We are once again hosting our branding workshop. This FREE brand seminar/workshop takes place on the 14th June. Starting at 8:45am and running until 11:30am. The workshop is a great opportunity to look at your brand and see how you are identifying your customers. There is also a chance to meet some new people and network. You will have the opportunity to discuss each others experiences to aid in developing new ways of expressing and thinking about your brand.
If you are interested in booking a place on the brand seminar please press above to register. Or if you wish to talk to us now about your branding issues then please email Julian Sykes on email@example.com.
We hope to see you all very soon.
The development of a fun inquisitive culture within a small agency is a hard thing to juggle. Over the last eight years we have gone from setting up a company with a few clients and lots of time on our hands, to gaining clients and having less and less time on our hands. This is great as a company but the issue of time and space to think and create is at risk of being forgotten. We have been guilty of it within Hoffi on a number of occasions. So how do small agencies with large work loads make time for research, discovery and perspective?
In short it is not easy but here are a few pointers.
1. Eat Lunch away from your desk.
During the years we had slowly become drawn into the desk eating mentality of lunch. Each day had slowly made us sit at the desk consuming content off sites such as BBC and Guardian. But what we realised was it had stopped from actually doing what lunch is for. Having a break from work and socialising with each other. In more recent times we have made a conscious effort to get away from the computer and play some games over lunch we have a league and we are also socialising.
2. Create joint projects and try and make together.
We have always done this however more recently due to the workload it has taken a bit of a back seat. So once again we have started to spread our wings and start a project that we are all working on. This is great to bring people together, as well as allowing us to experiment and try things out that we preach.
3. Bring in new people and share space.
This year we have had a number of changes within the studio. For a long time we have felt that it would be good to increase our offer however for us as a branding company we have never wanted to dilute our offer. To this end we have been looking for companies that we can genuinely partner with. After many years of creating some strong associations we have also found that some companies do not have the same vision as us so this year we have welcomed yello brick into the studio. The diversity has already allowed us to work together on a number of projects and the general feel within the studio is very different.
4. Reward investigation.
This is the hardest thing to do. We have been primed to understand work as attendance and amount of time put in, and to some extent this is correct if you look at the 10,000 hour theory from Malcolm Gladwell. However the issue here is trust and also to realise that by people experimenting and then providing a culture that allows people to share things they have found, seen or even experienced is a great opportunity to learn and develop as individuals as well as a company.
5. Interrupt often
So this one I stole form Pervasive Media Studio, but then realised that we have always done this by how we have positioned the studio. We have always sat on the same desk even from the early days. It has always allowed us to make eye contact with each other and ultimately allowed people to ask questions and interrupt. There are many occasions that we over hear each other and add something to that conversation a perspective or viewpoint even an experience or story. This allows our work to be stronger but also the culture of allowing people to interrupt is also very important.
Hope some of these point have struck accord
*If I am honest I probably beat Andrew as much as he beats me in FIFA.
A couple of months back I was asked to be a guest blogger for Empower SVS. I must admit we were all a bit taken aback as I'm not the most vocal blogger within Hoffi. I thought about it for a few days and then thought why not, its a good excuse to kick myself and write a little more. Yesterday was my big debut with my first post being published...
A few days ago I found myself needing to buy some software from the Apple website. I'd already tried the Apple store in Cardiff, but because the software was now out of date the only way I could purchase a copy was online. Unfortunately, following a previous experience with buying from Apple online I assumed that another bad experience was ahead of me... Read the full post
In early 2012 we began a conversation with National Theatre Wales' communications team covering the pitfalls of their first website and how their audience and expectations have developed since they formed in 2009. Most of our informal chats surrounded improving website accessibility and introducing the Welsh language into the site, which remained core throughout our redesign process. There was however one major factor that we didn't foresee when we first developed their website in 2009, which was how people were accessing the site now 3 years on.
In just three years the amount of people accessing the site on mobile devices had jumped to 30%, including both phones and tablet computers. Its a little crazy looking back how technology has changed since 2009, just thinking about Apple's 1st generation iPad which launched in 2010 and now we're on the 4th with countless other brands following. It was inevitable that any modifications to the existing National Theatre Wales site needed to respond to this change and allow users access to content on any device.
A good starting point for us was to squeeze a large number of National Theatre Wales' people into our space and hold a workshop, developing ideas of what they wanted as individuals and collectively as a company. Several hours, three large blackboards and countless post-its later and we began to get a picture of the new site. Planning a website on this scale was a first for us, but I think it worked really well: being able to understand and interpret what is needed with a group of users was brilliant. This collaborative process continued throughout the redevelopment process by prototyping navigation trials and developing a beta version of the site that could be tested and changed by the team.
This rapid development allowed us to test the user experience as the build took place, whilst working closely with National Theatre Wales to develop additional ways to interact with their content. Giving us insight to develop pages for individuals using pools of visually rich images, listings for quick access and implementation of the Google Maps API to show the true spread of National Theatre Wales' shows and community members.
The website itself isn't that far away from the original produced in 2009, with the core structure begin identical. Ok, it looks a little different, but the thought process surrounding the new site, its users and how they will access content has gone far beyond what was originally envisaged in those early accessibility and Welsh language discussions.
What's On - Screenshot
#Tonypandemonium - Screenshot
#Tonypandemonium Writer Rachel Trezise - Screenshot
Looking to understand your customers online? Not sure about how you can develop your online profile? Why not book a place at our next Online development workshop and seminar...
Presented by Hoffi's Brands Director, Julian Sykes. Hoffi's Online workshop is perfect for developing an understanding of how online platforms and tools, can help in creating new offers for your brand and company.
During the morning Julian will discuss examples of what online strategies are being used, how this coupled with having a good brand is valuable for your business. Covering what the key ingredients of these projects, concentrating on how to use your brand to position itself in the marketplace.
8.45 - 9.00 Networking and refreshments.
9.00 - 9.30 Understanding how online platforms are being used to develop services and sales.
9.30 - 10.00 Balancing your offer and Identifying your customer.
10.00 - 10.15 Networking and refreshments.
10.15 - 11.00 Workshop: Pick a platform and spread the word.
11.00 - 11.30 Networking and questions.
I'm not sure where it all came from, but I woke up one morning and thought, today i'm going to make some macaroons. Didn't give it a second thought that macaroons are very difficult to make or that i'm as good as baking as I am at football (crap by the way)
So thanks to Mary Berry I attempted my first batch, which to be fair went better than expected, but they weren't as smooth as they should be, the colour was a bit pale and the 'feet' (the fluffy bit) was blowing out. See below:
So a bit or research on the texture and I found out that even though the ground almonds you buy are very fine, they need to be sieved and processed further to get a smoother finish. This did help the texture, but it's still not as smooth as it should be. Colour was still a problem though, it was still very pale, as you can see in the below pictures they go in quite pink but come out pale. The feet are still blowing out though, so two problems to tackle
Ok, so liquid food colouring is a no no, it thins our the mixture a bit but more importantly it really fades when cooking. The solution? gel food paste, it's very thick so doesn't thin the mixture out and keeps it colour when cooking, problem solved. Next problem, the feet, so more research and the heat in the oven is crucial and I don't trust my oven so an oven thermometer was purchased. Turns out my oven is about 10 - 20 degrees out!, so I have the perfect temperature, but what else? I found that I should be using two sheets of parchment paper to insulate the bottom of the macaroons, this stops them cooking to quick and causing the blow out of the feet! Things are looking up now, but I still need to get the mixture smoother and the right consistency, I think this is to do with the eggs. I have read that there is an ageing process to the egg whites and that you should separate them out and leave them in an air tight container for 2 days before mixing as fresh egg whites are not the best for mixing? Below are the latest efforts, I will be carrying on with experimenting to get them perfect!
Over the last three months we have been working with NTW to build on their online presence and look to develop the destination website. Since we started working with NTW a lot of technological developments have taken place. Just looking at the analytics for the site and how they have changed really shows how differently people are consuming online services. The tablet and also the mobile have all seen huge growth in terms of viewing the NTW website.
With this in mind we are developing a responsive site that will adapt depending on the device. We decided this was the best approach for NTW for a number of reasons. We really believe that the mobile experience and desktop experience are one in the same. Meaning that with todays networked platforms you dont want to follow a link to a specific article and come to realise due to them having a mobile version of their website it throws you onto the homepage.
We also realise there is a really interesting development when it comes to thinking about what information should be present on a mobile experience compared to desktop. I think originally it was seen that the mobile version should be a lite version of the desktop, however we believe this is changing. With higher resolutions and mobiles becoming powerful mini PC's the lite version are becoming annoying. We want to browse and consume content on these devices and not just get a lite version of the experience. An example for me is the use of facebook. I think on nearly every occasion I have scrolled down from the mobile experience to turn it onto the desktop version.
all of this thinking really revolves around a slight shift in the thinking about websites and how they are viewed. In someways I think the idea of a website is a problem of how they were first created. A space to advertise yourself or your company. It was still very much about the traditional view centred around advertising one of interruption and one - to many techniques created by the ad men made famous by the recent Mad Men television show. As the internet has matured the usage of it is also developing. The idea of websites being services and aiding in information, developing conversations and relationships with customers are all becoming key features of websites.
This work is developed through a really interesting mixture of the companies vision and that of the customer and what they want. Never has the line "the customer is always right" more applicable. We have therefore developed the NTW service by trying to understand the user of the site and understand the tasks that they want to do on the service. We also want to look at the priority of these tasks and how many different customers or users NTW has. We have also imposed a different approach to the actual build of the site with us delivering the site at a much earlier stage than we would normally. The site has been growing and developing as we go but NTW have been involved in this growth. We feel this iterative approach has allowed the understanding of choices and us to develop as we go as actually being a quicker way of working on the project. It has also allowed NTW to understand and develop content at a much earlier stage which we hope in time will be created for the online service and so be rich online content.
We look forward to launching this in the new year so watch this space and let us know what you think.
We (Rebekka and I) bought our first three hens back in the summer of 2011 after I lovingly built a coop from scraps of wood, Carwyn and Julian tried to convince people I bought it from B&Q, but at least I know different. Now 15 months on the coop has expanded and our family of hens have grown to 9, accompanied by a cheeky little Cockerel called Yoda. We've always been big believers in experience at Hoffi, but being the tech/geek I'm always a little quieter than both Carwyn and Julian; preferring the slow life outside of office hours. And keeping chickens was, I think the perfect choice.
Earlier this year we thought it would be a nice idea to rear our own hen's, but without a Cockerel the only choice we had was to purchase chicks that were a few days old, so in mid March 2012 we did just that buying 3 Buff Sussex chicks that were then about 4 days old. The following few weeks were interesting, with the chicks at home in a wooden box, occasionally treating them to a spot of orienteering on our living room floor. Within three weeks they had grown enough to escape the box and explore at will: it was time for them to venture outside.
More coop building was to follow, this time making use of some dismantled pallets to create a smaller holding coop which became their home for the next 3 months. As they grew we soon came to realise that two of the chicks were hens and we had one cockerel, a big decision followed. To kill or not to kill that was the question, it was also the first time I'd every considered killing a living creature larger than a slug, but for me keeping chickens was different to a dog or cat. They are obviously a source of food, whether it be for eggs or meat. So, six months after we brought the chicks home, I slaughtered, plucked and gutted my first chicken. It wasn't long before it was filled with stuffing, draped in bacon and sizzling away in the oven.
After that experience we truly had the chicken keeping bug, fuelled by the morals and responsibility of keeping chickens we bought another four chicks unfortunately only two survived. One hen Barbera, who we have just introduced to the larger coop and one cockerel, Yoda, who will remain on his own until he's big enough to enter the coop and state his authority on the older hens.
2012 has certainly opened my eyes to the ups and downs of keeping chickens, but I'm still excited to check the nesting boxes for todays egg yield and having them fresh for breakfast will never get tiring.
This is a ridiculously late blog but I thought I would share our opinions on the olympics and the advertising campaigns that surrounded it. Firstly it seems like the whole olympics in London was a huge success and while some of you may not like the brand that was created for the event I thought it worked well. It has to be the most clever use of brand I have seen for the olympics ever. It was clear that every camera angle every sign every barrier had been thought about. I cant think of an occasion that I didn't see either the logo, the strapline of "inspire a generation", or the angular lines produced as brand elements. I think for me the mark is awkward and it is uncompromising and it is a marmite brand but it did provoke reaction and it has been compared to London. It isn't an easy place to live, there is always something going on, it is relentless and there is an edge to it. There are wild differences in riches and also cultures. Whether you like the brand or not I think it captured that.
Alongside the controversy of the actual brand there was also the stories of LOCOG and their enforcers that travelled up and down the country stopping companies taking advantage of the olympics though associating themselves with it. If you were not an official sponsor of the games then there were numerous words that you couldn't use while the games were on. In fact in some cases when games were played there was also exclusion zones of what people could wear.
A very quick list of things that you could not say during 2012:
- The words ‘London 2012’
- The words ‘Olympic’, ‘Olympiad’, ‘Olympian’ (and their plurals and words very similar to them - eg ‘Olympix’
- The words ‘Paralympic’, ‘Paralympiad’, ‘Paralympian’ and their plurals and words very similar to them - eg ‘Paralympix’
- The words ‘games’, ‘two thousand and twelve’, ‘2012’ and ‘twenty twelve’ which may not be used in combination with each other or with ‘gold’, ‘silver’, ‘bronze’, ‘London’, ‘medals’, ‘sponsor’ or ‘summer’.
- The olympic Motto: ‘Citius Altius Fortius’ / ‘Faster Higher Stronger’
- The Paralympic Motto: ‘Spirit in Motion’
But what was interesting about the olympics for us was the ambush tactics that the unofficial sponsors achieved during the festival. Companies such as:
Alongside some very obvious hiring of real estate to advertise during the olympics. Nike also employed a very strong product based approach to an advertising ambush. One of their latest products the flyknit running shoe was key to the success and the vibrant florescent yellow/green that stood out so well against the running track red. IT is a simple premise but in one race nearly all the runners had Nike trainers on. They may not be an official sponsor but they did get into the stadium.
-Dr Dre Beats
Another brand that made a big impact with their product was Dr Dre Beats headphones. Once again a very powerful advertising ambush through the supply of headphones for swimmers and cyclists. The company had even made the headphones in the countries livery which further extended the use of the headphones.
These are some really clever and exciting explorations as to how you can maybe benefit form large events but without the big investment.
Last night I attended the first ArtsTechCymru event at Chapter Arts Centre. The event was billed as the following:
"We're about bringing together passionate people across Wales who are interested in how social media and technology can help engage arts with audiences. It's an informal network based on sharing and sparking new ideas."
To me that brings three things to mind:
1. Venues and organisations using (effectively) internet based systems to engage with audiences and sell more tickets.
2. Artists and technologists coming together to create new work that engage new audiences.
3. The opportunity for 'marketing, advertising' people to meet 'production' people and start to question what are the differences (if any)?
The first event is always going to be hard to capture all of that however the first was centred around point 1. I hope that in future events we can look at the other two points a bit more. When it comes to productions the tech industry particularly within the arts sector really does need support, and I hope this group can really help with that. I also hope that smaller groups such as hack space in cardiff and culture hack events that seem to be in the early stages of development all get an opportunity to involve their projects with the group. The idea of audience for me is becoming more and more blurred so any group that can keep on making that blurrier is a good thing. I believe people want that investment in time and consultation. The ability to be involved in work and its development and to be given an opportunity respond and feedback.