The benefits of working with a local design agency are many, but I’ll admit it – in nearly 20 years in digital, I’ve had the pleasure of working with people all over the world. Database consultants and clients in Canada, designers in The Netherlands. CMS experts in Australia, plugin developers in the U.S.A. and development teams in Brazil, China, India and some in Russia too. I ran one project that alone spanned 26 countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, with websites in 15 different languages including Arabic and Greek with close colleagues being Italians working in Switzerland.
But nothing beats working with a local design agency. Why?
As a client, one thing has so many benefits – and that’s simply being local.
The first benefit is that you and your local design agency are, very obviously, in the same time zone. Anywhere in the United Kingdom, you’re in the same time zone as your design team, so it goes without saying, but it’s worth mentioning so that it can be really appreciated.
When I had a dev team in China I could be in the office at 9am in the morning but it would be 3pm for them. Just as I was starting my day, so they were finishing theirs. So there was an overlap of just a couple of hours. If you add into the mix your flexible working hours and daylight savings, then there can be times when there’s the possibility of not being around at the same time as your team. There might be days when you can’t see or speak with them, so it really depends on how crucial your project is.
At the other end of the scale, there have been team members in the United States and that’s a country spanning a number of time zones. For Brits, east coast USA is OK, with Boston, New York and Washington D.C. all being just 5 hours behind. However, clients in San Francisco are 8 hours behind, so planning a meeting with them, you’ll catch them as they get into the office just as you’re supposed to be leaving.
So, in the grand scheme of things, having a local web designer or graphics team is just brilliant.
So, by time zone standards, Lands End and John O’ Groats are on the same time. The only problem is that they’re at opposite ends of the country. Surely you can get more local than that?
And that is another thing – exactly how local is local?
I live in the suburbs of my town and within a mile or two are a few pubs. The nearest one I’ve not set foot in for years. It’s not my cup of tea. Then there are a few more mediocre ones, a really nice pub and then “my local”, The Prince of Wales – my pub of choice is 2 miles as the crow flies but nearly 3 miles by road. It’s less than 10 minutes drive there or a 40 min walk home. That, to me, is local.
From where I live, Clever Marketing is local. It’s about 15 miles away and a 30 min drive by car, so that’s local. I live in Farnborough, Hampshire, but work for a design agency in Surrey. And that’s fine by me. I could have stayed in Farnborough and only ever been 10 minutes away from home, but leafy Surrey isn’t hard to get to.
It’s the time that it takes to get to your design team that’s important – there’s the initial meeting to thrash out the design brief, then the additional project meetings when things need clarification in person and also the training sessions, inspecting the work, sending design proofs over, delivering finished product etc. By being local to your creative advisors, you can be at each other’s doors in no time. In Woking, we have a mainline to Waterloo, so the capital is less than 30 minutes away. What’s more, clients can save on “London prices” because we have lower overheads and no table-football in our studio.
All that said, I am visiting an SEO client in Essex on Thursday. Whilst they are on the other side of London, the trip around the M25 should only be about 90 minutes each way. So, that’s nearly half the working day spent travelling and you need to decide if that’s OK to maintain on a regular basis. If you’re taking on the services of a top digital marketing agency like Clever, then that should be well worthwhile.
Any business in Woking is within 5-10 minutes of the Clever Marketing office/studio. Be aware that the massive Woking town centre redevelopment can add a little time to that right now, with road closures and traffic redirection, but if you can walk to our offices, that’s good.
Guildford too, is close to our design studio, within just half an hour’s drive, as are Addlestone, Aldershot, Bracknell, Camberley, Chobham, Addlestone, Farnborough, Fleet, West Byfleet, Weybridge… So the counties of Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey are all really close.
The advantages of a local agency are:
Paul Mackenzie Ross, Digital Marketing Manager
When a company visits your website, do they get the same brand experience as they would across your other digital channels? What about offline – is the branding of your brochure or print campaign consistent with your online branding? Brands never want to be predictable but when it comes to marketing strategy, consistency really is essential.
It raises brand awareness giving your company a personality and identity. It reinforces your position in the marketplace, therefore driving authority. It helps attract new customers. An inconsistent message can create confusion and could be seen as a sign a company cannot be trusted. Companies are often time short so how can you ensure brand consistency internally and externally across all touch points all of the time?
The building blocks of a consistent brand identity include messaging, tone of voice and design guidelines. While these must be specific to your company, these are the main elements that should be considered.
A brand message should clearly define your positioning. Think about your logo and rules for using it with or without a tagline too. Consider how it will be applied and if you need different versions (ie; a logo with a transparent background might be a requirement). If your branding agency is designing a new brand identity, consider how it will translate across all touch points. Will one logo suffice or does it need to be scalable?
Brand design is not just about a logo, design guidelines are a fundamental part of the mix. Typically these should include a colour palette, font type and weight, photography and illustration styles as well as other visual elements. Consider how the colour palette will work online and offline, checking colour matches in programmes such as PowerPoint. It’s worthwhile including guidelines for your website (ie; banners, buttons, web fonts) and print (ie; specifications for the most used collateral). Your brand design agency can help with this.
As well as the look and feel, tonal values are just as important. Consider how your tone of voice will be applied on your website and in print but also across your social media channels. Think about the personality of your company, what kind of impression you want to give and how should you communicate. Cover off best practices like grammar, punctuation and spelling with your branding agency as well.
Once your brand guidelines have been finalised by your brand design agency, it’s worthwhile considering a cheat sheet featuring the most used elements too. It’s a great way to have a quick point of reference while ensuring brand consistency. Clear brand guidelines should provide everyone internally with a framework to implement activity across all channels.
If you require help with your brand identity or brand guidelines, feel free to contact us on 020 3146 4341 today.