• The science of standing out from the crowd!

    The science of standing out from the crowd!

    Stand out: does it grab your audiences’ attention? Encourage purchase: does it describe a unique proposition with a relevant and meaningful claim in the minimum amount of time? Fit with brand positioning: have you remained authentic to your brand values and beliefs? Read More
    The science of standing out from the crowd! The best ideas comes from the best relationships. So how do you create a happy brand experience? What's the big idea? Entrepreneur in Residence! Nominated for Lancashire Women in Business Award - Business of the Year 2017! Light up Lancaster 2017 Who cares about being original? Quite Seasonally French - Christmas Campaign Why you can't ignore the power of photography. Facebook loses younger users to Snapchat and Instagram #WeLoveQSF campaign The growing authenticity crisis in influencer marketing. Photo shoot and Art Direction for Quite Simply French Instant gratification vs deeper experience MJ Bird's 60 years campaign Rebrand for Virginia House New website for LPC Why social media matters more than ever to hospitality marketing Photography and Art Direction for M J Bird & Son LPC rebrand MJ Bird's Summer Sale Campaign Is Advertising a fun business? Case Study in successful omni-channel marketing for Virginia House Four Important and Often Ignored Principles for Brand Building New website for Lancaster The World's favourite colour Photo Shoot with Art Direction for Virginia House Photo Shoot with Art Direction for Lancaster City Council Cannes Lions Festival Winners A manifesto for the creative industries UK adults will spend almost 1 hour a day watching digital videos this year What brands can learn from the Share a Coke campaign. Trends in modern food photography The science of creativity in advertising Rebranding artisan producer Pennine Way Preserves. Celebrating 60 years of family and furniture Transforming London's Poshest Grocer Better with Jam pips other agencies to the post with client wins Branding for International Youth Games Spreading the QSF love. Gail hands out the facts! Defining brand storytelling using the hero’s journey What exactly is The Big Idea? Did Pepsi get it wrong? Another busy day in the studio! 2017 could prove an outstanding year for discovery and innovation! The AI industry is set to grow 300 per cent in 2017! What do we mean by the word brand? Successful partnerships just work...don't they?
  • The best ideas comes from the best relationships.

    The best ideas comes from the best relationships.

    But ultimately, the choice of a creative agency for a given project comes down to whether or not they’ll help clients meet and exceed goals. And it comes down to brilliant collaboration to deliver the strongest return. Read More
  • So how do you create a happy brand experience?

    So how do you create a happy brand experience?

    what people feel when they ‘leave’ your brand is what they'll remember and, more than likely, pass on to their friends. That will be their experience of your brand. Read More
  • What's the big idea?

    What's the big idea?

    The big idea is a catch-all for your company or service.  It should encapsulate what makes you different, what you offer, why you’re doing it and how you’re going to present it Read More
  • Entrepreneur in Residence!

    Entrepreneur in Residence!

    Janie Ash has been appointed as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Lancaster University Management School. Read More
  • Nominated for Lancashire Women in Business Award - Business of the Year 2017!

    Nominated for Lancashire Women in Business Award - Business of the Year 2017!

    We’ve probably been nominated for our high profile work with Lancaster City Council and many of the region’s businesses but what people don’t see is the effort we put into each job, big or small. Read More
  • Light up Lancaster 2017

    Light up Lancaster 2017

    Very excited about starting work on the new brochure for this iconic Lancaster event. And this year looks to be bigger and better than ever. Read More
  • Who cares about being original?

    Who cares about being original?

    Do clients care about originality? Or should they just care about the most powerful, effective solution to their organisation’s problem? Read More
  • Quite Seasonally French - Christmas Campaign

    Quite Seasonally French - Christmas Campaign

    Let's get the Party started. The launch of QSF's Christmas campaign. Read More
  • Why you can't ignore the power of photography.

    Why you can't ignore the power of photography.

    From sharing a photo on social media to trying to make an impact on humanity, photography is essential to our world.  Read More
  • Facebook loses younger users to Snapchat and Instagram

    Facebook loses younger users to Snapchat and Instagram

    Facebook is still the most popular social network in the UK, but it is losing share to Snapchat and Instagram among people aged 12 to 24 Read More
  • #WeLoveQSF campaign

    #WeLoveQSF campaign

    A wonderful campaign to celebrate how much people love Lancaster's favourite restaurant, Quite Simply French using testimonials from customers Read More
  • The growing authenticity crisis in influencer marketing.

    The growing authenticity crisis in influencer marketing.

    Nearly half of social media users believe influencer and brand partnerships are inauthentic, and that influencers work with brands they don’t believe in Read More
  • Photo shoot and Art Direction for Quite Simply French

    Photo shoot and Art Direction for Quite Simply French

    Brand, product and lifestyle photography. Looking good doesn’t stop brand looks amazing in all your marketing materials and on your website with our art directed photography. Read More
  • Instant gratification vs deeper experience

    Instant gratification vs deeper experience

    The key is to know your consumer, know what your brand can do well and commit – avoiding the beige space in the middle. Read More
  • MJ Bird's 60 years campaign

    MJ Bird's 60 years campaign

    Six decades later, and after several generations of the Bird family, they’re still here and still a favourite for people looking for leading furniture brands, style, quality and value at a great price. Read More
  • Rebrand for Virginia House

    Rebrand for Virginia House

    Virginia House asked to rebrand them as a fine dining Restaurant with a Gin Parlour and Rooms to match their award winning aspirations. Read More
  • New website for LPC

    To stay ahead of the competition and standing out from the crowd. Our brief from LPC. Ten minutes after the site launched they had a sale. Read More
  • Why social media matters more than ever to hospitality marketing

    Why social media matters more than ever to hospitality marketing

    Social media also comes with another vital USP. It gives the brand the chance to reach out directly to consumers and offers a platform for reputation management if any complaints are launched. It’s a more intimate and personal direct channel for brands to interact with consumers Read More
  • Photography and Art Direction for M J Bird & Son

    Photography and Art Direction for M J Bird & Son

    Jaw-dropping photos for your favourite brands all look so effortless don't they? But as every Art Director knows, there’s a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes to make those beautiful images happen. Read More
  • LPC rebrand

    LPC rebrand

    “I chose Better with Jam because the company has a wealth of talent that is unequalled in any other agencies locally. Having worked with the company before, I knew that Janie and her team would offer the right insights and direction to help us future-proof our brand." Read More
  • MJ Bird's Summer Sale Campaign

    MJ Bird's Summer Sale Campaign

    MJ Bird's omni-channel summer sale features striking colours and images to grab customers attention both online and offline. Read More
  • Is Advertising a fun business?

    Is Advertising a fun business?

    Fun diffuses difficult situations. Fun breeds creativity. Fun opens up and creates strong partnerships. Fun fuels productivity. So if you think you don’t have time to have fun at work…the truth is you don’t have time not to. Read More
  • Case Study in successful omni-channel marketing for Virginia House

    Case Study in successful omni-channel marketing for Virginia House

    How we ran a successful marketing campaign to drive restaurant sales and take Virginia House to number one on Trip Advisor. Read More
  • Four Important and Often Ignored Principles for Brand Building

    Four Important and Often Ignored Principles for Brand Building

    Brands are really just a big pile of Legos waiting to be put together into something great. Good brand building means understanding the larger vision of what you want to make and what you want your customers to see. Read More
  • New website for Lancaster

    New website for Lancaster

    We've been working with Lancaster City Council since 2015 when we rebranded the Light up Lancaster event, designed and built the new website. We beat 8 other agencies to win the account. And, now we're really proud to announce that after a brand photo shoot we have designed and built Lancaster's very own visitor website. Read More
  • The World's favourite colour

    The World's favourite colour

    The results are in: world's favourite colour revealed - but is it green or blue? Read More
  • Photo Shoot with Art Direction for Virginia House

    Photo Shoot with Art Direction for Virginia House

    Lighting, mood, style of shot all help to create a ‘feel’ for the brand, influencing perception and helping it become a living, breathing entity. It’s what we in the know call Art Direction – best summed up as clever concepts and tailored visual style that make your brand uniquely identifiable Read More
  • Photo Shoot with Art Direction for Lancaster City Council

    Photo Shoot with Art Direction for Lancaster City Council

    The Art Director and Photographer have a joint vision of how the photography needs to be to communicate the brand effectively. Read More
  • Cannes Lions Festival Winners

    Cannes Lions Festival Winners

    There was less of that this year – tech of course featured in projects, but ideas were awarded over gimmickry. Read More
  • A manifesto for the creative industries

    A manifesto for the creative industries

    Creative Industries Federation has today published a manifesto urging leaders to take action to support and protect the creative sector. Read More
  • UK adults will spend almost 1 hour a day watching digital videos this year

    UK adults will spend almost 1 hour a day watching digital videos this year

    Digital video is gaining ground in the UK, with Brits poised to spend an average of 53 minutes a day watching clips online in 2017 Read More
  • What brands can learn from the Share a Coke campaign.

    What brands can learn from the Share a Coke campaign.

    Summer 2013 saw Coca-Cola replace its iconic branding with 150 of the UK’s most popular names for its multimedia Share a Coke campaign, which produced some impressive results. But just what can other brands learn from it? Read More
  • Trends in modern food photography

    Trends in modern food photography

    Food photographers are no longer taking a documentary approach to their work but are creating exciting new trends and styles that are sought out by magazines around the world. We art direct all our photography and have a particular expertise in food. Read More
  • The science of creativity in advertising

    The science of creativity in advertising

    Some people believe that advertising creativity and science are like oil and water. It’s understandable – after all, if creativity is a scientific process, then one would have to believe that equations instead of people would formulate every song, every work of art, and every photograph Read More
  • Rebranding artisan producer Pennine Way Preserves.

    Rebranding artisan producer Pennine Way Preserves.

    We’re passionate about working with artisan producers, brands with great stories, that’s why Pennine Way Preserves was a perfect fit for us. It feels great to know that we've played a role in making the brand future-proof for the next 50 years Read More
  • Celebrating 60 years of family and furniture

    Celebrating 60 years of family and furniture

    Six decades later, and after several generations of the Bird family, they are still a favourite for people looking for leading furniture and quality flooring and carpet brands. Not to mention style, quality and value. For MJ Bird & Son it’s quite simply all about family and furniture. Read More
  • Transforming London's Poshest Grocer

    Transforming London's Poshest Grocer

    A brand lesson in not taking any thing for granted and resting on your laurels. Fortnum & Mason in London is 310 years old. A heritage of this kind is a wonderful thing: proof that a brand can survive the constant buffeting winds of change to remain relevant for generation after generation. But longevity can also be dangerous. Read More
  • Better with Jam pips other agencies to the post with client wins

    Better with Jam pips other agencies to the post with client wins

    We have ambitious plans for the year ahead, and will be using our experience and success from the last couple of years to catapult us even further ahead in the industry. The Better with Jam team has over 75 years of experience working with big brands such as Thus PLC, MTV, Channel 5, Capital Radio, EMAP, Channel 4, Endemol, Thomas Cook, Vodafone, Jet2.com, Mars Drinks, HSBC, AXA, Keep Britain Tidy and Fox’s Biscuits. Read More
  • Branding for International Youth Games

    Branding for International Youth Games

    We are committed to supporting our local community and especially young people so we really wanted to help. When we heard about the heritage of the games, and how much it has benefited the youngsters taking part, we knew it was a pro=bono project for us. Read More
  • Spreading the QSF love.

    Spreading the QSF love.

    We're currently running a very cool campaign for Quite Simply French. WE LOVE QSF pays homage to their customers and all the lovely things they say about Lancaster's top restaurant. Read More
  • Gail hands out the facts!

    Gail hands out the facts!

    Direct Mail still offers one of the most consistently effective forms of advertising. It is highly targeted and cost effective. Read More
  • Defining brand storytelling using the hero’s journey

    Defining brand storytelling using the hero’s journey

    Done right, brand storytelling is indispensable as a framework for telling authentic messages in a way that resonates with the consumer. Read More
  • What exactly is The Big Idea?

    What exactly is The Big Idea?

    A big idea must resonate, be disruptive, have talk value, transcend cultural and geographic boundaries and stretch the brand without straining credibility or believability Read More
  • Did Pepsi get it wrong?

    Did Pepsi get it wrong?

    If brands really want us to ‘join the conversation’, they need to show that they actually understand what it is that people are already talking about Read More
  • Another busy day in the studio!

    Another busy day in the studio!

    “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, the just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” Steve Jobs Read More
  • 2017 could prove an outstanding year for discovery and innovation!

    2017 could prove an outstanding year for discovery and innovation!

    There are, however, hints that 2017 could prove an outstanding year for discovery and innovation. Read More
  • The AI industry is set to grow 300 per cent in 2017!

    The AI industry is set to grow 300 per cent in 2017!

    It could be when AI comes of age: the power behind everything from intelligent toasters that know when we would like breakfast to machines that can pinpoint disease with more accuracy than doctors Read More
  • What do we mean by the word brand?

    What do we mean by the word brand?

    A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer's decision to choose one product or service over another. ... But your brand is a story, a set of emotions and expectations and a stand-in for how we think and feel about what you do. Read More
  • Successful partnerships just work...don't they?

    Successful partnerships just work...don't they?

    "Holy strawberries Batman! We're in a jam!" "Don't worry Robin teamwork makes the dream work." Read More
Archive

Shoppers today are overwhelmed with choice. Wherever they go they are overloaded with information, forced to choose between competing offers at almost every hour of the day.

Neuroscientists believe that increasing the comparisons available may actually reduce happiness

But if vendors are offering all this extra choice to increase buyer satisfaction, they might well be making a mistake. Neuroscientists believe that increasing the comparisons available may actually reduce happiness, for the simple reason that people tend to regret the decision they made because of the additional options they couldn’t pick.

Imagine yourself walking down an aisle in a supermarket. It would be fair, I think, to assume that most of you are in ‘autopilot mode’, just there to pick up items necessary for you and your family in the shortest possible time. Yet everywhere you look you are bombarded by countless similar offers, all of them trying to catch your attention, all of them trying to persuade you to buy them by telling you how much better they are than the competition.

The problem is that almost all market categories are saturated with similar propositions presenting themselves to customers with almost identical ‘touchpoints’ (the term designers use to refer to the points of contact between a customer and a product or service).

However from time to time a company will emerge who introduces a product with an innovative, disruptive proposition, combined with unique and compelling touchpoints for customers. If it’s successful, the way that product presents itself will become the new standard for others to follow.

Companies and brands are constantly battling to claim the leadership in their category. But even though every brand wants to lead, most end up creating touchpoints that are very similar to their competitors. This results in the marketplace perception of many products with similar propositions – and the feeling of supermarket aisle overload.

So are brands just playing it safe by choosing a similar approach to their competitors, or is there something else behind this strategy?

To understand what’s going on, it helps to look at what’s happening from the point of view of cognitive psychology and neuroscience.

Rules of thumb

When choosing a product people tend to make decisions based on intuition and then rationalise those decisions afterwards. They do so because the human brain favours speed: people want to decide as quickly as possible.

This is why we believe it’s so important for all businesses to understand the intuitive rules of thumb people use to choose one product over another.

Follow the code

Let’s go back to the example of walking down a supermarket aisle. There you are, being bombarded with an enormous amount of information by product after product. Each and every one of them is trying to grab your attention and persuade you to buy them by telling you how much better their propositions is than the others. However, because most of us find a visit to the supermarket more of a chore than a pleasure, you don’t want to spend your time evaluating every single piece of information each product offers. The decisions you make are going to be fast and unconscious.

Supermarket shopping relies on a large number of fast unconscious decisions

This is why, in nearly every retail environment, products and their packaging need to attract and persuade potential buyers as fast as possible. They have to, if they are to seize the lead in their category.

With that in mind, the following three points are vital for a product’s success.

Stand out: does it grab your audiences’ attention?
Encourage purchase: does it describe a unique proposition with a relevant and meaningful claim in the minimum amount of time?
Fit with brand positioning: have you remained authentic to your brand values and beliefs?

So how can rules of thumb help you achieve these three goals?

When picking a product the human brain tries to speed up its decision making process by applying its existing knowledge of a product’s category (designers often call this the ‘category code’). Let’s take cooking oil as an example. Because you can’t take in the details of every bottle of oil on the shelves, your brain brings your knowledge of the cooking oil category code into play. You look for the familiar bottle shape, type of photograph and application of a specific colour. And since you are only looking for cooking oil, you won’t pay much attention to other items – your knowledge of the cooking oil category code will determine what you take note of.

If you want your propositions to be identified, recognized and seriously considered by people looking to purchase a product in your category, then following the category code is vital.

Breaking the code

However from time to time a company introduces a product with a disruptive proposition, one that if successful may go to set a new standard for its category. So does this mean there are benefits to breaking the code?

By breaking the category code, you obviously run the risk of losing customers: they may not recognize your product any more, much less consider buying it. That said, if you have something different to say, a story to tell that will grab people’s attention, then you may well want to change the appearance of your touchpoints in just such a way.

To do this successfully, your propositions should come with revolutionary new benefits – prompted by new technology, new regulations, new infrastructure – they can’t just be evolutionary upgrades. And if they are to grab people’s attention, then those benefits must be perceived as radically different from all other current market offers. This is where an idea called ‘cognitive dissonance’ comes in. It is is a state of psychological tension caused by experiencing a disparity between what one expected to see and what one actually sees.

Let me offer one example from a well-established category. James Dyson is responsible for the current category code of the bagless vacuum cleaner.

Dyson’s iconic product design was – and, with the addition of new benefits such as continuous suction, remains – provocative and aggressive. It emphasises the company’s unique cyclone technology – which when it launched was unlike anything that had been seen before – the ‘cognitive dissonance’ that the product created in the marketplace made it extremely hard to ignore.

As a result, Dyson as a company managed to draw attention not only to its proposition, but also to the entire vacuum cleaner category. Before its appearance, hardly anyone would have considered the design of vacuum cleaners as something to get excited about.

If your product is successful in the market, then the new category code you have created will become the code other brands will copy and start to apply. If you manage your code, and brand, correctly, then people will see you – and more importantly remember you – as the leader of the category. I do not have to tell you how considerable a business advantage you will gain from this.

Use the code to break the code

As long you have a clear knowledge and understanding of the key codes in your targeted categories this can be a very successful strategy for businesses today. But is this strategy future proof?

 

New technologies will help companies shift their internal set up from mass-production to customisable-production

But this is beginning to change. New technologies – the internet, mobile applications and 3D printers, for example – are emerging and altering the current paradigm. These technologies will, I believe, help some companies shift their internal set up from mass-production to ‘customisable-production’ on a small (or perhaps even mass) scale.

What this new landscape will require is for companies and brands to shift their mindset away from the production of end products to the delivery of solutions. And by doing that, it will add new layers and challenges to design. It will force designers away from the category code and into whole new areas.

A new challenge for brands (and designers)

As for the designers, their role will change yet again to meet the demands of this shift. Over the past several decades, we have seen them transformed from a ‘team of people styling touchpoints by following a category code’, to a ‘team of people able to contribute to the creation of a disruptive, innovative proposition and by so doing develop unique, iconic touchpoints’. Now, with the emergence of this new paradigm, the transformation will continue.

I see them becoming trusted leaders in cross-industry collaboration, and the delivery of joint solutions. As with brands and consumers, so will it be with designers. Collaboration will become the key word.