Journal

The Benefits of a Responsive Website Design

What do you do if a website takes ages to load or looks odd on your smartphone? 

The average consumer clicks away in less than a couple of seconds if a website doesn’t render well on the device they’re using. Seems hasty, but in reality, people are busy and they’ll go elsewhere if the user experience is terrible.

So, if this is your website, you’ve just said goodbye to several customers. Not only that, but search engines also favour responsive web design. If it’s underperforming, you could be sinking down the rankings too.

Websites should work as expected across all devices. Plus, with mobile web traffic making up over half of traffic globally, responsive web design is a must for all businesses. 

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of optimising your site.

Mobile-first search rankings

Search engines are moving into the ‘mobile-first’ realm. This means algorithms rank based on responsiveness and good user experience (among other factors).

To move up the ranks, a website should be optimised for mobile traffic. Plus, work seamlessly across other devices such as tablets, laptops and desktop computers.

Improved user experience

Customers want to shop from a smartphone or desktop in the same way. Responsive web design brings speed, ease of navigation and good user experience to all devices.

An improved user experience also encourages customer loyalty and boosts conversions.

Lower bounce rate

Bounce rate is an important metric to monitor. High bounce rates can indicate numerous things, including poor customer experience.

You may have the exact products everyone wants or great content. However, people will click away if your website is hard to navigate.

Responsive website design can help lower bounce rates with optimised design and functionality.

Faster website loading times

Page speed can make or break the online shopping experience. If your website struggles to load, customers are unlikely to wait. And they might not return.

Using responsive design on your website provides faster loading speeds. In addition, improving page speed is a positive ranking factor in search engines which can also boost where you appear in results.

Easy to manage

Gone are the days of needing a main website and a separate mobile version. Instead, responsive websites are developed and optimised across all devices, saving time when managing and maintaining the site.

Consolidated reporting

One website makes reporting simpler as everything is in one place. You can use analytics tools to identify traffic from different devices. 

Information is also available on conversion paths and user journeys to help you further track and optimise the user experience.

Do you have a responsive website?

Curious about how responsive web design could benefit your business? At BGN, our designers are experts in crafting creative and optimised websites that influence your customers. 

As a leading website design agency in Manchester, we are also on hand to guide you on branding and campaigns that stand out in the market. Contact us to get started.

Best Creative Website Design Tips For An Ecommerce Site

Online shopping experiences should be simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, we’ve all had bad ones in the past. 

You know the scenario – search for a product, click through the options on Google. Then face a website bombarding you with messy content, disorganised menus and product pictures that look amateur at best. 

Like all websites, aesthetics are an important part of keeping customers hooked while they browse. And to get those conversions, you need to delve even deeper to ensure you create a hassle-free checkout process.

Read on to learn more about blending creativity with user-friendly website design.

Keep the design simple

Simple and creative often feel like they don’t fit together. But in reality, simple aesthetics offer room for focal features on your website. The main aspects should allow a straightforward user experience. However, two key areas can bring the design to life – colours and typography.

Brand colours

Colour has a surprising effect on emotions and responses. But, that’s not always positive. Too many colours and it’s overwhelming. Try to stick to five or less in your branding and choose shades that complement each other for a positive interaction.

Typography

Of course, if you want people to read your content, it needs to be legible. Consider the typeface style, as this is how customers interpret your brand. Plus, don’t go crazy with lots of different fonts. Try to stick to three or fewer to ensure consistency.

Use high-quality images and videos

Good quality images always boost conversions. Customers want to see the details of what they’re buying. 

To enhance the experience further, incorporate video or 360-degree imagery. Think about the background and aesthetics for your shots. Product photos should be clear and detailed.

Use original design features

There are tons of templates and stock graphics out there. However, a little originality goes a long way. Hire a designer to create brand icons, illustrations and graphics to enhance the visual interpretation of your brand and website.

Utilise the latest web design trends

Every industry recognises trends and the web design world is no different. While not every trend is suitable for every business, some are often easily incorporated.

For example, creative website design trends in 2022 include:

  • Oversized typography
  • Interactive fonts  
  • Collage visuals and graphics
  • Black outlines and bordered buttons
  • Gender-neutral design

Make navigation a focal feature

A website menu is often stuffed in the top or sidebar, and while customers subconsciously know this, why not make finding products even easier? Make navigation more visual, up front and centre.

For example, check out websites such as Etsy and Not On The High Street. You’ll find navigational visuals that take you straight to what you want. Plus, you can switch these up to improve sales in specific product categories or to focus on trending items.

Creative website design ideas that convert

Are you looking to improve your website with exciting and visually creative elements that boost conversions? We can help! Our website design agency in Manchester is on hand to help your business take the next step in ecommerce marketing. Contact us today to find out more.

Top Tips to Gain Customer Insight

Customer insights will give you valuable information on your audience’s behaviours and preferences. By staying in touch with target buyers, you can anticipate and serve their needs, increasing the likelihood of conversion and repurchase. Not sure where to start? Learn how to gain customer insight to boost your brand’s success below.

How to gain customer insight

Ask for customer feedback and input

If you’ve already got a loyal consumer base, put this to good use. Ask your customers for their feedback via tools such as customer sentiment surveys, interviews, reviews or questionnaires. Use the insight gained to develop new product/ service offerings and to inform future marketing campaigns.

This also gives you the chance to learn from any negative feedback, so that you’re constantly adapting and improving as a brand. 

Learn from competitors

Competitors are just as likely to make use of the above tools as you are. Where survey results and industry reports are made available to the public, you can learn all about your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses in relation to your own company. 

Look out for gaps that you feel your organisation can fill and gauge how you can adapt to serve any needs expressed by consumers. By matching your offerings to those missing from other companies, you’re differentiating your brand from others and ensuring that you’re in a unique position to serve customers’ needs.

Use available tools and tech

Your company may already have digital marketing tools like Klaviyo or Mailchimp. In this case, you’ll have access to a wealth of information on customer behaviour and habits. Use the data provided by these tools to segment your audience into more tailored groups and promote products and/or services that they want and need. 

You can also use tools like Google Analytics and social media analytics in order to gain behavioural, demographic and campaign data and insights. Learn from any projects that are performing poorly and adapt accordingly using existing information on customer behaviour.

Perform real-time user testing with A/B tests and see how your consumer base reacts to different elements. For instance, you can try different social post formats, copy and images to see which proves the most popular in terms of engagement. You can then use this customer insight to inform future company decisions and practices.

Keep on top of market research

Market research will typically be conducted by third parties. It can provide valuable insight, delivering key statistics alongside knowledge into customers and markets. If you’re a small brand looking to grow, you may not yet have access to sophisticated tools or a large audience from which to gain valuable customer insights.

Being aware of trends within your industry is therefore critical, as it will help you stay relevant and enable you to identify market gaps that you can use to your advantage.

Get in touch with your audience 

At BGN, we pride ourselves on ranking amongst the top brand consultants in Manchester. By aligning your messaging strategy, visual designs and multichannel communications with target buyer needs, we can help your brand make its mark. 

Discover how we can help you gain customer insight to take your business to the next level by contacting us today. 

How to Define Brand Tonality for Your Business

Brand tonality can make or break your company. That might sound like an overstatement, however, being able to hook consumers in with a relatable and memorable first impression is critical. 

With that in mind, we’ve put together some top tips and tricks to help you define your brand tonality and stand out – even in today’s oversaturated market.

How to establish your brand’s tonality

Brand tonality is not really about what a brand is saying, but how they say it. The character, personality and quality of voice is what distinguishes one brand’s tonality from the rest. So, how should you establish brand tonality?

Identify your own mission statement

Your brand’s tonality needs to reflect your brand’s personality and values. One of the best ways to do so is with a mission statement. This should be concise but clear, as it will shape the culture of your brand and lets potential customers know who you are. 

Your mission statement essentially communicates what you’re all about and why you’re business is relevant to them. It also informs your brand’s tonality – for example, you may not want to come across as too technical or serious, but still want to impart specialist knowledge. Only you know what these ‘dos and don’ts’ are, and it’s useful to distinguish them from the off for a consistent tone across all channels.

Drill down into your audience’s needs

You need to get to know your audience. Use data from analytic tools to drill down into their needs, wants and behaviours. This will give you greater insight into what demographic you’re speaking to, which will inform exactly how you speak to them. 

Maybe you already have a particular customer in mind – this is often called a buyer persona. Who is this person, what kind of content do they consume and how do they prefer to be communicated to? Brainstorm answers to these questions and you’ll start to identify a suitable brand tonality.

Research and replicate your successes

Your brand may well have already produced consumer-facing work. If you have content that’s attracted audiences, it’s worth noting any consistencies. Maybe you use humour to engage people or perhaps it’s specialist knowledge that’s attracted dedicated audiences.

This isn’t to say that you should stick to tired old formats – in fact, your brand’s tonality should be adaptable over time. But you should use insights gained from successful work in order to inform your brand communications moving forward.

Need help with your brand tonality?

As a specialist branding agency in Manchester, BGN are here to help you maximise your brand’s potential. Our talented team will help you find your brand’s tonality by concentrating on the stories that you want to tell – the what, the why and the how.

We care about your success just as much as you do, so why not contact us today to see how we can help?

Exploring The Importance of Graphic Design in Branding

We all know that old saying – a picture is worth a thousand words. These words ring particularly true when it comes to branding. After all, quality graphic design is an integral part of any successful company. 

Think of some of the most successful businesses in the world, from Apple and Barclays to KFC or McDonald’s. What do they all have in common? That they boast immediately recognisable aesthetics that work as placeholders for the products themselves.

The importance of graphic design in branding cannot be overstated. In order to drive the point home, below we’ll break down three reasons why graphic design is a crucial factor in any good branding strategy.

Why graphic design is so important for branding…

1. First impressions

Even if we pretend that they don’t, the truth is that first impressions matter. A customer’s first interaction with your brand is likely to stay with them for the rest of your business relationship. More often than not, that first interaction is purely visual. A customer might be so intrigued by a brand’s logo or website that they immediately decide to check out their products.

Suffice to say, this also works the opposite way. Poor graphic design will inevitably drive your customers away. Would you trust a business with a logo that features a pixelated, generic stock photo? Probably not. Similarly, a slogan using WordArt as a font would likely make your company a laughingstock. 

2. Too long; didn’t read

In Internet slang, “TL;DR” stands for “too long; didn’t read”. It’s basically a way of saying that a piece of text is not worth your time. Memes aside, the popularity of this acronym speaks volumes about our tendency to favour snappy visual cues over elaborate text. 

In the end, humans are visual creatures – so much so that our brains process images a lot faster than words. In fact, according to a study by MIT, the speed at which we identify images is up to 600 times faster than with written text. That means that how you display the things you say is even more important than the things you say. 

3. Create your own visual identity

Brands need faces. Not literal faces, but images and personalities that help to create that special connection with your customers. In marketing, we refer to that collection of visual elements as visual identity. 

For example, Apple uses metallic and minimalistic fonts and designs to convey innovation, straightforwardness and quality. It’s best practice to use a style guide with primary colour palettes and type designs that reflect your company’s values. Over time, this will help you create a recognisable visual identity that will foster strong emotional responses amongst your target audience. 

Start building a unique narrative today

Every business has a story to tell. What really sets successful businesses apart from unsuccessful ones is how they tell it. At BGN, our brand consultants in Manchester understand the importance of graphic design in branding and they can help you to stand out from the herd by creating graphics that convey your company’s message. 

Sound good? Give us a shout to find out about what we can do to build up a refined brand design from scratch. 

What Is The Importance of Integrated Brand Communication?

In today’s over-saturated and fast-evolving marketing environment, it can be easy to lose track of the big picture. As a result, the marketing efforts of too many businesses end up being little more than shots in the dark. 

This directionless approach might work for a while, but it’s bound to let you down in the long term. Trying to build a brand without an integrated communications plan is like trying to win Wimbledon without a tennis racket. Fortunately, there’s an easy way of avoiding this – implementing a strategy based on what we call IBC (Integrated Brand Communication).

In a nutshell, IBC is an all-encompassing strategy that considers all communications activities within the larger context of a company’s brand. Instead of every department being its own little island, IBC encourages integrated communications efforts that have a company’s brand at their core. This means that each team works together with a clear objective in mind. And that objective is to build solid relationships with clients and customers while reinforcing the company’s brand values. 

Read on as we outline three key benefits of Integrated Brand Communication for every kind of business.

 

Advantages of integrated brand communication

1. Improved recognition and trust

There’s no surprise with this one. The only thing that will make your brand stand out from the crowd is its uniqueness. By implementing a uniform way of communicating in every department from Sales to Customer Service, your customers will be able to tell you apart from rival companies. On top of that, you’ll build a higher degree of trust with your target audience as a clear brand voice fosters familiarity. Combined with consistent communication, this is the most effective way to build brand recognition.

2. Clarity

In marketing, avoiding confusion goes a long way. A single, to-the-point message will always be much more effective than lots of different messages. By streamlining your communication efforts, Integrated Brand Communication will bring a sense of coherence to your company. Every message that your brand sends will reinforce and support each other, significantly strengthening your company’s image in the process.

It’s worth clarifying that implementing an IBC strategy does not limit the creation of segmented campaigns for different audiences. Contrary to what sceptics might think, Integrated Brand Communication is not about putting all your eggs in one basket. Instead, every campaign will take the customer back to your company’s core values.

3. Create your own corporate culture

On top of reinforcing relations with your customers, IBC strategies also strengthen the bond between your company and your employees. According to a recent study, 46% of job seekers think that corporate culture is a decisive factor when applying for jobs. By instilling your brand values into your employees, you will provide them with a clear picture of what their role is, where they fit and any opportunities open to them. This is a great way to keep your workforce happy and reduce employee turnover.

Make meaningful connections

As we’ve shown, Integrated Brand Communication can be the key that unlocks your company’s true potential. If you want to build a solid, all-encompassing communications strategy, get in touch with us today. 

Our brand communications agency in Manchester will work in partnership with you to develop a unique voice for your business. 

An Introduction to the Main Elements of Brand Design

Brand design is one of the most important parts of the branding process. Let’s start by defining it. Simply put, brand design is the process of creating a brand’s identity. If you think that sounds easy, think again. All the elements of brand design have to play off each other to convey a unified statement. The twist is that you’re competing against many other companies, all working towards the same goal – to pique a customer’s interest. Designing your brand is your big chance to explain to potential customers why your products and services are better than your competitors’.

In order to attract potential customers, your brand design needs to tell your company’s story in a concise and captivating way. With competition between businesses sharper than ever and attention spans shrinking by the second, it’s never been harder to stand out from the rest. That’s why breaking down brand design to its elementary components is so helpful. By adjusting every aspect of your brand design to your USPs, making that big statement will be a lot easier. 

Read on as we walk you through the main elements of brand design. 

 

Slogan

The history of branding is full of catchy slogans that have left their mark on public consciousness. “Just do it”; “I’m lovin’ it”. “Eat fresh”. Unless you’ve spent your entire life living under a rock, chances are that you’ll know who all these phrases belong to. That’s because the best slogans work as stand-ins for their brands. 

A slogan is much more than a memorable phrase that persuades potential customers to buy a product. It’s a way of defining your brand and showing its personality to the world. It’s not unlike trying to paint a Van Gogh on the world’s smallest canvas. Your slogan needs to encapsulate the uniqueness of your brand in just a few words whilst making a lasting impact on your target audience. 

 

Logo

Think about going to the supermarket to buy groceries. You’ve done it so many times that it has almost become an unconscious process. You walk through the aisles on autopilot, filling your basket with tea, muesli and baked beans. But if you stop and think, you’ll notice that you tend to go for products with logos you immediately recognise. This is because they evoke a sense of familiarity and because you associate them with good quality. You might even try a company’s new product because you know what they stand for. That is the level of trust that a good logo can build up over the years. 

Not even the world’s best slogan could attract customers without a great logo. Arranging images, symbols and words to express the essence and purpose of your company is a crucial part of brand design. 

 

Typography and colour scheme

These two concepts involve the colours and fonts you use in your designs and products. Just like a slogan is nothing without a logo, a logo can’t grab a customer’s attention without a recognisable typography and colour scheme. If a particular colour is known to represent your brand and its values, you’re doing something right. 

Think of Starbucks’s use of green and a stately, no-frills font in white. It evokes healthy, eco-friendly products for busy professionals in desperate need of a caffeine rush. Colour and typography therefore help build brand recognition and instil a sense of professionalism that will make your business seem more credible and trustworthy. 

 

Design your brand with care

Want to nail your brand design but aren’t sure where to start? At BGN, our brand consultants in Manchester will carefully review your business and come up with a brand design that encapsulates your mission statement and values. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help you create a standout brand strategy.

Top Methods to Analyse Your Industry Insight

More often than not, the difference between a successful business and an unsuccessful one is that the latter got its numbers wrong. That’s even truer in the current digital landscape in which we operate. We live in a fast-changing world where trends appear and disappear in just a matter of days. Blink and you might just be left behind!

There is only one way for businesses to cope with constantly fluid trends and ferocious competition – and that is industry insight. By accessing real-time data on consumers and identifying market trends, you’ll be able to tweak your products and services to cater to the needs of your target audience. 

Let’s take a look at how to do it. 

 

Focus groups

A focus group is a research technique where data is gathered after observing a group’s interaction with a certain product or idea. Focus groups can shed light on how your target audience thinks and, most importantly, what they want from your business. But remember, this isn’t some friends getting together and talking over each other. To get the right answers, you’ll need to ask the right questions. 

Usually, a focus group will be presented with a new product and asked what they like and what they don’t about it. This will give you a clear insight of what you’re doing well and what you need to improve. There is only one caveat. Sometimes, participants with more imposing personalities will take over the discussion and effectively dictate what the group thinks. To stop peer pressure from contaminating data, it is recommended to make individual, anonymous polls before the group discussion takes place. That way, everyone’s thoughts will be accurately reflected.

Trend analysis 

Relying solely on focus groups can lead to inaccurate data purely due to small sample size limitations. You need to look at the bigger picture, and there’s only one way to do it – data.

By accessing customer data, you will be able to identify customer trends and adapt your business to improve its chances of success. It will also give you a clearer idea of the demographics of your target audience. This will help you define which groups of people you should target, making your marketing more focused and cost-effective. 

Forecasting

A crucial aspect of building a successful business is to figure out what future trends will be. If you think of some of the biggest companies in the world, you’ll notice a certain pattern. From Apple to McDonald’s, all of them were ahead of the curve at one point when it came to identifying market trends. 

Forecasting is the process of guessing future trends by looking at past and current data. However, this isn’t a matter of luck. It’s all about playing the numbers game – and playing it right. If you want your industry insight to give you an edge over your competitors, you’ll need to rely on genuine data collated by experts. 

Be ahead of the curve with your industry insight

With our strategic approach to industry insight, you’ll never be left in the dark. We’ll start off by digging deep into your company culture and outlining your values and personality. Then, our industry insight experts in Manchester will use your customer data to create a roadmap that takes you through the necessary steps to help your business grow. If you want to cruise past your competitors, give us a shout today and we’ll figure it out together. 

The Most Common Barriers to Business Growth

From pet food and artisan cheese to small-batch whiskey and salon-inspired hair products, the best brands know how to break down barriers to business growth. There’s no one-size fits all approach when it comes to growing your business, but it is worth familiarising yourself with problem areas where lots of enterprises slip up.

Ready to get stuck in? Read on to find out more about how to not just overcome, but completely obliterate four common barriers to business growth.

1. Not leveraging social media 

Love it or hate it, social media is one of the most powerful business growth tools out there. If your brand isn’t leveraging digital platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you’re missing out on huge growth opportunities. Start by ramping up your online presence and posting on a regular basis – weekly at an absolute minimum. When you’ve found your rhythm, you can advance to strategies like paid advertising and partnerships with influencers. Social media can be a difficult realm to navigate and more often than not, it’s worth investing in help from the experts. This leaves you free to focus on other business growth strategies.

 

2. Lack of strategic planning

While some start-ups wax lyrical about overnight success, the truth is that it takes time, effort and a clear-cut strategy to build a brand with staying power. This means you’ll need to invest time into detailing your brand goals and planning how you’re going to achieve them. It’s also worth exploring the values that underpin your brand and why they matter, as this will feed into the marketing materials you create to advertise your business and its offerings.

 

3. Failing to draft a mission statement

A powerful mission statement is one of the best ways to smash barriers to business growth. Short and sweet, your mission statement is a summary of your brand vision and can be used to engage both employees and customers. If you’re ever unsure of how to move forward with your business growth strategy, you can then pivot back to your mission statement for guidance. 

 

4. Disengaged employees 

Whether you run a bricks-and-mortar store, a door-to-door service or a digital empire, employees are the bread and butter of your business. They are the people who engage with your customers daily and have a huge amount of power when it comes to driving business growth. 

With the latest statistics revealing that only 50% of British employees feel engaged and “enthusiastic” about their jobs, chances are there’s room for improvement. Actively listening to employees, recognising and rewarding achievements and offering career development opportunities are just some of the ways top-performing businesses improve engagement ahead of growth.

Grow your business with BGN

With so many growth opportunities out there, there’s no reason for your business to fall short. Get in touch with the BGN team today to discuss how our tailored brand strategy service can help to grow your business from the ground up. With a dedicated team of experts on your side, you can break down the barriers to business growth and take your organisation to new heights.

Initial Stepping Stones in Creating a Vision for Your Business

If you’re starting a new company or going through a rebrand, it’s crucial that you create a clear vision for your business. Put simply, a business vision summarises what you want your business to achieve or become in the future.

It usually takes the form of a vision statement, which outlines a company’s ultimate destination and gives employees direction. A clear business vision will also aid the strategic planning process and help you make decisions with an aim in mind. Keep reading to find out more…

How to create a business vision

Research competitors

When developing your business vision, competitor analysis is a good place to start. Visit the websites of companies you admire and direct competitors to read about their vision and values. How do they present themselves? How are they perceived by others? What is their purpose and what problems do they solve? What are their strengths? Then answer similar foundational questions about your own business.

Brainstorm core values and keywords

Next, consider your core company values. These are what you stand for as a brand and act as guiding principles for employees. You should also come up with a list of keywords relating to your product, mission and goals, that you could use in your vision statement. A brainstorming session with stakeholders and those responsible for implementation is a great way to gather ideas and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Think long-term and dream big

While your business vision needs to be realistically attainable, it can still be bold. After all, this is the overriding goal for your business and the ideal scenario you’re aspiring for if all goes well. Think about where you’d like it to be in 5 or even 10 years’ time. What impact would you like your business to have on your customers, community and industry in the long term? Remember to align your ideas with the core values discussed above.

Draft your vision statement and ask for feedback

It’s now time to draft your vision statement. Start by getting some rough notes down on paper – you can refine them later. Answer important foundational questions about your core purpose and values, add in keywords and be concise. Aim for a paragraph at first and then condense it down into one or two sentences of no more than 35 words. As an example, this is Google’s: “To provide access to the world’s information in one click.”

Finally, get feedback from your colleagues and industry peers to check the statement resonates and that it is easy to understand before sharing it with the entire team.

Need help refining your business vision?

Before you come up with any marketing plans or strategies, you’ll need to define your company’s ultimate goal. If you’re struggling with creating a vision for your business, our Manchester-based brand strategists can help you turn your ideas into a tangible vision statement. Simply email us at info@bgn.agency and we’ll be in touch. 

6 Simple Things You Can Do to Increase Brand Identity

Your brand identity is what differentiates you from the competition. It consists of a distinctive set of elements like logos, typography, colours, packaging and messaging that communicate your company’s mission and values to potential customers.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of a strong brand identity. It tells people what you’re all about and ensures that your business is easily recognisable, no matter where your products or content pops up. Over time, this familiarity builds trust and credibility to ultimately increase your profits.

So how do you increase awareness of your brand identity? Read on to find out…

6 ways to increase your brand identity

Create a memorable logo and a catchy tagline 

Your logo should represent what your company does and what you stand for. Keep it simple using your brand colours, a distinct graphic and a clear font that is scalable.

Catchy taglines are also great for brand recognition, as they stick in people’s minds. They can be tricky to create as you only have a few words to work with, but they are highly effective – think “Every Little Helps” by Tesco.

Engage on social

While you don’t have to be on every social media platform, you should be on the most relevant ones for your company and target audience.

It’s also vital that you don’t just post content without engaging with your followers. Include clear CTAs in your captions, use polls to ask questions and reply to comments. That way, you’ll develop a relationship and appear in their notifications.

Share your story

Your brand is more than just a logo. Sharing the story behind your brand will set you apart from your competitors and create connections with people who can relate to your purpose and aims.

Be authentic and show some personality. Highlight struggles as well as successes, and explain why you feel what you offer is important and benefits for the end user.

Provide value on a regular basis

One of your best promotional tools is email marketing. After all, it’s much easier to sell to existing customers and warm leads than new clients.

As well as promoting your offering, provide value in your mailshots with links to useful blog posts and provide exclusive discounts to reward loyalty and aid satisfaction. Make sure emails are responsive on mobile devices and stick to a regular schedule for better open rates.

Be consistent

Visual consistency helps to build brand recognition and trust. Although your print material may differ from your online assets in terms of format and the copy you include, the colours, theme, fonts and messaging should remain consistent.

Creating a clear set of brand guidelines for designers to refer to, is a great way to ensure a cohesive look and feel throughout your marketing.

Monitor and adapt

Lastly, you should regularly assess and refine your brand identity to remain competitive in the marketplace. Survey your customers to see how they feel about your brand and identify the message you’re giving out – if it’s not what you were aiming for, make some changes to meet your goals.

You should also monitor social media comments and reviews to see what people are saying about your brand, and track the demographics of those who are engaging with you and buying your products, to make sure you’re reaching your target audience.

Need help with your brand identity? 

Strengthening your brand identity is no mean feat. Thankfully, the team at BGN have a wealth of experience building brand identities for clients of all shapes and sizes. Contact our dedicated branding agency in Manchester today and we will guide you through the process step by step. 

A Guide to Making Creative Mood Boards That Will Inspire People

When it comes to building a unique brand identity, it can be difficult to communicate your initial ideas in a way that others can envisage. Mood boards are a great way to organise your ideas visually, creating a reference to aid brand development.

Not sure where to start? Explore our guide to making creative mood boards that will inspire people below.

What is a mood board and why do I need one?

A mood board is a collage of visual elements that represent your brand identity. Elements can include images, text, fabrics, colour swatches and patterns. When combined, they give the viewer a feel for what your brand is all about.

Creative mood boards enable you to share your vision and the attributes you want to convey in a tangible way. They’re often used as a starting point for inspiration when designing websites, marketing assets and graphics for advertising.

Physical vs digital

Mood boards are traditionally physical collages, made by piecing together magazine clippings, fabrics and photos on a foam board. Nowadays, many people opt for a digital mood board with interactive elements such as audio or video clips instead. Though not as tactile, they are more accessible for remote teams.

How to make a mood board – things to include

Images

These may be brand photos, illustrations, stock images or your own photos. If something inspires you. take a photo on your phone and note down your thoughts and feelings to refer back to.

It’s good practice to make several key images the focal point and build ideas around them, to highlight the most important aspects and create a clear theme for the board.

Colours

Colours are a vital part of branding, so the ones you use in your creative mood board should reflect your messaging. Consider the kind of vibe you want to create and what colours would appeal to your target audience. Do they prefer bold or muted colours? Warm shades are more fun, cool tones are more professional. Choose up to five.

Patterns & textures 

Just like colours, patterns and textures (in physical mood boards) also provide insight into the style you’re going for. For example, you may prefer subtle stripes over loud floral patterns, or luxury silk over simple cotton.

Video & audio

From GIFs to YouTube clips, adding interactive elements to a digital mood board can really help to bring your vision to life and give others a sense of what you’re going for.

Text

Carefully chosen words, inspirational quotes and labels explaining your thought process can strengthen the messaging behind your visual elements. You should also consider the fonts you use to display text, as each one has a different connotation.

Refine your brand identity

A mood board is the first step to creating your brand identity. It conveys the essence of your business and creates a springboard for other creative projects.

At BGN, our team of Manchester-based brand consultants will work with you to build your brand identity from the ground up using visual assets that inspire you.

We’ll then use these initial ideas to bring your vision to life, developing clear branding for use throughout your website and marketing materials. Get in touch today to get started.

An Introduction to Building Your Brand on Social Media

Having an up-to-date social media presence is a must nowadays. It shows that your brand is moving with the times and that you’re interested in meeting your customers where they are online. Plus, as a method of two-way communication, social media branding can help to build trust and loyalty.

Want to learn more about building your brand on social media? Read on as we cover several key things to consider when you’re starting out.

How to build your brand on social media

Define your audience and choose platforms accordingly

When it comes to building your brand on social media, remember that you don’t have to be on every platform. In fact, each one has a different audience and you should be focusing on where your potential customers are.

For example, LinkedIn is aimed at business professionals, the majority of Instagram users are under 35 and Facebook is the largest social platform with over 2.85 billion global monthly users. As a result, most brands have a Facebook page at a minimum.

Creating buyer personas based on the demographics of your online customer base will help you choose the right platforms and align your content with your target buyer.

Ensure your branding is consistent

Regardless of how many platforms you’re on, your social media branding needs to be consistent. The colours, fonts and messaging you use on social should also tie in with your website design and offline marketing materials.

As well as creating a professional appearance, cohesive branding makes it easier for people to recognise your brand wherever they come across your content online. Over time, this brand recognition helps to build customer loyalty.

To stay consistent, use your brand logo as your profile picture and make sure your company values are clear throughout your social bios and captions.

Plan what content you’re going to post

When building your brand on social media, you should provide a mix of content that is helpful, shareable and aligned with your business goals. Your posts should also be adapted to suit each platform’s unique features, such as Instagram stories and reels.

Video content is doing particularly well on social at the moment. According to Wyzowl, over 84% of people have been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand video, so you should definitely incorporate video into your plan.

You can create a simple content plan for your posts using a spreadsheet. List the platform, topic, format, copy and media for each post per week. Then, schedule your posts in advance using an online tool such as Later or Sendible to stay on top of posting. We’d also advise leaving room for topical posts as new trends arise.

Get social

Finally, remember to interact and engage with your audience. Responding to as many comments, questions and messages is good customer service and shows that you care about your customers. You should also listen to feedback and use polls for market research to ensure your content is meeting your audience’s needs.

Need help getting started? At BGN, our social media branding experts in Manchester can help you set up new profiles or audit existing ones. Short on time? We can even plan your strategy and manage campaigns for you. Contact us today to learn more.

New LGH Work & Ancoats Digs

Well here we are, July had marked the “official” COVID restriction freedom. Albeit working from home was fun, the novelty soon wore thin.

Like many businesses, from almost every industry, we’re all slowly filtering back in to the office — which leads us to announce, our brand new design studio is soon to be open!

Based in the former Daily Express Building, we’ll have a fresh new set-up right in the heart of Ancoats, Manchester. We’ll be looking forward to welcoming you in, with a proper brew and a new bunch of faces as we’ve grown the team.

Whilst the agency world has generally been quite lucky and has easily adapted during the pandemic, some others not so much, particularly hospitality.

We were recently briefed by our client LGH Hotel Management to create a video announcing their hotels are now back open and ready for bookings. More than keen to help support and get this industry get back on its feet, our in-house animator designed and created an animation to do just that.

With the aim to boost meetings, events and tour bookings in the LGH hotels, which includes the IHG and Best Western, we showcased their fun and bubbly account management team in a short video for LinkedIn.

Watch the video here

3 Ways to Align Your Brand and Influencers for an Authentic Partnership

Social media has transformed the way brands connect with customers, and influencers are at the heart of the revolution. Brand and influencers partnerships can be a powerful way to showcase your products and expand your audience, though to unlock genuine results your approach needs to be strategic and most importantly, authentic. 

Want to know more? Read on as we highlight three ways to align your brand and influencers for an authentic partnership. 

1. Connect and communicate with your influencers

Connecting and communicating with your influencers is one of the best ways to amplify your marketing campaigns. The more an influencer knows about your brand, the better they can align themselves with your unique goals and values. For example, if you’re launching a new ethically made clothing line, it’s not enough to send out samples to influencers and let them do their thing. 

As a brand, you need to take the lead and ensure they have everything they need to genuinely connect with followers and showcase your product in the best possible light. This could mean educating them on the origins of the fabric, how it feels and what makes it so amazing for the British weather. You could also ask your influencer to pepper their posts with evocative words you want to use across your campaign. This will help create continuity across your channels and add to the authenticity of your brand and influencers campaigns. 

2. Take the time to research your potential influencers

When it comes to building authentic partnerships with influencers, it pays to do your research. Start by selecting influencers who share the same values as your brand. While some influencers are out there to score free products and perks, genuine influencers know the value of working with brands that align with their beliefs. 

Another big faux pas is focussing exclusively on imagery and failing to read captions when choosing your brand and influencers partnerships. This sort of tunnel vision can lead to partnerships with influencers who align with your brand on the surface but don’t have any integrity. Taking the time to get to know your pool of influencers before you propose partnerships will help you build meaningful relationships with your brand ambassadors and your customers. 

Pro tip: look for quality over quantity when it comes to followers. Some influencers do a pretty good job of racking up a huge number of followers that don’t necessarily offer much in the way of value. When checking out profiles for your brand and influencers partnership, look at what kinds of comments are being left and if the influencer engages with their followers. Why does this matter? Working with influencers who have a genuine and engaged follower base will drastically improve the impact of your campaign.  

3. Embrace micro-influencers

While big-ticket influencers like the Kardashians have serious social media sway, smaller brands can unlock incredible value from micro-influencers. Unlike their counterparts with 1 million+ followers, micro-influencers can have a big impact when it comes to niche markets and local advertising. For example, a Shropshire-based brand like Belton Farm could gain a huge amount of value by partnering with a “foodie” micro-influencer with a big presence in the North West. 

Remember, influencers have a lot of power but at the end of the day, paid campaigns mean they’re working for you. Don’t be shy about telling influencers what you want and expect from the campaign. 

Augment your influencer campaigns with BGN

Ready to leverage the power of brand and influencers partnerships? Reach out to our team of digital strategists to discuss how to create authentic, results-driven social media campaigns with high-value influencers. Contact us today to learn more. 

3 Things to Consider When Rebranding a Website

Rebranding a website is more than simply giving it a new look. It could include changing your brand and domain name, brand colours, logo, typography, messaging and even reframing the products and services you offer.

With that in mind, you need to consider three key things before starting your website rebrand. This will help with the decision-making process down the line and ensure your new website serves its purpose.

1. What are your goals?

The first step in rebranding a website is goal setting. After all, you need something to aim for before you can plan how to get there. Think about where your brand is right now and where you’d like it to be. What are your brand’s weaknesses in terms of its online presence and how could they be improved? What do you hope to achieve with a rebrand? This could be anything from modernising to repositioning or even crisis recovery.

Outline specific goals and how you’ll gauge success. For example, if you want to improve user experience in order to increase conversion rates, identify the analytics you’ll use to monitor any changes and get some specific targets in mind.

2. What’s working for your competitors?

Your competitors can tell you a lot about your brand and help you identify where you stand in the marketplace. Before you start your website rebrand, take a look at your competitors and other businesses that you admire. Look at how their websites are designed, their brand messaging (the language they use) and positioning (how they’re perceived by others). What are they doing well and what could they improve? Take inspiration, identify your own brand’s USPs and find a gap for your business.

Assessing your competitors will also help you avoid using similar imagery and brand colours for better originality. On top of this, you’ll be able to identify relevant trends and audience values. For example, many brands are now focusing on authenticity, sustainability and functionality, as these are important factors to lots of customers.

3. Who is your audience?

Leading on from the last point, knowing your audience is the key to any successful website rebrand. Your brand needs to tie in with them and the problem they want to solve. Your preparation should therefore include extensive market research, data analysis and the development of a clear customer persona. Look at who is buying from you and interacting with you online. Who are they? What drives them? What do they value? What do they want to know and how easy is it to find on your website?

Once you know who you’re targeting, you can develop your website’s navigation, brand messaging and design elements like suitable colours and fonts, around them.

Bonus consideration

When rebranding your website, the final thing to consider is whether you’re going to use an internal team or hire an external branding agency. A website rebrand is a much bigger task than many expect, with numerous technical and artistic factors to consider.

At BGN, our experienced team of branding specialists can offer expert advice, an outside perspective and a portfolio of proven results. Email us at info@bgn.agency to discuss your project and find out how we can help.

Speaking the Lingo: Branding Terminology You Should Know

Almost every sector you come across will have its own lingo and terminology. Branding is no exception. While some of it is undoubtedly a bit pointless, there are some branding terms that are vital to understanding your own brand, how it works, and how to take it to the next level.

Read on as we look at six of the most important branding terms and what they means…

Image

Brand image is the impression your brand gives to its target audience or customers. It’s how they see, hear and experience your brand. This can be conveyed through advertising, customer service and your products or services, as well as being communicated by simple word of mouth. But it can’t always be controlled by your company.

Identity

Going deeper than brand image, brand identity refers to who you actually are. Why does your company exist? This will typically be conveyed through your mission statement, but it should be present in everything you do. In an ideal world, identity will align with your brand image. Crucially, however, it can be managed and controlled from within.

Architecture 

Brand architecture is how sub-brands are structured within a wider brand. That could be products and services which share the same brand, known as a branded house. Think Coca Cola, Diet Coke and Coca Cola Zero.

Alternatively, you could have several self-contained brands, known as a house of brands. Sprite, Fanta and Schweppes, for example, all owned by Coca Cola.

As you can see with this example, the different types of architecture can overlap and interrelate as brands grow and become more complex.

Equity

As a general term, equity refers to value owned by an individual or business. In branding, it’s about the value your brand adds to your products or services. People are happy to pay more for products from certain brands, simply because of that brand. Why? It could be down to perceived quality, environmental awareness or superior customer service. But it always boils down to brand equity.

USP

One of the most popular branding terms is USP. Short for Unique Selling Proposition or Unique Selling Point, it focuses on one feature of your company, service or product which sets it apart from the competitors. Whatever your USP, it’s important to convey it quickly, clearly and consistently to potential customers.

Awareness

Awareness is a branding term you’ll hear quite a lot. But what exactly does it mean? In short, brand awareness is how many people in your target audience are consciously aware of your brand. Going beyond simply recognising the name (brand recognition), it assesses whether they know your USPs and brand identity.

Getting to grips with branding 

While we’ve covered some of the most important terminology, branding lingo stretches far beyond the terms listed above. If you’re looking to get a better grip on branding, how it works and how to improve it for your company, BGN can help.

From insight and strategy to brand design and onboarding, we specialise in creating and implementing unique, effective brands for companies in almost every sector. Any questions? Don’t hesitate to call our team on 0161 808 4557 or email info@bgn.agency.

What is the Difference Between Branding & Positioning?

Branding and positioning are both important concepts when it comes to building and marketing your brand. But they’re also very closely related, which makes it tricky for some to grasp what exactly they mean.

Fortunately, we’re on hand to clear things up when it comes to branding vs positioning. Read on as we discuss the difference between positioning and branding…

What is branding?

First and foremost, branding is the way you ‘brand’ your business, services or products. By ‘brand’, we mean attaching certain expectations to it. Going back to the most rudimentary uses of the word, farmers would brand their cattle so they could be identified as the owner.

While the process is now much less painful than hot irons, business branding does help consumers identify the owner. But in doing so, they should also be able to make some key associations about that brand.

Quality, reliability, longevity, cost and value, luxury – these are all terms that you might want associated with your brand. In other words, branding creates a reputation.

When they’re well established, these associations become natural and instinctive to consumers. Mention Marks and Spencer and many people will think ‘luxury’ – thanks in part to their ‘Not just food’ campaign. On the other hand, the likes of Lidl and Aldi are will no doubt be associated with low-costs and better value.

What is positioning?

Not completely separate from branding, brand positioning is the process of placing your offering in a distinct position within consumers’ minds. It’s about positioning your brand relative to the existing brands that potential customers think about.

To do so, you need to understand what factors consumers are interested in, what your brand is capable of and what position existing brands occupy. Then it’s a case of finding a gap in the market that consumers will be interested in and that your company is capable of occupying.

To use the example above, Lidl has consciously positioned itself as a cost-effective alternative to the big names like Asda and Tesco. Hence, ‘Big on quality, Lidl on Price’.

Branding vs positioning

So, what is the difference between branding and positioning? And how do they relate? To look at it one way, brand positioning influences branding. The space you want to occupy within the market will no doubt shape what qualities you aim to associate with your brand.

On the flipside, branding is a key part of how your brand is positioned. While positioning is quite conceptual, branding runs deep within a business. Your brand should influence everything from your products and designs to staff onboarding and customer service, which will all contribute to how consumers position you.

Building and positioning your brand

Branding and positioning are both critical factors in the strategy, design and execution of your brand. That’s exactly why they shouldn’t be rushed or overlooked. At BGN, we can help you understand every aspect of branding and positioning to create a solid, well-informed strategy going forward.

To find out more, contact our team today.

4 Ways to Wow Your Customers with Sustainable Packaging Design

Thanks to climate activists like the legendary David Attenborough, people are paying more attention to environmental issues than ever before. This has led to an increased demand for responsibly sourced goods, local produce and recyclable materials amongst British buyers.
As a result, more and more brands are taking steps to transform their offering and align with their customers’ values. Ready to reduce your carbon footprint and wow your customers with sustainable packaging design? Learn how below.

 

Sustainable packaging design ideas

Avoid single use plastic where possible

Studies have found that unless we take action soon, the amount of plastic waste in the ocean could triple by 2040. However, scientists believe that this could be reduced by up to 80% if we reduce plastic production and choose alternative materials.

As a business owner, you should consider whether your product needs to be wrapped in plastic or if a more eco-friendly material would work. If not, try to use 100% recycled plastic packaging or plant-based plastics that are compostable. Bioplastics are also good as they release fewer gases as they break down.

Choose recyclable packaging materials

Instead of plastic, cardboard is a great option when it comes to sustainable packaging design. Not only is cardboard biodegradable and easy for customers to recycle, it’s also usually made from leftover paper pulp to reduce waste.

Corrugated cardboard boxes are strong and sturdy, making them ideal for reuse. Plastic mailers can be replaced with cardboard alternatives and shredded paper scraps can be used to create padding for fragile items.

And, as 54% of consumers actively look for recycling information on packaging, we’d highly recommend printing disposal information onto your chosen box or carton.

Ship items in smaller packages

We’re sure all online shoppers have experienced the frustration of receiving a small item in an oversized box. While cardboard can be recycled, it still takes energy and water to do so. Choosing snug packaging that requires fewer padding materials is better for the environment and more cost-effective for businesses.

Many packaging suppliers also offer samples, so you can try several options to find the smallest box in which your item can be shipped safely. Alternatively, as 74% of consumers are reportedly willing to pay more for a sustainable packaging design, you could also look into more robust, reusable options.

Consider a multi-use packaging design

By far the most innovative sustainable packaging design on this list is multi-use packaging that is designed to be used again. It extends the useful life of the materials used and provides an opportunity for businesses to showcase their creativity.

From refillable glass bottles and candle holders for local suppliers, to cardboard packaging that transforms into children’s toys or storage pots, the possibilities are endless.

Even leading sports brand PUMA has jumped on the band wagon with their Clever Little Bag. Instead of shoeboxes with large lids, they now use a single cardboard tray encased in a fabric sleeve which doubles as a reusable shopping bag, reducing their cardboard production by 65%.

Speak to the experts

Keen to design your own eco-friendly packaging but not sure how to go about it? Our Manchester-based graphic design team can help make your products stand out from the crowd with a custom sustainable packaging design tailored to your unique brand. Contact us today to get the ball rolling.

How to Increase Brand Awareness: 3 Strategies That Work

From repeat purchases to increased sales, there’s no end to the benefits of knowing how to increase brand awareness. Consumers will begin to put their full trust in your brand, building a deeper understanding of your services or products, leading to long-term loyalty and growth for your brand.

Building a strong brand awareness can be tricky, especially for smaller businesses, so if you are wondering how to increase brand awareness, there are a few tried and tested strategies that are proven for boosting perception within your market!

Work with influencers

One of the best ways to increase brand awareness is to create an influencer campaign.

Influencers are figures, often on social media, who already have an established relationship with an audience who puts a lot of trust in their content and is usually incredibly loyal. Engaging with these people is a great way to increase brand awareness, as you’ll have access to a network of people already primed to follow the recommendations of those they aspire to.

Contact influencers within your niche and discuss how they could share your brand with their following! Whether it’s reviewing your product, experiencing your service or merely mentioning you in a post, you’ll immediately be able to expand your reach and begin to build valuable partnerships and increase brand awareness.

However, it is essential to do some detailed research on the credibility, recognition and relevance of the influencers you work with, in order to gain the best results from your influencer marketing strategy.

Sponsorship

Sponsorship is a sure-fire way to get your brand name in front of your target audience and increase brand awareness. You could sponsor a nearby event, exhibition or even a local sports team. No matter what route you go down, it will help your consumers begin to recognise your brand and associate it with things they already value.

The right sponsorship package can get your brand included on anything from flyers and billboards to TV features or radio mentions, which is a great way to increase brand awareness. This can also help you to inject some personality into your brand and align yourself with particular values that can reinforce your brand image.

Use branded packaging materials

The product experience doesn’t commence at the first use, but instead at the unboxing stage! In fact, it is perhaps the most vital step to increase brand awareness.

Branded packaging is a superb way for a business to express themselves and tell a strong visual story through the use of design and graphics. This story can create an emotional connection with the customer that may even leave a more lasting effect than the product itself. This attention to detail can go a long way and is imperative to increase brand awareness in today’s competitive market.

Increase brand awareness today!

Brand awareness won’t simply build overnight. It requires consistency, dedication and plenty of creativity.

If you’re looking to increase brand awareness for your business, we can help. At BGN, we’re specialists in assisting brands in reaching their potential and helping them connect with more people than ever before.

Whether it’s through social mediaadvertising campaigns or creative branding, we’ll work with you to ensure you connect with more consumers than ever before.

Want to find out more? Get in touch with our team on 0161 808 4557 or info@bgn.agency to talk about your project and how we can help.

The Easy Way to Measure Brand Awareness

The benefits of brand awareness are limitless. However, knowing how to measure brand awareness and the success of your efforts to help you become more recognisable within your sector can be difficult!

Luckily, due to the need to understand more about this influence, plenty of new methods have been developed, answering the prayers of those wondering how to measure brand awareness.

Your approach to brand awareness will vary depending on what your brand represents, so before beginning to measure brand awareness, define your goals and this will help you to meet the needs of your business!

Study website traffic 

If you track the traffic you receive to your website continuously, you’ll be rewarded with valuable information on who is proactively seeking out your business.

Perhaps the best and most reliable way of tracking website traffic, and therefore to measure brand awareness, is using Google Analytics. This tool lets you track all the data you could need while giving you the ability to filter the information available, so that you can focus exclusively on the most important metrics.

Don’t forget to pay attention to the amount of time users are spending on your website, as this can be a strong indication of how engaging the pages and content are! This is a useful way to measure brand awareness as it can clearly indicate where improvements need to be made on your website.

Track your earned media value

Earned media is the publicity that your brand receives organically. It is a particularly attractive tool to help measure brand awareness, as it highlights the number of people speaking about your brand away from any paid marketing.

Earned media value metrics can be measured in a variety of forms, but with the help of commercial social analytics tools, you can estimate the click value generated by the social media posts and track your return on investment from mentions and engagement. This is one simple yet effective way to measure brand awareness.

Positive reviews are great for brand awareness

If people continually hear positive comments about your brand, they are much more likely to associate you with good quality service, yet negative reviews can also be detrimental to your brand awareness.

Using software to measure brand awareness through customer reviews online will give you the chance to improve your business image and get a feel for your level of awareness within the market.

Send out a survey

When you measure brand awareness, it does not always need to be highly technical. Traditional customer surveys will provide you useful insight into how your customers think and, specifically, what they think of your business.

To measure brand awareness, provide a simple set of questions asking how your customers became aware of your brand, their level of attachment  and whether they had heard of you before visiting the website. This will help you learn more about your brand awareness growth.

Start to measure your brand awareness today!

Building brand awareness and measuring your efforts take a lot of time, practice and skill. At BGN, we can help you measure your brand awareness and effectively seek out what needs improving and which strategies are performing well.

Want to find out more? Get in touch with our team on 0161 808 4557 or info@bgn.agency to discuss how we can support your businesses’ brand awareness.

Creative Product Packaging Design: Cutting Through the Noise

Product packaging design has evolved. Nowadays, it’s much more than a simple container. It’s attention-grabbing and creative, always competing with other products and brands. A product packaging design can make or break a product and a unique design can be essential for adding more value to an item.

From a branding perspective, it is a chance to communicate to consumers that the product is worth more than any of the competition and is the perfect opportunity to showcase your core values.

Your goal is to draw your customers eyes to your product packaging design by offering something unique. Read on to find out how you can stand out in today’s saturated market as we explore some top creative product packaging design ideas!

Make your product packaging design friendly

Creating product packaging designs that think outside the box while reflecting or enhancing the item inside is an effective process to take.

The best example of this is the introduction of upside-down plastic packaging for Heinz ketchup which replaced the traditional glass bottle. Not only did this product packaging design stand out on the shelves, but it also complemented the product well and eventually had sales booming.

Sustainable packaging is also very popular amongst consumers, so this is something to consider implementing into your overall product packaging design strategy.

Don’t be afraid to add humour

Your packaging doesn’t always need to be serious, especially if your brand or product is fun and lighthearted. Inserting some well-thought-out humour into your product packaging design can create a positive image for your company, while also leading to mass engagement on your social media channels.

One company who has found incredible success in adding humour to their brand is Innocent. By incorporating humour that’s honest and cheerful, they’ve seen sales soar, engagement rise and brand recognition continue to grow.

Go against conventions

A good product packaging design will break the rules and challenge typical industry standards. In order to keep your product relevant and exciting to consumers, work hard to innovate revolutionary packaging that people will keep coming back to.

Most importantly, make sure you maintain a strong relationship between the product and packaging design.

Launch special edition designs

Special or limited-edition product packaging designs have become much more sought after simply for their packaging and rarity. It may not work for all products, but if there is an upcoming event that ties in with your target audience, such as the Olympics or FIFA World Cup, it makes sense to tie your packaging in with the hype of the event.

Rare products are much more likely to incentivise impulse buyers and promote a sense of urgency, making special edition product packaging designs a key component of a successful strategy.

Get creative with BGN

At BGN, we pride ourselves on creating inspiring product packaging designs that will stand out to your target audience. Whether you’re seeking a fresh look, an ingenious way to showcase a new product or you’d like a completely new brand identity, we are here to help.

If you want to find out more, feel free to contact our team on 0161 808 4557 or info@bgn.agency to learn more about our services and have your questions answered.

Our Top Three Branding Trends For 2021 & Beyond

2020 has been a tough year, leading to many of us experiencing changes in our way of working, so there’s no doubt that many of us will want to enter the New Year with a refreshed mindset and outlook.

The turn of the year will be the perfect time to reinvent and capitalise on new, exciting ideas for your business, and a rejuvenation of your brand identity will play a crucial part in communicating these to your target audience.

To spark some inspiration, take a look at these top branding trends for 2021.

Maintain a human connection

In the era of video calls, socially distanced conversations, and working from home, brands have needed to work extra hard throughout 2020 to develop and nurture a human connection with their consumers, which will continue as a branding trend this year.

As we head into 2021, this branding trend will see consumers craving more interactions that aren’t solely through a screen as they seek out the faces and personality behind the brand. It is imperative for this branding trend that your brand shows a good level of character and clearly represents both your story and your values.

Trust is a significant component of human connection in the digital age, meaning brands should begin to build confidence and loyalty across their business. This branding trend is all about considering how you showcase privacy and data protection within your business!

Emphasise sustainability and activism

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the importance of sustainability and social justice, which will be another big branding trend in 2021. 51% of consumers said that ethical credentials were somewhat or very important when choosing apparel retailers, for example. This has resulted in businesses starting to adjust their focus to their social responsibility.

This branding trend involves a dedication to creating positive change on issues such as climate change, LGBTQ+ rights and Black Lives Matter, are all commitments that consumers have come to expect from brands and they can ultimately influence their purchasing decisions.

Making your logo and brand aesthetic overlap with your core values is a simple way to highlight this important branding trend, to make your views instantly recognisable while showing active support. Some businesses have even taken it a step further by incorporating their activism into their product range, by introducing sustainable packaging or donating a portion of their profit to local charities!

Work in nostalgia

The use of familiarity of the old, to sell the innovation of the new is a fun branding trend that can tie in nicely with the rest of your marketing campaign. When used correctly, nostalgia marketing can have a substantial effect on a consumer’s wellbeing and leads to a strong sense of purpose.

This branding trend is nothing majorly new but has been highlighted even further by the pandemic as people yearn for simpler things that remind them of their youth. This is especially prevalent in the online trend of cottagecore, which has really taken off during lockdown!

Capitalise on these branding trends today!

At BGN, we aim to maximise the effectiveness of your branding and execute a successful campaign across a variety of platforms. From web design and advertising campaigns to strategy planning and social media, our widely experienced team is both highly creative and results-driven to help you meet your business goals.

Ready to find out more? Get in touch with our team on 0161 808 4557 or info@bgn.agency to discuss how we can help.

Brand Purpose Examples: 3 of the Best from 2020

A brand’s purpose is arguably one of its most important aspects. It is an organisation’s reason for existence and expresses the values they stand for. It can make a significant impact on a business’s relationship with its consumers and when values align, it can lead to lifelong loyalty.

With 2020 being such a year of uncertainty, we’ve seen plenty of businesses revisiting their brand purposes and discovering more about the way they operate. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the spotlight shone on them more than ever, and their decisions are being heavily scrutinised by customers.

Here, we take a look at the businesses that have maximised the impact of their brand purpose throughout the year and further aligned themselves with their target audience’s core beliefs.

1. The Body Shop

One of the first brand purpose examples we’ll look at is from The Body Shop. It looks to drive positive change and support causes that align with their target audience.

The Body Shop is no stranger to campaigning for social change. The trusted brand has gained supporters across the country through their passion for creating products that are environmentally sustainable and their efforts to raise awareness of difficult issues such as domestic violence.

This year, their efforts have been focused on supporting those affected by the Australian Bushfires. They have also donated products to support NHS workers working tirelessly to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

2. Airbnb

When a brand’s purpose directly ties into their everyday work, it appears much more authentic and packs a significant punch. Airbnb’s purpose is grounded in the experience of the users who visit the accommodation on their site.

However, with the recent pandemic affecting travel across the world, the company had to pivot quickly to showcase their purpose and find new ways to express good hospitality.

Hosts did this by offering free and discounted places to healthcare staff and frontline responders, so that they can stay close to their work while remaining socially distanced from their own families. Airbnb also added the option to ‘find a monthly stay’ on their site, which was ideal for key workers who needed semi-permanent accommodation.

3. Boots

Boots UK and Macmillan Cancer Support have a long, successful partnership that demonstrates the pharmacy chain’s dedication to making a difference to the lives of people living with cancer.

In-store staff provide access and support to those struggling with the illness as well as discussing concerns about medication and guiding people to other recommended sources of information. Due to the pandemic, Boots has made this service available digitally, with video consultation easy to book through their website.

The support doesn’t just end there, though. Boots have continually raised vital funds for those suffering from cancer by organising events such as raffles, make-up-athons, and pamper evenings.

Take note of these brand purpose examples and make your brand purpose meaningful with BGN

Don’t let your brand purpose sit dormant inspiring nobody. Ensure that it is acted upon in a clear, meaningful way and that it is motivating your audience, employees, and anyone else who comes into contact with your brand.

At BGN, we’ll do everything we can to fully express your core brand purpose and showcase your contribution to the world. Want to find out more? Get in touch with our team on 0161 808 4557 or info@bgn.agency to discuss your latest project and how we can help.

5 Signs You Really Do Need a New Website

Every business wants to have a sleek, professional and on-trend website that both attracts and engages consumers. But what can be the telling signs you need a new website?

Creating a new website can be a big undertaking and often requires an investment in both time and money, so it’s crucial to know if you’re making the right move at the right time.

Some of the signs you need a new website are glaringly obvious, whereas some will be a little subtler. However, all of the signs listed below are ones you must look out for to ensure you stay ahead of the game and provide the best experience for your customers.

High bounce rates

Bounce rate is a metric that measures the number of visitors who enter your website and then leave rather than continuing to view other pages. This could be for several reasons but tends to be because they find the website too difficult to use, too slow or they struggled to find what interested them.

A fresh redesign may solve this issue and convince users to stick around. Review your content throughout the site to ensure its relevant and engaging, then ensure the overall site navigation is user friendly. If not, it could be a deal-breaker for site visitors.

Outdated information

Another one of the signs you need a new website is if your website contains a lot of errors, inconsistencies, or old, useless content, it will leave users uninterested. At worst, some users may even consider your site spam.

Whether it be advertising events that have already happened, listing staff members that have moved on or showcasing products that are no longer for sale, a website containing a lot of blatant errors means you are well overdue a refresh.

Search engine rankings are low

Older sites tend to carry a lot of duplicate pages and often lack an effective keyword strategy, which ultimately means they won’t rank highly in a Google search.

Customers tend to rely on searching within Google rather than entering a specific domain name. So, if your website isn’t appearing in the top five search engine results, then chances are you’re missing out on a lot of new traffic to the site.

Slow page loading speeds

People have become rightly accustomed to having things when they want it online. Older sites or websites with an excessive number of graphics or large files sizes will experience frequent lagging. This will likely frustrate the customer and eventually drive them elsewhere.

Good web design requires a balanced mix of text, images, video and interactivity that doesn’t interrupt the flow of the website for the user or delay it’s loading speeds.

It doesn’t align with your branding 

Now more than ever, your website is your primary marketing tool. It needs to be consistent with the rest of your branding as it essentially acts as the shop window for your entire business.

If you have strict brand guidelines for colours, fonts and style, be sure to stick to them. Otherwise, your website will come off as disingenuous and awkward in comparison to the rest of your brand. A brand that claims to be forward-thinking and professional needs to have a website which reflects that.

Spotted signs you need a new website? Create a new website today with BGN

Understanding when you need a new website is an essential step towards developing your brand. You should be proud to show off your site and believe it is a good representation of your company as a whole.

BGN are a strategic design agency in Manchester that will help you develop a brand new website that’s fit for purpose and aligned with the rest of your business goals.

Want to find out more? Get in touch with our team on 0161 808 4557 or email us at info@bgn.agency to find out how we can help improve your current site.

Balancing Your Brand: When Promise & Experience Don’t Align

For many businesses, branding is about what you say and show to customers. Your brand image, in other words. But in fact, it runs much deeper than that. Branding is actually the identity you give to your business.

For it to really work, what customers experience (what you’re doing) needs to match your promise (what you’re saying and showing). When there isn’t a balance between the two, problems are not far away…

What is your promise?

While you might not realise it, every brand has a promise. It’s what you offer customers on your website, in adverts or through printed marketing materials like leaflets and business cards. And it can be explicit or implicit.

Explicitly, your company’s tagline might focus on being hassle-free for customers. Implicitly, your design could be sleek and modern, hinting at innovative products or services, for example.

What about experience?

Much like promise, every brand has an experience. It’s pretty much every interaction and encounter customers have with your business. While the quality of your products or services are a big part of this, they’re not the only component.

Stepping into your store, visiting your website, speaking to a member of your team. It all contributes to the overall brand experience.

The problem for some brands is that their promise and experience don’t align. They might put themselves out there as a customer-centric company, for example, then leave customers on hold for hours or leave them wandering around their store waiting for assistance. The result is a false promise.

Customers are given an expectation for your brand which simply isn’t delivered.

So why does this happen? In many cases, it’s down to a narrow focus on the promise. Companies see branding as a way of changing and improving the promise. But all too often, they don’t change the experience too.

That’s reflected in the 2018 Brand Experience Report from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. They found that two thirds of marketers think their senior leadership teams fail to fully embed brand values throughout their organisation and relationship with customers.

Finding the right balance

Creating a balance between your brand’s promise and experience is key to an effective branding project. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to achieve it..

1. AGREEMENT –

First and foremost, make sure everyone agrees on the task at hand. You need confirmation from the very top of your business that this project is something they’re committed to in terms of time, money and human resources.

2. CLARITY –

Everyone in your business needs to know exactly what the brand promise is and how they can contribute to the experience. This is where a physical document like brand guidelines can help.

3. COMMITMENT –

The brand promise needs to manifest in every corner of your business. From customer service and complaints handling to the user experience on your website, everything should align.

4. MONITORING –

You’ll need to keep track of how your promise and experience are working. The perfect balance won’t happen overnight, so be prepared to make tweaks on both sides of the scales.

Developing and delivering your brand

At BGN, we’re specialists not only in developing brands – but in executing and delivering them across all platforms. From web design, social media and advertising campaigns to strategy planning and onboarding, we’ll work with you to make sure your promise and experience align across the board.

Want to find out more? Get in touch with our team on 0161 808 4557 or info@bgn.agency to talk about your project and how we can help.

Time flies when you’re having fun

Check out how our designer, Francie Martinez, got into the creative industry and her advice for recent graduates here👇

 

Where were you before BGN?

I graduated from Kingston University with a BA in Graphic Design. I then interned at NB Studio and Johnson Banks, two award winning design agencies that gave me a taste of what it’s like to work in industry.

 

Why did you get into design?

From a young age I was always making and drawing things using scraps of whatever I could find around the house. Despite no one in my family having a creative background, I always gravitated towards it.

 

Whats it like to be a designer at BGN?

Super fun! I get to work on loads of different projects and learn a lot along the way, it’s an added bonus that the team at BGN are so supportive.

 

What have been your favourite projects so far?

It’d have to be Silkies which is a Silk product brand launching in November. Through Silkies, our client, Mai will also be working with charities that support young girls in Mexico. It’s the first project I’ve been able to see through from start to finish and it’s this branding process that I’ve found myself wanting more of!

 

What sources do you use for inspiration? 

I do find myself scrolling through Instagram a lot, some of my favourite accounts at the moment are @femmetype @pablo.rochat @morrre.dsgn and @icographica there’s also a bunch of websites I like to flick through as well. But I think it’s also important to just go on a big long walk sometimes and see what inspiration can be found in more unexpected places.

 

Whats your favourite brand?

I attended a virtual talk at the beginning of lockdown (mad times) where Paula Scher talked about The Mental Health Coalition, a collaborative platform used to de-stigmatize mental health conditions. Besides the bright and bold coloured identity, I liked how this project was mentioned after discussing the balance between working for money or working for free. Not that I’m all for working for free, but it was just really nice to see someone so passionate about a topic and roll it out in a super short time frame for a nonprofit organisation.

 

What advice would you give to recent graduates? 

Stick at it, if it’s what you really want! After graduating I was juggling three jobs to help fund living in London, and at the same time was well into my overdraft upon graduating.

On top of that I was trying to find the time to email studios, send printed work out, follow up with phone calls and keep my portfolio updated with new work. The hardest part for me was staying motivated because at that point you feel like you’re constantly working towards something that might never happen. But now that things have worked out for me, my advice would be to carry on and try your best, it’s going to work out eventually.

Oh and try to mix it up when applying for internships, after all the emails, printed pieces and phone calls, I actually got my first internship after speaking to a friend on my course who referred me.

Branding For Start Ups

Over the years we have worked with many different entrepreneurs who have had great ideas, great products but limited budgets to get a proof of concept live.

I wrote back in 2017 about what comes first for businesses the product or the brand and the answer is always probably a mixture of the two. Looking back at the businesses that have gone on to be a great success like Public Desire, Lancashire Farm and Mojo they all have a commonality in that they invested the time at the outset to think strategically about their business and who they were targeting. Having this clear business or brand strategy then allowed us to execute a visual identity and initial brand that had more chance of resonating with their customer base.

 

Public Desire, View the case study here

 

3 blue yoghurt pots in front of a white background. Highlights brand packaging design for Lancashire farm yoghurt pots

Lancashire Farm, View the case study here

 

Our ethos at BGN and our processes are all based around balancing strategic thinking with creative output. And our branding process, although flexible does require time. Time to think, time to develop ideas and time to create and refine visual identities.

For a start up business with limited resources to invest at the outset, this often prices them out of working with branding agencies. So we set about building a process where we could adapt to the pressures of a startup and value to their journey.

The following processes still puts strategic thinking at the heart of what we do. But the emphasis is passed to the brand owner themselves to develop this. We give people the tools to ask themselves the right questions. We even advise to continue to do this regularly until they settle on what’s right.

One thing we have noticed over the years is that businesses and propositions often change in the first few years. Especially in tech, where we have seen some major pivots in idea that have resulted in really strong brand propositions.

So there are 4 simple stages…

 

1. Strategy & Brief

We will send across our DIY brand strategy kit that covers 4 key exercises that you can do in isolation to develop the core elements of your brand strategy. That, along with our briefing document we supply will give us all of the information we require to start the project.

2. Research & Exploration

Sketching out up to 4 different rough creative concepts, explaining our reasoning for why we think each would be a good fit for your brand, and agreeing with you which route(s) are worth taking through to creative concepts.

3. Creative Concept

Creative concept development looking at up to 2 different routes that can be taken from the brand. Inspiration on how the brand can roll out will be mocked up on 2 key touch points that we agree in the briefing so you can see the brand in context.

4. Refinement & Manual

Following on from the strategy, exploration, concepts and your feedback. We will develop a final brief, we will refine the concept and artwork the final brand elements. This will then be documented into a 10 page brand manual that covers everything created to date.

 

Depending on the business and the sector we can help with how you launch the brand, your website, packaging, etc. But first off we believe that developing the brand and then taking a brand-led approach to all elements of your business will benefit you in the long run.

Beyond the services that we can offer directly we can add a lot of value in terms of the networks that you have access to. Whether it be helping point you in the right direction for PR, digital marketing and social agencies. Or introducing you to other business owners and entrepreneurs in a similar space for advice. We have many people we have worked with over the years and are always happy to make relevant introductions wherever possible.

If you are an early stage business and want to speak to us about how we can help, then just email Antonio.

 

Some examples of recent work with start up brands

 

Mojo, View the case study here

 

V1BE, View the case study here

 

Yark, View the case study here

Mapping your brand – why every touchpoint matters

Whenever we start a new branding project with clients we always begin with going back to the basics of what a brand actually is. It’s not your logo, it’s not a clever strapline and it’s not your product or service. It’s what people say, feel and think about your business.

If this is the case (which we think it is), then there is a lot more that goes into creating your brand than simply what goes in your brand guidelines.  It’s the culmination of every direct or indirect experience a customer has with your brand. In this post we’re discussing why it’s so important to have a full and complete view of all of these touchpoints, and how to go about getting it. 

 

Why is mapping your brand touchpoints so important?

To ensure a consistent brand experience:

Every touchpoint a customer has with your business is an opportunity for your brand to either be strengthened, or diluted. Imagine receiving an email from Apple which doesn’t include beautiful product photography? Or walking into an Apple store and not being able to play with the latest iphone? How would that affect your overall perception of Apple as a brand?

For lesser known brands, ensuring this consistent experience across every touchpoint is crucial for your brand to gain momentum with audiences and become recognised for a certain style or type of content. Take the time walk in your customers’ shoes and question every touchpoint you come across – does it look, feel and speak like your brand should?

 

To influence the buying decision:

Every point at which a customer interacts with your brand is an opportunity for you to influence their behaviour or buying decision. In order to create a comms strategy that takes advantage of these moments, however, you need to understand the customer thought process at that point in time. Without actually mapping that journey and thinking about the process a customer is going through, it will be extremely difficult to do this.

Consider the customer journey of a new car buyer for example. After taking a test drive, the customer is likely to be impressed by all the features of the product and how they felt when they were sat behind the wheel. But they are also likely to have concerns or challenges around making such a big purchase. Do they need to spend the extra money on the leather seats and sports package, for example?

Would it be better to follow this customer up a week later with a personalised quote detailing their deposit and monthly payment cost, to try and seal the deal? Or would some more inspirational content about driving a car with a sports package work better? Clearly, both touchpoints are necessary in order to make the sale, but the timing and content of the touchpoint is crucial in influencing the buying decision.

 

To spot opportunities for cross/up sell: 

By mapping a typical customer journey (and preferably, backing this up with data), you can start to see where you can add extra value to your customer’s experience. In turn, this can also provide a business case for offering new products or services to your customers which are linked to that touchpoint.

If I go into a coffee shop every morning and buy a latte, it’s likely I’ll be in the market for breakfast as well as coffee. If my coffee shop mapped this journey and thought about my potential need for breakfast, they would spot the opportunity to capitalise on the fact I’m in their shop, and send me a voucher for 50% off a bowl of porridge or a pastry to get me to try out their breakfast offering.

Investigate your typical customer journey and see if you can spot any patterns in customer behaviour or buying cycles which can help give you insight into their life or habits. Are there any other needs your customers may have when they interact with your brand? Can you take advantage of these opportunities by offering another product or service?   

 

Need help mapping your brand?

Many businesses we have come across at BGN start off in our process thinking they know their customer journey inside out.  But this is often not the case. It can really help to work with people outside of your business to complete your brand touchpoint map and spot the opportunities and challenges that we’ve discussed here. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, get in touch with Antonio.

BGN’s take on the great in-housing debate

2019 has saw a rising trend of brands taking gradual steps to move away from agencies and instead, focus on increasing their internal marketing capabilities – otherwise known as ‘in-housing’. The trend doesn’t seem to be slowing any time soon, with new brands hitting the industry headlines every day having reported multi-million pound savings through the process of in-housing.

As with anything that ever generates debate, there’s arguments for and against. We wanted to stick our two cents into the mix…

 

What do brands stand to gain from going in-house?

It’s impossible to ignore the fact that there are cost savings to be had from improving your in-house marketing capabilities. Not having to rely on agencies gives you greater control over costs and ultimately, more budget to plough into marketing spend.

Also relating to cost is the huge improvements which can be made to the efficiency of your operation should you bring certain skillsets in-house. A consistent frustration with agencies is the time it takes for them to turn around briefs. With an in-house function this time can be greatly reduced and work can be prioritised based on business need. Putting control back in the hands of brands. You’re no longer dependent on an agency’s workload and studio capability to deliver projects.   

Having in-house capability also increases transparency around the process taken to produce work. Agencies need to get better at showing and justifying the value we bring to the table. Rather than fearing becoming redundant if we pass on knowledge. This means helping brands onboard the work they do so they can replicate it themselves, rather than hiding behind a fog of ‘we’ll do that for you’ and hoping no one questions the cost.

 

But what are they losing?

On the flip side, it’s also impossible to ignore the huge value that agencies can bring to a brand’s overall marketing and creative output. In-housing often means hiring staff who have the experience in doing from an agency side, but rarely have the experience in the thinking side of things.

If you get rid of this thinking, or try and bring it within your organisation, you’re bound to lose out on some of the quality of what you’re putting out. Or, if you aim to bring in the same level of skillset and years of experience, it’s likely to cost the same or perhaps even more than when you were using agencies.

One thing businesses don’t always realise is the importance of keeping yourself switched on to different industries or sectors outside your own. Agencies often work across a number of different sectors, so you also get access to this knowledge (and all of the out-of-the-box thinking and ideas that come with it.

 

What we think

At BGN we think we’ve already wasted too much time debating the pros and cons of in-housing vs using agencies and that actually, it should be about creating the perfect balance for the brand at that moment in their journey.

A start-up with no brand heritage, for example, might rely more on an agency to ensure consistency and quality in the crucial early stages of launch. A Unilever, or a Ford, however, is going to benefit from having more agility and speed in its creative production. We’ve found with our long-term retained clients that their in-house teams are really benefitting from skill and knowledge sharing to up-skill their teams, especially when teams are more junior.

The world of branding and marketing continues to get more complex every day, so it’s important we take the best bits of both worlds to create a new model for the changing landscape. If you’re wondering how you could benefit from some external creative thinking to complement your in-house team, or you need help in forming that, get in touch with Antonio.

How customer-centric is your brand?

How many times have you been involved with a business and they talk about their brand as being ‘all about the customer’? Perhaps you’ve even referred to your own business in this way? There are so many brands that shout about being customer-focussed, but what does this actually mean?

Being customer-centric is more than just putting your customer first or offering fantastic customer service. It means designing your products or services around the specific needs of your customer, creating a seamless experience for them throughout their entire journey with your brand and building your business’ philosophy or purpose around what meaningful difference you make in your customers’ lives.

Here are some steps you can take to investigate how customer-centric your business (or the businesses you’re involved with) actually are.

 

Check-in on your culture

The employee culture of a business is arguably the biggest barrier to achieving true customer-centricity. This is because most businesses remain product-focussed or sales-driven. Often, employees will only be rewarded for customer-centricity in certain areas or business functions. This is usually with employees that are customer-facing, such as in a retail arm or a contact centre.

To become truly customer-centric, however, every employee needs to think and act with the customer in mind, regardless of how close they are to ‘actual’ customers. Are you, or your business’s leaders cultivating this customer-first mindset with your employees?

If your answer is no, you could take a leaf out of Adobe’s book. Way back in 2011, they implemented a Customer Immersion Programme to ensure their business leaders could experience first-hand what their customers experience. This led to a realisation of the changes that needed to be made, as well as giving them the drive to actually make them. They creating a culture of the importance of customer from the top down; the results speak for themselves.

 

Take a look at your community

Too many businesses disregard (or simply don’t realise) the importance of talking directly to customers. This doesn’t just mean sending out a customer satisfaction survey or asking them how likely they are to recommend you to a friend or family member. Whilst these are important measures, being customer-centric is more about creating a community. It’s about asking your customers for their thoughts, opinions and ideas (and actually acting on what they say).

When was the last time you checked in on your community? Do you even have one? There are a new wave of brands entering the market that have this down to a tee. Beauty and skincare brand Glossier is a perfect example where creating and engaging with your community has worked as a successful business strategy.

Glossier uses insights gained from comments, questions and polls from their loyal army of followers to create more relevant and targeted products. They’re tapping into real life customer pain points to educate themselves on what customers really want, and evolving their product range and service offering to match. Finally, they communicate their brand in a ‘you asked, we delivered’ fashion, ensuring their audience feels listened to and important, winning their loyalty in the process.

 

Re-evaluate your measures of success

When businesses want to grow, the tendency is to focus all of the attention on customer acquisition. How many new people are coming through the door? Which channels are generating the most leads and when can we shift more budget into them?

The ultimate measure of a customer-centric business, however, comes down to the loyalty of your customer base. How many of your customers keep buying from you, instead of switching to a competitor? If you don’t know the answer to this question, but you can easily tell me how many new customers you acquire in a year, then you need to re-evaluate the way you measure your success.

It’s really important you get a good handle on your data to start measuring yourself effectively on customer loyalty. You need to know the customer lifecycle inside out and agree on the set of characteristics or behaviours which make up a loyal customer to your brand. To use Glossier as an example, given their demographic and industry, it’s not reasonable for them to assume their customers will never buy from a competitor-brand. But perhaps 1 purchase every 3 months feels like the right pattern for a loyal customer? On the other hand, for Adobe’s customers, cancelling a subscription to Photoshop probably means that the customer has ended their relationship with the brand, and is no longer loyal.

Once you have a clear view on what you determine to be a loyal customer, you can effectively measure how loyal your customers are, and ultimately how customer-centric your business is.

 

Need help with creating a customer-centric brand?

The great thing about customer centricity is that you don’t always have to make that many changes to your business. The impact these changes can make, however, are tenfold, whether it’s brand-building, revenue-driving, retention-improving and so on.

If you’d like to chat to us more about how we can help you be more customer-centric – talk to Antonio.

Now Hiring: Across design, client services and strategy

Note: We are not using recruiters for these roles. Recruiters please don’t contact us, we have a select group of recruiters that we already use when needed.

BGN is a brand-led strategic design agency based in city centre Manchester. Our services cover everything from brand strategy and design, through to packaging, ad campaigns and digital. We are passionate about brand a helping business maximise their potential with effective design. Our client list includes Carlsberg, Lancashire Farm, Mark Hill and Public Desire. We are entering the next phase of our businesses growth and we have the following roles available in our team:

Deadline for all applications is Friday 18th October.

 

Looking for:

Brand Strategist / Brand Planner
Account Executive / Senior Account Executive / Account Manager
Graduate / Junior Designer / Middleweight Designer
Marketing Intern

 

Perks:

  • 23 days holiday (Plus bank holidays)
  • Excellent pension scheme
  • Private Health insurance
  • Regular team building socials
  • City centre location 7 mins walk from Piccadilly
  • Breakfast, fruit and drinks provided

You:

  • You have a good work ethic
  • You are eager to learn
  • You have good communication skills
  • You have an eye for detail
  • You love working collaboratively with designers, developers and strategists

 

Brand Strategist / Brand Planner

We are entering the next phase of our businesses growth and are looking for a bright and collaborative brand strategist or brand planner to join our team.

Required Skills:

  • You have 2+ years experience working within an agency or marketing environment
  • You dream about branding
  • You have an ability to develop clear strategic thinking
  • You’re intrigued by consumer behaviour
  • You have excellent copywriting skills
  • You get excited about finding nuggets of industry and consumer insight
  • You are a creative thinker
  • You are a positive person and enjoy communicating and collaborating with other team members
  • You’re confident presenting ideas to clients

Nice to have:

  • Experience using Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Experience of conducting primary research
  • Experience planning and scheduling social media posts for clients
  • Knowledge of social media advertising

Salary:

  • Up to £32k
  • Dependent on experience

Interested?

Send over your CV with a little about yourself and why you think you would be a good fit for BGN to antonio@bgn.agency

 

 

Account Exec / Senior Account Exec / Account Manager

We are entering the next phase of our businesses growth and are looking for an enthusiastic, hard working account executive, senior account executive or account manager to join our client services team.

Required Skills:

  • You have 1-2 years experience working within an agency or marketing environment
  • You dream about branding & marketing
  • You’re interested in working on exciting digital projects
  • You get excited about spreadsheets and planning projects
  • You’re confident presenting in front of clients
  • Researching new industries and finding nuggets of insight for the creative team
  • You are a great relationship builder
  • You love being organised
  • You are a positive person and enjoy communicating and collaborating with other team members

Nice to have:

  • Excellent copywriting skills
  • Experience using Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Experience planning and scheduling social media posts for clients
  • Knowledge of Google analytics
  • You can navigate your way around a CMS

Salary:

  • £18-24k
  • Dependent on experience

Interested?

Send over your CV with a little about yourself and why you think you would be a good fit for BGN to antonio@bgn.agency

 

Graduate / Junior Designer / Middleweight Designer

We are entering the next phase of our businesses growth and are looking for a graduate, junior or middleweight designer to join our team. We will consider talented graduates but ideally you will have 1-2 years commercial studio experience

Required Skills:

  • You have a portfolio of commercial work
  • You love solving brand problems
  • You know your way around Abode Creative Suite
  • You dream about working in an agency
  • You are a positive person and enjoy communicating and collaborating with other team members
  • You love to learn

Nice to have:

  • Knowledge of responsive design
  • Knowledge of Sketch
  • Knowledge of Cinema4D
  • Knowledge of After Effects

Salary:

  • £18-24k
  • Dependent on experience

Interested?

Send over your CV a little about yourself and why you think you would be a good fit for BGN to antonio@bgn.agency along with your portfolio.

 

Marketing Intern

We have an opportunity for an intern to come and join us for 1-3 months. You will get to work closely with the agency founders and get a great insight into what it’s like working at a boutique design studio. Tasks will be split between marketing, account management, research and new business.

Perks:

  • You get to learn loads about agency life
  • City centre location 7 mins walk from Piccadilly
  • Breakfast, fruit and drinks provided
  • Travel expenses will be covered

You:

  • You have a good work ethic
  • You are eager to learn
  • You have good communication skills
  • You have an eye for detail
  • Keen to get stuck in, learn new skills & be part of a friendly, energised team
  • You love working collaboratively with designers, developers and strategists

Interested?

Send over your CV a little about yourself and why you think you would be a good fit for BGN to antonio@bgn.agency.

FMCG Branding Trends That Are Here to Stay

We’re nearly three months into 2019 and the year is already shaping up to be one of the most diverse yet for trends in Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) branding. The industry is evolving rapidly, led by drastic changes in consumer shopping habits as well as cultural shifts. We’re taking a look at some ways that FMCG brands are adapting to stay relevant.

1. Less is more

You only have to scroll through Deliveroo on a Saturday night to experience what psychologist Barry Schwartz describes as the paralysis of choiceToo much of it leaves us unable to make a decision at all. Consumers today are facing more choice than ever before. This has led to a wave of brands who are trying to eliminate the crisis of choice by adopting a less is more approach.

Take Aldi & Lidl, for example. It’s not only their lower price point that has gained them popularity with consumers. Despite once being the underdogs in the market, the supermarket chains have also used the simplicity of their ranges to attract consumers and grow market share. This trend is also making its way into brand strategy too.

 

 

Brandless is an American e-commerce company that manufactures and sells food, personal care and household supplies. Each of their product categories is made up of a limited range of essentials, and everything is priced at $3. But it’s not just their product-range that’s simplistic. Brandless’ branding is literally that: brand-less. There aren’t any extravagant labels or flowery product descriptions. Instead, Brandless adopts simple single-colour packaging designs and ’say it like it is’ copy.

2. Eco-friendliness

Consumers have become more and more conscious of the negative impact of FMCG production. Brands that are certified ‘organic’, ‘free range’ or ’sustainable’ have better chance of winning the hearts and minds of consumers than those that aren’t.  This doesn’t just extend to the product itself, however, but also how the product is packaged. More and more consumers are opting for plastic-free solutions, and brands are starting to build this into their propositions.

 

 

Snact is a UK fruit jerky company with an ethical purpose. It promotes wholesome, healthy snacks which reduce supermarket waste by using surplus fruit that would have otherwise ended up in landfill. But it’s not just Snact’s products that are sustainable. They commissioned Israeli packaging design company Tipa to create their wrappers, which decompose within six months. Snact’s entire proposition and branding is based on the concept of protesting against unnecessary waste and plastic in everyday consumables.

 

3. Authenticity & Female Empowerment

2018 saw a wave of FMCG brands target female audiences by challenging stereotypes, breaking taboos and embracing authenticity. In beauty, for example, new brands such as Glossier and Fenty are disrupting the industry by shunning images of perfection in favour of diversity. Instead of selling their product based on unachievable airbrushed ideals, brands are challenging what is considered beautiful or normal by sharing relatable images which speak to a diverse range of women. This trend is not going anywhere in 2019, as brands have realised the impact they can have on the female audience (and their buying habits) by speaking to them with authenticity.

 

Thinx are the American company behind innovative ‘period-proof’ underwear. They have recently launched a tampon range ‘for real menstruating humans’, showing their commitment to speaking frankly and without coyness on the subject.

 

Over to you…

Want to learn more about how to leverage these trends in your brand strategy for 2019? Get in touch with us here.

How to Solve Business Problems with Brand – Part 2

When businesses are first starting out, outlining a strategy for brand development is normally top of the list of priorities. As time goes on, however, and businesses become more mature, some will focus on brand less. In the first part of our blog series on how to solve business problems with brand, we showed how powerful brand can be in helping to solve the common problems that businesses face.

In part two, we’re discussing some more unlikely ways that brand can help with business problems, such as in the new product development process.  Have a browse through and get in touch if you’d like to learn more about how BGN can help your business if any sound familiar. 

 

My industry is dying/facing challenges and I want to challenge the status quo

Let’s face it, being a business that challenges the status quo is more of an opportunity than a problem. But it’s still difficult to crack nonetheless. You might be in a situation where your industry is showing no signs of change any time soon. Consumers may have embraced a tried and tested business model. Even if your audience isn’t actively asking for a different kind of brand or business however, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and be one. All industries need to change, everything needs to evolve. The company who is bravest about embracing change will be in the best position to maximise the potential within their sector.

This kind of challenge requires a brave business mentality. It’s important that your brand strategy capitalises on the flaws with the current status quo. You need to highlight why your process, people, model and solution is better than the rest. Your brand look and feel will be important to ensure you grab the attention of your audience. It’s your messaging strategy, however, that’s going to be most important element in differentiating you.

First things first, you’ll need to review the way you’ve talked about yourself up until now. Is it right? Or does it need to change? How are you going to sound going forward? This may include developing a completely new tone of voice. You may need to re-establish your brand essence and ‘why’ statement, deciding how you’re going to communicate right down to individual word choices. Consistency is going to be key for this kind of brand strategy, so you’re going to want to have strict brand guidelines.  Committing your voice to paper and make it easy for anyone in your business to understand and replicate. With revised messaging that challenges the status quo and surprises consumers, and a visual identity to match, you’ll be in prime position to capture market share.

 

 


I need to accelerate my business’ growth 

We work with a number of businesses who have recently secured funding. They need to scale quickly to satisfy investors, or reach the next stage of their business’ development. On the flip side to this, there are also many businesses we’ve experienced who are long-established. They’re often under similar pressures, facing stretching targets with short deadlines. In both of these cases the problem is the same, they need results fast.

Obviously there are many factors which are going to come into play in making sure your business hits these targets. Things like market conditions, employee/supplier performance and even seasonality. But we firmly believe that brand will also be a huge contributor in overcoming these challenges. This is especially the case for recently-funded start-ups. Having a clear brand strategy is crucial to keep you on the right road as you need to always keep in mind what you set out to do. Being clear and consistent in your messaging will ensure that newly-introduced consumers will understand who you are and can get on board with you quickly. In turn they will recommend you and act as ambassadors for your brand during your crucial first stage of growth.

It’s a similar case for long-standing businesses. In order to drastically increase their turnover or market share, they need to do something different to what they’ve been doing thus far. That’s the only way they can expect consumers to react. But It’s usually the case that long-standing businesses are larger in size with more people involved. It’s easy for drastic changes in strategy or processes to become diluted. This results in messages not landing as well as you’d hoped. Setting a clear brand strategy at the beginning of your journey and communicating this clearly through employee onboarding is imperative. You will benefit by having a solid partner on board to support you in this. At BGN we have the varied skillsets required to help you through this process. 

 

 

My business needs to innovate / develop new products

Not every business we come into contact with needs a new brand strategy. Often we’ll meet businesses that have a robust brand that the entire company already stands behind. These businesses still face challenges, however. Often we’ll come across businesses who know they’ve not yet reached their full potential. This is where you can build upon your strong brand strategy to lead innovation. This could be new product developmentor diversification of your business, or perhaps just getting involved in new things which secures your brand positioning even further.

Sometimes it’s not always what makes the most sense or drives the most revenue. It could be something that fits with your essence and the ‘why’ of your business. This could be getting involved with a charity, introducing a new corporate social responsibility strategy or creating new products that take your brand in a new direction, like a range of organic products for example.

By understanding your brand and your customers, and most importantly, what those customers want from a brand, you can start to work on building out your business strategy further.

 

Interested IN LEARNING MORE?

As we’ve shown, it’s not always common business problems like awareness or employee moral that can be helped with brand. Brand can also help to tackle some other less expected challenges. It’s crucial you have a partner on board that can support you through working through the issue. If you’d like to learn more about our process or talk to us about one of our free brand audits, get in touch with us here.

How to Solve Business Problems with Brand – Part 1

Having a solid brand strategy is often resigned to being something ’nice to have’. It’s much easier to measure a return on investment with trackable marketing channels like PPC or social advertising than something as intangible as brand strategy. You put a certain amount of investment in, and you generate X many leads or £X revenue as a result. This is a tried and tested principle. It makes perfect sense if you’re a Marketing Director deciding where to put your budget.  

But what if your business is facing bigger problems? Issues or barriers that upping your PPC spend won’t solve? These fundamental business problems will take more work to chip away at. This is when starting with your brand is the only way to go. 

In part one of our series on how to solve business problems with brand, we’re discussing changing perceptions and behaviours. Have a browse through these common business problems and see if any of them sound familiar in your organisation:

1. My business has a perception issue
2. I want to change consumer behaviour
3. I need to improve employee morale 
4. My business is tired and needs reinvigorating

1. My business has a perception issue

Sometimes your customer’s perception of your brand does not always align with your own, this is known as the ‘brand gap’. The perception of your brand influences everything. From the type of customer you have, to how much they will pay. If it’s a physical product, it also influences which retailers will stock it. All of these factors can have a massive impact on the success of your business. There are many signs that your business has a perception issue, perhaps sales are declining or your customer demographic doesn’t seem right. If this sounds familiar then it’s important to address it as soon as possible. The positive thing to bear in mind here is that if your business is suffering from this problem, it is possible to turn things around. 

To begin to try and tackle the problem, the first thing you need to do is get to get a clear understanding of your current perception. Once you’ve got this, you can start to come up with a plan to shift this perception. This starts with setting a solid brand strategy. Use your consumer research to develop your brand identity, values and messaging to ensure they resonate with your desired audience. A strategic branding agency like BGN can help you to do this. We’ll use your insight to create concepts that move your brand on from where it is today. You can then put these in front of focus groups or review internally. This will ensure your brand hits the mark before you invest in promotion.

2. I want to change consumer behaviour

Perhaps you’ve come up with a product or service that is completely new to the market. It’s often the case that businesses like this are trying to enter traditional sectors. Industries where consumer habits are long-established, like banking for example. Businesses in these sectors have years and years of experience and heaps of brand equity with audiences. This means it’s going to be really difficult to change the way those consumers do things. 

As revolutionary as your product or service may be, it’s unlikely to be persuasive enough on its own to get consumers to use it. This is also due to the fact that long-established businesses are likely to have big budgets devoted to making sure that they retain as much market share as possible. But all is not lost, there is a way to change consumer behaviour. You just need to get people to sit up and take notice of you. Products or services that are disruptive and seek to change behaviour need to look and feel disruptive too if they are to get those initial trailblazers to give them a try – which is where your brand comes in. 

3. I need to improve employee morale

At BGN we’re big believers in the importance of your employer brand. If you’ve identified a problem with your internal culture or the morale of your employees, it’s likely to end up hurting your brand externally. It’s really important your staff are engaged and you work on resolving this problem before anything else. 

People often think that branding or brand development only matters to the consumer-facing brand. In reality it all starts with how you live that brand internally. Forget about the visual aspects of your brand for a minute and start thinking about what it actually means for your business. Why do you exist? What do you stand for? What is your vision? If your employees don’t know the answer to these questions or they don’t believe in what you do and where you’re going, you’re never going to get the best out of them.  

These are the questions we’d ask you first and foremost in one of our branding workshops, getting to the heart of what you understand your business to be, where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and what your vision for the future is. It’s crucial to understand whether your current brand strategy is aligned with these things, and if it’s not, establishing where you need to take it to make sure it does align.

4. My business is tired and needs reinvigorating

When you have a successful business that’s been trading well, taking a step back to think about your long term strategy isn’t always a priority. This can sometimes result in your business becoming stagnated, lacking in motivation to go to the next step. 

Going through the process of reassessing your brand and what your business stands for as part of a rebrand or a brand evolution can really give you the clarity you need to solve this problem. Why not try involving your employees in strategy workshops and getting everyone’s opinion on what consumer need your business fills. This can often lead to finding new avenues to explore and maybe even new services your business can provide. 

Interested IN LEARNING MORE?

As we’ve shown in part 1, brand can help to tackle some really challenging business problems. But first you need to get some clarification on what the major issue or barrier is in your business. Then you can start to think about how you’re going to use brand to overcome it and ultimately maximise the potential of your business. If you’d like to learn more about our process or talk to us about one of our free brand audits, get in touch with us here.

Five Reasons to Focus on your Employer brand

When people talk about ‘brand’, they’re usually referring to how a business is perceived externally (or how it wants to be perceived) to customers. It’s right that your external image and voice should form a crucial part of your brand strategy, but to focus on this alone suggests that no other factors influence your brand. Whilst this has been true in the past, when consumers were more easily influenced by marketing messages, it is no longer applicable today.

In today’s world, information is in abundance and consumers are demanding more transparency from the brands they engage with. It’s not enough to rely solely on external communications to build your brand – consumers also want to know about the inner workings of your business, your reputation as a place of work, your culture and your values.

Building this employer brand is integral to having a successful brand strategy overall, but what are the tangible benefits you can stand to gain from focussing some time and energy inward?

1. you will build consumer faith & brand loyalty 

The businesses that have caught on to today’s consumer and their demand for transparency are using it to their advantage. By giving equal importance to internal image and employer brand and showing this to consumers, you give your audience other reasons to love your brand, above and beyond the product or service you’re providing. You can use this to bolster your external reputation, winning brand loyalty and improving your business’ success in the process.

2. you will attract THE RIGHT TALENT

Recent studies suggest that after location and opportunities for career development, the external image of an employer is the third most important factor to candidates when choosing their next role. As talent is becoming harder to attract and even harder to retain, having a solid employer brand helps to ensure you attract employees who appreciate your internal culture and are much more likely to be the right fit from the start.

3. you will be in demand

Being an attractive brand for prospective employees means you’re naturally going to attract a larger pool of skilled individuals. This means you can have your pick of the bunch – candidates will have to work harder to earn a place in your business. A strong employer brand also gives you bargaining power, arming you with other benefits to leverage when negotiating with candidates. It no longer becomes a conversation simply about hygiene factors like salary and holiday entitlement, and instead about getting to work for a brand with an amazing internal culture and workplace.

4. you will CUT DOWN on COSTS 

A crucial benefit of investing in your employer brand is cost savings. Having an audience of candidates who are already aware of you and your employer brand means you’re naturally going to spend less on expensive recruitment processes, as they will come to you direct.

5. You will have high performing employees

When a business completely understands its employees and builds a platform for them to thrive and an employer brand for them to invest in, you will earn their loyalty. Loyalty is crucial in motivating your employees to keep performing and give their best at all times. Lower staff attrition also helps to keep teams consistent, build skill and retain faith in your brand and business.

Interested IN LEARNING MORE?

Whether you’re a business with only a small team, or a large organisation with multiple teams, you need to be thinking about your employer brand as part of your overall brand strategy. Hopefully we’ve given you some reasons to do it, and if you’d like to learn more about our process or talk to us about one of our free brand audits, get in touch with us here.

BGN X Wood Street Misson Christmas Appeal

This year, we decided we didn’t want to wish our clients and connections a Happy Christmas by adding yet another card onto the pile. Instead, we spent the money on something with a bit more Christmas spirit.

Christmas for many of us is a time of joy, gifts, and precious time with family. However it’s also an expensive time of year, and can be an especially difficult time for those families struggling to make ends meet. Wood Street Mission is a charity helping children and families living on a low income in Manchester and Salford. Every year they run a Christmas appeal to collect gifts and goodies to distribute to families in need across Manchester and Salford.

If you are interested in joining us in helping this great cause, you can donate here. We hope you have a great Christmas and look forward to catching up in the New Year.

Christmas opening times

This year we will be closing from 3:30PM Friday on the 21st of December and taking a well earned break over the festive period, returning to the studio on Wednesday 2nd January.

Now Hiring: WordPress Developer

BGN is a brand-led strategic design agency based in city centre Manchester. We build brands for businesses of all sizes and digital is a major part of our output as an agency.

Our passion for digital is in bringing motion, animation and brand experience alive online. Our client list includes Carlsberg, Lancashire Farm, Mark Hill and Radio.co.

 

Looking for

We are entering the next phase of our businesses growth and are looking for an enthusiastic, hard working WordPress Developer to join our team.

  • You can build bespoke WordPress themes from scratch
  • You know and love the basics: semantic HTML and pure CSS (SCSS)
  • You dream about Javascript
  • You have enough knowledge of Photoshop and Illustrator to open and prepare design files
  • You enjoy bringing sites to life using CSS animation/animation libraries
  • Your sites load lightning fast
  • You are a positive person and enjoy communicating and collaborating with other team members
  • You love to learn
Nice to have
  • Knowledge of working with WooCommerce
  • Knowledge of working with any other CMS platforms
Perks
  • 20 days holiday (Plus bank holidays)
  • Pension scheme
  • Regular team building socials
  • City centre location
  • Breakfast, fruit and drinks provided
Salary
  • Based upon experience
You
  • You have a good work ethic
  • You are eager to learn
  • You have an eye for detail
  • You are passionate about what you do
  • You love working collaboratively with designers, developers and strategists

Interested?

Send over your CV with a little about yourself and why you think you would be a good fit for BGN to antonio@bgn.agency along with sample code of your best projects.

Links to Codepen accounts would also be great.

Now Hiring: Senior Account Executive/Brand Planner

BGN is a brand-led strategic design agency based in city centre Manchester. Our services cover everything from brand strategy and design, through to packaging, ad campaigns and digital.

We are passionate about brand a helping business align their business strategy with their brand strategy. Our client list includes Carlsberg, Lancashire Farm, Mark Hill and Radio.co.

 

Looking for

We are entering the next phase of our businesses growth and are looking for an enthusiastic, hard working Account Executive / Brand Planner to join our team.

  • You have 1-2 years experience working within an agency or marketing environment
  • You dream about branding
  • You have experience working on digital projects
  • You can navigate your way around a CMS
  • You get excited about spreadsheets and planning projects
  • You can read clients minds
  • You are a great relationship builder
  • You love being organised
  • You are a positive person and enjoy communicating and collaborating with other team members
Nice to have
  • Experience planning and scheduling social media posts for clients
  • Excellent copywriting skills
  • Knowledge of social media advertising
Perks
  • 20 days holiday (Plus bank holidays)
  • Pension scheme
  • Regular team building socials
  • City centre location
  • Breakfast, fruit and drinks provided
Salary
  • Based upon experience
You
  • You have a good work ethic
  • You are eager to learn
  • You have good communication skills
  • You have a eye for detail
  • You love working collaboratively with designers, developers and strategists

Interested?

Send over your CV with a little about yourself and why you think you would be a good fit for BGN to antonio@bgn.agency

Now Hiring: Digital Designer/Front End Developer

BGN is a brand-led strategic design agency based in city centre Manchester. We build brands for businesses of all sizes and digital is a major part of our output as an agency.

We pride ourselves in bringing brand experiences alive online. Our client list includes Carlsberg, Lancashire Farm, Mark Hill and Radio.co.

 

Looking for

We are entering the next phase of our businesses growth and are looking for an enthusiastic, hard working Digital Designer / Front End Developer to join our team.

  • You have a great portfolio of responsive design
  • You understand how users interact with sites
  • You love solving UX problems
  • You know your way around Abode Creative Suite and Sketch
  • You know and love the frontend basics: semantic HTML and pure CSS (SCSS)
  • You dream about Javascript
  • You enjoy bringing sites to life using CSS animation/animation libraries
  • You are a positive person and enjoy communicating and collaborating with other team members
  • You love to learn
Nice to have
  • Knowledge of working with WordPress
  • Knowledge of Cinema4D
  • Knowledge of After Effects
Perks
  • 20 days holiday (Plus bank holidays)
  • Pension scheme
  • Regular team building socials
  • City centre location
  • Breakfast, fruit and drinks provided
Salary
  • Based upon experience
You
  • You have a good work ethic
  • You are eager to learn
  • You have an eye for detail
  • You are passionate about what you do
  • You love working collaboratively with designers, developers and strategists
Interested?

Send over your CV with a little about yourself and why you think you would be a good fit for BGN to antonio@bgn.agency along with your portfolio and any sample code of your best projects.

Links to Codepen accounts would also be great.

Five Reasons Why Branding is Important

This is a question that comes up just often enough to be worth addressing here. It’s all too easy for us to assume everyone understands the value of branding, but of course, we’ve worked in this industry for decades – it seems so natural to us, it’s our bread and butter.

For some businesses, however, branding is – dare we say it – just a logo. It doesn’t really concern them on a day-to-day basis. As long as they make good products, or offer outstanding service, that’s all that matters, right? Well, yes and no.

Think of it this way (and this is a strangely clinical way to think of the power of branding, but it does put the thrust of our argument into perspective), when company acquisitions happen, they happen not for staff or even patents, but to tap into the brand and the feeling that their brand gives to consumers.

Consider Apple buying Beats. Apple are a (many) multi billion pound company, more than capable of replicating a Beats headphone – even right down to that signature, bass heavy Beats sound. But that isn’t what mattered in acquiring them. Think of the timeline of when they acquired them. Apple bought Beats in May 2014. Apple launches Apple Music in June 2015. Buying Beats showed the world that they were serious about music  setting the stage for things to come a year ahead of schedule. With Beats under their umbrella, Apple could reap the benefits of a eight years of Beats brand  and product building – giving them much needed credibility as late entrants into the music streaming market.

Objectively, Beats headphones were (and still aren’t) the best headphones on the market. Audiophiles the world over have proven that Beats headphones don’t offer the best recreation of sound on the market. They don’t perform as well as other brands, they (debatably) don’t look as good as headphones from other brands, and their bass-heavy sound couldn’t be more Marmite. And yet, the Beats brand only goes from strength to strength. They are a brand that people like to be seen with. A brand that stands for authentic sound, but without the nerdiness that so many audio brands fall victim to.

The point is that all Apple were buying, was the Beats brand. There was nothing else going for it, if we’re being brutally honest. But of course, there are other benefits to branding…

1. Focus

With a fleshed out brand in place, you have focus. If the branding process is followed to the letter, you will end up, not only with a clear vision of where you are heading, but complete agreement on what you stand for, what you want to achieve, and what you need to do to get there.

Branding can be carried out in isolation, with just the senior staff, or by involving the entire team – sanity checking each stage and making sure that you have complete buy-in at every level of your business.

2. Differentiation

A bit of homework for you. Open the homepages of five of your competitors, as well as your own. Click between them and try to sum up in each case what makes them different to you. You’ll struggle, a lot of the time. Chances are, you’ll all use similar language, similar colour schemes and even have similar site structures.

Differentiating within that climate is easy, so why don’t more companies do it? It’s an easy win for you, and with the right investment, perfect amount of engagement with the process and complete trust in the agency you task with taking back control of your brand, you could put yourself in an amazingly advantageous position.

3. Culture

You will undoubtedly have an idea of what your ideal employee looks like. That fictional person is the basis against which all job applicants are measured. As such, if you’re doing recruitment right, you’ll find that a lot of your employees share similar traits – and get on expertly as a result.

With a clearly defined brand, you commit to those ideals to paper. Your staff know what to strive towards and what to avoid. They know how they should behave, what impression they need to leave customers with and before long, that becomes the status quo – the day-to-day culture of your business.

4. Emotion

As Scott Goodson wrote for Forbes back in 2012, “in today’s world…you can’t simply build a brand like they did in the old days. You need a cultural movement strategy to achieve kinetic growth for your brand. With that, the sky’s the limit.”

Here, he doesn’t mean culture in the sense described above, but in the sense of developing an emotional connection with consumers – something they can feel a part of by buying into your brand. Branding, when done properly, gives you that. It crystallises the reason that customers should believe in you, and everything you have to offer.

5. Value

Circling back to the very start of this piece, we have seen the value that branding adds to a business. Brand alone elevated an admittedly middle-of-the-road headphone manufacturer (in terms of the product alone) to such a degree that it caught the eye of one of the world’s biggest companies.

Even if the other four reasons listed here don’t resonate with you, this one should. A strong enough brand makes your business more valuable, there are no two ways about it. If anything, it’s because of the other four reasons that this fifth reason is even possible.

Branding is essential, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Companies with strong brands perform better than those without them – and they perform well in any financial climate.

Now Hiring: Front End/Full Stack Developer

BGN is a brand-led strategic design agency based in Manchester city centre. We build brands for businesses of all sizes and digital is a major part of our output as an agency. Our passion for digital is in bringing motion, animation and brand experiences alive online, for a range of clients including Carlsberg, Radio.co and Lancashire Farm.

We are entering the next phase of BGN’s growth and, as a result, are looking for an enthusiastic, hard working Front-End/Full-Stack Developer to join our team. Someone that is excited to help shape our company, work with us to redefine our digital process and create award winning work.

 

Looking for
  • You know the basics like the back of your hand: semantic HTML and pure CSS (SCSS)
  • You’re confident with Javascript and have experience with a framework or two (VUEJS, REACTJS)
  • You can build bespoke WordPress themes from scratch
  • You have enough knowledge of Creative Suite to open and prepare design files
  • Your sites load lightning fast
  • You are a positive person and enjoy communicating and collaborating with other team members
  • You love to learn
Nice to have
  • You enjoy bringing sites to life using CSS animation/animation libraries
  • Experience working with WooCommerce or Shopify
  • Experience using Craft CMS
  • Laravel / PHP experience
  • Any server or domain experience
  • Any experience working with GIT
Perks
  • Profit share
  • Pension scheme
  • Regular team building socials
  • Breakfast, fruit and drinks provided
Salary
  • Based upon experience
Interested?

Send over your CV with a little about yourself to antonio@bgn.agency along with sample code of your best projects so we can see your style. Links to Codepen accounts would also be great.

Don’t Give Up on Digital

We’ve all seen sensationalist headlines reporting big name brands reducing their digital spend. Procter & Gamble are perhaps one of the most high profile cases in recent memory, cutting somewhere in the region of $100-140 million in digital advertising spend. The reasons cited for this were, according to AdWeek “brand safety concerns and ineffective ads”.

Reading a little further into the matter reveals some sort of conflict or miscommunication between P&G and their partner agencies – after a presumably fairly pragmatic and brutal review of their agency relationships at the start of this year. Now, what are the logical conclusions to draw from this? Referring to an article from Marketing Week, exactly a week after AdWeek originally broke the story, we see the headline “Will other brands follow P&G’s lead and cut digital ad spend?”. Ah yes, that old chestnut. A big brand cuts digital spend, so of course, that must mean digital doesn’t work.

There is a flaw in this logic, and forgive us if you have already (rightly) come to this conclusion yourself. The Drum’s Tom Goodwin described that flaw particularly well, writing: “When we think of digital only as an ad unit or media channel, we misunderstand everything about it. We take something profoundly transformative and stick it in the most constraining of vehicles… ‘Digital’ isn’t a thing, it’s a new way of thinking and a new canvas to work with” when it comes to conveying your brand and what makes you different. In coming to the knee-jerk conclusion that digital doesn’t work, we assume that any digital experience that doesn’t immediately entice a customer to buy has somehow failed. That’s when we start withdrawing digital spend or, worse still, start doubting the power of digital full stop.

Brands are too easily distracted by possibilities when it comes to digital, not what actually makes sense for the brand and reputation they have built up to that point. Digital is a blessing and a curse in this regard, brands are swept up by real time statistics seeing when people do and don’t click, and then make changes in the heat of the moment as easy win responses to figures they don’t like the look of. In other words, once again as Goodwin puts it, “in a world of shortermism, it’s better to ruthlessly mug people that were always going to buy a hotel stay in your hotel, than build long term equity in the brand to exploit for years”. Brand building through digital isn’t given a second thought in so many cases, and we just can’t fathom why.

We have already seen that P&G’s seeming loss of faith in digital was, in fact, nothing of the sort. If anything, their reduced digital budget looks more like a penalty levied at their partner agencies for either not responding to, or not making enough changes after P&G’s agency review at the start of 2017. We can’t fall victim to sensationalist headlines. We can’t lose faith in digital as a brand building tool.

 

 

What’s Brand Activism, Then?

To talk about brand activism is to talk about brand trust, in essence. Brand activism is something that has arisen from recent, shocking statistics like this from Edelman’s Earned Brand report (2017) – 57% of customers are more likely to buy from, or boycott, a brand because of its stance on a social or political issue. This was based on a survey of 14,000 people across 14 separate countries.

This finding comes at a time when trust in brands is at what must be an all time low. Edelman’s Trust Barometer report (2017) for last year was damning, revealing that only 37% of the general UK population trust institutions, a statistic that sits 8% lower than the global average. Further, they found that 53% of people do not regularly listen to people or organisations with whom they often disagree.

The landscape for brands is one with “a public hungry for increased regulation for business”, a public “largely supportive of a number of anti-business practices”. The public understandably find it hard to believe that a “company [is incapable of taking] actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the community where it operates”. Edelman add that “in a climate in which the system is perceived to be failing, the expectations of business are far greater”. It is with this that we arrive at brand activism.

As Interbrand wrote (2017), every brand has something that they could stand for. Holding onto customer trust is something that demands for businesses to stand up for what’s right. The cause that they choose to back is up to them, however.

Brand activism done well from Howies. Take that, National Trust.

Kotler and Sarkar broke brand activism down into six distinct categories in their Marketing Journal piece “Finally, Brand Activism!” (2017). For them, activism that brands choose to engage in can be social, legal, business-related, economic, political or environmental. Social activism covers areas such as inequality or other societal issues. Legal activism, as the name suggests, deals with laws and policies that may or may not impact the company in question directly. Business activism takes issue with corporate organisation, CEO pay, worker compensation, union regulations and so on.

Halfway there… Take a deep breath…

Economic activism is concerned with policies that impact income inequality and the redistribution of wealth, political activism is exactly what you would expect, as is environmental activism. The problem is figuring out which is the most appropriate for your brand. While some forms of activism seem like a logical fit for certain kinds of brands – outdoor brands naturally gravitate towards environmental activism, for instance – a traditional high street stationery brand might struggle to pull off social activism without it looking like bandwagon jumping, however.

The activist avenue you choose to pursue with your brand can only come from a serious, reasoned examination of your values, philosophies and company message, to see which would be the best fit for your brand. If the issues that you feel most passionate about don’t align with your brand, but you still feel you can make a meaningful impact on the discussion being had in that sector – by all means do, but tread lightly (see the now-banned and astoundingly misjudged Pepsi campaign above for a case study of what happens when brands ignore this advice).

Long story short, with trust in brands being at an all time low – shown with the various Edelman statistics mentioned earlier – brand activism is something that all brands should be considering, seeing where they could make a meaningful impact, and doing so without raising any eyebrows or questions about your intentions.

New Work: Indelible

Presenting our identity and website for Indelible, a unique communications agency specialising translating scientific stories from the pharmaceutical and medical industries into compelling and memorable content.


The name is a nod to the indelible mark that their content ultimately leaves people with, and our identity draws from the one indelible mark that every last one of us has in common – our fingerprints. Not only do we all have them in common, but they can never be changed, erased or forgotten, they are uniquely our own, and that is where their strength lies. There is no better metaphor for Indelible, both as a brand and as an offering.


These fingerprints are immediately noticeable on any one of Indelible’s touchpoints – the first thing you see on their homepage, business cards, stationery and so on. This style then carries through to our illustrations, which, much like the fingerprint typography on the Indelible website, slowly and beautifully draw in as you scroll down the page.

It’s the simplest starting points that spawn the strongest brand identities, and even on a smaller scale project like Indelible, the results speak for themselves.

What are Lifestyle Brands, Anyway?

Though undoubtedly not the very first to coin the term and define it, the concept of the ‘lifestyle brand’ was perhaps best described by Marazza and Saviolo in 2012. For them, a lifestyle brand is “a company that markets its products or services to embody the interests, attitudes and opinions of a group or a culture”. They add that “lifestyle brands seek to inspire, guide and motivate people, with the goal of their products contributing to the definition of the consumer’s way of life”.

This latter point is a lofty goal, but a crucial ambition. As Shoates noted in 2016, when done right a lifestyle brand “helps people express who they are and empowers them to be who they want to be…to switch [brands] would be untrue to ourselves”. This is the ideal for a lifestyle brand, speaking to customers on a level far “beyond just the problem the product solves or the solution the brand offers”, instead representing a customer’s “emotions, values, identities and aspirations”.

But, when has this strategy been pulled off successfully? Perhaps the best example of a lifestyle brand, and one that has operated as such since at least 2002 is good old Apple. With Steve Jobs back at the wheel, he made a real splash in the tech scene by dropping off MacBooks to every child in years 7 and 8 throughout the entire state of Maine. His parting shot was the annoyingly elegant: “…it’s not about the technology, it’s about what people can do with it”. Which may as well be Apple’s entire marketing strategy ever since. This typifies what a lifestyle brand is, in many ways – the product is secondary, with the experiences that it allows the customer to have taking centre stage instead.

Apple are hardly the most accessible of examples admittedly. An example much closer to home would be our recent work with Brand Attic. With their emphasis on outstanding quality in everyday items and statement pieces, we arrived at ‘life style’ as their brand essence, and “providing life style for your lifestyle” as their raison d’être. When we drilled down and understood their customer, we realise that their audience sat somewhere between a Missguided and a Next customer – too mature for the former, but not yet comfortable buying from the latter. Their customer was someone who was socially active, and that enjoys travelling, checking out new bars and restaurants, but not necessarily someone devoted to all things fashion. With our brand strategy therefore, came a new content strategy – one that focused less on trends and catwalk reports, but on events and experiences as well. Both of these elements combine together to create a more cohesive lifestyle around the Brand Attic name, something more tangible for customers to align themselves with beyond the appeal of their clothes alone.

Now, when has this strategy been used less successfully? Harley Davidson is the first example that springs to mind, and a somewhat convoluted one at that. Saying the words “Harley Davidson” to someone does indeed conjure up an image of a certain lifestyle (or at the very least, a certain mindset – epitomised in the Cannes Young Director Award winning short film above by Andreas Bruns), but does the brand deliver on it in 2017? Sure, they still make chopper motorbikes and they will still sell you shot glasses, hip flasks and other stereotypically “biker appropriate” merchandise. Scroll a little further though, as Rich Duprey pointed out in his 2014 Motley Fool piece, and you’ll find Harley Davidson branded… salad servers? What lifestyle are they trying to communicate there? I can’t be sure exactly what you pictured when you first saw the words “Harley Davidson”, but I’d wager that salad serving wasn’t even a peripheral part of what you envisaged earlier.

The point is that the decision to become a lifestyle brand shouldn’t be taken lightly. Not every brand can pull it off, or should. Jeff Swystun wrote in 2016 that becoming a lifestyle brand “does not give a dog food company permission to talk about backyard barbecues, or a car company license to offer parenting advice”. In the right hands a lifestyle brand can endure like nothing else, but when handled poorly, it’s a cry for help that will make investors more than a little nervous. Proceed with caution, people…

New Work: NBDA Architects

A project which will get the full case study treatment in due course, here is an early taste of our identity, website design and build for NBDA Architects.

Our work for NBDA hinges the striking bespoke logotype we have created, inspired by the lines, spacing and structure of a typical architect’s blueprint. In doing so, we have created a logo where every stroke is carefully considered and designed, in perfect keeping with NBDA’s overall approach.

The logotype sits in perfect contrast with the rest of the identity, which is more colourful to reflect NBDA’s adaptability and creativity.

The negative space in each individual letter provides us with a flexible toolkit of shapes, which can then be coloured and utilised to create ownable brand assets – be it as backdrops on certain sections of the website we designed, or as masks on the imagery that NBDA will come to share on social media now that the website has launched. There are a lot of opportunities in our identity, and we’re excited to see what the future holds for NBDA, armed with their new, more coherent identity.

 

Logos and Responsive Design

Chances are, you have already heard about responsive design. You know why you need it, and you may even have recently redesigned your brand’s website to accommodate it. In an age where even one named device’s screen size can’t be counted on – the iPhone has three separate screen sizes to account for (the SE, 7 and 7 Plus), as does the iPad (Mini, Pro 9.7” and Pro 12.9”) , and these are all still current models you can buy from the Apple Store today – responsive design is the only way to go.

What people maybe don’t realise is that responsive designs need responsive logos. But as we all know, the philosophy that sits at the core of responsive design isn’t simply one of scaling up or down, but rather making elegant and efficient use of screen space at any resolution. The general rule of thumb is that designs should be simpler at smaller sizes, and more and more detailed as the screen size gets larger and larger.

The beauty of this is that it doesn’t restrict brands to any single, rigid visual appearance – conveying personality in even the most corporate, buttoned-up of brands. Where matters can become slightly complicated is in cases where brands haven’t already accounted for responsive presentation of their marque and/or wordmarque. What I mean by this is that most well-designed brand identities will cover a number of different lock-ups of the core marque, at a number of different sizes – all of which will translate perfectly for usage in this way. Where these considerations haven’t been made, designers will have to create alternative versions themselves, using one of or a combination of all three of these techniques:

1. Reducing detail

Dealing down intricacy at smaller sizes increases the overall legibility of a brand asset. Intricacy is generally reduced by smoothing detailed shapes out, thickening thin strokes and filling previously-outlined elements, for instance.

2. Shifting composition

Taking a horizontal lock-up and making it vertical, or vice versa. This makes sure that the marque doesn’t overlap with menu elements, or require the main navigation to be any wider than it needs to be.

3. Measured subtraction

Removing elements of type within marques can work wonders at smaller sizes, meaning that the smallest sizes might not have any text in them at all, while the largest will not only have the brand name but potentially a tagline, year of incorporation or any other details you might want to convey.

Joe Harrison’s website, Responsive Logos, is a great resource for visualising how responsive logos might change at different sizes. Open a new browser window on desktop at full size, and then slowly resize horizontally to see how the logos of some of the world’s biggest brands reduce down at different screen sizes.

New Work: Festa Italiana

Following on from the success of Salvi’s Italian Day at last year’s Manchester Food and Drink Festival, a who’s who of Manchester’s Italian food and drink brands came together between the 23rd and 25th June for a three day celebration of all things Italian.

From fine food to live music, tastings, demonstrations, child-friendly frivolities and an Italian produce market, the Festa was a true family affair offering something for everyone of every age. As such, their advertising – online and offline – needed to appeal to people young and old, all at once.

Our designs deliberately didn’t make Italian food or drink the centre of the stage – but one part of a colourful, rich whole. We’ve avoided cliches and tired Italian tropes to get across what was to us the key selling point of the festival, and that was that it was a true celebration – not an Italian food market, or themed family fun day, but a complete package. We hoped that with this campaign and successful first year, we were helping to sew the seeds for a future mainstay of Manchester’s cultural calendar.

Rise of the Chatbot

Chatbots are on the collective brains of so many brands at the moment, and it’s easy to see why. We’ve been working with a fintech company for the past few weeks (which is all we can say for now… more to announce in the coming months), and as such, we’ve gotten a peek behind the chatbot curtain – enough to make us decide to implement one of our own.

Reading through myclever’s white paper on chatbots, a few interesting findings caught our eye. They wrote that in this day and age “a level of online service that was once a luxury now feels an inalienable right”. Chatbots notwithstanding, the best possible evidence for this is in the world of e-commerce delivery. We don’t want to wait for things to arrive anymore, and with the continued rise of Amazon Prime and next day delivery, we don’t have to. Hell, with Amazon Prime Now and Argos’ same day delivery, we barely have to wait an hour for delivery. It’s undoubtedly an age of instant gratification, and chatbots are a natural manifestation of this. Instant gratification is only half of the equation though, with Netflix, iPlayer, Spotify and all of the rest, instant access is an expectation too. We need our online services to be, again in the words of myclever, “swifter”, “smarter” and “ever-ready”.

With chatbots, brands can solve a number of different headaches that customers face – the perceived (or real) lack of responsiveness on a traditional contact form, questions being ignored outside of office hours, limited mobile access and the inability to get instant responses. This all makes logical sense. You would expect an unresponsive contact form to be off-putting at the very least, enough to give up and approach a different brand entirely for less charitable users. Lack of responsiveness is just as frustrating, inexcusable given the online format of proceedings.

The most surprising of myclever’s findings was the suggestion that customers find online services impersonal and characterless. In some ways, we understand this – chatbots are still very much in their infancy, so it only makes sense that brands are so focussed on making the technology work for their business that ensuring that the chatbot has a brand appropriate tone of voice might fall by the wayside. It’s no simple task, make no mistake. We will soon be A/B testing a number of different messages and voices for the fintech brand mentioned earlier – because although we have written and advised on brand messaging in the past, this is (at the time of writing) our first chatbot. Writing for a chatbot presents a whole new set of challenges – balancing personality with readability throughout the script of one half of a conversation. Writing multiple responses to single enquiries, covering every eventuality – it’s challenging, but exciting. It’s no wonder we were so eager to implement similar technology on our own site.

Have a play with our chatbot-alike, and we’ll have a lot more to say about the fintech chatbot we’re working with in the months to come…

Sponsoring the New Producer Awards 2017

Just a quick note to draw your attention to the news that we will be sponsoring the Innovator category at Speciality Food Magazine’s New Producer Awards this year.

Created to give outstanding producers the recognition they deserve, the New Producer Awards are a highlight of the FMCG calendar.

We’ve sponsored the Innovator category to give special recognition to forward-thinking and trail blazing producers that constantly bring new ideas to such an exciting sector. We love innovative brands at BGN, and we’ve worked with countless food and drink brands over the years, so it only made sense to support the industry and give as much encouragement as we could to the very best emerging brands in such a fast-moving industry.

We can’t wait to meet the nominees and crown the winner when the big day comes in October. If one of you happens to be reading this… We’ll see you there!

New Work: Oscar Phillips Foundation

We were recently approached by the Oscar Phillips Foundation to design an identity and build a website in time for a BBC News piece that featured the charity and the challenges they face in preventing rail suicides across the UK.

Named after Oscar Phillips, a promising and popular 16 year old who sadly took his own life at a railway station in 2015, the Oscar Phillips Foundation is a charity that goes into schools and not only educates young people about emotional wellbeing, but also gives motivational, uplifting assemblies at the most stressful parts of the school year – making sure that every young person feels free to speak their mind, be it to their parents, teachers, friends, anyone that makes the stress of being a teenager in modern Britain that bit more manageable.

Using Oscar’s favourite colour, we have created an identity treads a careful line – being both vibrant and full of personality (the bowtie marque, the distinctive lowercase letter ‘i’s in the primary chosen typeface), but also credible and respectful. The latter was crucial to respect Oscar’s memory and treat the subject of youth suicide with the sensitivity it deserves.

Supported with a straightforward website that was live in good time for the BBC News coverage going out, the overall impression that our identity creates is one of a charity that has been around for much longer than two years – which was the exact intention. Though the Foundation has only been around since 2015, the issues that they deal with have been prevalent forever – and supporting mental wellbeing is an issue near and dear to our hearts at BGN.

Living, Breathing Brands

Gone are the days of branding being restricted by print. Brands need no longer be subject to a rigid set of guidelines stipulating how a brand name, logo and other assets can be used in different contexts. This was all fine and well for print, but such limitations are completely unnecessary in digital applications.

With digital, we can create logos that morph and change, creating logic that fundamentally changes the way the brand appears and the form it takes on certain days. This is by no means a quick process, and certainly not an appropriate fit for every business under the sun – but when a brand full commits to adaptive or dynamic branding, the results are a sight to behold.

These are the six categories of dynamic brand, in our minds:

1. Containing brands

Brands that serve as a container for content in the future. That content could take the form of patterns, illustration, photography or even video in a digital context. With the right marque at the heart of it, a container brand is future-proof – with designers and creative people eager to throw their hats into the ring and come up with their own bold creations within your framework.

City of Melbourne by Landor Associates

The ‘M’ in this identity is as good a blank canvas as a designer could hope for – as appropriate for reflecting a vibrant celebration of diversity as it is a more low key, professional or even sombre affair. From the moment you see the sheer volume of Melbourne ‘M’s that have been created since the brand was first rolled out, you just know that this identity is one that will not be forgotten any time soon.

2. Surrounding brands

The opposite of the containing brand, in a way. The surrounding brand shows variation around a constant – be it a static marque or wordmarque. The overall shape of what customers will view as the ‘logo’ will differ dramatically between executions, but the brand will remain constantly visible.

AOL by Wolff Olins

A forward-thinking identity that reflected the importance of creativity and originality to AOL, immediately following a time when the brand had become synonymous with free trial CDs and a soulless, corporate feel. In a move that so many brands have made since, AOL committed to an output of no less than 08% original content – transitioning from ISP into fully fledged media company. The identity, therefore, was a platform for the content created by illustrators, videographers, filmmakers, painters, photographers and sculptors that joined the AOL Artists initiative.

3. Component brands

Component brands are essentially a toolkit that gives in-house designers enough flexibility to create different outcomes each time, while still making sure that each creation can still be traced back to the core brand.

EDP by Sagmeister & Walsh

An identity built using just four shapes – a circle, semicircle, square and triangle. Combining and layering these shapes led to the creation of 85 separate EDP marques from the offset, with more and more being created daily. It’s an innovative, clear and considered approach that is as reflective of the brand as it is distinctive. The sheer versatility of these shapes is staggering, and even the most intricate of designs created for the brand are visibly made up of the four component EDP shapes.

4. Blueprinted brands

Blueprinted brands have a certain system at their core that dictates everything that they do, forming a language that makes it immediately apparent what brand an individual touchpoint is associated with, even if the brand’s name is nowhere to be seen on said touchpoint. The system might simply be that brand assets have to be laid out to fit into a very specific grid formation – but even this is more specific than the average set of brand guidelines would be in terms of stipulating how the brand can be used.

MAIO by TwoPoints.net

MAIO are architects that don’t do architecture – instead conveying architectural solutions through art installations, stands at trade fairs and so on. The through line in all of their work is their considered development and exacting execution. As such, the MAIO identity is one that revolves around careful construction – playing with the various forms in the MAIO logotype and combining or separating them as appropriate for unique, but immediately identifiable individual lock-ups.

5. Collaborative brands

With collaborative brands, the agency designs a full identity, but leaves a blank canvas for clients to inject their personality into – be it with staff photos, examples of their work or some of their team’s own designs to layer on top of the core brand identity.

OCAD University by Bruce Mau Design

A visual identity that, almost literally, becomes a display window for the work of students at the university. Bruce Mau Design’s identity becomes a framework, a baseline of black-and-white modular frames inspired by the aLL-designed university building itself. Perhaps this identity’s greatest strength is its ability to reflect the reassuring structure that a university environment provides, whilst also making sure that creativity takes precedence first and foremost.

5. Fluid brands

Fluid brands are influenced by external factors – be it weather, visitor counts, social media activity or anything else. These identities react in real time to the world as it is at this very moment – what better way to convey the real, living character of a brand or institution?

Visit Nordykn by Neue

The Nordykn peninsula marque changes every five minutes in line with changes in wind direction and temperature in the area. This is supported with a separate logo generator, where site visitors can download a Nordykn logo for that exact moment instead of waiting. With all of this in mind, Nordykn marque will differ dramatically between site visits, even within the same hour – but even so, it is always immediately obvious that each marque is associated with Nordykn because the shapes that make up each marque are visibly from the same style family.

Brand vs. Product

How can new brands hope to stand out on supermarket shelves? Introductory offers only get you so far, and new brands don’t have the reputation and haven’t earned the loyalty of customers that gives more established brands the leg-up, even with completely new markets. On supermarket shelves, your product is literally sitting next to household names that have gone unchallenged for decades – so new brands are forced to make a splash when it comes to branding. The question is though, how should new brands split the difference between investing in bettering their product, and investing in fleshing out their brand?

Nine times out of ten, we walk into supermarkets knowing what we want to buy right down to the brand, range and size of the SKU. We go back to those brands and products time and time again because of a combination of their taste, price and packaging. Picking a new brand is a gamble, especially if the cost of the alternative product is higher than our usual go-to. All we have to go off is the look and feel of the new brand, so from that alone we have to decide whether or not to take the leap of faith and invest for the first time.

With this in mind, it seems obvious that brands need to invest in design – packaging design in particular – to make their product stand out. Without that visual appeal, they aren’t likely to picked up for a closer look, let alone dropped into the basket, bought and used. That said, even with the best visual identity and packaging execution in the world – this is just a short term win if the product can’t live up to it. Stand-out brands with weak products may gain initial inquisitive purchases, but will see a heavy drop-off beyond that with only the minority buying from them again in the future.

Is a 50/50 split between brand investment and product development the right way to go in that case? Or does it depend on the product? If we think of cheddar, for instance – shoppers have very little loyalty to any one cheddar brand, they just buy whichever one is on offer. Should cheesemakers invest more in brand than others, in that case? Or should they invest more in their product, hoping that doing so and supporting that investment with competitive pricing will gradually create loyalty in spite of the price being higher than the brands on offer?

Unfortunately there are no hard and fast rules here, so all we can do at this stage is pose the questions. We will happily meet with you to offer our own recommendations, or even just to contribute to the discussion as an expert outside voice – either way, chat to Antonio to start the ball rolling and we’ll help any way that we can.

The Double Diamond

Campaigns

Observant viewers will have noticed that both of our processes are visualised as double diamonds. Some might already be familiar with why we’ve done this – the double diamond is a fairly prevalent way of visualising the creative process – but for those of you that aren’t, we’ll explain it in our own terms.

Put simply, from left to right the double diamond illustrates how broad or refined an idea should be at every stage of a project. It starts fairly specifically with the client brief, but as we discuss and question that very brief in our workshop, the scope of it starts to broaden. This raises questions that we look to answer with research, using our findings to inform the strategy that we collaborate with clients to create. This puts us in good stead for the branding or digital project to get into full swing.

Now you might be wondering why don’t we just start at the second diamond? The problem with a branding or digital project being carried out without the agency having a complete understanding of the brand they are working on behalf of, is that more often than not, they end up solving the wrong problem. Further, it makes sure that any of our ideas are double and triple checked, with the weaker, less effective ideas being dropped early on in favour of solutions that will make a greater splash in your industry.

For more information about the specifics, head to our process page, or get in touch. Long story short, the double diamond visualises the creative process in the following way – as the diamond diverges, a number of ideas are created, it then diverges for the first time as ideas are refined down into a single idea, to then be explored and questioned once again into the diverging second diamond. In the first diamond we work to design the right thing, and in the second we design the thing right.

Settling In At Neo

After just over a month, we can safely say we are well settled in on the second floor of Neo. The reception has been extremely positive so far, with several clients popping in over the past few weeks for a nosey.

For anyone we haven’t seen yet, or that hasn’t heard of Neo – it’s Bruntwood’s flagship workspace on Charlotte Street, just off Portland Street. Face Caffè Nero and look up, that’s Neo. We’ve been here since it first opened, and have quickly gotten into the swing of things – making the most of the space and sipping that sweet, sweet iPad-made coffee.

Now we are settled in, we’re slowly but surely planning our launch party. A bit delayed, we know, but better late than never. We’ll be battering social as soon as we’ve got more to announce, so sit tight for now and we’ll make sure we come up with something that’s worth the wait.

Our Manifesto

In order to get the most out of your experience working with us, there are a few core values and principles that we need you to buy into, or at the very least know about before your project gets off the ground.

We are just like you

Leave your preconceptions of creative agencies at the door. We’re more like you than like them. We didn’t make the decision to go it alone as disgruntled creatives breaking away from larger agencies – two of our three directors have business degrees, and as such, every move we make is grounded in solid business knowledge.

We are thinkers and doers

We are focussed on bottom lines and delivering effective, impactful strategy, design and development. Our strategy is valuable, our design and digital solutions impactful, but together, they move brands forward and endure, balancing intuition with science and business acumen to achieve the result that makes the greatest impact on your bottom line.

We are equals

We don’t hesitate to question briefs and decisions, and ultimately stand our ground in matters of design and development. Without this willingness to challenge our clients, it is well-nigh impossible to develop the close, collaborative relationships we crave. We won’t tell you what you want to hear, unless it also happens to be what is right.

We are honest and accountable

If, for whatever reason, we aren’t the right fit for you or your business, or if your brief falls outside of our expertise, we will tell you and recommend the best people to approach next. If mistakes are ever made, or deadlines suddenly need extending, we will hold our hands up and accept responsibility – accountability is essential to us.

We work for your customers, not you

We don’t emphasise strategy out of voyeurism or procrastination, but to gain the level of understanding needed to help you reach your commercial goals. Subjectivity and personal taste have no place in our process. The design that we arrive at with all of the information we have gained may well be a noticeable departure from what you’re used to, but it’s not for you, it’s for your customers.

10 Lessons for Young Designers

I gave a talk to the part time students at Shillington College not too long ago. I talked about the journey I have been on in my life/career to get to where I am today, talked about some mistakes I made along the way and wrapped up with a list of 10 pieces of advice for them. As I talked, I noticed a lot of the audience furiously scribbling down the advice as I went through the list. With this in mind, I thought it might make sense to flesh these out and post them here for people to see, so here they are:

1: Be creative in the face of constraints

Give yourself restrictions during your studies and early in your career when producing self initiated work. With a fairly loose brief and ample time, most graduates or young designers will be producing good work, so yours then has to be amazing to stand out in a crowded market. I know, that’s hardly a revelation, but in a world where everyone is producing work in these exact same circumstances, standing out is no simple task. A way more appropriate introduction to the industry that you ultimately want to be a part of is to ensure some of your portfolio is filled with work that has been produced under a set of constraints. Give yourself a tight deadline, a restrictive print technique, design constraints… Basically mimic the conditions you may have in industry and work to the best of your ability within them. On the start of most of your journeys, this will prove invaluable. Also, creativity in the face of constraints is a sign of a talented designer, and will help you to stand out when applying for roles.

2: Measure everything

Another point to note with relation to the above (in the quest to be commercially aware) is to measure everything on your projects, be aware of how long it takes you to do things. Eventually, someone will ask you how long a project took to complete or ask you to give a quote for how much something will cost, so make sure you have a record of how long it takes you to produce your work.

3: Be interested
You design best when you are interested in the subject matter. This is not a cue to disappear into your own world and only design covers for the kind of brands and industries you like, but instead me urging you to make yourself interested in what your client is doing – they’re interested, and you can be too. It’s the best way of showing that you have fully researched and understood what it is that they do, and how they do it.

4: Just cause the client is happy, doesn’t mean it’s good
Depending on how ambitious you are, and whether peer feedback and reputation is important to you, producing something on time isn’t the sign of a good piece of design, being under budget is not necessarily something to hang your hat on. If creative work is compromised to hit budgets and timescales (which is understandable), it is still compromised. Sometimes the best thing to ensure the success of a project is to be honest with yourself, your employee and/or your client. If something is improved by having more time or budget invested in it, then in some instances this extra investment should be fought for.

5: Don’t wait for the perfect project
“This brief is too restrictive for me to do anything good for it”, “I don’t have time to do my best work”, “These brand guidelines are stopping me being creative”… All perfect examples of what can only be described as bullshit in my eyes.

6: Have a strategy…
Look for the agencies that you want to work for, who produce the work you would like to work on, that have a culture that you would fit in and target them specifically. Nobody likes receiving emails with literally every other Creative Director in the surrounding county in the CC field…

7: …and be personal
When approaching an agency, please do your research. All of us CDs are on Twitter, there are bios about us and interviews with us all somewhere on the internet. You might not necessarily be able to find out each of our mother’s maiden names, but the least you can do is talk to us – address correspondence with the correct name and at least show you haven’t just plucked us out of the phone book with a “gis’ a job” attitude.

8: Love where you are
Once in industry, whether you choose to work at a big design house or a small, boutique agency, surround yourself with people you respect, admire and are inspired by – with a bit of luck they will respect, admire and be inspired by you in return. We spend most of our waking hours in our place of work, so try to ensure it is somewhere you like being. If it isn’t or is toxic for whatever reason, then walk away – it’s very important to respect the creative output of the people you work with, particularly in the early stages of your career.

9: Talk the talk…
The second most important thing you can learn is how to talk – about yourself, your ideas, your work, talking to colleagues, potential employees, clients… As much as your creativity will be judged by most of these people I just mentioned, the ability to talk well will make a huge difference to how you are perceived by all of them. Communication is what we do after all, and if you can’t talk well, you are going to struggle.

10: …but know when to STFU
Even more importantly than talking though and the most important thing to learn, is your ability to listen… Nobody likes the guy in meetings who refuses to shut up and talks over everyone else, whose self importance drowns out everything in their vicinity. By the same token, the only way to fully understand a client’s problem is not by talking about yourself, but by listening. Listening to what problems they are having as a business and then applying it to how you can help solve them. This applies to every part of the creative process. When presenting work, you will need to be able to talk about your concepts and also listen to what the client is saying, which parts of your proposal are being well received, which telltale signs is your audience giving off that shows they are happy or displeased and all the rest.

The New Age of Naming

Naming a brand can be one of the most difficult parts of setting up a new company. Finding an appropriate domain for it is another problem entirely…

It’s only natural for businesses to want a web address that matches their brand name – we all want to be easy to find online. The problem is that the majority of companies will only settle for either .com or .co.uk… .co or .org at a push. Some new brands, desperate to maximise their search engine visibility, will even restrict themselves to keyword-focused brand names, finding themselves beaten to the punch in the process.

First of all, we would flat out discourage brands from a keyword-led approach to naming. All this does is create extremely bland names, which then struggle to rise above the noise in any industry. Market leading brands in most cases choose disruptive, recognisable names like Wonga or Zoopla – not ShortTermLoans.com or PropertyFinder.com. That said, disruptive names like these are, by no stretch of the imagination, easy to create and agree upon internally.

Even once you arrive at a completely original name you might still struggle to find an available domain for it, even the most random of domains are being bought up left, right and centre. The best example in our experience was the brand name ‘Chatify’, something which arose out of a naming workshop with a client recently. This was something discussed as an example of a route we could pursue more than anything, but we looked the domain up on the off chance and what do you know, it was already taken. To add insult to injury, the owner of Chatify.com has done nothing more than put up a contact form to get in touch with them and, presumably, pay them thousands. Back to the drawing board, then…? Well, we’d argue that a domain alone shouldn’t discourage you from pursuing a brand name you believe in – frustrating cases of domain parking like this can be resolved if you are willing to negotiate a more reasonable price with the owner.

Long story short, naming is a tricky business – one that, for us at least, shouldn’t be led by keywords and trying to game the search system, but at the same time, shouldn’t be determined solely by whether or not you can get a clean .com or .co.uk domain. Though the majority of our name recommendations in workshops will, in fact, be available on .com or .co.uk, there may well be cases where we suggest an alternative extension – the .agency on our site is a perfect example of how this could look – or recommend adding “group”, “consultancy”, “solutions” or any other number of suffixes or prefixes to stick with a brand name we believe will be the best for your bottom line.

For now, brands should think themselves lucky to only have to pay a standard registration fee when registering their new company name – it seems all but inevitable that soon companies may have to buy desirable names from third parties in exactly the same way we buy clean, convenient domains right now. We might be a few years off that as of writing, but that notion is no way near as farfetched as it once was.

Trust and Collaboration

I said the following phrase to one of my team today: “who cares why? It looks sick!”. Now, this might seem like strange feedback for a Creative Director to give to a Designer, but I stand by it as I know exactly what I mean, and in this post I’m going to try to explain it, because I think it’s hugely important to what we do as designers.

We (the royal ‘we’ – that is, designers and agencies in general) talk a lot about trust and collaboration in our client relationships, but I’m starting to feel from experience that a lot of this is hollow, and in some cases, misplaced. Clients are generally happy to trust their designer or agency initially; allowing us to go away with the information we have gathered from working collaboratively, workshops and/or the joint writing of the creative brief. I think the thought process that allows that is sometimes one based on mistrust, however — outwardly showing trust and letting us going away to do what we think is right for them, but reserving the right to rein it back in when it comes to feedback. This isn’t just down to the client, however, and it would be unfair of us to suggest that it was. Due to the high value of the projects, and each client’s importance to the survival and growth of an agency or consultancy, we are just as guilty of, and just as culpable in occasionally letting this happen.

We often push back against feedback of this kind, taking it as subjective and reminding them (as often outlined at the start of the process), that the brand or website in question isn’t for them, it’s for their customers — who we have gone to great lengths to collaboratively define. This works for some, but not for others, their argument then moves from “I don’t like it” to “well, I think my customers won’t like it either” or “it’s not right for them”. This then puts us in an impossible position. Even after countless workshops and strategy meetings, it can be very difficult for an appointed agency to argue that they know the customers of a business better than the business (who in some cases has been trading to these exact same customers for a long, long time). The collaborative approach finishes and the trust usually stops here, and the agency or designer starts to make amends at the client’s behest, and so their concept and vision is diluted, changed or, in some cases, lost entirely. A lot of these amends, changes and the watering down of concepts comes about (from my experience) from clients not understanding the nuances of graphic design — making them unable to rationalise why certain creative decisions have been made, and why something looks a certain way that doesn’t fit in their non-graphic design orientated brain. This is absolutely fine, but this is also where the trust element already discussed needs to be more prevalent.

Obviously, designers don’t pitch in concepts that they have slaved over for days or weeks just to get a reaction or intentionally annoy their customers. They haven’t decided to ignore all of the research and information they have gathered, or forgot about who their end users, viewers or customers are. They will have produced their concept/visuals based on all of the above and their intuition — that is, their eye for detail, years of experience and careful consideration of the influences they have picked up throughout their careers. Each little flourish that a client sees as superfluous is actually key to the concept, removing these with the flat response “I don’t like it”, “it doesn’t need it”, “my customers won’t get it” or anything else under the sun is akin to introducing systemic risk. Contentious, I know but hear me out.

Firstly, removing or watering down the visual aspect of a concept will ultimately dilute the meaning behind it. The more generic a client is allowed to make a concept through their restrictive feedback, the more bland it becomes and the more it fades into the noise of their market — going against the exact reason that the majority of clients approach branding and design experts in the first place. This is bad.

Secondly, all agencies want to retain clients, and I think if they are honest, clients love a single relationship with a single supplier for all their creative. It gives their owners or marketing manager/director one less thing to worry about. Yet restrictive feedback that the agency has received ultimately (and people may be afraid to share or hear this) ensures that further creative work is restricted by proxy and that the future projects will sometimes never reach their full potential. This is really bad.

The answer? Listen to the designers when they tell you something looks good because trust me, they know. Be honest with your clients, a disagreement like this comes from the best possible place — one of making sure that clients get the best possible end product. We all preach trust and collaboration, but how often do we actually experience this from the client’s side of the equation? An up-front and frank discussion along the lines of my ramble here could work wonders, making sure the project starts off on the right footing.