Monday, 1 February 2016

Simon says:

Be a Brand, not bland

Increasingly we are seeing the stripping away of complex graphics and a move towards simplicity. There are a multitude of brands who have removed style and substance from their logos to 'get back to basics' and minimalism - Google is a good example of this, gradually flattening the logo until a simple sans-serif logo remained.

Unfortunately many companies often see this 'simplification' at surface level, mistaking it for a cost effective way to evolve their brand. The result is they become more bland than Brand. What they are missing is the strategic approach these major players use to make their rebrand work, exploring their brand offering at the start and then using this to retain or enhance their brand personality and offer.

The mark of successful branding is a consistent visual and vocal tool kit that ensures that even if the logo isn't present, the style and tone of voice reflects the brand, however simple. Try it, cover up the logo on a brochure, website or even walk around a space - if the logo wasn't there would you know who the company was? If you wouldn't then their logo and brand aren't aligned.

Stand out for clout


As simplicity is implemented across all brand touchpoints there is a real danger of losing differentiation. This can certainly be seen with many of the open plan workspaces which are often described by staff and visitors as lacking personality. Some implementations of agile workspaces have introduced style, colour and designer furniture but these new spaces are all starting to look the same!

Even when stepping into the digital world we see different websites that have the same structure and user journey, and in some cases the same overused stock imagery! This lack of differentiation leads to a seriously underwhelming user experience. From generic layouts to generic words, it seems the craft of creative writing has been over looked. Never underestimate the difference good content and story telling can make in helping to communicate the offer and the authenticity of a brand.

With our work in print, digital and workplace environments, we are constantly looking for new ways of achieving differentiation for our clients. Our projects involving workplace environments have really helped us to explore opportunities. For Twitter, instead of huge digital screens in reception we opted for the more tactile 3D distressed wall of type featuring some of their more memorable hashtags and tweets. This makes up a 20 metre wall in their London office reception and it has become the ideal photo backdrop when their VITs visit (Very Important Tweeters). For Yahoo we created a series of art installations that reflected their new focus on content over technology, providing a visual representation of the yin yang of key subjects. For example for news 'war vs peace' there is the image of a dove of peace made up of toy soldiers painted in the Yahoo purple.

Truth will out

We work closely with clients at all stages of their evolution, getting to know them as well as looking to understand their audiences, both internal and external. One thing is clear though - it isn't just about talking the talk... the successful companies are those that deliver what they say they do. With the world watching, tangible proof or evidence of your achievements is essential, and no matter how powerful your brand, your messaging and your values, if what you deliver doesn't reflect what you say, the power of social media and a connected world will ensure everyone knows...

Our best work is with the companies and staff that believe in their values and what they are doing and share this with us - it inspires us and helps us deliver the craftsmanship to differentiate and elevate a brand. Some more examples of us bringing brands to life in workspace environments can be found in this pdf of a book we've just produced here. To find out more about how we bring brands to life across print, digital and workspace environments get in touch with us at tothepoint. +44 (0)20 7378 6999 or for more background visit our website www.tothepoint.co.uk/work.

New Year, New News


And The Winners Are….

It has been a source of distraction for many, but our 2016 calendar 'Silver Quiz' is now over and it’s time to reveal the winners. Thanks to everyone that entered, you all did a sterling job (OK, so maybe not all of you…) but there can only be five winners. Big congrats to 
Francesca Bozzard, Nick Somers, David Reid, Hayley Dove and Louise Errington. Your prize will be winging its way to you. Thanks for helping us start our 25th year with a bang.


Simon says: 

Be a Brand, not bland

The world of branding is forever changing, with trends and out-dated styles just like any other creative industry (and, indeed, the rest of the world!). However, it’s important to step back and make sure these trends are the right move for your business and its brand. Does the latest trend dilute your message, or maybe even give the wrong impression? In Simon’s article 'Be a Brand, not bland' he explores a few of the current trends and the impact these can have on a brand.

GSOH a must

This month we've been on the hunt for an eligible Senior/Mid Weight Account Manager to join the fold. It's a great opportunity for someone (even if we do say so ourselves), with some lovely clients and big projects on the horizon! If you know anyone with a passion for paper, a digital disposition and a cracking sense of humour then let us know. The full job ad is here.

 

Better backside


The NYE hangover has finally faded, the gluttony of Christmas seems a distant memory. Now as the new year stretches out in front of you, you may be forgiven for uttering that common phrase ‘this year will be different’. Don’t worry, we did the same and some of us have managed to live true to it thanks to our friends at Better Bankside, who put on a plethora of fitness extravaganzas that local businesses could take part in for free! This month Charlie, Katie and Lizzie have been hitting the mean streets of SE1 and joining in with Streetgym. Not as scary as it sounds, Streetgym is a workout class that uses the urban environment to put you through your paces. Sound fun? Check out the Streetgym website here.

For those of us that didn’t fancy the urban gym of the Southbank there was always our weekly Yoga session. Since the lovely Flo, of Flo Yoga, has been on maternity leave (pictured here with the lovely Nina) we’ve been downward dogging with Jasmine a.k.a Stretch And The City (we only work with pun loving teachers…).


360 videos


This month while browsing the deepest depths of social media we stumbled across this little gem. We find it amazing and inspiring to see creatives pushing the boundaries of what can be done with video. (If you can’t tell, we are really impressed with just how immersive these videos are on our smartphones.) It’s also worth watching how they do it! take a look on our Facebook page for both videos.


Pressing Issues

We’re always harping on about the value of the design process. Well this month we’ve taken it to another level, getting our hands mucky by learning how to use letterpress. A course at the New North Press, where we hand typeset a sentence, made us appreciate the speed and ease of our beloved macs while giving us a deeper knowledge and love of typography. A skill/process where making it ‘a little bigger’ is not a quick click away.









Valentines Quiz

And finally, with 14th Feb just round the corner you may fancy having a go at our Quote Bank Valentine Quiz from last year - it's still here for you to play. If we get time we may add some new quotes to freshen it up but for now the competition is back on and there's a bottle of bubbly up for grabs for the winner.


Patient Hub

Adaptive Apps approached us for help with their logo, branding and website for their new product, Patient Hub. Patient Hub is an app designed to allow healthcare professionals to work in a way that's familiar to them, whilst also bringing patient tracking systems used in primary care into the 21st century.



The brand needed careful positioning to appeal to both the healthcare professionals using the systems and the companies who will purchase it. It also needed to take into consideration ease of application of the identity across web, apps and print - so nothing too complex for a mobile screen. We chose to use blue and green, often seen in this sector, for the core brand colours, creating a fresh look whilst also giving the new brand a familiar medical feel.




The cross, made of arrows, also reflects the medical nature of the app but suggests the connectivity and interaction which is the core purpose and benefit. The cross and strapline: ‘connected care’ are used across digital and print with complementary information graphics.


The website’s primary purpose is to showcase the app and all its features. The challenge was to get across all of the functionality without overwhelming the reader. We worked closely with a copywriter to create the right tone of voice and clear messages. This is supported by visuals to showcase how Patient Hub is optimised for Windows, Android and iOS and is compatible with a broad range of devices.

The team at Adaptive Apps built a native app for each platform, allowing users to work on their preferred device, in a way that is familiar to them. The app also allows the user access to patient information with or without an internet connection.


The fully responsive website is based on Twitter's Bootstrap framework, built into a bespoke Wordpress theme. With simple icons and navigation at the top level there are links to more technical detail for those that really want to get to grips with the inner workings of the app.


It’s been a pleasure working with the team at Adaptive Apps. The site will be going live in the next couple of days, for a sneak preview have a look here.

Is your website flexible?

We recently undertook some jiggery pokery on a client’s ‘fixed size’ website to make it ‘responsive'. Nowadays, as you’re probably already aware, websites need to be ‘mobile friendly'. There are so many variants of screen size out there, not just mobiles, but tablets and all manner of laptops. The idea that a website can solely exist for traditional desktop screens is a thing of the past. 


Our client’s website wasn’t just fixed width, but fixed height as well. This raises another ‘issue' that some people still seem to cling on to, regarding the perceived ‘fold line’. As screens get bigger / taller / narrower / whatever, the idea that content can’t go below a certain measurement, or that users don’t like scrolling down pages, is a pretty old fashioned view.

But today’s browsing habits go way beyond how deep your browser is. With the number people browsing the internet on mobiles set to overtake people using desktops this year, Google actually marks your website down if your site doesn't respond. 


We have to ask ourselves; how does this affect browsing habits? With users often ‘on the go’ when browsing online, their attention span is even shorter than ever. They want to find what they're after, and fast.


So, is your website flexible and fast? 


Obviously, we can help with a ‘quick fix’ that helps your website behave on a mobile phone. But is that enough? Is the key messaging visible? Is the navigation system lucid? Can people see the BIG BUTTON and is it inviting?

For bigger websites, you can't simply stick ‘bandage’ on and crowbar it into a mobile view. You need to think of mobiles and desktop layouts together. The content can be the same, but the hierarchy should change to suit the device and create the best user journey. This takes a little more time of course, but with some intelligent design, it’s well worth the effort. And Google will love you for it!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Year Ye Year Ye

January - News for News UK

News UK's Technology and Operations division were looking to create a wayfinding solution for the merger of 10 departments whilst injecting some personality into their new space on the 6th floor of 1 London Bridge, which sits directly opposite the Shard. Our interior branding skills were put to the test but everyone was very happy with the results as the new look brings them all together! Click here for the full story.

February - A new look for 3DReid

February saw the launch of our new website for award-winning architects, 3DReid. Having designed their brand, they wanted us to design a responsive wordpress site that mirrored the quality of their work whilst retaining the simple and clean style we had created across their other touch points. The site is uncluttered and gets straight tothepoint (see what we did there!) with an impactful homepage showcasing a full screen carousel of their leading projects. Click here for the full story.

March - Celebrating with a bang

Not too long ago we helped Transport Systems Catapult launch the All Aboard Competition, a national school competition challenging children and young adults to make it easier for those with a visual or hearing impairment to travel by bus. We branded the competition with a quirky and vibrant take on the existing TSC IM campaign we’d also created, using hand-drawn icons and the trademark TSC blue to create something a little more “down with the kids” as they say. The competition featured on national TV, with Baroness Kramer; Minister of State for Transport, helping to drive the competition forward. Click here for the full story.

April - Speak for yourself!

In April ISBA felt it was time to refresh their marketing materials. Our work started with their Annual Conference, however from the very beginning the plan was to create a contemporary suite of marketing materials for 2015 that reflected ISBA as the voice of a modern industry. We’re now working with them on evolving their look ready for launching in 2016, with a few new twists and turns, starting with the look and feel for their 2016 Annual Conference. Click here for the full story.

May - Act for the Act

One of our chosen 'give-back' projects this year was to provide branding and designs for a series of posters to help with the crowdfunding campaign for 'Act for the Act', helping to raise awareness of the benefits the Human Rights Act has had for everyday people in Britain. In super quick time, one week from brief, we helped create the brand and the theme for the poster campaign and within three weeks the crowdfunding had exceeded its target! The Act for the Act Campaign went out all over London later in the year and can still be seen at some sites and even on some cupcakes. You can find out more on their website, and still sign the letter to Michael Gove, here. Click here for the full story.


June - The home of design

In June Derwent London came to us to work on the marketing materials for their property Holden House, a Grade II listed building whose office entrance is nestled on Rathbone Place, for its up and coming return to the market. We designed a website, signage and a quirky brochure, featuring die cut coloured stock, where the shapes overlap and reveal imagery and text as you read, evoking the sense of discovery that can be felt when walking through the building itself. Following the speedy letting of the space we have now been asked to help with their London development at 20 Farringdon Road. Click here for the full story.

July - An Ace up our sleeve

In the summer our friends at News UK asked us to help the team at ACE Circulation to create a refreshed identity and website that was able to keep up with their growing needs. Their new site needed to be able to manage online event bookings, invoicing and payment and included a jobs database and login space for members. All this along with a fully responsive layout, analytics and a CMS that was easy to update…not much then! They were delighted with the results and we even got an invite to their fab Christmas party at the Grosvenor House Hotel. Click here for the full story.

August - Ship shape branding

We’ve been working with the folks at Union Maritime for some time, but in 2015 we refreshed their logo as well as designing and producing their slick, new minimal and responsive website. These designs are now influencing other divisions within the group who are looking to align their brands with the new simplified look and feel. Establishing a strong brand isn’t something that happens overnight (if only life was that easy!), so the hard work has only just begun. Click here for the full story.

September - Nuts for KP

As Autumn arrived we began working with the Intersnack group. The project was the branding of KP Snacks’ new head office in Slough. The interior branding needed to balance their 22 strong portfolio of well known brands, parent company branding and their new look staff materials. With an overarching theme that ran through the office we tied together corporate messaging with humour, graphics, pack illustrations, product icons, taglines and photography, even producing an alphabet from their core logos that helped bring the KP brands to life. The result, a creative, playful, energetic working environment. Click here for the full story.

October - New signage for Thames Clippers

The ship shape crew at Thames Clippers had been working with TfL to introduce touch-in, touch-out Oyster payments across their services. Time for us to be called in to help update their pier signage and alert commuters and visitors to these changes. It started with a few enjoyable trips on the service for an audit of their current wayfinding and messaging. The main challenge was to align the two brands to ensure consistent messaging, to help bring synergy to the information and provide greater clarity for the traveller. It's now all in place and no-one has been reported lost so far! Click here for the full story.

November - Have you heard: In London For London

Following on from the success of our ‘have you heard’ campaign to launch their Reading office, we’ve been working with the guys over at Turley to build on their presence in London, launching the ‘In London For London’ campaign. The campaign needed to highlight their expertise as a cross service and cross sector company within the capital. We created a ‘co-ordinate’ sub brand mark that will allow Turley to visually pinpoint their projects to the exact latitude and longitude. The ‘In London, For London’ logo has been used across various materials for key client events, and will be expanded upon in 2016. Click here for the full story.

December - Onwards and upwards!

December is always busy sorting out our calendars and catching up with clients to celebrate the successes of 2015 but we are also looking forward to working with some great new clients on exciting projects in 2016. As we run up to our break (24.12.15 - 03.12.16), we are putting the final touches to a new brand and website for the Patient Hub, preparing for the next stage of our work with 'Return2Play', starting work on a multisite for KP Snacks and also making a start on our 'give back' work for 2016, working with the charity ‘Circles Network’ to help develop their brand hierarchy and look and feel. We look forward to developing this initial work further in 2016.

We hope you’ll continue to watch this space for our latest news but for now have a great Christmas and all the best for 2016 - our 25th year!

Getting fit


The idea of getting fit often sends a cold shiver down our spine, especially during the season of over indulgence! But thankfully ISBA’s Future Fit conference is less about counting the calories and more about counting the Retweets, or more specifically it’s about ensuring the advertising industry is ready for the future.

New technology and lifestyles have changed the way we consume media and in turn how we absorb advertising. ISBA’s Future Fit day invites industry renowned speakers to discuss this evolution and help the industry to stay on its toes and adapt.


Although we've kept brand recognition by using the familiar colour palette of greens and browns, the conference is a stand alone event and didn't need to follow the sound graphic we created as part of the 'Voice of British advertising' concept.



The interlocking F’s have been used to suggest the idea of a perfect fit, whilst imagery within adds dynamism.

The conference will be hosted in March, so there will be plenty more materials needed in the lead up to it. So watch this space!

To find out more about Future Fit visit ISBA’s website.

Our 2016 Calendar


Time flies when you’re having fun, so it comes as a bit of a shock that in June we’ll be celebrating our silver anniversary! That’s a whopping 25 years of getting to the point for brands big and small. So this year we decided to celebrate with all things silver and create an extra special edition of our calendar by using silver foil blocking.



Each icon represents something silver synonymous with the month…with a little help from our clues, try to guess each one. If you think you've got all 12, click here to enter your answers in our online quiz. All correct answers will be entered into our end of January prize draw and 5 lucky winners will be sent a bottle of Champagne! Look out for the answers in our January enewsletter!


The team at Benwells helped to bring our concept to life and invited us down to watch the magic happen. Naturally we went down en masse to see foil blocking in all its glory, and luckily the Benwells team were very accommodating!

video


Calendar numbers are limited, but if you haven’t received yours, drop us a line at hi@tothepoint.co.uk and we’ll do our best to get one to you.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

WWWhy Change?

Many businesses still have out of date websites that aren't geared to the growing use of mobiles for web browsing. Many are advising the time has arrived for a technology catch up, but we advise you step back and really consider why you are doing it. It should be more than just keeping up with technology or the Joneses. Do you really understand your customers and audience, have their needs evolved, have you crafted an engaging story and what do you want to achieve from your website? All this should be considered as well as the technological arguments for change. So why should you update?

Unresponsive design.


Unresponsive sites are bad for business and communications. It is a fact that there are now more searches performed on mobiles than desktops so why would any business run a website which doesn't adapt to the multiple devices we have for our 'connected world'? Pinching or expanding screens to view a website properly hinders user accessibility. And if your site is not conveying your offer in seconds, or the user experience is awkward, they will go to your competitors who do have responsive sites and may therefore be even more responsive in other ways.

It's also important to be aware that non-responsive website are marked down by search engines, which will further harm your digital voice.

Complex user journeys.

The buzz word of today is simplicity. And, as our business name implies, it's been our core focus since we started nearly 25 years ago - digital is no different. The user journey, the experience, the use of anything should, whenever possible, be intuitive and simple. The journey you want the user to take through your site, what information you want to steer them to, should be clear from the start.

Making the complex simple is not an easy task but an essential one. Say no to over complex navigation, too much content and jargon, unnecessary graphics and imagery that don't relate to context. 'Less is more' should be adopted for digital as it was by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for minimalist design and architecture back in 1947.

Design for the client, or their audience?

Failing to create an easy to use site, with engaging informative content that speaks to your audience, will only ensure an increase in exit rates and lost opportunities. User experience should be at the heart of a strategic process for the design of a website, for example what information needs to be visually highlighted?  And how can we use design to highlight this content?

This will help create higher levels of engagement and more business opportunities. And as this can be measured through even the most basic analytics you can test and refine your strategy to ensure the site evolves to achieve higher levels of interest and even better results.

If you'd like to find out more about how we can help with your digital requirements please call Simon or James on 0207 378 6999. The tothepoint digital portfolio can be found at www.ttpdigital.com

Round up, Round up!


TTP Calendar 2016

It’s nearly time for our annual tothepoint desk calendar to be sent out. This year it’s an extra special edition, as we're celebrating 25 years in business! The team at Benwells have been helping to bring our silver theme to life through some expert silver foil blocking, and the team here have been on press to watch it in action. Benwells have done an amazing job, we've particularly enjoyed the mix of old and new techniques in the printing process. Keep your eyes peeled for more. If you would like a calendar then drop us a line at hi@tothepoint and we'll try to get one out to you.

WWWhy

Even in today's tech driven world, many businesses still have out of date websites that aren't geared to the growing use of mobiles for web browsing, and aren't being reviewed on a regular basis to keep them relevant. Equally, all too often websites are designed to show off the latest trend or technology, rather than to reflect the needs of your audience. We have a full piece on all the elements you need to be considering when reviewing your website (including why you should be reviewing your website!), from making it responsive to having the most effective user journey. You can read the full story here.


Mucky fingers

We’re always harping on about the value of the design process. Well this month we’ve taken it to another level, getting our hands mucky in a collage class with South London based artist Richard Pavitt. We quickly overcame our horror at tearing up books and walked away with some great pieces (and stuffed with tea and cake!). Check out his work and dates of other courses here.




The amazing world of Escher

Sarah and James have been culture vultures this month, checking out the M.C. Escher exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. We’re going to hand over to James for his review:
“The exhibition covers his key pieces of work, beginning with sketches and linocuts from his early years as an architectural student, then follows his travels as an artist, quickly identifying his interest in geometric tessellated patterns influenced by the Islamic tiled art of the Middle East.

You get a fascinating insight into how Escher developed as an artist, and as well as a rare look at his working sketches, notebooks and litho-plates. The exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery is pretty popular though, so it’s a good idea to book a slot at weekends, and make sure you’re on time!”

The exhibition is on until mid-January, so there’s still time to check it out.

Simon's Sunday act

You may remember the team at Act For The Act, who are striving to save the Human Rights Act from being scrapped. Simon met up with them again:

“On Sunday I travelled out to meet many of the team who'd worked tirelessly together to bring the Act for the Act campaign to life across London and other cities. Following the success of the crowd funding project we worked on, our Act for the Act logo has found its way onto celebratory cup cakes and cat cakes but more importantly the poster campaign, which is still live in some places. It features the people who have experienced the benefits and value of the Human Rights Act first hand. Having seen some of the early videos and read their stories I realised how ill informed I had been about the Human Rights Act, especially through the tabloids focus on singular aspects of the Act. By helping to raise the visual profile of the campaign we hoped that at the very least awareness would be raised of the positive aspects of the Act. To meet face to face with one of the couples featured, Martina and Matt Brincat-Baines, was very humbling but also inspiring to see how it had brought back some positives, and even a smile, into their lives with the support and changes they have been able to make to the law. If you feel ill informed, or have the impression the Act is only for criminals and terrorists, it is worth spending a little time watching some of the videos now on the website.

One of the three founders of the campaign, my good friend Fiona Bawdon (not for long if she keeps reminding me we've known each other for 30 years+), writes:
 'The Act for the Act campaign is unique as it is all about telling the stories of ordinary people when something has gone wrong in their lives. We are asking supporters to sign our letter to Justice Secretary Michael Gove, telling him the act is too important to all of us to be scrapped. Signing takes, literally, a couple of seconds and each signature really does make a difference.'"
The letter is up there on the homepage of the website so you too can make a difference. http://actfortheact.uk/

Window into Christmas

Everyone loves the excitement of a good Christmas display, it has become an intrinsic build up to the big day just like the Coca Cola advert and in more recent years the John Lewis advert. Retailers all over London’s Oxford Street are vying for the attention of shoppers and long gone are the days when a sprinkle of fake snow would do, retailers are now favouring a more abstract interpretation of the festive season and Christmas. It is particularly interesting to us as it links to our work with interior branding, it’s always good to take a look at what other brands are doing with their interiors and the materials they are using. Here are some that have caught the eye of Design Week.

Brandalism

Guerrilla marketing and viral campaigns are often well known for their humour or quirky nature, promoting big brands in unconventional ways. However, it’s easy to forget that this marketing method isn’t just used for the LOLZ (as the cool kids say), it can be used to promote smaller brands with tighter budgets.

Case in point are Brandalism, who are using guerrilla marketing as an anti-advertising campaign. Their most recent campaign critiques the corporate sponsors of the UN summit, and features 600 artworks positioned around Paris.

Check out their work here, and even if you’re not ready to “stick it to the man” just yet, it’s still inspiring to see this style of marketing used in this way.