News and views.

Are bid teams a benefit for towns?

BID (business improvement district) teams are a huge part of modern day place branding, with over 200 having been set up in the UK. BIDs are funded by local businesses in the location they represent, and it is these local businesses that are able to influence and shape the place in which they are located. We want to take a look at whether developing a town BID is a positive or negative decision to make, and what effects it can have on a location.

Giving businesses a voice is one major positive of setting up a BID. It gives business owners the chance to make a difference, and have input on decisions that will affect their businesses. Having happy businesses is always a good aspect of a town, as motivation will help to keep the BID strong, and feel that they are valued.

Uniting those in the town is another positive effect of establishing a BID team. Asking questions about what should be done to improve a town sparks debate, and brings people together to make positive decisions. Town improvement is a subject that will encourage everybody to ‘get on board’ as it effects everybody in the location.

Creating a Town BID also gives local residents a voice, as the first stage of rebranding a town is always to assess the opinion of local residents and people who have visited the area. The results can be surprising, and we have discovered that collecting this information is invaluable to the Town BID process.

Upon starting a Town BID, it is also the perfect time to rebrand the town. Not every BID spends it’s money on a rebrand, but for some towns it is an ideal way to improve their location. Creating a new brand identity gives the town a whole new identity, changing the opinions of residents and visitors for the better. Rebranding is ideal for bringing more people into a town, and attracting more interest to the local area.

Lastly, money is a huge positive for improving a town, and a Town BID provides this. Government funding can leave a town with enough to only keep the town running effectively, without leaving enough money for improvements to be made. Investment by BID members can be a substantial help in making a town a better place to be.

Overall, creating a Town BID can only lead to a positive outcome, giving those in the town a voice, and providing the funds to make the changes that need to be made in a location. If you are a Town BID looking to rebrand your town, contact us.

Why you should always be setting marketing goals

Setting well thought out marketing goals is imperative for any business. These goals are often best illustrated through creating a marketing plan, the ideal method of being in control of your business’ progress.

Marketing goals give your business direction, not only for those in charge, but for all employees. Goals enable you to bring all employees together, and direct them towards the same focus, leading to better performance.

The goal-driven performance increase will ultimately lead to an increase in sales. If all employees are working towards the same goal, striving for the same outcome, step by step, productivity will increase. A united force of employees is vastly more powerful than a confused workforce with little or no direction, unsure of what exactly they are striving for.

Being able to assess progress is another advantage of setting Marketing Goals. Marketing Goals are put in place to show you when you need to hit particular targets, and further down the line you will be able to look back and see whether or not you are hitting goals. One goal missed may not be catastrophic, but if your business is routinely not achieving goals, it can help you to assess the changes that need to be made in order to move forwards.

Marketing goals are also imperative when working with a Design Agency, as it helps your Agency to understand your business, and where you want your business to be in a year’s time. Bringing your Design Agency together with your employees and your board, allows everyone to work together to create the best possible outcome for your company.

There are so many positives to be gained by taking the time to set well thought-out Marketing Goals for your business, choosing to do it is certainly a no-brainer. Creating Marketing Goals for your business may be what ultimately takes it to the next level.

 

Social media vs advertising for tourism

Social media is becoming increasingly essential in marketing in all industries. Due to the popularity of social networks, advertising on social media is becoming the preferred marketing method for many. But, does this same rule apply to the tourism industry? We decided to take a look at Advertising and Social Media, and establish which is a more beneficial focus for Tourism companies.

Social media is the modern-day word of mouth. It is certainly the quickest method of increasing brand awareness, connecting with consumers in a completely different way than a magazine advert or a television advert. As a business, it is your choice to be as much of a presence in the lives of consumers as you would like to be, with the ability to post constantly with no cost whatsoever, should you choose to. Spreading brand awareness online is not only down to your accounts, as anyone who chooses to can spread the word about you, showing you in a good or a bad light. According to Four Pillars Hotels, 52% of Facebook users said that their friends’ photos inspired their holiday choice. Put simply, this is free advertising that people will trust. As a business on social media, it is hugely beneficial to find compliments or posts about people enjoying your services, and publicise them via your own accounts, e.g. ‘retweeting’ on Twitter or ‘sharing’ on Facebook. Reposting these messages builds trust in your business, and gets people talking about what you have to offer.

Of course, the other side to the coin is that anyone can post anything about you and your brand online, leading to distrust amongst consumers, and a bad reputation developing. Without having an online presence, these comments would still be posted, however, by having social media accounts, the perfect action is to dig out these messages and respond to the users who posted them. If your response to this kind of message is friendly, it can often provoke guilt in the person who posted negatively about you. Taking steps to rectify your mistake patches up your reputation, and often leaves people seeing your business as much more human. Leaving these comments alone and not responding is hugely detrimental to you as a tourism company, it allows a grudge to build up between you and consumers.

Advertising in magazines, newspapers, or on television has the benefit of only showing consumers what you want them to see. There is no opportunity for people to taint others view of your brand, no possible way for people to talk back at you. This kind of marketing enables you to present your brand in a seamless fashion, giving you ultimate control over the opinions formed by consumers.

The other benefit of other marketing methods is the possibility to reach people who are not reachable by social media. Not everyone is online, particularly older people, and these may be your prime target market. On the other hand, social media is better for reaching younger people, as it is often the case that they will spend more time on their phone looking at social networks than they will watching television.

Of course, both social media marketing and other methods are important in tourism. It is important to use a balance of the two, and make the most of both resources. However, as time goes on, social media may become more effective than other methods, as the popularity of social networks continues to grow.

Click here to find out how Sheard&Hudson can help your business through Social Media

General Election: Who will win the social media vote?

The 2015 Election is perhaps a very different Election in comparison to all those that have come previously. This is due to a whole different aspect being added to the campaigns of the Political Parties, the social media aspect. This Election has seen a shift from direct marketing to digital, with some parties focussing more on digital marketing than others. Of course, the introduction of digital marketing has it’s advantages, allowing parties to reach the public instantly, and to reach those who may not have been reached previously, young people. The activity on social media varies from party to party, and we want to take a look at which party we think would win the General Election based on digital marketing alone. This judgement is based purely on the quality of online activity by the parties, and has no relation whatsoever to their policies or actions.

Facebook

If you want to see hundreds of photo’s of David Cameron, the Conservatives Facebook page certainly is the place to go! When it comes to numbers, the Conservatives are outdoing all other British Political parties by almost double on Facebook with their 409,000 page likes. This is reflected in their post statistics, often gaining thousands of likes on a single post. The Conservatives know how to influence their following, they often include phrases like ‘share if you agree’, making those who agree with their opinions feel obligated to repost their message. The page also features high quality design, with posts always containing imagery that is clear and persuasive, often giving statistics about Labour.

Labour have the second largest amount of likes, with 244,000 on their main page. Compared with the Conservatives, they struggle to get many likes on their posts, rarely reaching the thousand mark. The posts are mostly images with huge fonts, almost shouting at the reader, which can be highly effective. The majority of these posts are anti-Conservative, rather than about Labour themselves. There are however, a few posts about what Labour can offer, with photos of Ed Miliband being more hands on, which is something that works well for them.

The Liberal Democrats have perhaps the most inviting Facebook page of the top three parties, although they really could do with changing their header, (not the most flattering photo of Nick Clegg). With only 109,000 likes, they fail to hit the big numbers, possibly due to their lack of budget for digital marketing. The tactic used by the Liberal Democrats, is to ask people to share the post, informing people that they do not have the budget to advertise on Facebook themselves. This tactic certainly seems to work, with hundreds of loyal supporters sharing their posts for them. The Liberal Democrats are even running a Facebook competition to win dinner with John Cleese, which shows creativity on their part, rather than just bombarding the public with political claims.

Twitter

The front-runner in terms of Twitter follower count, Labour have amassed 203,000 followers. Their tactic is to repeat the same messages over and over again, with the same images being posted several times. Their use of the Twitter ‘banner’ space is highly effective, with the words ‘vote for our NHS’ on a very detailed cartoon image. Their Twitter banner is certainly the most eye-catching of all the top three parties, and makes their page very appealing to look at.

The Conservatives are not too far behind, with 151,000 followers. Their tactics are not very different, with similar images of large text, shouting at the reader. The Conservatives are the political party that make the best use of hashtags, showing that they are making efforts to adapt to social media well.

If you want a Twitter timeline absolutely filled with tweets, coming in too fast to even read them, the Liberal Democrats are the right people to follow! Their 92,000 followers are most likely used to the constant influx of tweets, but the number of interactions on each tweet is definitely suffering due to this. With so many tweets coming in, the large majority of Liberal Democrat tweets are only receiving between 5 and 10 Retweets each. That being said, their page design is highly visually attractive, with plenty of high quality images and videos.

Instagram

Out of the top three political parties, Labour are the only party who even own an Instagram account. Not only is Instagram an ideal platform for promoting a product (or in this case a political party), it is constantly growing. Using the right hashtags on Instagram also makes it incredibly easy for people to find your content, spreading the message faster and further. It is surprising that the rest of the parties are yet to join the Instagram craze. Labour use their Instagram account extremely effectively, with eye catching images filling their page. Labour also own a Tumblr account, and have even adopted the use of gifs!

 

As for the other political parties, the most social media affluent are in fact the Green Party and the SNP. Both of these parties have a large following, and high quality digital marketing strategy. UKIP are doing well where numbers are concerned, but their page is certainly lacking in quality of design, unlike other parties. However, their banner is hugely effective, with a very clear message and standing out strongly as a great asset to their page. Plaid Cymru are certainly putting a high volume of effort into campaigning on social media, but it is failing to take off due to a lack of ‘likes’, giving their posts a very small audience.

 

Overall, the political parties are far better at using Facebook than they are at using other social media platforms. Each political party uses social media well, all having different strong points and weaknesses in their campaigns. Based on numbers alone, the Conservatives have the upper hand in digital marketing, although that certainly does not mean that they are the best at it. The Liberal Democrats are producing the most visual, eye catching, friendly campaigns, and are showing the highest adaptability to social media platforms. Then again, Labour are the only political party seeing potential in all platforms, and making the effort to spread their message further. Due to this, any one of the political parties could earn the social media vote, as they all have strengths and weaknesses.

The must-have book for designers

The Type Taster, a book by Sarah Hyndman, is a must have for any designer. Hyndman is a graphic designer and educator, who has worked in the design industry for 20 years. This book explores the impact of typefaces, looking at their psychological effects on people, and analysing why these effects take place.

A font increases the speed of which judgements are made, for example, The Type Taster looks at the influence type has on our shopping experience. Due to differentiating fonts on different value items, it takes seconds to glance at a product and determine whether it is a luxury or cheap option. If every product used exactly the same font, shopping trips could take a much longer amount of time.

Typefaces can even change perceptions of a brand. The font used in everything from a brand’s logo all the way to their promotional material and uniforms gives consumers the chance to make a split second judgement on the quality of a brand. If an inappropriate font choice is made, e.g. a construction company using a very feminine font, consumers can be left confused about your brand, and unsure of what you are representing.

The Type Taster also articulates the concept that fonts have personalities. There are many sections in the book where the book claims to know your personality traits, just by knowing your preferred font choice. The book explores which type of person would use each typeface, based on a Font Census. The idea that your personality can be gleaned purely from the font you use is rather scary, but when taken light-heartedly, looking at your ‘personality traits’ can be a humorous and interesting experience.

This book is a must-have for any designer, not only does it provide in depth information on the effect of a font choice, it is a library of all the typefaces in existence, an idea provoking tool. As a designer, if you are having one of those days where the ideas are few and far between, a quick flick through this book could easily light the spark of a new and exciting idea.

To buy the book, click here.

What everyone ought to know about being mentored

It is easy to assume that outside help is nonessential in the running of your business, and therefore brush the need for a mentor aside. However, we want to bring to your attention the benefits of being mentored, whether you’re just starting out, or have been in business for many years. If you are sceptical about your need for a mentor, just remember, Marc Benioff was mentored by Steve Jobs. Even the most successful people can be positively influenced by a mentor.

Choosing the right mentor is also important, the best way to start is to visualise your end goal, and ask yourself who has already met that goal. Alternatively, if you are seeking out a mentor due to problems facing your business, find somebody who encountered a similar problem along the way. A mentor can come in any shape or form, it can even be in the form of a biography, or a historical figure.

If you are just starting out in business, a mentor can be a huge aid in making your plans a reality. Their experience and skills built up over many years could prove invaluable, and make the difference between success and failure on your part. A mentor can also draw potential pitfalls to your attention, therefore helping you to avoid making the same errors with your business.

In business, it is of course commonplace to find yourself at a crossroads. Often, the decision is straightforward, however, occasionally the decision will take time and careful consideration. This is the perfect opportunity to seek the help of a mentor, whose outside perspective may provide you with the clarity you require. It is regularly the case that taking a step back from your decision and allowing someone else to guide, can be the perfect recipe for a correct decision.

MicroMentor.Org is an ideal website for finding a mentor or becoming one yourself, and the website recently conducted a survey on the benefits of mentoring. They found that those who received mentoring increased their revenue by an average of 106%. This alone proves that mentoring can benefit anyone in business, even those who feel they have no more to learn in their career.

The business world is filled with those who have experienced the positive benefits of being mentored or mentoring others. It is a common mistake, particularly among experienced business owners, to think that there is nothing to be gained from listening to advice from others. Even the most successful people in the world often seek guidance, and this is perhaps one of the reasons for their success.

Is experience in your area vital when choosing a design agency?

As a design agency, one of the questions we are often asked by potential clients is whether we have experience in their sector. It is something which seems to be of high priority on their checklist when choosing a design agency, and we want to explain why this should not be the case.

We do not need to have worked in a sector before in order to understand it. Design is not simply design itself; there is a lengthy process involved before the ideas even begin to flow. Designers spend time researching your company and your field in order to fully immerse themselves in your world. To create ideas, time must be spent looking at what you are trying to say about your company. Research is the key starting point, and whether an agency has experience in your sector or not, the process is the same.

A designer who is fresh to your industry is likely to have more ideas, and could bring a new angle to your campaign that you have not previously considered. This could set your company apart from competitors as you will appear to have a fresh outlook on the industry.

The best designers in the industry hunger for challenge. To stay fresh and full of ideas, a designer needs variety. A high quality designer will be happy to leave their comfort zone in design. Designers that stick to one sector are likely to be lazy with their creativity, and their work will suffer as a result.

At Sheard & Hudson we have worked in a wide spectrum of sectors, from sport to tourism, telecommunications to beauty products, we have a variety of experience. We love a fresh challenge and trying something new, we find a new sector exciting rather than daunting.

Contact us to find out what we can do for your company.

 

The importance of stakeholder meetings

The heart of any place is its’ stakeholders, who could be residents, local business owners, or even investors. As a result of this, stakeholder meetings are vital in the rebranding process of a destination. Despite this, many branding agencies do not appreciate the value of stakeholder input, and do not wish to engage with the local population, which can be detrimental in the rebranding process.

Stakeholders have the ability to provide an overall picture of a place due to their own experiences. All the details of a place can only truly be discovered over a long period of time, meaning that an agency must take the opportunity to learn from the people who have real understanding of a location.

Knowledge of the location in question is integral to the rebranding process, and ultimately leads to the formation of ideas. Ideas can be sparked in so many ways, and a stakeholder meeting is the perfect place for this. The more you know, the more ideas you can create. More minds will generally spark more ideas, within reason of course.

Although, it is important to also seek the opinions of those further afield, to add variation to your responses. It is worthwhile to gain the opinion of tourists who have only visited the location, as they can give more of a fresh outlook on a place.

Emotional investment in a project can often be more beneficial than financial investment. Involving stakeholders in your rebranding process ensures that they will feel included and ultimately more emotionally invested in your campaign. Stakeholders can also be an aid to an agency through word of mouth, particularly if the stakeholders themselves have power or influence in the community. Having the local residents, in particular, behind your scheme, ensures long-term success. The effects of an unhappy group of stakeholders could be catastrophic to the rebranding process, and could hold a place back from prosperity.

Meetings with stakeholders may seem unimportant to many branding agencies, but they may in fact be the catalyst for creating success within a destination. Due to this, the stakeholder meetings must be treated as valuable, and taken seriously. At Sheard & Hudson we have recently organised stakeholder meetings as part of our project to rebrand Chippenham in Wiltshire.

To find out more about our work with destination branding, click here.

 

 

How to tell your brand’s story

An exceptional brand story is the optimal method of building a bridge between your brand and consumers, creating a connection between you and your target audience. A brand story can build brand loyalty, and help to build a long-term relationship. However, the brand story must be effective, or all of the above will not be achieved.

Whether you are a small business or a large corporation, primarily your brand story should come from the founder’s original brand vision. This vision is the basis on which a story can be built around. Your brand vision is the core of your business, and establishing a brand story that mirrors this ensures a brand with stability and integrity.

Your brand story must contain brand ambassadors or characters, either a mascot who consistently features in your marketing, or individuals whom your audience may relate to, people facing the same problems as they are. The individuals must be likeable and relatable, so that your audience can root for them. Making characters a part of your brand story is essential to create a strong connection with consumers, as people are more likely to connect to individuals than they are to a company. Having a character in your story gives a more direct, one-on-one appeal, and humanises your brand.

Your story must also create suspense. Telling the whole story in one shot loses you the opportunity to create a long-term relationship with consumers. This is particularly true in advertising, if your advert has an end that cannot be continued from, you directing your brand towards a dead end in marketing. Your story should create obstacles for the characters involved, obstacles that your audience can relate to, perhaps a problem they will be currently facing. Ultimately, you should create short brand stories which all become part of one broader long-term story.

The language and imagery used in your brand story must be emotive to encourage your audience to feel things. The stronger the feelings, as long as they are the feelings you want your audience to have, the stronger the connection created. An emotional connection will almost certainly be a strong one, taking your audience on a journey which results in them trusting and believing in your brand.

Your story should under no circumstances feel promotional, if people feel as if they are being directly asked to use a service, they are more likely to switch off emotionally, and will trust your brand less. Consumers should feel as if your brand is trying to help people, rather than asking for something from them. Direct promotion can cause a brand to look desperate, which will immediately show your brand in a bad light, and give consumers an opinion of your brand that is detrimental.

Finally, your story should be consistent. Causing confusion is catastrophic in branding, as consumers must be absolutely clear on who you are and what you have to offer. Consistency is essential with everything from your brand personality, to the font used. To ensure on consistency, it is important to follow your brand guidelines constantly. Uniformity is key, as is clarity, and confusion is another weakness in branding which can diminish your connection to your audience.

Creating the right story for your brand is crucial. Your story should be your building blocks in marketing your brand, it should be the central subject that all of your advertising is based around. Making sure your story is up to scratch is principal, which is why using a branding agency is important. At Sheard & Hudson we have experience in building brand stories that have clarity, appeal, and resonate with the desired audience.

If you are looking to develop your brand by creating a strong brand story, contact us.

 

 

 

 

Is your brand still relevant?

Brand relevance is something that can deteriorate over time, even for the biggest corporate businesses. This illustrates the importance of re-assessing your brand regularly, and asking yourself whether your brand still represents you in the way you would like.

There are many external factors that can influence a change in trends among brands. In particular, font trends are fast moving, making fonts become out-dated quickly. Colours are also subject to changes in trend. Your once exciting colour pallet may have become an eye sore for consumers, giving them a bad first impression of your brand.

Another way in which your brand can lose relevance is its’ vision. Does your brand still convey the brand vision you desire? It is important to make sure that your brand still displays your company in a way that is up to date and relevant. If your vision has changed, has your brand changed with it? Conveying a message which is no longer relevant to your brand can lead to confusion among consumers, and can render your vision unclear.

Take a look at competitor’s branding, is yours still on par with theirs? Has their branding evolved to outdo yours? It is important to make sure that your brand is not falling behind in your particular market. If your brand is falling behind, your business will most likely also fall behind.

You must also make sure that there is still consistency throughout your business. Are your brand guidelines still being enforced? Without maintaining consistency, your brand begins to fall apart and lose momentum. Ask yourself whether you are still upholding your brand guidelines, and if not, take measures to change this.

It is time to take a look at your brand and ask yourself some questions about its’ relevance. If your brand is no longer representing you effectively, it may be time for a rebrand. At S&H we have vast experience in rebranding companies who are no longer happy with their identity, to find out more contact us.