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As a web developer in a predominantly male environment, you might not expect to find a pair of silk ballet shoes tucked neatly under a desk here at Turn Key. But as the Christmas ballet performances take centre stage around the UK, our Junior Web Developer Lauren Hughes tells us about falling in love with the art form, and how this creative world helps her in the structured development industry.
At the age of four, I pestered my parents to take me to dancing classes and from the very first lesson I fell in love with this new world of elegance and grace.
Throughout the years I’ve taken my ballet from recreational level, to working my way through the grades and also picking up other forms of dance like tap, modern and jazz. I now also teach ballet on Saturday mornings and although it is sometimes hard to fit in a hobby whilst working, dancing is my escape so I always make time for it.
As a web developer, my job is very technical and I have to sit and focus for long periods of time. Ballet and development are probably considered polar opposites, given that dancing is all about movement and expression and web development is about formulaic processes. However, I’ve come to see that if you look a little closer there are a more than a handful of similarities.
Both web development and ballet are structured, made up of lots of little components and steps to create something bigger and both require concentration and practice to make sure the end result is completely perfect. In reality, I actually think the two go hand-in-hand quite nicely.
As a fairly shy little girl, I found that dancing helped to build my confidence because you have to learn to perform in front of an audience. Although the thought is terrifying every time (I am constantly in fear of forgetting the choreography), once the curtain opens and the music starts your body just seems to take over and your worries are banished.
Apart from my beloved pointe shoes, one of the things I enjoy most about dancing is helping to teach the children at my dance school. There have been a number of exams recently, and it’s been so rewarding to see the children perform all of the work they have been practising hard for. Helping these children reminds me of the tiny ballerina in me, and I can see how much dancing has helped me grow into the person I am today.
I love what I do here at Turn Key, working alongside really talented web developers, taking new concepts and turning them into fantastic sites for my clients, but ballet is my chance to express myself in a completely different way.
The two disciplines are intrinsically linked, and everyday I’m reminded just how much a part of me ballet is.
From social media sites to radio conversations, office canteens to school playgrounds everybody’s talking about Christmas adverts, so our Marketing Account Director, Nicole Levings, has delved a little deeper into which ones are her Christmas crackers.
As a nation we’re now well accustomed to waiting for the inevitable explosion of Christmas adverts to appear on our screens. Will John Lewis out do itself again? Or will this be the year another brand steals its crown? One thing’s for sure, gone are the days of the Coca-Cola trucks signalling the start of Christmas!
Here are my favourite festive three and why I think they’re so effective.
1. John Lewis. The bear and the hare
A touching tale told in a way that’s simultaneously epic and understated, bolstered by a key music choice, making the soundtrack as important as the visual. In keeping with the precedent set over the last few years – it is free of the products you might expect to see – successfully focusing on ‘giving’ and the emotion behind that feeling. It’s not done Lilly Allen any harm either!
2. M&S. Magic and Sparkle
This is such a fun advert and the clothes are spectacular. It’s a fantasy treatment, which references Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz. It’s beautifully made as you might expect, with exquisite production values, but I’m not sure the sight of Miss Rosie Huntington-Whiteley floating along on a magic carpet in her underwear will appeal to ‘all ages’!
I also really like how the retailer has managed to create a campaign at a brand level and used it to produce a shorter, product focussed advert for their food offering. The use of music plays a huge part in linking these differing adverts together.
3. Sainsbury’s. Christmas in a Day
I have to include this one, as I love the rawness of this genuine documentary style ad. Crowd-sourcing people’s home movies to put this together must have been SO much fun!
You can’t help but smile when you watch this advert as you recognise all the familiar things you do with your own family. I especially like the look of horror on the woman’s face when she states, “you don’t like it!” and then rolls her eyes…we’ve all been there! Plus, who didn’t have a tear in their eye when Dad arrived home from serving abroad. Overall a completely genuine, feel good advert.
The great thing is, in 2013, consumers don’t have to wait a few days to see their favourite ad on TV again. They can rack up as many views as they like on retailers’ YouTube channels and share it via social media with their friends. Check out the viewing figures to date for my favourite three adverts below.
John Lewis – 9,051,098
Marks and Spencer – 905,647
Sainsbury’s – 503,363
What’s more, for the first time ever, this year social media has launched a handful of Christmas ads. Twenty four hours before John Lewis’ prime time Saturday night TV slot, a sneak preview appeared on YouTube, closely followed by Tesco’s advert which was premièred on Twitter. Proof that the great British public is no longer prepared to wait for the iconic Coca Cola truck to roll onto our screens to kick start the festive season!
Here at Turn Key we love producing great creative results for our clients, whatever the challenge. Recently, premium international audio specialists Martin Audio asked us to help bring their proposition ‘uniting the audience’ to life. Our solution was a short animated film that would capture the essence of the brand. Here our Senior Account Manager, Rachel Phipps, talks about how the project came together…
If you look after a music venue anywhere in the world, Martin Audio is one of the best systems around. Its cutting-edge sonic technology means that whether in small intimate surroundings or some of the world’s biggest and most iconic venues, the sound quality is exceptional throughout the whole space.
With no video footage or content available, we set to work sourcing relevant shots that would bring out the emotions that only music can. We then set about drafting the script for the film to help Martin Audio sell the versatility of the products whilst capturing the imagination of their B2B audience.
The right piece of music then tied this all together. And the final result? We’re extremely proud to have created a video that communicates not only a message but an emotion, fulfilling our brief perfectly. The client is delighted with the video which forms part of a new marketing campaign for their business, check it out here…
In the first part of his blog on Google+, our Head of Digital, James Wray, told us how Google is making its social media network into one that brands – no matter how big or small – can no longer ignore. Now, in part two, he highlights how Google+ Hangouts can be used for better business.
Google+ is more than just a social network – it’s a centralised place to access all of Google’s tools and perhaps one of the best tools is that of Google Hangouts.
Google Hangouts is video conferencing and instant messaging, similar to Skype but with the added benefits of allowing you to have audio, video and text chat with multiple people in the same conversation.
Not only that, you can also take advantage of the ever growing number of apps within Hangouts, including Google’s own services such as Drive as well as popular tools such as SlideShare for discussing and editing presentations live during the call and Symphonical, a digital board with sticky notes, where you collaborate in real time. You could use this as a project schedule or resources sheet.
Hangouts with these apps allow you to have numerous people, in different locations, writing a presentation or creating a project plan, in real time. Of course there’s still no substitute for a real face-to-face meeting but there are times when a video conference can save you time and money by not travelling half way across the country or even the world to a meeting that could have been done remotely.
At Turn Key we use Hangouts both as video conferencing and instant messenger to communicate quickly and efficiently internally, particularly when we’re not in the office together.
Interesting uses for Hangouts and Google+
With Google+, you can create new ways to get closer to your customer audiences, using all the network’s tools together.
Here are just a few of my favourite examples of how brands and others have used this channel to get closer to their customer audiences.
Topshop – The future of the fashion show – a much-shared video in the marketing community but the ultimate example of a partnership between a brand and Google.
Storytime Hangout – Penguin Books – The future of storytelling?
Start exploring Google+
Hopefully you’ll find a few compelling reasons why Google+ can’t be ignored as a great marketing and communications tool for brands and businesses. Sure, there is a lot to take in and you may feel that you’ve already enough going on with managing the “Big 3” social networks but if you get into Google+ now I feel that you’ll be all the better for it in a year or two’s time when its influence has grown.
Set up your account, sync your Google services and devices and start playing around. Have a hangout, follow friends and influencers and start to define your strategy for the biggest social network the world may ever see.
Oh, and of course, make sure you’re following us!
Until recently Google+ was often perceived as the poor relation to “The Big 3” when developing a brand’s social media strategy. Head of Digital, James Wray, explains why Google+ now cannot be ignored and how it is set to become the most influential network for brands and businesses yet.
In the past, most social media strategy planning started with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, perhaps with a sprinkling of Pinterest and possibly a delve into the social sensations that are Instagram and Vine. There are still few mentions of Google+ as a great channel through which to engage with customers.
I urge you to change your thinking.
Are you even on Google+?
First of all, you’re probably already on Google+, you just might not realise it. If you have a Gmail account, Google’s already created your very own Google+ account, which represents you on Google (even if it is pretty much empty).
Google has finally centralised almost all its services – YouTube, Drive (formally docs), Analytics, calendar, your Android phone, etc, into your single account. The centrepiece and social part of this is Google+.
A growing trend
It’s common knowledge that Google is the most used search engine in the world and Google’s YouTube is now number 2, while Google’s Android mobile platform is also the most ubiquitous on the market.
It appears that eventually, Google will make Google+ crucial to having an online presence and using its huge array of services.
It does kind of feel that we’re being forced into it but, like it or not, if we want to make use of Google’s vast range of useful services for free, in return they want us to use their own social network.
More than just a social network
As a social network, Google+ does a lot of what the others do. I really like the simple, clean interface design and it’s a very visually-pleasing place to post or consume content. And of course it’s all beautifully synced across your numerous devices.
But for me there are two primary reasons why brands and businesses should not ignore Google+.
- The added benefits that extend from a regularly updated account
- The additional services that can allow for better communication within your business, or with your consumers
Just like on your Twitter page (and the others too) you can engage your customer audiences with interesting and exciting content through posting, hashtags, sharing and following (or adding to specific groups you create, called ‘circles’).
Beyond this (here’s the cool part) your business or brand can gain significantly better visibility online by having a regularly updated Google+ page, ideally with a nice number of followers too.
You’ll have started to notice huge, lovely, visual Google+ banners in Google’s search results whilst searching for a business or brand. The digital industry has long been discussing the SEO benefits of content and social media and this is a fantastic extra boost to your brand profile in the Google search results.
Search for Cadbury on Google and, alongside their presence at the top of the search rank, you’ll see Wikipedia’s description of the company and its latest Google+ posts. You’ll also see information and reviews on a brand, location info and other information. This is constantly evolving and it’s not a bad free addition to your brand SEO.
Big brands are really getting behind these benefits and engaging their audience through this channel; just look at Cadbury’s 3 million-plus followers.
In these days of content marketing, everything really does influence everything else and Google’s integrated account and Google+ social network is a fantastic tool for brands and businesses to take advantage of. No matter what Google says (or doesn’t say), this stuff does give you a better search engine presence.
Search Metrics also says that by 2016, Google+ will have more social shares than Facebook.
So, start by integrating all your Google services into a single, managed account, then get to work engaging your audiences through great content. And naturally, one of the first Google+ pages you should have a look at is Turn Key’s!
That’s enough for one blog but you’ll also want to know how you can use one of the best Google+ tools – Hangouts. I’ll talk about this in my next Google+ blog, next week.
Earlier this year Turn Key beat several other design agencies in a competitive pitch for a unique piece of work – the chance to create a new brand identity for the Leeds Community Foundation – an organisation that makes a real difference to people’s lives in our home city. Our Senior Account Manager, Rachel Phipps, talks about what the project meant to her.
Imagine a world where everyone feels self worth. Where inequality is a thing of the past and where communities thrive. Leeds Community Foundation aims to achieve this for Yorkshire’s largest city. Ambitious aspirations maybe, honourable, certainly, and we’ve taken great pride in helping such a passionate group of people work towards their goals.
Poetics aside, we were tasked with producing a new brand for LCF that positioned it as a dynamic third sector organisation that understands intrinsically what people in disadvantaged communities in Leeds need to change their lives.
The Foundation offers a unique service, connecting businesses or high net worth individuals to local community groups, providing funding and business knowledge and ensuring the best support possible at a grass roots level. From day groups for the elderly in Crossgates to healthy cookery lessons in Kirkgate, LCF’s reach in Leeds is limitless.
We created a campaign rooted in the strapline “Leeds at heart”, representing LCF as the beating heart of the city, pumping resources where they are truly needed – and providing care and respect to all corners of the community.
Beyond the brand we produced a shiny new website as well as marketing collateral including a brochure, flyers, stationery and e-marketing templates. What’s more, to ensure our recommendations worked within a tight budget we provided templates that could be easily replicated using LCF’s internal IT systems.
The Leeds Community Foundation has really embraced the creativity and practicality of the new brand and we’re really proud that they’re so happy with the results.
We’re proud to launch issue one of BLANK, the stylish, no-rules publication which some of the industry’s best have come together to produce. Richard Colvill, our Creative Director and brain behind BLANK, explains what it is and the journey he went on to turn a unique idea into a reality…
I came up with the concept about two years ago to create something that would allow us to push design boundaries with no rules or restraints. I also wanted to work with some of the best within our industry to showcase our talent and help to expand in certain sectors.
We went through several names but BLANK seemed fitting, it portrays the image we want – no rules, anything is possible and essentially each issue will start as a blank canvas.
With a moodboard and visuals of how BLANK could look, I began approaching some of the most talented individuals across a number of sectors. From photographers to models and copywriters to printers, I started the discussions. To be honest it was a lot easier sell then I had anticipated and everyone was really up for the collaborative approach to show off their work at no cost other than their time.
Each company or individual involved committed their skills free of charge to compile the first ever BLANK. Issue one is split into two sections, a London edition and a New York edition. With two models, a Rolls Royce, a Porsche and a team of experts, we carried out two separate photoshoots which I art directed and managed to ensure we got the right shots to match our initial concept.
Then back at the studio, one of our many talented designers, Paul Hainsworth, started crafting the type and designing the publication. Both editions use a variety of different paper stocks and finishes. Everyone involved will receive copies to use as a portfolio to showcase their work.
BLANK will definitely be a regular publication judging by the response this is having already. It’s a great opportunity to collaborate industries to work with some really talented people and create something beautiful.
Other than fame and fortune(!) the ultimate goal for BLANK is for experts within the industry wanting to be a part of it to demonstrate their talent with no limits.
A big thank you to everyone who helped to make the first edition of BLANK happen:
Photography – Guy Farrow
Copywriting – Jerry Gross
Printing & foiling – Pressision
Hair & make up – Lou Box and Caroline Shuttleworth
Stylist – Caroline Sullivan
Art direction – Richard Colvill
Stock – Fedrigoni
Online contributors include:
Want to know more or get involved in the next issue? Then check out BLANK’s website: www.blankonline.co.uk and click be a part of the future edition.
Christmas is finally upon us and as we reach the end of the countdown, it’s time to reflect on the adverts that have defined our Christmas 2012.
As October leads into November, there is always the same sense of anticipation; who will make us cry? Who will make us laugh? And who will make Mr Jones from Norwich ring the ASA to complain? This year certainly didn’t disappoint; from walking snowmen embarking on a quest for love to talking aliens, we’ve seen it all.
However, as everyone’s Twitter and Facebook statuses acknowledge, it just simply isn’t Christmas until we’ve seen the iconic Coca Cola advert, making it the favourite ad not just this year, but every year.
Another company which has felt a great deal of pressure to follow the success of its previous hit is John Lewis. In 2011 we followed a young boy and his countdown to Christmas day taking us back to our childhoods and putting a smile on even the sternest of faces. This year the snowman advert did not let us down, but perhaps this is more to do with the popularity of the song ‘The Power of Love’ rather than the initial sentiment of the commercial itself? Nevertheless, it’s certainly a heart warmer!
Two brands in particular that received a great deal of criticism and complaints for their adverts are Morrisons and Asda, who (arguably) portray Christmas day to be more of an ordeal that mothers must suffer and endure. Asda’s strapline ‘Christmas doesn’t happen by magic’ has been considered sexist and offensive. Although the message may offer up some truth, no one wants to be reminded of that by a Christmas advert!
In comparison, the Morrisons advert tackles a similar subject but with a sense of humour, finding the mum in a boxing ring with a Turkey. Although the undertone emulates the sense of stress and dread that the majority of us face at Christmas, the advert provides a great deal of entertainment and humour; particularly during the cold and dark winter months.
Perhaps the most arguably unique Christmas advert of 2012 is Waitrose’s ‘Giving more this Christmas’. The advert is supposed to dispel feelings of commercialism by providing a reminder of those less fortunate, choosing to donate the money to charity than a big budget production. It’s very simple, but is its charitable simplicity enough to stand up to the competition?
The one viral that particularly struck a chord in the Turn Key office is Warehouse’s ‘Morning After Edition #SOS’ which brings a whole new meaning to the 12 days of Christmas. The viral campaign is witty and relatable, promoting the brand’s sense of humour and getting us in the mood for the party season! We’re certainly very glad our Christmas party is on a Friday this year…
Turn Key designer Sean has been busy with some exciting graphic motion projects over the past few weeks. Here he talks about his work with metalcore band, Bring Me The Horizon, on the teaser video for their upcoming album, Sempiternal.
When we first heard about the opportunity to work with Bring Me The Horizon, we couldn’t wait to get stuck in. The band wanted to create a dynamic video for the forthcoming album Sempiternal, using the symbol of the cover’s artwork. Having such an open brief gave us a lot of creative freedom over the project.
To design an engaging two minute video that was basically just made up of circles, we had to be very creative and carefully plan each stage so that the viewer wouldn’t lose interest. This was the main obstacle for us and we relished the challenge.
From listening to the music we broke the animation up into three sections. The beginning needed to be slow and mystical to reflect the opening of the song, then progressively speed up, becoming more aggressive as the beat kicks in and singing starts. It all builds up to the ending when the symbol forms together just before the final bass drops.
Having the circles appearing gradually and slowly building up the symbol throughout the animation gave a feeling of depth and space. We managed to capture the mood and intense build-up of the music with the animation, which really grabs the viewer’s attention and doesn’t let go, fulfilling our brief perfectly.
For a project that was such a quick turnaround, we had a lot of creative freedom which gave us an opportunity to really show off our talent. Overall the client (and their fans) gave amazing feedback, everyone at Turn Key loved it and the internet hits have been phenomenal!
Check out the video here:
As many marketeers and creatives will know, The Drum recently launched a Pussy Riot campaign in support of freeing the Russian punk band from jail. As part of its continual quest to promote freedom of speech, the publication called out for designers and creative professionals to invent a quirky piece of merchandise to support the appeal.
At Turn Key, we love a challenge and our Junior Designer, Carl, quickly got to work. He came up with the incredible app, Angry Bitches.
The app takes on the legacy of the popular Angry Birds, aimed at the ever-growing demand of the casual gamer. The objective of the game is to wreak havoc for your rights in the name of feminism, using the ‘slinky shot’ (cleverly entitled by Emma from PR!) to fire band members and disrupt the opposition. As the game develops you gather more power as you race through levels unleashing accumulated ‘Pussy Power’ in the form of speed, strength and other abilities.
As soon as we submitted the artwork to The Drum, it was uploaded onto the website as their ‘Pick of the Day’ and needless to say Carl was grinning like a Cheshire Cat for the rest of the afternoon!
The winning piece of merchandise will be transformed into an actual product and sold with all proceeds going to the Pussy Riot appeal. Voting opened on The Drum’s website last week and closes this Friday (28th September) so PLEASE support us and vote Turn Key. Tell your friends, tell your family and tweet it to anyone who will listen and let’s bring Angry Bitches to life!