Few bad eggs could ruin the whole batch – even if some departments stick to the changes that have been implemented, if one employee or a whole department doesn’t agree with the new way of doing things, the whole output could be ruined.

Getting things done (GTD method)

GTD is a method for organising your to-dos, priorities and your schedule in a way that makes them all manageable. One of GTD’s biggest benefits is that it makes it easy to see what you have on your plate and choose what to work on next. It also has a strong emphasis on getting your to-dos out of your head and into a system you can refer to. This clears your mind of any mental distractions that will keep you from working efficiently.

GTD stands on five pillars or steps to getting and staying organised:

  1. Capture everything.

Your to-dos, your ideas, your recurring tasks, everything. Put it in a pen-and-paper notebook, a to-do app, a planner, whatever you prefer to use to get organised. GTD doesn’t say to use a specific tool, but whatever you use has to fit into your normal flow. The barrier to using it should be so low that there’s never a reason for you to say “I’ll add it to my list later”. You want to capture everything as soon as it happens so you don’t have to think about it again until it’s time to do it.

2. Clarify the things you have to do.

Don’t just write down ‘Plan vacation’, break it down into actionable steps so there’s no barrier to just doing the task. If there’s anything you can do right away and have time to do, get it done. If there’s anything you can delegate, delegate it. 3.

3.Organise those actionable items by category and priority.

Assign due dates where you can, and set reminders so you follow up on them. Pay special attention to each item’s priority, as well. You’re not actually doing any of the items on your list right now, you’re just making sure they’re in the right buckets for later, and your reminders are set. In short, this is quality time with your to-do list, inbox, and calendar.

4. Reflect on your to-do list.

First, look over your to-dos to see what your next action should be. This is where the clarifying step pays off; because you should be able to pick something you have the time and the energy to do right away. If you see something that’s so vague that you know you won’t be able to just pick up and run with it, break it down. Second, give your to-do list an in-depth review periodically to see where you’re making progress, where you need to adjust your priorities, and determine how the system is working for you.

5.Engage and get to work.

Choose your next action and get to it. Your system is, as this point, set up to make figuring that out easy. Your to-dos are organised by priority and placed in categories. You know what to work on, and when. They’re broken into manageable, bite-sized chunks that are easy to start. It’s time to get to work.

Advantages

Reduces stress – GTD is different from a method that tells you how to organise and manage your tasks, its fundamental principles aim to help you face your personal and daily challenges in a calm way. Capturing and clarifying what you have to do and removing uncertainty knowing that everything is under control.

Meaning – GTD makes you question what you do and allows you to define what is important and what is not. You must do what allows you to fulfil your areas of responsibility and make you move towards achieving your goals.

Time – The GTD method is designed to help you save time and complete the tasks that are the most important to complete, overall freeing up time for your personal life.  GTD does not distinguish one between the other; it eliminates distraction, frees you from anxiety of trying to achieve and helps you maintain the balance between work and personal life.

Creativity – When you free your mind from all worries, you can think more about other things, create new projects, imagine, come up with new things and you have room to be much more creative within your day to day tasks.

Disadvantages

The GTD method requires a lot of mental discipline to follow the principle rigorously as it was designed to organise to-do lists and schedules, it didn’t factor into the method of emails, internal distractions or control a loss over your time. 

Too late – Unlearning old habits and learning new ones is hard for all of us, the GTD method tries to change a lot of habits in a workplace all at once; the results from this can be predictably disappointing.

It is not an instant, one-size-fits-all solution –There is no magic solution everyone should use, you must craft a combination of habits and methods which work across a diverse range of employee skill sets. At the end of the day, everybody works differently, is motivated by different factors and works towards different goals.

Pomodoro technique

The Pomodoro technique can help you power through distractions, hyper-focus, and get things done in short bursts, while taking frequent breaks to come up for air and relax. Best of all, it’s easy. If you have a busy job where you’re expected to produce a lot of creative content, it’s a great way to get through your tasks. Let’s break it down and see how you can apply it to your work.

The Pomodoro Technique was invented in the early 90s by developer, entrepreneur, and author Francesco Cirillo. He named the system “Pomodoro” after the tomato-shaped timer he used to track his work as a university student. The methodology is simple: when faced with any large task or series of tasks, break the work down into short, timed intervals (called “Pomodoros”) that are spaced out by short breaks. This way of working trains your brain to focus for short periods and helps you stay on top of deadlines and be more productive. The regular breaks can also help to boost your motivation and keep you in a creative mindset.

So how does it work?

  1. Choose a task to be accomplished.
  2. Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer)
  3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper
  4. Take a short break (5 minutes is OK)
  5. Every four Pomodoros take a longer break

However, we completely understand that sometime it is hard to sit for 25 minutes without any distraction in any office environment. Therefore, if you’re distracted halfway through by a co-worker, customer, phone call or meeting you should either end the Pomodoro there, or postpone the distraction until the Pomodoro is complete.

  1. Inform the other (distracting) party that you’re working on something right now.
  2. Negotiate a time when you can get back to them about the distracting issue in a timely manner.
  3. Schedule that follow-up immediately.
  4. Call back the other party when your Pomodoro is complete and you’re ready to tackle their issue.

This particular productivity technique is often recommended by developers, designers and other people who work within the creative industry. Essentially, people who have to turn out regular packages of creative work that has to be reviewed by others can benefit from the breaks this technique offers.

Pomodoro Advantages

Manages distraction and controls your time – Pomodoro empowers you to take control of your own time; however we understand that some internal distractions cannot be put off. Therefore writing them down and pushing those through to the end of your Pomodoro can help you be more productive than stopping the task in hand.

Increases accountability – At the end of each Pomodoro takes a minute to write down everything you have accomplished. By keeping a record of your work this will allow you to give a good impression and productivity report to your managers and further motivate yourself by being able to see everything you have achieved within a short time?

Decrease mental fatigue – This technique requires you to take regular breaks, walk around the office, grab a snack, and fill up your water bottle. It’s time to stretch your legs allowing your mind to wander for a few minutes and reduce workday burnout. As a result when you feel mentally good you can get more done.

Maintain motivation – As you approach the end of a Pomodoro and your work is almost done, it becomes an exciting race against the clock to finish before you run out of time. The excitement motivates you to work faster even when you would normally start slowing down. These short bursts of motivation add up over time and will increase the amount of work you get done.

Disadvantages of Pomodoro

Working against the clock can cause stress – Working against the clock and having a short deadline can sometimes hinder ones productivity. Furthermore, instead of preventing interruptions it may become the distraction itself, as you may become curious as to how long is left on the time. For example, some people just prefer to sit and crack on with work for a good few hours, which means they don’t understand the point in stopping for a break as they think it just makes the task in hand longer.  The Pomodoro technique can lead to the individual just focusing on the upcoming break instead of the task in hand, as they want to prepare for when it will occur.

Constant breaks are not always practical – Within particular industries it is very important to remain at your desk during set periods of times. For example, anyone who works in a call centre or needs to communicate with customers will not be able to leave their desk every 25 minutes. The timer may also be a loud distraction for other employees and even customers on the phone. Additionally, some management employees may not see the benefit of the short breaks and this may cause some frustration within the office environment.

Some believe creativity and productivity work against each other.

Creativity and productivity are often seen as opposing forces battling for your time. But working longer and harder isn’t the only way to be productive. Rumours suggest that creative individuals sometimes lack productivity skills. This comment has been made as it is said that a productive routine may hinder the freedom of a creative mindset. 

There is a fundamental tension between the two and some managers believe that you either have a creative mindset or a more systematic, productive mindset.  Productive people move through the tasks they have to accomplish in a systematic way, which means they make steady and measurable progress toward their goals. Apparently, creative people don’t; creativity needs time and space to grow. Although we can systematically engage in activities that are related to creativity, it is hard to monitor creativity itself.

What we believe

Creativity does not hinder productivity; it drives it.

Media Village

If the challenges you deal with every day involve creative work like design, marketing or writing; consciously separating and making time to participate in both creative and productive tasks can maximise your brainpower and fuel both. If you take a look at your schedule and most days you are “getting things done”, ticking that to-do list off and clearing your desk then you may feel at the end of the day that you have accomplished something; however you should schedule some time to be creative too.

So, whether you are a solely creative individual that could benefit from being more productive, or vice versa, there are a variety of hacks, theories and methods which have been implemented by many businesses and individuals over the years as we’ve discussed earlier.

So, how do you balance both creativity and productivity?

Plan your creative sessions – Since creativity demands free thinking and is harder to force into a specific time slot, try to plan your productive work around your creative sessions. In this way, you can give free reign to your creative self without letting it affect the rest of your work schedule.

For example, you can start your creative sessions at the end of the work day, when you know you can spend a bit more time if needed. Also, make sure not to schedule any high-priority work right after your creative sessions as you may not be in the right mindset to be your most productive self.

Read – In line with the previous advice; absorb as much information as you can by reading industry news, books and magazines. Even the most creative geniuses find their inspiration from others. Make sure that you have enough raw creative material in you to allow your creative juices to flow.

Break down your projects into steps – Every project can be broken down into smaller steps. Each of these steps, in turn, can be categorised as requiring a greater amount of creativity or productivity. Just because a project requires creativity doesn’t mean that its entire execution will require you to constantly churn out original ideas.

Knowing which steps requires you’re most creative or, alternatively, productive self will help you organise your time better and plan according to the required mindset. For example, if you’ve completed the initial creative process of developing a design and are ready for the iteration stage, then you can prepare the time and place to be your most productive self.

To conclude in order to balance both creativity and productivity, we feel that it is important to remember to ‘switch gears’ from time to time. Therefore, allowing yourself some time to factor in creativity and productivity activities daily can help you feel more accomplished.

It is possible to be both creative and productive at the same time, being a `productive designer’ is a thing. It is important to remember although you are ticking off your to do list and feeling major productive, always remember to make room for creative activities no matter how ‘small’ you may perceive them to be. Even just sitting and reading a book or watching a design tutorial on YouTube can help you switch gears smoothly and overall be more productive.



How incorporating both Traditional and Digital forms of Marketing can lead to Business growth.

The world of marketing is rapidly changing and sometimes this can be daunting for businesses to try to keep up with. With pictures of cats taking selfies and pointless memes going viral, some businesses may feel way out of their depth when it comes to their ‘digital’ knowledge.  Combine this with the rumour that ‘print is dead’ and traditional forms of marketing ‘no longer work’ and you may feel like your business is beginning to hide away from the world, struggling to show its strengths.

Firstly, before we dive into things if you already have no idea what the difference is between traditional and digital forms of marketing, then take a look at this handy infographic we prepared earlier…



When searching the internet for solutions, we are pretty sure you will have come across a handful of blogs playing traditional and digital marketing off against each other, stating exactly why digital marketing works SO much better than any traditional method and vice versa.

This is a predictable stance for many agencies to take and they may have taken this biased opinion based upon their employees’ skill sets and the resources the company has. It is well justified for a marketing agency that specialises in social media to tell the world that their method is the best – why wouldn’t they?

However, we like to do things a little bit differently here and open your eyes to the possibilities that lie within your business. It would be so easy to take the predictable stance, but we never aim to be predictable! That’s why we have teamed up with digital agency, Red-Fern, to discuss how doing both traditional and digital marketing can fuel your business growth and how major companies have successfully took this approach.

What happens when a business incorporates both methods of marketing?

By bridging the gap between the traditional and digital world, the opportunities for the business can be endless. Using both forms allows the business to cover all bases to reach a bigger audience and in some ways, their entire audience. For example, half of your target audience may not have a Twitter account, instead they may subscribe to your monthly magazine. Therefore by offering an integrated strategy this helps the business engage with both audiences and not miss out on any future business opportunities.

Key benefits of combining the two methods


Combining traditional and digital allows you to build trust

If customers trust you, then they’re more likely to buy from you. It’s that simple. By integrating your marketing messages across traditional and digital platforms your brand will not only reach a wider audience but maintain consistency throughout.

Combining traditional and digital eliminates confusion

By combining both your traditional and digital forms of marketing, your message remains clear and improves the way your customers see you.  It is very easy for customers to get confused if your brand tone is completely different on your social media to your company brochure. There are many simple ways you can combine the two and as a result reach a greater audience.

Combining traditional and digital is effective

Undertaking an integrated marketing strategy can help make your strategy more effective. If your company is communicating consistently through a range of various marketing channels, the results you get from these campaigns are predicted to increase. For example, combining the two methods by printing a brochure which leads your customers to your social media page, not only increases brand exposure but the results can outperform a single-channel campaign.

Combining traditional and digital can help you plan for the future

A company that combines both methods of marketing can more successfully plan for their future marketing decisions. It allows you to be able to compare the two forms, how well they work together and how your customers respond to the varied marketing approach. Additionally, your company may have struggled to track the progress of your traditional marketing efforts. For example, you may have put a lot of effort and time into designing a company brochure.

However, you may have no way of tracking the progress of this brochure efficiently but by incorporating a form of digital marketing within this brochure the progress is a lot easier to track. For example, you could include a QR code ‘scan this code to access our online E-guide’ the analytics behind this code and the amount of visitors it has received is very easy to track online. Therefore, you have a clear example of how many people are interested in your E-guide or whichever resource you have to offer them. 

Simple ways to combine Traditional and Digital Marketing


  • Social media handles – it’s dead simple! Just by adding your social media handles to your leaflets, brochure, posters or business cards you are giving the reader incentive to look at your work online too. One easy and effective way of doing this is to add a Linkedin icon to your employees’ business cards which can lead to future business, social engagement and a greater online presence.
  • QR codes – You can add a QR code to just about anything from cereal packets to brochures; this simple method combines both traditional and digital forms of marketing. QR codes can help entice excitement around your brand and make the consumers feel like they are being given some exclusive from the QR code. QR codes can also be a huge advantage for your marketing department as they are trackable and can provide valuable insights into your customer’s behaviour.
  • Free samples – You can run competitions on your social media pages encouraging customers to ‘like, comment and share’ your post in order to receive something for free. This free prize can be a great marketing opportunity and a way of getting your brand in front of new customers who you know are interested in what you have to offer.
  • Landing pages – This is a web page created which serves as the entry point for a website or particular section of your website. In order to combine traditional methods you could have a landing page created which encourages customers to input their details in order receive your latest brochure, magazine or printed guides, etc.


Examples of companies who have done this..


Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign

Over a decade ago (yes, it has been that long!), Dove released their iconic ‘Real Beauty’ campaign. This campaign is a great example of how integrating both traditional and digital marketing methods can be hugely successful. Their campaign has gone down in history as one of the best marketing campaigns to date.

Dove found a successful way of integrating both traditional and digital marketing methods within this campaign like iconic billboards, social media, TV and magazine advertisements. By keeping their message consistent throughout, their campaign reached a wider audience and as a result was simply hard to ignore.

Red-Fern Culture book

We recently helped bring Red-Fern’s culture book to life by printing this in-house for them to distribute at client meetings. Red-Fern created this book to show potential new partners the benefits of working with them.

They opted for a traditional form of marketing by printing this book as they believed it would offer value when attending customer meetings.

Also, the finishing and print technique used allows the brochures to have a more premium feel to them. However, they also transferred this file to a digital format in order to target a wider audience and combine the two methods of marketing.

Pumping Marvellous

Pumping Marvellous are the UK’s patient led heart failure charity, founded by a heart failure patient Nick Hartshorne-Evans, whose experiences whilst rehabilitating has shaped the goals and focus of the charity. These goals and aims of the charity are reflected and brought to life through the work of our creative team.

Ultimately, with being a charity, the marketing budget for Pumping Marvellous is limited. Therefore, this means that the marketing resources chosen for them had to be effective within their performance and cost.

We have supported their integrated marketing strategy and, with the help of Red-Fern, have been able to bring their ideas to life through various platforms.

In terms of traditional marketing methods, we have designed and printed banners, guides, signs, business cards, booklets and leaflets.

The difference between Traditional and Digital Marketing

There are many various mediums and platforms your business can use to advertise and succesfully market.

These platforms can be categorised under two main forms of marketing- Traditional Marketing or Digital Marketing. Once you have a clear understanding between traditional and digital channels and the purpose they each serve, you’ll be able to use each channel to accomplish your goals.

Therefore, we have teamed up with digital marketing agency Red-Fern to show you several techniques you can use for your business.

Minimalism vs Maximalism- Which is the better choice for your packaging design?

You may have heard the famous saying “less is more” used frequently in day to day situations and being used in conversation across industries such as interior design, fashion, beauty and art.

When it comes to graphic design, many successful designers have adopted the “less is more” concept throughout their work, also known as minimalism. The term originates from British philosopher Richard Wollheim’s 1965 critique of a group of artists for their “minimal art content”. Since then, it has evolved in meaning and esteem; people no longer view it as a critique, but rather a symbol for the everyday consumer.

The minimalist technique uses only necessary elements for functionality, producing a simple, clear and sophisticated look. It is prolific in design; from ‘millennials’ using a minimalistic approach when it comes to designing their homes, to web page designers using it to offer a better UX across web pages they create. Furthermore, the uprise of simplicity has been the catalyst for many successful businesses to turn to a rebrand. 

Maximalism, as you may have guessed, is the drastic opposite. As an aesthetic of excess, its philosophy can be summarised as “more is more”. Maximalist designers believe this technique expresses individuality by using bold colours, textures and patterns to fill up empty space. With more designers opting for minimalism, it’s no wonder that a number of brands are now leaning in the opposite direction in order to be distinguished: after all, a product that diverges from what is popular can now be seen as exceptionally unique.

Which is the better choice for your design?

Let’s take packaging design, for instance: your typical supermarket deals with an inventory of over 40,000 different branded products daily. Ask yourself: would your minimalistic design stand out from a crowded supermarket shelf?

Ultimately, it depends on the brand voice you want to communicate. Are you looking to be an unmissable, enthusiastic brand shouting for attention? Or do you aim to be sophisticated, to the point and no-fuss?

To explore the advantages of and highlight the differences between minimalism and maximalism, let’s start by taking a look at some recent minimalist rebrands…

Examples of minimalist design

BT

BT’s default mantra “Simple is good” is now reflected in their recent rebrand which delivers a no-nonsense brand identity, with greater focus on the product and customers. The simplicity and minimalism of their new logo has proven controversial, and many have criticised the amount of time it has taken the company to reveal this look; however, we would argue less clutter in design is always a positive. It allows the customer to immediately recognise the branding and straightaway discern the key message the company wants to display.

Mastercard

Mastercard’s completely wordless design couldn’t be more minimalist if it tried! Although the logo consists of only two overlapping red and yellow circles, this design has become an emblem that is recognisable worldwide; immediately associated with Mastercard.  This brand identity, again, links to the key message that the company wants to express: connectivity and seamlessness.

Now that have looked at two effective examples of minimalistic design, let’s look at how they can be the key to success.

Advantages of minimalism design in packaging

Now that have looked at two effective examples of minimalistic design, let’s look at how they can be the key to success.

-Stand out with simplicity

As David Raskin, professor of contemporary art says: “The richer you are, the less you have.” Some may disagree, but a minimalist design can actually be more eye-catching than an elaborate design. When all the other packages on the shelf are overflowing with busy designs, a simple design will stand out more. Therefore, it can stand out against all the clutter from other designs because it’s different and having a minimal design can grab the eye of passers-by. The design displays a quiet confidence of its own, which allows the product to speak for itself.

-Clarity of information

A minimalistic design can potentially convey honesty, with nothing else to distract the eye the minimal design can clearly communicate what your product is and what goes into it.  Minimalists work seeks to get to the heart of what is actually important, cutting away all the minor details and displaying only the most important. Having a minimalist approach to packaging, such as only displaying necessary information and uncomplicated designs, also presents your product as fuss-free, which is something that consumers certainly look for.

-Timeless

Minimalism is one of the few design trends that just never gets old, the simplicity of it makes minimalism easy to incorporate into a number of product variations across numerous platforms.

Examples of maximalism in design

Although minimalist designs cut out the nonsense, some consumers like the level of mystery from some brands that are less straightforward. Therefore, the levels of curiosity evoked by maximalist branding may also be something to consider.

Pukka Tea

This brand doesn’t like to go unnoticed when it comes to their packaging design. Each line of their tea is represented by a vivid colour scheme and pattern that evokes the tea’s flavours in a wild, repeating motif – invoking mystery, nature and adventure all at once which engage their target audience and spread their message by catching their eye with strong designs which can’t be missed.

Advantages of Maximalist design used in packaging


-Evokes curiosity and mystery

Contrarily to minimalism which uses the only elements that the design needs to function, a maximalist design uses a variety of patterns, designs, and elements that make the design become unmissable. Therefore, these designs may be quite random in their selection and not directly something you might associate with that brand. As a result of this, a maximalist design can evoke creativity and create a sense of mystery leaving the consumer wanting to find out more or purchase which can be a great aspect for a product on a busy supermarket shelf. A vibrant, loud design is certain to stand out. 

-Unmissable and can bring the brand to life

Your product may not be known for evoking excitement when people think about it. For example, you may be a dishwasher tablet brand which many people do not associate with excitement, joy or any similar feelings. However, your packaging design can bring your brand to life and make your product more exciting through its standalone design.

-More likely to be shared on social media and have greater brand exposure

We all know that social media is all about sharing what looks the best with the rest of the world. Whether this may be a flawless photograph of yourself, or a design you like the look of, by making your packaging more visually appealing and interesting it is more likely to get shared across social media platforms.

Ultimately, this is free advertising tool to a large audience for your product which is no doubt going to increase brand exposure. Also, 66% of consumers have tried a new product because of its packaging and 70% of consumers have stated that they form the decision whether to purchase on the packaging.

Conclusion

As discussed, simplicity and intricate detailing both have their place in the packaging world. However, the style that is best for you really depends on how you want your packaging/design to speak to its audience. Between latest trends, what competitors are doing, and your own preferences – there’s no question that defining your brand identity can be difficult decision.

Ultimately, we believe that originality is what entices consumers. Originality provides your audience with something other brands haven’t delivered, but this is easier said than done. You may not be able to get to the root of what your brand truly represents – which is why you should always seek professional advice when it comes to creating your trademark image.

Creative agencies such Media Village have a set of procedures and resources available to help you get the most out of your brand. We have successfully worked with many well-known food companies at every stage of the marketing process, collaborating creatively to reach the best design solution for their needs.

Together, we can also help you to unlock what makes you stand out for the crowd and create a brand identity that is unmissable and unique to you.

How gluten free companies can benefit from working with a creative agency

Britain’s shopping basket is going free-from, with Brits dodging dairy and going off gluten and grains at a growing rate. We have forked out an extra £230m on free-from food and drink in the past year.

That’s a rise of more than 40%!

This 40% growth has not only been driven by consumers who have medical conditions that require free-from diets, but also by what we refer to as free-from lifestyle choices – a growing market of people who are choosing to cut certain ingredients from their diet for health or lifestyle reasons.

Innovation in this upcoming food and beverage market has made gluten-free foods more palatable, helping to boost the sector’s profile; for this reason, the market has outgrown appealing exclusively to those who are needs-based, and recent statistics have shown that one in ten people, and even 15% of UK households, are set to be avoiding gluten and wheat altogether.

With the ever-growing market now rallying for more choice and flavours, there has never been a better time to look at what is likely to propel the purchase: packaging.

Packaging design and why it even matters

The best well-branded food packaging can elicit a Pavlovian hunger response. Ask yourself: have you ever seen a McDonald’s bag and experienced that un shakeable craving?

Free-from companies can also benefit from well-executed packaging design, exponentially increasing their brand recognition. Take supermarket giants, Aldi and Lidl, for example; both of whom launched a free-from label in August 2017. Within a crowded retail space, the average supermarket will stock more than 40,000 items – what better way to enhance a product’s appearance and memorability beside competitive brands, than through bespoke packaging design?

Furthermore, did you know that 40% of consumers admit that they would share a picture of a product’s packaging on social media if it was interesting enough? Social media interaction alone can boost awareness and generate engagement around your brand – you just need the packaging to have that special quality.

That’s where we come in.

We understand that food packaging is a crucial design discipline; with your target audience/demographic and USP in mind, we aim to develop and design packaging that reflects and represents your brand perfectly. By staying on-brand with your identity and promise, we can help you stay at the forefront of your customer’s minds; however, we also realise that one generic style won’t work for everything, and we are always willing to adapt.

 Our belief is that packaging can describe much more than where the product came from; it can also communicate a powerful message to its audience. You just need to decide what your message is.

Any good food brand should follow the following principles when considering packaging design:

  • Make sure it can be seen on the shelf (impact)
  • Make sure it engages shoppers (relevance)
  • Make sure it communicates key messages
  • Make sure it sells

We advise you to keep it simple, keep it honest. When it comes to food packaging, the design should show the product contained within: if a consumer cannot identify what you are selling, they are likely to walk on by. Always be straightforward: keep it clear and clean in design, font and wording.

Your packaging will interact with hundreds of people: it is absolutely a missed opportunity if it is not branded and properly designed.

How we have helped gluten free companies stand out

Over the last six months, we have worked with three different gluten free companies, producing and designing packaging sleeves, menu cards, thank you cards, banners and business cards.

1. KO-CO Brownies

KO-CO Brownies are an upcoming gluten free and dairy free chocolate brownie brand. The branding we designed for them followed a nature-inspired image and conveyed the brand message professionally.

How did we help KO-CO Brownies?

We designed and produced the following:

  • Brownie watch straps for a range of flavours
  • Menu cards
  • Thank you cards
  • Labels for packaging
  • Banner for market shows

We worked towards the customer brief and created a design that would match their target demographic and express their target message efficiently.

2. Bak’d Cake Co.

An award-winning, family run, free-from brand which offers artisan treats to enjoy baking at home. All of the recipes produced and offered were developed by the family themselves, inspired by their own experiences to create alternative solutions to nut allergies and gluten intolerance.

How did we help Bak’d Cake Co.?

We produced a range of high-quality printed packaging for the baking at home kits, which incorporated different colours and styles to match the various flavours they had to offer.

3. gf2go

gf2go is another business created to solve a problem within the industry and offer more choice to those with gluten intolerance. They produce gluten free bread, brownies, cakes, cereals, pies and a range of puddings.

How did we help gf2go?

We produced high quality packaging to protect and advertise their sticky toffee pudding products. 

Our promise to you

As you can see, we pride ourselves on equipping companies with the essentials they need to stand out. With product innovation expected to grow, we have realised the potential our business model and services have to help any food or drink business stand out in this lucrative industry.

We take full advantage of our ability to offer the full marketing solution in-house, all under one roof, which has huge potential for any business wanting to get noticed (and noticed in the right way)!

 From photography, branding and even to vehicle livery, we can refine every touchpoint of your customer’s journey. In the gluten free industry this has never been more relevant. The potential for new brands entering the market every month is very high and the market is quickly becoming saturated; therefore, having packaging that stands out and makes an impact could be the crucial finish you need to maintain your place on the supermarket shelves.

Remember, your product’s packaging should communicate what your brand stands for, and what it means for your customer.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to create a lasting impression on the shelf and in the minds of your customers.


Ways to get noticed at your upcoming exhibition

From visibility to credibility, exhibiting at a trade show can have hundreds of advantages and benefits for your business. Making the most of your space and establishing a presence gives you a powerful platform for meeting new customers and reaching out to existing clientele.

Understandably, a lot of businesses are put off exhibiting at a trade show because of the cost. It’s true, developing a great trade show stand, training your staff members and travelling to the event itself isn’t a very cheap process. However, like most forms of marketing, with the right strategy, a trade show can be a very profitable choice.

Trade shows and exhibitions are a great opportunity to learn what’s working and what isn’t for you and your business. You can do a lot of competitor research at events like these; for example, you can see which booths are attracting the most attendees and learn from their tactics. As the famous saying goes “keep your friends close but your enemies closer”.

You can also pose as a customer and see how other salespeople interact with you and what their objectives are. Finding out information about the needs and wants of your customers is very important when it comes to staying competitive in the market. The low response rate of email surveys means that they are only really beneficial to companies with large email lists to increase the rate of response, but exhibiting at a trade show is a great way to tell your industry that your company is serious, reliable and large enough to afford its own presence at leading events and conferences.

87% of marketers say face-to-face marketing is important, as 80% of trade show visitors are personally involved in buying the products or services on show.

A business exhibition helps you in four key areas of B2B marketing:

  • It enables potential buyers to notice you, to discover you and then get to know you as a credible partner.
  • Trade events account for 9% of marketing budgets, but return 23% of business.
  • Satisfied trade show participants are also supporters of participating exhibitors and partners. Positive recall can more quickly lead to sales conversions.
  • With proper research and planning, trade shows are one of the most cost-effective sources of leads and sales possible.

Don’t let visitors guess what your business is all about – tell them with your literature, using the power of the written word alongside print. Also, you probably have one business card that you hand to everyone with the basic need-to-know information: do not underestimate the power of a generic business card, as it allows for a plethora of possibilities; for example, why not have a QR code on one side that, once scanned, says “We met at X exhibition on X date and time”? This type of printed material could provide the vital information needed to encourage a profitable future connection/lead.

Market Research

Exhibiting at trade shows means you can conduct a short survey on your exhibition stand to gather vital feedback. This can help you discover whether the needs and wants of your customers are the same, or if they have changed and if you need to adapt to meet these needs. Other ways to incentivise customers to participate in surveys is to offer a free gift or entry into a competition.

In order to create that great first impression, your exhibition stand should represent your brand identity in its entirety: from your logo, exhibition banners (including style and material type), to the employees manning the stand. It is essential that crew in particular are all in accordance with your brand’s personality and values – it may be a good idea, therefore, to brief them prior to the exhibition on your goals and objectives, if not already clear.

Exhibition banners have improved exponentially in recent years. They used to be very expensive, heavy and, quite frankly, a pain to assemble quickly. Nowadays, you can find lots of variations of banners which are cost-efficient, lightweight and portable, meaning you can – and should – consider bespoke banners for each event. Ideally, content for banners should include up-to-the-minute information, imagery that complements your current pitch, and maintain your established branding to allow your company to be instantly recognised.

Even if an exhibition-goer doesn’t talk to you, roller banners should provide them with the valuable information they need to get in contact with you later. Useful information such as contact numbers and postal addresses can be included on banners; however, social media links such as @ names, social media logos and your website remain the best way to address the modern customer.

If you have high-quality images that really exemplify your product, then roller banners are where to display them.

Alongside the roller or pop-up banners, sturdy PVC banners can be used for signposting and signage. These signs need to be kept clear and simple, and at most include your company name, website and logo. Don’t clutter what should be an easy to read sign.

Finally, think of your booth as a shop window: it should feel welcoming and draw people to come and take a peek ‘inside’.

What you need to make the most of your exhibition

If you have a brand identity to be proud of, you want to display it at its best in every instance. One of the largest formats it will be used in is at events and exhibitions, where passers-by will automatically form a perception of your company based on your visual identity. It may be the difference between whether they decide to stop and talk to you or not.

It is important to make sure that your stand sticks out, attendees stop and notice your brand and offer you an interaction which could be the chance you need to close a deal.

 

Why exhibit and attend trade shows?

Quite simply, if people don’t know who you are and what you can do, they’re never going to call you. Yes, you can advertise, but that doesn’t give you the chance to find out about your customers, build long-term relationships and have a good chat.

You can approach key people in the industry one on one that you may never be able to reach on the phone or even by email. You can connect with key customers and take the relationship to a deeper, more personal level. You can meet with key suppliers from your industry or other areas within that market.

Seize the opportunity to learn from your competition and network with professionals. Walk the floor to observe product displays, engagement tactics and sales pitches to take note of how you can improve at the next event. For example, if you observe that many companies are offering a new service, consider pitching the service during your next team meeting.

Five reasons to exhibit or attend trade shows

  1. Lead Capture

Initially, the whole point of attending exhibitions and trade shows is to create leads for future potential business. Luckily, they are quite a few, easy and cost-effective methods of capturing leads from exhibition events.

Firstly, just by having a paper form on your exhibition stand, you can ask visitors to leave their details in hope of making future connections after the event.

However, a business card draw at an event always goes down well with all guests, especially when there is a prize at stake to win because everybody loves a freebie! As a result of this competition, you can capture a vast amount of leads with the potential of contacting to offer your services to in the future.

But always remember to have a well-designed business card, which is tailored to that event to exchange every time a visitor takes part in your competition.

Top tip – Get a business card designed and personalised for this event, this will stand out from the crowd and remind other businesses of how you met.

However, do not be disheartened if a passer-by at the trade show doesn’t seem immediately drawn to your services or want to offer their business card. Handing them a freebie, something of value with your branding on may just be the reminder they need for a future conversation.

2. Check up on competitors

You may sell the same product but a trade show offers you an ideal opportunity to see not only who your competitors are, but also who they are they are targeting the most for your own research. This information gathered from the event can be used to help predict your competitor’s future plans. In terms of your own business, this may help you put forward a strategy to be one step ahead of your competitors.

Competitor research is a key part of any marketing plan however this can be sometimes hard to achieve. For example, competitors may hide their prices online or say `contact us for prices and more information`. Without having the time to pretend to be an interested customer, this information may be hard to attain. Therefore, being located in the same room as a number of your competitors may allow you to find out the fine details you need.

Sneaky, but trade shows have a lot of potential for the future of your business.

3. Engage with existing customers

A trade show is an ideal place for a quick touchpoint for a loyal customer and addressing their needs and thanking them for their business. It’s always good to see a familiar face or put a face to a name after recent communication via telephone or email.

Customers value you spending your time, recognising them and working towards a relationship with them. Therefore, a trade show can be the perfect place to engage with existing customers and give them promotional material to take away as a reminder of you and your business. These vital connections hopefully may lead to future recommendations and purchases.

4. Introduce your exisiting customers to other product lines

Customers, who love your brand and as a result are satisfied with the products they purchase, may be easily converted to buy other products you offer. A trade show is a great opportunity to showcase what else you do to your existing customers. These customers may just come to you because they want one service but when discovered you do more they may be enticed.

Top tip – Make sure your services are clear and communicated in an engaging way so it is easy to notice for passers-by. This can be done by using a roller banner, leaflets, and even an exhibition stand which is designed to communicate clearly everything you do.

5. Gather valuable research for the future

Why do your existing customers buy and what do they love most about your brand? You may already send out questionnaires via email asking for customer feedback; however these may get deleted or ignored. Therefore being at a trade show with the customer stood in front of you face to face could be the perfect chance to gain your market research.

For example, just asking simple questions like what do you like best about us as a company? What was the customer service like you received from us? This information can help for the future marketing and customer service element of your business.

Get in touch today and let’s get your business noticed!

Email- info@media-village.co.uk

Does your social media content spark joy in your target audience?

‘Spark joy’ What on earth does that mean?” If you have absolutely no idea why we ask this question, then sit back and let us introduce you to Marie Kondo and her famous tidying up technique.

Marie Kondo, a Japanese organising consultant and bestselling author, has written several books on organisation. Her books have sold millions of copies and have been translated from Japanese into several languages including Korean, Chinese, Spanish, French, German and English. Her popularity in the UK has undergone exponential growth through her Netflix programme ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’. Despite it only being the third month of 2019, this programme has already been named Netflix’s most unpredicted success of the year.

“A programme all about tidying up? Really? How boring!” we hear you say; however, you will be surprised how addictive and almost life-changing this programme can be. Marie Kondo’s tidying up technique has inspired the world to take part in a de-clutter trend (oh, and a Netflix binge)!

Marie Kondo advises messy homeowners to simply say “goodbye” to items that don’t ‘spark joy’ in their life – ultimately de-cluttering their home and lives. This programme emphasises that tidying up can be easier if you follow a structure; it can even be a therapeutic process, as you are urged to express appreciation for your once purposeful belongings before you retire them to the cutting room.

Now that you know who Marie Kondo is, let’s explore how this is relevant to social media (we are getting there, we promise!)

Marie Kondo’s holistic approach to the ‘strategy’ of tidying up can be applied to your social media marketing strategy. If you start by mapping out everything that you want to include and achieve, then you can start to build a successful, organised game plan that works for you and your company. This should help you generate a holistic view of your strategy and how each tactic and decision you make is contributing to the next phase: thus, it can also help you to spot tactics that might be hindering your performance.

So, let’s take Marie Kondo’s approach, shall we?

  • Does your company’s social media ‘spark joy’ to your target audience?
  • When you see your social media posts, are you proud of them?
  • From an outsider’s point of view, would they stand out on a crowded newsfeed?

If the answer to any of the above is “no”, then we think it’s time to thank your social media for its time – delete the unnecessary (don’t go on a frenzy, as Marie Kondo advises against this), make steps to refresh your content, and move on with a well-conceived cleansing process.

So, we want to share with you an easy-to-follow guide that can help you cleanse your social media marketing. Try to follow each stage (See, Think, Do, Delight) as best you can, whilst always aiming to do one of the following:

  • Inspire your audience

  • Educate your audience

  • Entertain your audience

  • Convince your audience

1.‘See’

This is the first interaction the potential customer has with your brand or company, therefore it is your decision to inspire, educate or entertain them from the get-go. This decision can be based upon the objective, content and what you aim to achieve from posting this content.

As we all know, first impressions stick – so make it count

2. `Think`

The customer has reached the Think Stage, which means they are actively thinking about your company without being promoted. This is a huge positive for your company and, of course, the marketing team.

So, to develop customer interaction we must decide how next to ‘spark joy’ by taking responsive action that is pertinent to your business’ values and reputation. You must make this decision, bearing in mind who your audience are and what your customer persona is. For example, a corporate law firm at this stage would not try to entertain a potential client with an animal meme, even though we might all have a soft spot for animal memes, this is quite clearly an unsuitable marketing strategy in this field of business.

If you are not sure about your target audience and what they engage with the most, this may involve a little bit of customer research:

One way to convince your customer at this stage could be by outlining the advantages of choosing your services and how these can benefit the potential customer; these advantages may just prove to be the icing on the cake.

Tip – You can always make posts more engaging by using strong visuals, infographics and professional photography. It is proven that when faced with text or images, 65% find the visuals more memorable.

3. `Do`

If we were to consider this stage as a room, Marie Kondo would believe this to be in very near perfect condition – the polishing stage, as it were. Here, we are only left with the refined ideas that ‘spark joy’. In marketing terms, the customer is very close to purchasing what we are offering as a result of this journey: we have inspired and educated them with our perfectly driven content.

Tip – This stage might be a great opportunity to post a questionnaire, educational graphic, or anything of interest to spur them towards the purchase button.

4. `Delight`

This is all about adding that little bit of unexpected value. In a Marie Kondo scenario, the room (or stage) is now spotless; we have scented candles smouldering, fairy lights glowing, and a cake baking in the oven. The joy is well and truly sparked. In our social media ‘room’, the customer has interacted with the content we posted, has been charmed by our driven content, and has made a satisfied purchase with your company.

So, what do you do now? Move on to the next customer?

Or leave them with a small unexpected gesture that adds further value to the whole process for them.

We personally think the second option is the ideal route to take for any business trying to make a lasting, valuable impression on new potential customers.

Not sure what to offer? Take a look at some of our ideas:

  • Exclusive discount codes
  • Money off their next purchase
  • Loyalty cards
  • Free samples

Hopefully a strategy Marie Kondo could be proud of: a holistic approach that can generate great social media content – just small touches that can make a huge difference.

Why both private and public schools need to invest in marketing and creative design?

Let’s start by explaining what school marketing actually is.

School marketing is defined as the means by which the school actively communicates and promotes its purpose, values and products to the pupils, parents, staff and the wider community’.

Where a large amount of businesses do realise the importance of marketing, it is also this area that sees the most cuts when delegating financial funds; marketing can be considered as a lesser priority so it is common for schools in particular overlook their marketing when dividing up their budget.

However, if it is true that marketing and design are less important ingredients to thriving business, ask yourself – why do private schools need to bother investing in it? If a private school can effectively articulate its purpose and values without marketing and creative design, is there a need for it at all?

Firstly, let’s talk about what happens when minimal financial resources are devoted to the art and science of marketing a school. It’s true that the school might save itself the time and effort of creating a marketing strategy, but without it, this short-term satisfaction can become a long-term problem – as a result of no marketing, you may find your school undergoing a downwards spiral in exposure, and most importantly, a decline in enrolment figures.

We understand the huge undertaking of a marketing strategy may initially intimidate public schools: after all, private schools already have the longevity of foundations built from strong heritage and pre-established branding to pave their way to success. Teachers might even feel that their positions there are ‘cheapened’ in treating the school as an opportunity for marketing – however, by not investing in marketing, this means that your school could be reliant on communities, parents, and word of mouth to tell a story that you have the power to tell yourself

By changing your mind-set on marketing and by addressing the challenges of competition, recruitment/retention and tighter budgets, you could actually give yourself the ability to really take care of your brand. By hiring a specialist in this field, you are able to trust in how your school will be perceived. This professional will not only understand how to regulate your branding, but can also tell your school story, emphasise your values, and portray exactly what makes your school unique.

Investing in marketing does not mean that your school will be harassing or imposing upon prospective pupils and their parents in order to increase enrolment figures – in fact, it actually means that your school can connect with them more easily, through shared values and by behaving as an aid in the difficult process of choosing the right school.

The extensive selection of public and private schools can make it even more difficult to stand out and ‘win over’ prospective pupils and their parents. Private schools in particular can no longer rely on their legacy alone to outrank competition (after all, there are also the education fees to consider), but by using marketing as their skeleton key to success, private schools can secure those all-important relationships and connections with their target audience. So why shouldn’t all institutes not aim for this effect, regardless of public or private education? It could make all the difference.

But how can you stand out? In order to keep up to date with competitive schools, we suggest that you manufacture a strong brand alongside your respectable school heritage. Here are a range of cost-effective ways that you can help your private school invest in print and design which can increase your school’s enrolment figures.

Investing in a powerful prospectus

Think about your current marketing material and prospectus. Does it invite you to pick it up? If you had a pile of prospectuses under your arm, would yours make the final cut?

Or would it not even get a second glance?

56% of consumers state that print advertising is still the most trustworthy type of marketing and that readers engage more with a printed prospectus.  According to Forbes magazine, consumers are spending 20-30% longer reading text as opposed to an online alternative. This means you have 20-30% more time to really engage with that consumer and show them exactly what makes your school different.

For many years, we have specialised in offering an extensive service to the educational sector. This has resulted with us now working with a large amount of private and public schools within the UK. This cohesive partnership with the education industry has allowed us the ability to provide expert marketing, design and print advice.

Your school would be offered a tailored, bespoke package and advice to enable you to be noticed, trusted and engaged with by the right audience.

Maintaining an engaging modern school brand

Although your private school may have well-respected heritage, would you say that is reflected in your branding? Whilst we are aware that there are many elements to why students and parents choose certain schools, we are also aware that a school’s brand and marketing plays a massive part in this decision.

Therefore, it is crucial that your branding and marketing material reflect your school’s values, background and history, as this is your way of standing out from the competition.

The capabilities we have at Media Village make it easy for us to produce your educational materials.

We can make sure your brand is successful and meets the public at every point of contact, including external signage, websites, prospectuses, letterheads, social media, logo design and much more.

Marketing as storytelling

Storytelling through branding is more important today than ever before; with the average person viewing 100,000 digital words every single day, a refreshing narrative behind a brand can really stand out. Famous brands like Coca Cola and Marks & Spencer have been using the art of storytelling to their advantage for years now, and to great success.

We have proudly worked closely with Westholme School for many years, and the relationships we have established helps us to deliver their story in exactly the right way, to exactly the right audience. Our cohesive relationship with Westholme guarantees that we are working together and remain united in the pursuit of a common goal.

One of the main aims at Westholme School is to support each child in fulfilling their full, individual potential; the journey of a Westholme pupil, from 3 months old to age 18, is a unique story in itself… and one in which the school has invested its all. Therefore, we have created marketing materials in various forms that inspire and motivate pupils to succeed, with choice wording such as ‘flourish, cherish’.

Investing in professional photography to showcase your talents

Photography and eye-catching visual content generate more engagement and attention online; as we are a very visual society, it is the perfect way to communicate. With millions of images being posted on the web daily, your school’s need to be the ones to stand out against the rest.

With this in mind, the type of image you choose to illustrate your school’s name and reputation has the potential to attract new customers or instantly turn them away. We always think about the relationship between your content, your imagery, your school brand, its narrative and your target audience before we even press a button on the camera.

We offer as much time as needed at your location to enable us to really capture the perspective of school life. However, we always consider the information we have gathered and the main objectives of your marketing when taking pictures. Therefore, if your school aims to focus on extra curriculum activities, then we would tailor the photographs to portray this.

Making the most of your open day opportunities

Vast amounts of potential pupils, their parents and family members visit your school on one appointed day. You would be crazy not to make the most of it!

So, it’s time to shout about what makes you unique – show off your branding and make your school open day more memorable than any other. You can do this by investing in open day banners, roller banners that showcase your school’s impressive achievements, and any other effective marketing materials that will help your day be a huge success.

(We can also offer you all of these services in-house).

Marketing your school effectively allows you to learn how to position yourself successfully within the education market compared to your competition. It uses your unique attributes to communicate to the market, boost your reputation – and drive applications and enrolment figures.

Finally, by investing in marketing, design and print, schools can develop a better understanding of its current parents’ needs and underlying motives for sending their child to their school, as well as interesting the types of parents the school is not currently attracting so that you can determine target segments for future marketing communications.

 

You can see more of what we have done with other schools here

Download our free guide to a powerful prospectus HERE

5 reasons why every business should invest in Graphic Design

We understand – particularly when it comes to small businesses with limited resources – that when times get tough and businesses are forced to make cuts, it’s often the creative budget that faces these cuts first. Unfortunately, companies often fail to see how investing in their creative budget can, in fact, help achieve the goals they have thus far prioritised – failing to recognise that the department of design and visuals can actually be the difference between ‘mediocre’ and ‘great’.

1. The numbers are in, design sells

Studies have shown that visual appeal can influence us within about 50 milliseconds. In brief, this is how quickly a designer’s content must impress. To get these results, your company would benefit from working with a professional designer, meaning that you will have the chance to seek their expertise to ensure your brand message is perfect. Additionally, we believe that your design should support the principles you have built your company around, and strive to reach your customers’ hearts (rather than just their wallets)!

You may think: “I already understand my company ethos, know our goals, and have no problem discussing these with the customer”. Nonetheless, a visual aid could be the difference between just you understanding your goals and everybody else understanding them, exactly as you want.

The majority of us are visual learners. 65% of people agree that they grasp concepts more easily with a visual accompaniment. Used in this way, design can ‘simplify’ communication in branding; making obvious who the design is for by appealing to its target audience, and allowing the design the ability to attract the right attention in the right way. For example, you may have a product intended for the adult market – but if the wrong design is covering the product, this can mislead your audience and really become a problem.

According to Adobe, over the span of 10 years, companies with strong designs outperformed those with weak designs by 219% on the S&P 500 Index (a stock market index), so the numbers truly are in, design sells.

2.Packaging design can alter your customer’s perception

You may have heard of the concept “eat with your eyes”. Though eating stimulates many senses, sight is actually a huge part of influencing decisions when it comes to food, and this does not go unacknowledged when marketing the food on the shelves at supermarkets. The question is: how do we make our products appealing, when we can’t plate them up?

The truth is that you really can take advantage of packaging and design just as much as supermarket products do. In fact, most products can be marketed and designed in alignment with this “eat with your eyes” concept. This is how we can aim to inspire purchase behaviour and even evoke positive emotions towards a brand. We have also worked with a diverse collection of businesses within the food industry towards creating packaging/branding that is unique on the shelf, helping it stand out.

Food for thought: people remember 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read, and 80% of what they see/do. So why not consult our expertise in design to make an impact on your customer’s perceptions of a product, and target your audience in exactly the right way?

3. Good design keeps your brand memorable.

Let’s consider a brand that has generated a memorable design: Pantone.

Pantone, a simple colour matching brand, has developed a distinct design style that makes them iconic, creating memorability and awareness for the brand.

Pantone developed it’s distinctive, memorable brand by becoming the universal language of print and colour. They noticed how difficult it was for designers, ad agencies and printers to communicate exact colours, therefore they became the go to brand that provided the solution to this.

Now, think of your business design as a handshake: the first impression between two people – in this case, your business and your customer. Does the experience make them smile or frown? Do they say “hi”, “hello”, or “good day”? Is the handshake firm and formal, or warm and friendly?

Within the digital era, design sits at the core of amazing brand experiences. Companies are realising that by embedding design into business practices, they are actually encouraging deeper customer loyalty, ultimately making a positive impact on their business’s performance.

4. Strong web design= strong customer loyalty

Today, most businesses have some form of online presence. In fact, it is more likely that you will first encounter a business online; therefore, the impression your website makes and leaves is more important than ever. But how do you leave a good impression?

By investing in good design, of course!

The kneejerk reaction to a badly designed website is often to not trust it, let alone bother reading on. Even in cases where the user has found the smallest detail of the web design not to like, the site is often not explored further than the homepage. Ultimately, this affects business success and the sales of your product/service.

According to a study by Microsoft, the average human attention span has declined by 4 seconds since 2000. Shockingly, the attention span today is said to be only eight seconds – whereas even a goldfish can manage nine! If the customer cannot find what they are looking for within this window, a poorly designed website can hinder all your chances. Therefore, by displaying a strong brand identity and ensuring this identity is consistent across all of your platforms, you can continue to secure customers, attention and trust.

We want to help your brand be accessed across a variety of marketing platforms, whether printed or digital. Our in-house graphic designers always strive to create a consistently high quality brand image for every customer we deal with. Additionally, consumers who come into contact with the brand identity you have established (whether it be your logo, type font, or brand colours) will, with the correct design, be prompted towards the desired emotional response to your product/services. It might make all the difference.

5. Design sets you apart from the crowd

Have you ever bought a product simply because it looked nicer than the alternative? Of course you have.

For any business, competition is always high. The chances are that consumers are simply attracted to the one thing that makes the product stand out over another – and that thing is most likely a good, strong design.

As a proven selling point, we can help your brand stand out with intentional design decisions. Strong visuals can also make your brand memorable and can help trigger memories to keep the brand fresh in your mind. Furthermore, if your product/service is considered to be `technical’ or ‘difficult to understand`, effective visuals can act as a translation service – which simplifies complex language and helps to explain exactly what it is you are offering.

Your business doesn’t have to be within the creative industry or even have an ‘exciting’ product to have a strong identity. With our creative skills, expertise and experience, we are able to offer creative solutions for any industry, no matter the product. Even if you can’t see a way that your business can be creative – there is every chance we can. After all, it’s exactly what we’re here for.

New year, New goals

5 top tips to make sure your business starts on the right foot this year.

1.Refocus your brand

January is a popular time for companies to reflect on their current position, review their performance and take a look at their company image; however, we can get carried away in January and want to take on everything at once. Although this may be tempting to try, you should always invest in support when it comes to unfamiliar areas. Whether you are considering a refresh or a whole new rebrand, the new year is the best time to start focusing your time on new goals.

First of all, we advise conducting a brand health check before confirming how you would like to move forward. This will help you think about all the elements behind your brand image and reflect on their success in the previous year. These results can then help you decide whether a refresh or a rebrand is the right decision for you. Booking a free consultation with one of our graphic designers will allow you to sit and chat casually (over a cup of coffee) about your brand’s future. We can conduct a brand health check for you and, with our branding expertise and knowledge, advise you on the best way to move forward and work together to achieve your success. Additionally, we can start to think about how to give your brand substance and enhance the added value behind it. This can be done by designing printed material, producing marketing collateral that addresses your brand values, and working on a consistent brand image. All of the services mentioned are, of course, something that we offer and can help you achieve this year.

 

Last year saw several rebrands: from the extreme, which included name changes and unrecognisable logos, to more subtle facelifts that help breathe new life into a brand.Firstly, Uber announced a full rebrand in September last year, shifting to a new, simpler logo, just “Uber” in a custom sans-serif font.

Secondly, Weight Watchers, or as it is known now WW, also debuted its new logo, branding and name in September last year. The brand’s new tagline, “Wellness that Works” is intended to represent the brand’s renewed focus: health, fitness and feeling your best, rather than losing weight.

Finally, Debenhams the department store revealed a brand new identity – this was one of 2018’s biggest rebrands. Debenhams had used its previous identity since 1999 but the dynamic new look aims to show how much it has progressed since then.

To learn more about where to start with your branding, you could take a peek at our ‘10 Brand Elements and What They Mean’ blog HERE or ‘Brand Guidelines: What Are They and Why Do I Need Them?’ blog HERE.

brand focus

2.Tell your story this year

Storytelling is an effective and powerful technique that builds relationships – it doesn’t matter if you’re a small business or a huge enterprise, a brand story gives volume to your voice. From a scientific perspective, stories are designed to create emotions. We love them because they prompt chemical reactions in our minds that help us to feel pleasure, empathy and interest. For example, a story about a small business that made it to the top makes you naturally want to root for them.

However, we understand that every business is different; some companies are naturally more entertaining and interesting than others. But, if there is a market for your business, then storytelling to your targeted audience is always a way to make your content more engaging, whether it’s the content on your website that shows the background of your company or the content that you post on your social media channels. We can help make your branding consistent, engaging, and tell your story through effective platforms that suit your target audience’s needs.

For example, if your target audience prefer to engage with printed material, we can design and print leaflets, business cards and brochures that tell your story consistently. Our website details a list of print and creative marketing services we offer. Click HERE to view them all.

To further support how important we believe brand storytelling is, we published a blog on our website titled, ‘Your Story Starts Here’. Click HERE to read more and discover the advantages an effective brand story could have for your company.

brand storytelling

3.Promote and build new connections

New year, new faces, and new connections – networking can be an effective key to business growth and success. Attending networking events in 2019 may seem to be a daunting challenge, but consumers buy from brands that build relationships with them – we can provide you with all the essential tools you need to be prepared and organised for networking, such as; printed brochures, business cards, and leaflets to hand out to your new connections.

Our sales reps would encourage people to start networking to expand their reach, get recognised and enjoy the benefits of growing your business through recommendations. We all know that in business it is a great feeling being recommended by somebody, or even just receiving a positive review. These two things give us a sense of pride and achievement that our hard work is paying off – comparing this to networking; you are surrounded by a group of people that make it their mission to recommend you. Additionally, by regularly attending networking events, this helps get your face known in the community, providing you with a great source of connections that can really open the door to talking to highly influential people in the future.

If you would like to learn more about networking click HERE, to read our ‘Power of Networking’ blog.

networking

4.Focus on updating your online presence.

If you are not making the most of your social media, you’re missing out on a fast, inexpensive and effective way of reaching almost half the world’s population. Furthermore, social media can help you humanise your brand and build real life connections with your customers. This adds value and trust to your company image and highlights how your customers are benefitting from your brand. As well as building connections with customers and potential customers, social media can also be a great platform for sharing your knowledge and expertise. For example, if you specialise in ‘education branding’, then you can share statistics, insights, articles and much more that show your expertise in this area and attract attention.

Additionally, social media posts and ads are key ways to drive traffic to your website. Sharing great content from your blog or website to your social channels is a great way to get readers as soon as you publish a new post.

Take a look at our social media accounts here:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Linkedin

If you are interested in focusing on your social media presence this year, then please do get in touch using the contact form HERE

5. Plan and choose realistic goals

Did you accomplish all the goals you set for 2018? Did you underperform in some key areas? Are you hoping to do better in 2019?

Everyone wants to set big goals for their business and a new year is a great time to reflect and create new goals. Everybody wants to double their revenue over the next six months, hire 10+ new employees to help them reach new heights. It’s ok to set aspiring goals, but in return you need to be realistic when doing so.

Therefore, if one of your goals this year is to focus on your branding and marketing more, then we can help you set and achieve realistic goals that help you succeed. Following a brand health check, free design consultation, and basically a good old chat, we can offer our solutions and services for you to meet your 2019 goals.

To get started, download our free design guide HERE

And finally: what are you waiting for?

Let’s start today to achieve your business goals.

Fill in our contact form by clicking HERE, use the ref: BLOG in the subject title

networking | blog

And finally, what are you waiting for?

Let’s start today to achieve your business goals.