Helping Business during COVID

I guess no one could have been prepared fully for the impact of the COVID pandemic. Back when lockdown began I sort of assumed that ac4designs helping business would end. That the work would dry up and probably not return.

I was luckier than many, as my second job, ac4designs wasn’t the financial heartbeat of the family. I, like so many, am grateful for the government’s furlough scheme from my main employment. Thus I quickly decided that I had no reason to claim twice and that I would leave ac4designs open for business. During those first weeks of lockdown things certainly went very quiet. But then slowly things started to turn again as some businesses adjusted and begun to look to survive. As the lockdown eased others began to address what the ‘new normal’ meant for them.

Throughout I ensured I stuck to my part-time working hours, not difficult with homeschooling during the day to contend with. This has also helped in coping with the return to the day job. Like many, I also took some time to stop, reflect, and spend time with the family — there were some positives from this experience.

The strangest of times for helping business

2020 is certainly the strangest I have had on this planet so far and if I’m honest I have been very lucky and have to date remained relatively unaffected. I can only clap and thanks those who stood on the front line and helped keep all of us safe, with all my heart.

And ac4designs is still here and continues helping business and the community. Recent months have seen a range of project undertaken to support existing and new businesses. The COVID-19 pandemic created issues for us all. Many local businesses and community groups suddenly found they needed to create or improve their online presence. I have enjoyed helping several in recent months.

Delivering online connections

Brown’s Motorcycles wanted a simple and clean website update to help promote the business.Teaming up with AlFindlay.com we were able to deliver an effective site with the potential to explore online sales of bikes moving forward.

www.brownsmotorcycles.co.uk

The COVID-19 lockdown also created issues for local community groups. Stripped of the ability to connect in person many lacked effective online mechanisms. As such, this meant they struggled to achieve effective communications during the imposed lockdown. I am therefore particularly pleased in helping the local community magazine The Tipton Times. Helping to establishing an online delivery mechanism for its normally traditionally printed local community news stories.

www.tiptontimes.org.uk

Relaunching after lockdown

As the COVID lockdown began to ease there was the opportunity to help several businesses prepare to restart.

White Rabbit Discos was keen to relaunch with a new identity. The challenges created by the impact of COVID-19 meant they needed to standout. The identity has already had a positive impact and work continues in developing the business website and marketing support material.

Pride Hair Studio had more practical needs as the potential to reopen the business loomed. This included posters to help inform customers of the new operating rules before they entered the premises. As well as a disclaimer form to ensure that customers accepted the risks of their visit. Helping this hardworking team at a difficult time was rewarding and exactly the sort of working relationship ac4designs seeks to develop with he businesses it helps.

During these COVID driven projects regular clients continuing to operate and need help. ac4designs continued to provide effective support during difficult times for everyone.

Helping old friends

LTP Ferrex 1 & 5 Litre

LTP launched several new products during the lockdown period. LTP Ferrex was the latest addition to the LTP family of stone cleaning products. A specialist rust remover this product is designed for hard ferrous stones – like sandstone, slate, and granite. These stones naturally contain iron that can oxidise or rust when it comes into contact with moisture, rain, or certain cleaning products, including brick acid and cement removers. Ferrex removes rust, fixing residues, and it provides rust resistance. Find out more at https://www.ltp-online.co.uk/prod/ltp-ferrex

LTP 75% Alcohol Ethanol Multi-surface Cleaner

The COVID demand for sanitising cleaners also created an opportunity for LTP 75% Alcohol Ethanol Multi-surface Cleaner to join the extensive range of LTP products. Responding quickly and effectively is exactly what ac4designs is all about so this project really sums up the whole ethos nicely. As things have begun to return to the ‘new normal’ promoting the LTP brand has never been more important. The final project showcased here is a more traditional large format advertising banner. Visible from the M3 near Reading, this project seems to capture the ac4designs philosophy of working locally but thinking nationally in helping business perfectly.

LTP Advertising banner

To find out how ac4designs could help your business or community group then please get in touch via my contact page.

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. Ac4designs will be supporting alfindlay.com on website development and general business promotion.

Working with businesses in the local community is an integral part of the ac4designs philosophy. To achieve this, I look to work locally but think national. With the aim of 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. I look forward to working across a range of projects as we move towards 2020.

Designing for bees

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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?

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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!

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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