Tag Archives: brand

15 Steps to Futureproofing Your Brand

15 Steps to Futureproofing Your Brand

15 Steps to Futureproofing Your Brand

The way we market ourselves in business is now more volatile than ever. We’ve seen monumental shifts in behaviours during the Covid pandemic and it’s created more pressure on businesses to ensure their brand remains in an optimum position as these changes occur.

One of the biggest causes of failure in business is brand negligence. Far too often, brand development is seen as a one-stop shop; a single visit process which can simply be ticked off, never to be reviewed again. The stark reality is that there are many contributing factors which prove it requires constant nurturing. The best advice we can give is to plan ahead. Think about where you want your business to be in 6, 12, 24 months and ensure that you position your brand to match your goals.

So, how do you go about doing this to meet these expectations? Here are 15 steps to ensure your brand is watertight for the future:

 

1. Review your goals and values

It’s important to regularly review your goals and values, to take stock of where you are. So, take some time to do some introspection on your brand journey to date. Are you clear about your brand values? What are your core values? Are your goals are aligned with the progress the business is making?

 

2. Identify your USP

What makes your business better than any other? Identifying your USP is vital for understanding the unique value that only you have to offer to your ideal audience, through your experience and expertise. What problem does your business solve differently or better than other businesses in your field? Focusing on what you do really well will help you to focus on your strategy.

 

3. Understand your audience

 It’s important to get very specific with who needs your product or service and more importantly, where they live online. If you don’t know your audience, you won’t know what strategies or media to choose, let alone what messages to give them or how to treat them once they become full-fledged customers. Find out what platforms your audience use, get into their mindsets and really tap into what’s going to make them tick.

 

4. Create a headline with impact

Create an impactful headline statement that includes who you are, what you do, how you do it and for whom. This shouldn’t be more than a sentence, it can then be used in your online profiles and as an introduction when meeting new people. This headline should clearly communicate your brand, so it’s worth putting your thinking cap on for this one.

 

5. Stay true to your brand story

A clear and distinctive brand is one that is tells a story that sticks in your mind and gives a company an advantage in the marketplace. What does your brand really mean to your organisation? Does it represent tangible assets with your logo on them? Is it your tone-of-voice? A brand must be the expression of the ‘authentic story’ behind your organisation.

 

6. Ensure your online profiles are up to date

Keeping all your profiles up to date online is important to ensure you and your brand are seen as current and professional. These channels are a form of branding, so invest in things like a professional headshot. Ensure that your profiles have up-to-date and accurate information about you and your brand, to represent yourself the way you want to be addressed.

 

7. Monitor your website search ranking

Start with a simple Google search with your name, then your brand name, then the keywords that would be associated with your name or brand. Make a note of where you rank on Google and what links show up for you first. This will help you to become aware of what others are seeing when they are trying to find you so that you can make the necessary changes or updates.

 

8. Be the master in a particular field

Have a think about what you want to be known for in your industry. What keywords would you want someone to use to find you online? If you had an opportunity to speak at an event, what would your ideal topic be? Figure out your niche and then get more specific with your offering, this will make it easier for the right people to find you. Become a master in your chosen field and excel in it.

 

9. Demonstrate your compassion

 Brands today are no longer just about representing a transaction. Brands must demonstrate that they make a contribution, beyond mere product benefits. They need to be a force for good in our world. For example: improving communities, providing useful career paths for employees, supporting charities and worthy causes to give back to the community. You need to demonstrate this to your audience and make sure they know you care.

 

10. Create and share content

Content is key! Sharing useful, interesting and innovative content is a sure way to keep your brand top of mind. To make a start, write down the top 10 questions you get asked by your customers or clients. Use this as the starting point to creating content for your audience. Break down each question and decide on the best format, images, video and audio for your content.

 

11. Comment and collaborate

It’s key to be present and engaged on your social media channels. Comment, like, share and connect with people. Real connection can lead to real opportunities for collaboration that can quickly expand your reach and audience and grow your online community.

 

12. Focus on the platforms right for you

If you’re wondering what platforms are right for you, then the answer is wherever your ideal audience lives online. Find out where your people are hanging out and engaging online and meet them there. Get familiar with the platforms and start creating content that adds value to your community.

 

13. Keep it fresh and relevant

Regular content, well written and distributed, continually reinforces your brand voice while delivering value to your customers. Thought leadership is also important, the ideas, concepts and vision your company can own and act upon to influence your industry. This showcases your strengths, your capabilities and your authority and keeps content fresh and relevant.

 

14. Never stand still

A brand does not stand still. People are continually looking to improve their lives in some way and brands that light the way forward through new ideas, resonate with a hungry public. The market will always change, and your brand will always have to adapt. To future-proof your brand, you must constantly evaluate your environment and think several steps ahead. How quickly and flexibly can you adapt to industry changes and shifting customer needs? Managing your brand is a continuous process, with the aim of continuing to optimise brand experiences and brand values.

 

15. Get the right expertise

To ensure that your brand is always future proof, you need the right expertise on hand. You can develop this expertise within your own talent pool, but it’s also wise to use external help, especially when your brand planning changes. You might work on the brand with a lot of people within your organisation, but think about who is responsible for your brand when it comes to strategy and design? Experts can provide unique points of view and innovative ideas, to compliment and synergise with your own in-house teams.

 

Agencies are often hired when it comes to brand strategy and design. By working with us at Creative Fire, you’ll be adding heavy weight skill sets to your team in marketing, design, communications, printing and digital publishing. To find out more, contact the Creative Fire team today.

What does an investment with Creative Fire get you?

What does an investment with Creative Fire get you?

Turning to a design agency for your marketing will yield significant rewards. Not only will you get the benefit of professional designs, but you’ll get the expertise of an experienced team who will help you navigate the marketing and branding elements of your business. At Creative Fire, our ground-breaking Creative Time package will also ensure that you get the most value from your investment. Let’s explore the benefits of working with a design agency.

Get your time back

When it comes to running a business, time is money. Some business owners or managers might like the idea of adding ‘designer’ to their list of jobs, but design is time consuming and if you aren’t a trained professional, ‘having a go’ at logos and branding will take valuable time away from your other tasks. A professional design agency can take the task of design off your hands completely and thus free up your time. Working with a team of experts will allow you to focus more time on your business and the things you’re good at. Not only that, but a team of graphic designers gives you more resources, knowledge, and support than you’d get from going it alone.

Decades of experience

Did you know that an external design team will have far more experience (on average 10+ years) compared to 1-3 years for an in-house hire? Essentially, a design agency provides decades of experience, at a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee. Training up internal staff is commendable, but a design agency will give you access to years of talent and expertise. Creatives from a design agency will be highly skilled and come from a host of different design backgrounds, disciplines, and industries, offering a wide range of design expertise to ensure professional and high-quality work.

Marketing when you need it

If you hire an in-house design team, you’ll need to keep them busy every working day of the year and this often won’t be cost effective. Outsourcing to a design agency means you’ll only need to pay when you have a project to work on. At Creative Fire, Creative Time is our structured design package to provide you with the solution your business needs to drive it forward. It offers all the benefits of having an in-house designer, but with flexibility. This isn’t like a usual ‘retainer’ package, we’ll work to your timetable, not ours. So, if you don’t use all your allocated Creative Time hours, we will roll them over for you and you’ll get the very best value for your money. Traditional retainer packages mean that if you don’t use the time allocated, you lose it.

Our ground breaking monthly subscription

We understand how important the creative input to your branding and communications is. If you constantly nurture your brand, the results will be beyond anything you could ever have imagined. That’s why we see our client relationships as long term, we want to build a relationship with you, immerse ourselves in your brand and partner with you for the long haul so we can strategize. That way, you get the most out of your investment. We believe this works far better than ad hoc projects.

At Creative Fire, we know first-hand the pain points of dealing with big agencies, so we’ve taken out the middleman, meaning you speak directly to your creative partner, from brief through to delivery. This ensures direct, fully transparent communication.

Our fully cloud-based, integrated project planner provides complete transparency, so that you know the status of each project, along with how much time has been allocated and spent. We have super-fast response times, and our client portal facilitates real-time project tracking and efficient response to your requests.

What else does our Creative Time package offer you?

  • On call creative support whenever you need it.
  • Discounted rates compared to our ad-hoc service.
  • Automated payment setup so that you don’t need to worry about payments.
  • A 1 hour review call every 2-3 weeks.
  • Access to our project management interface, where you can review, comment and upload content.
  • Monthly time reports to show your current usage in live time.

By working with us at Creative Fire, you’ll be adding heavy weight skill sets to your
team in marketing, design, communications, printing and digital publishing. To find out more, contact the Creative Fire team today.

Different Ways to Generate Marketing Content for Your Business

Different Ways to Generate Marketing Content for Your Business

Designing marketing material for your business is a hugely important process. However, companies often try to find the cheapest option when it comes to graphic design. So, what will get you the best result? Let’s explore the various options, from DIY design to using an external design agency.

DIY Design

When it comes to designing marketing material, the idea of doing it yourself can be tempting. After all, you know your brand inside out. You wouldn’t have to spend much money doing it yourself, plus you’d have full control and instant approval.

That said, it’s not an easy task to create a logo without any design knowledge. Your marketing material is critical for your brand identity, if you get it wrong, it will have a hugely detrimental effect on your business.

Don’t forget that design also takes time. Professional designers spend countless hours on company logos. Have you got the time to refine a logo properly? There is also a danger of your design looking amateurish, without the tools of a professional designer. Only someone experienced in designing a professional logo can make it look truly professional.

Outsourcing to Freelancers

Sites like Upwork and Fiverr host plenty of freelancers who will be happy to help with producing designs. For small projects at a lower cost, you could achieve some success utilising a freelancer. You’ll also likely receive an overwhelming number of responses to your requests, which is a positive in terms of easily accessible help, but negative in that you’ll have ideas flying round left, right and centre with no clear strategy.

Your freelancer may also have limited resources, as they aren’t coming from a design agency, and a limited skillset if they are still learning the ropes, so a freelancer gives no guarantee in terms of professional design or reliability and remains a bit of a gamble.

Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is sometimes a cost-effective way of getting a particular design for your brand. The process involves getting multiple designers to send in designs for you to review. You then work through these examples and pay for the design closest to what you want. Whilst you could get lucky and receive some good ideas for your spend, a public call for designs involves working through a lot of submissions from inexperienced designers.

Part of the process of design is also collaboration. You might like the font of one design and the colour of another, and a professional designer can weave these two elements together to come up with your ideal design. Crowdsource designers are unlikely to want to collaborate with other designers, they’ll produce the work, take payment, and move on to the next project.

In-house Design Team

An in-house team would bring you in designers who could give their full-time dedication and attention to your brand only. Having all your design needs in one place can be convenient and if you hire correctly, you can create a passionate team.

That said, the cost and practicalities of this may not work for your business in terms of the salary and benefits you’d need to offer, depending on their level of expertise, and the time it takes to assemble a skilled design team.

An external design team will have far more experience, on average 10+ years compared to 1-3 years for an in-house hire. In-house teams can also prove expensive, particularly for periods of down time.

Working With a Design Agency

Companies often turn to some of the options above because they want to cut costs, but if you work with a trustworthy design agency, it can be a lot more cost-effective in the long run. This is because of the relationship you’ll build, the expertise and the unique, polished results you’ll get first time round.

Design agencies are reliable, you won’t have to deal with the rookie errors of freelancers or your own mistakes. An experienced graphic design agency will get to know your business and tailor designs to your target market, putting design at the centre of the ethos, with a clear strategy to drive things. With hugely talented teams, knowledge and design tools at their fingertips, designs will be professional and impressive.

The teams at design agencies will bring with them years of talent and experience. Designers know the common design crutches and specifications, which enable them to create something memorable, yet functional. This expertise won’t be found with a freelancer or by giving it a go yourself.

At Creative Fire, we like get to know you and become familiar with your business, values and goals. We’ll work together to create high quality designs, first time round, taking the task off your hands whilst you focus on other areas of your business. For consistency, professional designs and high level expertise, contact the Creative Fire team today.

Why Canva is not the answer to all your design prayers

Why Canva is not the answer to all your design prayers

The design and branding process takes time, thought and skill, so it’s no surprise that when it comes to getting designs and graphics done quickly, people will look to find an easy, quick fix solution. Cue Canva, a simple, online design program which gives anyone the tools to create professional designs in minutes. Does it sound too good to be true? Well, that’s because it is! Let’s explore why Canva will never be a good substitute for a proper graphic designer.

If it sounds too good to be true then it most certainly is

If you’re a blogger, social media manager or business owner who wants to create marketing collateral quickly, then Canva might present as the answer to all your problems. It’s a web-based design tool which allows people who have no graphic design experience to very quickly create designs, from logos to social media graphics and flyers. It’s packed with trendy fonts and templates, so that all you have to do is to drop your text in and you can have a brand logo ready in half an hour. However, like we said above, if it sounds too good to be true then it most certainly is. Behind the quick fix illusion of Canva, there are actually quite a lot of drawbacks.

Creating the branding and marketing collateral for your business is one of the most important processes you’ll ever go through. You only get one chance to make a great first impression and the branding you choose will be the cornerstone for your whole business image and the foundation for your success. There’s a time for a quick fix solution, and there’s a time for doing things properly. We very much suggest doing design properly, with the help of an experienced graphic designer, for the reasons we’ll take a look at below.

Limited options for a saturated market

Firstly, Canva offers a range of pre-designed templates and asset libraries for users to pull images from. However, Canva has more than 4 million users. That’s over 4 million people using the same selection of templates for their branding, flyers, logos and social media posts! Whilst the templates are stylish, they are being used over and over again. If you use Canva for your designs, then all the other Canva users will know it. If it’s seen by non-Canva users, they might not know where your branding was generated, but they’ll know that they’ve seen a lot of very similar designs before.

Your highly visible marketing collateral needs to be original, unique and well thought through. Your core brand assets, like your logo and business cards, are the first thing customers will see and they are what a customer will remember you by. Do you really want a design that’s eerily similar to lots of other companies branding? At Creative Fire, we take the design process seriously, using it as a valuable opportunity to bring your personality into your branding and creating brand recognition. Trust us, you don’t want Canva recognition.

No substitute for experienced, skilled graphic design professionals

There’s also the more technical side of things to think about. Your highly visible marketing collateral needs to look aesthetically pleasing, but it needs to be crafted with fundamental design knowledge in mind. Graphic designers are trained in how best to prepare a piece of design work for print or digital. Without this knowledge, you could find yourself in hot water. Are the graphics optimised? Are the file types adjusted correctly? Using a graphic that isn’t optimised properly on your website can slow down that page and harm your SEO. Having a flyer printed without properly adjusting the file for CMYK printing can produce unexpected and odd colour results. If you incorrectly configure the margins on an image destined for print, that could cause issues with sizing and stretching, it could even chop off areas of graphics or text. It’s situations like these where an experienced graphic designer’s input is absolutely vital, as a designer will cover all these things off for you!

Another issue with Canva is that it is one hundred percent based online. That’s great if the internet is working as should be, but if your internet goes down, or Canva goes down for maintenance, then you have no access to your images and designs if you haven’t backed them up. So, if you quickly need to edit an image or create something, you won’t be able to.

“Canva makes you a graphic designer in the same way a microwave makes you a chef”

Our firm belief is this at Creative Fire; if you need help creating something that is crucial and central to your brand (such as creating your branding) or logo, then get a designer on board. Jon-Stephen Stansel, a Social Media Strategist, sums things up pretty well – he said, “Canva makes you a graphic designer in the same way a microwave makes you a chef”. On this one, we have to admit that we agree!

5 Ways To Use Print Media Effectively

5 Ways To Use Print Media Effectively

In an increasingly digitised world, print media is often overlooked. At Creative Fire, we champion the world of print as a viable part of your communications strategy. Here are a few key ways to use print media to your advantage:

Emphasise the physical

As more and more businesses exist solely in the digital world, don’t underestimate how reassuring a physical presence can be for many customers. Not only does this help some demographics to trust your brand more, but it can also be a great way of sharing important information such as promotions and coupons. While customers are often resentful of spam, a well-timed leaflet or brochure which gives them visible benefits is seldom cause for complaint and could help keep your brand top of mind.

Personalise it

Print media can be personalised with relative ease, particularly in the area of promotional merchandise marketing. This offers significantly higher engagement than email marketing and has been shown to have a higher response rate, which is great for your engagement.

Measure your ROI

Print media was around long before digital media, and whilst we are strong advocates of all things digital, we do appreciate the benefits of print. Some arguments against printed media focus on the difficulty in measuring the return on investment (ROI). We have been spoilt by a plethora of highly targeted options with our digital activities, and so reverting to print can seem uncertain.

It is worth remembering however that print does have ROI advantages in some respects. The mere presence of something physical means it is more likely to remain circulating around its end destination, when compared to (for example) a marketing e-mail.

Localise it

Keeping your focus local is another fantastic way to keep customers happy. What is your company doing in the area pertinent to your recipient? Customers can be targeted for local benefits and perks via print media. One localised example is billboards, they are often overlooked, but can ensure companies get their name in front of significant footfall.

Use branded merchandise

Print media is also a great way to create stunning branded merchandise, which will work its way into the everyday lives of your customers and keep your brand in their minds the next time they need your services.

Getting To Know You

Getting To Know You

Client relations is one of the most important aspects of choosing an agency, yet it is often overlooked by both brands and the agencies that work with them. If all goes well, your chosen agency will be a close ally as you work to strengthen your business and pursue creative new avenues, so making the right choice is essential.

At Creative Fire, we help our clients meet their ambitious goals by being:

Friendly and approachable

With each new client relationship, we take the time to get to know you and what really makes you tick. At Creative Fire, we strongly believe thatbreaking down barriers to communication is the only way to really understand your company, so we treat everyone we work with like friends.

Like all good friends, we pride ourselves on remaining trustworthy and approachable, so you can chat to us about whatever may be going wrong. Like the best of friends, we’ll work hard to address your branding or communications issues using our comprehensive skillset.

Honest and open

An honest, open dialogue is necessary so we can get to the core of problems and solve them efficiently. We know how daunting it may be to discuss your company with an outside party, which is why we help make it simple, keeping channels of communication open throughout the time you work with us.

Whenever a problem arises, we strive to be your go-to people to call and have the communications know-how to get things fixed.

Straightforward

We’ve developed a three-stage process, which is comprised of an initial consultancy (during which we identify your strengths and weaknesses, and find out more about the company), before conducting ample research into both your existing design strategy and competitors. Following these stages, we will then develop concept designs which are drawn from your brief and our findings, carefully keeping your objectives in mind throughout the process.

Problem solvers

As may have become evident from our other attributes, at Creative Fire we are big problem-solving people! We are able to see whatever dilemma you are facing from multiple angles and will work closely with you to find the most creative and effective way through. Interested in working with us?

Creative Fire is an award-winning design agency based in Essex. We’re always happy to arrange an informal discussion of your business goals and challenges, helping you forge ahead with a more cohesive brand and a more effective strategy.

The Crucial Role of Digital Content in 2020 (And Beyond)

The Crucial Role of Digital Content in 2020 (And Beyond)

Digital content has been growing stronger in the last few years, but 2020 saw a rapid acceleration as the global pandemic keeps many of us behind doors. In this climate, digital becomes more important than ever before, as both a tool for businesses to gain(and retain) custom and as a crucial means of ongoing communication and connectivity.

The digital difference

Digital has not only helped transform many businesses but allowed them to stay afloat during a trying time for all industries. While some are already accustomed to remote working, others have had to quickly adapt to a new way of communicating. The same principle applies to their means of communicating with customers. Many businesses are already aware of how important it is to keep a strong online presence, and lots have also begun adding extra digital elements to their offering. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has suddenly shown the strong divide between those businesses which take their digital seriously, and those which are still playing catch-up.

How can I use digital content for my business?

There are several key focus areas which any savvy business owner can look at when transforming their own company into an effective digital operation. Before making any changes, it’s essential to understand why they’re being made. This will help eliminated wasted spending at a time when few companies can afford it. Effective strategies include:

Blogging

Blogging has come a long way since its earliest days, and today blogs and articles are the cornerstone of many great digital strategies. Whether long-form or short, a blog with bite will help you position yourself as a market leader, introduce your customers to thrilling new ideas, or simply keep them informed about the latest happenings at the HQ.

Video Content

Video continues to gain traction as an accessible way of appealing to your audience, and it’s also fantastic for boosting your search potential. In addition to traditional video, you could also go for live streaming or cultivating a YouTube presence –all fantastic methods to diversify your digital media.

SEO

SEO (search engine optimisation) is still a crucial part of any digital content strategy and will help form the content you create.

Ready to broaden your digital horizons?

Creative Fire is an award-winning marketing and design agency based in Essex. We’re on hand to help you solve all your digital problems, delivering an expert service tailored for every area of your communications strategy. Get in touch with us today to discuss your unique requirements.

Rebrand and Renew

Rebrand and Renew

Right now, you may not feel much like rebranding your business. With the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to rage on and many companies clinging to their existing branding, customers and processes, such a time of crisis could however bring with it some unexpected benefits. In the chaos of 2020, it would be easy to overlook your branding needs, but this is a time when you could almost certainly benefit from taking a closer look and carrying out a thorough assessment.

Your brand is new

Newer brands, with limited baggage holding them down, will certainly place themselves at a competitive advantage by assessing their branding early on. It is never too early to establish a strong brand identity, and current circumstances may have even helped you understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie as a company, which can then be translated into sparkling branding.

Your brand has been restructured

Whether you’ve been part of a major acquisition/merger or are simply undergoing some critical new shifts in the way the business is run, recruiting an award winning design agency will help you say what you need to say through your branding. Companies going through this process will likely want to highlight the new benefits and skills this merger or acquisition offers, and branding is a fantastic route to doing just that.

Your branding is outdated

It is tempting to cling to your existing branding, particularly if it has served you well in the past. However, a new decade and a challenging year may call for a new look, particularly if you find your company is taking a different direction to the way things were prior to the pandemic.

Brands in disruptive industries have to reassess their communications strategy (and their branding) more regularly, to keep on top of the competition. After such a strange few months, you may find it is time to rework some things you previously considered cornerstones of the company. For those unsure about whether their brand and their offering still match, it may be wise to seek outside expertise who will be able to provide an unbiased viewpoint. Ready for a rebrand? Should you decide your branding is looking a little rough around the edges, we’re on hand at Creative Fire to help you make the beneficial changes you need. Get in touch withus today for an informal chat about your project.

The Psychological Effects of Colour in Design

The Psychological Effects of Colour in Design

The human eye can see millions of colours. They are all around us and influence us constantly, playing a pivotal part in triggering our actions and on a daily basis, responsible for various behaviours and decisions we make.

The use of colour, is not just about making something look pretty, it’s about the reaction it evokes. Sir Isaac Newton developed the first circular diagram of colours in 1666. Whilst it has evolved and been adapted over time, the colours within this spectrum have always resonated with us on different levels.

In the world of brand identity, colour psychology is involved in everything. The key to success is not only to understand what each colour means from a psychological perspective but learning how to inspire, invigorate and engage your target market. Colour plays an essential role in creating a strong first impression for your customers. But crucially it’s not a case of one size fits all; colour psychology isn’t an exact science. Individuals will emotionally respond in different ways depending on diversities in culture, taste and association so perception can vary.

Image credit: Huffington Post

Red

Passion, youthfulness, energy, power, strength, excitement, desire, boldness

Red offers diversity and can take on a variety of meanings though the unifying factor is the sense of importance.  It is a colour best used cautiously. Due to its attention-grabbing properties, it’s a priceless tool in the world of promotion but used excessively it will inhibit relaxation.

Orange

Courage, confidence, friendliness, success, innovation, cheerfulness, creative, enthusiasm

Orange is a colour that doesn’t hold back. Used correctly, it can stand out in a crowd. It focuses our minds on issues of physical comfort and sensuality. As its intermediate positioning between red and yellow, orange combines the reaction between the physical and the emotional.

Yellow

Brightness, optimism, friendliness, joyfulness, warmth, energy, clarity, creativity

As the colour of the sun, yellow creates an energetic vibe. It is able to stimulate and revitalise and it’s therefore easy to understand why it evokes feelings of optimism and clarity, lifting our spirts and self-esteem. Whilst lighter shades play on the happiness aspects associated with summer and sun, darker shades add more weight giving a sense of antiquity. Used incorrectly through and it can represent warning and raise levels of anxiety.

Green

Freshness, environment, health, healing, peacefulness, growth, renewal, harmony

Being the centre of the spectrum, green is the colour of balance. It is the bridge between the stimulating, warmer colours such as red and orange and the calming, cool colours of blue, offering reassurance and an air of stability. It provides a serene and peaceful tone, conveying the idea of growth but used in the wrong way it can indicate stagnation and blandness.

Blue

Tranquillity, security, integrity, strength, trust, intelligence, masculinity, dependence

Blue offers much versatility, suggesting trust, evoking calmness and safety as well as being socially friendly and inviting. With its ability to offer more range than other colours, there are contrasts in what it can represent at opposing ends of the scale. Light blues generally have a refreshing and energising personality, calming the mind and aiding concentration. Whereas dark blues are much more sombre, pointing towards security and trust stimulating clear thought.

Purple

Spirituality, luxury, creativity, wealth, vision, imagination, truth, wiseful

With its historical association with royalty, purple represents luxury and is an effective way to create the sense of elegance and high-end appeal. It conjures images of grandeur and opulence, activating the imagination to provide an experience beyond the ordinary. It carries with it a sense of wisdom and takes awareness to a higher level of thought. Lighter shades bring to mind a spiritual and sensual essence whilst darker shades can suggest mystery and intrigue.

Pink

Healthy, nurture, happiness, femininity, sweet, compassion, playfulness, sexuality

Pink is stereotypically targeted towards the female market but if its use is over accentuated, it can become emasculating, losing its intended effect. Whilst the neighbouring red stimulates, pink meanwhile offers a sense of soothing and nurturing. It can also link towards innocence and works well both visually and psychologically with red and purple.

Brown

Earthy, outdoors, longevity, conservative, comfort, stability, seriousness, nature

Under the right circumstances, brown can be an effective branding colour. It is a primarily organic natured colour associated with earth and trees. When utilised in muted tones, it can produce a classier, more human emphasis. In addition, with its hues of red and yellow as well as its inclusion of black, it can offer similar yet more forgiving and less suppressive elements of seriousness. It is a solid, reliable colour that is found to be quietly supportive.

Black

Elegance, class, protection, mystery, sophistication, substance, glamour, safety

Black adds an air of sophistication and elegance with a very bold confidence. Creating protective barriers, it absorbs energy, enshrouding personality. It is another example that offers diversity; on one hand can appear menacing and even instilling fear but on the other it provides absolute clarity and uncompromising excellence.

White

Goodness, innocence, purity, freshness, ease, clean, sterility, simplicity

While black is the absence of light, white is the literal opposite and the two polar contrasts often work perfectly in unison together. By reflecting light, psychologically it can create barriers but also provides purity and cleanliness. Visually it creates a heightened perception of space.

Grey

Security, reliability, intelligence, solid, neutrality, balance, calm, stability

Intermediately positioned between black and white, grey exudes neutrality. It therefore lacks sensation and often doesn’t excel as a primary colour in branding. It is the only colour that has no direct psychological properties and unless it is used right it can compromise other colours it is used with. However, alone it can exude traditionalism and professionalism, suggesting intelligence and reliability.

Key considerations for colour usage in branding

Customer preferences

Consider the market you are targeting and understand their preferences. Genders, cultures and ethical diversities can make a considerable difference. Also evaluate your product or service and identify the links between them and your target audience.

Customer expectations

Look at your brand history, it’s positioning and personality. How do you want your customers to perceive you? Look at relevance within your industry and understand what is appropriate and what isn’t.

Brand messaging

Use colour that matches the emotions and characteristics that your brand is trying to portray. Look at your value proposition and see if it resonates with any specific colours. Think about the associations that people are most likely to make.

Competitor colours

Research your competition and see how they position their branding. It can be tempting to roll with the clichés but it is better to stand out than blend in. But instead of just selecting the brightest shade, examine what works best between your customers and your products.

Authenticity

Think about how you can portray yourself in an authentic way using colour in your branding. It is important to remain authentic as customers often act with intuition when they see a brand and if the colours don’t connect effectively, they may go elsewhere.

Consistency

In order to solidify the image of your brand in your customers’ minds, it is crucial that colour usage in your brand remains consistent over time. This can be ensured through development of brand guidelines.

Summary

To summarise, colour usage in branding can have a significant impact on how well you are able to convey your branding message and connect with your target audience. Underestimating the psychology of colour in branding can have a devastating impact. There’s much more to consider than just personal preference so before you launch your brand, take a step back and evaluate the implications of your options. By investing time in the consideration of your options, you’re much more likely to end up with something that resonates with the audience you are aiming it towards and will pay dividends in the long run for your business.

Small Agency vs Large Agency: Why Bigger Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Better

Small Agency vs Large Agency: Why Bigger Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Better

When it comes to deciding on who you’re going to approach to design and produce the branding and marketing material that you inevitably require to help give your business its best chance for growth and success, where do you start?

Nowadays, through the evolution of technology, there is a saturated presence of design agencies all competing with one another and it can often become somewhat overwhelming to know where to begin. They all have their own value proposition, promoting why they think their offering is superior to the competition. But there is one factor in particular that we’d like to highlight in this article; size.

Tall oaks from little acorns grow

It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to grow a business, that goes without saying. Within the creative industry, the larger design agencies will have a workforce possessing just about every relevant job title you can imagine. They will have specialists in each department with intricately honed skills that make them highly proficient in a range of key areas for their role. But does this setup necessarily make it a better proposition than a smaller agency which regularly sees its staff multitasking and stepping outside their standard remit of responsibilities?

With over 35 years of industry experience between them, Creative Fire’s two founding partners have had the fortune of experiencing first hand the operations at both ends of the spectrum. Whilst a studio with 100+ staff can give a design agency status and help to give an indication on its success as a thriving business, with so many links in the chain to take a project from brief through to realisation, communication can suffer breakdowns which can in turn compromise the delivery of the end product. From experience of working at some of the leading branding agencies in the UK, we have identified that information fed through from a client can be interpreted differently and specific key criteria can be neglected depending on the knowledge and understanding that a particular individual has. Whilst we must not ‘tar everyone with the same brush’, a pedigree project manager, being the front of house, face of the company may typically prioritise in ensuring that requested deadlines are met and they may overlook the technical limitations and implications to what a client has requested. Such a drawback can delay and inconvenience proceedings, damaging long standing reputations and in the worse case scenario cost a client financially.  At the same token, a designer may not possess the polished manner that a project manager would have spent years perfecting in how they present themselves to the client which doesn’t cast the company’s image in the best light.

Deliver on your promises simply and painlessly

Granted you can’t be a master of all trades; if it were that easy we’d all be sipping Dom Perignon from the top deck of a yacht in Monte Carlo but that’s not to say that we can’t identify and utilise the top line, key skills that are required to ensure that a client always receives their product on time, on brief and with minimal fuss. They’re not interested in the square footage of your office space or how you’re just about to open your fifth office in Europe. The sole fundamental factor to them is simplicity and that you can deliver on your promises in the most straightforward and painless way possible.

Quality

At Creative Fire, we created an agency that focuses on putting our customers first through streamlining the design journey by amalgamating stages and refining processes. In doing so, our designers are on hand to guide them through this journey from the very beginning to the very end. Furthermore, our clients have often stated that by dealing solely with the creative through the duration of their project, it provides clarity and confidence, safe in the knowledge that they know there is no risk of information getting lost in translation as it gets fed through from one department to the next.

Value

We are not defined by departments. Our designers are hybrids, skilled on a multi-disciplinary level. By keeping our overheads tight through streamlining and avoiding these phases that we consider to be obsolete, it also means that we can strip back our costs therefore offering a much more cost effective service to our customers. Larger agencies often use their status to justify inflated fees. We simply do not do that.

Speed

The one remaining aspect that determines the efficiency of an agency is how quickly they can act to deliver. By removing links in the metaphoric chain that is required to ensure your vision to be realised, we are able to deliver our projects to our customers faster. Rather than a brief being passed from one department to the next, there is just one handover; from the customer to the designer. In turn, we have managed to perfect a blend between quality, value and speed.

We’re not just another small time, local provider of design solutions. The market is inundated with young pretenders claiming to have the answer to your branding or marketing needs, often with poorly considered strategies. We may be small but what we lack in size, we make up for with our big agency mentality and have the experience to cover that. It’s a little bit like panning for gold; by sieving out all the stones and dirt, you’re left with (if lucky) a golden nugget – and that’s what we’ve done with Creative Fire.

How Well Can We Remember Brands?

How Well Can We Remember Brands?

The success of business is fundamentally built on the foundations of brand awareness. The ability for us to mentally note a brand and lock that snapshot away in the memory bank to be able to identify it indefinitely is what enables it to thrive; through marketing campaigns we develop a familiarisation with brands and providing we are able to connect with them, we learn to trust them.
But even with the most established of worldwide brands, how accurately are we able to remember them from memory? You would imagine with such high profile, blue-chip examples, there is so much opportunity to see them each day meaning that remembering the simplest of details would be a foregone conclusion. But it is not as straightforward as you may think. Based on the results below, it’s more challenging than you would imagine to memorise these ubiquitous emblems.

Through research undertaken by Signs.com, we take a look at six international brands that can be considered as household names in the UK; Apple, Ikea, Adidas, Burger King, Dominos and Starbucks. These are prime examples of businesses who through growing reputation and success, continue to maintain a solid marketing drive, consistently ensuring that their brand is universally never far from the forefront of our minds.

 

When it comes to the manifestation of a brand, there are many factors to consider; shape, colour, typeface and all the unique little touches that are used to give it personality. It’s unsurprising to see that the brandmarks with the most accurate recreations are the ones with the simpler appearances. But in the more complex examples used,
recalling all of this information is not as straightforward as you would expect. As Sherlock Holmes once said, we “see but do not observe.” In the context of this article, we remember just enough of a brand’s appearance to be aware of its presence but recalling the finest of details is not necessary for us to be brand aware. But why aren’t we able to do this? Despite seeing something many times, we fail to create a lasting memory of it; this is something that has been dubbed “inattentional amnesia”. It is evident that one of the stronger areas we are able to recall is colour. Even with an example like Burger King with its trio colour palette, an added complexity like this doesn’t cloud our memory quite as much as you would expect. In contrast, we are weaker at retaining memory on a brandmark’s shape; in the case of Starbucks, remembering the intricate details of the iconic mermaid are a step to far for many.

Ultimately, the goal with branding is to find the sweet spot between something that can be easily remembered whilst being distinctive enough to ensure that it doesn’t just blend in with the competition. With the experiment that Signs.com conducted, it proves that even with the most established of brands, human biology stands in the way of us having the ability to create a photographic memory of them so limitations will always exist.

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