Christmas Planning

Try as you might, there’s no avoiding it, Christmas is just around the corner and early preparation is essential in order to get the most out of your marketing material. So, if you haven’t already, now is the time to start thinking about the best way to promote your business over the festive period. We’ve listed a few pointers to help you along your merry way…

Give yourself plenty of time

Design agencies can get very busy around this time of year, so make sure you are booked in well in advance. You have to allow for the fact that lots of printing companies take a rest over the holidays. For example, we ask our customers to get their last orders in to us before the 18th December, and don’t forget to factor in approx 10 days lead-time for all printing jobs. Bear in mind how hectic the Royal Mail becomes during this period so make sure you have everything printed and ready to post ahead of schedule. This includes not only everything you need for Christmas but anything you need ready for the New Year such as new stationery or 2019 calendars.

Marketing Material

Pick a theme and try to weave this throughout all your advertising. You could choose to go for a more nostalgic Christmas era or opt for a modern, abstract design. There’s always a big temptation at this time of year to rely heavily on reds and greens as your main colour scheme but this doesn’t have to be the case. Try and use your brand colours as much as possible. A chic Christmas, for example, can feature black and gold. Consider different printing techniques such as foiling and Spot UV as these can really add an extra dimension to the final product.

Send greeting cards

This is the ideal time to thank your existing customer base for their loyalty by sending them a Christmas card, it is the season of goodwill after all! Don’t be duped into thinking that your card has to be A5 size or square (although these do look very smart) we love to encourage you to think outside the box. We offer all sorts of different types of sizes and folding options, whether it is tri-fold, accordion, gatefold or more. Maybe you would like your card to fold out into a poster, advertising your business, or alternatively for it to be DL size in order to hold a gift voucher neatly inside. The envelope can be printed on as well to create a bigger impact when it lands on your customer’s doorstep.

Photography

Using the same photos that you use in your advertising all year round can be a tad boring and unoriginal. Customer’s love to be inspired with a feast of festive images to get them into the spirit. We’ve worked at enough Christmas photoshoots over the years to know exactly how lighting, styling, props and backgrounds can all be combined to give a flavour of the season. It’s always great fun to be creative with the composition and styling. We love these final image (see below) masterfully created for Donald Russell’s christmas campaign.

Video

Lastly, having an effective video at your disposal is an excellent form of advertising and communication that you can use both on your website and across your social media platforms. Do you have a Christmas recipe that you would like to share? Sleek video’s like these can really capture people’s attention and are a great way of getting your name out there.

As you can see, there are many ways you can use the season to your advantage and all that is required is a little pre-planning. So don’t delay, get in touch with us today and you can rest assured that your Christmas campaign will be taken care of in plenty of time. Then when December does roll in, all that will be left to do is put your feet up and enjoy a mulled wine, or two, or three…


Using FTP

To maintain a smooth and professional working relationship, we make sure all our clients are kept up-to-date throughout the design process and we welcome any feedback or adjustments they would like made to the artwork.

To keep this flow of communication going, it often requires us sending over numerous drafts that could potentially clog up email inboxes, or may contain artwork that is too large to send as email attachments.

Our solution is to use File Transfer Protocol (known commonly by its acronymn FTP) in order to transfer files between computers on a network.

Getting Started

To establish an FTP connection you have two options. You can download an FTP client or you can use your web browser (such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox) and their associated plugin.

We find that the quickest and most flexible way is the first option – using an FTP client. There are many available to download on the internet such as Fetch (www.fetchsoftworks.com) or Filezilla (www.filezilla-project.org).

After downloading the application to your computer you then log in using a private username and password which we supply you with. Once you have logged in you can navigate the server’s folder structure, and exchange files.  You view the files as if you are browsing on your own computer – it’s extremely simple and user friendly. To upload files you usually just need to drag and drop the files you want to upload into the correct folders. Most FTP clients are very easy to get to grips with and allow for you to upload multiple files at once.

Increased Security

We host all the files on our dedicated Creative Storm server. This might be considered safer than using third party applications such as Dropbox or Yousendit where we would be unable to guarantee the copyright, security, service or speed. Our server is a VPS (Virtual Private Server) which means that we have full control if things go wrong and we will be able to rectify problems as quickly as possible.

Note – It is good practise to always set up SFTP sites. The “S” stands for secure and adds a layer of encryption which again increases security.

Versatile for various tasks

If a client doesn’t need to see multiple browsable folders then we are able to simplify the process even further by creating a unique URL link for the client to access a specific file or folder. We send this web link via email and all the client has to do is click on it and the file will instantly start downloading to their computer – this could take a few seconds or possibly minutes to download, depending on Internet speed. The file will then open automatically – It’s as simple as that!

FTP is a great versatile tool and is also used during web development in order to edit and transfer files within a specified website.

We’ve been using FTP for many years now and have found it to be the most efficient way of sending files both large and small. Downloading and installing an FTP Client isn’t difficult and it grants you more power and control over the process.

We hope you have found this blog useful and if there is anything you are unsure of please let us know in the comments section below or email us at hello@creative-storm.co.uk.


Does your Brand need a Facelift?

Rebranding shouldn’t be a decision that is taken lightly and a lot of thought and discussion needs to go into it. If you are constantly changing your company’s look then you face the prospect of never gaining brand recognition and it can prove costly and also confusing for your customers. Therefore, having a strong identity to start with and making a few minor tweaks, to keep it current, is ultimately the best route to go down.

One big company that learned about this the hard way was high street retailer Gap who launched an expensive new logo, back in 2010, only to scrap it a few days later following a backlash on social media. At the time Marka Hansen, president of the Gap brand in North America, wrote:

“We’ve learned a lot in this process. And we are clear that we did not go about this in the right way. We recognise that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community. This wasn’t the right project at the right time for crowd sourcing.”

(Below left, their original logo and right, what it looked like after their rebrand)

This just highlights how crucial it is to make sure your rebranding is done at the correct time and for the correct reasons. If you find yourself in the position where you have a very tired and outdated brand then in order for you to gain respect and to entice new customers, a complete overhaul may be your only option. To help you decide if your brand really does need a facelift, we’ve put together some key points for you to consider.

1. Is your message/ethos getting through to people
People need to be sure from the get-go exactly what your company is selling or the service you are providing. They need to be drawn to your company and feel an instant connection. If there is repeated confusion, then you need to look at how you are portraying yourself and what improvements you can make so that your message is loud and clear. Perhaps it could be something as simple as adding a tagline or developing your logo further. Just like the new logo we created for housing company Cocoon Project – the message is simple yet clear.

2.You’re failing to stand out from the competition
All too often companies find themselves drowning in a saturated marketplace with many likeminded organisations competing against one another to get noticed. You may have started your business many years back and opted for quite safe and generic branding. However, now that you have established yourself and realise what your unique selling points are, it could be time for you to look at capitalising on what makes your company different and ensuring that your branding reflects this.

3.Your company is going in a different direction
Perhaps you started off offering one service but over time your business has evolved and you now have more to offer. Or alternatively it could have gone in the opposite direction, where you started off bigger but have now settled on a niche product or service. You may now have sub-divisions and so you are keen on everything having a coherent look.

4.You need to disassociate your brand from some bad press
Nowadays, thanks to social media, bad reviews and past mistakes can spread like wildfire, and have a devastating effect on your company. Rebranding is often the simplest and most effective way to rid yourself of these negative connotations and to start afresh.

5.You want to connect with a different target audience
Just as audiences grow older, brands either have to change with them, or change to target the “new” younger clientele. You have to decide what direction you want to go in and what works best for your company.

As stated at the beginning, giving your brand a facelift needs to be done at the right time and for the right reasons. If done correctly, it can breathe a whole new lease of life into your company and open the doors to a new customer base.


Packaging Trends

Packaging, when done correctly, is the best form of advertisement for your product and can really make it stand out from the competition. We’ve taken a look at five of our favourite packaging trends to show you, not only what we’re doing, but what other designers are doing across the globe to make your product appeal to the masses.

1. Responsible packaging
There has been a significant increase recently in the awareness of sustainability in packaging design. Designers, and their clients, are recognising the need to invest in more environmentally friendly materials and production techniques if they are going to appeal to the increasing environmentally conscious consumer.

Saltwater Brewery in Florida teamed up with New York advertising agency We Believers, who came up with the ingenious idea of creating biodegradable beer pack rings, made from wheat and barley waste – natural by-products of the beer-making process. The packaging starts to disintegrate within two hours of being in the ocean, which prevents fish or other sea animals getting stuck in the rings.

2. Clean, Minimal Design
Everybody is familiar with the term “Less is more” but when it comes to packaging this can be difficult to achieve. This is particularly the case on food and drink packaging, as there is often a lot of information that is required to be included by law. The end result can be a crowded design that has lost its visual appeal. Using lots of white space, clean typography, striking imagery and sticking to a limited colour palette can all help contribute to a minimal look. Simple design shouldn’t look lazy or unfinished but instead the message should be clear and powerful, just like these labels we created for Berry Good.

3. Bold Colours
Bold colours have been a key trend of packaging this year. Using vibrant colours can really make your product stand out on a shelf or on an online gallery of product images. These label designs we created for Succulento use African patterns and vivid colours, which instantly give the product character and perfectly complement the tagline “the joy of food”.

Another project we worked on was the pouch design for Kwans Kitchen Stir Fry Kits. Again we weren’t shy on using bold colours. Using different colours meant that each product now had it’s own identity and could work equally well alone as well as side by side on the shelf.

4. Using the product to clever effect in your packaging
As designers, there are many things you can take inspiration from when creating unique packaging. Perhaps one of the most obvious things, is the product itself. If your product has an interesting shape or a defining feature, why not let this do the selling for you. We love Belarusian graphic designer Angelina Pischikova‘s clever design for CS Light Bulbs with the shape of the bulbs fitting perfectly into the silhouettes of insect’s bodies.

A great example of combining both minimalism with creative design, is Panasonic’s clever packaging for their RP-HJE 130 headphones. This was  developed by Berlin company  Scholz & Friends . A simple music note was created out of the product and it was placed in a clear box with only the product’s name and tagline visible on the front.

5. Go Vintage

Vintage design is very popular and it instantly gives your product a strong identity that harks back to a bygone era. Beverage bottle branding company Stranger & Stranger designed this limited edition liquor that features a stunning detailed label with over 500 words emblazoned on it. The bottle came wrapped in an equally intricate newspaper design which finished the piece of perfectly.

Packaging has an important role to play in the marketing process. It has to not only look the part but also be functional and protective. Getting all three of these right can really help in getting your product to fly off the shelves. 


Design Jargon

Here at Creative Storm we use a few technical terms that have quickly established themselves as part of our working day vocabulary. However, we’re aware that if you’re not in the creative industry then words like “Kerning” and “Sans serif” may leave you scratching your head and wondering what on earth we’re on about! With that in mind we’ve compiled a handy glossary of some of our most frequently used terms to hopefully enlighten you…

CMYK
This refers to the four inks used in colour printing – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (black). Before sending anything to print, the document needs to be checked over to ensure all colours and images are CMYK.

RGB
This stands for Red, Green and Blue. This is the colour mode typically used to display images on a digital screen.

PANTONE
The ‘Pantone Matching System’ is a standardised system of colours used for printing. Every Pantone shade has it’s own reference number so a consistent colour match can be guaranteed when printing.

KERNING
This is the process of adjusting the space between two characters in your type. This gives the designer more control so they can ensure there is proportional spacing between each letter.

TRACKING
This is the amount of space between the entire word or groups of words rather than individual letters.

LEADING
Leading is the space between the baseline of one line of type and the baseline of the next line of type. Increasing the leading will space out the lines of text further and decreasing the leading will bring them closer together.

SERIF
A typeface with small decorative strokes or flicks (referred to as ‘serifs’) found at the end of horizontal and vertical lines.

SANS SERIF
Sans means “without”. This is a more modern looking typeface without the decorative strokes (‘serifs’).

RESOLUTION
Image resolution is the detail an image holds. Ideally, images should be at least 300 dpi (dots per inch) at the size they’ll be printed at. Low-resolution images used on digital platforms need to just be 72 ppi (pixels per inch).

FTP
FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is a way to transfer files across the internet from one computer to another.  You will need to provide a server address, a user name, and a password before you can upload and download files. You can either download an ftp client or you can connect to an ftp on your web browser, where you normally enter a URL.

Adobe Acrobat
This is a software program which allows you to view, create, manipulate, print and manage PDF files. One of the most beneficial features of Adobe Acrobat Reader is the “sticky notes” feature where you can add notes onto certain points of the document. This is an extremely useful tool between the client and designer as you can see any corrections they would like made.

VECTOR
A vector graphic is a computer-made image that is made up of points, lines, and curves that are based upon mathematical equations, rather than pixels. This means it can be enlarged without loss of quality and so is ideal for use in logos etc.

LOREM IPSUM
The dummy text that designers use to populate a document so that clients can visualise how the design looks with text. It also helps to determine a word count.

BLEED
Bleed is a printing term that is used to describe a document where images or elements touch the edge of the page, extending beyond the trim edge. When a document has bleed, it must be printed on a larger sheet of paper and then trimmed down so that there is no white border around it.

ALIGNMENT
The lining up of objects or text to make sure that everything looks balanced and even. There are also four common types of typographical alignment – centre, left, right, and justified.

OPACITY
This is the level of transparency that an element in the design has. The lower the opacity, the more transparent it becomes.

We hope you found this blog useful. If there are any other terms you would like us to explain then feel free to ask in the comments below.


Donald Russell Rebrand

There’s some news we’ve been wanting to share with you for a while… and now finally we can! The Creative Storm team have been working very closely with butchers (and Royal Warrant holders) Donald Russell over the past eight months on a very exciting project.

We met the Donald Russell directors at London agency Conran Design Group (part of the Havas group) back in October 2017. They had just finalised Donald Russell’s new Brand Principles, and it was then that we were first tasked to design, develop and integrate the new Donald Russell look and feel in practice.

 

 

This affected every single facet of their business and visual communications. So, working closely together with the Donald Russell marketing team, we started the meticulous task of preparing all the new materials required – From business cards to steak knives and chopping boards, to a multitude of packaging items, signage inside and outside their facilities, and throughout their offline direct mail marketing materials such as catalogue and flyers – we helped ensure consistency, and adapted the brand and designs to be creative and unique and to work on all relevant media.

Furthermore, as part of the Donald Russell rebrand, we were tasked to take their photography ‘to the next level’. We hope you’ll agree the new imagery being showcased throughout their rebranded marketing materials is enticing and mouthwatering, seasonally coloured and styled, and imparts their core message of ‘quality master butchery’.

We’re extremely honoured to have played such an integral role throughout this crucial and ambitious project (which is by no means over just now!) and we’re excited to share with you the NEW Donald Russell.

We wish the Donald Russell team all the best as they continue to strengthen their business positioning as well as their commitment to be “Scotland’s Finest Butcher”.

And we look forward to enjoying more of their delicious steaks!

Dan Baumann
Managing Director

 

PS. The NEW summer catalogue is out now!


The Creative Process

We often talk about taking your projects “from conception to completion.” In order to demonstrate how we do this, we’ve created a simple timeline to guide you through our journey and the stages we go through before you receive the end product.


How to make your website stand out

The World Wide Web contains over 4 billion pages. That’s a lot of traffic! This is why it’s important now, more than ever, that you create a totally unique site that ticks all three boxes of being user-friendly, visually stimulating and informative.

1. FUNCTIONALITY

Choosing the right web host is one of the first, and crucially one of the most important, steps you have to make. Try not to be seduced by the lowest price as it may not necessarily be the best option for your business. There could also be hidden costs along the way that you end up incurring. Research your web host first of all – what are their customer service department like? Do they have online chat where you can speak to somebody and get instant support? This could be invaluable in the early stages. Not securing a good host could mean you are left with a slow loading site that is likely to frustrate and turn away any potential customers.

Also of paramount importance is ensuring that your site is built to be fully “responsive” i.e. it adapts and views correctly on computers, tablets and smartphones. Once your site is up and running, take the time to check this out for yourself and make sure it displays correctly across a range of devices and browsers.

2. DESIGN

As soon as somebody lands on your website you only have seconds to grab their attention and keep them interested before they click off and carry on browsing. A nice clean design with an easy to navigate layout and structure will encourage people to explore your site further. Assuming you have a strong brand in the first place you can use the same colours throughout the various pages.

In order to make your webpage truly unique you have to inject some personality into it while at the same time making sure your brand identity is being portrayed in the correct manner. One of the easiest ways to do this is to have an “About us” section where you introduce your company, ethos and your staff. Have fun being creative with your staff member bios.

3. SINGLE PAGE OR MULTI PAGE?

The advantages of a single (scrolling) page website is that they are clean, simple and can display information in a comprehensive manner – there are no endless clicks that can end up confusing or irritating users. Check out the site we recently completed for Catch Energy
www.catchenergy.com

 

If however you have a broad range of services/products/information to get across then a multi page site will probably best fulfil your needs. This website we designed for online magazine Fearless Femme is a perfect example of this www.fearlessfemme.co.uk. We can include more keywords on each page, which in turn helps the web page to get pushed further up the google rankings. 

 

4. CONTENT

Make sure your content is current, fresh and updated on a regular basis. If it is not updated regularly, visitors won’t feel the need to revisit the site. You could try including a blog section on your page where you cover important topics in your sector. Social media plays a key role in networking nowadays so icons for these should be displayed clearly along with any contact details or calls to action

It’s true that getting yourself noticed may be the hardest part – but after following these steps you can rest assured that once people do notice you they will remember you for all the right reasons.

 


Digital vs Litho

When it comes to sending your project to print there are two different routes for you to consider  – Offset Lithography Printing (usually referred to as Litho) or Digital Printing. For a complete novice it can be hard to determine which is best suited to your job and budget. So, to help make things a little easier, we’ve listed the benefits of each technique below.

Litho Printing

This is the traditional method of printing. The inked image is transferred from a printing plate to a rubber blanket and then the image is transferred again to the paper. Because of this complicated and time consuming set up, Litho Printing is best suited for larger runs and has a longer turnaround time.

So what are the benefits?

  • Litho Printing offers a greater flexibility, allowing you to print on a diverse range of papers and card stocks
  • Once the plates have been made, actually creating the prints is fairly simple and cost effective for long-run print jobs (such as leaflets or brochures)
  • Printing is not limited to four-colour process and special or spot inks can be included which can greatly enhance the artwork. If you are using specific Pantone colours you can expect a more accurate colour match
  • Litho Printing is much better for large areas of solid single colour. The colour comes out smoother and with a higher quality

Digital Printing

This is the more modern type of printing as it eliminates the need for a printing plate. It is usually done on methods such as laser or ink-jet printers. This type of printing technique is more suited to fast turnaround time print and lower volumes.

So what are the benefits?

  • Much shorter turnaround time, so ideal for jobs that you need done quickly
  • If you are just looking for a small print run then this will probably be the cheapest option for you
  • Digital printing is ideal for personalised direct mail campaigns due to variable data printing. This is the process when information is taken from a database or external file and text and graphics can be changed on each piece. So, for example, you can change the address on an envelope or the name on a letter.
  • Digital is more environmentally friendly than its counterparts as there are no pre-press stages between the digital document file and the final print. This means that there is no need for film plates or photo chemicals.

We offer both types of these printing styles and have had excellent results with each of them. It’s simply a case of looking at your requirements and finding the best fit for the job.  


Storming into 2018

We would like to begin this blog by wishing you all a Happy New Year – we hope that 2018 is a prosperous one! Now that the festivities are over, it seems like the right time for us to show you what we can offer your business and how we can help you reach (and hopefully surpass!) your goals for the year ahead.

Firstly we think it’s important that you know a little bit about us. We are a small, (but perfectly formed!) creative agency that consists currently of four designers and an in-house photographer. By having such a tight-knit team we can ensure that we offer a personalised service with each project receiving our undivided attention. You are more than welcome to come into our studio so that we can have a coffee and throw some ideas around. You’ll find us nestled in a converted Coach House in the creative district of Leith. All our team are perfectionists and are highly experienced in their field.

So how can we help you?

The New Year often signals the time when people take a look their image and the improvements they want to make. The same can be said for your business. Maybe you desire a complete design overhaul or alternatively just a dash of creativity to spruce up your existing brand. You might be considering how to raise your company profile. One of our specialities is creating successful direct marketing campaigns with multiple mailings sent out to your target audience. You should never underestimate how important it is for clients (both existing and potential) to have flyers, vouchers, brochures etc sent direct to their doorstep. Nowadays a lot of companies just rely on posting these types of things online but this requires the customers to go searching for it. Many people still enjoy receiving information about discounts through their door and this method can build brand loyalty and entice them to become repeat customers. With direct marketing you control the message and offer. We also have the option to use variable data printing to personalise each item for a better response. Addressing the recipients by name and even printing messages based on the target audience offers better ways for businesses to connect with customers.

From conception to completion

Once the design is finalised our services don’t just end there, we can also organise print and delivery for you. We are lucky that we have built a strong relationship over the years with a family-run print business who can tackle anything from small print runs to larger more complex jobs, using specialised printing techniques. Working so closely with the printing company means we can guarantee you get the desired result and that there are no inconsistencies in colour or quality.

Last year saw us work on many varied and exciting projects from designing full-scale exhibition stands to creating engaging promotional videos. If there’s one thing we found out about ourselves, it’s that we love a challenge and we can’t wait to find out what 2018 has in store for us. Watch this space!