Template Title

Marketing Matchmaker

by: Neil Potter on

How do you choose between online and offline marketing activities when working out your marketing plan? The answer is simple: A combination of both will work better than one by itself.

Online and offline marketing activities both have their own individual benefits, but communicating with your customers in more than one way is the best option for getting the most return on your marketing investment.

Like all the best couples; ‘Wills & Kate’, ‘Brangelina’, ‘Kimye’, your marketing activities can have more impact when combined with a complementary partner.

Introducing the ‘Marketing Matchmaker’. A simple guide to help you determine which activities go hand in hand. This month, we have three online contenders all looking for their offline marketing match.

Designing “with and not for” people with autism

by: Neil Potter on

click here

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 14.52.01

Blue State Digital has co-designed Ambitious About Autism’s new website by working directly with young people who have Autism.

Ambitious About Autism is a charity which offers education and support, raises awareness and is involved in campaigning and lobbying.

BSD has designed the site “with and not for” young people with autism and has looked to “not just tick the accessibility box” but “fully embrace all users”, according to BSD senior account director Ali Walker.

“Although there are other autism charities they don’t really give support to young people with autism or their parents,” says Walker. She describes the Ambitious About Autism as a “disruptive brand”, which is looking to enact change and offer support.

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 14.52.32

The previous site engaged a small active community, but a need was identified to drive further, broader engagement and increase fundraising according to Walker who says BSD was appointed in February last year to this end.

The consultancy has taken an “action-orientated approach”, which means encouraging people who use the site to take increasing levels of action and to become more involved.

Walker calls this “moving up the ladder of engagement”, a process which encourages people to become advocates, supporters and donors.

“Many parents are time strapped and cash-poor so they are not in a position to donate but they are building brand awareness and will drive fundraising in the future.”

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 14.55.37

One of the key sections of the site is My Voice, a forum section co-designed with and directed towards young people. Parents have also been engaged. My voice will be “an authoritative voice”.

A strong voice will be garnered through structured debate, led by stakeholders and by including the voices of the charity’s Young Patrons –who attend party conferences, meet MPs and campaign.

“There are separate forums for adults and young people. There’ll be web chats and organised things like Google Hangouts. It’s aimed at 16- to 24-year-olds and will tackle problems like employment as many young people feel they have been left on their own without advice or a voice.”

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 14.53.05

A new topic-based “About autism” section has been created and is geared to accessing information quickly. It also integrates with the forums.

“The whole process is about lowering the barriers and increasing engagement,” says Walker.

NASA seeks design concepts for 3D-printed “Space homes”

by: on

NASA has launched a competition to develop 3D-printed habitations for deep Space exploration, that could be built using extra-terrestrial materials.

Two $1.1 million (£700,000) top prizes are on offer in the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, which is being run in conjunction with the US National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

NASA says the competition is intended to “ advance the additive construction technology needed to create sustainable housing solutions for Earth and beyond”.

The organisation adds: “Shelter is among the most basic and crucial human needs, but packing enough materials and equipment to build a habitat on a distant planet would take up valuable cargo space that could be used for other life-sustaining provisions.

“The ability to manufacture a habitat using indigenous materials, combined with material that would otherwise be waste from the spacecraft, would be invaluable.”

The competition is split into two phases. The first phase calls for architectural concepts for habitations which use 3D-printed techniques. The deadline is 27 September and a prize of $50,000 (£32,000) is on offer.

The competition’s second phase is split into two parts. One focuses on the fabrication techniques needed to manufacture the habitations and the second challenges designers to fabricate full-scale habitats. These carry awards of $1.1 million (£700,000) each. This phase of the competition will launch in September.

NASA Centennial Challenges programme manager Sam Ortega says: “”The future possibilities for 3-D printing are inspiring, and the technology is extremely important to deep space exploration.

“This challenge definitely raises the bar from what we are currently capable of, and we are excited to see what the maker community does with it.”

What should the new government do for designers?

by: on

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…

by: on

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.

Clerkenwell Design Week – the highlights

by: on


This year’s Clerkenwell Design Week will feature a series of talks, events and exhibitions covering all aspects of design.

The fifth edition of CDW runs at a series of venues around the London district of Clerkenwell from 19-21 May.

As part of the CDW talks programme, Design Week editor Angus Montgomery will be chairing a session entitled “The people vs graphic design” which will look at design in public spaces and also at perceptions of graphic design as a discipline.

The session features panellists Jonathan Barnbrook, Tony Brook, Jim Sutherland, Sarah Hyndman and Patrick Myles and has been organised by Monotype.

The free talk will be held at the Farmiloe Building at midday on 19 May. To reserve a ticket visit www.clerkenwelldesignweek.com.

Other speakers at CDW include Sebastian Conran, Patrizia Moroso, Morag Myerscough and Bethan Grey.

Monotype is also presenting its WordPlay installation as part of CDW. This will see local designers create installations around Clerkenwell – with seven words set in seven different Monotype typefaces.

Other installations include The Invisible Store of Happiness – a 3m-high wooden sculpture created by Sebastian Cox and Laura Ellen Bacon – and a multi-coloured glazed pavilion on St John’s Square, designed by architect Cousins & Cousins.

There will also be a series of open showrooms around Clerkenwell and an exhibition at the Farmiloe Building’s Design Factory, which will showcase work from brands including Anglepoise, Benchmark and Thonet.

Clerkenwell Design Week runs from 19-21 May at venues around Clerkenwell, London. For more information visit www.clerkenwelldesignweek.com.

Mobile network giffgaff launches new “digital noise” identity

by: on

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

by: on

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.

How to Easily Personalise Canvas Prints Online

by: on

You’ve probably admired box canvas prints in a gallery or expensive retailer. Now get the studio look with a printed canvas. We’ll print your design – a photo, illustration or signage – then tension it over a wooden frame and attach it to the rear for a neat professional image. Available in a range of sizes and guaranteed to brighten up any wall.

Framed Canvas Prints make great gifts for the whole family – simply add their favourite photo of the family, a holiday snapshot or memorable moment and watch their faces light up when they unwrap their present.

To get started, search for ''Canvas'' in our library of designs. You can refine your search by selecting colours, canvas size and styles using the menu on the left.


When you’ve found a design you like, click on the green ‘Quick look’ button, which will appear when you move the cursor over the thumbnail, to view a larger preview of the canvas design. If you’re happy with your chosen design, click ‘Edit this Design’ to start personalising your printed canvas design.


Click on the green ‘Edit’ buttons to personalise that part of the canvas. You can change the font, font size or colour using the tools on the right hand size.


To add your photograph, click on the ‘Edit’ button over the existing image and then click on ‘Replace’ on the right which will open up the image replacement options. Go to the ‘Upload an Image from my Computer’ tab, click ‘browse’ and choose and jpg or tiff image on your computer and select ‘upload’.


You’ll get a warning if your photo is too small to be used on the canvas. Images that are stretched bigger may appear pixellated or jagged when printed. Pictures on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks are often too small because they are saved as low resolution. If you’re unsure, get in contact and we can help.

If all of your pictures are too small, you may want to choose a smaller canvas size or choose a design that uses several images to make a collage. This enables you to use smaller pictures.

You can then use the image editor to move, rotate and scale your photograph once it is placed in the design. You can regularly save your design by clicking on the ‘Save’ button at the top right of the editor. Save regularly and come back later if you wish. After you’ve pressed ‘save’, sign in or register so your masterpiece will never get lost. Once you’ve finished editing you can preview the design without the green edit buttons. To place your order click ‘Next Step’.

You’ll be taken to a page to confirm the details of your order, once you are happy with these select ‘Add to Basket’. Checkout securely online and we’ll print your order and deliver it quickly to your door or your local studio.

Skype logo “likely to be confused with Sky”, court rules

by: on


An EU court has ruled that similarities between the Skype and Sky logos mean there is a “likelihood” the two will be confused.

The decision by the General Court of the European Union means that Skype is unable to register its logo as a trademark.

Skype has been trying to register its identity as a trademark since 2004, but has been opposed by Sky, which claims that there is a “likelihood of confusion” between the two marks. The EU Court has now upheld Sky’s position.

In its ruling, the court noted similarities between the pronunciations of the words Skype and Sky and added that the Skype logo design did little to distinguish the two words from each other.

In a statement, the court said: “The fact that, in the figurative sign applied for, the word element ‘skype’ is surrounded by a jagged border in the shape of a cloud or a bubble does not affect the average degree of visual, phonetic and conceptual similarity.

“Visually, the figurative element does no more than highlight the word element and is, therefore, perceived as a mere border.”

A spokesperson for Sky says: “Sky notes today’s decision from the General Court of the European Union. This relates to a long-running dispute with Skype over the extension of its trademark applications to cover a broad range of goods and services that overlap with Sky’s own trademark registrations (including, but not limited to, TV related products and services).

“Our intention has been to protect the Sky brand with our research showing that similarities in name and logo have the potential to confuse customers.”

Skype is reportedly planning to appeal the decision and has the option of bringing an appeal to the European Court of Justice.