Staff Handbooks – a poisoned chalice?

So, you have the unenviable task of producing the Staff Handbook. Where to start?

What with assembling the material, making decisions on content and cajoling colleagues to provide their bit, what starts as an apparently straightforward process can easily become a sysiphian task. And, that’s before you address the presentation.

With sections provided by various parts of the organisation, written by different people with varying writing styles, the task of putting it all together in a well-ordered format can be daunting.

The Staff Handbook needs to be well written, with the information presented in a clear and consistent manner – a major task in its own right.

Text Wrangling

Much of the material will probably be produced in Word or similar. Everyone has their own ways of writing and formatting documents so one of the biggest challenges is knocking the text into a consistent and structured format.

A subtle rewrite can make a tremendous difference to the presentation, providing a  consistent style throughout. Add a clean design and good typography to transform a potentially “boring” document into a well designed, clearly formatted and intelligently laid-out piece that will be far more effective.

Read more about the “improvements” we can bring to your Staff Handbook

staff handbook

Online Scratchcards – The Perfect Promotional Tool

We’ve been producing printed scratchcards for years – starting with masses of the little blighters for a timeshare operation in Leicester Square but don’t hold that against us. Over the years the cost of producing scratchcards has dropped significantly but, even so, the processes involved dictates an effective entry level of 1,000 cards and not insubstantial amounts of cash.

Because of this we receive many more enquires than orders – so now we’ve developed a promotional scratchcard system that can be played online. And can be delivered at a fraction of the cost of a conventional printed scratchcard.

A promotion can be delivered to your target via a link on your website or in an e-mail and can be used for any number of things:

  • target new business prospects
  • remind lapsed customers of your existence
  • incentivise your staff
  • promote a new product or service
  • boost traffic to your website

The promotion can be fully branded and customised to reflect your brand values and design themes.
Read more

Happy Client

Friday evening, 10 o’clock, and the phone rings at home. It’s Patrick, one of our Nigerian clients, who supplies card issuing sytems to banks and financial institutions. He phones on the off-chance that we might be able to do something for his sister.

Maris runs the St Maria Goretti school in Nigeria and  has recently returned from a cultural school trip to the UK. She needs to produce a memorial brochure for parents and children but there’s a catch: the printed brochures need to be in Lagos by the following Friday. Producing a brochure within a week in the UK is not terribly difficult but we know from previous experience there’s a major transport issue, delivering material to Nigeria.

Before making any sort of decision, I need to see what we’re dealing with so Maria e-mails a draft of the proposed brochure in Word. On the face of it, it all looks reasonable straightforward but I need to check transport before commiting – and that can’t be done until first thing Monday.

And Monday is the 5th day of the Lord’s test with every chance of England beating Australia at Lord’s for the first time in years so I can’t miss that. The stewards at Lord’s are very hot on mobile phones so it’s back and forth between seat and the back of the grandstand making calls, trying to resolve the transport issue. Doesn’t look good when it becomes apparent that the brochures would need to be at Heathrow by tonight to clear Lagos customs in time for Friday delivery.

But what are friends for? Another of our Nigerian clients, Rockson Engineering, has a private plane leaving on Wednesday afternoon – if we can deliver brochures to Kensington by 3pm they’ll take them for us. Game on.

Fortunately Freddie destroys the Aussie resistance and it’s all over by lunch – shame in a way, as the atmosphere at Lord’s was simply fantastic.

Back to the office, and by early evening a draft design is on its way to Nigeria. A few corrections and tweaks on Tuesday morning, and by early afternoon we have approval and the PDFs are en route to the factory.

Sterling work by Prometheus to print the brochure overnight and have sheets drying on the floor by breakfast in time for folding and stitching. By midday transport is on its way to collect and deliver safely to Kensington (with a few minutes to spare!).

Late on Thursday I have a call from a very happy Maria.

Promotional Scratchcards – A Primer

So you have a sneaking suspicion that your company would benefit from a scratchcard promotion but don’t know where to start.

nha-scratchcards-eurofighter2Well here’s a good place

I’m discussing short runs of between 1,000 and 50,000 copies in this article as once you get into much bigger quantities the machinery required to produce them economically requires a different approach.

Size

Anything you want!

In real life A6 (148 x 105mm) and A5 (148 x 210mm) are the most popular sizes, entirely due to economics. The cards are printed on sheets that are multiples of the basic A4 size so there’s less wastage with these sizes.

Colours

Anything you want!

Again, real life normally limits this to the hundreds of thousands of shades available with 4 process colours but if you really must have a lurid lime green or “that” particular pastel colour then any printable colour is available.

The most common combination is to have full colour (from the process colours) on one side and then just black on the back for the dreaded Ts & Cs.

The Game

Nearly all games are derived from a very simple “match the pictures” formula. This is ideally suited to promotional cards as brand values can be enhanced by using the product itself.

For example, we produced a batch of cards for Eurofighter to be used at the Farnborough and Berlin air shows and the game featured a series of different pictures of the plane itself so it didn’t matter which scratch-off was removed there was always a pic of the plane waiting underneath.

Exactly the same idea can be used whether you’re promoting a bar (match the bottles anybody?) or a comedy festival.

Winners and Losers

As the cards are printed on much larger sheets, the relative quantities of winning and losing cards can be carefully controlled and monitored. Cards can be either randomly shuffled together or kept separate.

Terms and Conditions

nha-scratchcards-magners1These follow a formula: “The British Code of Advertising and Sales Promotion” established by the Advertising Standards Authority. Apart from restrictions on what you can and can’t promote to children, there are two broad categories: with or without a required purchase.

Once we know which category the promotion falls within it’s out with the boilerplate and time to fill in the gaps so it’s not something you really need to worry about as we can lead you through the whole process.

And that’s about all there is to it!

Brochure or Catalogue? What’s the difference?

nha_brochure-design-250Not a lot you might think. But you’d be wrong – when it comes to design the two are as far apart as breakfast and dinner on a bad day.

The two serve quite different purposes and need to be treated as such if the resultant product is going to be anywhere near meeting its targets.

Wikipedia describes a catalogue (or catalog) as “an organized, detailed, descriptive list of items arranged systematically….. The word comes from the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women or Eoiae.” And a brochure, rather less grandly as “a leaflet advertisement. Brochures may advertise locations, events, hotels, products, services, etc.”

For normal human beings that translates to catalogues (usually) want to sell you one or more products from a whole list of goodies with prices while a brochure is more of a touchy-feely marketing tool – and if any smarty-pants asks why holiday “brochures” are called brochures and NOT catalogues I shall summon dark forces to make your tea go cold.

Does it matter?

In design terms it is massively important. Catalogue design, particularly if you’re selling off the page is far more of a science than you might imagine.

For a catalogue to achieve its full potential, you’d be wasting your time without an understanding of square inch analysis and product density; knowing where the important “hot spots” are; understanding how to change the pace at which a reader is scanning the catalogue with “stoppers”; how to use “heroes”, and so on and so on.

A brochure is less scientific but no less important for all that. Without the need to achieve specific performance (in terms of sales) from a given area or number of pages, a brochure provides more scope to explore other areas of creativity.

Having said all that the most important consideration for a designer is understanding the difference in such a way that they can produce the best possible designs for any given application.