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

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’!

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

Silkscreen Print Design: Maybe you’ve been looking for this?

20131128-182259.jpg

Over the last few months I’ve had time to prepare the artwork for my next few designs as I’ve not been able to print due to an ankle operation. The above is the second one I’ve finished with a series of ten prints being worked on as well.

Again this is a simple play on words but it stayed with me and so I thought it had merit and was worth printing. These are the sort of ideas that got lost in the twenty or so years between finishing my degree and starting to print again and is the main reason I sought out a print studio. I used to get frustrated that I didn’t make time to create something with whatever ideas I had. Now that isn’t the case and it’s great to get these ideas out of my head and onto paper.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy looking at the various prints on this blog and as always all constructive criticism and over-the-top praise is welcome. Until next time…

Filed under: Art, Design, Posters, Silkscreen, Typography, , , ,

New Silkscreen Print: Captain of Bugger All!

Captain of Bugger All - A Silkscreen Print by Neville Godwin

Captain of Bugger All – A Silkscreen Print by Neville Godwin

Well here is the latest design to be finished while I wait for my ankle to fully heal so I can start printing again.

This is a sister print to one I did a year or so ago called “Sheriff of Nothing” which you can see here. It is to the same scale as the first print so can sit side by side and be seen as a set.

The print deals with the same subject matter as “Sheriff of Nothing”, it’s just the summation of middle age where you feel you should have things under control by now but realise you control nothing and are still just a pawn in a much larger game. These have been phrases that I’ve had in my head for a couple of years and it’ll be good to commit them to paper so I can move on.

Since leaving college and either not making the time or having the facilities to create prints, I’ve let ideas fade. By creating simpler, more graphic prints, I can hopefully get more ideas on paper rather than staying doodles in sketchbooks and on post-it notes.

I’m sure the final silkscreen print will differ from the visual above but that’s the beauty of the print process. If I wanted an exact copy, I’d just get a high quality digital print but the beauty of printmaking for me is the journey, the transformation the print process has on the work. I like to embrace ‘happy accidents’ and not get too hung up on having everything perfect. It is a handmade print after all.

I’ll post images of the print when it’s finished so you can see if it changed much in the journey, which I hope will be before Christmas this year.

Anyway I hope you like the proposed print design. As always constructive criticism and amazing praise are always welcome.

Filed under: Art, Design, Silkscreen, Typography, , , , , , , ,

ngd Agency & Brian Wilson have it covered!

Brian Wilson Book Cover by  ngd Agency, Woking, Surrey

The wonders of social media can lead to new business opportunities

Social Media Bringing Companies Together

We consult on social media with many companies as part of the marketing solutions we offer.

Often clients say

“Aren’t you just talking to the same old people, we want new connections, new clients”.

Well the book cover shown above is a great example of social media bringing two companies together. These companies had no knowledge of each other before Google picked one of my blog images in a search about Brian Wilson. So if you ever had any doubts that social media can generate income as well as lots of images of cats on skateboards. Hopefully this is very modest proof that it works…

So if you’ve read some of my other posts you’ll know that away from the design job, I create and exhibit silkscreen prints. Something I studied for my degree many, many years ago.

A few months back I created a print about Brian Wilson, more info can be found here on the print.

Since then I’ve had quite a bit of interest from buyers and have sold some of the edition with the possibility of selling a couple more in the next few weeks. This wasn’t my intention when I started the print, hence the very small edition. It simply was an image in my head that I wanted to put on paper and I thought it would look good in our dining room! Not the loftiest of ambitions I know but I’m being honest…

Over the last year I’ve received quite a few mails from people saying nice things but about 8 weeks ago an Italian publishing house got in touch an said they wanted to use the image on the cover of a new book they were releasing. They said it was to be on music and Brian Wilson would be included so what’s not to love…

Anyway after a few discussions on image rights etc we came to an agreement and the book arrived this morning.

We didn’t design the cover!

I want anyone who reads this to know we didn’t design the cover, I just supplied the imagery. I’d have done it quite differently, I think is the polite way of putting it. Us designers are fussy folk at the end of the day…

If one more person looks at the silkscreen print on this blog as a result of seeing the book, it will have been worth it.

I’m onto other prints now but do have an idea for a very summery Beach Boys inspired print which I hope to do over the English winter. Whilst making the print on those cold evenings I’ll be thinking of Brian’s lyrics of surf, sun, cars and girls and how the genius of Brian creates a whole new world in your head. Something that as a child got me hooked in the first place… oh and the harmonies, those beautiful harmonies…

Filed under: Art, Design, Music, Silkscreen, Typography, , , , , , , , ,

There’s a lot of rubbish talked about Art!

Or

‘There’s an awful lot of guff talked about art’

as the famous British artist Grayson Perry said recently.

Ever since I did my degree show, many years ago, I’ve been concerned about public access to art and all the rather ridiculous, highfalutin theories that the art media weave around artworks. I feel all this serves is to mislead people, creating barriers, making them feel they’re unable or unworthy of looking at, or comprehending art.

I personally feel that if someone appreciates a painting because they like the colour, that’s equally as important as someone who understands the story behind the piece, it’s political context, place in art history etc., etc.. Art is subjective and it doesn’t matter how much I tell you how good ‘Guernica’ by Picasso is, if you don’t like it, it’s sort of irrelevant. It has to work for you!

Anyway, I digress, the simple fact was my recent silkscreen print was made for a joint exhibition. As I heard various artists go to great length to describe the various layers of meaning in their works, I decided I wanted to make an image that was the antithesis of this. I wanted to create an image that was simple, graphic and a visual pun. It had to work visually so if the pun wasn’t read, the viewer could simply enjoy the colours or composition. I also wanted the pun to have a British seaside postcard feel, something a bit naughty. A nudge, nudge, wink, wink effect, if you remember your Monty Python.

‘I Love’ Silkscreen Print by Neville Godwin 2013

‘I Love’ Silkscreen Print by Neville Godwin 2013

I hope you feel it’s worked, even if it does use a ‘borrowed’ common graphic symbol.

I hope the print helped to redress the balance to all the bluster and provided a simple, graphic image to engage, titillate and amuse the general public as well as art lovers.

What are your thoughts on the language used surrounding art? Do you feel it’s exclusive? Do you think that the recent popularity of street art and Banksy in particular, is another reaction against this? Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Art, Silkscreen, Typography, , , , , , , , ,

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.

Quality…..

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

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

Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys – I Worship At the Church of Brian Wilson Silkscreen Print

Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys Silkscreen Print #10/10

Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys Silkscreen Print #10/10

Back in December I wrote on here about my new silkscreen “I worship at the church of Brian Wilson”. It was going to be printed in January…. well life got in the way and it was eventually finished in May.

The print is to celebrate the genius of the Beach Boys songwriter Brian Wilson who by the age of 24 despite being partially deaf had written 12 albums including many classics including Pet Sounds (for many people the best album ever recorded) and Brian’s ‘Symphony to God’, the Smile Sessions (Original Title ‘Dumb Angel’). I suppose this is a sort of thank you for the joy he has brought into my life with his music.

If you follow the link above you’ll see that the visual I had done was to a finished state. Some artists experiment with their ideas in the print studio but as I have to pay for studio time, I like to go there with finished ideas. The act of the print studio is as I say just to ‘get the idea out of my head’!

As is the nature with most computer visuals it was clean, slick and looked exactly like a computer had made it. If I wanted that finish I’d just get a high quality digital print, they’re now easily available and affordable. That’s not the point of silkscreen for me. For me silkscreen is a journey and I want the process (and silkscreen is a long process) to interact with the idea to create something new, to take it somewhere else.

I wanted to refer to old religious paintings with their use of gold and present Brian as an icon/angel. I wanted the image to look weathered, not a typical trait of a silkscreen print. To help with this I chose a very rough handmade paper to print on. This is not designed for silkscreen at all, but the surface was so rough I knew it wouldn’t take all the image leaving blank areas to simulate distress/ageing. The paper was also far from rectangular so hand registration was going to have to be used, again adding to the fun!

Well it was quite a journey as no one had seen anyone use this type of paper to print on before. Ink thickness became a real issue among other things. It was a trial and error journey. At the end I got by the papers nature an edition of ten variations and one AP (Artists Proof).

The images below show the variations with the edition number at the end. They’re for sale at £350 unframed and £650 framed + P&P.

The bespoke framed print comes in a white frame with gold back and side mounts to archival standard. It’s glazed with gallery standard glass, to give a truer representation of colour. It’s NOT  just chucked into a Ikea frame…
Please get in touch if you’re interested in purchasing a print.

Please see the image of the framed print below.

Framed Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) Print ready for Exhibition

Framed Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) Print ready for Exhibition

The framed Brian Wilson print ready for the exhibition

If you’d like to see it in person and you live near Guildford in Surrey, England, it’s going to be part of the Ochre Print Studio Summer Exhibition open to the public on the weekends of 16/17th & 23/24th June at:

Ochre Print Studio
Lockwood Day Centre
Westfield Road
Slyfield Industrial Estate
Guildford
Surrey, GU1 1RR

If you’d like to come to the private view on Friday 15th June 6-9pm, get in touch and I’ll sort it out.

Let me know if you like the print or have any constructive comments? I’d welcome feedback.

Filed under: ArtDesignSilkscreenTypography

Filed under: Art, Design, Silkscreen, 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.

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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, , , , ,

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