Friday, December 11, 2009

Ben “Odds and Jobs” – Thursday 10th December.

Ben “Odds and Jobs” – Thursday 10th December.

Spent the first thing this morning in a design meeting with Chris, discussing another project E-creation is running.

I have been working on a press release and learnt about focusing on the 5 W’s of journalism when writing an article: The “Who, What, Where, When, Why and How?” in no particular order.
This is to get a reader’s attention. To do this you have to write the article in a concise and interesting manner. In the hope that the journalist will choose to publish yours over the hundreds of others they receive everyday from companies.
It is imperative you make the first paragraph really count and provide a summary of the article. For some useful advice on writing a press release check out: http://www.pressdispensary.co.uk/how_to_write_a_press_release.php

Being printed in a newspaper is beneficial for a company as it gets the message out about their products to people besides using direct advertising. Once I was happy with my draught I sent it to Laura-Jayne a journalist, so that she could provide me with some feedback on what I had written.

I heard back from Universal Music with regards to obtaining the rights for galvanize for the online marketing presentation. The cost for doing so was £1750. This is prohibitively expensive considering the site is unlikely to have more than a 100 hits a month. I think this time round E-creation will be leaving that one.

Monday, December 7, 2009

JP - Tired, annoyed about not being shortlisted, Flash 3D challenges and super cool 'bling' Facebook goes live - XTM International, Slough Council

Tired, annoyed about not being shortlisted, Flash 3D challenges and super cool 'bling' Facebook goes live ...

All businesses have to run multiple projects to grow but when you have to juggle chickens, tired, milk bottles and scarves it becomes a bit of a pain. Okay, that's a fairly confusing way of saying that there is just too much going on right now, so I am having to prioritise pre-Christmas delivery projects (meaning E-creation might miss the Christmas market with some of it's own projects).

XTM International

The team made the final breakthrough (see left image) on the website designs last week after E-creation presented three design concepts. The website design is now looking awesome - hitting all the key objectives in the correct tone - 'professional, friendly, international, fresh, technical & easy to code!' Really key here is 'easy to code' as we will not be doing the coding ourselves but rather leading the internal development team at XTM International, so the visual assets and guides need to be absolutely spot on.

Leon has been working on the Flash animations that will be applied in the top corner and doing some experiment using realtime 3D to help reduce file sizes. On previous projects, we have had to face the challenge of truly amazing animations created as loops in After Effects which ended being integrated as film loops in the background of the Flash file. This can be seriously inefficient, so now, we try to make things as 3D objects where perspective effects are required. This has helped us to reduce the original file sizes of 3,000k for XTM International (impossibly large!) down to 28k (improbably small!) for effectively the same effect.

Slough Children's and Young Person's Directory

This project is finally coming towards closure after we had agreement on the image selection for the website. It always surprises me that no matter how 'rigorous' we are about explaining to clients that the written and image assets for projects is likely to be the bottle neck in any project, it's the last thing we end up doing, often months after a design process is complete. The risk is dilution of the 'creative essence' that is very dense during the design process, when the design team is totally immersed in the project and mind space, as other design projects with different design objectives and guidelines float around - keeping project specific mood boards on the wall seems to help ...

Bid for Shepway Find Your Talent Website

I found out this morning that we haven't been short listed for this project, which is a pity, as I really thought we were very ideally placed to deliver the creative and technical requirements of the project. That said, I only had 48 hrs to put together a very complex proposal with elements such as our equal employment statements, 3 years of financial data, creative treatments and more!

Have a peak at the visual idea to the left that we cobbled together in 4 hrs for the proposal. It's pretty amazing what you can come up with when under pressure.

Incidentally, www.urbanmediagallery.com is now up and running, our 'super bling' version of Facebook, so check it out and feel free to give us feedback - it's still early days, so any ideas are readily welcomed!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ben “Munkying around” – Looking into T-shirt manufacturers.


Ben “Munkying around” – Looking into T-shirt manufacturers.

Today I went with Jan to investigate the viability of manufacturing customised t-shirts for one of our clients. We visited Munky UK, a custom T-shirt maker based in Southampton.
They use a special vinyl which is cut with to a design using the digital vinyl cutter. They can produce personalised designs. The vinyl is weeded; they pick out what is unnecessary from the design. This is then heat pressed onto a t-shirt.

The vinyl is very flexible it comes in a variety of colours and textures including flock, which has a velour like texture. It is very durable and will most likely outlast the life of the t-shirt.
We left with some prototype designs. It was not exactly what we were looking for but it produced some useful ideas.
Check them out at http://www.munkyuk.com/

Got back to the office and had a conference call with a client. I did some test shots of the T-shirts to see how they might look online and dealt with some emails. I packaged the t-shirts up and took them off to be posted to the client, so could see what they looked like.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Ben “Teleconferencing ...” – Follow up session for client

“Teleconferencing ...” – Follow up session for client

We conducted a skype conference call with the client, George and Jan-Erik about the initial design session from Monday morning.
The two concepts of Mr Men and Push the button were discussed for the hour. The challenges faced were trying to get the client to commit to a particular path. Certain difficulties arose as they were not entirely clear what they wished to say from a marketing perspective. As a development Simon a copywriter, at E-creation has been brought in to help clarify the marketing message. Copywriting is the use of words to promote a person, business, opinion or idea.

After the meeting had finished, I quickly typed up the notes and ideas that had been discussed and sent them to everyone involved.

I left at lunchtime as I had to go to the Dentist for a filling. Oh what a joyous afternoon that was.

UPDATE: Both the above ideas were scrapped and the concept has moved on again. This is how the design process evolves.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ben “SYMBOLS” – Looking into trademarks and design rights

“DAY 2” – Looking into trademarks and design rights

I followed up on the EMI music rights for the galvanize track. I was told in an email that EMI music rights do not hold the copyright but UNIVERSAL music rights do. The wild goose chase begins. Hopefully I will get the golden egg at the end of all this!

The majority of my time today was involved with researching the use of trademarks and design rights on the Intellectual Property Office website available at http://www.ipo.gov.uk/.

It appears that trademarks are distinctive symbols for goods and services. It is recognisable as a sign that differentiates goods or service as different from another company’s. I think is important to know they are not registrable if they:
• describe goods or services or any characteristics of them, for example, marks which show the quality, quantity, purpose, value or geographical origin of goods or services
• have become customary in the line of trade
• are not distinctive
• are three dimensional shapes - the shape is typical of the goods you are interested in (or part of them), has a function or adds value to the goods
• are specially protected emblems
• are offensive

It costs £200 to register a trademark and this is valid for 10 years.
Check out the ‘spot the trademark game’ if you have some free time at http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/tm/t-about/t-spotthetm.htm

As an aside, it is interesting to note that the term ‘Hoover’ is now both a noun and trademark used to classify the company that makes vacuum cleaners and also a verb, according to the Cambridge online dictionary (http://dictionary.cambridge.org/define.asp?key=37868&dict=CALD). Nowadays, Hoover has lost the exclusive right to use it solely as a brand name.

This illustrates how we can use a trademark term to say other things for example ‘have you googled him?’ to ask have you searched him on the internet/ to use a search engine. Google is not at all happy about this debranding of their name to describe general actions and has called in the language police. For further information see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3006486.stm.

Design Rights take two forms. Firstly a registered design gives stronger protection and involves applying to the Intellectual Property Office. Unregistered Design Rights gives weaker but automatic protection without the need to register the design.

A registered design is a legal right which protects the overall visual appearance of a product. To be registrable, a design must:
• be new
• have individual character.
Individual character means that the appearance of the design (known as the overall impression) is different from the appearance of other established designs.
It costs £60 per design right application and this lasts for 5 years and then it will need to be renewed.

I hope this brief summary has proved useful, for further information look at the Intellectual Property Office website available at http://www.ipo.gov.uk/.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ben “Gettin in the press” BERLINGUAL PRESS RELEASE notes

“Gettin in the press” - BERLINGUAL PRESS RELEASE notes

I have been asked to work on press release for the Berlingual project. As part of this I need to obtain a project quote from Leo Waters, MD of Berlingual. Berlingual is a Berlin based English language training company. Check out their website http://www.berlingual.com/

The press release will focus on the unique characteristics within the company’s logo, stationary and website. It is interesting to see how many different routes there are for E-creation to raise its profile using the internet, blogs such as this, and the press.

Along with these tasks is the usual constant assault of phone calls and e-mails to deal with. Modern day living at its multi- tasking best!

Cheers

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ben “Tracking down the brothers” – Research into obtaining music rights for a marketing website.

“Tracking down the brothers” – Research into obtaining music rights for a marketing website.

My main task for the afternoon was investigating feasibility and cost for using the track galvanize by the Chemical Brothers for the multimedia marketing website. With so many small jobs consistently popping up, good organisation and the need for prioritisation really is a must.


Things are never as simple as they first appear. Firstly, I had to research which record label the Chemical Brothers are currently signed to. I found the answer to be Virgin Records USA. However, this is not the same Virgin Records as owned by the Virgin Business Empire and Richard Branson. I found out that EMI actually owns Virgin Records. I then rang up the London EMI copyright office and found out whom I needed to speak too.


I sent a form with details of the track, its usage and the nature of our business. I am still waiting to hear back on the cost for usage rights.

JP - Back to basics, sorting out the business cards - E-creation JP - Cool & clever business cards can seriously help businesses be more succesful

Back to basics...
Sorting out clever business cards

One of the things I am proudest of with regards to E-creation and our marketing has been our business cards. Every time I go out networking, when I pass over a business card, people pause and say, 'hey, that really cool!' or 'that's clever!' For some businesses, their business cards are not an intelligent marketing tool that wins them business - for E-creation it is.

So when I ran out of cards, did a reprint 2 months ago, only to find that all our cool business cards had been print in black instead of our E-creation blue - I was bummed out. The concept of the card still worked - our business moto of 'just that little bit sharper' was still communicated by the three rounded edges of the card and the one pointed corner with the 'just that little bit sharper' but it didn't feel as cool or clever in black. So that's been sorted today!

Of course, we want our clients to have cool business cards as well - and that is something that's really not expensive even for a small business to achieve, but can make a MASSIVE difference to how well it performs as a business. Hopefully, tomorrow, I will be able to upload a little concept we have come up with for a local business that creates living plant arrangements for offices. I'll show you the before and after shots - and you let me know how differently you perceive the business!

Ben “The Day begins ...” – First creative design session for new client

“The Day begins ...” – First creative design session for new client

Monday 23rd November was my first day working with Jan-Erik. We started with the plan of action for the day and an overview of the many projects that E-creation is currently operating.

At the Enterprise Pavilion in Wallisdown we had a meeting with George, one of the creative designers who works with E-creation. In the creative session, possible creative treatments and ideas for an online marketing project were bounced around.

Jan-Erik took the initial brief on Friday, so the project is moving along very quickly.

The challenge faced was how to communicate ‘fixing marketing chaos’ within 90 seconds online, to a company CEO or marketing director. Two main ideas resonated from the 2 hour brainstorming meeting:

- Mr Men style characters
- Push the Button

Both directions have created unique design challenges for the design team to resolve and business problems that I have been asked to look into. For Mr. Men, we needed to establish the legal position of using a similar design style, without infringing the Roger Hargreaves copyright, which is owned by Chorion Limited, check out the website http://www.mrmen.com/uk/

For the ‘Push the Button’ concept, it was suggested to use of the track ‘Galvanize’ by the Chemical Brothers, as it uses the phrase ‘Push the button’. Check it out now on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2hzVV2Nwfs

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ben "Who is he?” - My introduction to E-creation

"Who is he?"- My introduction to E-creation

Hello, my name is Benjamin. E-creation has taken me on as a Marketing and Operations Assistant.

I am 23 years of age and have grown up in the lovely part of the country that is Bournemouth. I graduated last year with a degree in International Relations and Philosophy from the University of Sussex. I also lived in Miami, Florida for a time while taking part in a study abroad scheme at the University of Miami.

I have recently returned home from nine months travelling round the world and ‘living the dream’.
I was fortunate enough to visit America, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong, which was an amazing experience. I have had many memorable experiences but those which stand out include learning the ‘HAKA’ war dance with a Maori family in New Zealand and bearing witness to the changing colours of Uluru (Ayer’s rock) as the sun came up one morning. Both were very primordial and life affirming experiences.

E-creation has provided me with a fantastic opportunity to see inside a digital marketing company – and the other businesses that are launched regularly. This seems to be in line with the current trend of advertising agencies launching their own branded products to supplement their traditional fee based business models. For example BBH agency has set up ZAG to create and market novel goods such as a women’s’ personal alarm (TIME magazine: 30/11/2009 p 52) having it both ways. The article is also available online at
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1940547,00.html.

I do hope that you will come back regularly to check how I am getting on and my journey with E-creation.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

JP - Seminar by Design Council

Design Your Way Out of the Downturn Seminar by the Design Council at the Dorset Chamber of Commerce

Today, I attended a very interesting session at the Dorset Chamber of Commerce on using design as part of business strategy - or 'business ambition' as they put it. Given the nature of business I work within, I have always been a supporter of design as a tool to achieve business goals such as growth and increased profitability but all delegates were asked the question 'how might you use design to realise your ambition?'

The first step was to ask attendees to describe design. It is interesting to see the different understanding of design, that people have. On the left, I have a photo of the terms used by the group to describe design: innovation, creation, empathy, image, beauty, vision, etc.

It was at this point that I began to think more carefully about how design is an intrinsic 'shaper' of experience - irrespective of the media. For example, music ...

Apple has changed the way that we experience music, making it a 'cooler' experience, adding to the physical act of listening to music, an intangible third dimension - the feel of the music generated by the player itself. For example, one song might 'feel' more cool when being listened to on an iPod when compared to being listened to on a generic brand MP3 player ... but is that possible? Hell yeah - from the point where you pick up the iPod, the way it feels in the hand, the response of those around you, the subtle associations made with the indefinable silhouettes in the Apple adverts - all these elements enhance the music listening experience, making the music better.

So how does that relate to E-creation? Well, we also are in the business of creating experiences - from the way that business cards feel in the hand and open their information to the recipients to the website that remembers its visitors and ensures that they are 'caught out' by the intelligence of how they are guided to information. We are always making things cool because lets face it, who doesn't want to be cool?!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Leon - XTM International Design Sketches

Concept sketches for XTM International

I really need to update this content but here is where we started from with the animation concepts and overall design ideas for the website.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

JP - Amazing Halloween Costume Idea - Random


Sorry, I know it's off topic, but this rocks! No Dracula or Family costumes in this girl's mind ... a really creative fancy dress outfit based on Roy Lichtenstein's prints for Halloween.

Anyone else have any examples of awesome costumes from this Halloween?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Leon - XTM International - Animation stuff in progress - XTM International

I think I have everything required in a core concept for the animated elements for XTM Internation. It's based on the idea of 'translation environment' linked together with the inspirational line 'Language translation technology'

It also resembles the client's liking for the stuff we did for SolStonePlus loast year, though I think this will kick it's butt if developed and agreed by the client, so ignore the colours and detail, just look through to the idea I explain below...

Imagine a transparent cube containing all the titles/illustrations we needed for the site/brand ... now imagine travelling around it in 4 dimensions, as though we were following the translation data. Well, perhaps the following video is a better way to explain the concept!

video

Monday, November 9, 2009

JP - Completion of Berlingual.com - Berlingual

Berlingual.com is complete and online! Phheww - it took a while longer to complete but as always, there ended up being more content & pages than expected ...We started this project 3 months ago and its been a challenge working for a Berlin based organisation ...

So, what did we do for them? Well, we started by coming up with the company name itself! It can be incredibly difficult to come up with a name that one is catchy and secondly, is available as a domain name! Berligual is pretty perfect for a company that provides business English & exam training from Berlin ... or as Leo, the client, puts is:

"There are two specific target bases. Firstly, companies that require English for communication with their international clients, or when English is the lingua franca of their company and they need to improve their level internally. This is then in-company training for business professionals (currently this includes turbine engineers, pharmaceutical workers and architects).

The second client base is those that need to take the IELTS exam (later this will be expanded to the Cambridge ESOL exams as well as TOEFL), as they either need to study or work abroad. A significant percentage of them are doctors, dentists and other professionals whilst the others are students wanting to study in English native speaking countries or in their own country where a large part of the course is conducted in English. It's nothing to do with becoming a teacher. The split is about 50-50 business clients and 'exam' clients."


The logo was a pretty straight forward process based on the concept of 'quote marks' to indicate communication, although the final version is very different to the original concepts (and colours) that were developed.

However, the final logo definitely achieves significantly more impact. One of the key advantages of doing a complete branding, stationary and website design project is the efficiency achieved in the overall process. Often, E-creation works with clients who get their logo done with one company, their website with another and the marketing through yet another! Whilst there is often a historical legacy that leads to this type of working process, it's really not the best way to achieve a consistent message and feel for an organisation (in spite of lots of money being thrown at it!)


The website itself was constructed using HTML and doesn't have any database driven elements, which is quite unusual for E-creation these days, but many organisations do have simpler technical needs, so we are happy to build to their requirements.

The opening animation however is intelligent, something that we always try to strive towards rather than simply 'filling space' in a website. As Leon put it in his explanation of the design concept: "The second route is based on 'business words' that are positive and relate to benefits of using Berlingual for language development. These words are supplemented with simple icon interactions that are animated in a loop. This is easy to change or add words as the animation structure just needs to be updated with new content. This route adheres nicely to some of the stronger points outlined in the 'brand perception' analysis."

There are a few little clever technical things that might not be obviously though. We have used a Flash application to create many of the graphic headings on the fly. What does that mean? It means that we can change the text in the HTML and the graphics are created automatically so we don't need to keep going back to photoshop. This makes creating multilingual websites much easier whilst being able to maintain graphical integrity - something that will be a key feature in our work for XTM International.

Please do check out the website at www.berlingual.com and feel free to drop us any constructive feedback!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Jan-Erik - Presentation of Logo Concepts Phase 1 - XTM International

Well, we got there in the end, although it was a 5pm teleconference. However, Elliot and Bob seemed very happy with the results so far. We ended up presenting seven design concepts for the logo with a further six variants of logo direction.

We spent around an hour on the phone discussing the various options and have now established three clear directions for the logo. The surprising factor was the client's need for a 'strong corporate' font in the logo. We had spent some time exploring some unique fonts and Leon went as far as to create a unique font for XTM International. I somehow suspect that this unique feature will end up being a feature of the logo in the end. I have attached a PDF that was used to present to the client and gives a bit of insight in the thought processes behind each of the logo options.

Click here for our Logo Concepts Presentation PDF

However, I am currently battling with an rather annoying issue - my Mac Mail has decided to keep a massive e-mail stored in it's trash and everytime I turn on Mail, it kills my system (and also means that I don't get my e-mail) - so am having to collect my e-mail online. Of course, the online e-mail viewing software doesn't give me the same level of control over fonts & colours that are part of the E-creation 'brand' ... so that is going to be a fun one to fix.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Jan-Erik - Off topic - mixes done for the team

Well, before you think we are one trick wonders, just thought I'd upload my latest mix that I produced earlier this week plus a photo from another session out in town. Will be playing mid next month in Bournemouth, so if you are in town, let me know and drop by - my DJ name is Viking Prince (you can also find me on Facebook). I try to feed through mixes to the design & code team regularly (except for Lee, who hates 'electronic rubbish') cause everyone likes to hear the latest music. Of course, Podcasts are always playing, so we are generally pretty on it musically.

The type of music I'll be playing, well, the just check out the mix. It has some very hot new tracks that I have been researching this month and includes:
  • Kids (Soulwax Remix) - MGMT
  • New In Town (Drop The Lime Dub) - Little Boots
  • Blau - Laidback Luke & Lee Mortimer
  • Hype (Dre Skull Remix) - Dre Skull & Juiceboxxx
Click here to play or right click to download: Dancehall to Dubstep October Mix

Leon - XTM International - Conceptual work on Brand/Logo - XTM International

Eurgh, not well at all, still have this damn cold – or is it some kind of flu? (I ache all over, and feel somewhat constantly hallucinated) was bed-ridden most of Wednesday, seem to feel better after being up a few hours, then it gets worse again. Got myself together to some degree on Wednesday afternoon, continued with XTM logo/brand ideas, some more exploration of concepts, but didn't manage to achieve too much.

Today was again a difficult start, but towards the afternoon/evening things started to flow much better. I think the worst thing for a designer to experience is feeling lack of emotion; mental numbness, it's horrible, nothing comes out of the mind. In a sense, sometimes one has to become desperate or frustrated, even angry at the job to evoke emotion, it's a kind of hurdle you cross before you sometimes start to really get geared up enough to start thinking creatively, to become 'in the mode' to create original design, to ignore cliches, to become mentally fluid, relaxed and start to really enjoy the process... After all that, that's when the 'good' work begins. Unfortunately it's now 4.00am, and I have to get some sleep in order to adhere to a social timescale and meet tomorrow's deadline. Hah! Zzz zzz zzz z

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jan-Erik - Font exploration - XTM International


Leon and I had a discussion on the potential font directions. I think Leon is still pretty badly under the weather with his cold but hanging in there like a trouper!

Whilst many of the fonts will simple not work for XTM (interestingly enough, we have already shortened the brand name down to XTM in our minds from XTM International - something that could not be done with the previous name of XML Intl - am very glad we managed to persuade the client of the merits of a complete company name change). Anyhow, whilst many of the fonts don't work, it did bring up some interesting ideas about 'flow' and 'connections'. XTM is effectively 'language translation management technology' ... so there are elements of engines, work flow, input / output & trust that we need to communicate visually. Am currently not sure how Leon plans to visualise this AND connect it to the letters XTM ... maybe a separate ideogram will be required.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Leon - Conceptual work on Brand/Logo - XTM International

So by this Friday, we need to supply our client with concepts for brand/logo/stationery... I'm continuing to explore the essence of what XTM is about, and how to visualise it for the brand. I'm planning to submit around 4-5 solid and reasoned directions (normally, this might be 2-3, however, I think this brief is rich with many potential outcomes, and want to explore as much as possible).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jan-Erik - Content discussion - XTM International

Have just been chatting with client about the importance of writing good content for the website and have organised for a meeting with a copywriter to provide a technical brief for good web content. It always makes life easier when we know that the content is going to be written by a professional

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Leon - Initial investigations started - XTM International

Urgh! Feeling terrible as I have a cold, really got to me on Saturday, but feeling more functional today. Started initial brief familiarisation work, eager to get up and running before Monday. With knowledge gained from Friday's meeting, I read up on the finer details of what XTM International do, and the various components of their software products. Some interesting keywords/phrases came up such as 'Engine' – suggesting the core workhorse, 'Translation Environment' – suggesting the complete nature of the software suite, and 'Translation Memory' – a key part of the way the software works. Started an initial investigation of potential typefaces for the logo.

Looking at a variety of fonts that may capture the essence of the company, and what they do. Also looking for typeface designs that may hold inherent clues for a relevant logo 'idea'. Awaiting competitor info from client, and also feedback from their own customers as to what they think of them.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Leon - Briefing meeting - XTM International

Travelled to beautiful Gerrards Cross, for my initial meeting with our client. I myself met Bob and Elliot for the first time - really nice guys! Jan-Erik, who also attended today, had met them before. We went through Jan's meeting agenda, covered various items such as scope of work, requirements from client, schedule, agreed content ideas, went through briefing questions and discussed our brand perception map. We also went through the current brand and website design, to identify reason, and any points of value to consider. It very much looks like we have a clean slate to work with – yey! Seemed like a long day as travel alone was over 5 hours in total, but well worth it for me to meet our clients face to face.