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We make nice …

Categories: Extra-curricular, Nice stuff, Our work

The We Make Nice logo, icon and homepage mocked-up on an iPad and iPhone

We Make Nice is a side project we've been chipping away at for a little while now.

In essence, it's a nice, simple website, chock-full of mobile phone/tablet wallpapers which've been created either here in Birmingham or in Oslo. (Or wherever we happen to be really … but I mustn't get overly pernickety. You get the gist.)

We Make Nice initially came about from us here in Brum wanting to collaborate more frequently with Supercool co-founder Kris – the Norway connection – so we decided that every now and again we'd all agree on a theme, each produce a design or designs related to that theme, and share 'em. Simple.

Four designs from several different We Make Nice collections

To make this project a tad more meaningful, we thought it'd make sense for the designs to have a purpose; which is when we settled on making them into downloadable wallpapers.

This of course meant that we had to build the website to work on various hand-held devices, giving us a chance to do some nice things with responsive web design too. (We're all about the brains as well as the beauty.)

Mobile (iPhone) screenshots for the We Make Nice pattern

Granted, it's no big, clever, world-changing idea – but it is nice. And having this outlet isn't solely a pleasant thing to do, it's also helpful to us in our everyday jobs.

As much as we love doing client work, it's important to give the old grey matter a work-out, separate from client briefs, and just make something for its own sake. We Make Nice gives us this excuse to be playful which, in turn helps us do our jobs better by reminding and training our brains to think laterally.

So; We Make Nice makes us think collaboratively, playfully and laterally plus there's a lovely website from which you can download 'designer' wallpapers – and even curate your own little hand-held gallery of favourite designs, if you're so inclined? How very nice!

Have a browse of the website and download sommat nice for yourself: wemakenice.org

You can also 'Like' the We Make Nice Facebook page and follow @wemakenice on Twitter to find out when new designs've been added.

Art smarts

Categories: Events, Learning things, Useful/interesting

Art > Marketing > Family > Funds cycle

The other week I went along to an AMA Network event.

It was good. Though I don't work directly in arts marketing, I thought Sarah Gee's talk on how marketing and development teams could and should work together, pooling resources and wisdom, was fascinating. (And worded/explained much more entertainingly than that.)

It was so interesting that I've been meaning to write it up – but have consistently failed to find the time to do so properly, so on the off-chance there are any nuggets of wisdom discernible from my notes (made after-the-fact, tut-tut) here they are:

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Arts orgs having to become more business-like in terms of 'customer retention'. No resting on laurels and becoming complacent because funding appears year after year; those days are over.

It's important to involve people from the organisation as a whole – and to be more open. And open to change.

Don't be shy about the fact the org is a charity. Nothing to be ashamed of! If people were more aware, they may be more inclined to give.

Don't concentrate on one route only. Crossover is vital e.g. capital appeals can help people understand an arts org. is a charity. [For example Hippo Stage Appeal which launched in the Prospectus we designed, aimed at key stakeholders and funders is now also a public-facing campaign.]

Being clear to audiences/donors about the organisation as a whole, not just individual projects. (A good point was made about the possibility of people becoming fatigued being frequently asked to fund individual 'projects' - that time/those resources should also be spent on long-term gains; building relationships with people who may eventually prove to be 'high value givers' or who bequeath a legacy.

Inform people about the organisation as a whole, as well as individual projects.

Interesting fact re. legacy-giving and inheritance tax – many people give away anything over the inheritance tax threshold as they don't appreciate being taxed for it again. Remember though – the 'baby boomers' may be the final legacy-givers as the rest of us may not have any money to bequeath! 

My favourite line: "Treat people as people". 

This is something the arts is very well-placed to do, particularly compared with corporates as so many people have and/or build emotional attachments with the arts; attachments which are much deeper and mean more to them than 'for profit' brands. Marketing plus development = the perfect range of skills to benefit organisations.

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By the way, the diagram heading up this post is based on a slide from Sarah's presentation but I can't for the life of me remember who this marketing/fundraising cycle should be credited to. If you know, please pop a note in the comments and I'll update the post accordingly. Ta.

UPDATE:
Thanks to Chris Unitt for reminding me that the marketing/fundraising cycle graphic concept is by Michael Kaiser. Chris has also handily pointed me towards a slideshare presentation about it: The Cycle.

Village in a Town (Hall)

Categories: Extra-curricular, Learning things

The Imagined Village logo - styled like a directional street sign

Having recently been appointed to the design roster of Town Hall Symphony Hall (yay!), last night we were invited along to meet the marketing team and then watch/listen to The Imagined Village at Town Hall.

Having first learned a bit about Performances Birmingham (the charity who run Town Hall and Symphony Hall) in the Joseph Hansom Suite – yes, he of 'Hansom Cab' fame was one of the Town Hall architects – we joined the rest of the audience for The Imagined Village.

They're a kind of folky, world-musicy supergroup; but the sort of act you might perhaps expect to find in a smaller venue than Town Hall. In fact this bigger venue worked perfectly as the auditorium was packed enough to feel atmospheric but small enough to still have something of an intimate feel to it. Plus the sound's everso good, the lighting's great … and the seats are comfy.

It's local-hall-gig-gone-large; in a good way. (In a standing ovation sort of way in this case.)

Until last night I'd not been to see live music for ages and had forgotten how much I enjoy it, so I'm now keeping my eyes peeled for something else to get me out of the office/house in the near future. (If any local venues are considering booking Los de Abajo, I can assure you, you'll have at least one person in the audience …)

Four strings; for the win

Categories: Extra-curricular, Our work, Silly

The Moselele logo, featuring a ukulele for an 'O'.

A fun little side project, I've recently put together a logo for Moselele – renowned as the second-best ukulele group in all of Moseley (and Billesley). Apparently.

I think I may have found some kind of niche market as this is the second ukulele group I've designed for: see also HUG.

Moselele's new look has plenty of options for playing around with copywriting, which I think has gone down well with the Moseleleians who've already invented a load of new tagline-type things.

They've also been busy applying the new logo to all manner of merchandise in their online shop; I don't think I've ever designed something that's appeared on a lanyard, an iPad sleeve, and a hi-viz vest before, so that's quite something.

(A selection of more serious items such as t-shirts and badges also available.)