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Our core services

An integrated suite of services is designed to help our clients become design-rich, deploying design as a seamless part of their normal business processes, improving the effectiveness of their communications, brand impact, audience engagement and focus on effective outcomes.

Interface & engagement
Dedicated or deployed graphic support
Mentoring, coaching & seminars
Branding & brand stewardship
Bids & reports
Presentations
Infographics, diagrams & visualisation
Graphic design for print & web
Qualitative & quantitative insight
Food manufacturing sector

Interface & engagement

Interface & engagement delivers the Design Thinking process at the fulcrum between two sides of a dialogue or transaction.

In traditional design projects, this could mean the design of a product for a specific function, where the ‘transaction’ is between user and successful function. The ‘dialogue’ being the experience of the user.

Being focused on the end user and achieving an effective outcome for that person, the process is inherently outcome-aligned.

We apply the same approach to assuring effective interactions within businesses.

Our consultants work alongside teams at all levels of business, from boardroom to HR, helping to define the outcome, maintain focus on the end user (or more commonly, the audience), and working iteratively, creatively and without fear of failure to develop innovative and truly effective results.

Dedicated or deployed graphic support

All businesses can benefit from design, but due to a combination of perception of value and lack of confidence in briefing creatives, investment in design is often sporadic and reserved for the likes of product launches and new literature. Consequently, design becomes a ‘treat’ and not a consistent, on-tap resource for everyone in the business, despite its value to brand impact and strategic communications.

The alternative is to use cheaper, less experienced designers who are less likely to create the quality of output your brand deserves.

What most businesses need though, is small amounts of good design on a regular  basis.

Our dedicated and deployed graphic support aims to address this, with the intention of fulfilling our desire to see more businesses become design-rich. You retain our design services for a fixed period of time each month. Within that allowance, specific individuals within your organisation can use EllisJames whenever they require, for all intents and purposes as their own in-house design team.

  • You get the value of our experience and our proven design capabilities applied to everyday jobs that will otherwise do your brand a disservice
  • We both benefit from an ongoing relationship where we learn more about your brand and your customers – which informs the design output – and you see the benefits of good design deployed daily throughout your business.
  • The value perception of your brand is improved, not just through your brochures or your web site, but through the quality of signage, name badges, stationery, presentations, posters, mailings and vehicle livery, and the cumulative effect of all of the above.
  • Agreements are made on a six monthly basis, but beyond that you’re not tied to EllisJames. The aim is to empower your people with design, not restrict you with covenants and contracts.

Mentoring, coaching & seminars

As we’ve mentioned elsewhere on this site, our commitment is to helping our customer become design-rich, whereby they have an appreciation of the strategic benefits of good design across their organisation, and are willing to invest in and support its integration to reap the business benefits.

To support this commitment, we offer mentoring, coaching and seminars to help individuals or teams within your business develop their design thinking or graphic design skills.

Coaching
We will engage directly with individuals within your organisation to help develop their design skills, so they can become your in-house design ambassador or quality control of visual output. Regular one-to-one sessions will take place where we can guide individuals through the design process on real world tasks. Ideal candidates are capable members of a team who already have responsibilities in the support of inhouse-produced literature, email mailings and presentations. Coaching can include specific app-based training, such as InDesign, PowerPoint and Photoshop.

Mentoring
Delivered as an open ended relationship in blocks of three months at a time, mentoring involves regular one-to-one sessions where we explore design thinking and its deployment on a strategic level within your business. Ideal mentees are those in a leadership role, where the benefits and attitude of design thinking can be filtered down to the benefit of their whole team.

Seminars
We currently have a programme of four seminars, each lasting about one hour. They are:

  • Aspire to Inspire: introducing the notion of ‘being in a box’ – a negative mindset – towards giving, and listening to, presentations, and how the process of Design Thinking can help you change your mindset to one that is more productive and focused on effectiveness. The key tenets of Design Thinking being a clear understanding of desired Outcome; Empathy for the audience; experimentation, modelling, Play; and accepting that failure is part of a more successful outcome – Failing often to succeed sooner.
  • Crafting the Presentation: a more practical seminar with a top 10 of tips towards producing more effective, engaging presentations.
  • Cultivating the Brand: what a brand is, why brands are important, what branding is and how we sustain and cultivate a brand.
  • Creativity: how artistic is wrongly aligned with ‘creative’ in children; what that tells us about how we create the right environment to foster creativity; and a top ten of tips to unlock creativity.

Each seminar is hopefully relevant and of use to all levels within your business, but we strongly believe it is of most pertinence to the leadership team. Please get in touch if you would like to know more about our seminars.

Branding & brand stewardship

Whether you want one or not, if you are selling something you have a brand. Because brands are driven by inference, assumption and association.

So if you sell a message, flog grommets or wash cars, you have a brand.

You cannot not have a brand. Brands are inevitable. They are part of the fabric of society.

So we ask not, “Why are brands important?”, but instead, “Why is cultivating my brand important?”

Ever get in to a great conversation with someone you’ve just met, and after a while you become aware that you’ve both got your legs crossed in the same way? Or that you’re both sitting forward in your seat? It’s called Mirroring and it’s something we do naturally to express parity. We seek out shared values; we show empathy for the counterpart’s situation; and we let them know what they might expect from a relationship with us.

Well brands are like that. When we assess a brand, we’re looking for shared values (“Do I agree with the way they do things?”); empathy (“Do I understand where they’re coming from? Do they understand where I’m coming from?”); what are they like to work with (“Are they going to let me down? Can they keep a secret?”).

 

To communicate our brand’s values and qualities, we need to:

  • State our claims – we are reliable, we are dynamic, we are experts, we are the best etc
  • Believe it – develop belief in our brand through our actions and the way we go about business
  • And image – create a unifying ident that represents those claims and belief, the look, feel, touch and sound of the brand ie. branding.

Together these elements generate expectation.

However fancy the logo, it’s expectation that audiences are ultimately attracted to. The expectation that a brand will deliver on its promises.

Expectation is very compelling, particularly if it’s persuasive – if it’s believable. This is brand value. Fail to deliver to expectation and your brand value suffers.

We create great branding by first getting under the skin of your brand, understanding your values, your qualities, your capabilities and your ambitions. We work together with you to build your brand value. And then we stick around to help you maintain that, by ensuring your branding is correctly applied wherever it is used, that copy frames your brand in the right way and that your image is cared for.

Bids & reports

Bids and reports can be bloody tough going. Tight deadlines, a large team of contributors and a heavy burden of expectation conspire to create a stressful demand on an organisation.

We can’t make hard work disappear, but we can help structure the process, organise the content, craft the writing and, through excellent design, whack the engagement level up to 11.

This isn’t about adding a shiny veneer to your existing content. We will guide you along a design-led approach that keeps the evaluator (or target audience) at its heart, telling the story of what you can do in the finest way.

Presentations

Janet asks John to give a presentation. About servers.

John is clever. He loves servers. Clever John.

John hates presentations. Poor John.

John starts by opening PowerPoint, and like a dog sniffing out old bones, he digs up some presentations he did last year.

John also has a white paper he wrote a few months back. “That’ll do!” says John.

John doesn’t like talking to people. John likes to read. John is good at reading. Clever John!

So John writes lots of slides with lots of bullet points.

John gives his presentation on servers. It takes just over three days. John is pleased. He turns to Janet.

Janet is dead. She was so bored she drove a nine inch nail through her left eyeball. Silly Janet.

John is sad. He didn’t even get to read his slides on definitions of Layer 3 IP subnet and Layer 2 broadcast domain boundaries.

Where did John go wrong? How could Janet’s senseless death have been avoided?

We help write, design, brand, construct, craft, illustrate, compile, hone, refine, edit and deliver presentations which are focused on effective outcomes. That means they flow with an engaging logical narrative, they stimulate and retain attention with insightful graphics, visuals and animation, and they deliver a sense of purpose, desired outcomes and follow-on actions so the audience knows what they’re supposed to do once it’s over.

Infographics, diagrams & visualisation

If you can’t get across just how amazing the things you’re selling are, or what a lovely bunch of people you are to work with, you’re going to struggle to convince people to do business with you.

The problem is that really good people like you do really complicated things. And sometimes words aren’t that effective at communicating complex or emotional ideas. In certain circumstances words aren’t great at some of the simple stuff either. For instance, who wants to follow written directions when a map does the job so much better?

Certain diagrams and charts are often used repeatedly by businesses – they become go-to objects to drop into presentations and reports as they are thought to illustrate ‘what they’re getting at’. What’s actually happened is that those diagrams and charts have become only representative of a concept – to those in the business. And of course they work for that audience – any diagram makes sense if you already know what it’s trying to say. It’s a bigger challenge to create a visual that explains more than words alone – that engages, communicates and inspires interest.

Infographics – essentially ‘graphically realised facts and figures’ – are a similar challenge. They exist because often the truth of a statistic is more interesting than the written figures would have us believe. Done well, infographics make numbers live – they provide context and scale, and direct us to the real underlying message. Again, in an engaging, interesting and often fun way.

By comparison, visualisations could be defined as ‘graphically described notions, systems or concepts’. They can help to expound the more esoteric, fanciful or slippery ideas or solutions.

At their heart though, all three of these are the same thing – using design thinking and design craft to communicate better.

 

 

 

Graphic design for print & web

“Just jazz it up.”

“Can you make this look pretty?”

“Needs a bit of polish.”

We love getting these requests. (I’m dying inside)

No, really. We do. (my design soul is crumbling to dust)

Graphic design has never been more important. Life is fast, everyone’s a consumer, everyone wants our attention. Graphic design provides the visual conduit to your audience.

It can make them laugh, it can make them think, it can be shocking or touching. What graphic design must never be is nothing.

Graphic design is strategic. It is logic, craft and artistry conjoined to a common end, exploiting human nature and psychology to achieve its goals.

Graphic design reaches for the human in all of us and inspires us to make decisions.

Neuoscientist Antonio Damasio studied people with damage to the part of the brain where emotions are generated. He found that these people were unable to make even very simple decisions. Many decisions have pros and cons – shall I have the chicken or the pork? But without an emotional driver behind the logic, humans find it impossible to choose.

Our approach to graphic design is to aim for the heart and the soul – create an emotion – drive the decision you need – grow your business.

Qualitative & quantitative insight

If you haven’t heard of User Experience, or UX, you soon will do. User Experience was originally borne of app development – a subset of design thinking that looked at how effectively an app combined function and form to create an experience in use that went beyond the functional capabilities of the programme. Or put more simply, how enjoyable an app was to use.

As apps, the cloud, mobile computing and work-life balance continue to evolve and integrate, so the relevance of Customer Experience as a differentiator has come to the fore. And will continue to do so.

Qualitative and quantitative research enables you to get a categorical understanding of how customers perceive and enjoy (or dislike) their experience of your business or product.

Our Qual & Quan partners can run group, individual and telephone interviews, feedback sessions and reviews, surveys and analysis to give you not only an in-depth understanding of where your business is working best, but advice on how to adapt to and exploit those findings to improve your business further.

Food manufacturing sector

We have worked directly with some of the UK’s largest or best loved manufacturers of prepared meals, sandwiches, cheese, milk and dairy for years, as well as overseas importers.

Our knowledge of the dairy and prepared meals sectors is particularly thorough, having worked with a number of major suppliers to the industry, including Oscar Mayer (including Ferndale Foods and Rowan Foods), Eurilait, Greencore, Milk Link (now part of Arla), Crediton Dairy, Medina Dairy, Snowdonia Cheese Company and Canadian importer JK Overweel.

Our work ranges from the strategic, with brand development, brand storytelling, product positioning, fixture development and strategic proposals for major retailers; to the more practical – packaging and label design and artworks, sales literature, point-of-sale, promotional items and web site design and development.

A lot of the work we produce is for qualitative and quantitative research ie. a believable range of design proposals that can be put before test audiences for evaluation. This work is crucially important to food manufacturers towards the retention or winning of ongoing supply contracts.

Understandably, as with our work in the aerospace, defence and securities sectors, much of the work we undertake in this sector is confidential. If you would like to know more about our projects, please get in touch.

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