We, as a creative design firm, have been given an amazing opportunity to cover the Beyond IoT 2019 event which is hosted by the Cork Institute of Technology’s research arm, Nimbus Research Centre along with major sponsor, SteriTrack. The event took place in the Cork’s state-of-the-art facility in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. It was fun to cover the event’s programme and to interview keynote speakers from across the globe covering their specific topics and expertise.
About the Event
The Beyond IoT (Beyond the Internet of Things) conference is an emerging brand that has managed to carve a niche segment that merges tech star-ups with investors in the space. The event has brought experts from Silicon Valley and have attracted large and small Irish businesses to discover new opportunities and potential partnerships. The speakers presented the latest on the horizon in areas such as IoT in space, Blockchain technology, cyber security, augmented & virtual reality, research mega trends, etc.
All who attended benefitted from the unique insights and can use that knowledge and apply it to their business models. It was very important to note as well the partnerships that can be formed between industry and academia through the technology gateway programme by Enterprise Ireland. This was particularly of extreme benefit to startups who have been granted free admission.
Sponsored by Irish-based multinationals as well as academic institutions, the event was a flying success with over 500 attendees through the door. The event organisers did an amazing job pulling this through and even exceed the success of the previous event.
All ‘hands-on-deck’ with the Xyno crew who ensured that all angles of the event have been artistically captured. The fun part was interviewing most of the speakers who flew in especially to Cork to present who were laid back and were very pleasant to engage with. The highlights video put together by our creative director can be viewed below.
We also had some opportunities for further exposure and to distribute some of our contact details. Branding strategies for companies is what we specialise in and seeing the effect of marketing and visual media to a growing company is truly rewarding.
5 Simple Tips when covering any event
Scope the event floor – it is really important that you know full well the final layout of the event on the day will be as you can prepare your routes and take your shots as non-intrusive as possible.
Prepare your gear – nothing worse than forgetting a lens or not having enough memory – get yourself multiple SD cards (64GB) to make sure you have more than enough.
Money Shots – plan your shots and have a list in mind of which kind you aim to capture. As photographers, we make sure all shots have great value in terms of its usability. Action shots that cover great emotion have a very short windows and quite hard to replicate non-organically so make sure you watch closely. Nature photographers come to mind.
Smell and look good – yes, you are a professional so you must look the part. Dress semi-casual and ensure that no BO emanates from you. Pack a number of mints as well for unexpected engagements.
Have a professional aura – be confident because you’re hired to do a specialised thing. You know what’s involved and own it. You’re good at it and you have experience. Events are places full of confident people – simply be one with the crowd.
All in all, the event was well-attended and much valuable material was generated for post-marketing and engagements. The crew was well-organised and knew their responsibilities for the day. It was a tremendous success on our end as well.
If you’re a business, you simply need a digital presence, that is how people of this age expect to find you when they look for you. The thing is, will they like what they’ll see? Contact us and we’ll make sure they do.
A Rebranding Story
The Creative Firm
As a creative design firm, we offer services that enhance the visual image of a company, personality, brand, etc. Recently, we have had the opportunity to offer a complete package full-redesign for a local company based in Cork, Ireland. I must say we simply love working on a blank canvas and our client gave us the go ahead to ‘do whatever you think is best’. These are the words that most if not all designers want to hear. This meant that the client placed a great trust in our ability as the designer, but it also raised the standard as we didn’t know what the expectation was going to be!
The pressure is on. Not as a time constraint but as the final product delivery; to create something aesthetically relevant, applying all that we know in relation to design and best practice. In this short piece, I’m happy to share with you some of the process and how we took it from point A to an ongoing point B. As a full re-brand, there are many aspects to it besides the visible company mark.
A company’s brand is the visual representation of what the company is about; their ethos, philosophy as well as their products and services. Placing this blank canvas on us was a challenge but in a very good way. We had full liberty – and we took a stab at it.
The company in question is PV Generation, a solar photovoltaic (PV) systems provider (I know very technological) and they transform business and residential premises into green energy consumers by kitting them with solar panels and energy management systems. A rebrand implies that they had an existing brand which they did, however, it was less than optimal. I could critique on how it wasn’t effective in the least, but I’ll hold off on that.
Now, how does a good graphic designer approach this? Well, what we did first was ask the client the question?
The Design Package
We wanted to know from the company’s perspective and what made them think of it?
In short, their response matched what we thought about their existing ‘brand’ and that was sufficient to kick-off our design approach.
As our client, they understood early on that this step was an investment and none of the stakeholders were sceptical or in need of convincing that rebranding is more than a new suit of clothes. This made it easier for us as the need to overcome reluctance was eliminated at the beginning.
We began our process. Armed with all relevant information, we had sufficient understanding what was required.
The Design Package
One word that should come hand-in-hand with branding identity is – consistency.
Typically, we think of company name, logo, tagline, colour scheme, marketing material designs, etc. when we hear the word branding identity, and you’d be right. Theses are definitely important elements that frames the structure and strategy of delivering a brand. However, these are not the brand. The brand is the company’s reputation and their visibility not their logo or name.
Their brand as a company is the reputation they had built up by delivering good and quality work. PV Generation’s reputation preceded them and our job was to translate that visually.
The full package proposal included:
Web design & Development
Social Media Presence
Engagements and Promotion
Van graphics design
This list crudely outlines the main deliverables however, the work to undertake this was wide and varied. Each aspect warrant a whole book on its own! We applied the principles of design as well as the technical know-how to implement it and that allows us to deliver a successful rebrand.
All in all, our client was well-pleased with what we came up with. It must be said though, that this partnership was made seamlessly possible because the pros were left to do what they do best. There was always room for discussion and inputs. But these weren’t your ‘pretend creative director’ type who would constantly watch over your shoulder and micro-managing the design.
What does good design offer you as a business?
Design and especially good design is much more than just aesthetics. Far more than well-placed graphics, layout and typography. More than just an individual’s superficial decoration. There are many who do not appreciate the value a good design provides (frankly, to their detriment). I will try to expand on some of the aspects that stack up and offer real value.
Simplify complex ideas
Your business model may be complicated, your service offering may be too technical for most to understand or bother to understand, and many of your employees may even struggle to describe what they do and how the work train operates. These can indeed be simplified through effective design. There are many languages but everyone could understand an image. As a business you want wide coverage exposure. It is only a good thing that anyone and everyone should identify your business and what you offer.
Through a series of well-designed visual compositions through multiple media outlets. In other words, a well-implemented branding strategy. A great example of this is Tesla. They've achieved this by simply being relevant - by virtue of being in the right place at the right time. Their visual branding convey exactly that.
Extract narratives from data – tangible metrics from abstract ideas
Every business started off somewhere, sometime ago, thus they have a narrative, a theme that conveys what they, as a company is all about. For effective story-telling, great design must be responsible and someone designed it. A story can be portrayed in many ways and from different angles, hence an ideal vantage point is obtained by one who has a great eye and a perspective that’s unique and meaningful. This, in a way describes great design. There is a plethora of ideas and choosing the select few, arranged effectively can mean the difference between an unforgettable brand or an aesthetically tacky article.
Emotional connections to your target audience
A well-told story therefore, makes connections – human, emotional connections that lasts. A great quote that I wish I came up with (a personal favorite);
“Design to Express not to Impress”
This is what many designers aspire to, to promote individuality, something that screams, “I have something to offer”. Of course, applied in the business platform, it is the exact same. So many loud voices, so many characters and personalities that proliferate the world, the online world. With most humans (at least in the West) have screens; the Internet really is your oyster. How does one stand out? Simply be better. Well, what’s better? Better looking? Better placed? Better paid? Yes, all of the above and more if you can help it. Every little edge counts.
In reality, anyone has the ability to connect with someone else, the crux of it however, is how many? The more you connect with, the more well-known you become, the more opportunities you have to substantiate yourself. But once you make that connection, you, as a business have acquired something truly valuable. Revenue streams? In part, yes, but also prestige, an embedded icon into the subconscious of the masses, a celebrity status. Good design can do this for you – believe it or not. So, do not sell yourself short.
Whether your business is plumbing or offering IoT solutions, you can mark yourself as the best in your game and let others now it. A clashing color scheme can ruin it for you. Avoid this by getting in touch with a professional who has a track record. One whose previous clients have experienced success through a re-brand. The right design agency can make or break it for you.
6 other skills and traits designers must have to deliver quality and effective designs
Many may argue that the work produced in the creative design industry is highly subjective and that there isn’t really any real metric on how ‘good’ a design is other than what is aesthetically pleasing.
This is not true in the slightest, and many, I dare say, would be ignorant to the engineering work that’s inputted in many compositions and designs. Good designers have a systematic approach (or should have anyway) to any problem scope given and although it cannot be denied that inspirations and natural artistic abilities and talents give certain advantages, these alone cannot generate effective design work that will help businesses improve.
An effective designer therefore, must be capable of many things in order to provide a comprehensive solution for their client requirements. Most businesses are not even aware about areas where they could have an edge over their competitors. So here are 6 capabilities and traits a designer must have that would be invaluable in providing clients a competitive advantage in terms of their visual design requirements:
1. A designer must be a good problem solver
Every design objective is a problem to be solved. There’s a lot to be said about inquisitive minds. Granted that it can be addressed in many ways, some solutions can definitely be more effective than others. It is not as simple as producing a poster design for example, to a client that need some advertising around their latest product. The key is to identify the fundamental problem, develop a persona/s around the target audience, begin to think like them and eventually, you'll know exactly what they want. Only then, can you pick up your design tools and begin 'messing around' the canvas.
“You can’t solve a problem if you don’t do your homework.”
2. A designer must be an effective researcher
To tackle any problem, one needs to understand the problem and any significant level of depth of knowledge will always require some form of research activity. You can’t solve a problem if you don’t do your homework. Asking the ‘right’ questions is a major step to finding the ‘right’ answers. The questions themselves need to be relevant and a good way of validating whether it is or not is to always ask ‘why?’ This allows the designer to probe deeper into the problem and will give insight to a possible approach – eventually an effective solution. While design research can be very technical, it is still primarily a qualitative or subjective activity. Research cannot guarantee success but it can however, predict and influence a project’s success. A trait that must come hand-in-hand with this is patience, relentless in pursuit of a satisfactory answer.
3. A good communicator
Especially in the visual domain, we know that all finished design work aims to communicate something. I don’t think anyone denies that. The question rather is; ‘how well this piece of composition or layout convey the message its intended to carry?’ To answer this, another question must be asked; ‘to whom does this piece of design work is communicating to?’ which ultimately leads to the essential aspect of understanding your audience. Knowing who your target audience is critical in order to present something that will catch not only their attention but also generate interest. In a proliferated and busy marketplace, this is a key differentiating factor. A good design will always resonate to the audience it was meant for. Consistently done well and your client is on it’s way to establishing itself as a ‘necessary brand’. Communication not only apply to the finished design work but also during the design process - internal communication between the designer and the client. Some platforms include; outlining concept and supporting rationale to stakeholders and partners. This creates transparency and mitigates perception of risk. Good communication is an essential ingredient to be a master of your art.
4. Technically savvy
In today’s world, where traditional ways of designing are slowly being phased out; a much-accelerated way is through the use of software tools. A good designer will not amateurly open Adobe Photoshop and begin ‘messing around’ with its functions to improve an image – not really being sure about how it will turn out. A good designer will use the tool as an extension of oneself to achieve a specific outcome based on the vision developed through extensive research and not simply ‘hoping for the best’. There is a myriad of software available to designers – most are optimised to what has become standard by way of user intuitive. Take time to learn as many of these tools and overcoming these learning curves will sure to net you with opportunities and more challenging (and rewarding), worthwhile projects. Those who do not invest in knowing these tools will simply not be able to compete with those who spent a lot of time familiarizing themselves with the whole software suite.
5. Be focused
Being distracted can mean the difference between an excellent directed composition and a sloppy layout. Consistently riding the momentum (you know what I mean about this) can increase focus and your chances of acquiring inspiration will also go up. Also, having a set of objectives helps you to resume on any leftover work from the weekend. Finish a job from start to finish if you can, don’t be sparse about your tasks and activities. Coffee, for most people is a great mental agitator
I listed only a handful of essential skills and traits of many in the arsenal of a good designer/ creative. Some of these can be identified pretty early on and can be refined over time, eventually and inevitably reaching 'pro' level. As a summary, pursue what you want and you become proficient in anything you do often.
I'm sure there are more just as invaluable 'must-have' skills and traits. Comment below and teach me something new.
Why you need a design custom tailored to your business identity
It is often said by many businesses that developing a brand strategy can be one of the most difficult steps in the marketing plan process. I previously talked about the importance of brand and why it should be considered very early on in the business development. After all, once you’ve successfully grounded this major step, your brand identity will be communicated repeatedly throughout the lifetime of your business in more effective ways than one.
It is crucial therefore, to decide on how you want your business to be perceived and experienced in the marketplace as this will have effect on your customers as what is known as emotional impact. Let me flesh that one out a small bit; your customers need to connect with you in an emotional level, whether your brand is associated with excellent customer care or high quality or that extra mile you are willing to take. However, it can also be associated negatively which can stick far longer than any positive aspects in memory. How often has anyone bought a car for example?, not because of the car itself but because the accommodating salesman whose ethos represents that of the company he or she works for. A brand strategy certainly helps connect that experience with their ethos.
Okay, so now that we’ve established that a company’s brand can have significant emotional impact, ‘how do I develop my own one that’s effective long-term?’, you might be asking. You certainly can do that by knowing exactly what your business is all about. What I mean is that you should have a clear ‘manifesto’ that is the source of your objectives and defines your purpose. You, as a business owner, have surely ventured in this business direction because of what you can offer and having a unique way of delivering that.
Leave it to the Pros – if you want to avoid the cons
The next thing you should do is to leave the visual design work to the professionals. If you do not have any graphic design background or any clue about how to use the tools that can achieve it, dabbling is one of the worst things you can do. I’ll tell you at least two reasons; one, your time can be better used in activities that you know best to do and that is your core business. For those who might be hesitant in allocating initial capital on a branding strategy, trust me, you will lose much more if you choose to do it yourself. Focus on your business and the well-designed brand can offset the cost later on and have a great return-on-investment. It will save time and time is money. The second reason is, having a designer can mean having a mirror, a feedback provider that will ask fundamental questions which will compel real answers relevant to your business growth. This kind of exercise can be invaluable in terms of learning which paves way to the evolution of your business. The true value generated from this ‘brainstorming’ environment if you like, comes not in the form of just good visual graphics and ‘slick’ platforms at the end but also gaining a better understanding of the road map to success and of course, high revenues.
Find a good design company
A custom-tailored, branding design will sure to shape not only the visual aspect of your business identity but in that process, achieve far more long-term benefits. Of course, most of what I just said is subject to partnering with not only a competent creative design firm, but a one that has a willingness to learn and one that values their client.
We as a creative design firm, not only will we produce aesthetically and visually pleasing graphics, the development of the brand itself would have undergone extensive research on our part as the designer, we also position ourselves in a consultative role by learning through your business objectives, your target market, what’s effective communication and other unique traits of your chosen business area. A successful partnership therefore, does not end in a project end-date but rather continue to provide strategic services which benefits both parties.
Why Startups need Branding Identity
What digital branding isn’t
Digital Branding isn’t all about visual identity, although it must not be overlooked. After all, this is what the consumer first interfaces with. It creates a perception of what you as a company is all about; the product or service your business revolves in as well as what your whole ethos is all about.
Start-up companies aren't really companies - well at least not yet, maybe. It's more of an experiment, a project that is teetering on a thin rope between potential success and never taking off. According to Vitaly Golomb, a venture capitalist, serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker and author, the key activities of the company all takes place in the first years of its inception which happens at a rather fast pace. However, I think an important aspect of this is the visual identity of the core idea which could become a key player in its own niche market. The product or service must be the primary driver for the start-up's incorporation. After all, it's key offering is what determine the market share and therefore further business development which really is the ultimate goal of a company. Therefore, in the midst of all the other important activities, be it product/ technology development, inventory, ideation, strategizing, etc., do not neglect the visual counterpart of what you, even as a start-up, represents in this visual, online, marketing saturated world. In other words, consider a branding identity strategy during the early stages.
Why a brand?
A brand is more than just artistic logo and typography. More than colours and creative composition. It's a company's identity and it should communicate to the world the very purpose of the company's existence. People do not remember people's faces, well, not as well as its brand. Unless of course your brand is your face! The brand carries what you offer to the market world. It is the front of what you as a start-up is proposing and a well-designed brand conveys what your company is all about. The ideal end goal is for your brand to be remembered and well-associated with success. This why some brands are never changed, some are sold and bought for millions. The true value of your company can be reflected in the value is the customers’ perception of your visual brand. If a start-up's unique offering has potential market value, then it must have its visual counterpart. The earlier this is established in the process, the better and this does not need to cost a lot. It does, however, need to be well-designed. Many good designers need to have extensive knowledge on the subject in order to produce a work of art that has been engineered to represent the company effectively. A lot goes into designing a brand. According to Alina Wheeler, author of Designing Brand Identity, "the brand identity process demands a combination of investigation, strategic thinking, design excellence and project management skills"
For an example of a good branding design, click here.