We need someone Creative for our Design Studio!

We have a vacancy for a Design Studio Coordinator. Are you creative and passionate about local businesses? This might be the role for you!

Package; Up to £25k + Company Performance Bonus + Incentives

Benefits; Training budget, Free Parking, 20 Days Holiday & Private Healthcare.

Contract type; Permanent or Contract. Full time hours & immediate start

Your Mission; to support the Operations Director with regards to the creation of the Local Pages (LP) product and service offering.

Can you think outside the box? Do you love creating new things? Are you passionate about both start-ups and established local businesses? Enjoy the thrill of helping a business achieve their goals? This might be the role for you!

We are looking for a Studio Coordinator to join our small but perfectly formed team based in Bristol, to manage and oversee the production of our local directories, as well as our digital products.

This is a creative role – we want someone who is able to understand our customer’s business and advertising needs, whilst enhancing their use of LP digital services. You will be tasked with managing and maintaining the current customers we have, as well as new ones.

Our working environment provides the opportunity to implement new techniques and make changes. We are looking for someone with innovative ideas, the ability to express them clearly and who feels comfortable with feedback.

And finally, you must be passionate! This role is varied and interesting – you definitely won’t feel pigeon-holed or bored. It represents an opportunity to make your mark within a competitive industry, we want someone who’s excited by that.

We would prefer someone with previous experience in this role or industry but we are especially interested in your capabilities, attitude and potential to grow into the role, rather than your experience in the industry, as there will be plenty of support and training.

You must be able to;

  • Be fully conversant with InDesign, Photoshop & Illustrator, as well as competency in other Adobe Creative Suite programmes 
  • Design, create & build websites using a chosen CMS platform 
  • Have exceptional time management, organisational and interpersonal skills
  • Demonstrate strong attention to detail & excellent written communication
  • Maintain professional and positive contact with customers, always striving to create the best solution.
  • Show an understanding of Digital Marketing techniques and platforms
  • Have the ability to multi-task and prioritise based on project deadlines
  • Use your own initiative whilst taking direction from others 

A bit about us

LP helps local businesses to grow by generating enquiries for them in their local area. Although we have been around for 38 years, we are still a family business with a team of 14, based in Bristol. We predominately work with businesses based in the South West & South Wales. Business owners make up 90% of our customers, and service businesses are our primary clients. Our roots are in print, and this is still a significant part of our business, but we also offer other services including website design, along with a design and print service for logos and promotional material.

Our office is based in Southville near the Tobacco Factory, and close to the heart of bustling North Street. You will get 20 day’s holiday in addition to bank holidays. We also have a negotiable benefits package and a strong emphasis on personal and career development.

Local Pages is committed to equal opportunity for all. We may collect relevant data for monitoring as part of our candidate registration process.

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How To Be Creative: A Designer’s Guide

Local Pages` creative designer explores the issue

Are we born with a creative mind, as opposed to a mathematical mind? Some say we are, and that we can’t be both. We are either governed by the right side (the creative side), or left side (the logical side). This is only a theory – that our characteristics come through according to which side is more dominant. But new research says otherwise.

Creativity can be nurtured in someone who perhaps thinks they are not creative. We all have to be creative to solve problems in life in one way or another. Obviously creativity is very subjective. If you asked 10 different people for feedback on your creative ideas, you’d get 10 different answers! Do not let criticism strangle your creative process. It’s good to listen to others and their constructive criticism, and by taking the positive out of this, you can use some of what they say to play around with other ideas.

Nothing is perfect, so don’t feel you have to come up with the perfect solution. Don’t rule out working on ideas that perhaps you are not so keen on because following these paths may make you come up with another solution that fits. Of course someone who is trained in creativeness will be able to initiate ideas quicker than someone with no experience.

Some creative designers prefer to work on their own but for ideas to flow, it’s always good to share. This is called “brainstorming”, where a few creative minds get together and thrash out an idea or concept by drawing on bits of paper with doodles or writing them down or sharing them verbally. People can bounce ideas off of each other then and perhaps take their ideas one step further in a way they hadn’t thought of. The initial brief needs to be clear and concise though. You cannot say everything in one design, so good communication is the key.

Inspiration is always a good starting point. Collect pictures, patterns or colours that you like in the form of magazine articles, photos or illustrations and make a book of them. Anything that catches your eye. Some small thing, like a colour, may spark off a flurry of creativeness and lead you in all sorts of directions. The internet is obviously a good place to explore for ideas too. Save the pages and images you like into a file on your Mac or PC and use them to get the creative juices flowing.

Think of children and how unselfconcious they generally are. Try and think like a child and your imagination may take you on a very creative journey. Try not to be too analytical. Perhaps use  a list of single words to describe the possible answers to your brief. Each word may spark an idea which may encapsulate the personality or essence of the message you want to put across. Look up key words in a thesaurus or dictionary, which in turn may spark a visual metaphor.

Let’s make up an example: Let’s say we need to design a poster for a dog’s home – they want something positive to advertise what they do. Write down key words when you think of dogs or animal sanctuaries. My thoughts are: unconditional / beautiful / refuge / safety / cuddles / fur  – the list could go on and on. Look up some of these words in a dictionary or thesaurus. I looked up “refuge”. The dictionary says “a place or situation providing safety or shelter”. Or “safety” – “the condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury”.

Working on the word “safety”, I came up with an idea. “Safety” sparked a visual of cotton wool – you probably know the phrase – “wrap someone up in cotton wool” which suggests keeping that person safe from harm as cotton wool is so soft and inviting. This was my very first thought (write down all thoughts) and it came to me in a matter of seconds: So how about a picture of a dog surrounded by cotton wool or bouncing around a field of cotton wool?! So in a few minutes I already have one positive idea. I have roughly illustrated my idea it below.

 

Creative

So, now you have seen a brief outline of the creative process, go and play away! Do you have any tips of how to be creative? We’d love it if you share your own creative process below.

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How To Make Your Business Cards Stand Out

A Guide From Graphic Designer Tania Taber

Business cards are a great marketing opportunity. If you haven’t got one to give out to prospective clients, you will be missing out on potential business.

To save money, a lot of companies go to one of those online print companies and get a card churned out – you know the sort of thing – perhaps a bit of that infamous typeface “comic sans” and a cheeky cartoon or a bland clip art image – these are usually a disappointment in terms of the look and feel of the card and the general design, creating a not-so-professional image. And of course, others may use the same image as is on your card so it’s not unique to you. There are several business cards I have come across supplied by an online printers using the very same stylised illustration of animals for their business – one was for an animal acupuncturist and the other for a dog walking business. This is very confusing!

So, it’s important to get it right. It needs to stand out against the many competitors in your marketplace. You will be handing these cards out to people you meet and they will take a very quick look and then put it in their purse or wallet. So you have to grab their attention in a few seconds and this will ensure they remember you and your business.

The first thing worth mentioning is to make sure everything is spelt correctly and the information is spot-on. It may seem silly to mention this, but you’d be surprised what gets through. If there are any spelling errors, it will give the impression that your business is unprofessional and not up to the job.

You need to make sure that nothing wanders off the edge of the card so make sure you keep all written information 5mm from the edge. Any images used need to be of high quality – the higher the resolution, the better. Typography also needs to be legible – 7.5pt is the minimum size – but not too big though, as there is limited space on the card.

Be careful not to overcrowd it with information too. A typical business card size is: 85mm x 55mm. Even though the space is limited, you can still get creative! The only things that need to be on the card are: Name, job title, address, telephone numbers, email address and website, and of course THE LOGO! There is no need for company registration numbers. There might be some room for a strap line though (think “Every Little Helps” by Tesco or “I’m lovin’ it” by McDonald’s). A strap line should be as succinct as possible, five words or less if possible, and should convey the essence of your brand.

 

business cards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To really make the business cards stand out you can use special finishes on it to make it more tactile and memorable. Things like a spot UV (a shiny bit!) or a metallic ink or perhaps a die-cut (a funny shape cut out of the card). Of course, this makes the printing more expensive but can more than make up for that by reaping the rewards in terms of new business afterwards. Or sometimes companies go one step further and have their cards made out of materials other than card. Be as creative as your imagination or your designer’s flair allows!

 

business cards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choose fonts to match your logo – either a sans serif (like Helvetica) or a serif face (like Times Roman which have flourishes at the end of the strokes). Colours must also reflect your logo with black as a good colour choice for the type information so it’s as readable as possible.

 

business cards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So in summary, the business cards must reflect your business and what you are trying to convey – perhaps your business was established by a family member in centuries past – you may wish to convey this with a classic design indicating a company that can be relied on, that’s classic, that is traditional, that has stood the test of time, or a new company wanting to convey structure, modernity, simplicity or freshness. Let your imagination take you to the recesses of your mind and go create!

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8 Essential Branding Tips For Small Businesses

If you think that branding is just something for big businesses with big budgets, think again. Branding is just as important for small businesses, maybe even more so. If you don’t have the budget to hire a big branding agency (and not many small businesses do) here are 8 simple steps you can take to keep your brand in check.

 

  1. Remember – It’s not all about your logo

Your logo is important, but branding is about far more than just that. Your logo is a badge that will represent you to the world, it’ll help distinguish your business from your competitors and it may even help customers to understand what you do. But it’s just one small part of a much bigger picture and even the best logo won’t build a successful brand on its own.

 

  1. Know what you stand for

What values and ideals are at the core of your business? What motivated you to start and what keeps you going? If you’re unsure of where you’re going and why your customers will be even less sure. Keep a list of at least three core values and make sure that any new products, services and marketing campaigns are true to them.

 

  1. Know what value your business provides

Whatever type of business you run, one thing is guaranteed your customers are not interested in just buying your products or your services. What they’re interested in is results. It’s the real life benefits that your products can offer them that will really get them engaged. A lot of businesses make the mistake of focusing on the features of their products and wonder why they’re not getting results. By taking a step back and communicating the benefits they offer you can give customers a really compelling reason to part with their money.

 

  1. Get inside your customers heads

Knowing your customers inside out is crucial. Forget about your taste and your preferences and focus on the people you’re trying to serve. Who are they? What are they looking for? What gets them excited? Keep your focus very narrow to start with; just think about your ideal customer.

Keep this profile in mind whenever you’re planning a new piece of marketing and build it just for them. This will really help to keep your message focused and effective.

 

  1. Keep a close eye on the competition

Identify your closest competitors and make sure you check up on them regularly. Who are they targeting? How are they doing it? What messages are they putting out? Where are they falling short? By doing this you can stay ahead of the game and fill gaps that they’re leaving. Remember, they’re probably watching your every move too.

 

  1. Find something unique to offer

Every business has something unique to offer, but many don’t take the time to identify it and use it to their advantage. Strong brands clearly stand out even in a crowded market. You might sell the same products as everyone else but that doesn’t mean you have to offer exactly the same service. If you’re struggling to find something that makes you stand out, go back to your customers, think about what they need and where your competitors might be falling short.

 

  1. Be consistent

Whatever direction you choose to take your brand in, make sure you’re consistent about it. That means keeping an eye on every tiny detail from how your logo looks, to the colours and fonts you use right through to your website and the kind of language you use when you talk to your customers. All this will build up to give the impression of professional, credible and trustworthy business.

 

  1. Keep it simple

We all lead busy lives and few people have the time to unravel complex messages. Simple, well thought out communication is more likely to get through and be remembered. This applies to your logo, your marketing material, your customer communications – even your business processes.

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What to consider when creating your company logo

The easiest way to recognise a company and distinguish it from others is by its logo. It’s the first impression many people form of the business, so it’s very important to get it right. If your logo looks amateurish, then that’s the impression it will create with potential clients. It may seem silly to mention, but spelling also needs to be spot-on. Any errors can create the impression of a company that doesn’t care.

A logo (whether refreshing an existing one or creating a new one) is probably one of the MOST important considerations when starting your business. Getting it designed by a professional graphic designer is the preferable route to choose. It may cost a little more than getting it done by a well-meaning friend with a PC but ultimately, it may work out to be the cheaper option. A well-designed logo should also be timeless, so it’s better to avoid the latest trends however wonderful they may seem.

Simplicity is usually the best way to go when creating a company logo. You want something that can convey what your company does in a simple and easy-to-understand graphic. You cannot depict everything that your business does in one picture but you can certainly encompass a few points. You also have to remember that your logo may have to be reproduced at a very small size (for instance on pens), so this is where simplicity comes into its own. Some companies whose names are widely known can simply use their graphic element without the name of the company (think Nike or Apple).

Talking of famous brands, let’s examine some in more detail:

Apple logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APPLE: Simple. Effective. Classy. Easily recognised (even without the name). It can be black and white, chrome or full colour. It’s interchangeable without compromising its shape. The story behind using the apple icon is full of myth and legend. It was said to be in tribute to the World War 2 Bletchley Park code-breaker, Alan Turing, who laid the foundations for the modern-day computer (an interesting, clever and thought-provoking idea). But the truth is much simpler. Steve Jobs used to work in apple orchards and named the company and product after his favourite variety – McIntosh Apples.

 

 

Chanel logo

 

 

 

 

CHANEL, the fashion house, is another simple but very elegant logo. Ms Chanel used the two C’s of her name (Coco Chanel) and interlocked them. She used a typeface that is classic (very much like Gill Sans which is a famous font from the late 1920s). It’s classy, and has stood the test of time, and conveys the message of their brand effectively – class, wealth, elegance.

 

logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WORLD WIDE FUND FOR NATURE has a simple panda graphic representing conservation work as its logo. Pandas are probably one of the most endangered species on the planet so it’s a fantastic image to use to convey their message. It is produced in in mono as a very simple drawing, so you recognise it without its charity name.

In summary, you want an eye-catching logo, something that people will instantly associate with your company and something they will remember and instantly recognise. It will be the ambassador for your business in graphic format, appearing on everything geared towards your business. It will say, in shorthand, what you do, how you conduct yourself and your professionalism.

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10 Tips For A Better Website

As a Front-end Web Developer at Walpole Digital Media, I am involved with a variety of aspects of projects, from the initial client meet and requirements gathering, producing designs, bringing them to life and turning them into a website.

 

Although each project is different, I’ve learned that there are several universal tips that can be applied whatever the challenge. Below I share my top 10.

 

  1. Avoid carousel image sliders

They may look like a showcase piece, but there aren’t any studies that suggest that sliders are a good idea. When designing a website, I always insist that we avoid using a slider and point people to http://shouldiuseacarousel.com/ when wanting to explain why we should not use a slider.

 

And here’s why:

 

 

  1. Use images

So what should you fill the carousel-void white space with? A relevant and professional image that fits the style and theme of your website will be much more effective. This gives your user a single focal point. It doesn’t need to be boring either; a good web developer will know great ways to display imagery, just have a look at enrola. There’s a lot of focus on images, and we can see some images move and fade into position, some are fixed and as you scroll you see different parts of the image and some are static.

 

  1. Care for content

In the initial stages of a project, I usually insist that we design content first – this simply means that the client provides all the website content before we design. Although the content may change over time, it gives the designer a good idea as how to best structure the content, how headings will be used and displayed and the overall design in general. It may seem like a small thing, but it goes a long way in helping the designer get a feel of the visuals.

 

  1. Keep it simple

In 2011, well renowned usability expert Jakob Nielsen published an article about how long users stay on web pages. He says users won’t stay on your website for very long, often leaving within 10-20 seconds, but pages with a clear value proposition can hold people’s attention for much longer.

 

Your website visitors are on your website for a reason, you don’t want to make them work too hard to find what they’re looking for. Your website design should be simple and not overly complicated; if it’s too difficult to understand then your users will lose interest and move on. Aside from design, you should keep your navigation and page structure simple. Users want to find what they are looking for in as few clicks and page loads as possible.

 

  1. Use white space

On more than one occasion I’ve had clients say to me that there is too much white space in my design and the space needs to be reduced so the screen is filled with more content.

 

I understand it’s important to get the user’s’ attention straight away, and you want to show them as much as possible above the fold. However, white space is essential to good design. It makes your content more legible and gives it breathing space. When content and parts of your website are too close together, the user is more likely to lose focus.

 

  1. Use attractive Calls to Actions

Most websites will have a Call to Action (CTA), whether it’s getting your visitors to read an article, sign up or even to contact you.

 

There are some things to consider when designing your CTA, such as:

  • Design – it should look attractive, eye catching and enticing.
  • Wording – short and concise with the correct possessive determiners. Studies have shown the use of ‘my’ in a CTA is far better than using ‘your’.
  • Colour – the button should stand out from the rest of the page and recognised as a clickable button. There isn’t a specific colour that you should go with, as long as the rules above apply.
  • Size – make the button too small and it won’t be visible, make it too big and it looks like you’re trying too hard. A bigger button isn’t automatically better, so be sure to find the right balance.
  • And positioning – usually CTAs will be placed above the fold, which is great! But it really depends on what you are trying to sell. If you have a complex product, having a CTA at the top may not help as users will not know what it is until they scroll down to read about it, resulting in the CTA being placed afterwards the more logical option.

 

  1. Make sure your website is mobile friendly

With the virtual world easily accessible from the palms of our hands, it’s essential that your website is mobile and tablet friendly, also known as ‘responsive’ in web terms. You will often realise that the layout of the website changes when you view a website from your laptop and come back to it later on your mobile or tablet – this means the website is mobile and tablet friendly.

 

Furthermore, Google disapprove and discredit your website in their ranking system if your website is not friendly for devices other than desktop or laptops. If you want to get onto the first page of Google, then this is good start. After all, who doesn’t like being on the first page?

 

  1. Keep your website consistent

Keeping your design consistent is about being professional. Inconsistencies with headings, styling, fonts and more are like having spelling mistakes in an essay. They lower the perception of quality.

 

It’s important to keep elements on your website fairly consistent and when users browse through your website, they expect things to be the same.

 

  1. Get social

If you haven’t set up social media accounts for your website, do it now! Keeping your social media account active and interesting can help boost your business and lead to traffic on your website. You can’t expect users to be coming onto your website everyday, but you can expect them to follow you on Twitter or like you on Facebook. Once you’ve got their attention, you can reach out to them with regular posts and updates to keep them interested.

 

You can also link your social media accounts to your website by adding widgets.

 

  1. Hire a professional

And finally, it may seem obvious, but you should always hire a professional. Sure, we may know that friend of a friend, or an individual who is offering their services for a very small amount on a Facebook group, but before you go down that path – think about what is being represented. Your brand. Your identity. Trust.
As I’ve mentioned already, users will take a few seconds to immediately judge whether they trust your brand and website, and if they don’t, then they have no business doing on your website. And this will be a recurrence.

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Welcome to The Little Blue Blog!

Hello and welcome to the Little Blue Blog! We’re so happy you found our little corner of the Internet. Here we hope to provide both practical and informative weekly content on how to effectively market and grow your small business; alongside some interviews with local businesses and snapshots from the areas where our Little Blue Books are distributed. 

Local Pages was founded in 1979 by Boris Bernard. It remains a family company to this day with his two sons, Dan and Ollie at the helm supported by their amazing team. The world has changed a lot since the 70’s. Promoting and marketing your business has never been easier, yet at the same time, it’s more complex than ever with the overwhelming amount of platforms and ways to do this.

We’re passionate about small businesses and our goal is to become a one-stop-shop for all marketing strategy. From advertising in our heritage Little Blue Books to social media and website design & hosting, we’re here to provide solutions. Connecting local people with local businesses is at the core of Local Pages.

Thanks for stopping by! We’re a friendly bunch, so please feel free to comment on or share our posts – we’d love hearing from you. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn and please subscribe to The Little Blue Blog.

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