Creative Spaces

I walked past a window graphic the other day that said ‘Creativity isn’t born in the boardroom’ this made me stop and think – so simple yet so true.

The creative industry is constantly working and striving to make workspaces fun and creative, but is this forced creativity, and how often do you need to change it before it becomes wallpaper?

A friend of mine at a well known London agency always arranged the creative briefing out of the office, her view was to always take the team away from the same four walls while they discussed the brief – but then back to the office to do the work. 

Now I’m not saying we should all do away with offices, there’s an obvious need for them, but with the developments in technology do we all need to be tied to the office 8 hours a day 5 days a week?

When we set up Bird we passionately didn’t want a fixed office space – there’s the obvious practical reasons about hefty overheads (which are usually passed on to client), the routine of driving to the same place in rush hour everyday, and then for the fact that we wanted freedom – freedom to surround ourselves with the atmosphere, the people and the things that were going to inspire us.

Over the past 12 months we’ve been doing just that - pushing ourselves to work from more inspiring, more creative locations. Places that are relevant to the brief we’re working on, which help us understand the audiences we’re targeting, or just help the creative juices flow. Our industry doesn’t require us to be tied to a desk 8 hours a day, in fact some of our most creative moments have happened in the most random locations.

The influx of shared working spaces that seem to be popping up everywhere support this as well – the structure of an office, but with the variety of new people to bump into everyday, different industries mixing together, and the opportunity to move around offices as much as you desire. Picking spaces for their affect on your productivity or your creativity whatever you need that day.

Beyond the office space there are people who split their lives between countries, the rise of low cost airlines means living in Ibiza and visiting clients in London is accessible to almost everyone. I know I’d rather be sat in the sunshine than on a commuter train every morning.

So is the traditional office life dead? Should companies be looking at more natural, more creative environments to get the best out of their staff? Is it the opportunity to be more flexible with your work spaces?

I’ll leave you all to ponder these questions, I’m just going to finish my beer and watch the sun set over Portugal.

More than a logo

You've spent months researching, coming up with ideas, designing, developing, developing some more. You've likely had the moment where it's midnight and you're on the verge of a career change because your designs are just not working, then a slight change of colour or adapting the shape makes you love design again. Then you're happy, your team are happy, your clients are happy, all that’s left if for the big reveal.

Hours, weeks even months of your hard work is then out there for everyone to judge, and boy do they…time for a career change again?

Everyone has an opinion, which is great, but people are sometimes too quick to share their opinion or judge something without knowing the facts. Take the new CBBC logo for instance – launched this week to criticisms from everyone far and wide, national news papers are writing about it, social media is filled with comments as people turn on the TV and see it for the first time, but has anyone looked beyond the TV screen?

We need to remember, we don't watch TV like we used to. Its more about a wider digital landscape where we access content online, on catch ups, through apps, on our phones. And in the case of CBBC there's so much more additional content available online over and above the programmes we watch. So re-branding needs to work across all of these channels, and in our opinion that’s exactly what the new CBBC identity does. It's fun, engaging and playful – which is exactly what the audience wants.

Logo's are not just about a static image, more and more brands are looking to create dynamic identities which can adapt to the environment they're in. Think Channel 4,  AOL, SKY, all of these brands adapt their identity to fit the moment, the audience and the environment.

Remember the uproar when Starbucks removed their name from the logo, and now no one cares as they've lived with it and can't imagine it another way. Over time everyone will learn to love the new CBBC logo, and will probably look back and consider how outdated their old one is. So maybe it's more about people criticising change rather than the new identity.

Process Process Process

our process

I don't know about you but I love and hate processes in equal measure. We all need them for sure, but there is always a temptation to take shortcuts or merge them especially when time is tight – but what we've learnt is, they're there for a reason and short cuts are pretty much always not worth it.

As most agencies we set out a strict four stage process we follow with every client – the budget dictates how much time is spent on each step, but the process stays fixed and here's why.

Stage one is all about insight, this is about your business, your marketplace, competitors, trends, perceptions of your company, your customers – what they really think and what they want. This is not a quick read of your website so we can quote back facts and figures that you've published. This is a thorough understanding of your world, so we can advise, we can challenge and ultimately come up with an informed solution that’s right for you, for your clients and for your business.

We recently undertook this stage with a client, the MD told us they were all about innovation, they wanted to be the BMW of their industry – first to market with new products and developments. When presenting back to them at the end of this stage we have to be blunt – you don't innovate, you don't develop products but what they did do was provide a quality service, they were the only firm in their market with leading accreditations, and ultimately they were the best and what they did and could prove it.  This allowed us to come up with a unique positioning for this company, something which was built on fact, and something which they could confidently stand by.

Stage two is all about the idea. We don't get carried away in creative executions until we know the key proposition, message or ideas that sits at the heart of everything you do. This is always linked back into the insight phase and these ideas or propositions come from the facts that we've uncovered in this phase – and so are built on truth.

Stage three, once we've got the idea nailed then this is where we can really have fun and bring everything to life, get creative, come up with the weird and wonderful ideas that we love to dream up…but each and everyone tracks back to the idea and back to the initial insight. This means your creative execution is meaningful and is based on insight, and becomes less subjective.

Stage four, well this is where everything is made real, where we reign in all the weird and wonderful ideas and make these work across all of the elements that you require. This stage gets down to the detail, surnames, sizes, specs etc as important as the others though, as this stage allows us to develop the idea further and apply it across the applications you need but keeping everything consistent and on brand.

So while we're always happy to discuss budgets and work within your boundaries, we never cut corners.

Collaboration is Key

We started Bird with the soul aim of making a difference, whether that was with the types of clients we work with or helping clients to make a difference within their business through strategic thinking, considered ideas, brand development and considered design and communications. But one of the important things for us was to base everything on relationships working with our clients working collaboratively, and not just providing a service.

A long standing client of ours, Arch, asked us to help with the developing materials for a conference they were organising. As we began having conversations it became clear that this conference was actually one of the first of their kind. As a charity dealing with victims of sexual violence and abuse, Arch have always been brave and been willing to push the boundaries within their industry.

With funding and support from other charities Arch have created the first of a national conference bringing together some of the leading names in the industry from all over the UK and Australia – giving people an opportunity to come together, share best practice with the simple aim of creating better outcomes for the victims they work with each and every day.

Rather than just designing their materials it was important to us to be involved in this properly, from working with them on the experience of each delegate on the day to setting up, positioning each banner and balloon to make the event look and feel as special as the content on the day, and this is whats important to us – we see ourselves as part of their team, and they do too.

Whilst we're all in business to make a living, sometimes what we do and the difference we make can actually become the driving force, and this was definitely one of those occasions.

arch conference

What’s your why?

why.jpg

Have you ever had someone try and sell you something and realised their heart just isn’t in it – they lack enthusiasm, interest as it’s not really what they want to do?

Have you ever had someone who has tried to make a sale, regardless of whether it was right for you or not?

But on the flip side we’ve all met those people so passionate about their jobs that you make your purchase with confidence and reassurance. So what’s the difference, these people know their why and how to communicate it.

If you’re selling something to make money, consumers see right through this.

This goes back to the trust element we talked about in our last post. Consumers want to believe what you’re selling and be confident in what they’re buying.

So what’s our why? Well it’s simple, to make a difference. We’re not about to talk you into a huge rebrand that benefits us more that you. Whatever the problem in your business then we want to help you fix that – how we do that could be a re-brand, it could be a website, it could be a marketing strategy – or we could simply give you the tools to help improve on what you’re already doing.

 

More than just a logo

Do you design logos?

Well yes we do, but only as part of the branding process. Logo, brand marque are all an important part of your brand – but it’s not everything.

Imagine you’re describing your best friend – you wouldn’t simply describe how they look or what they’re wearing, you’d describe them as a person. Their personality, what they sound like, their interests, what they believe in, whether they’re funny (or not as the case may be).

This is exactly the same when it comes to brands, there’s a number of elements that all make up a brand – visual identity is just one of them.

This might sound like “design speak”, but if I was to ask you to compare yourself to a car brand what would you say?  I’m certain your choice wasn’t made on the look of their logo, it’s because you align yourself with their brand values. And whilst logos are important as they should reflect the brand, and create a recognisable mark, making sure you have a brand is just as important.

Brands create an emotional connection with their audience.

Consumers today have more choice available to them than ever before. Industries are crowded with similar offerings, but purchasing decisions aren’t just made on price, and not only because they like what’s on offer. In fact most consumer purchasing decisions are based on emotion and trust, if you build trust you build long term loyal customers.

So when you’re thinking about you’re brand – forget the logo for a minute, and ask yourself if you’re ideal customer was describing you what would you want them to say? Then honestly think whether this fits your current brand/values/experience. If not then we have some work to do…

Specialism

We keep getting asked what areas do you want to specialise in, when we reply and say non we always get the same puzzled reaction.

It got me thinking about whether there is a need to be a specialist in a particular sector?  Or is this not as relevant today.

Well firstly our specialism is branding, creating them, developing them refreshing them, communicating them – that’s our speciality, and over the years we’ve worked across a diverse range of sectors including travel, education, retail, finance even funerals.

Lets take education for example, being a specialist in this area may have its advantages, whilst this would mean you know the latest industry trends, have subscriptions to the relevant trade titles, you’re a regular at the heist awards, are probably on first name terms with a lot of the key players in the market. Can you really give an objective opinion on breaking through the noise and creating standout for the organisation? Can being so immersed in one market actually be of detriment?

We have education experience, with great success stories in fact, but we also have a lot of experience from other sectors. Education is still a business with targets to hit, and our experience from other sectors can help and inform some of the decisions we make.

If we’re doing our job properly then the first part of the brief for us is to fully understand your sector. No one knows the sector as well as you, so why don’t we learn from the best? Then compliment this with our own research to create an objective view of what’s happening in the market, what your audience are thinking and how we can reach them.

So in conclusion, experience is good, essential in fact – but a broader range of sector experience and skills really adds to the solutions, breaking tradition and breaking the mould.