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, , , , , ,

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, , , ,

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, , , ,

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, , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , ,

Logo Design Case Study: Using Negative Space To Add Meaning

The new logo for Andrew Plumb - Elite Ski & Fitness

The new logo for Andrew Plumb - Elite Ski & Fitness

Above is the new logo we’ve designed for Andrew Plumb – Elite Ski and Fitness.

I’ve chosen this particular project to put on our blog because we used negative space (or white space as it’s also known) in the final solution and so a case study may help others understand it’s strengths and limitations.

What is Negative Space?

Negative Space is also called white space. These are spaces without content within the logo and although they are called white space, it doesn’t have to be white. It can be any color, it just doesn’t have any content.

An outline the project’s brief.

  • The logo is for a start-up business with two disparate products. One training top level skiers and instructors, by it’s nature mostly aboard and the second product personal fitness training.
  • The training would be aimed at monied women in the Surrey area that feel uncomfortable with gyms or have used gyms and have found that they’re not getting the results they’re looking for.
  • The logo should as a result appeal to upscale female customers but still retain a masculine slant (as all the trainers are men).
  • The logo had to reflect both aspects of the business.
  • The logo should be simple
Well with that brief in hand, how do you reflect all that in a logo that has to be small enough to fit on a business card?
We came up with many routes that worked great for skiing but not fitness and visa versa. The logos routes were a tad complex, trying to shoehorn in too much, in an attempt to get both products equal standing.

It was becoming a real issue as the golden rule with any logo is that it should work printed in one colour quite small.

So after a few rounds of ideas and discussion we came up with the following. The image below shows we created a bold serif initials logotype but used negative space to subtly describe both side of the business. The image below highlights the negative space. We removed the ‘crossbar on the capital A to create a mountain and used the ‘counter’ in the capital P to suggest some weighing scales.

Colour was used to create a sense of quality and nod the name Plum(b). The descriptor was set in an face to show strength with elegance and spaced to increase legibility at smaller sizes.
The client loved the result and actually didn’t see the hidden symbols. When these were explained his response was “what a wonderful surprise, hopefully they’ll connect that attention to detail to my business”.
Well that in a nutshell is the reasoning for doing it but it also highlights a shortfall… some people, maybe a lot of people just won’t see it. As a result the logo shouldn’t rely on it for it’s existence, it has to work on surface level as well.
Andrew Plumb Logo showing the negative space

Andrew Plumb Logo showing the negative space

A good example of this is one of the most talked about logos within the design community that uses negative space, the FedEx logo.

The use of white space is so subtle I guarantee most people who aren’t as obsessed with logos as we are (for the sake of this blog we’ll call them normal folk) haven’t seen the arrow within the logo. This subtle use adds meaning when seen (taking something from point A to B) but the logo works completely without it. It’s a sort of little reward to those who choose to look closer.

The Fed Ex Logo. Great use of negative space

The Fed Ex Logo. Great use of negative space

Anyway I hope you found this blog informative.

All constructive comments are welcome.

Obviously if you know of any business that needs to update their logo please get them to consider us for the project and get in touch!

Filed under: Design, Typography, , , ,

BNI Pull-up Stand. Display Graphics Demand Shows Increased Optimism In Ecomomy

After last year where we saw a lot of our clients cut back or cancel their exhibitions, this year it’s been busy in this area. Maybe it shows increased optimism in the economy, or they feel there is a certain land-grab opportunity as with fewer exhibitors they’ll have more impact.

We recently did a simple display for our local chapter of BNI. The key here is to keep on-brand and have clear messaging.

Clients always want to put everything on their Pull-up stands, but less is more with these things. Choose one offer or statement and then a call to action like a web address or phone number. The rest should just be branding.

We kept the copy quite universal so it could be used in many situations. Getting extra mileage from each piece of display graphics is common sense when everyone is keeping an eye on their budgets

If you know of anyone looking to promote their business at exhibitions this year please send them a link to this page or give them our number. We’d be glad to meet and listen to their needs.

Filed under: BNI, Design, Typography, , ,

ngd Agency secure UK distribution of Peccavi Wines for local Wine Merchant via BNI

Neville Godwin of ngd Agency (R) and Nic Lunness (L)

Nic Lunness (L) thanks Neville Godwin of ngd Agency (R) for helping secure UK distribution rights for Peccavi Wines

Photography by Medius.

Press Release Issued by BNI Index:-

A SURREY wine merchant has won the sole UK distribution rights for an Australian brand of wine that is taking the world by storm.

Nick Lunness of Woking-based Wines For U, secured the contract for Peccavi Wines following a chance conversation with the owner of a Branding Agency at a Business Network International (BNI) meeting.

Nick got talking to Neville Godwin from ngd Agency, a branding and design agency –www.ngdagency.com – also based in Woking, at the Elmbridge chapter. He was designing the Peccavi Wines’ website and knew his client was looking to appoint a UK distributor for the range of wines.

Nick, who is a member of BNI Woking, was suffering in the recession. He talked about diversifying and going into distribution. Neville explained Peccavi’s vision of producing the best possible wine from the Margaret River region of Australia.

Owner Jeremy Muller (who also has a Surrey connection as he was born in Woking) agreed that a word-of-mouth launch of his boutique range of wines was the way to go and was happy to appoint www.winesforu.co.uk as sole UK distributor.

Nick Lunness said: “Life had been crazy at the beginning of 2009. My business had just gone through the worst three months on record. I was at a BNI meeting when I got talking to Neville. We spoke about my work and the direction I wanted it to go in. Then Neville said: ‘A friend of mine is launching a new wine in Australia and they have no UK distribution. Are you interested?’ My answer was yes and once I knew about Jeremy’s vision for Peccavi wines, I knew I had to be part of the process. The wine has just arrived in the UK and I am looking forward to distributing this wonderful brand to wine lovers.”

Neville Godwin, who was delighted to introduce Wines For U to Peccavi, said: “This deal has the potential to completely redefine Nick’s business. I am really pleased I was able to help him secure the sole UK distribution rights for this premium range of wines.”

Jeremy bought the established vineyard in Margaret River in 2005 and renamed it Peccavi Estate. His team produce two ranges of wines – Peccavi, from single vineyard estate grown fruit and No Regrets, featuring two of Margaret River’s classic blends. The wine is available in its homeland Australia, Singapore, where finance broker Jeremy is based, Hong Kong, Belgium and now the UK.

It has met with critical acclaim from wine critics and is available in some of the world’s top hotels and restaurants.

Its namesake premium range – Peccavi – includes a Shiraz 2007, Chardonnay 2006 and a Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, priced at £24.99 a bottle.

The mid-range – No Regrets – is made up of a Sauvignon Blanc/Semillion blend 2008 and a Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 which will be changing to a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend, priced at £12.99 a bottle.

Asked why he chose the name Peccavi, Jeremy Muller said: “Peccavi appealed to me on so many levels. Whether it’s the image of the cheeky dispatch of ‘Peccavi’ by General Napier or the tongue in cheek connotation when alongside ‘no regrets’, there is something in the name that says ‘go on, enjoy life and all will be well’.”

Filed under: BNI, Design, , ,