The IMPRA Shortlist is out!

We were proud to be asked by Incisive Media to create the design theme for Post Magazine & Insurance Age's inaugural Insurance Marketing and PR Awards. See our previous blog. It is excellent to see the hard work and efforts expended by the insurance marketing and communication communities recognised in this way, we are therefore equally proud to be a supporting sponsor of the event.

Congratulations to all those shortlisted! We are very much looking forward to being at the Grange Hotel, St Paul’s on 26th June to raise a glass (or two) to the winners!

Details of the shortlist can be found here.


Knowing your BIAs from your IMPRAs… How we've built their 2015 brands

We have proudly worked with Post Magazine over the last five years, developing and delivering the themes for their hugely prestigious British Insurance Awards (BIAs). This year, we are giving a nod to our own favourite film director Quentin Tarrantino with the "Top Dogs" theme.

2015 sees Post Magazine and their sister publication Insurance Age launch a brand new awards event, the Insurance Marketing & PR Awards (IMPRA). We were therefore delighted when they asked us to create its theme, including the Award Logo. Of course, it just had to be all about Fresh Thinking.

We believe both designs bring a positive vibe for the insurance industry and hopefully put a smile on people's faces.

As the Design Partner of the BIAs and a Sponsor of the IMPRAs, we will be there on the day when the awards are given out, so wish all of you entering good luck!

brandformula/Lamb bolsters team with new hires

In line with the continued growth of this specialist insurance and financial services marketing agency, the brandformula & Lamb team has seen a number of key new recruits join the company. Julie Jarvis has joined as events director, where she will support the large industry-wide gatherings such as the BIBA & Airmic Conferences that are a key part of their service as well as the client specific work they undertake. On the creative front Mark Leman has joined along with Dalia Merecinskaite as senior designer and designer respectively.

Completing the current round of joiners, Bradford Jordan has joined on a fixed term contract to widen the available resource within their digital communications services. He will be primarily assisting the in-house team with the delivery of their social media services.

Speaking of the creative additions, Nick Patchitt, the group's creative director commented: "I am excited at the outlook for Creative, Mark brings a wealth of brand identity experience from his time at some top creative agencies and Dalia has a wealth of skills to help drive our creative offering into digital, animation and other multi-media channels. The team is looking ahead with confidence at continuing to build on our track record of creating engaging brand identities and award winning campaign work, and the new additions to the team will help us move forward with real purpose."

Mark Huxley, executive director of brandformula & Lamb added: "This is a really exciting time for us. It will soon be 18 months since we merged the two businesses and the intervening time has seen a consistent period of growth, with increasing levels of support from existing clients and many new friends made. Being able to build our team in such a positive way is a wonderful testament to this and we are really looking forward to the great work they will deliver."

And the winner is...

Many of you will know that for a few years now Lamb CMC have created the theming for Post Magazine’s annual British Insurance Awards. Seeing this year’s shortlist being published always gives us here a timely reminder of what a great event this is and how the reputation of winning a “BIA” have helped drive some stellar work by all those who feel it worthy of submitting their efforts for stringent, objective and external scrutiny. As a business that has the word brand at the spiritual heart of everything we do, we take our collective hat off to all those that made this step and would congratulate them in equal measure as those that have been shortlisted and the eventual winners. Within the insurance industry “brand worth” is something that is sometimes not properly understood or appreciated to itself, but the metrics that define it are. It is a sector that is utterly driven by reputations at the corporate or personal level founded upon trust. Another word for which could be truth and it is the ability to show this across the business and more importantly deliver it in its service offerings that truly define a real winner.


When we look at a business’s brand, we look to four key facets that we believe define it:

Authenticity – How ‘true’ does the business remain to its original vision

Compelling – What emotional connection does the business make with its clients

Distinctive – How different is the business to others/competitors

Excellence – Does the business offer any unique service or skill and is it good at it/a leader


To us a good brand has to deliver on all four. Any failing within any of these can, in our mind, cause an imbalance that will mean the business will never reach its full potential and stand out amongst a “Night of the Champions”.

10 Tips for effective brand guidelines

Lamb CMC's list of their top 10 tips for creating effective brand guidelines.

We get asked a lot about brand development and guidelines. So rather than posting again about how to create an engaging brand (which Mark touched upon briefly in a previous post), this post is a quick guide to 10 of our top tips to producing brand guidelines.

A well considered document will ensure the guidelines are effective at communicating your brand and describing how to produce it consistently without killing the ability to be creative with it.


1. Who are the guidelines for?

Consider who is going to be receiving, reading and using these guidelines and tailor the content accordingly. Write with language to engage that audience. Steer clear of jargon and try not to assume technical knowledge if it is going out to all levels within the company. Consider the benefits of multiple versions of guidelines; a technical production reference, a quick guide one sheet for logo and colour use, more indepth guidelines including brand personality, tone of voice, etc.


2. Keep it simple

We appreciate that this is easier said than done but if you want your guidelines to be embraced by all then you need to ensure that what you are explaining is easily understood. The extra time it takes to consider how to simplify the use of your brand now will save a lot more time in future; time that would be spent amending the guidelines retrospectively to verify what you meant originally.


3. Design the guidelines in your brand style

Make sure the document you are producing is truely representative of your business and embracing your brand. If your brand identity is a quirky, young, energetic feeling then make sure your guidelines aren't stuffy and dictorial.


4. Show clear examples of your brand in use

This tip is often surprisingly overlooked in many brand guidelines documents we see. How better to explain how to use your brand than to show it in various real-life examples as you intended.


5. Consistency

Make sure when explaining your brand that it is consistent in how it recommends use of your company's brand. If you are contradicting yourself every other page then what hope will the reader have of understanding how they are supposed to use your brand.


6. Keep tracks of where your brand is used

This tip is more specific to the visual identity aspect of your brand but worth including in your brand guidelines. If there are ever any changes to your logo, colours, font, etc. you need to be able to track back wherever the previous version has been used so that you can replace with the updated version. Examples could include stationery, website, intranet, aggregator sites, affiliate marketing, social networks, email footers, presentations, document templates, signage, etc.


7. Make your materials available

The number one reason we see for inconsistent use of a brand identity is down to staff hoarding out-of-date materials and not having access to a library of correct files. Eliminate this issue by setting up a download section on your website where all logos, current guidelines, imagery, etc. are stored and are easily available to all. Make it password protected if you must but trust us, it's a lot easier to update one set of logos online compared to replying to hundreds of individual emails requesting these marketing materials from various people in your company.


8. Involve your staff

If you want your staff to embrace your new brand then they need to truly feel like it is theirs. They need to understand why and how you have developed their brand and they need to understand how to use it going forward. Form a project team consisting of staff from all levels within your company who might encounter the guidelines and get regular feedback from them during guidelines development. Do they understand the document? What improvements do they suggest would help with the guidelines? What can you do as a company that will make it easier for your staff to use the brand? Involving your people on the ground and getting their feedback can throw up some great issues that would never have been appreciated within the marketing department alone.


9. Have a sign-off process

Assign a brand manager within the company who has been involved with the brand development process and understands your brand inside out. Stipulate that all new creative should be approved by this person and give them a 48 hour turn around period to allow this. This is especially important in the early days of a new brand while staff and external agencies are still getting to grips with any new styles. By doing this you will be able to ensure that you are delivering a consistent and correctly applied brand message to all communications leaving your company.


10. Review your guidelines regularly

The aim of guidelines are to explain, advise and guide use and reproduction of your brand. That doesn't mean that your brand is set in stone from now to eternity. Your brand will continue to evolve and guidelines must be revisited and updated continually and then made available to all again. And to this end, make sure you include version numbers and not just on the front page. Ensure you include the document version number on every page incase the document ends up getting split and passed around internally which invariably it does.


 So to recap:

  1. Who are the guidelines for? Write them accordingly
  2. Keep it simple to understand
  3. Design the guidelines in your brand style
  4. Show clear examples of your brand in use
  5. Keep your instructions consistent
  6. Keep tracks of where your brand is used
  7. Make your materials available
  8. Involve your staff
  9. Have a sign off process
  10. Review your guidelines regularly


There is just one more thing... Involve the professionals early on

We really recommend consulting a professional branding service to help you with any brand creation, development or guidelines. The same issues come up again and again and we know what to look out for and how to avoid certain pitfalls with preemptive planning and briefing which will ensure your branding project runs smoothly and successfully.

How does your exhibition stand reflect your brand?

Following on from the interest in Neil's recent post about the approaching BIBA 2012 conference (google analytics is a wonderful thing) we thought we would continue with a look at exhibition design from a brand perspective and why it should be part of your marketing budget.

An exhibition show is potentially one of the more exciting parts of your marketing calendar – exciting because after developing your identity and brand guidelines you can focus on bringing your company identity off of the printed page or out of the screen. You are going to have to figure out how to bring your brand to life and represent it in a physical environment. Exhibition design is a chance to make that all important first impression of your company to a potential new lead and doing it well can mean the difference between gaining new business or being overlooked.


Why exhibit at all? 

It can be a big chunk of your marketing budget, planning it is time consuming and it forces your staff out of their comfort zone and into the paths of the masses. Well that last point is the key isn't it – exposure. Exposure, new leads and relationship building all hopefully leading to increased business.


First things first - know your brand

You need to know what your brand stands for before you can ensure that your exhibition presence is reflecting your company consistently. If you've been through any sort of a branding exercise you should know the key values to communicate in order to represent your brand consistently. Your brand identity will of course include the basics... logo, colours, font, image library specifications, etc., but should also include more abstract concepts that represent your brand such as feeling, tone, emotion, etc.


Know why you are there

Consider and decide what your exhibition goals are before you start thinking about stand design. The most successful and suitable stands are born out of considered briefs detailing clear goals of what a client wants to achieve from exhibiting at a conference show.

Parti example - Lamb CMC

Begin with an idea. There is a term in architecture, parti – or parti pris 'to make a decision' – which means the underlying concept. It is similar to the big idea in branding; the single thought which is the foundation on which everything else is built. Let's say that your big idea or focus for the stand is accessibility - this informs any decision along the design process by giving focus to a core thought to come back to. A parti is this focus of satisfying the original idea condensed down into a simple statement or sketch of what the aim of the project is.

Thinking about your stand in its simplest form helps focus the development process by prompting you to consider whether any particular design decision is staying true to or enhancing the original idea behind the stand. This can inform furniture selection, floorspace required, brightness of lighting, materials, finishes, on stand experience, etc.

For example, there will be a big difference in the design approach of the stand depending on whether your focus is a simple brand promotion exercise compared to if it is a new product launch. In the former your message may be 'here we are, this is our company, we're showing our face, a dependable reliable showing year after year', all that can be done with a logo and an engaging structural design. In the latter case the group branding may take more of a secondary backseat with the focus shifting to your new product; the group branding sitting in the background lending gravitas and instant recognition to the product launch.


What can a stand say about your brand?

A stand should reflect your brand - if your company is all about investing time with clients and providing a bespoke service to them then build a stand that allows you to invite those guests on, provide comfortable furniture and take time to speak to them. If you want to show you are a busy dynamic company then make your stand a lot brighter with lots of presentations, less furniture and a shorter stand experience time.

Think of your stand as a shop front for your business; it's an opportunity to reflect all of your brand values in a way that you never can do in the reality of your office layout. Perhaps you are based 100s of miles from your potential clients in which case an exhibition stand allows you to take your world to them.

If you think of billboard advertisements - they work on a 3 second rule. They need to grab the attention of passing motorists and deliver a message to them within those 3 seconds of a car passing by. Exhibition stands are the same albeit with slower moving traffic passing through the aisles but the principle remains. Don't bombard people with an essay of text across 3 walls, they will process and retain less than 5% of the message.

As we've mentioned, this is a chance to create a physical presence of your company brand - try to exploit the senses. You're not tied to the visual sense of a website, you can play with lighting, tactile material, aroma, taste, performance and hotwire straight into potential customers sensory perceptions.

Your message can be sophisticated in what it communicates about your brand but it has to be succinct and easily processed by the audience.

Strive to make it memorable past the event. You want to sow that seed in people's heads so that when they stumble across your company in a couple of months time they recognise the brand and recall the associations with your company that you've prompted through your stand design.


Your people

Often in branding projects we are trying to get inside a company's ethos to understand what makes them unique, especially in financial companies where so much is based on personal relationships and the quality of a company's people. Often in insurance companies this comes down to the characteristics of people within that company and the personal relationships they can develop with clients.

An exhibition stand is a chance to bring them out from behind an email address or phone number and press the flesh with potential clients. A stand needs to make your people comfortable to shine, that means giving them the confidence to sell your business at its best. If they are proud to stand in front of that stand it will come across to the attendees at the conference.

As the old adage goes 'first impressions are everything'. To a completely uninterested visitor a good stand will plant a seed. To a potential customer it could tip the balance. To an existing customer it should reaffirm their positive feeling towards your company.


An example to illustrateMAPFRE BIBA exhibition stand - Lamb CMC

Shameless self-promotion plug warning: take one of our clients MAPFRE, a global insurance provider. MAPFRE came to Lamb CMC recognising that they needed to develop their UK identity which meant a full brand evaluation and development project. Once this was complete it naturally progressed into a marketing campaign including a showing at last year's BIBA conference. This was MAPFRE's first showing at BIBA so it was key that they made a bold statement ensuring people realised that they were there.

The brief: MAPFRE wanted to arrange slots of time with a number of visitors throughout the day, they wanted them to experience something of the company's heritage and they wanted their stand to be remembered.

The informed audience of insurance brokers all knew MAPFRE as a Spanish company so we used that heritage as our hook and focussed our design around Spanish hospitality. We took their bold graphic identity and incorporated it into a stand using a combination of branded panels and traditional wood materials (making it stand out within the usual stand design finishes).

It was a small stand space which was a factor we turned into a strength adding to the tapas bar feel we decided to have no large furniture, encouraging visitors to stand and chat. We took the height of the stand up to add a sense of an enclosed intimate refuge within the large Manchester exhibition hall. Finished the feel with a professional tapas chef offering tapas and freshly sliced jamon. Beer on tap. Who could resist?

No walls full of small text, no long lists of products, no branded biros - it's not what people will remember after the event. One simple concept - Spanish hospitality; a warm welcome, good people, good conversation, plenty of food and drink, all in an informal relaxed space. It certainly stood out amongst the other stands last year, so much so that it won the best small stand award and the organisers were still struggling to get visitors to leave hours after the exhibition had finished.

What does someone take away from it? A sense of who Mapfre are, what they're about, what the people behind the brand are like and what drives them - all with their brand subtly sitting there in the background. That experience remains associated with MAPFRE and is remembered whenever that logo is seen in the future by visitors.


To see some more examples of our exhibition design check out our work section on the site - click here