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”.

Marketing your company through social media

Lamb CMC's essential tips to consider when thinking about building a social media presence for your company.  Probably the fastest growing area of our business, both in interest and actual work has been communication services involving social media. We have written a number of times here about how Linkedin and Twitter need to be considered as a key element of your external brand positioning, so we won’t preach here, but rather assume that if you are reading this then you have made that leap of faith to give it some serious consideration.


So what should be in your mind when thinking about how it should be delivered within your organisation?

Well the very first thing is to realise is that this is a strategy that will by its nature spread across the whole your organisation. It cannot nor ever will be delivered as a single thread that will not influence all else. It is a public broadcasting medium, therefore you need to appreciate that what is said here could extend many times beyond your direct following or networks. People sharing or retweeting could potentially give it a huge outreach that will overlap all your other communication channels. So think organisation-wide and develop a concerted strategy before pressing send.


Know your goals

Most think that it is the size of your community that is the key aim. Of course that is important, but knowing what you want to achieve with that community is of much greater importance; is it to drive brand awareness, traffic back to your website or is it perhaps sales? Your social communications strategies must accord to these goals and always have them in mind.


What is your ROI?

Whether managed internally or externally there will be a cost and with that you need to have the measurements to know that the campaign is meeting your goals. Whether short, medium or ultimate aims, be clear about how it will be measured.


Should I worry about Follower numbers?

In a word, no! It is more about having influencers – people that are trusted and have engaged followers themselves. Look out for bloggers, acknowledged experts, interesting “celebrities” in your sector and active tweeters; all of whom can help spread and evangelise your messages.


Look out for other communities to be active within

There are some obvious channels to use, Twitter & LinkedIn being two here, plus Facebook, as with its new Timeline platform it finally makes some sense for businesses to profile on it. But there are equally many other communities that have been created to be shared amongst like-minded people. Look them out and get involved as you never know who might be on them.


Klout score analysis

Understand the data

There are a plethora of tools on the internet that can help you delve into the effectiveness of your social media presence. Everyone has their favourites; here at Lamb we use HootSuite  as the dashboard for monitoring the various accounts we have. Aside of the usual timelines, mentions, messages, etc it has a great search tool for looking at Twitter trends as well as being able to tell you when and how many times a tweet posted has been retweeted, thereby showing the outreach of it. We use Klout and its inbuilt scoring matrix to gauge how effective our accounts are. Its algorithms assess amongst other things, your activity, the quality of your followers and the outreach of your tweets to build a number score. Very simply the higher the number the greater your perceived Twitter clout or Klout is considered. It also shows how it goes up and down, which can be a great indicator of any specific messaging done. SocialBro is great for lifting the bonnet of your Twitter account and seeing who’s following you, who they really are, how active they are and how influential they are for you.


Make everything social

Ultimately one of the prime motivations of all this is to raise awareness. A big part of which is to drive traffic to your site and likewise raise its profile in the Google search rankings. This is now almost entirely driven by how active and contemporary your site is, therefore it pays huge attention to the social media content within it. Don’t miss that trick then and make sure your site captures and displays that content where Google will find it.

Twitter in action

As regular readers of our blog will know, we are social media enthusiasts and have made it a key part of our work to try and show why every brand should at least contemplate its use. I think it would be fair to say that most people see the benefits of LinkedIn as a 21st century addition to the old fashioned networking, but not so many see the benefits of something as eclectic as Twitter, with its fast moving, up to second micro-blogging. It really is a medium where the art is to be in constant touch with it and to actively participate, rather than sit on the sidelines as a watcher. Part of our social media service delivery is to manage the Twitter accounts for some of our clients that use them and we were recently involved in an event that we believe shows the real worth of Twitter.

One of our clients, Howe & Co is probably the best regarded human rights law firm in the UK, if not internationally. They have represented in many high profile cases, not least of which the settlement rights of the Ghurkas, publicly led by Joanna Lumley. With their status, their Twitter account (which only started a month or so back), whilst small in number, counts some highly influential people, one of which is the MP Peter Carroll, himself vocal on all manner of human rights issues.

At around 9.30pm one evening a week or so ago, Mr Carroll posted the following tweet:

"@relresuk @realmissfiona I would think that the lawyers @HoweAndCo could help with this. They fought for the Gurkhas & they are brilliant"

Because we use some of the many social media monitoring tools, we were immediately alerted and responded to the tweet in the name of Howe & Co, inviting some direct follow up. We also forwarded the tweet on to Howe & Co, who similarly responded immediately.

Cutting what could be a long story of the next few hours, the plea for help was on behalf of Jane Worroll, the daughter that had exposed the abuse of her mother Maria at the Ash Court Care Home. As part of an employment tribunal by an ex-employee she was being summonsed to provide her videos in defence of the ex-employee. For obvious reasons, she found this whole idea horribly distressing, especially as the summons had been delivered earlier that evening for her to present them the next morning.

With social networks and Twitter especially sharing the news, it had come to the attention of The Relatives & Residents Association, who support, inform and campaign on behalf of older people in care & who had worked closely upon this case, TV Presenter Fiona Philips, who was involved in the original Panorama programme as well as the subsequent news coverage and as already said, MP Peter Carroll. Adding Howe & Co into the equation it meant that some solid advice was given as well as some much needed moral support. With this in place, Jane Worroll received the help she needed and with the support given, Howe & Co made a firm connection with the charity.

Pleasingly this episode was recognised by Fiona Philips and she reported it and the support given by Howe & Co in her regular newspaper column in the Daily Mirror.

I will leave you to ponder the respective merits here, but for a simple act, well executed and some intelligent thinking by Howe & Co about social media, their whole worth of their business has been lifted into a hugely positive place of its own.


If you'd like to follow either us or Howe and Co. on Twitter then our links are below:

Lamb CMC

Howe and Co.

Lamb CMC's most successful BIBA conference yet

The annual BIBA conference is the insurance industry's leading event taking place over 2 days which this year was hosted in Manchester. BIBA 2012 was Lamb CMC's biggest and most successful event to date which saw us designing and building 11 exhibition stands for various clients throughout the hall. Each stand required an individual creative approach to ensure it was as engaging as possible on the day but also tied in with individual marketing campaigns and product pushes. No modular systems here thankyou! Of course our work didn't stop at stand designs with many clients using the opportunity to launch their new brands and marketing campaigns, it was a hectic few months leading up to BIBA but without exception we are delighted with the results for each and every project.

We'd like to thank all of our clients for embracing our designs and all who worked so hard from initial concept sketches through to final stand build - this really was a great event for all who took part.

Below is a brief summary of each of our stands, full details of each stand will be in our work section soon so please check back shortly.


Abbey Legal BIBA 2012 Exhibition StandAbbey Legal Protection Using BIBA 2012 as a launch date for Abbey Legal's new product meant that we could go bold and simple with the design of this stand and focus on functionality. We designed a stand which featured a demonstration bench allowing face-to-face presentations of the new online system across various devices. This stand surpassed expectations and looked stunning on the day ensuring a very happy client.

Catlin BIBA 2012 Exhibition StandCatlin Our brief was to take Catlin's amazing office environment and bring it into the BIBA hall - a home away from home. We replicated various finishes and features from Catlin's London office including a large coffee bar, bespoke artwork, quality floor finish, lighting and even a full length hanging red acrylic ribbon feature. These all looked exceptional but let's not kid ourselves, the coffee was the draw on this stand and we ensured that Catlin were offering the best at BIBA.

CNA BIBA 2012 Exhibition StandCNA Move over Tom Cruise, the cocktails are on us. The CNA stand was kept very open, bright and inviting with the lure or freshly prepared cocktails. On stand messages were kept to a minimum, and defined separate areas were created allowing for impromptu meetings and conversations. Visibility of the CNA brand was maximised ensuring the stand was viewable from a maximum area around the stand. This was a quality bespoke stand that sat very comfortably and confidently within this competitive area of the hall.

DAS BIBA 2012 Exhibition StandDAS This stand was a lot of fun to produce, more film set design than clean corporate stand. DAS wanted a stand showcasing their business recovery product and how it helps customers to get back up and running after any disaster. We replicated a typical pub interior with genuine working pub bar and proceeded to set it on fire (well, not literally), giving the effect of fire damage. This was certainly not your average insurance exhibition stand and attracted a lot of attention as a result.

Davies Group BIBA 2012 Exhibition StandDavies Group Our ongoing Remarkable People doing remarkable things marketing campaign and continued sponsorship of Team GB cyclist Andy Tennant has continued to gain traction over the last year so we used this as the focus for this year's stand. The stand was in a fantastic location within the hall which ensured large footfall past the stand, we simply let the campaign shine. Showcasing 2 of Andy's bikes, his world champion jersey and videos of him in action sparked real interest in the campaign and meant the Davies representatives were kept busy across the 2 days.

Heritage BIBA 2012 Exhibition StandHeritage This is a real working stand which has already been used in various exhibitions around Europe. We developed it in 2011 to be adaptable to various size configurations and reused the basic structure again this year with updated graphics tying in with the conference branding. We also developed a quick interactive ipad survey which delegates completed on the stand with updated results displayed live on it proving to be a real talking point and hook to starting conversations with passing delegates.

Insurance Times BIBA 2012 Exhibition StandInsurance Times As with previous years Insurance Times were recording live video footage and editing at the event, showcasing their talents and giving a real insight into the hectic nature of journalism. With a limited stand footprint we maximised space on this stand to include interview areas and a private hidden area for editing video which was then included into an updated looping video screen on stand.

MAPFRE BIBA 2012 Exhibition StandMAPFRE Group After the success of their award winning stand last year MAPFRE were keen to keep the same concept and evolve the stand for this year's BIBA conference. We kept the tapas bar theme which reinforced MAPFRE's proud Spanish heritage but opened the stand up by removing a wall and lightened the wood panelling. Again this proved to be a very popular stand with the delegates who couldn't resist the warm Spanish hospitality on offer showing MAPFRE at their best.

NewLaw Solicitors BIBA 2012 Exhibition StandNewLaw Solicitors Keen to break into the insurance market, this was NewLaw's first time at the BIBA conference and potentially the first time a lot of delegates would have seen the solicitor. NewLaw were keen to have a stand which pushed their brand and their new NL24 company as effectively as possible. We designed and built a stand which gave maximum exposure to their brand which was well received by all; a positive step for NL24 getting a foot in the insurance market.

NMU BIBA 2012 Exhibition StandNMU All change on the NMU stand this year; they used the BIBA conference to launch the new look NMU with new branding, collateral and a completely new CMS website which is launching any day now. Utilising the stand we built last year we replaced the floor and backwall with updated quality finishes and added a large hanging lightbox above the stand which guaranteed the NMU name was seen from around the hall.

Transactor BIBA 2012 Exhibition StandTransactor Transactor is a software company which offers systems that can easily expand as a client's requirements increases. They wanted a playful, fun stand which still reflected the professional nature of the company. We took their logo as a start point and repeated the shape into an organised grid picking out individual squares with various details. It is always satisfying to overhear people around the show complimenting one of your stands and this was one of those examples.

Again, all of these projects will be updated shortly in the work section of our website where you will be able to see much more detail of the stands and various details.

Thanks again to all!



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.

Twitter - Can you afford to not be part of the conversation

We've all heard about the benefits of getting your business represented on Twitter and connecting to your network of customers but have you considered what the consequences of ignoring this social network might be? Potentially there could be a P.R. storm brewing around your company reputation while you are oblivious to it. We had a bit of bother here this week, when one of our clients, became the victim of some spurious tweeting as they had been erroneously identified as a company that has been making unsolicited calls about pursuing mis-sold PPI policies. I think we all know about these calls, texts & emails that are unwanted and intrusive. The details of this episode are of no more importance so we will spare names, etc. But it raised a very serious issue about reputation management if you have a Twitter/social media presence, as our client does or if you do not, which we feel is worthy of a few mentions here.

Shockingly, given that the company had been mis-identified, they became the victim of some brief but quite spiteful tweeting, which had it gone unnoticed, could have caused a nasty bump in their reputation. By its nature Twitter is at its best when breaking news and the story spreads fast and wide. As it was both we and they got on top of it and wrote a suitably worded email to the person that posted it, pointing out the error and demanding an apology. Which for the record was willingly given, the tweet deleted and an apology posted.

However it raises point number one. Twitter is a written medium in the public domain and as such is bound by all the same libel laws and protections as anything else similar, like a Facebook post, a comment on Linkedin or an email (where there is now strong legal precedent). It is therefore incumbent upon anybody posting anything that they remember this fact and think twice before submitting anything controversial.

On the flip side I think our client handled their own situation perfectly and responded straight away, made direct contact, politely pointed out the error and demanded the withdrawal which is point 2. In an environment like Twitter, necessary responses really must be thought through but as far as possible, immediate, time can quickly become an enemy.

What has really got me thinking though, is point 3. What had happened had our client not had a Twitter account and were blissfully unaware that a reputation fire was burning around them. The simple truth of social networks is that in reality there is no opt in or opt out, the only difference is if you are not active then you have zero control over the conversation, but if you are then you have the opportunity to be proactive and shape what is being said.

The statistics of what is posted on Twitter are staggering; 250 million tweets per day, over 100 million active Twitter users and if like me you are part of that community then you will see first hand how breaking news spreads instantaneously across it. Perhaps the most famous example being the posting of the amateur film when the plane came down in the Hudson River, or the death of Amy Winehouse beating the BBC to spread the sad news.

This subject is particularly relevant at the moment due to the news this week regarding the jailing of a student who made racially offensive comments about footballer Fabrice Muamba on Twitter. This is another example of how comments made online can be treated every bit as seriously and are governed by the same laws of libel as comments made in the press or elsewhere.

So I am pleased that our client has escaped the clutches of a bad press day this week but I am now just a wee bit more worried, nay paranoid about whatever else may have been missed. My advice, join the conversation and of course, make sure you use an expert to help you. As you know the Lamb door is always open for a cup of tea and a chat...