ngd agency's blog

Here you’ll find, interesting links, strong opinions, weak opinions, stuff we're doing, things that interest us and more. Our main site is:

Why business cards still matter in the digital world.

ngd Agency Business Card

We chose the deep impression of Letterpress printing to create a tactile, enriched experience for the recipient.

How a business card, a handshake and a smile will always beat a day of Tweeting!

We tell our clients the business card is the single most important marketing and networking tool at their disposal. Why? Because it’s simple, portable and if done well, very, very effective.

In the age of social networks and marketing, we’ve seen a huge downturn in demand for printed marketing. We could argue how intelligent this is but like all marketing, it has to be gauged on a client by client basis. With this downturn and the headlines proclaiming the death of print, you’d be forgiven for questioning the relevancy of a physical business card.

But actually, as our lives have become more digitised, the business card has gained an increasing importance in the business world and I’d argue it’s now more relevant than it ever was.

“People buy People” is a common business quote because quite simply, it’s so true. It’s also true that you have to work very hard to put your personality across in the various social media channels. Most don’t have the skills and as a result a lot of companies have faceless social media feeds which are little benefit to their customers or themselves.

Face-to-Face marketing is becoming so popular as businesses realise that relationships can be built more easily and you can convey a lot more about yourself in a shorter time. Networking is a constant stream of ‘first impressions’ and this is where a great business card can speak volumes about its owner. Done well it’ll will back-up everything you’ve just spoken about when discussing your company. The business card will either confirm the impression someone has about you and your business or ruin it.

I recently met a gentleman who described his new business as the premium of London concierge services, especially set up to cater for the wealthy, foreign businessmen and their families. He then went on to describe the typical services he’d offer, ending it with “as you can imagine, we’re reassuringly expensive”.  Wow I thought, then he handed me his flimsy, home printed business card and the previous ten minutes of conversation were rendered meaningless.

The business card not only provides prospective clients information about your business and a way to contact you, it also displays your sense of style and personality. Whether this is a good thing or not will depend on how much time or money you’ve invested in to brand and business. If your card is given to someone by a third-party it should still convey your company’s brand values. It should act as your silent salesman, backing-up any conversation the person who has referred you has had, not fight against it as in the case of the concierge service. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get you yourself a well design, bespoke card, although one thing is universally accepted, which is don’t skimp on the stock your card is printed on. So unless you’re selling toilet roll, don’t print your business cards on something of a similar thickness!

ngd Agency Business Card 2

We used Fluorescent ink to match our print branding and to create further standout. We also listed the many services we offer to help with cross selling.


Done well, your business card will be more than just a way to exchange your contact details, it’ll help tell your story. If this is all seems a bit too much, invest in a designer to do all this work for you. Obviously we can help with this and would be glad to do so!

Businesses today, if they can afford the time or staff, should be maintaining strong offline and online presence. The on-line social streams are multiplying and the days of the classic Twitter and Facebook combo for a B2C company are long gone. Like TV channels and magazines, the market has become fragmented. Now the job is to find the delivery mechanism, which is all these social streams are, that your target audience uses.

Use social networking to stay in touch with a wider audience, but extend your identity off-line, in the real world as well. There are so many networking groups out there, one will be right for you. Then combine these tools with more traditional marketing techniques and you’ll have a unique way of sharing your contact details, developing relationships and creating your sales funnel.

The lines between social media marketing and face-to-face business networking have all but disappearing. What is the right balance for your company can only be found out by research and comparative marketing. But what’s clear is that a good, well designed and printed business card is the cheapest, most powerful marketing tool businesses have today.


ngd Agency Business Card 3

We used the three colours of our branding to create a triplex board. Again to create standout, especially when viewed in a pile of business cards.

Next time you come back from a networking function compare all the business cards you’ve got with your own. How does it stand up? This will give you a clear indication if it’s time to invest in new business cards.

As social media evolves at a pace, conversely the oldest form of promotion, the business card goes from strength to strength.

It does something that tweets and the like simply can’t – it’s a tangible, concise way of saying, ‘this is what I stand for, this is me’!


Filed under: BNI, Branding, Business Advice, Design, marketing, social media, Typography, , , , , ,

Please, please… stop sending crappy eCards!

ngd Agency's Christmas Card 2014

ngd Agency’s Christmas Card 2014

Over the last few years every December, that trickle of eCards start to appear. 99% have a snowy scene with a company logo somewhere and animated snow falling… Are we the only ones who’re bored by them? We love technology and social media. In fact we train and support our clients in this area. But there is a time and a place for electronic communication and social media. I’d suggest that communicating with your clients at Christmas isn’t one of them.

Let’s be frank, eCards, no matter how well designed and intentioned come across as a cop-out, the easy option. Is this the message you want your clients to get? In these austere times, we can all see the savings in not having your cards printed. There is also the green argument but if the paper is from sustainable sources, then that’s a moot point. On top of the print costs there are additional savings in postage. These are not small sums, especially if clients are worldwide. With most companies sending between 200-500 cards it does add up, I can see the appeal of eCards… but I just think they miss the whole point of sending them in the first place. There simply isn’t that human connection.

When you get an eCard you know you’re just an email address in their database. It’s very 1984. It’s not personal at all. It hardly shows you care about the recipient and I’d suggest the recipient does what we all do, look at it for a second and delete… Our in-boxes are bursting already, we simply don’t need it!

Also in these times of social media, apps and emails, the joy of receiving a hand written card through the post, especially if it’s been designed and printed just for you is immeasurable when compared to an eCard. You’ll make that connection.

Email’s great for keeping in touch but if you want to create or maintain an emotional connection, whatever time of year, have something designed and printed on quality paper and send it. Hell, if you can, hand deliver it and talk face to face with your clients!

Done well it’ll be cherished and displayed, more than can be said for an eCard!

With that in mind, this year I hand silkscreen printed our cards with a message on the back similar to this post. The cards were a numbered edition with a handwritten message inside. The enveloped didn’t have address stickers, they were hand written also. It doesn’t sound like much but the emails I’ve received from clients this week would suggest it not only stood out but had the desired effect.

So have a great, peaceful holidays but next year try and make that connection and please stop sending crappy eCards!

Filed under: Branding, Business Advice, Design, marketing, Silkscreen, social media, , , , , ,

Corporate Video for Websites and Social Media.

Clapper Board

Over the Last few years we’ve done more and more video projects for clients as the importance of social media marketing has increased along with the available bandwidth.

A lot of them are for internal training and education and are not to be seen by the outside world but more and more, companies are seeing the benefits of short, single message videos. Most are doing it for the ranking benefits as Google loves YouTube (it bought it after all) and video as long as it is optimised correctly. This does mean sadly, that in the rush to market, there are a lot of very poor, shaky videos with very little content that do little benefit to the companies they’re supposed to represent and promote.

Rather than a point and shoot approach, here at ngd Agency we spend more time on the project before the camera roles so on the day there are as few surprises as possible. We storyboard the complete shoot and finalise the script so the message is on brand and on brief. This is as well as arranging all the makeup and wardrobe. Some client’s initially see this as too much, over-the-top and an unnecessary expense but soon see the benefits when the shoot goes smoothly and it all finishes on time, in budget.

We always advise clients to shoot multiple videos back to back to maximise the value of the shoot. This again takes planning but is well worthwhile. Over a couple of days we can shoot content for ten short videos. We’d then go away and make a consistent, on-brand suite of videos for them to use. For most small companies would be enough video content to last them 6-8 months on the website, blog or Facebook page.

If you know of any companies that are now considering using video to spice up their website or help with their social media marketing, please refer them to us. We’d love to meet and talk to them and if it results in business we always reward the referer!

Filed under: Branding, Business Advice, Design, Film, Video, , , ,

My God! A post about our business for once…

Like most builders who’s house is falling down, it must be said that for all the consulting we do on Social Media, it really is

“Do as we say, not as we do!”

We tell all our clients that social media isn’t about just broadcasting your message over and over again. It’s about creating networks and conversations while educating and informing your audience. It’s also about rounding out the experience and although never showing your clients your stag night pictures, you should let them know what your interests are outside of business. Well having reviewed our sparse postings it’s been more rounding out and less about business. I’m OK with that as that was the reasoning for the blog in the first place but I thought I’d do a quick summary of our business, just in case you or someone you know is in need of some design or marketing support.

We’re a professional, reliable and creative graphic design & marketing agency.

We help businesses get seen and more importantly, remembered.

In an age where we’re bombarded with information, you need quality, professional solutions to cut through all the clutter and get noticed.

We work across all media with budgets and clients large and small.

We have great experience in all areas of design and marketing, including social media.

With bags of integrity and top agency experience we’ll guide you through all the marketing and design options available in this ever changing market.

From logo design and stationery, to posters, flyers, brochures, packaging design and social media marketing, we can make sure you get the most value out of your marketing budget.

Based in Woking, Surrey, with collectively over 300 years of top agency experience to call upon, your brief will be in safe hands.

Get in touch, if you need any marketing of design support.


Filed under: Branding, Design, marketing, social media, , , , , ,

Specsavers uses Olympic Korean flag error at Hampden to create a brilliant press advert

Specsavers Comedic Korean Advert

Specsavers Comedic Korean Press Advert

What makes a great press advert – Timing….

After the Olympic flag mix-up at Hampden Park in Glasgow… Specsavers, or their agency saw an opportunity and got this advert into the next days papers. This is bang on brand and extends the theme of their current TV campaign perfectly.


Filed under: Branding, Design, marketing, Posters, Typography, , , , ,

Olympic Graffiti Art – Mark Cavendish – The Manx Missile

Mark Cavendish - the Manx Missile Graffiti on Box Hill

Mark Cavendish – the Manx Missile Graffiti on Box Hill

The National Trust at Box Hill are apparently being quite relaxed about Tour-style graffiti on the race routes  for this weekends road races. Which makes a refreshing change. I feel it’ll really add to the atmosphere. Now I’m not saying we can transform Box Hill into Alpe d’Huez but it’ll give it that big race feel. Well done to the National Trust. Sadly this is after one of the Olympic committees painted over this brilliant piece my Mau Mau.

I personally think it sums the modern Olympics up perfectly… maybe holding up a mirror to the misappropriation of the Olympic ideal was too real for them!

Clown Town Olympics by Mau Mau

Clown Town Olympics by Mau Mau

Filed under: Art, Branding, Design, Sport, , ,

How to ruin your Graphic Designers or Design Agency’s work

There is a common saying which goes:

“a camel is a horse designed by committee”

Over the 20+ years I’ve worked in the design and advertising industry I’m well aware that the best work sometimes doesn’t make it to the printers / shop shelf / on-line / exhibition stand or whatever the projects aim is. In fact there used to be a section in the D&AD awards book on client rejected campaigns / slogans and they were always better than the signed-off adverts.

Now this isn’t a moan about clients not seeing the creative or artistic merit of an idea. Their refusal to sign-off on an idea can be for many reasons, budget restraints, the client thinking it’s too controversial for their market or too many people in the sign-off chain, all wanting input for petty political reasons. I’ve seen them all. My feelings are that as long as you’ve justified your professional advice with solid design theory, market research, previous case studies or google analytics, then that’s all you can do. If the client then wants to go 180˚ in the other direction so be it. The client is paying the money so it’s their choice at the end of the day.

In this scenario, many agencies have what they feel is the best solution worked up as well and put next to the ad that ran in their portfolio.

Anyway all these things are well and good but I’m digressing. The main point of this posting was to highlight a trend that is gathering pace and which more often than not, is a real false economy!

This is the practice of clients controlling the print of a design job with no experience, usually to save £20 or £50 over the quote from the agencies printer. I know in these tough economic times companies are looking to save money but this is really a false economy. In some cases the clients have spent thousands on design and then ruin the job at the last stage, all for very little saving.

This is detrimental in many ways:

  • The end result isn’t what the client wanted and due to an understandable lack of knowledge in this area, sometimes they see it as the agencies fault.
  • The result is often a poorer piece of marketing and in some cases plain unusable, wasting the companies budget. Again sometimes the agency gets blamed.
  • The agency see all their hard work ruined and usually can’t put the work in their portfolio or use it for marketing. A small issue you may think but if they’ve been working on a brochure for six months, you can imagine the disappointment.

Below is a recent example of such an outcome. We were asked to produce some business cards for this client and he would arrange the printing as he had a few guys who owed him a favour! After the design was signed-off we supplied the print spec and the artwork to the client. About a month later I met the client who handed me his new card…

The printer being polite must have had an “off day” as they’d taken the artwork reduced it by 5% and printed it including the special colour named “Non-Printing Cutter Guide”. As I picked my jaw up off the flaw I think the client saw I wasn’t too pleased. I explained the printer had gone through more effort to print it incorrectly than if they’d done the job properly! The client then summed the situation up perfectly “Oh I hadn’t noticed that, I just accepted it as I don’t know about these things!” Exactly I’d have thrown the job back and got a reprint or a refund.

Your business card has never been more important with the growth of business networking. Done well it’ll niftily encapsulate whether you’re established and traditional or modern and challenging. It’s probably the most important marketing item you’ll have, so call in the professionals and get the job done right!’

We can help.

Like most things in life you get what you pay for. I’ll end with another saying I often say to clients when discussing the printing of their marketing material.

“I can get you good print and I can get you cheap print but I can’t get you good, cheap print!”

A great example of a good design job ruined

A great example of a good design job ruined

Filed under: Branding, Business Advice, Design, marketing, Posters, Typography

Letterpress Wedding Invite Design – Using design to maximise your wedding budget

Letterpress wedding invite for day and evening

Letterpress wedding invite for day and evening

The cost of weddings is pretty ridiculous in the UK, so more than ever couples are looking for ways to be able to get what they want without going over budget. The same could be said with most companies nowadays in today’s economy.

When you’re looking to get something extravagant designed like a wedding invite, yet still within a budget you need to go to designers who know how to create these looks and have the knowledge of, and relationships with specialist printers to deliver the job. For example to our knowledge there is only one printer in the UK who offers all the services required for this job in-house.

These were the issues with the wedding invite project that Mark and Kate came to us with.

They wanted two different invites:

  1. A restrained, stylish, traditional design with a twist for the day invite. This was to reflect the beautiful old church and listed building chosen for their reception and…
  2. A more youthful, glittery evening invite for their old college friends, who would be more interested in the party aspect of the day. This still had to be stylish, so it was a matter of hinting rather than a full-on rave design!
Wedding invite detail with gravure embossed and letterpress printing

Wedding invite detail with gravure emboss and letterpress printing

We felt that the additional expense of letterpress was important to get the finish and feel (an important part of the letterpress experience) required for this job. With this in mind to keep the job within budget we had came up with the idea of duplexing the stock (factory sealing two different stocks together to create one thick stock). So in the end we chose Colorplan Natural with a Gravure emboss duplexed with GF Smith Peregrina Majestic Nightclub Purple to create a lovely 560gsm stock. Due to minimum quantities required, getting this done was cheaper than an order of two stocks at a heavier weight.

We then used the same stock for both invites but printed the Day invite on the Colorplan Natural side and the evening only invite on the Nightclub Purple side which has a glittery finish. The text was then silver foil blocked to add more of a glitz feel.

Wedding Evening Invite on metallic stock with silver foil blocking

Wedding Evening Invite on metallic stock with silver foil blocking

By using classic and elegant fonts with a restrained design the evening invite was still in keeping with the surroundings but would appeal to the younger audience. Also keeping within the same colour palette the two invites worked together although they wouldn’t be sent out as a pair. The client was very, very happy with the results.

Below are details of the evening only wedding invite design.

So if you or someone you know have a project that needs a different approach or designers with the knowledge to deliver such a project, please get in touch.

Detail of the foil blocking on the wedding evening invite

Detail of the foil blocking on the wedding evening invite

Detail of the foil blocking on the wedding evening invite

Detail of the foil blocking on the wedding evening invite

Detail of the foil blocking on the wedding evening invite

Detail of the foil blocking on the wedding evening invite

Detail of the foil blocking on the wedding evening invite

Detail of the foil blocking on the wedding evening invite

Filed under: Branding, Design, Typography, , , , ,

The Art of Saying Hello – Good Business Card Design

ngd Agency Business Cards

ngd Agency Letterpress Business Cards With Edge Painting

First Impressions count, you may not like it but it’s a fact.

We’ve all been to business networking meetings and received a shocking business card. Maybe the type is to small to read, maybe it doesn’t tell you what they do so you have to write all over it to complete their job. Worst of all, maybe it’s printed on stock so thin you could swear you can see through it!

That is my bugbear. The man or woman at this point is pretty much going to have to say they’ve got Nobel Prizes in all six categories to salvage the first impression…

The simple fact is if they don’t value their company and it’s products, why should I? 

I would always recommend having your card printed on good quality card. You never know how many people it may get passed to in a large organisation. There is nothing worse than a dog-eared mangled card (apart from thin stock) again, what does that say about your business?

If their business card feels like it’s printed on toilet paper, unless they sell toilet paper, hot curries or an associated business it just gives off the wrong message.

Of late we like many other agencies have had clients wishing to trim budgets in these tough economic times. Some think compromising on stock is a good way of saving money.. it’s not! You can spend thousands of pounds with us designing your logo/branding/stationary (please form an orderly queue, details on my business card above) but to a certain extent it’s all wasted if it’s then printed on substandard stock. I can’t emphasise this enough. Luckily we were able to prove the benefits to these clients and all in hindsight have thanked us for pushing them on this issue.

Nowadays with face-to-face marketing becoming more important, the business card, your business card has to inform and standout among the many that’ll be picked up.

So below I’ve written about a few key elements for a good business card design. At the end of the day it’s information design, it’s guiding the eye through the hierarchy of details so the recipient can absorb the bit of information they want quickly.

So what makes a good business card.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A good business card contains all the necessary information and is easy to read.

Over the years we’ve adapted our cards as times have changed, from obvious things like dropping our ISDN and FAX details to putting our social media information on the cards and QR codes.

We started off with a very designery (sic) minimal card, which just had our logo, name and telephone number on it. It looked great, it said we’re designers, it also demonstrated our craft but we soon had to start adding things. I think minimal cards are great or personal cards but if you’re a business it should offer the complete solution and reflect your business ideals/values, your brand at the same time.

With so many points of contact you could just have a single link on your card, forwarding recipients to a vCard single page site like my one here, but why make the recipient jump through hoops, just give them the information. Yes it means the Zen like white space we designers crave for is all but gone but it saves a load of emails and phone calls explaining your Twitter account and blog details, I can tell you!

We’ve also noticed over the years that if you become known for doing brochures or websites by a particular client more and more they just think thats all you do. More than once we’ve missed the opportunity to cross sell to clients as for some reason they didn’t think we designed leaflets as well as Newsletters or some such…  Again just give them the information. To quote Travis Dane in Under Siege 2: Dark Territory  Assumption is the mother of all F*CK UPS!

A good business card stands out from the others in the stack.

This is so true with networking meetings, just make sure whatever device you use it’s on-brand and not gimmicky. Ours are edge painted in fluorescent red for exactly this reason, even in a pack of business cards, ours can be found quickly. We stand out.

A good business card should reflect or demonstrate the business or individual.

Our key benefit is that we make our clients stand out from the competition. As a recipient of one of our cards said so eloquently:

“it explains exactly what you do and demonstrates it at the same time, what a great marketing tool”

A good business card gets a response.

See above. We’ve had client’s ask if they can take multiples, to show others. One said it was like receiving a little gift in comparison to other cards! I’ll take that everytime…

A good business card should be an extension of your brand

It should fit in with all your other marketing material. If you covered a table with all your leaflets, business cards and brochures along with those of other companies a client should be able to pick out all your material without reading a word, just by colour and design.

Again if that isn’t the case with your material, we should chat.

ngd Agency Business Cards

ngd Agency Letterpress Printed Business Cards

A good business card is well designed.

This is obvious but we still sees many out there that look like they’ve been printed from one of those vending machines you see in shopping mauls! If that’s you, you need help, we can help you, call us!

A good business card is well printed.

Again this is not an area to try to save money, all the money you’ve spent on design and stock is potentially wasted if you make the wrong choices here. We work with lots of printers for different requirements. Call us if you’d like us to control your print?

Conversely a poorly designed card well printed is still poorly designed.

Our cards were printed letterpress, a very old printing process which has remained more or less unchanged for centuries. The look and feel are unmistakable with the inked surface becoming debossed, giving the cards a real tactile quality.

They were printed on 700gsm stock by Glasgow Press and I thoroughly recommend them. Give Dan or Lorna a call (0141 237 3032) and feel the quality!

I hope you’ve found the information of use and would welcome any constructive comments or feedback.

I’ll end with a film clip that most designers know. It’s a very good adaptation from the passage in the book American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis where the traders compare business cards. Art imitating life….  …The tasteful thickness of it.

Filed under: Branding, Business Advice, Design, marketing, QR Codes, social media, Typography, , , , ,

How to promote a new business. How to make your business stand out!

Front view of The Surrey Property Network Leaflet by ngd Agency

The Surrey Property Network Leaflet by ngd Agency

We were hired to promote this newly formed network of businesses who offer a one-stop-shop for all your property needs.

As the members regularly meet clients and potential clients, a leaflet was the agreed method of delivery for their message.

They also wanted the option of sending the leaflet by post so it had to fit in a standard C5 or DL envelope. We chose DL as if we created a Z-fold format it would form natural sections to place the different companies in the network.

We’re all bombarded with poorly designed, badly printed DL leaflets every week. Usually by the local pizza franchises or Indian restaurants. Why do they alway use thin, cheap, shiny paper stock, making their business look cheap as a result? We obviously had to devise a format and finish that moved away from this. It’s a simple fact that even if the leaflet contained next weeks lottery numbers if it didn’t inform and invite the recipient to read further it would end up in the bin! I know as the route from my letterbox to the bin is a well worn path for such poorly resolved direct mail pieces. This is what we had to fight against!

The Surrey Property Network DL Leaflet

The Surrey Property Network DL Leaflet


Please see the following images of the leaflet. The response has been really good and we look forward to producing more marketing material for them as their network expands.

If you know of any companies who want a fresh perspective on their marketing, plus find ways of making their budget go further, please get them to get in touch.

Our initial consultation is FREE so there’s nothing to loose!

The Surrey Property Network's DL Leaflet designed by ngd Agency

The Leaflet's inside spread

The Surrey Property Network's DL Leaflet designed by ngd Agency

The Surrey Property Network's DL Leaflet designed by ngd Agency

The Surrey Property Network can be found here

Filed under: Branding, Design, Typography