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Happy New Year

January 3, 2017

OK, 2017 is now officially three days old, so maybe we’re a bit late with our well wishes. But, for the first time in a long time, we actually afforded ourselves a break over Christmas and New Year. Computers were switched off on Christmas Eve and have only been turned on again today, so for us, it’s still OK to wish family, clients and friends a very…

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We’re gearing up here for a busy start to the year. As well as a number of gorgeous projects we are still working on, we have some exciting meetings coming up with potential clients for new design work. We also need to get cracking on updating our own website as we have some beauties to add there, which went live just before Christmas.

We’re also planning a bit of an adventure ourselves. Although design work will carry on as normal, we’re having a relocation to sunnier climes – imagine design meetings around a swimming pool 🙂

So, we do genuinely wish you a very happy new year and hope that your dreams – design and otherwise – happen for you in 2017. If you would like to discuss a design project with us, we’d love to hear from you…

 

Moving On…

December 20, 2016

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Not us, not just yet. There’s still a few hurdles to get over before our clients are having design meetings around a swimming pool 😉

No, we’ve had a bit of professional moving on. We take massive pride in the fact that we forge long term relationships with clients and that much of our design work is with ongoing, long-standing clients. But – and we’re very realistic and pragmatic about this – not every relationship lasts.

Some things just simply don’t work – call it a clash of styles/personalities/views, if you like. These tend to be the relationships that we think both parties – us and them – benefit from, in terms of the break…

Sometimes circumstances just change. People take a different direction and what we once designed, no longer fits with what they are now doing.

Sometimes, people just go off you and your way of working. Some people – even though we make our circumstances and our ways of working VERY clear, right from the outset – seem to think that we’ll do things differently for them. We are flexible and we do try to be accommodating, but we don’t like being taken advantage of. And when some people realise this, they seem to go right off us. Funny that…

Sometimes, it’s just the natural way of things. People do move on.

So, if you have been a client of ours and have moved on, we wish you well. We wish you well with your new designers, or with your new direction. But mostly, we want to let you know that whatever the reason for your moving on, you have been a big part of what we do, and we wish you well in the future.

Winter Comfort Food – Italian Style

December 20, 2016

I’m not one for spending ages in the kitchen, creating complicated dishes that use every pan in the cupboards. I much more prefer cooking when everything can be chucked into one pan and left to get on with itself. And, hey presto – here’s one such tried and tested dish. Easy-peasy, winter warming, healthy (it’s got cherry tomatoes in it!) and proper Italian. Here goes – Fried Gnocchi with Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes and Basil.

  • 1 packet vacuum-packed gnocchi
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 25g butter
  • a few handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 ball mozzarella cheese
  • handful basil leaves
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

It’s so simple and easy, but pretty delicious. Give it a whirl. All you need to do is boil the gnocchi for a couple of minutes, drain well and then add to a pan with heated olive oil. The trick is to get the gnocchi toasted on the outside, so try to resist the temptation to stir and prod. Just them toast away. After 10-15 mins, chuck in halved cherry tomatoes and torn up mozzarella and plenty of black pepper and just sit back and watch the cheese ooze around the gnocchi and tomatoes. Before serving, roughly chop/cut your basil leaves and there you have it. Italy on a plate.

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Now, if I can just persuade Azzurro to do this, I won’t even need to wash up 😉

 

Life Design Plans…

December 12, 2016

planningWishing is a good thing to do, but you have to get serious at some point, and start turning those wishes into plans and goals and actions.

We’ve spent a long time wishing we could live somewhere that was a bit slower paced. And hot and sunny. Pretty soon that wish is going to become a reality, so we are now planning, big time. We’re especially planning when it comes to our business and our clients.

We’re super lucky that we have built a business which we can carry on with, from almost anywhere. Many of our clients, we’ve never met face to face because of geographical distance and so we see few reasons why we can’t continue doing what we love. Some clients, since we broke the news about moving, have fallen away. Whether they would have gone anyway, we don’t know, but it happens. Some weren’t surprising. Some were. But, things happen for a reason and we wish them well with their new designers. We’re much more concerned with clients who seem completely unfazed by our news – and can only see the positives. It’s for these clients – probably YOU, if you are reading this – that we are planning and making sure that as far as possible, it is business as usual.

However, this also a bit of a plea. There may well be times, in the coming months, when you feel frustrated because we are not acting as quickly as you might want us to. You might feel frustrated because you feel that things are not moving quickly enough with your design work. But please know in advance, this will not be because we’ve taken our eyes off the ball, or because our heads have been turned by a “new” life. It will be due to moving our belongings, grappling with the intricacies of the Croatian utility companies so we have the necessary electricity, broadband etc to carry on our business, and becoming acquainted with new ways of doing things which currently come naturally.

It may also be due to the fact that there are only two of us – one communicating with clients, the other designing full time – and we may well be working on someone else’s project. And don’t forget, at times, that “someone else” will also be you, in someone else’s eyes. We don’t want to complicate things by taking on other people, so please remember that there are only two of us and we sometimes need to switch off. Not often, but sometimes – and this is why we are planning furiously. We want to have systems in place, so we don’t let you down. Sometimes, though, you will probably feel that we are, and so we apologise in advance. And get on with planning and designing…

 

Aureum Events : Planning For Perfection //Design//

December 12, 2016

Aureum Events is a company specialising in venue dressing – and predominantly the dressing of venues for weddings. Already with a website and a logo, the owner, Jill, felt that it was time to shift up the gears and present a more cohesive brand, with a website much more reflective of the services and products and design styling expertise being offered.

Jill had a very clear vision for her new website and branding – classic, timeless, unfussy, elegant – meaning that very quickly we were able to agree on concepts and designs. Taking the connotations of gold in the name – an aureus was a golden Roman coin – we used this as our initial inspiration to recraft the logo. The font Arno Pro Display was used, as it was felt this exuded the desired “feel”, coupled with the new strapline of “Planning For Perfection”.

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For the website, we kept colour to a minimum, desaturating most imagery so that it it complemented, rather than clashed with the new logo. Rotational splash images on the homepage add variety for the visitor…

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New business cards were printed on double ply dark charcoal card, with the logo foil blocked. A little bit of luxury.

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An A4 folded brochure was also designed, to be given out to potential brides and grooms and clients at wedding fair events and corporate pitches. The printing details of this too, were carefully considered, and the final brochure was printed on a soft velvet finish. Again, a little luxurious touch…

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We’re now looking forward to working with Aureum Events on the next phase of their website. Watch this space…

 

Why We Don’t Do Formal Networking

November 23, 2016

This blog is about US, as a company. Not about YOU. It’s not a criticism or an attack. It’s simply to explain, once and for all, why we decline every single formal network meeting invitation that is extended to us. If these meetings work for you and you increase your client base and get more business, that’s brilliant. If you are motivated enough to get out of your cosy, warm bed for a breakfast meeting in a conference room, good on you. But I know where I’d rather be. And here’s why…

Apart from our own social media networks, we don’t overtly advertise our design business. We have spent a good few years developing and getting to know the most amazing client base – and through word of mouth and personal recommendations, they help us. Through informal networking.

People who approach us, have already done their homework. They’ve read our blogs, they’ve spoken to other clients, they’ve checked out our work, they’ve read our tweets and Facebooks posts. And so, by the time they email, or phone us, we figure they already know a fair bit about us and have sufficiently liked what they’ve seen/heard, to get in touch. We like people who do their homework – they tend to be stayers, because there’s already a connection.

And this is where formal networking leaves me cold. I don’t want to spend time basically doing a series of mini-presentations and pitches, thinly veiled as “conversations”, while people weigh me up and make judgments. I don’t want to spend time, that we can ill-afford due to current work commitments, listening to people telling me about the kind of design work or website they want, knowing full well, we’re not going to be interested. We don’t tender or pitch for work against other agencies – it’s a not a world we want to have anything to do with. We do fantastic design, are nice people and treat our clients with respect. That’s our pitch, but I can’t imagine that going down too well in a presentation. So, we don’t do it this way.

I’m sure we are viewed as a bit strange – there’s a networking meeting seemingly every day, and if we were to believe the organisers, these are the ONLY way to get new business.

Rubbish.

Be the best you can be at what you do, and new business will be generated. Not all clients stay with us – some decide on other paths, but this still doesn’t make us pull our suits* on and grab our business cards and go network. And do you know why? Because when one door closes, another always opens.

And, besides, we’re luckily far too busy actually designing for clients, to be networking with people whose business, if the truth be told, we probably don’t want. And who probably don’t want us to do their design. For us, a waste of time all round.

And it seems we’re not alone in this thinking.

*If you’ve done your homework, you’ll know that neither of us possess anything resembling a suit.

The Re-Branding of Wheeldon Opticians

November 3, 2016

Our clients at Wheeldon Opticians approached us to develop a cohesive brand for the company and to redesign their website, to help position them more highly in the competitive market place. As the company grew over the years, they acquired additional premises – and signage developed too, but meaning that none of the premises were branded the same. When James, the owner, came to us it was definitely time for a complete overhaul – and we were delighted that he was willing to place his faith in us, as designers.

Anyone who is familiar with our design, knows that our mantra is “less is more”. Copy on a website is crucial – people need information and good copy is good for SEO. But, too much copy can be detrimental, so we like to strike a balance. We want our websites to be the “shop front” – giving sufficient information for people to browse, but then compelling them to contact the business if they want to know. Like any well-thought out, and well-considered shop front, visuals are key, as we are, by nature, lookers. We like to look at things – and often if we like what we see, we’re more inclined to react positively.

The branding was the first part of the project to be tackled. As in all cases, we developed a number of ideas and discussed these with our client, enabling him to be a part of the process – as a client, your brand is all about YOU, not us, so why would we not include you? It was agreed, that as the branding had been a bit confused previously, we needed something very clear, something very recognisable. Dare we say something which would be a little bit on the iconic side? And, our “W” was born…

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Very quickly, all three sites – West Didsbury, Cheadle and Wilmslow – had brand new signage installed, immediately creating that cohesive brand. We worked with our colleagues at Cactus Design on this phase of the project.

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As previously stated, we agreed with our client that the we did not need to have reams of medical/optometry information on the website. Rather, it was agreed that this would be discussed personally, with patients. Instead, we decided to focus on what everyone really wants to know:

  • Who We Are
  • What We Do
  • How We Do It

It was also decided that we’d include information about the history and heritage of Wheeldon Opticians, going back to Richard Wheeldon who opened his chemist shop on Burton Road selling “Spectacles to suit all sights” in 1896. We all love a bit of human interest – and we felt that this section added warmth to the website, as well as combining the heritage with the contemporary.

Stationery and business card followed, as well as the rebranding of social media accounts.

For greater variety of interest – and because Wheeldon Opticians had some really funky product promo shots – we use an image rotate on the homepage, meaning that each time someone visited, a new image would appear.

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We think we ticked the boxes for the brief, and thankfully, our client seems to be super pleased with his new look…

In 2015 I reached “Company re-brand” on my to-do list. I was looking for a new identity, new website, signage and stationery, to bring more of a uniform look to my business. To make something work across these different areas was beyond me on my own. I did research into who local businesses had sourced to help them, and all roads led back to We Are Life.  After an initial meeting with Pete and Helen I knew I had made the correct choice. It was a rewarding experience for me, they listened and suggested in just the right amounts, brought the element of design and creativity I was after. I am delighted with the results and would recommend them to anyone.

If you too are looking to rebrand, or loooking for a design agency who will deliver your vision, drop us a line. It could be the start of something very beautiful…