Bluegg help launch CoinDesk!
There’s nothing quite like a bit of pressure to get the blood pumping. Well this week we had a super tight deadline as one of our clients decided to start up a new business, brand it and launch a site within 4 weeks.
We were tasked with creating a brand identity for CoinDesk. The first step in this process was to learn as much as we could about Bitcoin and digital currency as a whole. This is one of the things we love most about our work as designers!
Developing a relevant icon for CoinDesk was going to be key, as the identity was going to be used heavily on social media sites and feeds. We produced a range of ideas and directions and eventually created a simple ‘dot’ based icon. By using different sized dots, we wanted to create the feeling of fluctuation in a volatile market. The large dots also create the letter ‘C’.
A simple colour scheme of yellow and black links to coins, and creates a strong, eye catching look when surrounded by visual noise, such as a twitter feed. For the type we used Helvetica Neue Bold, which some minor customisation to the letterforms, including replacing the square dot on the ‘i’ with a round one, to link it with the icon.
As the CoinDesk team had a very short timeframe to launch, they used an off-the-shelf WordPress theme. Using the theme as a basis, we re-skinned every element to help create continuity with the brand identity. We also added a bunch of new functionality and features.
Shakil Khan, the founder of CoinDesk tweeted —
What we’ve been up to
We were doing so well at blogging… Right up until 2013, where we haven’t blogged since the end of January!
We do have legitimate reasons, although we feel a little sheepish saying it is due to being busy. We promise to try harder. So what’s been keeping us busy? Here’s a summary of our first quarter.
We have taken on some lovely new local clients this year including Ballet Cymru, Sport Wales and the Wales Millennium Centre. As if that isn’t enough, we’re also designing the new Canmol website.
We also worked on a branding and web project for buytolet.com which was rather exciting. Speaking of exciting, we’ve designed a weather app for another client which we hope to be able to share with everyone soon enough. It’s been a pretty smashing year so far in terms of new clients and we have added a new theatre in London to the list, a Venture Capital firm and a company that work for the international entertainment industry. We have to keep pinching ourselves.
As well as new work, we have been kept busy by our long term clients too, including the PHS Group, SSE and DS Smith Recycling. We will be sharing this as often as possible but you can see some snapshots and sneak peaks on our Instagram feed.
In other studio news, a few weeks ago we welcomed Gemma to the team. Gem is our new Account Manager and you can find out more about her on our about page. She is settling in really well and it’s been a pleasure to have her on board. Tom and Gareth are boring us all with their chilli plant growing competition, we enjoyed the first ever Bluegg poker night (congrats to Gareth on taking home all the moolah) and Paul has been serenading us with his guitar playing most lunchtimes.
If you’re reading this you may also have noticed that we have refreshed our website. We wrote a separate post on that if you’re interested in the nitty gritty.
That’s 2013 so far at Bluegg HQ. We’re lucky dabbers and hope the rest of the year is as kind to us.
New branding, illustration and website for Zoosme
We often refer to the ‘Bluegg Way’. To us, that’s the way we work, how we deal with clients, our tone, personality and agency culture. Fortunately, most people get it and they are the ones we have long lasting relationships with.
Zoosme came to us a few months ago as they liked the Bluegg Way, and wanted us to inject some life and personality into their brand which was, by their own admission bland and uninspiring.
Here’s a little background. Zoosme was found in 2011 to help SME’s manage their businesses. From payroll and HR, through to marketing and accounts, Zoosme do all the tasks that business owners don’t want to do, allowing them to focus on what they are good at.
Being from an accountancy background, Zoosme founder Murray wanted to step away from typical formal and corporate looking marketing materials and make a dent in the market with their new approach to these services. Fresh, vibrant and brimming with personality were the key objectives for the brand refresh, stationery, website and brochure.
The existing logo was the word Zoosme with the two o’s doubling as heads to businessmen characters. There was no real personality, the colour pallet consisted purely of blue, white and grey resulting in a bland and clinical look. We considered keeping some sort of businessman type character but after much tinkering we decided to keep it simple, we would simply focus on the word Zoosme and communicate the personality through the use of bold colours, illustration and the content.
We also provided copywriting services. Using the existing content as a starting point we developed the tone of voice based on research we carried out with Zoosme and also tweaked it so it was consistent and authentic.
Determined to avoid cringeworthy stock imagery, we created bespoke illustrations that bring the site to life and really hammer home the point that Zoosme aren’t your typical accountants.
The website itself is relatively small, static with a WordPress blog. Again the colour and illustrations share the personality. This translated to the brochure too which also takes a big step forward from your typical corporate brochure.
Working with a client that understood us really made a difference and that sentiment was felt from the client too as Murray explains:
“The Bluegg team produced top quality work in the form of a website and corporate brochure for Zoosme. The bespoke design work complimented the brand perfectly and the team demonstrated a great understanding of what we were trying to achieve. Working with Bluegg was extremely easy and stress free as they know how to manage and deliver projects and respond efficiently to technical changes. But most of all, working with Bluegg on this project was fun.”
Thanks Murray! So Zoosme came to us to experience the Bluegg Way and we are proud to have played such a big part in creating the Zoosme Way.
You can see the website here www.zoosme.com and as always, we’d love to know what you think in the comments below.
We’ve been shortlisted for a Canmol Award!
We don’t design for awards. We design for our clients and their audiences, crafting good user experiences and materials brimming with personality.
Every now and again though we like to shout about our work – if we can’t blow our own trumpets, who will? We have been especially proud of our involvement with two unique networking clubs, Woko Woco and Fiftyone3.
From design, through to marketing and sponsorship, we have worked with partners over the last year to create two very different networks targeted at different segments. Since we designed the branding and websites they have both experienced growth in terms of membership, event attendance and interaction with social media, which was an integral part of the strategy,
We entered our work on these projects into the Canmol Awards – Wales Marketing Awards from the Chartered Institute of Marketing in Wales. A couple of weeks ago we were told of the exciting news that we have been shortlisted. Last week we were filmed for a video to be shown on the night of the ceremony which is later next month.
It would be an amazing result if we won, but if we don’t, being shortlisted is a pretty big deal and is reward enough. It is great publicity for us and the clubs, and as we mentioned, we don’t design for awards but any recognition is always nice to have.
Will we have to find our Morph and He-Man figures a new spot in the studio instead of the mantlepiece? Who knows, we’ll let you know either way after October 5th!
New website for homeless charity Solas
Last week we launched a new website for Solas. They provide services for people who are vulnerable, homeless or at risk of homelessness. Solas are also part of the Seren Group who we’ve been working closely with for a long time.
This project was one of the first where we adopted a ‘content first’ approach. Once the site structure and scope had been agreed, the client became responsible for writing, collecting and managing the content, text and images for the site. Hayley at Solas did a fantastic job. She defined and correlated all the content, which really helped everyone involved understand how it worked together. This process allowed us to focus on how to best layout the actual text and images, rather than using dummy text and placeholders. It also massively cut down on the time wasted on amendments and post build changes, and generally made the whole project run smoothly.
With the brand style and identity already in place we set to work on the visuals. To maintain consistency, we used the existing colours of orange and purple but also introduced a complimentary colour pallet for call to actions throughout the site. This along with Solas’ own photography helps add some vibrancy to the design.
The new site was built using WordPress which means the client has full control of all the content and can update the stories, services and job opportunities, as well as features, images and downloads as needed. The new site is a big step forward for Solas and we’re pleased to be involved with an organisation that truly make a difference to people’s lives.
Hayley from Solas said ‘Bluegg have provided Solas with a fantastic service in re-building our website, they were open to our ideas, flexible and able to create a dynamic and informative site with the information we provided. They have always responded promptly to our requests to make any additions or changes and are always happy to meet, overall a brilliant company to work with.’
Check out the site at www.solas-cymru.co.uk and let us know what you think in the comments below.
Pearls of Wisdom
Ten years ago, when Mike and I decided to setup Bluegg we did a lot of research and spoke to a lot of people, just to make sure it was a good idea. We returned to uni to seek advice from our lecturers who said we’d drive ourselves mad by 40 (that might still happen!) and we spoke to family and friends who all offered their own unique brand of advice. We also spoke to a couple of people who had already done it. The consensus was it was a good idea and we would probably be a good fit for each other.
Back then we loved the work being done by large London agencies like Johnson Banks and Turner Duckworth (we still do), and we had the great fortune to make contact with Karen Welman, one of the founding partners of Pearlfisher.
Pearlfisher are without doubt one of the top branding and packaging agencies in the world. They have won over 200 international awards for design and they currently sit 2nd on the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards table.
They now have studios in London and New York and employ 80+ staff.
A few months after starting our first jobs, Mike and I packed our notepads and pens and travelled to London. We rang the big brass bell and wiped our feet on the Pearlfisher branded welcome mat. We were welcomed by a receptionist who lead us upstairs, where we sat on bright orange designer chairs and waited. There were glass partitions breaking up the studio and we could see people typing, clicking, drawing, cutting, spray mounting, chatting and generally having a brilliantly creative time. Yes, this was a proper design agency.
After a short wait, a smiley, bubbly, but professional lady introduced herself as Karen, one of the founders. Together we entered a bright, white meeting room with white walls, a white table and white chairs. On the walls were white shelves sparsely adorned with bottles of Absolut Vodka, Innocent Smoothies and beers, bars and boxes of Green & Blacks chocolate and other random, but beautifully designed pieces of packaging. All designed by Pearlfisher.
We talked for a while about our vision for Bluegg and what we wanted to achieve, but mostly we just sat and listened. We listened to story after story about clients, projects, pitches and design. She spoke honestly and frankly about design and her views. She looked at our business cards and immediately told us to change our job titles (for some reason we had decided on “Creative Manager” and “Business Manager” – we were just a couple of upstarts after all). She told us to be confident in our service and skills. Not to be intimidated by clients, and to learn as much as we needed, to make sure we’d have control of any conversation about design.
She told us about their views on free pitching and free exclusivity, and their ethical take on design. One of the many stories she told was about how they decided to turned down the opportunity of working with McDonalds because they didn’t believe the product – A pretty big decision for any agency to make.
She also talked at length about the culture of the company. About how they treat their team and their clients. We learned a lot about how to be personable and make an impression with our clients from that. We also learned a lot about how important the culture within an agency (in fact, any company) is, and a little about how to achieve it.
We were buzzing as we left. I felt like I gained more in those few hours than I ever have reading a book about design or business. I remember we were pretty quiet as we trundled down the M4 in Mike’s mother-in-law’s Toyota Carina, going over in our minds what we had talked about with Karen, making sure it stuck.
Although we haven’t directly and exactly tried to replicate what Pearlfisher is or does, and we’ve formed our own views and opinions, I’m sure that meeting has had an impact on the company we run today.
So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I heard that Karen would be speaking at the Arnolfini in Bristol, an event set up by the West of England Design Forum. She was going to be speaking about the work of Pearlfisher and their culture. Without reading any more I booked tickets for myself and Gareth to go.
It was brilliant. Arnolfini is a great venue if you’ve never been. A lovely open bar serving local brews and delicacies. It was packed too. Around 140 people had turned up to watch as Karen spoke about their work and the business.
She spoke candidly and openly about the tough times they’d been through, which I could identify with, and also their growth and expansion into the US. She spoke at length about the internal workings at Pearlfisher, and the deeply embedded culture of fun, hard work and creativity. She showed examples of their christmas cards/videos (something we clearly have in common – here and here).
Another part of the talk that struck a nerve was the way she talked about the ‘Pearlfisher experience’. One example of this was a pitch they did for Coca Cola, where they anonymously sent the marketing manager pictures of people wearing t-shirts with her name on, taken next to famous monuments all over the world. As she explained, it wasn’t really connected to the work they were pitching for, but it almost drove her crazy and she was desperate to know who was behind it. They got the job.
So I now sit here, all enthused once again, having listened for a second time to someone who clearly knows her stuff about running a design agency. If you’re thinking of setting up an agency, I really urge you – do whatever you can to get an hour with someone who has done it. Send them stuff, phone them, tweet them, massage their ego, do whatever it takes. You’ll learn a lot.
Just to be clear, all the work on this page is by Pearlfisher. We take no credit.
— Tom Lloyd
Mike talks about branding
Last week I contributed to a series of workshops that were being run by our client Honey Fizz.
Honey Fizz train medical professionals on new techniques in the field of non surgical aesthetic procedures (that’s Botox injections and stuff to you and me!). On top of that they also advise these newly trained experts on how to kick start their business including business planning and marketing. I was asked to deliver workshops on branding.
Now, I think I’ve got a long way to go in my career before I’d feel comfortable walking around wearing a big ‘Expert’ badge, but the experience I’ve gained in the 10 years of running Bluegg has given me enough information to at the very least form an opinion.
I’ve been fortunate enough to deal with a big array of businesses and business sectors, who are all at very different stages of development but who all strive for the same thing; increase sales and awareness through various forms of communication. They all aim to portray a certain ‘brand’ to their customers hoping that there are mechanisms that will connect them and draw them in.
Now, we all hear the term ‘brand’ banded about a lot and am still surprised to hear what the term means to professional business owners, so the basis of my workshop was to get people to understand what I believe is the essence of a brand and how that applies to all businesses, big and small.
The discussion started by questioning what the term ‘brand’ meant to individuals. I wasn’t surprised to hear the response “a familiar logo” or “a nice advert and leaflets that are all the same”
This, I believe is the biggest misconception, especially in the world of SME’s (and one of the reasons why Bluegg is going so strong). People are getting the term ‘brand’ confused with ‘communication’. They were highlighting the mechanisms but not the reasoning. Not understanding this is where a lot of companies trip up.
I believe (and this is nothing new!) that a ‘brand’ is the whole experience of a company, from the connection made in an advert to the reassurance felt in a handshake or phone call, or the initial impression of looking at a business card. This carries through to the feeling of delight and satisfaction at a job well done and the thought of “they really looked after me there” (hopefully).
All of this can be achieved by any sized company by simply offering a service that lives up to their own expectations and here, I believe lies the problem. Too many businesses and business owners forget what it’s like to be a consumer. They struggle to remove themselves from their stressed filled offices to recall what would be their own perfect experience of buying their product or using their service. They need to almost have an out of body experience.
This is a technique that designers and brand experts have mastered through years of training and experience, which is why we say things like “that’s way too much text” or “the logo really doesn’t need to be any bigger” or even “please don’t say the words clip art again”.
It’s because we’ve learned to remove ourselves from your business and look at it subjectively. With enough research on your target market, you will learn just what makes them tick, which will help you understand what they consider a great experience, and encourage them to return.
How does this then become a brand? Well, that’s where communication and design plays its small but important part.
So the key areas of advice I gave were:
- Try to recall your what you would consider to be the best ‘brand experience’ you’ve received.
- Break that down to the parts of the service that really impressed you.
- Use these insights to create your own ‘brand statement’ or company ethos and then strive to emulate and deliver those key elements.
- Be true to yourself by developing an image that represents your personality.
- Look at your communication streams and deliver continuity in design and tone of voice.
- Incentivise your employees to connect with the brand that they too represent. Their connection with a customer is as important as your own.
- Believe in what you’re offering.
- Always keep an eye on the brand statement.
In conclusion: There’s a lot that we can all do to visually deliver beautiful looking messaging, but if beyond that there is a bad experience that doesn’t match up then you’ll always be fighting a losing battle to build your brand.
I’d love to hear your views on branding (even if they’re different to mine!) so if you’d like to add anything please feel free to comment below. Of course if you’d like to talk more about your brand, please get in touch.
Bluegg injects some fizz into Aesthetic Academy
Over the years we have gained a reputation for producing work with bags of personality. We call it the Bluegg way. It’s pretty rare that we get asked to do something so off the wall that it stumps us, but we recently worked with a company that thought we’d be up for a challenge. That company was Aesthetics Academy, a non-surgical cosmetic training organisation. They are now called Honey Fizz. Here’s the story how.
The Aesthetic Academy name and logo lacked any imagination or personality and was being used by a number of competitors. The logo of two needles making an ‘a’ was both appropriate and a bit scary at the same time. It got across the idea of administering fillers and Botox, but it was too obvious and too medical. The same would be said for the colour palette of light blue and grey. Director Chantalle wanted a name that would get people thinking and was unrelated to the services, it had to be quirky and different. Honey Fizz is all of those things!
In order to name any company you need to understand the business, its customers and its values, as well as the wider industry. And in the case of Aesthetics Academy, we had to quickly learn to ignore much of that and look at the surreal. Having picked Chantalle’s brains and embarked on a research phase, we gathered the team and started to come up with names. We decided early on that we wanted two unrelated words to combine to help create something unique. Our ideas session led us from snakes to colours and from fruits to sweets!
After a while, we settled on Mint Cherry, something fresh and unrelated, but even this was considered too serious. After more research, we started looking down many random avenues including different languages. One such ‘language’ ended up being cockney rhyming slang, which turns ‘face’ into ‘boat race’. This got us thinking and after much searching we found a famous boat from the 19th Century called ‘Honey Fizz’.
Once the name was agreed we set to work on the visual identity. We experimented with typography and ended up developing a logo which uses ITC Souvenir as a base font, which has been customised. Part of the customisation was a ligature joining the letters ‘n, f and i’. This helped form a smooth shape that we used to create a subtile ‘honey dribble’.
We opted for a strong yolk yellow and black colour palette, a nod to bees of course. We also introduced a secondary colour of blue to act as a way-finding tool by using it for links and clickable content on the website.
Once the identity was agreed and the stationery had been designed we moved onto a CMS website. Again it was key to inject as much personality as possible into the pages, without distracting from the content. To achieve this we created bespoke illustrations for each of the top level navigation pages, and small hand rendered touches around the site.
The whole site is managed by WordPress to allow the Honey Fizz team to add and edit content whenever they like. We also hooked the site up to a CRM they already had set up, so all enquires are stored and available for use later on.
Chantalle said “Bluegg have delivered a design exactly as I imagined, there were no templates and the visions of the brand we clearly discussed all the way through. Their clear organised manner really appealed to me, as we had meetings set out as the project progressed. I’d highly recommend Bluegg to anyone who wants to stand out from the crowd and get their business vision across to their customers. A great company to deal with, who are fun, contemporary, yet very focused on getting the job done properly!”
We’re really excited about the future of Honey Fizz and proud to have been involved in such a radical brand overhaul. Take a look at the new site here and come back to let us know what you think in the comments.
New branding and website for Woko Woco
We’re firm believers in the benefits of networking. Not the stuffy suited and booted stereotypical networking events, but the ones where it’s more relaxed and the focus is on relationships rather than selling each-others services.
Our Business Director Mike has been involved with a networking club called Woko Woco for sometime now and we’re super pleased to have recently created a new brand and website for them.
Woko Woco is a club set up by 4 successful guys who want to create something new. A new way of people building business connections and relationships. The network is built upon the basis of getting business people together in non-business environments like coasteering, charity bike rides and pub quizzes – and they also raise money for charities, both local and international along the way.
As part of our involvement with the local business community, we got the chance to create a fresh new brand for Woko Woco. The unusual name is a play on the names Radio Woko (which later became Radio Disney) and Coca Cola. Pretty good role models!
Although the existing logo had only been recently put in place, the name and letterforms were screaming out for a geometric and well balanced wordmark.
The simple logo set the tone for a brand style that reflected the fun, personal and relaxed personality the network had already established with its members. Using this style, we’ve designed and developed a website which uses a bright colour range, quirky illustrations and chatty copy aimed perfectly at the target audience.
To add functionality to a fairly simple site, we used WordPress and Event Espresso to create a member directory, full event information and gives members the ability to register and pay for tickets online.
The site is also responsive so it’s been specifically designed to change form depending on what sort of display the visitor is using. There’s a real buzz about responsive, or adaptive design at the moment due to the popularity of mobile devices such and smartphones and tables. We’ll be looking into this in more detail in an upcoming post, so stay tuned!
We’re really proud of the website and it’s been fun getting involved with such a great group too. Feel free to check out the site yourself at www.wokowoco.co.uk and let us know what you think in the comments.
Super cool rebrand for Forte’s Ice Cream
A while ago we were approached by north Wales based Forte’s Ice Cream to help them create a new brand and to modernise an ageing design style. It’s taken a while to get it all done but this week we finally launched their small website, so we thought it was high time we showed it off to the world!
The story of Forte’s Ice Cream starts off in 1926 deep in the mountains between Rome and Naples and leads all the way to north Wales where they now reside. Passed down through the generations, the company has become locally renowned for producing seriously-tasty-multi-award-winning ice cream and sorbets.
We developed a new identity which wasn’t ultra modern or high tech, but added a freshness and renewed a traditional brand. This new identity was the starting point for the new pot design, which did away with the overcrowded and confused look of the old pot and added a burst of colour using photography and personality through the new tone of voice. This tone of voice was a key part of sharing the Forte’s story, it had to be friendly, punchy and engaging.
The initial branding and packaging project was done a while ago, but we’ve only recently been working on the simple, but still lovely website.
Key to the success of the website was to show the history and heritage of the company as well as their renewed brand and vision – and all the delicious ice cream of course. Using a mix of some classic old pictures of the founding family, mixed with a clean and uncluttered design we made sure the website was a nostalgic reflection as well as a look into the future.
Be sure to check out the website www.fortesicecream.co.uk and if you’re in the north Wales area, make sure you pop into Forte’s Restaurant and sample some of the best ice cream around. We can highly recommend the Pistachio. And the Rum and Raisin. Oh and don’t forget the Rocky Road. And the Mochachino. But we can’t leave out Lemon & Lime Cheesecake. And last but not least Honeycomb Vanilla. And Rhubarb & Custard. You get the idea!