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10 ways your SME can get the most out of social media

by: Neil Potter on

Are you getting the results you want?
1. Create an editorial calendar. Make a plan of events to write about. Could you relate your SME to Euro 2016 or the Olympics to create extra buzz?
2. Try the 80/20 principle. Twitter says 80% of company posts should drive interaction like retweeting and shares. Only 20% of output should directly promote.

3. Use eye-catching images. According to Stone Temple, images can increase the number of retweets you get fourfold.

4. Choose the best times. Peak time to tweet is 12-1pm worldwide. Avoid, as your message will get bumped from feeds quicker.

5. Have a designated social media expert. Ensures a consistent tone of voice. Putting someone in charge of your online brand persona needs careful consideration.
6. Hold Q&As with followers. Have some answers prepared in advance and use a specific Q&A hashtag.

7. Test what’s working. Software like Google Analytics shows how text, images or links affect traffic.

8. Geo-locate new customers. Social networks enable you to physically locate existing and potential new customers.

9. Launch a competition. Buffer says 35% of people ‘like’ Facebook pages just to enter competitions.

10. Tell a story. A series of messages leading up to a big event is great drama – creating a beginning, middle and end to a campaign.

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What should the new government do for designers?

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Erika Clegg, co-founder, Spring

“Having cut the deficit, Britain is in an increasingly strong position and it’s a course worth holding. Britain is famed worldwide for its inventiveness and creative edge: those characteristics underpin economic growth nationwide, not just in our own sector, and I would like to see them properly quantified and nurtured. The combination of a strong government and highly vocal organisations – the DBA, CIF and LEPs, for example – empowered to advocate for and act on behalf of their own constituents, gives us power as a nation. It is also crucial that the Government fosters interaction between business and schools: this will help to shape the next generation of British talent.”

Graham Shearsby, executive creative director, Design Bridge
Graham Shearsby, executive creative director, Design Bridge

“The Government is thankfully now acknowledging the UK design industry’s global reputation and influence, and indeed the huge contribution it makes to the coffers of the country. We have an inherent natural talent and are acknowledged as world leaders, so why are we not putting creative education at the heart of the curriculum instead of marginalising it?  Around the world, global investment and enthusiasm in creative education is actually rising rapidly, so why is ours being strangled? I am looking for the Government to seriously rethink the current National Curriculum and support, encourage and nurture our future generation of creative talent at this critical early stage of their lives – just imagine what we could achieve then.”

Mark Bonner, founder, GBH and president D&AD
Mark Bonner, founder, GBH and president D&AD

“The UK is in a race to compete with emerging economies, driven by fear. Our government believes that we need more academics – and we need them fast. The solution? STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. It’s Nicky Morgan’s deft rebrand of Gove’s hugely unpopular EBacc proposals – an educational policy which sidelines the creative subjects for ‘more’ academic qualifications – and which the creative industry believed was defeated in 2012.

Well, EBacc is back – like a recurring nightmare – only now its called STEM. Just what kind of grey future are we designing? I believe creativity is the very DNA of a successful economic future for the UK. The creative skillset should be thought of as a fundamental partner to each STEM subject, as bonding pairs, not as either/or enemies of academia. How will our young people make leaps, think laterally and problem solve without creativity? This is not about right versus left brain, this is an opportunity for national, ‘one brain’ thinking.

STEM needs to evolve into STEAM fast, Mr Cameron. A is for The Arts: fundamental to our nation’s economic future. The Conservative vision for the UK’s education is a myopic one where creativity makes way for more academic achievements. We need a government that believes in a future where creative ability can be amplified by education, regardless of privilege.”

Margaret Manning, group CEO, Reading Room
Margaret Manning, group CEO, Reading Room

“The British Government, and particularly the UKTI, has been hugely successful in promoting the export of British design. I would ask that this assistance to UK design businesses is continued with a strong emphasis on support for the entrepreneurial talents of our design community. This will directly contribute positively to the UK economy. In addition, with the booming landscape of digital, it should recognise that design and design-thinking are every bit as important as the STEM subjects. I’d like to see further recognition and promotion of the innovative companies who successfully mix design and technology to produce digital excellence. The UK is a key international financial centre – it could, and should, be a key international digital centre of excellence.”

Patricia van den Akker, director, The Design Trust
Patricia van den Akker, director, The Design Trust

“Many designers are freelancing soletraders or run very small agencies, and instead of just creating policy for big businesses the new Government should start investing more in these microbusinesses, who make a huge contribution to the UK economy. 95 per cent of all businesses are very small but very few are profitable, with very little government research and knowledge available (see last year’s EU VAT Moss debacle). They need a bigger say in government, HMRC needs to communicate better to them, and they need practical support such as tax breaks, help with childcare costs, equal access to pensions, and decent broadband across the UK to run online businesses.”

Font elections – the results are in…

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The Green Party has come out as overwhelming winner in a poll to find out which political party font people would vote for.

Designer Sarah Hyndman has conducted a survey to find out how people react to the typefaces from the major national party political logos.

Hyndman has recently published book The Type Taster, which looks at the emotional reactions that people have to typefaces and how fonts can have their own “personalities”.

For this new survey, Hyndman has asked respondents to rank the party typefaces on reliability, honesty, positivity and other criteria.


All typefaces and parties are anonymous in the survey, which is open to both designers and those without typographic experience.

The Green Party is currently leading the poll with its Thesis Sans font, which has picked up 36 per cent of the overall vote. Respondents described the typeface as “solid and reliable”, and “not too grabby and bold”.

Labour (Paralucent) comes second with 21 per cent of the vote; the Tories (Lucida Sans) are third with 18 per cent; the Lib Dems (FF Advent) are fourth with 15 per cent and UKIP (Univers bold extended upper case) are fourth with 10 per cent.

People responding to the survey described Labour’s typeface as “light and positive” and “playful” and the Conservatives’ as “strong and confident” and “not too fancy”.

The Lib Dems’ font was described as “Clean and clear” and “more open for honesty”, while UKIP’s was criticised for being “a bit aggressive”, “desperate” and “angry”.


The political typeface survey is still open for responses at www.surveymonkey.com.

Design Week also asked a panel of designers to analyse the major political party logos. You can read what they said here.

We also asked all the major political parties to tell us what they would do for designers: you can read their responses here. Meanwhile in this piece we analyse the parties’ manifestoes to find out what they are promising the design industry.

Mobile network giffgaff launches new “digital noise” identity

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Echo Brand Design has rebranded mobile network giffgaff, with the aim of creating an identity that is community-based rather than corporate, says the consultancy’s creative director Maren Steffens.

The new design is multi-coloured, and has “digitilised” and “future-proofed” the previous pixel design that has been used by giffgaff since it launched in 2009, she says.

Steffens says of the new “digital noise” design: “We’ve created pixels that make the design look like it is constantly moving. Even in print form, it has that dimension to it.”

She adds: “Its behaviour as an identity is quite unique – it constantly changes, unlike the corporate world of having one colour.

“Giffgaff is a brand on the pulse of changing and evolving and the community stands at the forefront of it, so the design has a range of personalities. It was very much created with the members in mind.”

Charlie Smith, giffgaff brand manager, says: “Our network is run by our members, so it’s important that we give them a brand that supports their efforts – the digital noise identity is designed to resonate with our target audience and be remembered.”

The lettering of the logo was generally retained, but the consultancy “refined and reinvented its role and expression,” says Steffens.

The brand refresh includes digital and print collateral. This accompanies a new “one-size-fits-all” triple SIM design, which was inspired by a member idea and which intends to help reduce waste, and video content such as the new design for E4’s giffgaff-sponsored idents.

Echo Brand Design was invited to undertake the project after previously completing work for the mobile network. The brand refresh took six months to complete.


Branding for start-ups – why it’s deeper than just clever packaging

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Design consultancies love working with start-ups because they’re energised, innovative and bursting with potential. There’s everything to play for. And we can make a huge difference to their future, which is rewarding for everyone.

Entrepreneurs are of course passionate about their product. Last month I met some food start-ups at Enterprise Nation’s Food Exchange event. There were people brandishing weird and wonderful sauces, snacks, and drinks, many fresh from the kitchen at home and at the beginning of their journey. It’s impossible not to admire these people’s skill, dedication and belief in their product.

For a lot of start-up businesses like this, packaging will be the key expression of the brand – but branding itself is far deeper than simply a nice pack.

Brand energy

To create a successful brand, a great product is a must. But a brand is not based on product alone. A brand is bigger than that: it’s an attitude, a personality, a particular energy, and an experience. In the early days, it’s what gives your product presence in a room and invites retailers and consumers to give it a try.

Packaging for the London Chocolate Company
Packaging for the London Chocolate Company

Jay Rawal founded the London Chocolate Company and describes its guiding philosophy as “fun”, something that differentiates the brand from serious chocolatiers.

I find it helpful to think of the brand as a person and the packaging and communications as their clothes. So, while the essential personality traits stay the same, the brand can dress up or down for different occasions and keep up with trends too. If you’re clear about who your brand is, dressing it becomes much easier.

Brand assets

Imagine a poster for your product with the product completely absent. Instead, consider: What’s your brand’s motto? What’s your advice for customers? How can you show that you understand them? How can you make them smile?

All brands need a range of images and messages over and above the product and its packaging. They’re called “assets”, and for a good reason: they’re a hugely valuable part of your business. You’ll need digital communications and point of sale advertising that offer more than simply a repeat of the label. And you’ll need a design concept that can adapt with the seasons and across new variants while staying true to the brand. Retailers like Joules and Starbucks constantly create fresh content around their core theme to bring a whole lifestyle to life.

All of this stems from the core energy of the brand, so it’s more than helpful to capture this in a set of values or a brand narrative.

Packaging for Moral Fibre
Packaging for Moral Fibre Food

Jenny Moloney, founder of Moral Fibre Food, worked with young designers Dan Carroll and Owen Evans. She says they captured the personality of her brand – strength, innovation and quality – through working collaboratively to explore market segmentation and brand identity.

Brand narrative

Consultancies often liken the branding process to coaching or therapy in that we offer an outside view to help structure your thoughts. An entrepreneur pitches their product to people from day one, starting with their partner, family and friends. We listen and question but also challenge and develop that pitch.

More often than not, a brand’s ethos evolves directly from its owner. As things grow in complexity, the narrative needs writing down – and stress-testing. It’s important to look at where your brand sits in relation to the competition, and how you can draw on trends that might be happening in other categories too.

Bear in mind that it’s not just about the visuals. If you are launching a tangible product, you’re inevitably launching some sort of intangible service too. (And vice versa. Notice how brokers of intangible insurance services have create tangible products in the shape of meerkats and robot toys.) So, as a food brand you do need to think about experiences: in-store, online, customer service, events and promotions. Savvy consumers don’t buy into brands purely on face value so experiences are hugely important ways to connect with customers and make an impression. Your brand narrative can shape them all.

Insight and innovation

The single most important thing that will drive your branding is your understanding of your audience. Who are they? What do they think? What do they need? It’s much better to have a defined niche proposition than to target ‘everyone’. Never target everyone. The pond may be smaller, but once customers discover you they’ll love you and tell all their like-minded friends too. Simple things like how you bundle your product or present it as a gift or an experience, depending on the needs of your market, can make all the difference.

Return on investment

Business owners are quite rightly anxious about the cost of branding. But, with so much invested already, can you really afford not to do it properly? Jane Stammers of Tipple Tails makes rich fruitcakes packaged in tins, so that they work perfectly as gifts. She told me that she was acutely aware how important branding was from the start and made the decision to invest a good chunk of her start up budget in the branding and packaging designed by Tonik.

What the Tories are promising the design industry

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The manifesto pledges

  • The Conservative Party Manifesto hailed the UK’s creative industries as Britain’s fastest-growing economic sector, contributing nearly £77 billion a year.
  • The Conservatives say they will continue to support the creative sector through tax reliefs such as tax credits for children’s television and will aim to protect intellectual property and tackle piracy.
  • The party says it plans to invest more than £100 billion in infrastructure over the next parliament – with £790m million going to extending superfast broadband to rural areas.
  • With regards to business, the Conservatives promise “the most competitive business tax regime in the G20” and point to their moves to cut corporation tax from 28 to 20 per cent and extend by 100 per cent the Small Business Tax Rate Relief. The party says it will conduct a “major review” of business rates by the end of the year to ensure that “by 2017 they properly reflect the structure of our modern economy”.
  • For small businesses, the Conservatives say they will treble the Start Up Loans programme and aim for small businesses to receive one-third of central Government procurement contracts.
  • The party also pledges to bring in a Small Business Conciliation Service, to mediate in disputes such as late payment.

The statement

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy under the last administration, told Design Week:

“Design is one of our most accessible creative industries. It impacts on our daily lives in so many ways  – from the transport we take, to the cutlery we use to the clothes we wear. The UK is a world leader in design. The Monocle Survey on soft power, which is about a nation’s power in terms of creative things and innovation, put Britain at number one.

Latest figures show the design sector has been one of the highest performing under [the previous] Conservative-led government. In 2013, 177,000 people in the creative economy were employed in design and designer fashion, up by almost a fifth from 2011. Even more impressively, this group had the largest percentage increase in employment in the creative industries in the same period.

It gets better.

The Gross Value Added (GVA) for the design sector was around £3.1bn in 2013, and observed the largest GVA increase (+28%) of all creative industry sectors from 2012-2013.

Government takes design seriously. In 2013 our single domain GOV.UK won the coveted Design Museum Design of the Year Award. The team behind this, the Government Digital Service, is estimated to make savings of £1.7bn a year by making all Government services digital by default. Building on this success, we’re increasing digital capability across government and hiring designers in many other departments, something a future Conservative government would seek to build upon.

On skills, we have announced £20m to match industry investment for creative industry skills, which will assist in the development of the designers of the future. The funding will come through the Employer Ownership of Skills pilot following a successful bid by creative industry employers led by Channel 4 and skills organisation Creative Skillset.

Our commitment to the design sector is clear. While these figures paint an encouraging picture, we cannot be complacent. We can only continue to have a robust design sector with a strong economy and a long-term economic plan – something only the Conservatives can offer.”

The Chancellor’s views

Talking to Design Week last year, former Chancellor George Osborne told us: “[Design is] a very diverse sector with diverse issues – there isn’t a single instrument you can use to tackle them.

“We’ve been able to support design and the creative industries through various mechanisms such as tax credits and initiatives such as with the Design Museum [which will be able to open its permanent collection to the public for free]. We also want to make sure that design is a part of the learning environment – we want to recognise that Britain has a particular talent for design.”

What Labour would have done

The Labour party had made a concerted effort to court the creative industries vote, with former Labour leader Ed Miliband promising to put art and creativity “at the heart” of a future Labour government.

Among the pledges Labour made were:

  • To establish a committee for art, culture and creativity that would report directly to the Prime Minister. This would comprise practitioners and decision-makers from across the country.
  • An overhaul of the creative education system to make creative subjects central to school rankings. Miliband said: “Under a Labour Government we will build the need for creative education into Ofsted inspections.”
  • The Labour manifesto described creativity as “the powerhouse of a prosperous economy” and featured pledges to increase the number of apprenticeships in the creative industries and to “guarantee a universal entitlement to a creative education” for children.