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People, Places, Destinations

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People, Places, Destinations

So, what is placemaking? In simple terms it is strengthening the connection between people and the place they share. Building a community and a destination so that those living, working, and visiting feel a sense of pride and belonging.

Placemaking starts with reaching out to the local community and stakeholders of the “place” and engaging with them. What is it they want and need for their community? What drives them to be there, whether it is for business, socialising, shopping or residing? What will keep them going there? Working with all stakeholders when placemaking is key to ensuring you destination is positioned correctly for the demographics that will be using it.

Building on your initial research you can then create a brand for your place. A brand that is relevant to your destination. The social, physical and cultural identities of the surrounding area need to play a key role in your brand and positioning.

Everyone is time poor nowadays and creating convenience and a need is essential. Residents of a place need a reason to visit, they need pull factors they need a mix of F&B, Leisure, health & beauty, essential retail.

With supply outweighing demand when it comes to commercial leases. Your “place” needs to be more than just a landlord leasing a shell. You need to retain those businesses and give added value to them occupying your building over another.

Hybrid working may continue but there will always be a need for mixed use development and creating a destination that is able to bring people together and promote health, happiness and wellbeing for all. This is fundamental to successful placemaking and creating sustainable communities.

What we’ve learnt

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What we’ve learnt and how we’ve adapted a year on

It may still feel like Groundhog Day but it’s nearly been a year since the whole country was plunged into the first lockdown way back in March 2020. Things have changed this year and we’ve learnt a lot from what’s happened and how adaptable we are.

As designers we are one of the most adaptable industries there is, always keeping up with current trends and working with many different types of clients. This past year we have learnt to be even more flexible from generating new solutions to design problems, to staying creative while working from home and delivery projects in a slightly different than we’re used to.

One of the most important things we’ve learnt from the pandemic is how to take a static piece of artwork and move it online. Instead of creating a flat artwork like a poster or a flyer, we used our design skills and been able to move this to digital piece. Creating digital artwork really broadens the scope of how you want the artwork to look, with the ability to animate the artwork really brings the artwork to life and being online the artwork really needs to be full of life and eye catching as people tend to scroll past something quicker than walk past it. An advantage to digital artwork is that it can be changed/updated quicker than a flat piece of artwork. The artwork can be altered and then uploaded, eliminating the need to print.

Saying all of this about digital artwork, it needs to be said that print is not dead! The most requested print project we had last year was for social distancing signage both on a large-scale floor vinyls and hoarding as well as smaller posters to inform customers. During the pandemic people have looked for clear communication and graphic design plays a huge role in this. From informative posters and vinyls like the 2 metres distance ones we all seen to infographics letting the public know quickly what to do and what not to do. Graphic design reinforces the message in a simple and easily communicated way. Another requested job we’ve had is to create celebrative artwork commemorating local heroes, the NHS and keyworkers. These really bring a bit of brightness to all the doom and gloom.

Another thing that we have learnt, is how our clients’ needs have changed. From no longer needing printed poster and flyers to wanting to create a better online presence. We’ve encouraged our clients to move a lot of design online and create a better online presence by having better engaging social media channels as well as user friendly websites. Websites and social media are usually the first place that someone will see your company and its brand so it’s extremely important at any time but especially now to have this working for you.

We’re looking forward to the rest of 2021, for some good news and to keep adapting to the new and exciting challenges it will throw at us.

In the Community

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In the Community

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we worked closely with the local communities of our clients to produce large scale community walls. The mural spreads a message of thanks to all of those who put their time, effort and dedication into Community, making it a safer place to live and bringing people of all backgrounds together in appreciation.


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The impact of a strong brand

What is a brand?

It seems like a simple question, but ‘What is a brand?’ is a question that is anything but simple. A brand is not just a logo or design, it’s not just a colour scheme or tagline, and yet all of these can play a huge part in what a brand is and does. A brand, in the simplest of terms, is the way a company, individual, organisation or product is perceived by those who experience it. Brands essentially exist in the mind of the consumer.

What makes a successful brand?

There is a lot that goes into making a brand successful, and it isn’t something that just happens overnight. A strong brand has a clear focus, knows the audience it aims to attract with a defined mission. A strong brand should u also have key benefits and strong distinctive attributes that set it apart from the competition. Brand values is what the brand stands for e.g. leading edge technology. Personality is the characteristics of the brand and is often explored in qualitative research through projective techniques. A brand needs to be communicated consistently while telling its story and have a strong identity to achieve its goals.

How can design help a brand?

Design plays a huge part in helping brands thrive and the use of a strong identity can dramatically boost a brand’s recognition with the public. If done correctly, this can eventually lead to people identifying companies from specific elements used in their overall creative direction, For example, the distinctive blue colour known as Tiffany Blue® used by Tiffany & Co. has been a leading characteristic  associated with the brand, enabling the company to become instantly recognisable purely from its colour.

Logos are the face of a brand and most serve multiple purposes, These can be to educate people on the name of a company and to represent a business or company in a visual way. A well-designed logo, combined with a strong creative identity can really connect with people, becoming locked in their memories and helping to improve recognition.

The identity of your brand is more than likely the first thing that people see.  This is what draws people in, and encourages them to read the information you are sharing. Therefore, it is important to create an impactful identity that your company can use to draw people’s attention.

What impact can a strong brand have?

Your brand is everything; it is the force behind what you’re trying to sell that gets people to take interest. Having a strong brand will benefit your entire organisation. It can create an emotional bond with customers, which in turn leads to a vast increase in customer loyalty. Having a unique brand gives you that competitive edge in the market, improving customer recognition.

But how can a strong brand impact your company internally? When a company or organisation understands their brand and their mission, it encourages employees to feel that same sense of pride and work in the same direction to achieve common goals. It is almost like turning your logo into a badge of honour, that your employees are proud to wear.

To conclude, your brand is the soul of your company. It is important to take time in developing a strong visual identity and brand mark that will work alongside your goals and ambitions. To be not only ‘eye-catching’ or ‘nice-to-look-at’, but to build trust and inspiration with the community and your own employees.


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Adjusting to changes within the graphics industry

In recent times, life and work as we know it has completely changed. Within the graphic design team we have quickly adapted to this, and used our skills to face any problems that are thrown at us.

The biggest challenge we have witnessed in recent years is the move from predominately printed artwork like posters and billboards to online campaigns, with clients wanting to engage with their target market from within their own home. Digital design consists of social covers, news feed images, animations, video editing, and keeping website up to date with relevant information.

With the recent outbreak of COVID-19 this has further pushed the need for digital design. In order to keep shoppers engaged with our Shopping Centres we have produced web pages with activities and workshops in order to keep the kids entertained but to also encourage home schooling. As physical Easter events had inevitably been cancelled, we looked at ways to encourage website clicks such as a virtual Easter egg hunt for client in Winchester. Shoppers had to click around the different pages on the website to find the eggs that were hidden. It’s important to still have a presence within the Shopping Centre’s local community while everywhere is on lock down in order to keep a strong footfall for when shops can re-open.

But what are we doing as a company in order to still have a presence? We need to make sure we are consistently innovative, stay relevant and come up with new and exciting ideas that will tackle any challenge that comes our way. Using software such as Loom allows us to keep in contact with clients and helps to add a human element to an online business model and adding movement and video creates excitement that we would normally have when talking to a client about our latest projects.

Strong visual content for websites and social media has never been so important. With figures showing that 40% more people are using social media in the last three months ago, brands need to engage with eye catching content that’s not only visually pleasing but which also conveys a message though the correct tone of voice – a really exciting and interesting time for the graphics industry.