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”.

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.

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


A (fairly) quick guide to digital vs litho printing

So you've finally got that design signed off on the new marketing brochure you've been working on for months – now you need to decide how you are going to print the piece? The growth of digital printing technology has brought technical advancements, more options, and exciting new features to today’s commercial printing. It has also brought some confusion. An understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of digital printing and how those compare to traditional offset lithography is critical in making the right choice when placing a print order. What's the Difference?

Offset lithography is the most common high volume commercial printing technology. In offset printing, the desired print image is burned onto a plate and is then transferred (or offset) from the plate to a rubber blanket, and then to the printing surface. The lithographic process is based on the repulsion of oil and water. The image to be printed gets ink from ink rollers, while the non printing area attracts a film of water, keeping the non printing areas ink-free.

Digital printing eliminates many of the mechanical steps required for conventional printing, including making film (film is rapidly becoming a thing of the past with most new presses being CTP – computer to plate) and making plates. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that digital print is the same as running copies from your PC to a laser or inkjet printer, the digital print presses used by printers are much more sophisticated than that!

Digital PrintingAdvantages of Digital Printing

  • Shorter turnaround.
  • Every print is the same. More accurate counts, less waste and fewer variations, due to not having to balance ink and water during press run.
  • Cheaper low volume printing. While the unit cost of each piece may be higher than with offset printing, when setup costs are included digital printing provides lower per unit costs for very small print runs.
  • Variable Data Printing is a form of customisable digital printing. Using information from a database or external file, text and graphics can be changed on each piece without stopping or slowing down the press. For example, personalised letters can be printed with a different name and address on each letter. Variable data printing is used primarily for direct marketing, customer relationship development and advertising.

Offset Lithography PrintingAdvantages of Offset Lithography Printing

  • High image quality.
  • Works on a wide range of printing surfaces including paper, wood, cloth, metal, leather, rough paper and plastic.
  • The unit cost goes down as the quantity goes up.
  • Quality and cost-effectiveness in high volume jobs. While today’s digital presses are close to the cost/benefit ratio of offset for high quality work, they are not yet able to compete with the volume an offset press can produce.
  • Many modern offset presses use computer-to-plate systems as opposed to the older computer-to-film work flows, further increasing quality.

Not Sure Which is Right?

Obviously we will help select the right method for you based on the project, but use the following checklist to help you decide which is for you

  • Quantity. Offset printing has a front-end cost load. Short runs may have a high unit cost. But as quantities increase, the unit cost goes down with offset printing. Very short runs can be much more cost effective with digital printing; while larger quantities are likely to have a lower unit cost with offset printing.
  • Printing medium. Do you need or want a special paper, finish or unusual printing surface, or unique size? The options are increasing continually for digital, but offset printing still offers the most flexibility.
  • Colour. Digital presses mostly use four-color process printing. If you need only black ink or one or two ink colours or special metallic inks, offset printing may offer a more cost-effective solution. If you need four-color printing, digital may offer advantages in lower up-front costs. If you’re planning to print using the Pantone® Matching System, offset printing will give you the best match, since it uses actual Pantone® ink. Digital printing simulates the colour using a four-color matching process, so some digital printers may offer less accurate colour matching on projects. That said many top end digital presses already have colour matching systems to match special ink colours and no doubt will continue to improve.
  • Turnaround. If you need it fast, digital usually offers quicker delivery.
  • Proofing. Digital offers accurate proofs since you see an actual sample of the printed piece. Accurate colour proofing for offset printing can be expensive as it involves making plates and preparing the press, to create what we call a ‘wet’ proof.
  • Customisation. Without question, digital printing offers the most affordable way to customise marketing materials, direct mail pieces, letters etc.

BIBA's just around the corner...

BIBA is just 14 weeks away and don't we know it at Lamb Towers - stand designs are plenty, rebrands are being considered, brochures underway, product launches and new websites being born!

It's really interesting to see how BIBA has become a launch pad for many of our clients' marketing drives with a much greater consideration across the board of its impact on their business positioning. Gone are the days of 'We've booked a space now we just need a stand...'. I think this has a lot to do with the high prestige value of a presence at BIBA.

It really is the perfect industry event to focus both internally, and from a client perspective, just how a business communicates what it is, what it wants and what it can offer. The thought, and considerable cost, that goes into exhibiting at the trade event of the year needs to be more than just a place to wave their respective flags. Hence it has become for many, the pivotal event for their year's marketing campaign.

Not that we are complaining. BIBA allows us to focus and capitalise on our clients messages, and communicate those in our stand design features as well as their other marketing platforms. The end result being a consistent message that guarantees success, and more importantly, a handsome ROI. Must get back to the ideas board!