Our new work for Brooklyn’s Lifestyle magazine in New York

Brooklyn’s Lifestyle is a hyper-local digital magazine about all things Brooklyn NY and sometimes beyond. The site’s founder Nat Cleary asked us to help her rebrand and relaunch her site, having seen our work for Luger London featured on a global web design showcase.

The new brand identity echoes Massimo Vignelli’s pioneering design work for the New York transportation system. The Helvetica typeface gives the design a classic feel and we’ve reworked some iconic elements of Brooklyn and New York metro signage. We combined this with lifestyle imagery but given it a distinctive style that’s urban, engaging and works well on social media.

The new design has helped Nat bring some major new advertisers on board including Mercedes-Benz and the new site is already getting lots of extremely positive feedback. Have a look at the new site here.

It’s significant that although we’re based in Ireland and the UK we can work with a client In Brooklyn NY and help them grow their brand, grow their business and get the best results.  We already have lots of experience of working with clients in Silicon Valley, China, Japan and mainland Europe, so we’re very proud of our international reputation.

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Paul Smith and the power of a simple brand story

There will hardly be any Paul Smith customers unaware of the simple, yet powerful ‘origins’ story of the Paul Smith brand. A 17-year-old with a driving desire to become a professional racing cyclist, Smith had a serious accident and ended up in hospital for several months. While in hospital he made some new friends involved in the local art and design scene in Nottingham. So young Paul started to take an interest in their stories about the Bauhaus and contemporary design.

As the story goes ‘with the help of his then-girlfriend (now wife), Pauline Denyer, who was a Royal College of Art graduate, and a small amount of savings, he opened his first shop on 10 Byard Lane, Nottingham in 1970 named Paul Smith Vêtements pour Hommes.’ With no formal design training and having never gone to art school, Paul Smith still became one of the great English fashion designers, developing his own ‘classic with a twist’ style which has evolved for well over forty years.

Paul Smith 4 web

The Paul Smith brand story is simple, but compelling. It’s the story of the thwarted athlete who is still becomes a world beater. It’s the story of an outsider, not a fashionista, who makes interesting and enduring clothes and accessories with taste and quality. You don’t have to be one of the elite to be able to afford them. It’s the brand story of an everyman, which everyone can relate to.

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Does becoming a more social brand really help grow your business?

Recent research from statista.com says 83% of SMBs use social media as a way of driving growth for their business. The same source says 70% of professional marketers claim to have been successful in gaining new customers using social networks.

These figures tend to support my own analysis. Social media has become one of the first things business owners and marketers turn to when they want to get more growth or launch a new product. But just how effective is social media in building your brand and growing your business?

I recently talked to customer experience professional and social media expert Augie Ray of Gartner. Augie argues that marketers “cannot achieve their goals with the limited and shrinking reach of organic social media.  Within a year or two, I think all social media marketing will be paid ads, with little effort dedicated to organic and free marketing.”

Brandcasting on social media rarely works

Augie thinks that while some brands do have a great success with social channels as they have great brand experiences that involve their audiences (examples are sports, entertainment and lifestyle brands like Apple and Samsung). But most do not and should be wary of placing too much of their focus on social media for marketing.

Social media marketing which isn’t really social will always be largely ineffective whether it’s paid for or not. Brandcasting on social media rarely works.

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Design your future and get used to success

When you work with start-ups it’s soon clear which ones give themselves a greater chance of success. Companies that value design and value ideas and creativity in everything they do, always seem to do better than the rest.

If you don’t think creatively you’re not using the power design and inventive thinking give you to design your future and plan for success.

Design is important in everything you do. From the way you send emails, to the typeface and logotype you use and the signals your web site and social media accounts give your users. Good design helps you engage with, learn from and better understand your customers.

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Total brand experience – use your brand to grow your business

It’s an often overlooked but self-evident principle, that seeing how your brand performs helps you build your brand and grow your business.

The biggest headache for any business, is finding new users and new customers. Having a stronger and more powerful brand can help you solve that problem.

Growing your brand means growing your business. It’s your most effective sales and marketing asset.

Total Brand Experience

Everything you say. Every update you post, or link you share. Everything you do is part of your total brand experience. That’s why everything that surrounds your business is important.

Your latest tweet isn’t just a part of your social media. In real and measurable ways your latest tweet is your brand and your product itself, no matter what you sell, or what sector you work in.

Your social media and marketing is your brand and your product. It’s how your users and your customers see and interact with you. Everything you do is part of your total brand experience. Read more

Building a total brand experience for Nuvem 9

Nuvem 9 are a new type of financial and accounting consultancy service that specialises in working with companies and entrepreneurs with ambitions to take the profitability in their business to the next level.

‘We are not advisors with an MBA who have never actually worked in a business,’ says partner Niall McGinnity.

We developed a real ‘cloud 9’ experience for Nuvem 9 – a total brand experience that creates a unique tone of voice for their market.

The first thing we did was to sit down with the partners and fully understand their business and even more importantly help them understand what makes their business different from other brands and their competitors.

Only then did we start redesigning the logo to make the ‘nuvem’ or cloud part of their brand more legible and approachable, in keeping with their brand positioning. We developed a real ‘cloud 9’ experience for Nuvem 9 – a total brand experience that creates a unique tone of voice for their market.

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Copywriting and branding lessons from seven seasons of Mad Men

One of the interesting things about the recently ended Mad Men series was how it so often pitched its way out of the confines of the TV soap opera and into the real world of a creative advertising agency.

As a Creative Director who escaped the clutches of McCann-Erickson myself, there are lessons from the series for not just about every type of creative and marketing professional, but for every business owner too.

Copyhackers has produced the useful infographic below outlining the copywriting lessons from the show from the practical, ‘If you don’t like what they’re saying about you, change the conversation,’ to the philosophical, ‘We’re gonna sit at our desks typing while the walls fall down around us. Because we’re the least important most important thing there is.’

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You’re not really a brand owner until you own your brand data too

I was having lunch with an assistant professor of machine learning recently, when he asked me why, as a brand and design specialist, I was so interested in data?

My reply was quite simple. If you want to take ownership of your brand and control how it develops and grows, then you must understand and own your data too. And I didn’t have to look too far for an example.

I’d invited my friend to have lunch to discuss some of the more advanced aspects of data science, so I booked a table at a restaurant he suggested, followed up the booking with a confirmation the day before our lunch, and then as the host I would pay for the meal with my credit card and walk off into the afternoon skyline.

Right away you can see there were three times where the restaurant, let’s call the restaurant the ‘brand owner,’ had an opportunity to talk to and engage with me personally using simple digital tools including email.

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Irish design’s leading role in the startup culture

If you’ve visited Dublin lately you may have noticed that the Irish economy is showing quite a few signs of recovery. In many areas the gloom of recent recession has started to lift and the technology sector in Ireland has been experiencing something of a boom due to several factors.

Leading tech companies like Twitter and Google have been growing and developing their Dublin presence, often citing the availability of a highly skilled graduates and a cosmopolitan environment as some of their reasons for increased investment in Ireland. And then there’s the Irish weather – seen as ideal for data centres, the temperate climate dramatically reduces the need to heat them during winter or cool them during summer. Who’d have thought the changeable Irish weather would turn out to be a great technology asset? While a few hundred new jobs in Dublin doesn’t mean a boom, it’s the quality and profile of the new Dublin based tech firms that catches the attention and leads to further interest from overseas investors.

So what do these things mean for design? As Ireland is becoming internationally respected for its startup technology and contributions in the areas of Big Data and web innovation, is Irish design ready to play a part in communicating and expressing new technological innovations? Will the Book of Big Data be the new Book Of Kells?

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CultureTech’s creative marketplace – a designer’s view

In my early days as a Creative Director in London it wasn’t unusual to invite key members of a client’s marketing team for a strategy dinner in Paris, or to fly them business class to Monte Carlo for an industry specific conference.

Which is why it was extremely refreshing to be invited to take part in CutureTech’s creative marketplace in Derry, an event where clients and agencies could meet and agree deals and where the businesses attending had been given access to funding to buy design services on the day. As an experienced designer this was one of the most enlightened and trail-blazing events I have attended anywhere in the world.

Outsiders wouldn’t perhaps think of Derry as a shining example of new creative thinking – a place where the new wave of design agencies could gather and help define the future of business, but that is how the city is presenting itself through CultureTech. Read more

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