insight

november 2017

As a Leeds marketing agency, we like to have our finger on the marketing pulse. So every month we bring together some of the biggest marketing stories from the last few weeks. It’s a great way to highlight creative thinking in marketing, digital and design.

We’ve got some more amazing stories to share with you, so let’s dive right in!

marketing musicals

A musical interlude is a great way to stand out from the crowd. Microsoft seems to have taken this lesson to heart with their latest advert for Minecraft, the ever-popular video game phenomenon.

The advert features original lyrics and American actress Melissa Benoist, who stars in the American TV show Supergirl. That show actually featured a musical episode, following in the steps of TV shows like Scrubs and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Microsoft isn’t the only company to advertise their video game with a song. Earlier this year, Nintendo marketed their newest Mario game with ‘Jump Up, Super Star!‘ a big-band song that describes the game mechanics in the song lyrics.

Suffice it to say, we can’t wait to see which advert gets the musical treatment next.

And something to take away is that big brands are branching out even more into creatively launching new products or updates. Brands that are only looking at one or two marketing channels are missing out on truly engaging with their audiences.

recycled glass homeware

Dezeen

Glass is one of our most useful and versatile materials, so- like anything- it’s a shame when it goes to waste. Fortunately, a group of people from Zanzibar and the Netherlands are working to change that.

Dutch studio Super Local worked with a group of craftspeople from Zanzibar to turn their island’s glass bottles into tableware and furniture. Zanzibar has a booming tourism industry, but no glass recycling scheme, meaning the glass went straight to landfill.

The group began collecting glass from Zanzibari hotels and used it to make terrazzo – a composite material that mixed glass and cement. This material was then used to create things people could use, such as tables, benches and vases. These items were presented as part of the Dutch Design Week.

The waste glass may also be used as a construction material in the near future. Zanzibari builders currently import sand from overseas as their local sand is too soft for construction purposes. However, by grinding up waste glass already on the island, they may find an equally effective material much closer to home.

This is a great example of entrepreneurial spirit, which has an interesting future ahead.

return of the christmas adverts

Over the last few years, the Christmas advert has gone from seasonal marker to cultural phenomenon. As a Leeds marketing agency we know about the power of advertising, and we’ve looked at some of the biggest ones in a previous article. Luckily, there’s plenty more for us to sink our teeth into!

Heathrow Airport

The Heathrow Bears make a return to our screens with Heathrow Airport’s new advert. They first appeared last year in an advert that saw them navigating a busy airport. This year’s advert is a prequel of sorts, showing the bears’ meet-cute- and subsequent meetings over the years. It’s a super cute campaign!

Although the advert is touching, it’s also a little bittersweet; the advert was filmed in Heathrow Terminal 1, which is now closed to passengers after 50 years of operation. However, the advert also features a cameo from Petula Clark, who performs the song ‘Couldn’t Live Without Your Love’ in the advert. Look out for her at the 40 second mark!

KFC

KFC has taken a rather different approach to Christmas adverts with this pared-back advert. It’s focussing on togetherness and community instead of the tinsel and turkey, with a step dance routine in a school gym.

The six girls featured in the ad were selected from step dance groups across the UK and it was all shot in just one take. Talk about an impressive feat from the young performers!

KFC are championing it as the modern British Christmas advert. Do you agree?

Boots tick two of the Christmas advert boxes for their advert (a naturalistic setting, and a twist on a well-known pop song). But where other adverts go with a more idealised mood, Boots goes its own way, showing the ups (and downs) of the relationship between two sisters.

A common thread we’ve noticed amongst most of this year’s Christmas adverts is that they promote their brand rather than specific products. Where the likes of Aldi and Argos draw attention to things they sell, adverts such as these three promote ideas of community and family instead.

With all these adverts to look at, there’s never been a better time to see how different companies approach their seasonal marketing. Even though these are big budget campaigns the themes of promoting a lifestyle and brand over specific products can be adapted by any business.

The KFC advert in particular shows that a great idea executed well can be the deciding factor between you and another brand. More budget doesn’t always mean more success, while creativity is always well received.

diversity in adverts

Over the last few years we’ve seen a fair amount of diversity in advertising- particularly around Christmas. John Lewis, M&S and Morrisons have all featured multiracial families in their Christmas adverts this year. Tesco, meanwhile, gained attention- positive and negative- for including a Muslim family in theirs. However, this was due to them not actually stocking halal turkeys, despite saying that everyone’s welcome at Tesco. Now Ikea has weighed in, saying that criticism of diverse adverts simply encourages them to make more.

In an article on Marketing Week Kemi Anthony, Ikea’s UK Advertising Manager, talks about Ikea’s own campaigns and those of other retailers. She maintains “The Wonderful Everyday” is more than a simple marketing slogan; it actively reflects Ikea’s brand, as well the responsibility Ikea has to represent the societies they operate in.

The focus on diverse adverts has paid off for companies in the past. Last year Mars released a series of Maltesers adverts starring people with disabilities, which were first broadcast during the 2016 Paralympic Games. They later reported an 8% rise in sales. They also received an invitation to parliament to discuss the positive impact of diverse advertising.

In light of this (and Kemi Anthony’s comments) it seems we can look forward to more diverse adverts in the near future.

a novel new advent calendar

Metro

Children around the world have been enjoying advent calendars for many years. Recently they’ve expanded into bold new territory. Today, you can buy advent calendars containing everything from scented candles to bottles of wine (though these aren’t for kids, of course). A famous British baker is taking a rather different approach.

Greggs have launched their first ever advent calendar. Behind each door is a voucher; the owner can redeem this in store for a treat. Whether you’re a fan of mince pies or sausage rolls, there’s something in there for everyone. Moreover the 24th door contains either a £5 or a £25 gift card, depending on your good fortune.

The calendar attracted controversy with its initial ad campaign, which replaced the baby Jesus with a sausage roll in a nativity scene. It remains to be seen whether this controversy affects sales of the calendar in the long term.


Our Leeds marketing agency has a keen interest in the latest marketing news. What’s more, we’re always happy to share our knowledge. Keep an eye out for our next marketing recap, where we focus on creativity and strategy.

If you’re looking to generate more business for yourself, give us a call or get in touch to come meet us today.

top email marketing tips for local businesses

Email has been yo-yoing in and out of favour as a marketing tool.

Whether due to rising costs connected to large databases or a consensus that email messages from companies equal spam, email isn’t always considered in the marketing mix.

A lot of companies are completely missing out on the merits of email marketing.

This is especially true for small business owners or local businesses.

When time and resources are limited, it’s understandable that a tactic that takes up both of these wouldn’t make it onto the priority list.

email marketing tips image of local businessman using email

According to the Direct Marketing Association’s latest email marketing report, however, 95% of marketers believe that email remains relevant to their business. These marketers, many of which are also business owners, view email marketing as the backbone of their business revenue. The report also showed that ROI on email has steadily been growing year on year.

Despite complaints about email marketing, when a relevant email comes in, then people will respond.

so, how can you benefit from email marketing?

Small and local businesses still need to consider time and resources. But if you have a clear email strategy in place, then neither of these should stop you.

With an email strategy for the year, you’ll be able to:

It’s good to get a marketing expert involved as soon as possible to either support you to put the plan together, create something that fits your business needs or to take over your email marketing for you. This can further ensure that time and costs stay within your budget.

no junk mail sign on a door

Some agencies will overwhelm business owners with jargon or create a vision that email marketing is all smoke and mirrors.

A straightforward tactic delivers clear and straightforward results.

so, here are our top email marketing tips to clear the fog:

  1. have a reason to message

Don’t message your customers for the sake of messaging.

Have a clear reason to contact them. They’ll appreciate you contacting them if you’ve got something they’ll benefit from, rather than you just trying to get something from them.

  1. think timing

Timing is everything for marketing. To make the most out of timing, it’s good to have a proactive plan for the year ahead, but also be ready to jump on reactive opportunities.

Your email messages can then tie-in nicely with your marketing plan and you’ll keep control of costs and time invested in them.

  1. make the benefit or action clear

Let’s face it, we all have short attention spans, so when you’re sending an email to your customers make sure the main reason for the message is clear in the subject line and the first paragraph.

An unclear message results in no reaction at all.

  1. remember KISS

Brevity is key to good communication.

Don’t overcomplicate your message by adding too many call to actions or information. Keep things clear and straightforward.

  1. never assume, always support

Many businesses assume that everyone knows their products or their services.

Assuming something is always a dangerous thing, so instead focus on providing information that will help your audience.

happy customer looking at emails on tablet

  1. personalise

Segmenting your audience is important for personalisation, but segmentation doesn’t have to be an overly complicated thing.

Even a basic segmentation of your audience is worth it for a more targeted message.

  1. neither overthink nor underthink

Putting an email strategy in place, when you’ve already got several plates spinning at once can put small or local businesses off.

Beware of overthinking your email approach. Even a few emails are more effective than no emails.
Also, don’t fall into the trap of underthinking your strategy.

If the purpose of every email is just to sell more, then you need to rethink, as without clear messages and benefits this approach will result in pure email spam.

in a nutshell

To recap local businesses can benefit from email marketing as it provides good ROI (when done correctly), can easily support the messages you’re already trying to get across and with good messaging helps to build your brand.

Our email marketing tips are a good start, but there’s more that can be done with a bit of planning from marketing professionals.

Email marketing is part of our digital marketing services and

you can take a closer look at these here.

If you’re interested in putting our email marketing tips into action,

then give us a call today.

And stay tuned for more marketing tips on our blog.

Common Web Design Pitfalls: How to avoid warring services

 

Unless you’re in digital marketing getting a website that does what you need it to do and is SEO optimised to boot can be a highly daunting task. What doesn’t always come up when planning a website is how warring services (e.g. marketing, IT, sales etc.) can destroy the functionality of your website and dilute your message.

To help you know what to avoid, here are the most common web design pitfalls:

not communicating

business meeting agreement

When you employ a creative agency to build your website, you’ll need to start with the initial brief. Taking the time to talk face to face with your agency about what you need your website to achieve, what styles you like, which competitors you’ve got your eye on and what websites you like visiting all ensures that everyone is on the same page. It’s also good to get people from other departments or business services involved at this stage to ensure that the website is future-proof.

Your website needs to have a clear message for visitors, be easy to navigate and represent your company. The best way to achieve this is through talking to your agency about who you are as a business and what your goals are.

overdoing the brand

brand design example

Having a clear brand is important and it’s understandable that the marketing team sometimes gets very protective of it. It’s crucial for getting your unique voice as a business across, but it can get championed too much.

If you’re sacrificing website usability, ease of navigation and copy clarity for the sake of branding, then something is going wrong. Your website is the time to clearly state who you are, what you do and how visitors can buy from you. Don’t let over the top branding get in the way of this. It’s also vital that visitors have a pleasant user experience (UX), so also don’t let branding destroy your website’s overall UX.

missing out on sharing information

scrabble tiles writing out the word support

A stylish and nice design is good for overall UX, but be sure to back your style up with some substance. A common pitfall for businesses can be assuming that if someone is visiting your website that they’re experts in your industry. There’s no guarantee that visitors are experts of your products or know all the industry jargon you do.

Product and service descriptions, how to guides, demo videos etc. are all good ways to help your visitors decide if you’re the brand they want to buy from.

Be sure to include information about your products and services. It helps to encourage sales, is good for overall SEO and customers appreciate you clearly communicating what you offer. If they have to call you to work out what your offer is, then they’re likely to go with an alternative option.

not needing content

wordpress dashboard new post

There are 3 types of content to consider when developing your website:

Page copy – the content in the individual website pages that will be a constant part of your website, i.e. ‘about us’, individual product descriptions, ‘contact us’ page etc .

Evergreen content – likely to be longer content pieces, which may be a product or ‘how to’ guide. Something that will consistently support website visitors and goes into more detail than product descriptions or business updates.

Ongoing content – regular articles or blog posts providing inspiration or informing visitors of what’s new at your business. Ongoing content is a great opportunity to be creative, engage with your audience, build your brand as an expert and improve your overall search visibility.

Content is a very broad term, so it’s understandable that some businesses believe that they don’t need it at all. Brands, which have embraced content are now reaping the rewards of having a library of supportive, inspirational or informative content, which provides SEO benefits and helps visitors.

So, if content has been on the back of your priority list for your business, consider putting it to the top.

design focus only

beetle car with design written on it

A good-looking website can be functional, too. And you could be missing out on SEO rankings and website usability if you’re only thinking about website design from a visual perspective.

Common design mistakes include:

losing your message

question mark written on a blackboard

Arguments amongst services over copy, design, layout and functionality can result in your whole website simply confusing visitors.

Don’t let warring services and messages get in the way of having a responsive, clear and easy to use website.

Users are in a hurry to find the answer to their query and you’re more likely to make a lasting impression if you help them find the answer.

If you want to avoid the common pitfalls of web design, our integrated approach to digital marketing can help you.

Take a closer look at our website design and development service page or get in touch with us today.

christmas adverts roundup 2017

As November rolls on, it’s time for the Christmas adverts! For this year’s seasonal event, retailers are pulling out all the stops to tug at our heartstrings and pull us into their stores as well.

In this article we’ll be taking a look at some of the major Christmas adverts, and the kinds of stories they’re trying to tell.

We’re also going to have a poll on our Twitter channel , so once you have your favourite, vote for the ad that brings you the most Christmas cheer on Twitter.

john lewis moz the monster

Probably the most anticipated advert of them all is this year’s John Lewis Christmas ad. Most years John Lewis is the clear Christmas ad winner, so it’s no wonder that the company used hashtags and teasers to get our interest peaked. Days before the ad ran there was #UnderTheBed2017  hinting at what the ad would be about and it successfully trended on Twitter.

It premiered during Channel 4’s Googlebox on Friday the 10th November, but was already being discussed and watched via social media since that Friday morning. The John Lewis ad is such an annual event that Myvouchercodes hired a group of students to create a £700 version of it. Overall there are still mixed reviews of the ad. Many marketers are praising it, while others feel that the brand could be a bit more daring.

Is it your Christmas ad of 2017? Don’t forget to let us know on Twitter.

marks & spencer’s christmas visitor

While there was a lot of hype about John Lewis, first out the gate this year was beloved retailer Marks and Spencer partnering with an icon of children’s literature.

Paddington welcomed Christmas in typical Paddington style with misunderstandings, slapstick and a heart of gold.

Marks and Spencer positions itself as a beloved part of the British retail landscape. Therefore, it made sense for them to feature Paddington in their adverts; both are loved (or at least well-known) in their respective areas. Plus the positive reviews of Paddington 2, which hit the cinemas a few days after the ad aired helped boost excitement.

Do you #LoveTheBear?

aldi’s carrot love story

German supermarket Aldi has gone from maligned budget option to the fifth-largest grocer in the country. Last year, they won our hearts with the intrepid Kevin the

Last year, they won our hearts with the intrepid Kevin the Carrot and this year Kevin returns to find love aboard a magical steam train.

Aldi’s more humorous take on their advertising is in line with their history as the underdog of UK supermarkets.

The reappearance of Kevin, though, suggests their adverts are gaining the kudos of their competitors; Aldi is the kind of supermarket you want to see a Christmas advert for. They also seem to be moving away from their acknowledgment of other retails (however good natured that may be). Now, Aldi is a brand that can stand on its own two feet.

Did #KevinTheCarrot win your heart over this year?

debenhams find your fairytale christmas

Debenhams hasn’t settled for 1 advert, but 2 (though it’s a tale of two parts really). Plus the company used two teaser ads with #YouShall to build anticipation for it.

Using the classic Cinderella story, the ad shows two people meeting on a train with the woman having to dash-off and losing her sparkly shoe before they can exchange details.

Keen to find his love interest, the hero of the story uses social networking to find her, but it’s pure coincidence (or fairytale fate) that brings them together on a snow-covered hill.Many people are praising this modernised fairytale ad as the one that beat John Lewis.

Do you agree? Let us know on Twitter.

waitrose in a snowed-in christmas

Waitrose’s Christmas ad premiered during the X-Factor live show on the 12th November and is about a group of villagers meeting up for a Christmas drink in a remote pub in the Yorkshire Dales (The Tan Inn near Richmond). The weather takes a turn for the worst leaving the group snowed in and unable to get home to their families in time for Christmas.

The group then decides to make the most of an unfortunate situation and bands together to enjoy a Christmas feast. The tale matches the used hashtag ‘#ComingTogether’ well and champions spending time together (while eating good food – preferably from Waitrose).

A different Christmas ad, but is it enough to win you over?

sainsbury’s every bit of christmas

Sainsbury’s Christmas advert is a heartfelt singalong wherein staff and the general public show how they ‘live well’ during the holidays. This ties into Sainsbury’s overarching brand strategy of ‘live well, for less’ by featuring real live people and stories.

There is currently some criticism of the ad, as it’s very different to last year’s advert of a time-starved Dad trying to spend quality time with his family so creates toy versions of himself to get work done.

Overall though #everybitofChristmas is receiving praise for going with an approach that celebrates family traditions and habits over Christmas rather than trying to be a pure tear-jerker ad. Is the fun sing-along your Christmas ad favourite of 2017?

tesco everyone’s welcome

Tesco’s ad called ‘ Turkey, Every Which Way’ keeps the turkey at the heart of the ad and shows how every family cooks their turkey differently, but that turkey is what we have in common.

The idea was to highlight that even though everyone is different, everyone can enjoy a tasty turkey at Christmas and Tesco accompanies the ad with some handy recipes for turkey.

However, the ad has had mixed reviews and quite a strong backlash on social media. The ad itself features families from many backgrounds including a Muslim family, yet Tesco doesn’t stock halal turkey thereby excluding this community. Others have criticised #everyoneswelcome for the fact it features a Muslim family at Christmas time in the first place, but a lot of people have spoken out and thanked Tesco for championing inclusiveness.

Is #everyoneswelcome a winner for you?

the fox and the mouse

The day before the official John Lewis Christmas advert was revealed, a fake one was fooling people across social media. The heartfelt tale of a fox and a mouse becoming unlikely friends was in-line with past John Lewis advert styles and featured the John Lewis logo at the end, but was, in fact, a student’s labour of love in homage to the brand.

Though not an official ad, we believe it should be in the running for best ad, as it’s ticking a lot of favourite Christmas advert must-have boxes.

Are you a fan of #TheFoxandTheMouse?

key takeaways this christmas:

From our Christmas adverts round-up, we’re taking away the following ad trends for the year.

hashtags

·   This year brands moved away from purely branded hashtags and instead have created at least one hashtag to promote their adverts.

·   The creativity of the hashtag is becoming a vital part of the overall Christmas adverts.

teasers

·   It’s yet to be seen if John Lewis will win the battle of the Christmas adverts, but one thing’s for sure, it’s certainly won the battle of the advert teasers.

·   Debenhams did a good job with #YouShall shorts, but hype was largest around the sneak peaks and trending #UnderTheBed2017.

integrated approach

·   What all Christmas adverts have in common is an integrated approach. The adverts are never alone. Whether they tie into old favourites like Aldi or ensure there’s more than one way to

engage with the advert (like with the Moz The Monster toy by John Lewis), all brands ensure multiple communication touchpoints.

hashtag battle status:

At electric we like to understand and analyse different marketing methods. As well as asking you for your votes on this year’s Christmas adverts, we also want to see if there’s a match-up between overall opinion and the hastags used.

So, we’re going to start keeping an eye on overall hashtag popularity.

Updates will follow, so stay tuned for this and further analysis of the Christmas advert winners of 2017.

Here’s the current populatiry status as of the 13th November.

 ·  #ComingTogether: 31.9 

 ·  #KevinTheCarrot: 29.8 

 ·  #EveryonesWelcome: 23.4 

 ·  #MozTheMonster: 20.4 

  · #LoveTheBear : 20.4

 ·  #YouShall: 13.5 

 ·  #everybitofChristmas: N/A — too soon for data 

 ·  #thefoxandthemouse: N/A — too soon for data 

If you’re looking to generate more business during the festive season and need a bit of marketing strategy back-up, take a closer look at our marketing strategy services or give us a call now to discuss your project.

october 2017

As a creative agency, electric is always looking for interesting stories. We’ve decided to collect all the best and latest marketing news for this month in one place.

We’ll highlight some amazing examples of creative thinking in the marketing, design and digital world.

We’ve got an excellent range of stories to share with you, so let’s jump right in!

ikea’s pet-friendly furniture range

Ikea is no stranger to iconic designs. From the Billy bookcase to the Poäng armchair, their furniture has appeared in homes around the world for decades. Now the Scandinavian chain is branching out with a new product line, aimed at our furry friends.

This line includes items for both dogs and cats; each one shows off Ikea’s stylish, understated design philosophy. The Ludvig cat house (above) can even slot into existing Ikea furniture, allowing for seamless integration into an existing furniture layout.

Although there are no plans for a UK release, we hope to see these in our local Ikea very soon. Our personal highlights include the fold out pet bed, this versatile scratching mat and this practical, minimalist litter tray.

the modular hotel

creative agency hotel

Source: Dezeen

No, this isn’t the world’s largest game of Tetris (that took place in Philadelphia). This is a bold new hotel concept from Dutch creative agency MVRDV, which adapts to the needs of its residents.

Presented as part of Dutch Design Week, the hotel contains nine rooms with a variety of shapes and colour schemes. Each room also has slightly different furnishings; while one section comes with hammocks and ladders, another comes with a wall of shelving units. The rooms can apparently be rearranged as well, with two different configurations on display.

Although this is only a concept, it’s a great example of thoughtful, innovative housing design. We can’t wait to see how MVRDV develop it in the future!

the audience friendly bird feeder

Every so often, something comes along that’s so simple we can’t believe no-one thought of it before. This time the honour goes to Jolanta Uczarczyk, a Polish designer that is changing the way we feed the birds.

The Tweet Resto Bar range is a line of acrylic bird feeders. Each one hangs from a suction cup, meaning you can suspend it from any smooth surface.

When paired with the feeder’s transparent material, this makes them perfect for attaching to a window and maximising visibility for any budding birdwatcher.

Available in three shapes (including a classic birdhouse design) these are an excellent way to bring wildlife a little closer to home.

the resurgence of the retro brand

creative agency camera

One of pop culture’s recent hits is Stranger Things, the Netflix 80s sci-fi mystery. The 17-part TV show is packed full of nods and references (spoilers in the link!) to its inspirations.

A lot of people in our creative agency are big fans, and its massive popularity shows we aren’t alone. But Stranger Things isn’t just inspired; it seems to be drawing people to retro brands as well.

In an article on MarketingWeek, camera manufacturer Polaroid discusses how its business has seen a major resurgence. It’s driven by a growing love of retro technology, as well as a desire for physical photos when people are out and about.

In a broader sense, Polaroid can also thank people’s love of the 70s/80s aesthetic. This is something that Stranger Things draws upon and amplifies, thanks to its highly accurate recreation of the time period.

Polaroid isn’t the only company riding the nostalgia wave at the moment. Nintendo has recently released their SNES Mini microconsole, which bundles 21 retro games into a miniature replica of the Super Nintendo. Meanwhile, legendary games company Atari is due to start crowdfunding the Ataribox, which offers retro and new indie titles in a single wood-paneled box.

Anyone interested in retro photography can visit the official Polaroid website. Don’t forget to check out our article on the Stranger Things opening sequence as well, where we look at the typography and visual choices behind the opening titles.

amazon streamlines the delivery process

creative agency keys

Retail giant Amazon has done everything they can to make shopping simple, from a massive product range to the One-Click button. Of course, this is moot if nobody’s in to receive the package but with Amazon’s new scheme, that may all be about to change.

Amazon Key allows a delivery person to open your front door via a smart lock and place your parcel inside, out of harm’s way. Anyone expecting a delivery can watch it unfold in real-time using a camera installed in your home. The hardware setup can also be used to let cleaners, dog walkers and other professionals into your home remotely.

There are some caveats; the service is only available to Amazon Prime members, which must live in areas of the US where Amazon Logistics operates. Only two (admittedly popular) brands of door lock are compatible, and if you’re expecting a delivery you must disable your home security system beforehand.

We don’t know how popular Amazon Key will be in the future, since both the service and hardware are in their infancy. But whatever the reaction, it’s another sign of how the retailer is working to reinvent our online shopping.


We’re committed to sharing knowledge and know-how about all things marketing, as that’s what our creative agency is all about. Keep an eye out on our blog for future marketing recaps, where we celebrate all things creative and strategic.

If you’re looking for a creative agency to generate more business for you, then give us a call or get in touch to come meet us today.

And if you’re inspired to take a closer look at your marketing strategy, find out more about our strategy service here.

 

the power of design: serifs, sequences and stranger things

At electric, we like to explore trends across a variety of industries and instances in order to keep our work timely and relevant. Recently, we’ve joined in with the #TypographyTuesday trend, where artists, designers, illustrators and typophiles worldwide share typographic inspiration from far and wide via Instagram. For our design team, platforms like this provide a bank of visual challenges to try their hand at. This ultimately results in fresh and exciting work for our clients.

Our creative design team has challenged itself to actively construct typographic visuals one Tuesday a month for #TypographyTuesday, because the proof is in the pudding, right?

stranger things typography

In the spirit of all things spooky, this month’s article delves into the dark side of cult TV. With Halloween just around the corner, and the launch of season two of  Stranger Things imminent (a favourite amongst a few of us creative sparks in the office , myself included), we decided to look into the show’s iconic opening credits.

Cleverly paired with eerie electro music, this introduction is an example of when less is absolutely more. Imaginary Forces put the stellar sequence together and they happen to also be the minds behind the design of the Mad Men and Jessica Jones’ bold opening titles.

With the Stranger Things opening they’ve created intrigue with type in the most simple yet effective way possible. By using an intriguing combo scale and slow movement they build up to the big reveal: the Stranger Things title, glowing red on black.

what’s in a font?

A bit of research tells us that the font itself is called ‘ITC Benguiat’, and is most recognisable from a range of Stephen King book covers. Marketing the show using this typography would therefore encourage horror fanatics to take interest, whilst the retro vibe of the music alongside it appeals to fans of eighties film and TV.

With serifs reminding of fangs that contrast with bold curves, the font choice is arguably perfect for a TV series that explores fantasy, horror and retro themes all at once.

And, with a glow that seems to be the bi-product of an extraterrestrial visit to Twin Peaks, the treatment that Imaginary Forces have given ITC Benguiat has simply accentuated its suitability to the show, turning it into a memorable visual piece that’s sure to stand the test of time.

 

A video from Vox sheds light on the glow and reveals it was created using an old film format called a kodalith, which produced a high-contrast yet uneven image. The technique is reflected – subtly – in the finished intro sequence.

This is just one example of how typography can set the tone for a TV show or film. From this, it’s easy to see how the same idea can apply to a brand, where every detail of your identity can convey an emotion, evoke a memory or relate to a creative source. Something as simple as your font choice can make all the difference.

 

Want to learn more about how electric can help build your brand identity? We’re a design agency based near Leeds and can support you with all your design and marketing needs. 

Give us a call today on 0113 285 9087 or visit our contact us page for more contact options. 

And also visit our Instagram page to see the design team’s video using the Stranger Things font

An SMEs guide to SEO trends in 2018

To celebrate this year’s SearchLove Conference in London, I wanted to have a closer look at which SEO trends businesses and SMEs need to be aware of for 2018.

After taking a closer look at “What’s Next for Marketing?”, it seemed like a good opportunity to analyse some future SEO trends.

So, let’s dive right in and explore what’s going on in the world of SEO.

are you local?

Local SEO isn’t a new trend, but Google has shown a search result bias for local businesses.

What this means for you:

 

 

 

 

A lot of the above isn’t that complex and makes good business sense to have anyhow. Where suitable, you can also ask for reviews and do a bit of PR to get some local newspapers talking about you.

Local SEO is a useful technique for SMEs and start-ups in particular. If this isn’t on your radar, then it’s a good time to look into it.

 

hawk update

hawk bird of prey

Like any new method, local SEO will have some refinements. In August 2017, a new update called ‘Hawk’ was launched. Here’s what this means for you.

The update isn’t officially named ‘Hawk’ by Google and is instead the nickname given to it by the SEO community to make it easier to discuss.

The reason it’s called ‘Hawk’ is that it’s connected to the September 2016 update ‘Possum’. The ‘Possum’ update was a new result filter. The filter narrowed results for specific local keywords. This put a limit on how many businesses could rank in the local results for the same keywords.

This meant that SMEs and businesses in the same building or street were missing out. The area filter was simply too broad. If a competitor was on the same street, then chances were that only one of the two rivals would be featured.

‘Hawk’ is seen as a fix to the ‘Possum’ filter meaning that more businesses in an area can now rank for the same local keyword (providing it’s relevant that is).

 

the future of the search experience

Providing consumers with a positive and enjoyable search experience is what Google is all about. Brands and businesses contribute to this through good, informative, inspirational and engaging content.

But as technology evolves, so too do our search habits.

Voice search is growing and a recent survey found 57% of people had bought via voice search.

V-commerce (as voice-based purchasing is known) will become ever more important in 2018, so let’s have a look at what this might mean.

 

voice search impact

voice search picture of a mobile using Google Home

Voice search is here to stay and has become more sophisticated since 2015. Experts are predicting the biggest behavioural change is likely to be for supermarkets. 

It’s predicted that Alexa and Google Home will compare deals across supermarkets and the FMCG giants may no longer be able to rely on consistently returning shoppers.

Instead of having a specific supermarket to turn to, consumers will simply get one large order from various stores sent to them. This is currently the most talked about voice search change.

For all businesses voice search is likely to have an impact in three specific areas:

 

Voice search will further push things towards mobile. Having a mobile-ready website has been important for several years, but voice search will rely on mobile sites.

As a business or an SME you may well be aware of this, but not all have been able to fully embrace Google’s mobile-first policy.

Make sure you don’t get left behind by competitors in 2018. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly and don’t just leave it at that.

Consistently analyse your website to ensure it’s performing well for mobile.

 

Long-tail keywords meaning keywords as part of a longer question or saying have been growing in significance since 2014. Voice search will encourage a surge in the significance of these keywords.

As consumers, we may search for “cinemas in Leeds” when typing, but with voice search, our queries will be more conversational:

“OK Google, where’s the nearest cinema?”.

 

Which brings us to the growth of local SEO. Making sure you’re on the map and easy to find as a business will become even more relevant with voice search as the long-tail keyword

queries will be answered through prioritising businesses closest to the user.

Rather than chasing the highly competitive and broad keywords, a local SME could, not only make their location relevant to their overall brand persona,

but also use it to rank well in the SERPs [Search Engine Result Pages].

 

chatbots

chatbots image

 

Chatbots are now commonplace for websites, but Bing is currently trialling chatbots as part of organic and paid search results.

For the consumer, this means the ability to quickly book appointments or buy products without leaving the search results.

But whether chatbots or voice search will dominate 2018 is yet to be seen.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on it all.

 

what a website will still need in 2018

laptop showing the electric agency website

The world of digital is ever changing. However, the fundamentals of digital marketing have and will remain unfazed.

 

If a consumer no matter what device they use can’t find what they’re looking for, then it’s a poor search experience for them. Conversions on any website are low if the user gives up as

they can’t find what they’re after. What may change is people’s patience with this, as we’re getting spoilt with ever-improving tech. We want to find things faster than ever before.  So the importance

So the importance of easy to navigate information is only going to grow.

 

Content will remain king (or queen – or just plain royalty) as it will always help your business to be relevant to what people need and are looking for. Specific content tailored to your local

area, your business and your products is a great opportunity for SMEs and start-ups to stand-out.

The consumer needs to know how your business benefits them. The clearer this is and the more variety there is to your message, the better.

 

In the SERPs the lines between organic and paid are blurring ever more.

Google has always been growing it’s paid offering and a recent SERP analysis has shown a significant increase in ads per query and ad space overall.

 

Now SEO will never die, so no need to start writing an article with that headline.

What will be needed more and more though is to strategically use paid and organic together to ensure your search visibility is optimised.

A potential scenario for 2018 could be that you create a useful guide connected to your business which starts ranking organically and which you then strategically boost via some paid ads.

Rather than having product-focused ads, it’s likely that content-based ads will dominate.

A mixture of product and content ads, all with their own purposes, are likely to be needed for overall success.

Not a new concept to marketing or advertising, but a new approach of using SEO and PPC in harmony.

 

what SEO trends of 2018 mean for SMEs and businesses

what SEO trends in 2018 mean icon

 

All in all SMEs and businesses need to be aware of what’s happening in SEO, PPC and the SERPs. This is because changes here all relate to how consumers are changing their habits.

What the SEO trends in 2018 mean for SMEs and businesses is to:

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking for some support with your SEO or website content, then give the integrated marketing agency with creative spark a call.

Or take a closer look at our SEO & PPC services here. 

Stay tuned on our blog for more marketing, design and digital updates.

stop being anti-social seminar

electric at leeds business week

This year’s Leeds Business Week ran from the 9th to the 12th October and for the first time, electric was part of the weeklong event.

Our Head of Digital, Steve, and Digital Marketing Manager, Sarah, held the seminar “Stop Being Anti-Social” on Tuesday the 10th October.

during the seminar we

So quite a busy schedule and we hope everyone who could make it enjoyed it.

here are some highlights from the event

We’ve got some live action shots of the event.

stop being anti-social seminar introduction slide

It begins …

 

signs of anti-social behaviour

one of the 4 anti-social signs

 

Steve at Stop being anti-social seminar

Steve wowing the audience

sarah at anti-social seminar

Sarah going through the electric approach

The audience in the obligatory photo. They were thrilled as you can tell:

stop being anti-social seminar audience picture

stop being anti-social audience pic. Thrilled!

After the QnA of the seminar, we then went to celebrate a job well-done. With a pizza party! How else do you celebrate?

pizza from Pizza Express

Pizza party time

teamwork

The preparation for the seminar was truly a team effort though. Everything from the presentation slides, our promo banner and new colourful business cards were all crucial for the success of the seminar. Plus the whole team was very supportive, while the seminar was being prepared, during the seminar itself and during the QnA session afterwards.

A big “Thank You!” for all the support!!

Also a big thanks to Yorkshire Mafia for hosting this annual business event and giving local businesses like us the opportunity to share ideas and know-how.

missed it? no problem

If you’re interested in how to “Stop being anti-social” or want some tips on optimising your social media output, then you can get in touch with us today either through our contact us page or via our social media channels:

Also, we’ll be making the chapters of our seminar available asap, so watch this space to hear all about creating an effective social media strategy.

what’s next for marketing?

The Festival of Marketing is fast approaching, so it’s a great time to consider what marketing has in store.

By looking at the status quo of marketing in 2017, I’ll explore what the future may hold for these trends and where marketing may be headed in 2018.

the future of content

No matter the content medium trends, what will remain a constant for content is to answer your audience’s questions and needs. If you’re not answering a question, then you’re not as relevant as you could be.

Whether you answer the question with an article, video, infographic, app or something completely different, as long as you’re answering questions and inspiring people you’re on the right track.

What the future does hold for content is how consumers prefer to engage with it.

virtual reality

According to Statista virtual reality will grow by 3,000% over the next few years. It’s predicted there will be 171 million users by 2018.

Currently, some of the big brands like Google and Samsung are using VR in isolation (channel-wise and platform-wise), but we can expect to see VR being integrated into overall marketing strategies in 2018.

The key focus in VR is naturally content. No consumer will want to engage with VR unless there’s a key reason. That is if VR stays as tech we use day to day. There is the danger of it being a novelty, and not adding anything meaningful (think of 4D – did smelling your movie add to the overall experience?).

There is the danger of it being a novelty, and not adding anything meaningful (think of 4D – did smelling your movie add to the overall experience?).

Rather than answer a question, VR focuses more on inspirational content and the consumer experience.

artificial intelligence

When talking about AI and marketing, a lot of people will think back to Facebook’s attempt of utilising AI in 2017. This resulted in Facebook shutting the robots down (because the robots weren’t meeting the goals of the project).

However, there are other more relevant ways we can use AI for marketing and content.

Predictive marketing is likely to be the term most associated with AI for marketers in 2018. This is the process of using AI to better segment your customer base with computers predicting potential interests and behaviours. This means you can send the right message at the right time to the right person much faster.

What predictive marketing will also mean for content is better, quicker access to vital consumer data. The AI system Watson from IBM is a key example of how AI is being used for market research.

What predictive marketing will also mean for content is more and quicker access to vital consumer data.

Content marketers love using data to confirm theories, ideas, and messages. Rightly so, as we as consumers like data-driven information.

the rise of advertainment

Advertainment is already in practice in 2017. What we’re likely to see in 2018 is more of the big brands getting behind this. I’m also expecting a good amount of smaller yet innovative brands adding their creativity to the mix.

If you aren’t familiar with the term “advertainment”, it’s the practice of interlinking entertainment with advertising.

The current most relevant example of this is Apple’s Ad for the iPhone 7:

‘The Rock X Siri Dominate The Day’.

The Rock’s natural charm carries much of the advert, but also the fact that the core message (“Make every day count and use tech like Siri to make this easier”) runs through the entertaining parts. Namely, The Rock completing a lifetime’s bucket list in just one day. Because he’s The Rock, what else did you expect?

In an entertaining manner, the advert answers the question of how Siri can help you organise your schedule – the key feature of Siri, of course.

At the time of writing, advertainment is associated with big budgets. However, the key to this medium is creativity.

The most creative content is usually developed when resources are in short supply. Utilising ‘less‘ to do ‘more’ is a key skill utilised by marketers. You can expect to see an increase of advertainment in use in 2018.

the future of social

Social media marketing is ever changing, especially when it comes to platform popularity. The big three used to be Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

While Twitter once led the way in social media best practice, 2017 hasn’t been a kind year.

Generation Z will also grow in influence in 2018. The oldest of this generation are entering the workforce meaning their significance in the market is increasing.

the social split

What these two facts have in common, in my opinion, is that social will become more fragmented across the generations.

This makes truly identifying and knowing your own audience even more relevant than ever before. For instance, a social media campaign purely focused on Generation Z using only Twitter and Facebook is less likely to be successful in 2018.

Snapchat and Instagram are the platforms of choice for this generation, while Generation Y is yet to fully embrace Snapchat.

2018 will be an interesting year of change for social media habits and messaging strategies.

video

A content medium for social, which is likely to only increase in 2018 is, of course, video. 2017 saw a significant increase in video sharing and engagement across social channels.

Live video streaming has grown in popularity and this is likely to continue in 2018. The increase in popularity hasn’t, however, been in the form of live event streaming as many expected, but in live hangouts.

The app Houseparty has attracted 1 million users so far and is likely to grow in significance with others trying to replicate its success.

Sharing experiences with multiple people at one time could be adapted by brands using social influencers in their marketing.

There’s potential to see more hangout style apps and reasons.

the future of business

An interesting article from Forbes proposes that rather than new marketing tactics, a new business model is needed.

The most widespread business model is currently: build / market / sell.

This is the most traditional approach to business.

A manufacturer who has taken the new business model to a competitive level is Tesla.

To launch, they used the model: market/ sell/ build.

While companies starting on Kickstarter have championed this model, the scale of Tesla’s success in a very product focused industry has got people taking more notice of this model.

Thanks to their market/sell/build approach, Tesla was able to sell four times as many cars as its closest competitor within 24 hours.

What seems to be mainly behind Tesla’s success was to market the customer experience instead of the product on its own.

Considering how content and social media trends both champion the consumer journey, with more experience-themed ideas coming into play than ever before, this new business model is likely to gain in popularity for 2018.

the future of consumer behaviour

While AI and VR will have an interesting impact on content marketing in 2018, another new technology likely to impact consumer behaviour is Sensory Reality.

Continuing to enhance a consumer’s experience of a brand, sensory reality will not only let you see and place a product in your home but let you feel, smell and sense said product.

The Reality Pods enable the consumer to engage with the product through all the different senses. It’s still a new technology and it’s yet to be seen if the pods can recreate the experience in the way consumers will expect. However, it further highlights the need for experience focused marketing.

However, it further highlights the need for experience focused marketing.

what will remain the same

Despite all the future trends for marketing, there are still key elements, which remain the same. As Mark Ritson points out in an article looking at digital marketing and marketing overall, the measurement of strategies will remain as ever before, namely: “(…) insight, creativity, positioning, engagement and, ultimately, effect”.

Marketing theories are interesting to explore, but at the end of the day, it’s the overall results that are behind successful marketing strategies.

Brands tailoring their strategies to their audiences and using a variety of communication channels- with different messages- tend to dominate.

Innovation, rather than replicating risk-free one-off plans, will remain at the heart of good marketing.

looking for a marketing agency?

If you’re looking for a marketing strategy that is tailored to your audience, then why not try the integrated marketing agency with creative spark?

Have a look at our marketing strategy service page and get in touch today.

marketing recap: september 2017

As a creative agency, electric is always on the lookout for exciting stories. We’ve decided to collect all the best and latest marketing news in one place.

Each month, we’ll highlight some great examples of creative thinking in marketing, design and digital development.

We’ve got an excellent range of stories to share with you, so let’s dive right in!

the woman out to crush Starbucks

creative agency september stories 1

Source: Wheelys

Three years ago, Maria De La Croix got rejected for a job at Starbucks because of her hair colour. A blow for anyone, but she didn’t take it lying down. In fact she took on Starbucks itself by creating Wheelys, her own business to rival the popular coffee chain.

In a new article on Wired, Maria discusses the immense rise of her business. People looking to operate their own mobile café can apply for their own cart, offering organic food and drink wherever they can pedal a bike. Their own explanation of their business model is: “What Uber did for taxis, we do for retail”.

Cafés with the Wheelys branding now operate in over 70 countries. She has also recently opened a new shop– Wheelys 247 for breakfast, lunch and snacks- in Shanghai, which boasts no staff through app-powered stores and a 24/7 operation.

Maria’s business hasn’t just succeeded because of a unique idea. It’s thrived thanks to a strong brand, which combines a bold, simple colour scheme with playful yet sincere copy.

a bright, bold railway redesign

creative agency september stories 2

Source: DesignWeek

For most people today, railways aren’t all that exciting. But on a design front, there’s always something to look forward to!

South Western Railway has recently unveiled a whole new branding for their trains. After rail operators FirstGroup and MTR won the contract to run trains in the region they decided to rebrand the company with sleek, minimalist visuals, as well as a cool blue and silver colour scheme.

With its businesslike font and subdued colours, the branding reminds us a little of British Rail’s branding in the 1970s. But make no mistake; this is very much a rebrand for the 21st century. The brand style projects an air of sobriety and professionalism.

the latest addition to the iphone family

creative agency september stories 3

Source: CNET

Apple’s iPhones have long been a symbol of quality and simplicity. We doubt anyone missed the new iPhone X announcement on the 12th of September, which boasts a range of features  new to the iPhone product line.

Owners of an iPhone X will take advantage of wireless charging, facial recognition, more screen space and a host of other improvements. A more exciting feature might be ‘animoji’; these are new, 3D emoji that can mirror your facial expressions.

If all these enhancements sound good, the price may not; prices start from $999 in the US when it launches this autumn. There’s also a little skepticism about the phone’s innovations. CNET wonders if ditching the home button will really make using the phone easier, while Engadget was left underwhelmed by the phone’s (admittedly slim) bezels when compared to Samsung’s Galaxy line.

Price, launch and features all sparked an active debate on social media. It’s yet to be seen if the iPhone X is the new must-have, or if Apple fans will be waiting for the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 plus.

Watch the original keynote on the Apple website.

colour and its power of persuasion

creative agency september stories 4

Every designer knows the importance of the right colour choice. However, this article we found from Marketing Week takes a more nuanced look at the idea. We think it’s a great read for any brands wanting to think about colour usage more deeply.

NatWest, Holiday Inn and Fortnum & Mason are held up as examples of intelligent colour usage. While NatWest uses its purple branding to stand out from its competitors, Holiday Inn uses green as a core colour to emphasise its brand values of safety and liveliness. Meanwhile, Fortnum & Mason uses a specific shade of turquoise as an instantly recognisable symbol of its business.

In the right creative agency hands, colour can act as a nifty shorthand for a business, crossing audiences and language barriers alike.

Don’t forget to check out the complete article in the link above.

a simple yet scary marketing campaign

creative agency september stories 5

Source: PR Examples

Sometimes the simplest approaches are the best. That’s certainly the case with this Australian marketing campaign for a horror film.

PR Examples reports that red balloons have been appearing over several road drains in Sydney. The solitary red balloon is the calling card of Pennywise, star of It; the new horror film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel – 27 years after the original film.

According to The Australian, this chilling marketing campaign was produced by Australian creative agency Mr Glasses. However, they were bound by financial and creative restrictions. There was only a small budget available, and Pennywise himself couldn’t appear in any of the promotional material.

Therefore, Mr Glasses honed in on one of It‘s most memorable elements; the red balloon that lures the film’s victims into peril. The result is a simple, elegant marketing campaign that creates a strong emotional response with minimal effort.

when a brand takes a hit

Ryanair Plane Taking Off

creative commons pic Ryanair plane

The PR disaster that Ryanair is currently going through shows once again that no matter your brand strength failing to deliver your services is the ultimate ‘No-No’. Though never a brand famous for its client services, Ryanair was popular enough with consumers as it did uphold its end of the bargain when it came to cheap flights. Data from YouGov’s BrandIndex has now revealed a significant decrease in Ryanair’s overall brand power. If there’s something we’ve learnt about marketing though, it’s not necessarily what kind of hit a brand takes in public opinion, but how it bounces back that counts.

when a brand bounces back

A brand often given as an example of taking a hit has previously been Morrisons. Thanks to stopping celebrity endorsements and putting staff at the heart of marketing plans, the former member of the old big 4 supermarket brands is now back in the picture. All adverts since the change have featured staff members rather than just actors and the message ‘Morrisons makes it’ has been consistent throughout channels. With Christmas fast approaching, this brand will be an interesting to keep an eye on.

We’re passionate about all things marketing, creative, digital and branding. If you are, too, and you’re looking for a creative agency to generate more business for you, then give us a call or get in touch to come meet us today.