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Local animal charity Animal Care situated in Lancaster is a regular client of Back Room SAM. Animal Care recently contacted us to commission a poster design to help publicise their upcoming Open Day taking place in May this year.
The Open Day is Animal Care’s biggest fundraising event in their annual calendar. As the charity is entirely self-funded and receive no aid from the government, the success of events like this is vital for securing funds to allow their work to continue in caring for and re-homing unwanted and abandoned animals that come to them from all over North West England.
“Every adventure requires a first step…” The Design Brief The brief we were given for the poster design was a challenging one. The open day is primarily aimed at families with children, and this year the event is to take on an Alice in Wonderland theme. This theme needed to be explicitly communicated in the design. Tea parties, cheshire cats and mad hatters while experimenting with bold colours and chequered patterns meant we soon found ourselves in Wonderland! However, while implementing this theme we wanted to avoid compromising the core standard branding of the charity. This also needed to be represented so that folk already familiar with the charity could quickly recognise this as an Animal Care event.
ALICE: ‘This is impossible.’
THE MAD HATTER: ‘Only if you believe it is.’
Another challenge was the amount of information to be included on the poster. Lots of different stalls and activities would be happening at the Open Day event to attract people to come along, and it was important that all of these were communicated clearly. The trick was to refine the poster layout so that it didn’t appear cluttered with ‘information overload’. The poster was to be printed in various sizes – A2, A3 and A4 – so we needed to ensure it was still visually attractive and easily readable when reproduced at the smallest size.
‘I’m not crazy. My reality is just different from yours.’ Cheshire Cat
Mad as a hatter about the result The client were delighted with the final outcome, and feel the design very much represents their vision for the event and successfully attracts and compels the target audience. Plans are coming together nicely for the day, which is set to be their largest fundraising event to date!
‘Animal Care used Back Room SAM to redesign our adoption folders, forms and business cards as well as to design posters for our different fundraising events. Back Room SAM really has been such an easy business to work with, very helpful and has made it very easy to order everything we need from one place. Sarah’s design work is very professional which has given our charity a clear and quality look to all adoptions. We are always very pleased with everything we get from Back Room SAM and look forward to working with them for many more years to come.’ Faye Goymer, Principal Manager at Animal Care
How many Christmas newsletters have landed in your inbox so far this year? The festive season not only provides an ideal opportunity for businesses to get in touch with their contacts to wish them well, but a Christmas e-newsletter can also work as an effective marketing tool.
1. Thank people for their custom and support Whatever your reason for sending out a Christmas newsletter, be sure to include a short message of thanks and appreciation to those who have been valuable in sustaining or growing your business this year.
2. Provide useful information Make sure you include important information such as Christmas opening times, last minute or new year promotions, and any advice or tips that might be specifically relevant to the festive season.
3. Make it personal Christmas newsletters are great for building personal relationships with clients and customers. This means communicating person-to-person rather than just business-to-business. Use email marketing software that allows you to insert the name of each recipient into the subject line or text of the newsletter. And sign the newsletter off as coming from you and/or your team.
4. Use a suitable design Now, let me say this loud and clear. Just because it’s Christmas this is not an excuse for tacky design! By all means give your newsletter a special festive feel…but please, do it tastefully and even more important, in a way which reflects your business, your industry and your image and positioning.
5. Point recipients to other online points of engagement Don’t forget to use the newsletter as a marketing tool. Take advantage of this ‘touch-point’ with your customers and clients and point them in the direction of other places online that may cause them to buy from you now or in the near future. What pages on your website may be of interest to them? Are there any particular blog posts they might find useful? Include links to your Social Media sites so they can connect with your business and follow your activities going forward.
Over to you Have you sent out a Christmas e-newsletter this year? Have you got any tips or advice? Share them below.
If you need a helping hand with your email marketing as we head into the new year, I’d love to hear from you! Arrange a free 1-hour consultation to find out how Back Room SAM can help.
In Autumn 2015 Back Room SAM was commissioned to manage the re-brand of Dacrelands Clinic in Skerton, Lancaster in preparation for their relaunch early next year.
First established in 1988, Dacrelands Clinic offers a wide range of alternative treatments from local resident therapists. The clinic is now taking opportunity to refresh its image, improve communication of its brand values while also increasing their presence online.
What makes this branding project particularly exciting and challenging is our intention to focus on a number of different audiences, including those looking to receive treatment at Dacrelands, therapists wishing to rent a space in the clinic and those wanting to run courses and workshops at the site.
The first stage of the re-brand was the development of a new logoand setting outvisual branding for the clinic. The image we wished to create needed to remain classic, reflecting the distinguished nature and traditional values that the clinic has a reputation for in its service and through being situated in a large Georgian building. However, we wanted to effectively merge this with contrasting tones of softness to communicate feelings of empathy, approachability and comfort – principles that Dacrelands also holds dear. Gradients of interwoven colours are used to symbolise concepts of integrative health and a the holistic approach to treatment that the clinic promotes.
We are delighted to have finalised the design of the new logo for Dacrelands, but this is just the beginning! A fresh new website, professional photography and a range of marketing materials are all in the pipeline as part of this re-branding project. So keep watching this space for developments!
It’s been 4 years since I was first appointed to handle the marketing and communications for the Lancaster Music Festival which taking place every year across the city. This year the festival was bigger than ever, spanning 5 full days from 8th to 12th October and with a grand total of 43 venues taking part, all within walking distance in Lancaster city centre. Venues included the majority of pubs and restaurants, Lancaster’s 4 outdoor squares, the Ashton Memorial and Lancaster Castle. If you’d walked through the streets of Lancaster on those days you would have stumbled upon a wide range of live music of all tastes and genres from local, national and international artists.
It’s my great privilege to be part of the small bunch of individuals who form the festival team and make this mammoth event happen every year. It’s a really fun and varied role, which includes providing input all year round on the vision, strategy, logistics and delivery of the festival. But my primary concern is to coordinate the marketing aspect and do everything I can to continually grow awareness of the event, and, alongside the rest of the team work my socks off to make the visitor experience a wonderful one (indeed the festival tagline is ‘Welcoming, Walkable, Wonderful!)
How social media amplifies the festival experience
As well as consulting on marketing elements such as the festival branding, website, brochure and mobile app (new for this year), Back Room SAM is solely responsible for managing the festival’ssocial media activity. Facebook and Twitter have been essential to our communications strategy for engaging with festival-goers, artists and venues prior to the event, announcing developments and new elements added to the festival mix each year, as well as sharing news and updates during the festival itself.
If you’d been out and about at the festival, you’d probably have spotted a blurred version of myself running about the city with festival photographer Nick Dagger, sharing the goings-on as they happened. It was vital to keep the buzz going by posting photos and anecdotes, while adding to the copious mix of likes, comments, shares and retweets from festival-goers engulfing the social media sphere!
With such a large number of hosting venues and performances going on at the same time over the festival, it’s literally impossible for one to see everything, but thanks to social media people are able to share their festival experience with others – on Twitter the hashtags #LMF2015 and #TakeMondayOff were used for visitors to share photos and videos and tell other followers about their favourite gigs. Some weird and wonderful moments were also spotted and shared, including a photo of someone playing a snare drum whilst sat on top of a pub beer fridge at 1 in the morning, and one tweeter declaring their new found love of the medieval hip-hop genre after attending a gig by Boom Bike Bouree at Nice Bar and Restaurant!
Over the 5 days of the festival, our updates reached 106,000 people on Facebook and 94,500 people on Twitter – a fantastic reminder of the power of social media and the role it can play in enhancing an event like this.
It’s also my job to generate and coordinate the press coverage for the festival. Every year the event obtains a good level of attention from local and regional press including the Lancashire Evening Post and BBC Radio Lancashire, and for the first time this year we achieved national coverage from BBC 6 Music and the Daily Telegraph which is very exciting!
Most importantly, the festival is excellent for Lancaster. It’s two weeks later and people are still talking about it. It is estimated that over 60,000 people attended this year’s festival including many visitors from outside the region, injecting an extra £1.5million into the local economy. People are sitting up and taking notice of this small city as a world-class music location. Locals are proud to call Lancaster their home and visitors are looking forward to coming back.
As one person so profoundly commented on the festival feedback survey, Lancaster well and truly rocked.
Here’s what Festival Coordinator Ben Ruth said having Back Room SAM as part of the festival team this year:
“Employing Back Room SAM to promote and market the 2015 Lancaster Music Festival allowed us as directors to concentrate on the festival production and development without having to overly concern ourselves with marketing, as we knew Sarah would take care of those needs competently and efficiently. She proactively engaged with the festival team, making suggestions on strategies to improve the marketing as well as regularly updating us on the status of the marketing campaign.
The 2015 music festival broke all previous year’s records and also broke nationally for the first time. The unprecedented turnout of over 60,000 festival goers over the festival weekend bringing in around £1.5m into the city’s economy is both a testament to the festival’s success and to the success of a brilliant marketing campaign managed by Back Room SAM. 10 out of 10 in terms of beating our expectations and value for money!”
Good graphic design is not just the difference between bright and colourful and dull and boring. It can be the difference between your customers choosing between you and your competitors. It’s not just what you say in your marketing channels that matters, but also how you say it – the design needs to say all the right things about your business and be visually compelling to your target audience.
So, who is a graphic designer?
A graphic designer is a professional whose job is to create visual presentations that effectively communicate a desired message. They combine words and images that help to explain what a business is all about, and apply this logic to all areas of marketing communications – corporate identity, advertising, packaging, brochures, websites, social media, newsletters, though some may choose to specialise in delivering any number of these. (Note that a graphic designer is not someone who has a loose knowledge of using Photoshop, but more on this later!)
Here are 3 ways investing in good design will strengthen and grow your business…
1. Memorability Now more than ever, we are all daily bombarded with endless numbers of brands and logos from huge multinational companies to small local businesses. If you want your customers to easily recognise you and grow awareness of your brand, then good design will help you cut through the clutter and make you stand out from competitors and others in your industry. A design specifically for your business and with your target audience in mind is much more likely to have a powerful impact than a standard design or template downloaded from the web.
2. Consistency A good graphic designer will consider how your logo or corporate identity will work effectively on all different kinds of media and marketing communications, both online and offline. Your customers are likely to come into contact with you and your brand via many different channels, and it’s vital that every time they receive the same message and same visual image. If you are working with a graphic designer on your logo design, make sure you and them consider how the design will work in various contexts. How will the logo look on your website or blog? On your letterhead? On your Facebook page? On your business card? Even embroidered on a uniform?
3. Credibility Have you ever come across the phrase ‘fake it ‘til you make it’? One of the most powerful elements of design is that you can be perceived as slick and professional even if your workplace is at home at a small desk under the stairs! However you choose to position yourself in your market, good graphic design is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to communicate your desired business identity. First impressions count, and if you haven’t taken any care or attention over your design, what’s to stop people thinking you run your business any differently?
Choosing a graphic designer I hope I have started to convince you why investing in good design is very worthwhile for your business. But what about finding the right graphic designer to work with? Here are some quick tips for selecting a designer:
Your chosen graphic designer will play an important role in your business, so you need to trust them. Anyone can call themselves a graphic designer, and you want to avoid getting stuck working with someone whose work looks like something your 8-year old could have produced on Powerpoint. So, before commissioning anyone, ask to see their portfolio to take a look at the work they have done previously and the clients they have worked with. If possible, contact some of the clients they have done work for and ask for their experience of working with the designer.
If possible, arrange a face-to-face meeting with the designer before committing to working with them. Explain clearly your requirements, and observe how carefully they listen and take on board your thoughts and ideas. Do they make helpful suggestions, and do their best to address any concerns you might have? And do they take the time to understand your objectives and vision and understand your marketing strategy as a whole?
Make sure that you discuss and are both clear on the agreed cost and budget for the design work, as well as payment terms. Also be sure to set a deadline for completion that you are both happy with.
Need some help with your graphic design? I’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with me and we’ll arrange a time to meet and brainstorm ideas together. Or visit my portfolio to take a look at some of the design projects I’ve been recently working on with clients.
In recent weeks I have been developing a number of logos and corporate identities for various clients. One of the most important decisions to make about your visual identity is your choice of colour.
What is colour telling people about you?
Colour can communicate a lot more than you may think, sometimes even subconsciously! The infographic below suggests the emotions, qualities and characteristics that are associated with particular colours. It also gives examples of well-known brands that clearly demonstrate the claimed characteristics of each colour.
So when deciding what colours to use in your brand, it’s worth thinking about what you wish to communicate about your organisation, product or service. It is vital to deliver a consistent message to your target audience about what your business is about (also known as your USP or proposition) and you need to ensure your logo, stationery and various promotional material communicates this message, and one way to do this is through appropriate and effective use of colour.
How many colours should you use in your brand?
It’s also interesting to spot from the infographic that for the most part, big brands choose to only use one main colour in their identity. They work hard to associate themselves with a particular colour, which helps strengthen their image and become more memorable.
The strongest brand identities I have designed have had a limited colour palette, and when brainstorming branding concepts with clients, I usually suggest choosing no more than 1-2 main colours to work with in a design.
Of course, design is not an exact science and when it comes to making important decisions like use of colour, it’s not always as simple as following a set of rules. But my suggestions above might provide a good starting point to get you thinking about the use of colour in your brand.
I hope you enjoy using colour to bring your brand to life, and if you would like some help thinking through or designing your brand identity just give me a shout!
I’ve worked with a number of clients over the last few months who have wanted to get into blogging. Blogs are a great idea for most businesses – as a business owner they give you the opportunity to reveal more about who you are and what makes your product or service special.
If you are still fairly new to blogging, here are 7 top tips to get you going or help you improve your blogging technique.
1. Get a blog that’s integrated into your website Having a blog that’s integrated into your main website provides fresh content for your site which is good for Google and your SEO. It is also an easy way to get potential customers to visit your website and encourage them to venture outside the Blog section to other important pages that sell your product or service. If you can’t run to the cost involved in adding a blog to your website, then the alternative is to begin a free blog on something like blogger.com. If you do this, then be sure to include links to your main website in your blog posts.
2. The who, the what and the why Before you begin putting fingers to keyboard, make sure you’ve asked yourself the critical questions: Who is it you are writing for? What is it you want your blog to do? To connect with others? To share knowledge? And why do you want to start a blog? To raise awareness of a particular issue? To demonstrate expertise in something? Write your answers down somewhere and read back over them as your blog develops to check you are still on track with your goals.
3. Make it easy to read Research shows that people scan web pages rather than giving them a thorough read, and this should impact the way you write your blogs. Make your main points clear, and be quick to explain why the post is relevant and worth reading. Readers spend an average of 1.5 minutes on a blog, so it’s important to hold their attention. Be concise and to the point to make your blogs quick and easy reads – between 250 and 800 words is a good guideline. For longer blogs (like this one!) use sub-headings, bullet points and images to help maintain the reader’s focus.
4. Invite two-way interaction The best blogs actively encourage a dialogue between the blog writer and the readers. Ask for feedback, invite people to leave comments or let you know their opinions regarding the topic being discussed. It’s understandable to perhaps feel hesitant about inviting this sort of feedback, for fear of losing control or having your authority compromised. However, including other people’s opinions or experiences often makes for a more enriching blog. It’s also helpful to remember that you are always in control of what gets published on your blog. If you are worried then check your blog settings to ensure that any comments made by readers require prior moderation by yourself before being published on the site.
5. Use images The blogs with the highest engagement levels almost always include images along with the text. As someone quickly scans through your web page they will process images much faster than text. Experiment with being creative with the images – how about using images that include some text, or even embedding a short video that is related to your blog post?
6. Get social (and sociable!) There’s little point in writing a blog if nobody can find it. Use social media to get your blog out there, and cross-promote your blogs and your tweets to gain more followers. There are also free online tools out there that allow you to automatically publish your blog posts to your Facebook or Twitter accounts, giving you one less job to do when promoting your blog. Also, don’t overlook the face-to-face opportunities to promote your blog, such as when doing presentations or chatting at networking events.
7. Keep it up! It can take a while for a blog to gain momentum, so if you’ve not yet established the readership you desire then don’t give up. It’s important to keep blogging regularly – this might mean once a month, once a week, or even once a day depending on your blogging aims and strategy. If you find yourself on a roll with writing, you can always write several posts in one go and then use the scheduling tool on your blog to automatically publish your posts over a period of time.
Over to you Are you a regular blogger? I’d love to hear about your experience of blogging – please comment below to share your thoughts or to add your own blogging tips or tricks to the list.
This month, rather than writing a blog here on my own site, I was asked by Judy Heminsley of Work from Home Wisdom to write a guest blog on the “5 Things I Can’t Work Without”. I love Judy’s blog and always enjoy clicking through to read her posts which are often informative as well as fun to read, so I was thrilled to provide a blog post for her.
“5 Things I Can’t Work Without” is a series of blogs written by various people who run their businesses from home. It’s a very popular read – we are by nature nosey folks who love to learn about other people and what their routines look like day-to-day, especially with so much flexibility and freedom involved in home working.
So here is my guest blog on the 5 Things Back Room SAM Can’t Work Without. I have made an effort to avoid the obvious items like a laptop or mobile phone, and instead tried to include things that explain the nature of my business and give a good idea about some of my character traits (the photo might give you some clues about some of the items I’ve chosen…)
A post on social media is twice as likely to be shared or retweeted by others when it includes an image. In this video blog, I talk about how a important it is for a business to get creative with producing images for use on their social media pages, and how this can be done, even without any graphic design skills!
I hope you find this video blog useful, and I hope it inspires you to get creative when using images in your social media strategy.
When running a business it is often the big things that are at the top of our priority list. This is understandable as these are often the sorts of things our business couldn’t run without. But in this video blog I talk about the importance of paying attention to the little details in your business. These smaller things require little extra effort, can work powerfully to set you apart from competitors and can go a long way in helping you succeed and achieve your business goals.