Grande Cappuccino in a Pantone 3425 cup please

I regularly stop by our local independent coffee shop to pick up a smooth morning caffeine hit and have a chat with the folks that own and run it. We have a shared love of many things; beautiful typography, classic cars, photography, food and not least, great coffee.

During one recent conversation, we got around to questioning what makes a coffee cup recognisable? What will make a work colleague know you’ve popped into Bean & Co for a sneaky double macchiato when they see a cup on your desk?

Besides the obvious giveaway, such as a logo or word mark, we settled on the use of colour and just how important it is for brands to own something distinctive. This can be one simple, definable colour, Harrods’ green for example, or it can be an entire kaleidoscope of colours, as long as they are used consistently and create a coherent, recognisable style. Think Paul Smith stripes or Burberry’s Haymarket check. These are globally recognisable symbols to anyone remotely fashion-oriented.

Our conversation never lasts for hours as he’s a busy Barista and I needed my Grande Cappuccino fix, but bringing things back to coffee, by consistently using a colour, it’s easier for others to identify where your caffeine loyalty lies. Add a touch of clever design and you’ll have a coffee cup your colleagues will lust after when they don’t have one.

Food (or shall we say coffee) for thought.

A-Z of life at RKH | Exhibitions

E is for exhibitions in the A-Z of life at RKH.

From flowers to fashion, automobiles to art, health to home improvement… it seems there’s now an exhibition for everything, everyone and, more importantly, every business.

For many of our clients, attending exhibitions is a great way of networking and engaging with their target market directly. While most businesses attempt to connect with audiences through digital channels, exhibitions provide an opportunity to break down computer screens or shop window barriers and interact with consumers in an open and friendly environment

But, logistically, they can be something of a headache. That's where we come in.

When organising exhibitions, we begin by understanding our client's aims for the event. This might be gaining new contacts, increase brand awareness or simply showcasing a new product or service. Once this has been decided, we start designing the stands and that’s where the real fun begins.

Once the stand requirements are confirmed, our team draw up blueprints and start designing the stand. We've always enjoyed the challenge of producing an inviting, creative and engaging stand that helps clients differentiate themselves from other attendees.

They're extremely intensive to organise (before he began planning exhibitions, our Director, Jamie actually used to have a full head of hair!) However, once they're all set-up, it's a great experience - nothing beats seeing people interact with spaces we've designed and it’s also a great way to build a first impression with a brand.

After organising numerous shows each year, we've learned how to handle the pressure and, for the most part, retain a respectable amount of hair on our heads!

Why social video marketing matters and how to do live video right

A cat playing a keyboard? A dog playing the drums?

We’ve all watched videos online, albeit some more educational than others, but how can brands use video on social channels as a marketing tool? 

Many brands are already embracing video as part of their social media marketing strategy and it’s hardly surprising with over 8 billion video views on Facebook daily. It’s predicted that 80% of Internet use will be watching videos by 2019. 

Traditional 30 second television adverts are becoming obsolete in an age of shorter attention spans (well done if you’ve read this far). You have as little as 3 seconds to catch an audience’s attention on Facebook with a video. This means that not only does your video have to be timely and relevant, but it also has to be eye catching and effective, even if the sound is turned off. 

With new formats emerging almost daily, brands are often left scrambling to keep up and work out how to use these channels effectively.

Facebook Live is one such channel. Live video had grown dramatically in popularity over the last couple of months, with other channels such as Periscope and Meerkat also used widely. There are many benefits of using live video, such as being able to share events with a larger audience, humanising the brand and allowing brands to connect to their audiences in a unique way. 

Many household names are already effectively using live video as part of their marketing strategy. Our personal favourites include Buzzfeed’s nail biting live video on trying to explode a watermelon with rubber bands and and Dunkin Donuts giving a live tour of their test kitchen (don’t watch if you’re hungry). 

Live videos shouldn't be treated as a one off gimmick though, but instead considered as an important marketing tool to regularly share knowledge with your online audience.

Here are our top tips for creating effective live video campaigns: 

  • Teach don’t preach. Provide knowledge to the viewer instead of trying to sell. “How to” videos are still within the top searches on Youtube! 
  • Shareability is essential to increasing audience size. Think about what will make someone share your video stream.
  • Plan out a video amplification strategy: send out to influencers to share, consider timing of live video and boost Facebook posts to increase audience size.
  • Repurpose the video for other social channels with a highlights reel.

Keep your eyes peeled on our Facebook page for when we decide to take the leap and try our first live stream.

Completing the IPA Foundation Certificate

After months spent tirelessly revising in the evenings, reading cue cards to each other at lunch and surviving on a diet of caffeine/sugar (which hadn’t yet worn off in the photo above), last February, Dom, Jess and Will finally took their IPA Foundation Certificate exam.

The course covered topics such as strategic planning, agency structure, relationships with clients and behavioural economics. For anyone beginning a career in advertising, you could say that this is the best foundation to build your professional skills on. 

Looking back at their time spent studying for the qualification, here are the top 3 most important things they learnt:

  1. Evaluation is the top dog. The IPA did a study which revealed that a staggering 84% of clients believe that evaluation was as important as good creative work.
  2. The value of planning and thinking about a problem before finding solutions. In the course material, the IPA quoted Einstein, who said that if he had an hour to save the world, then he would spend 55 minutes defining the problem. In marketing, this stance can often lead to great creative insight.

    When Foster’s spent some time soaking up pub atmosphere, they realised that a lot of drinkers spent their time discussing day-to-day problems, with humour playing a big part in the support friends offered each other. This led to the ‘good call’ campaign, which saw Brad and Dan offering cheeky advice to British men. It’s estimated that for every £1 spent on the campaign, £32 of revenue was generated.
  3. The benefits of finding a ‘Single Minded Proposition’ or unique selling point. This could be finding a metaphor for the brand, e.g. Pot Noodle – Slag of all snacks or using facts about the brand which could inform the campaign, for example did you know that Ribena is made from 90% of Britain’s blackberries?

Dom, Jess and Will have emerged from the IPA course with a much broader appreciation of the industry, ideas for improving their work and on the road to overcoming caffeine/sugar addiction.

A-Z of life at RKH | CPD

C is for CPD in the A-Z of life at RKH, or Continuing Personal Development to give it its full name.

It was a close run thing between coffee (we drink lots of lovely Has Bean coffee every day), code, cat gifs and CPD when deciding for C but our sensible side prevailed this time.

The fast changing nature of marketing means every day is very much the cliched school day. As a naturally inquisitive bunch we’re always sharing the latest news in our areas and discussing new ideas as they come up. We also study for qualifications, attend courses, dial into webinars, read books and much more to develop our skills and knowledge of relevant subjects through more formal training. 

Look past the food photos we share from our staff meetings and you’ll sometimes see someone presenting on the training they’ve taken part in. Getting everyone together to listen to new ideas and then discussing these as an agency allows us to consider how best to integrate new thinking into the varied work we do. 

Learning, discussing ideas and having fun doing this is great but it’s important we share what we know with everyone we work with too. Through training we’re able to offer better advice to our clients on the potential of the latest developments in marketing in relation to their needs.

Making sure all members of the team take part in 24 hours of training each year is a requirement of our IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) membership. This means everyone has the chance to develop skills and gain the knowledge they need to do a fantastic job.

Our commitment to CPD, mixed with the vast quantity of coffee consumed at the agency, ensures our work remains creative, effective and offers great value in a rapidly changing industry.

What do Instagram’s new changes mean for brands?

Instagram was met with widespread criticism this week after it announced changes to users’ news feeds. The new algorithm is set to alter the reverse chronological order most users are used to, to one that shows the most popular posts first.

The move comes after a backlash from Twitter users when news of the company adopting a similar feature reverberated through its digital channels. In response, Twitter listened to its audience and changed the feature to allow people to opt out if they wished. So why are these major tech companies making the switch to a more ‘personalised’ news feed?

In a statement made by Instagram, their research shows that people miss on average 70% of the content in their feeds. They aim to tackle this by organising news feeds to show the moments they believe, “you will care about the most”.

Before the Stock Market

In the early days of Facebook (Instagram’s parent company), brands with company pages could post as much content as they desired and all of it would land right into Facebook users’ feeds. After a while, Facebook didn’t like this. It couldn’t make money from this system. This is why it slowly developed a more ‘personalised’ news feed, displaying popular and sponsored content first. The move forced brands to begin paying to promote their content, and thus, the Facebook money-making machine began to grow. It’s for this reason that Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012 sent shudders through its online community, as questions began to brew over what the organisation would begin to change.

The shift to a more ‘personalised’ algorithm means that brands will have to reassess their current digital marketing strategies, as organic reach to audiences on this platform will be more difficult than ever. Paying to promote content on Instagram will soon be as common as it is for brands looking to grow their audience on Facebook, as these tech giants aim to exploit the growth in popularity among the younger demographic.

If it ain't broke...

The problem consumers have with this change is that it goes against the real-time nature that makes social media so engaging. This is evident with the rise in popularity of Snapchat, as younger generations connect with it’s live and ephemeral nature of sharing content. It seems as though when social media companies begin to cater all their platforms to paid content, many people will be more open to using new platforms to gain a more real-time experience online. Brands will now face the same problem in building an audience on Instagram as they do on Facebook, as images from accounts with the highest engagement will take priority in users’ news feeds.

How can you keep up with the changes?

  1. Embrace video - As Instagram is flooded with images, a well-produced video that automatically plays on users feeds will help grab their attention and boost engagement.
  2. Reassess your social media strategy - If your reliance is currently on Instagram, consider using other channels to link to your Instagram account, as organic reach is beginning to gradually decline on this platform.
  3. Prepare to pay - It comes as no surprise that regularly paying to promote content on Instagram will soon become the norm, so it’s important for brands to consider this in their social media budgets.
  4. Engage with your followers - As with all social media channels, people engage with accounts who actively engage with theirs. For small brands, taking the time to look through news feeds and engaging with content is a great way to build a valuable audience of followers.

The A-Z of life at RKH | Bees

One of the main things we love to share with visitors to the RKH office is the location of our secret department. With well over 30,000 workers, this branch of the office is especially hard-working and organised. Situated on our roof, in the middle of Leicester city centre and sporting RKH brand colours is our apiary of bees.

So why do we share a residence with 30,000 little workers? It just so happens that our Director, David began looking after bees over a decade ago and is also a member of the Leicestershire Rutland Beekeepers Association. After we moved to our new office and gained extra roof space, he realised this would be an ideal spot for an apiary. Up there, the bees would be free to harvest a mix of crops from around the city, creating a unique tasting honey and also be less susceptible to any harmful substances that farmers spray on their crops. 

So now for some Bee trivia: do you know how bees communicate with each other? The ‘waggle dance’. Now if you’re like us when we first heard of this, you’re probably picturing bees busting funky moves in a 70s disco. Sadly, this isn’t the reality. When bees begin to settle into a new home they send out ‘scouts’ who fly around the area to figure out exactly where they are. These scouts then come back to the hive and communicate this using a unique form of movement known as ‘the waggle dance’.

If you’re interested in staying up-to-date with our fuzzy little friends, watch this space. We’ll be posting more updates as the weather warms up and our little pals start to head out again. Alternatively, come and say hello at our offices - we might even give you our own rendition of the waggle dance.

The A-Z of life at RKH | Agile

Our digital team are very busy people. As well as being frighteningly intelligent, they’re also a very organised bunch of folks, utilising a number of tools and techniques that help them build high-quality products and services for clients from a range of sectors. To kick off our A-Z of life at RKH, we’ve chosen a critical working method and overused buzzword - Agile.

Agile is the project management methodology adopted by our Digital Account Director, Harshul, which helps our digital team build online services quickly and focuses on defined objectives. Testing occurs throughout a project, so that work can quickly adapt based on the feedback given by both the client and the project manager.

In comparison to Waterfall methods, the Agile approach allows for constant feedback throughout the entire process, instead of when the project is nearing its end. With the Agile approach, the planning, designing and testing phases all happen at the same time. This is most effective when building digital services, as it allows teams to modify or rework what they’re building should any unforeseen or external forces arise.

Our web team usually work over periods of time known as ‘Sprints’, which involve 2-3 weeks of working hard to provide a specific list of deliverables. After feedback and review, this then followed by continuous periods of sprints, which is both valuable and very intense.

It's a hugely beneficial way of working because the team constantly learns and improves what they’re working on, all at the same time. It also provides clients with a clear overview of what can be expected, updates on any ongoing work and providing an indication of what will be finally delivered.

Join us on our social accounts to stay updated on the A-Z of life at RKH and find out how weird and wonderful agency life can be.

5 apps to help you stay productive in 2016

How are those New Year's resolutions going, still sticking to them? Are you feeling more productive? No, neither am I.

It seems so long since Christmas, when my days consisted of eating chocolate, devouring cheese and drinking wine in my monkey dressing gown. I tried to sustain a healthy detox in January. It didn't last long. After all, our RKH 4pm tea time wouldn't be the same without a few caramel digestives.

Whether you’re still trying to stick to an overly complicated diet or just have a task you keep forgetting, everyone wants to be a little more productive.

To stay on track here at RKH, each of us in the office use a variety of apps to help us stick to our deadlines. Here are several tools the RKH team couldn’t live without, to help you stay productive throughout 2016:

1. Codekit

Regarded as a swiss army knife for web developers. Andy Babic uses this Mac-based coding application for its ability to compile all the cutting-edge languages like Less, Stylus, Sass and CoffeeScript. He loves how the ability to perform live browser reloads saves time switching between multiple applications with everything you need in one handy, easy to use program.

2. Evernote

A fantastic note taking tool, Ian uses Evernote for meeting notes, thoughts, ideas and more. As notes are synced across devices and easy to share, it’s easy for Ian to stay organised wherever he is. Ian even trusted Evernote to draft, refine and then finally give his wedding speech using the simple presentation mode!

3. Font Explorer X Pro

Our Designer, Mike uses this tool to manage his vast library of weird and wonderful fonts. Mike’s huge collection of fonts has been tamed thanks to the ability to enable/disable fonts and divide them amongst categories. This app is perfect for designers who want to spend less time searching for the right font.

4. Todoist

Used daily by Will (and now many other members of the team), this application will rid your desk of that plague of sticky notes. With a handy iPhone application to swiftly add new tasks and daily reminders straight to your inbox, you’ll never forget to send that email or pick up milk on your way home.

5. Trello

This web-based project management application keeps all of our advertising & design jobs flowing in and out of the studio. As well as preventing our Project Manager, Pete from going crazy.

What tools do you use to stay productive?

We’d love to hear and if we get 5 more great productivity tools posted as comments or sent to us on Facebook/Twitter, I’ll share a photo of me in my monkey dressing gown.

Short versus long

I’m a champion of all things short, simple and small. This may come from my time at university, where amongst other things I studied sorting algorithms (here’s a visual guide to sort algorithms if by chance you’re interested) to understand the importance of using the right process to get things done quickly, or it may simply come from having little legs. I celebrate the small number of passes Leicester City have used to score so many goals this season and always try to reduce something to its simplest form to gain clarity.

Good things very often do come in small packages.

It may be a trend, it may be my age (I’m still a little embarrassed by the National Trust sticker in my car and occasional preference for Radio 4) or it may have just passed me by until now, but there’s something equally brilliant about more complex things that need a longer time to appreciate.

For every advocate of Hemingway's economical use of language you’ll find someone who adores the complexity of Joyce. People will champion the simplicity of Picasso, whilst others cherish the detail of Turner.

When I was regularly listening to Radio 1 for the charts each week in my teens, posting letters was common; people had long phone calls at the weekend to catch up and had to cut short Internet browsing to allow phone calls. Our lifestyles are radically different now through rapid advances in technology. We receive far more and far shorter messages. As a result of more communication, we flick between ever shorter messages and with it our attention spans have diminished. The ability to quickly send short messages on email or social media has further pushed people to scanning rather than reading every last word. The use of emojis in place of a word or words is a natural consequence of a desire to communicate even faster.

Knowing when to keep marketing short is important to fit with changes in habit. The value of maintaining someone’s attention on a message when habits tempt them to move on is far greater than before.

This year will see even more businesses improve their use of short automated/personalised emails, to provide a much better experience for customers and improve lead conversion. Social media will see additional investment in increasing the volume of short messages, particularly with content often fading quickly and unseen by many people it was intended for. Taking things further, Snapchat and Periscope allow people to share transient content immediately and are being considered as potential new marketing opportunities.

So what can you do to stand out and retain the attention you’ve fought so hard to get in the first place?

Tell a story

Argentina-born artist Amalia Ulman made use of Instagram over almost a year to document her move to Los Angeles to try and break into the modelling world. Sounds familiar so far? The catch was this was all made up and perfectly staged to draw attention to how society/the media construct expectations of women. By the time the hoax was revealed, Amalia had amassed thousands of followers interested in her story. Okay, this one can be argued to be both short content as part of a long story but shows almost perfectly the use of a new medium to tell a story with an important message and keep people hooked.

You can read more about the “Instagram hoax that became an art world sensation” or watch out for the images to shown at the Tate Modern’s Performing for the Camera show.

Remember all media

Spoken word had slowly fallen out of fashion, with texts replacing phone calls and technology allowing video content to be shared easily. Podcasts have grown up over the last few years and have loyal followings but are so often overlooked. They shouldn’t be though. People listening to podcasts are very often focused and willing to spend longer on an idea, whether they’re on a journey somewhere or exercising etc. There are some great short podcasts out there but I’ve recently found a number of fantastic longer podcasts, which have held my attention for hours on end.

For history geeks like me I’d recommend checking out Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. Not keen? Try Serial to see how a weekly podcast has started a national campaign.

It’s not a case of short or long. You need short and long messaging as part of your marketing. Provide short messages to your customers to be timely and relevant on channels they flick through and check regularly. But make sure to encourage loyalty to your brand with a longer story on channels where people are willing to take time to digest detailed information.