My digital art response to Covid-19

Boxed in. Antony Cox 2020

Being a Graphic Designer is all I wanted from the age of 14, once the reality of not being a professional sportsman was accepted (it never really has). To be honest, I had no real idea what that meant, but it seemed cool and well paid. In recent years I have questioned that devotion. Despite a 25 year career doing something I love, events of recent years challenged me in ways I never expected. Forcing me to question why I do what I do.

Thankfully, due to the support of those closest to me, I found a path. I changed my relationship with what I do. I took a different approach to work, accepting a role in doing something completely different, in a very different environment. This entirely positive experience has empowered me and reset my perspective. It also created a whole new set of friends.

My relationship with Graphic Design has survived I am glad to say. But my relationship with it has also changed. I continue to freelance for selected clients as I always have. Doing this part-time has set me free once again to love what I do.

Finding my love of all things graphic

Thoughts. Antony Cox 2019

At the heart of this reconnection is an inner desire to set free graphics from within free of commercial constraints (but perhaps influenced by them).

At my lowest point, I produced my first piece of graphic art entitled Thoughts. It helped me remember who I was and to make sense of the jumble the brain can make of the world around us. Is it good? Does it matter? The answers really aren’t that important.

So in this strange time of Covid-19, I have produced my second piece, Boxed in. We can all feel boxed in at times, even when it may seem to others to be very different! Covid-19 has trapped us all in very different ways since it arrived, some good, some bad. But we will survive and find a way, just as I have.

ac4designs partners with AlFindlay.com

Announcing the latest development for ac4designs. 2019 sees me partnering with www.alfindlay.com to provide graphic support to Al and his team supporting the promotion of the business and work on website development.

Working with businesses in the local community is an important part of the ac4designs philosophy. Working local but thinking national means building links with like-minded businesses that want to deliver the very best service. Al Findlay and his team are a business that truly believes this to be true. ac4designs looks forward to working across a range of projects as we move towards 2020.

Designing for bees

Status

Working with the local community is vitally important to me. Ensuring I use my skills to help the community in which I live as well as the wider world is a must.

Local bees matter

When local beekeeper Jenifer Tucker ask for some help to sell her honey, I was only pleased to help out. The welfare of our local bee populations is something we should all be concerned about, so helping Jenifer make her small hobby business viable by helping her package and sell a small number of honeypots every year was very rewarding.

 

Why is colour important to your business and brand?

Status

Colour swatchesWhy small business should make the most of their colour!

This post discusses a simple but highly effective approach that can significantly improve the visibility of your brand. Big global brands take full advantage of colour use but many smaller businesses fail to grasp and make effective use of this attribute.

The power of colour

Colour is a hugely powerful and emotive in all aspects of life. Colour is used all around us every day to warn us, direct us, define our mood and re-enforce our perceptions. We all understand why a fire engine is painted red and what a blue flashing light means. For business branding and marketing, colour is just as powerful. The best brands really understand the importance of colour to support the visibility of the brand and messaging.

“Research reveals people make a subconscious judgment about a person, environment, or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing and that between 62% and 90% of that assessment is based on colour alone.

Source: CCICOLOR – Institute for Color Research

The quote above can also be found in this article on the same theme along with a number of other very interesting facts.

www.colormatters.com/color-and-design/why-color-matters

Take the colour test

As a bit of fun take the list of colours below and write a brand name next to each one. See how many match my answers at the end of this article. (No peeking!)

  • Red:
  • Orange:
  • Yellow:
  • Green:
  • Blue:
  • Purple:
  • Red & Yellow:
  • Green & Black:
  • White:
  • Multi:

It will be interesting to see how many of your answers match mine, but actually, that’s not the point. After all, colours are not owned (with a few exceptions) by brands. Colour is not the only aspect of establishing a successful brand identity. However, I would be more surprised, nay astonished if you could think of an answer for each. The point is simply to emphasise how important colour is to establishing brands in the mind of customers.

The lessons for small business

So how is this applicable to my small local business? Well, you may have a much smaller number of actual and potential customers but the rules are just the same. If you can secure your colours in the mind of your customers the recognition of your brand and its message will be amplified. Now it’s important to make clear that colour on its own is not a winning marketing strategy. The importance of your message to the customer and your capacity to deliver on your promise remain the key factors. Painting your falling down wooden fence a consistent shade of red isn’t going to stop it being ineffective at keeping the chickens in the field. In fact, it can have the opposite effect and just get your ineffective fence noticed more by your neighbours… (Slash customers!)

BUT there are several key benefits to using colour consistently with effective messaging:

  • Increased recognition of your brand.
  • Increased engagement and trust.

The common colour mistake small business make

This is really obvious but happens so much in my opinion. Inconsistent use of colour! Most business owners understand they need a logo to define their business for marketing purposes, but few consider the application. Consistent presentation of your identity and use of colour has so many benefits. It simplifies the time, effort and money required to deliver your message. Essentially because there is no debate to be had on the issue of presentation style or colour. This allows you to focus on getting that marketing message just right. Sadly so many small business fail to take control of their presentation style and colour use. This leads to marketing material that may be effective in its messaging, but which is not embedding your brand recognition. It will also inevitably lead to increased costs in creating materials as the presentation of colour is debated each time a task is undertaken.

The 5 simple rules for small business colour use

Before you read my list I should make something clear. This list defines a simple approach to using colour in your brand. There are plenty of examples of brands that use colour in complex and creative ways. However, the more complex the use of colour the more time and money it takes to manage, so if you’re a small business try the following:

  1. Define a simple colour palette for your business
  2. Ensure your logo reflects your use of colour
  3. Use colour consistently in all your marketing
  4. Document your colour palette and ideas for use of colour in your business and across marketing. Share this across your business and with those that apply your brand.
  5. Be consistent!

Clearly, the use of colour by some brands is very much more complex. There are times when you will need to adjust your approach to colour. Sub-brands or developing individual product brands are just a couple of examples. But for a small start-up or existing business keep it simple. Look around you and ask yourself what your brand colour or colours are? Now ask yourself (and others) if your customers would give you the same answer? Look at your marketing material and ask yourself does it all look as if it comes from the same business? If the answers no then I can be pretty sure it’s cost you more money than it should have. And probably missed an opportunity to embed your brand in your customer’s mind.

Colour by itself won’t make you successful. But it will help!

>>>

 

 

This is my list (remember I’m UK based so my answers are biased that way and it’s all subjective to your own experience).

  • Red: Coca-Cola
  • Orange: B&Q
  • Yellow: AA
  • Green: M&S
  • Blue: Boots
  • Purple: Cadburys
  • Red & Yellow: McDonald’s
  • Green & Black: Starbucks
  • White: EBAY

 

Where did ac4designs summer go?

Getting there eventually for ac4designs, is better than not at all!

So ac4designs failed to write that news update for July and now the summer in Sidmouth (what there was of it) is fading away. The lesson however is not to let past failings get in the way of future success. Making it happen eventually is better than not making it happen at all. It’s just not as good as making it happen now, but that remains something that we can control.

Busy, busy in July and August

Actually it is not that I have been idle far from it! Work for LTP in developing an online marketing strategy has keep ac4designs busy, busy! An email campaign database management and template delivery system has been established. The system used is Campaign Monitor and a number of test campaigns have already been run. The next key objective is to complete training to allow in house campaign delivery to be completed. This will allow branded message delivery without the need to for external resource. This has provided LTP with a cost effective and direct means of delivering key messages to various customer segments.

LTP advertAnalysis is vital in developing your website. Integration of Google Analytics in January 2012 to the LTP website is now delivering valuable data. This is now being used to drive adjustments to improve the current site. Content has been adjusted and results are currently being reviewed before further development. There is still much to do but adjustments since July have seen a 15-20% increase in traffic! The LTP mission didn’t stop there. A branded Twitter account @LTP_UK was also established. The focus is twofold. Connecting and sharing with tile and natural stone sellers, fitters and suppliers as well as architects and industry related individuals. 300 plus followers gained inside 2 months shows much potential. This will be supported by the LTP_UK_Technical blog. Created to deliver LTP’s extensive experience gained over 25 years. The blog will deliver product updates and case studies that deal with issues relating to natural stone and tiles in relation to staining, protecting, and renovating. Finally the LTP branded Facebook page has also been established and this will be developed in coming months.

And of course there was also the normal label updates and print advertising!

Meanwhile…

There was also time to assist Dorringtons with another own brand label. This time it was for coffee as they continue to develop the range of additional products that they offer. I was particularly pleased to be able to offer advice that allowed a far superior label solution to be produced, without a significant cost increase.

And for ac4designs…

The backdrop to all this has been some major planning and rethinking for ac4designs. A full-time business launch based in Devon is planned for January 2013. The plans are obviously highly top secret but major adjustments to the business offer are well underway. So keep an eye out for some big changes. A new website is under development along with some exciting ideas for engaging with you all out there. From January of next year ac4designs plans to make your boat go faster than you ever thought possible! This will become clear in time, promise.

The ac4designs Facebook challenge!

Happy CowsIn the meantime my friendly cows still need you to say hi and like my Facebook page. The cows promise to like back and if they don’t you can tell me off.

These cows like me! So can you…
www.facebook.com/ac4designsMain or if not follow me on Twitter @ac4designs