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: www.ngdagency.com

Trying to explain Wabi-Sabi and Silkscreen Prints!

Potential buyers viewing my latest print!

Potential buyers viewing my latest print!

Trying to explain Wabi-Sabi in relation to silkscreen printing!

Trying to explain Wabi-Sabi in relation to silkscreen printing!

Getting into the flow of my artists talk at Baker Tilly, Guildford, Surrey.

Getting into the flow of my artists talk at Baker Tilly, Guildford, Surrey.

Last night was the ‘Spring Into Summer Exhibition’ Private View and Talk at Baker Tilly in Guildford, Surrey.

I had the honour of giving the talk which covered my reintroduction to printmaking, my views on public access to art (which I spoke about in this blog), Wabi-Sabi and the thoughts and ideas behind the prints I was exhibiting.

The room was packed, some ‘Dutch Courage’ was needed but by the lovely feedback I’ve had since then, it all seemed to go very well.

So thanks to all that attended. Onto the next print.

Filed under: Art, Design, Music, Silkscreen, social media, , , , ,

Talking About Art Rather Than Design

Spring Into Summer Printmaking Exhibition 2015

Spring Into Summer Printmaking Exhibition 2015

I’ve been asked to exhibit some of my prints at a joint exhibition run by Guildford Arts and the Ochre Print Studio. What is more I’ve been asked to do a brief talk at the private view on the 20th April 2015 at 6.45pm.

So if you’re used to hearing me talk about Branding, Graphic Design and Social Media, this will be something different.

It’s what I get up to when I finish work. My talk will cover the roll printmaking has in my life, my references and a brief background to my pieces on show. My aim is to keep the talk light and enjoyable, telling stories rather than discussing print processes and other technical details.

The exhibition covers a wide range of local artists and I think you’d be very impressed at the quality and diversity of the work on show. If you can make it to Guildford for Monday 20th April 2015 and would like to come to the private view, please get in touch and I’ll arrange to have tickets available for you.

The private view is being held at Baker Tilly, Third Floor, One London Square, Cross Lanes, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 1UN. From 6–8pm.

Filed under: Art, Design, Silkscreen, social media

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, , , , , ,

5 Tips for Companies Starting to use Twitter for Business

An image of the Twitter Bird

Recently I’ve done quite a lot of presentations to companies and business groups about starting to use social media for business. I have been surprised how many companies have avoided social media for so long. This is mainly for one or more of these reasons:

  • They’ve felt it’s all to complicated and techie for them to understand.
  • They’ve never struggled for business and so felt they didn’t need to use social media.
  • They don’t have the time to do it.
  • None of their clients use social media and Twitter in particular.

I find that these companies are now showing an interest because:

  • Their competition is using social media and so they feel they need to have a voice as well.
  • Through colleagues and peers, they’ve been told how easy it is.
  • The economy has hit them and whereas before they didn’t need to promote their activity, they now need to use all the tools available to them.
  • They want to adopt a holistic marketing mix approach to stand a better chance of reaching potential clients/customers.

Whatever the reasoning, Twitter seems to be the place they want to dip their toe into the social media water first. This is because they see it as less time-consuming (we could argue that point, but this is their feeling) and so it could be more easily crammed into their schedule.

Anyway having seen this knowledge gap I thought it would make sense to list a few tips for people new to using Twitter for business.

So here are my 5 basic tips to get you started:

  1. Make a profile. This sound obvious but many don’t fill it out completely. Also you may not be aware that Twitter has just introduced a new webpage layout on the 22nd April 2014. So if you’ve set up your page but haven’t really started using it, you should take the time to update your profile to the new format. Remember to get your logos and graphics designed to the right size to make you look the most professional you can. Remember first impressions count. Click on the earlier link or here to get information on the changes. If you need help in updating your social media profile, we can help, please get in touch.
  2. Listen and then speak. As you would do in a business networking event, first get the lay of the land. Don’t post much… just search for Twitter users in your sector, even your competition, especially if they they have a lot of followers and watch what they’re saying. Follow them, remember they’re trying to solve the same problem as you are, plus in a Sun Tzu way you should keep and eye on their marketing just in case you can counter it. Whoever you follow, try and keep them relevant, some will follow you back and you’ll start to build an audience you can interact with and speak/market to.
  3. Share & Create. Start retweeting interesting posts from others and join in on industry relevant discussions. Point people to interesting industry news to show you’re up-to-date and share news about your company without bragging. Realise if you just talk about yourself people will get bored. Show an interest in others.
  4. Use Hashtags.  Hashtags have become the way on social media to both organize your content and get it noticed. Even Facebook now allows you to use them. By simply including a hash mark (#) followed by a word or phrase your tweet content can be easily found by anyone searching for or clicking on that hashtag. This allows you to reach far beyond your immediate followers. Also use them to filter tweets for a common subject. For example use the hashtag #fifaworldcup2014 to only see tweets about this years World Cup Football Tournament.
  5. Promote it. Now you’re starting to use Twitter more, make sure you feature your Twitter name (ours is @ngd_agency ) on all your marketing materials. It should be on all your stationery items and email signature to help potential and existing customers stay in touch with you and build your following. If you need help in updating all your marketing material, we can help, please get in touch.

 

These are just the basics but if you follow these introductory tips you’ll have a solid foundation to start to build your social media presence. Please get in touch if you’d like me to come to your company to speak about social media for business.

Filed under: Business Advice, marketing, social media, , , ,

Twitter testing Facebook-style design

Twitter are supposedly testing a Facebook-style design to replace the existing user interface. The rumours are that this testing is quite advanced with some Twitter users already able to see the new page design.

The new Twitter Interface design being tested at the moment.

The new Twitter Interface design being tested at the moment.

The new, clean interface design appears to be very Google+ like. The clean, understated look will bring more focus onto the content and could be easier to view, as it’s less fussy on smaller devices.

One of the many Social Media trends anticipated for 2014, is the increased importance of enhanced content to achieve a deeper connection with customers. Put simply, straight text isn’t going to cut it as people get used to the easy access to short videos, info graphics and quality imagery. Companies who enrich their messaging with such media will engage with their customer base in a deeper way and as a by-product make their Social Media streams more ‘Sticky’!

Profile pages on the newly designed site feature a cover photo along with an enlarged profile picture and bio making the interface more visually rich but at the same time paring back the menus to give Twitter a more considered feel.

The biggest change is the size of the images and text in tweets. Both are much bigger making them dominant in the layout, guiding the eye, making the follower count etc subordinate as it should be. The only downside I can see is the fact that you’ll only be able to scan a few, maybe two tweets at a time! I for one quickly scan through previous tweets to select the ones of interest and this may now be less possible. No one likes change and if that is the only downside, you’d have to say it’s a step forward. We’ll have to see how the header panel works on different media to see if it’s an improvement and a better space to brand your feed compared to the current design. This is of course if this is the design that’ll be released, things could change from now until launch.

With Twitter reporting slower growth in recent months, this new image focused design could increase engagement among its users, especially the younger users. It maybe seen as a ploy to capture the droves of teens who are reportedly leaving Facebook for quicker, slicker messaging systems…. this brings us onto Facebook’s $19bn purchase of messaging platform WhatsApp…. Done for the same reasons… but that’s for another time.

Filed under: Design, social media, , , ,

ngd Agency – Social Media for Business Training

Neville Godwin of ngd Agency giving a presentation on Social Media for Business

Neville Godwin of ngd Agency giving a presentation on Social Media for Business

At ngd Agency we cover the whole range of design and marketing services. We can do this because with my associates, we have collectively 300 years of top design and marketing agency experience to call upon.

We’re not straight out of college. We’ve been round the block and as such we offer solid, proven advice, plus design and marketing support.

Over the last few years we’ve done presentations on Branding for Small Businesses, Personal Branding and Design trends but by far the most demand is for Social Media presentations.
We normally give private presentations to clients but the demand has been huge to have us educate companies on getting involved in and then maximising the opportunities of Social Media.
Unlike a lot of social media agencies out there, we provide a complete market view. Social Media is NOT the complete answer, it’s just a delivery mechanism, albeit a powerful one. Social Media should always be seen as part of your complete marketing mix because quite simply, due to the complete fragmentation of all media, your target market are not all going to be found in the same place.
I’ve got to say I enjoy presenting because of the immediate feedback you get. This is different to our other design and marketing services where the timescales can be months until a website is launched or a brochure is printed.
I really enjoy adding value and by the looks of the feedback form the attendees enjoyed it to!
Feedback Forms from a presentation by ngd Agency

Feedback Forms from a presentation by ngd Agency

We have been particularly surprised at the demand for our ‘Introduction to Twitter for Business’ presentation. It would seem that we wrongly thought that as Twitter has been around for 8 years or so, most people would understand it even if they chose not to use it for business.
We offer three main presentations:
  • An overview of Social Media for Business
  • An Introduction to Twitter for Bussiness
  • Maximising Twitter for Business
We also do presentations on LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest but most companies see Twitter as a good jumping-in point for their Social Media.
Neville Godwin of ngd Agency giving a presentation on Social Media for Business

Neville Godwin of ngd Agency helping businesses in Surrey with Social Media

To most professionals, the use of Social Media as a business development tool is a dark art and we aim to guide our clients through the options and then, if required support them in their Social Media campaigns. We can do this as little or as much as they wish.
If you would like us to present to your company about any of the topics mentioned, please get in touch. 
Also if you know of a company in the South of England who needs design and marketing advice including Social Media, please recommend us. If you introduce us and it leads to business we’ll make sure it doesn’t go unrewarded!

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

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.

www.ngdagency.com

@ngd_agency

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

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.

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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, , , , ,

Reputation Marketing: Deliver referrals to your business by creating positive word of mouth

Over the last few weeks we’ve met quite a few potential clients who simply couldn’t understand why their traditional methods of marketing their business were showing little or no return.

This has led me to write this as it applies to all forms of branding and business networking. I hope you find it of interest.

We then explained to these potential clients how things have changed, but even then they’d typically say:

“It’s worked for us for the last 30 years, so it should work now!”

Sadly no… it’s time to move with the times or accept your fate! 

Consumers today are empowered. They can now influence the purchasing decisions of others through social media and by leaving reviews of purchases on websites (Amazon being the obvious example).

With this empowerment, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on your traditional branding (it’s still important though) it’s far more relevant what others say about you.

It’s not what you say about your business, it’s what they say about your business!

Think of this scenario. You’re at a networking event and happen to need some printing done. There are two printers in the room. As you network around the room you meet printer #1.

He’s smartly dressed, eloquent, has beautiful brochures and he tells you he’s the best printer in the area. You’re impressed but as you move around the room you meet five other networkers who heap praise on printer #2, saying what a brilliant, personal service he offers at a fair price (note not the cheapest but a fair price). Now having heard that, printer #2 is pretty much going to have to insult your mother not to get the business… That is the power of recommendation!

Today very few businesses are truly unique and so to the consumer all these businesses will look the same! When everyone has brand parity in a sector (perceived or real), consumers will fall on price as a deciding factor. If you don’t sell your product on being the cheapest, you’re going to have problems… This is the case even if you’re offering a service which in reality will differ from others. In these situations reputation marketing will separate you from the crowd and done well, elevate your positioning in the market.

Good reputations are achieved through delivering great experiences.

If when you communicate with your clients you involve them rather than speak at them you will reap the rewards of reputation marketing. This involvement makes it more likely that they’ll talk about you and spread the good reputation. This will enhance your company’s standing and deliver referrals, exactly what we’re after!

This simply is just a new approach, responding to a changing market.

So how do you create these experiences I hear you ask? Well that’s the interesting bit and it’s different for each business.

It’s something we advise businesses on and something we’d love to work with you creating.

If you have any questions please mail us.

 

Filed under: Business Advice, marketing, social media

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