Social media brand activation

Activating brands and connecting with customers has seen a dramatic change in recent years, certainly with large corporations now understanding that the battle for consumer hearts and minds is now in their pockets. Where at one time a brand was created, its assets and guidelines provided to advertising agencies, they then created campaigns to be advertised through conventional channels, today it’s a different story. People now view posts from their phone or computer through their social networks, they watch videos created by community colleagues, purchase and then review. Their first physical interaction is when it is delivered to their house, and from here they review and post online – a new cycle for consumer engagement.

Today, and I say today as I know this is changing rapidly, but right now the influencers are building the connections to big brands, they are what sells products and services. What has been proven is that much smaller investment into influencers via social media channels has much bigger impacts on profitability than vast amounts of investment into advertising.

This is interesting, it means right now people trust what people are saying on social networks, it means that these are powerful opportunities for brands to connect in cost effective ways. Of course, this can only last as long as people trust that they are being sold products from genuine opinions, and that the influencer isn’t being ‘influenced’ by funding, no matter what that payment would be.

Of course, there are lots of micro (or macro) influencers, the local blogger, the mum who purchased a new child water bottle that she loves and tells all her friends. But what this means is that the influencer, as long as they have few followers, are the ones that people will start to trust, and then of course people will be looking for opinions based on a small amount of followers. Of course this is complicated, and there are many things to consider, for example, there is a whole new spate of brands not using social networks and influencers to promote their products, but actually to create bad publicity for their competitors – wow, yes it is complicated and even rather dark.

The learning here for me though is this; connections to consumers has changed, and it will continue to evolve, however what is imperative is honesty, trust and the need for virtuous brands that live and breath what they are about, as above the effect of social influencers is brand, and brand start from within, they effect the product, the innovation path that a product takes, it effects staff, experience and eventually consumers opinion, and when brands get it wrong, if they have clear consciences, it becomes simply taking back learnings and make things even better. The result is a better brand, better experiences, better consumer opinion, better reputations, bigger profitability, greater shareholder value.

New offices

We are very pleased to have moved into a new office and location by the canal in Islington. Our new address is; 28 Waterside, 44–48 Wharf Road, London N1 7UX come give us a visit, although, mind the boxes, as still got lots to unpack!

Pace – branding an iconic architectural practice

Pace are a leading architectural practice based in Kuwait, providing architectural solutions across the world.

Pace came to us to help them make sense of their brand. Years of not applying change had held them back, with a name that was an acronym based on an old proposition, we convinced them that as the acronym no longer made sense, they should embrace the more metaphoric meaning to the word. Additionally, they moved to a position of simplicity, removing all the noise and leaving just pure clarity of the offer.

Quest oil brand

Quest is an oil and gas resourcing agency that wanted a new fresh brand. The final solution is a simple and iconic symbol, an organic form based on the letter ‘Q’ drawn from the idea of a map location point.

Created in 2010 it seems to have been an influential foundation for many new brands.

Branding Spirit of the Emirates airship

Spirit of the Emirates is an exciting concept that we are hoping will one day grace the sky’s of Dubai and the first airship (Zeppelin) tour business in the MENA region. It aspires to be a symbol of tourism and national pride for the UAE by offering one-of-a-kind air tour experiences.

A sponsorship opportunity for big brands, as well as a mesmerising experience, gracefully flying from one end of Dubai to the other, it brings with it many experiential moments, from the launchpad, to the airship, to sharing the experience with friends and colleagues.

From brand strategy, brand creation, app interface design, website design, brand guidelines, promotion, we have been building this brand for some time, and are looking forward to see this great idea in the sky’s of Dubai.

Sandwich Cream

I recently read the news that Heinz is considering changing the name of Salad Cream to Sandwich Cream – I find this fascinating!

I can’t say if I think this is a good thing to do or not, but I have to say that my initial instinct is that it isn’t necessary. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big believer in getting naming right and aligning brands to consumer expectation, but this feels instinctively ‘unnecessary’. Ok, so this is my logic, and let me just preamble with the fact that I have no background data on this, no surveys, polls, no qual research, it is only a feeling.

You see for me, consumers lived for years with Carphone Warehouse, yes massive mistake to leave their brand like that, in fact I told them 17 years ago it was a mistake, and they told be to bugger off I didn’t know what I was talking about… ahum. However, they did stumble on for 16 years before they completely lost any relevance to consumers. However my point here, is if Carphone Warehouse can stumble on with a name that has no relevance at all, then I can’t see that a name that has such a long standing history (114 years) with a product that changing it is going to be wise.

I have another issue, and it’s this; salad cream ‘to me’ has been a way of adding flavour and texture to something that can sometimes taste a little less interesting than our tastebuds have been trained to desire. It therefore has a emotional connection that has been deep set in our conscience. The two things, salad and cream, are a perfect combination. They bring an emotional match that tells us that flavour and texture can be added to something fresh and healthy, thus a partnership made in heaven.

The trouble with Sandwich Cream is that the match feels stodgy, it feels unhealthy, dirty, a match made in chips shops, and while I’m at it, many people cover their chips in it, should we call it Chip Cream?

I am all up for relevance, but please Heinz, don’t ignore all other context just for the flavour of the strategy day – relevance (pun wasn’t intended). The name was a positive thing, it encouraged people to eat salads, and yes it may not be healthy in itself, but in the same way dips are unhealthy, if a small amount can add flavour to a salad, then is that so bad?

So you are taking a name that has rich history, people know it and love it, and yes it isn’t the healthiest, but it does have a healthy benefit, and you change it to associate with something stodgy, unhealthy and in the process, encourage people to use it in an unhealthy way – hmmm… not sure.

Veropharm pharmaceutical re brand

Veropharm are a Russian pharmaceuticals giant that produces OTC and prescription drugs across Russia.

Garden created the brand and implementation for the Russian pharma giant, creating an iconic system their packaging, and with particular attention to label backs to assist staff in accessing the right product and dosage, creating an iconic and trusted offer.

The brand itself is based on a pragmatic foundation, where a no frills attitude to high quality products is key to its customer base. The end result feels strong, iconic, serious and trusted – all key to the offer.

Veropharm is the holding group and the prescription/OTC brand for the group. Our role was to completely re align the offer, getting to understand the brand relationship with doctors, pharmacists and other professional resellers of the product.

Research helped us understand the need for a pragmatic approach with messaging and systems. Our solution was to create a brand and pack design that was always consistent, providing clear product information such as dose, product type, instructions, quantity, area of effect etc. By doing this we gave pharmacists a practical reason to choose the brand over competitors.

Branding for an ale bottle

When it comes to luxury packaging design, we feel it requires several levels of understanding to allow the pack to connect to the consumer. There needs to be a concept that can flow throughout the range, something that allows for rich story telling, to be playful and fun. It needs a style that is visually arresting and uses a different approach to the traditions of conventional packaging – be brave and explore new approaches. It needs something that either creates a smile in the mind, or evokes the imagination. It needs to have impulse, to want to see it, to touch it. And it needs texture, depth and lots of layers. And if it’s something that instinctively people want to keep, it becomes a powerful thing that goes beyond the conventional pack.

This is an experimental concept ale the soul of which is victorian East London focused (the Bow Bells). The concept is based around the gilded mirrors that were once common among the East London ale houses, and can still be found today preserved in some bars across the UK. Never produced and only a ever created as an experiment, however we managed to get the concept off our chests.

The idea for the ales were to come in different strengths and named accordingly, 5 – five to midnight, 3 – ladies brew & 8 – super strength

Branding for Summerhill + Co

We re branded EDC to Summerhill + Co, creating a contemporary and elegant visual identity that works across their eclectic mix of premium contemporary furniture. We took them through a 4 stage design process, exploring the proposition and resolving at a cool and sophisticated company.

The design uses a simple black and white solution of differing patterns, each pattern can be used to suit any particular furniture style.