Rare as unicorn sh*t

Today I found out I am a unicorn.

No, I’m not prancing around in rainbows and glitter. I am a Graphic Designer, and it seems, not many people understand what we do, and the ones who do are as rare as the proverbial.

I have had an online business directory try and sign me up for a week or so. I was interested in hearing how I could gain business from the business directory. The conversation about the best category for my company to feature in came up quite quickly. The directory rep knew precisely where to put me, under web design. I don’t design websites.

I explained that I’m a Graphic Designer. I design logos, brochures, exhibition graphics, reports, in fact, anything that is visually engaging and falls within a companies marketing.

After a bit of digging, and establishing I don’t make large relief signs that go on the outside of buildings, or laser cut out logos to go on display or do PR, or print brochures, it was clear there was nowhere on this directory for me.

Of course, this isn’t the first time, and I am sure won’t be the last time, someone doesn’t understand what Graphic Designers do. Want a brochure: go to a printer; want some leaflets doing speak to a photographer (yes this has happened); need a logo, ask your friend’s mum who did a good drawing of your neighbours cat (yes, and this one!).

So, what do Graphic Designers do?

In short, we take information and through magic (and graphic design skills), present the information, in an attractive, easier to digest, memorable way. We present companies and brands visually, so their customers can understand their offering. We make sure important information is easily digestible, so the public is informed and not confused, whether that be a public health leaflet, or signage (in a legible font) to get you somewhere.

In short, if you need anything for your business that falls under marketing, speak to a Graphic Designer first. Once they have designed what you need, they WILL know the Printer; the Web Developer; the Signage company; the Photographer; the Videographer; the Exhibition Builder; the Marketer to write your marketing strategy in the first place; and the PR person to shout about how the campaign rolled out.

You will save yourself lots of time, and hey, you might spot a unicorn!

1st impressions count…

Yes, they really do! It’s such an old cliché, but I just can’t ignore it, and neither should you.

Let’s consider a scenario. You’ve just walked into an exhibition centre filled with hundreds of stands. The businesses there will have spent varied amounts of money depending on the size of their budgets. Nevertheless, regardless of how much money a company has to spend, they can all achieve that magical first impression ‘spark’ with plenty of thought and planning into how they want their stand to look. You don’t need to spend thousands and thousands to attract your target audience, but what you do need is a clear and consistent brand identity.

In fact, some companies spend lots of money and still manage to ‘get it wrong’ by not having a clear, crisp brand identity across their stand and all of their marketing collateral, such as brochures and flyers.

So, think back to the idea at the start of walking into the exhibition centre: Which stands are people stopping to look at, but they move on? Which stands are being ignored as if they don’t exist? Which stands are attracting and retaining the most traffic? Now consider – why?

If stands have boards that are just too ‘word-heavy’, no one will want to stand and read through it all. Less is more when it comes to content. Just have enough text to attract your audience to your stand. Once you start to talk to people, then they can learn more about you, and take a brochure away to read at their leisure.

Consider your logo, typeface, colours – do they ‘speak’ the message of your brand identity? As I mentioned earlier, your brand identity should be clear and consistent across the whole of your stand. Do your staff know your visions, values, and ethos? Are they clear about the company identity? Everyone needs to be giving a consistent company message to the visitors to your stand.

The use of a video to engage your audience is really beneficial. As well as attracting them to your stand, it can keep them there for a few minutes longer. It’s also helpful if you’re busy talking to other visitors, as people watching a video are more likely to wait for you to finish rather than walk away, as they are being entertained and informed.

Check your brand identity is consistent across your internal communications. This seems obvious, but many companies spend thousands and just forget about this. At the stand you may tell a potential client that you will email them a piece of information they are looking for – it will look pretty awful if the ‘old logo’ is in the email!

Please do ‘sweat the small stuff’: you never know who you are going to meet on your stand.

It could be your biggest customer ever!

The Importance of Planning Ahead…

…with event season coming up time to plan exhibition graphics and ‘giveaways.’

I know, you’ve just dragged the Christmas tree down from the attic (unless it’s a real one, of course), and carefully arranged all your twinkling lights – but believe me, you need to keep the exhibition season still sizzling away in your mind.

Why? Because ideally, you should be planning your exhibition a few months before it happens. “Seems a bit much!” I hear you cry. Well, let me explain:

Like anything in life, the more you ‘put in’, the more you ‘get out’. Yes, it’s a bit of a cliché, but you know what, it’s true!

Firstly, start to think about setting yourself a realistic goal, or objective, for the exhibition. It could be, for instance, raising brand awareness or finding new leads. You can do that one sitting on the sofa after your Christmas lunch.

Don’t give yourself too many goals, as you should measure them during and after the exhibition, to see how successful the event has been, and whether it was worth the amount of money you invested in it. It is easier to do when the objectives are ‘small steps’, as they will give you a clearer picture, and something you can build on.

Next, you need to be contacting existing customers and potential prospects, whether that’s by email, phone, social media, or direct mailing, and so on. Do all of the platforms you use (and your letterheads, etc.) carry a consistent logo, colour schemes and fonts? What are you going to send them? Aha! You need flyers or brochures…and you may as well have more designed and printed ready for the exhibition stand, as you will need lots of them!

Now, you’re starting to plan ahead, aren’t you?

Your design for the stand will also need to be consistent with your company branding – note to self: all branding needs to be absolutely ‘correct’.

First things first – how much is your budget? How much do you ‘want’ to spend?

There are many types of stands out there, from pop-ups & pull-up banners to bespoke stands, choose something that suits your company vision, values and ethos, as well as your budget.

Make it as eye-catching as you can to ensure you stand out from your competitors.

We once had people queuing to get on a client’s stand that we had designed, it didn’t cost them a fortune either. Ask yourself: what would make a potential client stop and talk to me?

So, while you’re munching another mince pie this Christmas, planning ahead may sound like a huge undertaking, but it’s more than worth doing as your exhibition will run like a dream.

Inspirational Spaces

Last week I met a potential client to talk about their rebrand. We met at what I thought would be serviced offices at East Midlands Airport. How wrong was I.

As I walked into the reception of the building, I was blown away. It was light, bright and airy and the graphics were brilliant. I was confused. Was I meeting this client at another design agency? No, this was accountancy firm, PKF Cooper Parry.

I was given a brief tour, themed rooms: one with trees and a swing! One with space hoppers and bean bags. Acoustic pods for more intimate meetings. Hot desking. A lawn, and a pub with a pool table.

The atmosphere was great, relaxed but industrious. I was really jealous what an amazing place to work.

After a bit of digging I found out the branding was done by: www.stevenoss.co.uk so credit to him. Great job. And the office was designed by: Paragon Interiors.

I think I told everyone I spoke to that week about this place.

If you get a chance, go and have a look. And with such an inspirational working space open to their clients, you might even change your accountant!

Scottish Win!

We’ve won an award! And it’s one we didn’t have to pay money to enter. Brilliant!

Recently we started working with a film production company, Tinker Taylor, to help them distribute a set of films they had produced for the Scottish Police Federation.

The films aim to make people aware of how challenging the role of a police officer is in Scotland. Leading up the the Scottish referendum it is even more important to try and make sure that police services are not lost in any budget cuts.

Our role was to help Tinker Taylor distribute the films across a series of party conferences.

We did this by creating a set of brand guidelines for the SPF which could be applied across print and web. We then designed press adverts, leaflets and some exhibition stands. One of the stands was a modular stand, which could be used in 4 different formations to fit in the different spaces booked at the conferences…

 

It was important that the stand was eye catching, yet didn’t detract from the main event, the films. The system was one we sourced from Open Exhibitions. A really solid, stand which slotted together really easily.

We then created some pop up stands for the conference fringe events…

 

These stands are fantastic value, again easy to install and very very portable.

Read the testimonial from Tinker Taylor here.

View the fantastic films that Tinker Taylor created here: http://www.itswhatwedo.org.uk