You are? Thank goodness for that. But does your website need to say it?

Next time you have 5 minutes to spare, do what I do: play The Professionals. It’s a game entirely of my own devising and not related in any way to the bubble-permed TV show of the 1970s.

This is a game where you trawl the websites of lawyers, accountants, dentists, architects, engineers and anyone else who’s fearsomely qualified, and count the number of times they use the word ‘professional’.

Stating the obvious

Some things we can all just take as read. If you’re a member of the above professions, we know you’re a professional – and saying it doesn’t make it any more real. It’s not as if you’re competing against any amateur lawyers or dentists, is it?

Show not tell

I’m not suggesting we all stop extolling our credentials. It’s just that ‘professionalism’ is as intangible as ‘friendliness’. It’s for others to judge through their experience of knowing you or working with you. Saying “I am friendly” won’t convince anyone you are – although it might convince them to edge just a little bit further away.

It’s the same with professionalism. You show it. Online or in print, your professionalism is demonstrated by your portfolio, your testimonials, your qualifications and case studies. It’s a jigsaw of evidence that creates an image in the mind of the reader – and you can’t subvert that process by simply saying “I am/we are professional.”

So save the space. Banish that word, and let the evidence do the heavy lifting of convincing your clients that you are who you say you are.

After all, you can trust me. I’m a professional writer.

Happy Mike is a Happy – and happy – copywriter. He’s a member of the Professional Copywriters’ Network and the Society of Authors. He writes words that accompany Happy Creative’s smashing designs.

In a world of commodities, there’s a sea of brands. How are you supposed to remember all of them? How are you supposed to process which appeals to you? It’s got to be Heinz but it’s always Coca Cola – that’s enough to confuse anyone!

You will naturally find yourself drawn to certain brands. This is through recognition. You see a brand, either consciously or subconsciously, and if you acknowledge it, you remember it.

I have seen Derren Brown lead peoples’ thought trails through pattern recognition. It works in a similar way with brands. You see them, you acknowledge them, you remember them.

But which brands are top of mind and why?

It’s different for all of us. Try this question and see what brands are your top of mind…

In 30 seconds (no cheating) name as many Cereal brands as you can….

3…2…1…So, what did you come up with?

You’ll find that the brand that come top of mind are with you for a reason. You’ve seen them, your brain has registered them, and you’ve remembered them.

The brands that reside with you, more likely that not will mean something to you- good or bad. It could be preference, prestige or pizzazz – there’s a reason you’ve remembered that brand.

There’s lots of ways that marketeers tempt us to remember brands – be it catchy slogans, jingles, iconic imagery, or conceptual style. Try these out and see how much you know about brands…

Jingles

Washing machines live longer with….

If you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit…

Now hands that do dishes can feel soft as your face…

For bonzer car insurance deals, girls get onto…

Kids and grownups love it so….

Straplines

Vorsprung durch Technik

No nonesence

I’m lovin‘ it

Every little helps

It’s a bit gorgeous

Iconic images

An orange box

A yellow m

A panda

3 lions

A man with a moustache

A tick

A swan

A lime green circle ;)

Colour – what brands to you relate to these colours?

Red

Purple

Green

Yellow and Black

Red and Blue

It’s all about creating ‘stick’. Something that makes you consciously take note of it. It’s remarkable how much we don’t realise that we remember. And if you don’t keep an ear out later and see if you’re singing about mild, green Fairy Liquid as you’re washing up. That sea just got a whole lot smaller…

(by the way, send us your guesses via comments or social media!)

Emma Dobson is a branding expert and Touch Point guru at Happy Creative, a full service marketing agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk

Purely in a visual sense of course. We have all read with great interest the new design shift that has taken place at Apple with its new iOS. There is an interesting dynamic to this shift in design philosophy as Apple moves from “skeuomorphic” design to a ‘new modern swiss’ design style favoured by its competitors such as Microsoft’s Windows 8.
Skeuomorphic design mimics real world objects. The phone icon on an iphone has an image of a phone that none of us have in our houses today. It reflects the ear and mouth piece of a dial phone.

Steve Jobs believed that computers should be so simple that anyone could use them. He felt that this would be achieved by an interface design where digital elements resemble real world objects. When you analyse familiar digital objects, you see that this philosophy is embedded at many levels in how we access our digital content. The envelope is the first choice for email and SMS messages. Opened and unopened envelopes create a neat distinction between opened and unopened envelopes. On an Android Samsung phone the email icons is even more archaic. It uses an envelope with a red wax seal, an 18th Century prop but with a modern @ pressed into it. It’s not just the appearance of apps and icons, some of them also behave like their old-world equivalents, the note app having a page curl…

This design philosophy is familiar and quickly accessible to everyone. Steve Jobs would approve.

The design style that Apple is now following has another interesting angle, it is the result of a seismic shift within the company, which saw the previous head of iOS, Scott Forstall, outed in favour of British born-designer Sir Jonathan Ive, who oversaw the new software.

Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum, said it ‘represents a massive overhaul of the look and feel of the operating system, which has remained largely unchanged visually since the original version.’ However, he said the changes could be too much, by stating: ‘The new version is almost unrecognisable, which will make it polarizing. Some people will love that their phone feels new and different, while others will be disoriented by the newness.’

Apple has an amazing history of making objects that look and feel like nothing else. They didn’t invent the mp3 player, but what they did with it was amazing. Every product, from its packaging to other digital touch-points look like the pinnacle of design. I’m an Apple fan and I think that it’s taken them too long to realise the UI world has changed… and it wasn’t them that did it. The new Windows UI did that. Its minimal layout, flat colouring, strict typography and no unnecessary ornamentation was a complete paradigm shift for the market and makes Windows clearly distinguishable from its competitors.

Apple is now playing catch-up with its rivals. What looks like Helvetica Ultralight is an obvious choice rather than an innovative one that Microsoft achieved with Segoe. Helvetica Ultralight is generic modernist design; not Apple’s Myriad Pro, not built on Apple’s iOS past, and obviously not the herald of a new way at looking at user experiences.

It doesn’t create that distinction and have that incredible Apple touch that we all appreciate. It feels like everything else. Rather than being Apple. Has Apple lost its shine? Well, in a design sense it has. Any shines have been replaced by flat colours and opaque layers and as a trail blazer in design and innovation – I think it’s lost a little shine also. I wanted to see something different, something that made me think differently and from the screen grabs I’ve seen, I’m a little disappointed.

James Chantler is Creative Director at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk

I recently took part in a social media training workshop, not because I’m unfamiliar with some of the platforms and how to utilise them but because I really wanted to find out more about the benefits.

I’m also inquisitive and I like to know how things work.

It was hugely informative, helpful and actually….fun. I didn’t think…”Oh, I’m too old to learn this stuff” or “why do I need to learn this?” I’m just not that type of person.

I also see on a daily basis how using social media as an extension of your marketing activity can be beneficial and fruitful.
That’s not to say I wasn’t a little apprehensive about my capabilities. My normal approach would be to read a “How to….” set of instructions first before actually getting down to practice. This for several reasons:

A) I am probably using delaying/avoidance tactics
B) I am actually a little nervous about whether I can get the hang of it and need to read and then read some more
C) Fear of the unknown

A discussion with some friends following this (both male and female, similar in age range) about the subject, offered some interesting insights with some admitting that they thought that social media “is for kids”. Yes, they use Twitter and Facebook on a personal level to connect with friends and to follow interesting people but when it comes to utilising social media as a marketing strategy, they just “couldn’t be see the benefits” or “didn’t see the need at their age” or the familiar…”I just haven’t got time”. Does this resonate with you?

Come on, be honest. Does using social media as a marketing tool scare you?

If you own a business, the way you market that business has changed. There are new tools to help you gain additional marketing exposure. You may be a little apprehensive but essentially it’s about people and marketing to them, and applying those new tools.

Social media is designed to be fairly simple to use, it just takes time and willingness to learn. Learning and growing is a fundamental part of life. Social media is no different.

And let’s face it, we live in extraordinary times of technological advancement. Technology helps us progress and it’s not going to disappear. You either have to embrace it or wait until you notice the impact on your business from burying your head in the sand. If you don’t have a presence you can be sure your competitors do and they are the ones potentially engaging with your clients.

Some of the benefits of engaging social media:

  • Promote your Brand, your philosophy and values
  • Engage with clients and potential clients
  • Provide brilliant customer service
  • Create social signals that will also help your website climb the search engine rankings
  • Make sure you have a presence
  • Give your brand a voice
  • Stay competitive

But it’s also a great opportunity to connect with interesting new people and gain new experiences.

Social media isn’t just for young people. Social media is for everybody.

So if you are just a little bit scared……..well, feel the fear and do it anyway! And if you need a little hand holding, we completely understand.

Debbie Lewis is a Customer Support Executive at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk

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