Direct-to-consumer model – shall I print that for you?

Farmdrop direct mail

The Ecommerce Foundation predicted in April of this year that the UK’s turnover in DTC models would grow by over 10%. That growth is slowing from over 14% in 2012, but still.

These Direct-to-Consumer business models aren’t just disruptive, they are the new economy, but it’s not just about digital is it?

In a simple A5 door drop, the friendly people from were able to educate me on many things, and tweak my interest. It included an explanation of their direct model, aptly called Click-to-Harvest; as well as ‘Milkonomics’, appealing to the ethical consumer in me; supermarket pricing differences, appealing to my wallet; their environmental foot-print, including the hours my food traditionally spends on the road clogging up the highways and my lungs; and a nice little attribution planning code (discount code to you and me) that could get me £20 off my first order. (All conveyed simply through good graphic design by the way.)

Now I know their business will continue to deliver greater efficiencies through digital operating practices, and I’ll no doubt begin to see banner ads now I’ve visited their website, but I did think it was ironic that this digital disruption journey began in print.

Although I know attribution modeling is the key to understanding all this, as Christmas approaches I will be enjoying my cashmere catalogue, my favourite high-street gym-clothing catalogue, and my not-so-high-street gift Xmas catalogue.

It would seem print is still a key to the customer journey.

Animation for apprenticeships.

Aeroplane and sky animation with clouds

We recently created a video for our client, Cobham, looking to attract millennials for their apprenticeship and graduate schemes. They wanted to show potential candidates they can make a difference and be inspired, all while they achieve great things for their own careers.

The message was clear and all talent acquisition strategy boxes were ticked; be clear about how your brand is making a difference; what are your brand behaviours; and what expectations and rewards are likely.

But this was a traditional engineering brand looking to attract an enthusiastic new generation.

Dunks Brain turned things upside down and took advantage of ‘moving images’ as Heike Young, Global Content Lead at recommends. Millennials like moving images.

Young explains that moving pictures, animations and video-centric social strategies are what we will see much more of as this generation becomes the workforce of the future. And we decided this was the perfect way to tell the Cobham story.

We’re all delighted with the outcome, client included, and now we continue to watch as Cobham works to reach a whole new motivated and enthusiastic audience – to help grow into a future of enthusiasm for engineering.

Engagement – the silver bullet metric?

Pink thumb like icon on blackboard

I’m evaluating success for 3 different clients. I’m not looking at the obvious commercial results, which are of course an ultimate goal, rather looking at how to understand and measure the success of design engagement.

Understanding your definition of “engagement” could be a silver-bullet metric, especially for those frustrating campaign update meetings with your boss.

Platforms, printed media, digital media, groups, influencers – it’s a minefield. Design and content has to work everywhere. Publisher Dao Nguyen of BuzzFeed thinks about publishing in the age of “distributed content”. (I like this, even though he’s about as far as I could get from B2B.)

Close to 75% of the company’s content is never viewed on their site and therefore difficult to measure. Rather it’s crafted for sharing on networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. He agrees there’s no single silver-bullet measure and I think my B2B colleagues could learn a lesson.

We’re used to complex sales cycles, including everything from event attendance, posters, flyers, referrals, email campaigns, blogs and face-to-face meetings. Business development is not a linear process, that’s for sure. So maybe engagement is a view across all this good work?

Regardless, as I look at the results of campaign design I can see that in the end, what “engagement” looks like, can be very different. But each design project starts in exactly the same way. And that is, what does “engagement” mean for you?

The Wild West…what does that mean for design?

Cactus on a hill in Tucson

I’m looking at market scoping, understanding how things are changing and how the UK differs to other geographic markets.

It has also got me thinking about the role geography plays in marketing.

We all know about geographic segmentation and the ongoing revolution that is location-based marketing, but how does ‘geography’ impact design?

This week I can see that simple business communications are vastly different for every team we meet. I can tell you that everything from business cards, to point-of-sale, to retail packaging easily identifies their cultural background before any words are even exchanged. It also makes you feel more comfortable as a buyer, when you identify with the graphic design of those you’re dealing with, regardless of which geographic location you find yourself in.

So with gem dealers from all over the world and every culture you can think of, not just the USA, you soon see that how you present yourself can make a big difference in attracting the audience you want.

Graphic design IS culturally sensitive and can be even more powerful in the right location. It sets us apart, and not just from our competitors.

I also now know why the design team at Dunk work so hard to keep every design-brief different and sensitive to the location and cultural representations, whether it’s an Italian restaurant brand at the O2, or a Danish bakery in Victoria Station.

So looking at the cactus here in Arizona, I have realised our proposed communication plan for this client is very British. This could mean they’re like prickly-pear to some cultures here in Tucson, while to others it could be like a cool Pimms and lemonade on a warm desert evening.

Brand tie-ups … to make cents, they should never make sense.

iPhone home icons

It didn’t make sense until I saw the #BFF reference (for those over 40, that’s Best Friends Forever). The brand values work together – meeting with friends, relaxing with friends and rewarding friends – so a weak link perhaps?

Or is this campaign about something else, in marketing terms?

Too often we hear about the challenges of media fragmentation, when in fact it’s starting to give us new media heroes?

Our friends at Benefit Cosmetics have driven all the PR activity surrounding the campaign, which of course Starbucks has supported with quotes and their obvious involvement. As a result I am now wondering if we’re looking at a brand tie-up, or actually a media planning phenomena for our age of social commerce?

Back in 2012, a study by JWT Intelligence found that over 40% of men and over a third of women are more likely to purchase something if a friend has recommended it on a social network. Could we argue Starbucks is now a social channel?

With close to 850 outlets Starbucks is arguably more effective in connecting with UK consumers through daily footfall than most mainstream news outlets.

So even if you agree with my observation, and we could be looking at a brave new approach to media planning, I have to say the best brand tie-ups have never made sense…to make cents.

Here’s my favourite from the early 90’s (for those under 40, that was the Fosters Lager & Haagen Daz campaign).

Colour, Branding & Emotion … Let’s Ride the Tube!

London Underground Logo drawing

I arrived in London for the first time back in 1992. I was overwhelmed; the opportunity, the people and the colour (which is hard to imagine from a city that seems so grey on a day like today).

This city, that has a style that is so eclectic yet so uniform, has a colour that can be blinding. The irony is that you can’t survive in London without a lot of black in your wardrobe, yet I remember that first day in London as being one of the most colourful of my life.

London taught me the power of colour in communication and connecting with different people from all over the world. It was the flash of a red bus, the glimpse of the London Transport roundel and the rainbow of colours that make up our tube map that mesmerized me.

I had studied marketing at University in Australia but I’d never been exposed to the power of design like I was seeing on that cold day back in February 1992.

I’d studied the famous branding identity case studies but I hadn’t seen a brand identity like London Transport – living breathing and splashing colour across a city like it was it’s own personal canvas. It was then I knew I had to learn more about how design, art and marketing can come together to connect people.

So now I’m surrounded by great designers at Dunk Design and I see the power of colour at work almost every day. I like to think the Tube inspired me back then, and I feel just as inspired today.

In the words of Saul Bass, which Duncan lives his life by, “Interesting things happen when the creative impulse is cultivated with curiosity, freedom and intensity”.

Sounds like TfL and London to me.

Calling all marketers: CSR needs you!

Corporate Social Responsibility - we can do it

The reason it was heated was because of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and the role marketing talent has to play.

I was arguing CSR was an excellent way to align and engage employees, with many subsequent benefits. Benefits like productivity, lower staff turnover and even talent acquisition.

This wasn’t what got so heated. What got heated was the reference to using internal marketing to support CSR – to use tried and tested skills in marketing to help align internal stakeholders to the desire for truly effective CSR.

Made complete sense to me. Not so much to my long time friend. So in marketing’s defence, I went digging.

A HA! A paper from 2010 on the use of “internal marketing” to engage employees in CSR, from the Doughty Centre at Cranfield University, supports my argument.

“Training managers in internal marketing tools is a good investment”.

It goes on to say that involving all stakeholders in CSR policy development, or the creation of external value, can only be good.

Then it hit me. My peer and friend was still operating in the old paradigm of marketing, and how external value is created (something the Doughty Centre paper went on to warn me about).

The confusion: Internal marketing isn’t stepping on the toes of good HR practices, or org design, or even good internal comms. Internal marketing makes use of research, design, analysis, feedback and insight. Marketing is no longer about directing the flow of goods, it’s about connecting stakeholders, supporting relationships and developing value, both internally and externally. And I’m pleased to say CSR can only be the winner in this new paradigm.

So I want to say, that although marketing is now integral to most organisations, I think we still have a branding job to do for marketing (and I’m not talking about a logo). It’s not just about mutual respect, it’s about truly understanding how we’ve all changed. We’ve all evolved professionally in our different disciplines, and now we have to continue that journey for the likes of CSR, new markets and most of all, our colleagues.

Designing the most effective solution cannot be done in isolation.

* Thanks to David Grayson of Cranfield University and M. Isabel Sanchez-Hernandez of the University of Etremadura in Spain, for your paper in 2010, for the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility.

2D & 3D – Retail landlords want to see it at the pitch! But why?

3D restaurant interior render by Grapes Design

Darren Grapes of Grapes Design has worked with Dunk Design on a number of projects. Together their teams have worked with graphic design and interior design, to deliver the optimal brand solution for longevity.

Is it ironic that both their names begin with D?

Anyway, the normal creative process was taking place in front of me, but so much more was really happening. A conversation around access, capacity and even licensing restrictions was taking place, all while the brand remained the focus. I was impressed. Everything from how the service patterns were developed alongside the menu design and POS; to how that worked graphically and with texture, materials and even noise levels.

Apparently it all needs to come together at the outset – definitely as part of the landlord pitch – to ensure the long-term success landlords are seeking for their sites. This is why the graphic design team works across all elements of the 3D design, to ensure the brand concept has every chance of establishing itself with minimal difficulties.

Darren and his team at Grapes Design have developed some amazing sites, including the likes of Dirty Martinis, The Golden Bee in Shoreditch and Pandora’s flagship UK store on Oxford Street! Truly cool!

They have an indepth understanding of what’s required to make a brand concept work in 3D, even down to what landlord restrictions are likely to affect it – and he employs that to ensure success for brand and landlord alike.

For instance, all day trading can mean some practicalities must be in place to protect the brand. He explained why understanding things like access can be crucial to the design process.

“Believe me, if you have an all day menu, you don’t want your evening stock arriving at lunchtime with no rear access.”

“That beautiful front door – the eyes to the soul of your brand – all of a sudden starts seeing traffic that really should be out the back.”

“If you can show a landlord that you’ve considered all aspects of the brand in your concept application, you stand a much better chance of meeting what are increasingly high standards and ultimately LONG TERM success goals.”

Hearing more about the role “design” can play in securing sites for hospitality has been fascinating. It would seem that the old adage of “fail to prepare and you prepare to fail” is never more apt.

So as casual dining continues to grow rapidly, competition for the best retail sites is heating up. But for those brands looking to bring their concept to life, Duncan has some sage advice.

“Form and Function Pam! Form AND Function!”

**You can meet Darren and the Grapes Design team at The Restaurant Show, happening from the 5-7th October, Olympia, London. I’ll be there too! Lovin this brave new world I’m learning about.

Good ol’ customer segmentation & copy.

Donald Russell factory exterior sign

So hats off to Donald Russell! The Dunk Design #CreativeBrains brand of the week.

In the last week of August, my normal pack of Donald Russell promotional offers fell on my doormat. I have only ever bought one thing from them, recommended to us by a chef at Simpsons on the Strand – so definitely a brand with some kudos.

I always save the pack for my partner, who also loves looking at the meat on offer and dreaming of sumptuous steaks, delicious roasts and BBQs that are so tasty it doesn’t matter it’s raining. But this month the covering letter made me take a second look.

The ritual was normally to take the flyers out of the pack and save them for my partner. I wouldn’t bother with the loud envelope that screams MEAT, as it comes through the door, or the letter that will no doubt just waffle on about something that seems to take 4 paragraphs to get across. We’re only interested in the fantastic photography and dreaming of what we could do if we had the time.

But this time the opening line in the covering letter was genius!

It caught my eye and made me stop!

“I couldn’t help but notice that despite being a customer of ours, we haven’t yet tempted you with anything this year. Did we let you down in some way?”

Donald Russell direct mail

Brilliant! I was immediately impressed. I also wanted to immediately respond with, “no, no, we love receiving your promotions, please don’t stop”.

And for a moment I was feeling guilty for not buying more from them.

Marketing head back on, I was impressed.

The copy was cut-through, attention grabbing, and created an emotional response that would result in a transaction. Not to mention my continued love of their overall brand.

Although the opening line was simple enough, I also realised they’d also undertaken some brilliant data analysis to bring this message to me. They’ve looked at my transaction history, understood my purchasing behavior and realized they needed a different approach to a segment of their customer base that was displaying similar behaviours.

The perfect strategy. And, what I have to say, reminded me of the good ol’ days of marketing. There was no digital integration, online app, or sexy brand campaign – not to say these aren’t all important tactics in getting a message that invokes a response. It was just a simple line of copy that connected with the audience as it was meant to, through good old fashioned direct mail.

Friday night, date night, will therefore consist of a wonderful Pave Rump Steak combined with perfectly prepared roast potatoes and steamed spinach. As selected for me by the Donald Russell Head Butcher, Mark Farquhar.

A lesson in content.

Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce journal

Why? Because it’s so intellectual. It truly makes me ‘think’ and it takes me time to understand every piece, from the front cover to the back cover.

I love it.

It is the kind of content that is definitely King. The irony is that the Queen is the Patron of the RSA, so I suppose it’s fitting the content is of a royal standard.

But this issue is about policy and governments, driving growth and innovation. And the thing that has struck me most is the use of the words ‘growth’ and ‘innovation’.

Just like my addiction to my RSA Journals – and I still have the full collection from the date I became a Fellow – I feel like the words ‘growth’ and ‘innovation’ are good, great and exciting; but somehow wrong, out-of-place, or even dirty in the context of this content.

In fact, they’re being redefined in the context of what I’m learning about, what our future society could look like.

This content is changing me, not just passing me by.

So while I’m trying to understand Market Failure Theory and why social networks, the entrepreneurial state and policy must change, I’m reminded of why content is king.

Good content changes the way we become aware, consume and understand a message. The story changes around us by those influencing us, as well as by how the message is delivered. And this can happen fast.

We can now consume information so fast, in such enormous quantities, that we’re sometimes not sure where we heard it, or the context.

So as entrepreneurs, communities and marketers, facing enormous change, I wanted to remind you of a brand that remains consistently compelling through a truly effective content strategy…..and tip my hat to the RSA for maintaining their purpose.

Challenge me, inspire me, educate me and empower me. And never steer away from your content strategy – it is at the heart of what makes you great.

Dunk Design white crest

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