Interview with Peter Howard

Chamber of Commerce Interview
with Peter Howard

Studio news 4th September 2020

Peter Howard, our MD was interviewed recently by the Chamber of Commerce
about what we have been up to during the COVID months of this year, one of the
strangest we have all seen. Projects for clients without charging money, tips on
how to improve your marketing and design and some insights into the
top 100 ranking which we are very proud of.

Peter is not planning a career on the screen anytime soon but some of the
insights are interesting… take a peek and see for yourselves below.

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Why use professional designers?

Why do companies use
professional designers?

Industry news 19th August 2020

Creativity, personality, proven track record or a myriad of other reasons
could be why businesses around the world choose to use designers to
solve marketing and design related challenges for them.

It is often thought that software is the solution, but this is usually not the case. Some might say that data is the only way forward, but how do you display this data? Others may argue that the quality of their products speak for themselves, however this only works for existing customers, future customers simply won’t be aware of this. Design is often thought of as ‘nice to have’, rather than a ‘must have’, but design is much more important than you think.

There are tons of different software solutions out there, which according to the adverts are simple to use and easy to create wonderful, creative solutions in seconds. So then why do companies use professional designers?

It’s simple, all of the technology in the world will not create a great idea. All of the technical witchcraft available today will not solve a marketing challenge of how to sell product X, and all of the various gizmos and gadgets can’t sketch out a solution… Fact. You need a human being driving these wonderful tools to enable the magic to happen.

Great designers can understand the challenge, take into account who you are aiming at and get under the skin of the task at hand. They can explore ideas faster than any computer, suggest different ways to get the message across and think the unthinkable, a new idea! Great businesses understand the power of a simple, creative idea and all that it can provide.

Professional designers have a proven track record, they can demonstrate how they work and can fill you with a sense of confidence in their abilities. They are passionate about solving your challenges, and will often end up doing more than you pay for, it’s just the way they’re built. In fact, designers don’t normally do it for the money. They just want to impress people with their talents, they love to show off and make the client say “wow, how did you do that?”. Then they quietly accept the praise, move on and do it all again.

It’s actually dead easy to tell which companies use a professional designer, they’re the ones who look good and make a profit!

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Too Much Communication

Is there just too much
communication today?

Industry news 12th August 2020

Have you ever tried to contact someone to catch up or discuss a proposal?
Ever tried to get in touch with someone who you’ve never spoken to before?
Or ever tried to speak to a new prospect and found it almost impossible?

It is not just in business that this happens. It is the doctors where you ring because you’re unwell, the receptionist asks what’s wrong with you (because they are medically qualified???), and then you book an appointment for the doctor to call you to have a chat and see if it’s actually worth them seeing you!!! So doctors, businesses, retail outlets, websites, car manufacturers… you name it, they are increasingly hard to actually speak to.

So what’s the big deal with actually speaking to someone, or meeting face to face you might ask?

With the increasing amounts of technology allowing us to communicate globally in seconds, why is it more difficult to get in touch with someone and have a conversation?

I know I am not alone in this but here’s a thought…

When you meet someone, or talk on the phone you get a huge amount of additional information that you simply cannot get through e-mail, Whatsapp, Facebook DM or the myriad of other channels. You can detect if someone is happy or sad, excited or bored, alert or tired. You can see and show empathy, you can pause without feeling like you are being ignored, it is a two way focused communication, rather than sending a message, then waiting for minutes or hours for a response.

My niece and nephew are well used to this, as is anyone under 24, and they call it ‘chatting’. But you simply can’t beat the old fashioned version of this which is called a ‘meeting’ or a ‘telephone call’.

So am I a grumpy old man?

Some would agree, but the facts are that when you focus your communication in a 1-2-1 situation you get better responses, you get the full attention of the person without other interruptions and you get better, more thought through outcomes. Isn’t that the point of communication, better and more thought through outcomes?

At PHd we always try and use the phone and face to face meetings, that way we get faster and better results for our clients. We even use pads and pens (and iPads occasionally) to sketch out a clients needs so we all understand what is required and how it can be achieved. This is followed up with a simple document telling everyone what the outcomes were and who will do what by when…

Sound refreshing?

Why not give us a call and experience the results of our approach.

Peter Howard, Managing Director

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It always starts with a sketch…

It always starts with a sketch…

Studio news 5th August 2020

Some of the best ideas have started as a sketch on a fag packet, napkin,
hotel notepad or worse. It’s about getting the idea down as fast as
possible before the idea disappears into thin air.

We have all had those eureka moments in the middle of the night. You wake up suddenly in the dark with a brilliant idea that will make you millions, convinced that you will remember it in the morning. Then you go back to sleep, and that amazing idea is gone forever.

Design concepts are just the same. It is important to be able sketch these ideas down super fast as and when they come into your head.

This is where all of our designs start out, with an idea sketched down on paper. These initial ideas will usually have annotations all over the place, perhaps suggesting a typeface or a colour that we think would work well. It is all about being experienced enough to understand the challenge, and demonstrate this understanding with quick sketched out ideas. It is also important to be able to talk about the ideas, so that everyone in the room understands them. This is what sketching is all about for us, and each and every project starts with this simple approach.

Professional, experienced design minds look at things differently to you, and can offer quick thoughts on how a message could be conveyed. These thoughts are all sketched out in front of you when we meet… now that is refreshingly different.

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PHd’s Guide to Website Design

PHd’s Guide to Website Design

Website design can be a tricky process to get your head around, whether it’s
technical jargon that’s difficult to understand or knowing who is responsible for
what tasks. That’s why we’ve put together this guide, in the hope that we can try
and make the whole process just a little bit simpler!

Jargon Buster

The Website Design Process

We hope this guide has helped to make the whole website design process
just a little bit easier to understand. If you would like help creating a lovely
new website, please get in touch, we would be happy to help!

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  • PHd design win a rather lovely international design award!
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New brand for a local charity

New brand for a local sexual violence
& abuse support organisation

Our Work 10th July 2020

If you’re suffering at the hands of a violent or sexual abuser, ‘Gina’ offer unique support,
counselling and social activities to help those in need. However, it’s a huge leap of faith for
individuals to contact Gina. Their new branding helped to reassure individuals that Gina
were friendly, professional and really could help, giving suffering men and women
the courage to confide in them.

During the Covid 19 lockdown, we decided that PHd’s design powers should be used
to help out deserving companies. So we ran a competition for us to do 1 free design
scheme, Gina didn’t win, but they do such good work that we couldn’t say no! During
the lockdown the difficulties faced by Gina (and the people they are trying to help)
were intensified. Hopefully this vibrant new brand will help build awareness…
If you’ve never heard of them, we’re hoping to change that.

“We want to bring a totally different spin to our sector through our brand; we want
to bring colour, eccentricity, intrigue, and just a tiny sprinkling of the good kind
of ‘crazy.’ This might sound weird (to have ‘fun’, ‘colourful’ quirky branding for an
organisation in our sector); however, we believe that our sector needs this element
of vibrancy and something unique (it needs the colour, brightness, joy and hope). Not
much to say Neil other than, we LOVE THESE!”

Lisa Thompson
Chief Executive Officer

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  • PHd design win a rather lovely international design award!
    Studio News

Free design competition

Free design competition

Studio news 27th April 2020

PHd have been running a competition to offer free design services to a lucky
company, during this whole covid 19 mess, we wanted to help someone, but also
wanted a fun design challenge while we were bored at home working in isolation.

We knew from almost 30 years in business completing over 10,000 jobs that our experience, processes and designs would help people get their ideas off the ground, help them to through this strange time, help them offer up new services, and in general ‘help’.

But we also knew, that things are uncertain financially, so however logical it is to invest in branding and marketing, some people just don’t have the funds at the moment.

So… we spread the word and received 24 worthy entries to our competition.
and it was tough, we got some really great entries.
and we’re sorry a few of you couldn’t win (honestly)
and we sort of cheated, because there were two winners!

The actual winner is (drumroll please)

The Olde Peculiar Pub in Armitage!

This is a great pub, with a tremendous history, and real ambitions, after a period without investment. We hope to get a raft of new things in place to get this pub ready to welcome customers once we’re all allowed to go back to pubs. We’re thinking new branding, signage internal and external, menus and who knows what else! We’re really excited!

The ‘other’ winner, we couldn’t say no to…

It is the charity ‘Gina’.

If you’ve never heard of them, we’re hoping to change that. They give support to rape and sexual abuse victims, and honestly, they do such good work we thought we had to help. The first job is to give them an appropriate identity that they can be proud of, and that will help them build recognition.

Thanks from the PHd team to everyone that entered our competition, sorry we couldn’t do them all, but I think you’ll agree that our winners are ‘worthy’.

  • PHd design win a rather lovely international design award!
    Studio News

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Is the end in sight?

Hi folks, the latest from us at PHd design:

Studio news 23rd April 2020

So we’re picking up now, after keeping ourselves busy doing lots of charity and
helping design work, and that’s partly because we’ve been busy marketing.

But it’s also because business’ are starting to realise two things:

1. They can’t just wait this out doing nothing, it won’t work!

2. They need to get busy with their branding and marketing.

But while that’s great for us at PHd…
It could mean something bad for you guys:

YOU may be left behind, if your competitors are working on:

1. Making sure they look good

2. Getting their messages clear and

3. Putting their name out there

they’ll get used, and you won’t so…

Work ON your business
While you can’t work IN your business!

Let us know if we can help, we’ve got the experience to get you working smarter not harder!

  • PHd design win a rather lovely international design award!
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Your business cannot catch Coronavirus!

We have something amazing to tell you,
your business cannot catch Coronavirus.

Studio news 16th April 2020

So while we all personally hide in isolation, coughing
into our sleeves cowering behind gloves and facemasks…
Your company doesn’t have to hide, and shouldn’t,
if it wants to survive…

You have 2 options as a business owner:

Option 1: Embrace being a victim, pause marketing, and possibly fold.

Option 2: Grab the bull by the horns and get your name out there, and survive (and eventually thrive).

If you (and honestly you need to do this) decide to grab that bull and get your name out there you have a few things to consider:

1. Right now, while we’re in lockdown, think of ways of diversifying if your business model is struggling, home deliveries, increased digital presence, vary your product or service.
You can’t afford to hide, make sure people remember you by being visible (all be it digitally).

2. Prepare for the race, when life returns to normal there will be a race for business (things will get cut-throat) and now you need to hone your offering, the way you describe and offer your services and business, the way you look, and you need to have ‘things’ ready to target clients.

Businesses are going to fold, don’t let yours be one.

We want to (and really can) help, even if it’s just a chat and sharing a few ideas, so please get in touch with anyone from PHd design.

  • PHd design win a rather lovely international design award!
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