Digital Marketing from WestgateComms
How branding and web design can work together

A selection of our creative work for The Gallery

We have been asked many times to re-design a company or organisation’s website, and it’s fascinating how many times this has actually become a complete rebranding exercise, and a rather simple and and effective one at that.

Why does this happen? Whenever we are asked to re-design a website, we don’t just create a simple templated solution. We will deliver a bespoke website design that truly reflects the client’s brand, has originality and stands out from the competition. Our holistic approach ensures the website is a vehicle to convey all the key brand and sales messages in the most compelling way.

What has become very clear to us when designing a website is that for many SMEs, their website is the most visible and important part of their marketing armoury, so this cannot be designed in isolation. Also, as so much of an organisation’s marketing collateral is now online, the digital visual language that is developed for a website can be easily translated onto a whole range of other social media and online marketing platforms.

Clearly, it goes without saying that for many large global organisations, their brand can be very complex, so a traditional branding process will need to be adopted. But, for smaller organisations, where their brand proposition is relatively simple, a brand ‘look and feel’ for a website can easily translate onto a whole range of on and offline marketing collateral.

The work we have done for the The Gallery, a leading high-end hair salon, is a great example where the web design has developed into the overall ‘look and feel’ for the brand. We have positioned The Gallery as an aspirational brand that offers bespoke, leading edge quality to a diverse customer base.

 Since launching The Gallery website last year, we have developed a whole range of sophisticated marketing collateral to help raise the profile of the salon further, with a new loyalty card, a gift voucher system and an on and offline advertising campaign. www.thegalleryhairandbeauty.co.uk

Westgate has a long track record in creating bespoke websites for clients, which have a unique ‘visual language’ that have then been effectively adopted for their overall brands. If you are looking for a new website, and possibly a brand refresh, please do not hesitate to get in touch with myself or one of the creative team here. shaun@westgatecomms.com

WestgateComms.Com

Keeping your eye on the PR prize

By Alice Baker, Account Manager

In an unfortunate turn of events (I blame my parents), my Birthday falls at the end of March. It’s something that used to be a really good thing – spring parties in the garden with a bouncy castle – but now I’m older, I have to deal with the disappointment of ‘sharing’ my Birthday with other seasonal events.

Sometimes it’s Easter Sunday, (not too bad, I had an Easter egg hunt for my Birthday one year) but this year my Birthday falls on yet another celebration – Mother’s Day. Not a big deal perhaps, but it always causes a bit of a blurring of lines in terms of what we should be celebrating, what we do and ultimately who ends up cooking the dinner. Regrettably, running away to a cosy nook in Somerset is something that won’t be on the cards this year…

So how does this relate to PR? Well, in much the same way, keeping focused on one goal and objective is the key to achieving the best results. We sometimes hear from our clients that they’ve had their ‘fingers burnt’ by PR, or been disappointed by the results they received from other agencies, and often this is because there is no clear strategy in place or the PR activity has not been aligned to their business development plans.

Coverage for coverage’s sake is not PR at its best. Instead, it’s vital that PRs drill down into the business objectives of their clients and craft a strategy that helps boost and support these plans from the very beginning, whether the client is new to PR or not.

If you’re a business engaging in PR, make sure your agency knows what your business goals are and your development plans for Q2 2014 and beyond. Only when your PR activity is focused will it truly support your business in the way you need it to.

Want to find out more about how we can extend your reach in key market sectors and boost your business development plans? Then give us a call – we’d love to hear from you! Call: 01732 779087 or email info@westgatecomms.com.

www.westgatecomms.com

The branding process made easy

The branding process
We have been creating and developing brands for some of the biggest companies and organisations in the world. Over that time, we have developed and honed a simple, step-by-step creative process to ensure that highly effective results are achieved for our clients.

Brand audits
This is our very first step to getting to know the existing brand, its values and customer behaviours and how it communicates all its key messages. Most importantly, we need to understand how effective the brand engages with its key audiences, on and offline.

We do this by reviewing all the key aspects, including the logo, all brand and marketing collateral on and offline. We then produce a critique of what is working well and what needs attention. Within this part of the process, we will also assess how the brand performs in comparison to its competition.

Interviews and workshops
Working with a carefully developed questionnaire, we conduct interviews with a complete cross section of people within the brand’s organisation, as well as key customers or clients. This is very much a fact-finding mission and gives us both brand and business insights into what is working and what is not. This process also gives key personnel the platform to suggest ideas that could help enhance brand communications and of course business performance. Depending on the type of organisation, a more collective approach may be taken, and we can involve key individuals in creative workshops to help start shaping the brand.

Research and analysis
After the workshop phase, we will then conduct some targeted research where we believe there are gaps in our findings, to develop our understanding of the current brand and business situation. We will then compile our findings into a report on how the organisation is perceived, why it is seen that way and then we will outline any ideas or thoughts that been generated from the process so far.

Developing the brand narrative
With this research and analysis we are able to develop a unique brand narrative. This is a blend of the brand positioning and key sales messages combined with the story of a company’s past, plus its current and future plans. The brand narrative we develop focuses on a brand’s most positive aspects to ensure customer and client engagement. Then, we present our key findings to the client with our recommendations and a full outline of the brand narrative. This is then used as the bedrock for the subsequent creative design process.

Devising the core thought
Using everything we have learnt about the brand we will then devise the brand’s core thought.

The core thought is the most succinct articulation of an organisation’s unique positioning. This is articulated in a simple sentence or a short paragraph and is used to create an original and compelling strapline that key audiences can engage with. This will invariably appear alongside the company logo.

Designing the brand logo
At this stage, we have a very clear view of the brand’s unique positioning. So we are now able to create logo designs that reflects the true essence of the brand. This is a very creative stage where incredible amounts of ideas can be generated. 

Creating the ‘look and feel’
We then design the visual creative environment – or how a brand communicates on and offline. This will reflect the essence of the brand including elements such as the style of images, colour, typography and tone of voice. 

Producing the guidelines
Once the new logo and ‘look and feel’ is developed, clear brand guidelines need to be created, ensuring all parties develop communications collateral that is effective and consistent. A typical brand identity is composed of a number of graphic elements that come together to create a distinctive brand. The brand guidelines will explain how these elements should be applied. Used properly, these guidelines will help create far more engaging brand communications that truly reflects the brand and it’s values.

At Westgate, we have a long track-record in carrying out rebranding exercises so if you are looking for a new brand or simply a brand refresh that will create real commercial impact, please do not hesitate to get in touch with myself or one of the creative team here. 
shaun@westgatecomms.com

www.westgatecomms.com

The key components for a successful web design

Every web design we undertake is different in design brief, size, budget, audience and, of course, objectives. But, if you want your website to be truly effective in today’s digital marketplace, there are some fundamental considerations:

Website objectives and strategy
Before you start designing your website, you need to set clear objectives for exactly what you want to achieve. These need to be clearly measurable so that you can adapt or change where necessary, then you can decide exactly how your website is going to fit into your marketing plan and how it is going to effectively promote your service or product.

SEO optimisation 
Any self respecting online business will have a solid SEO strategy designed to drive traffic to their website. This will be integrated with a Social Media strategy, now a key part of developing inbound links to help improve your Google rankings. But, for your SEO and Social search strategies to work effectively, your website needs to be fully optimised – for example ensuring all your website HTML Meta Tags are written and configured in the right manner.

Quality content that can be easily shared
If you are serious about developing an online marketing strategy that is going to dramatically increase the number of visitors to your website, a content strategy must be part of your overall online marketing plan. This will include developing quality content that your target audience will like, engage with and ultimately share. So, your website needs to contain great content that is easily shared on a range of platforms, at the touch of a button.

Content management system that is easy to use
Clearly, for a website to be ‘fit for purpose’, it needs to be dynamic and easy to update so your content stays fresh and engaging. A robust and easy to use content management system is integral to ensuring your website plays a key role in your overall online marketing strategy.

Responsive design
There are so many different mobile devices being used to access websites for business. A website now needs to perform as well on a 24 inch desktop computer as on a smart phone. So, a responsive approach to website design is a must, ensuring a seamless user experience on a diverse range of desktop and mobile devices.

Stand out design
The key to achieving a potent online proposition is an original and eye-catching website design, to engage your key audience and encourage them to drill down and explore your whole service and product offering. If you don’t have a great design, it really doesn’t matter how much traffic you have generated to your site – they will just leave!

Google analytics
There is some amazing digital insight online and Google analytics is a great place to start, giving you an overall picture of how effective your digital marketing is and helping you to adapt your approach accordingly.

If you are looking for an original creative website solution that will create real commercial impact online, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with myself or one of the creative team here at Westgate. shaun@westgatecomms.com

www.westgatecomms.com

Are you an Ambitious Designer?

We are seeking a talented, ambitious Designer to work on a variety of interesting projects including web design, brand development, literature and Annual Report design. If you are a self-starter with strong creative skills, an excellent project manager with a real eye for detail and a real team player, we would love to hear from you.  

Core requirements:
•  Highly creative designer with a flair for problem solving
•  Design – all aspects of the creative delivery process including creation, coordination and implementation
•  Leading on the development of creative concepts 
•  Print management at all stages of the process 
•  Raising the standard of all creative design

Additional skills:
•  Day-to-day management of accounts including telephone and email liaison 
•  Attendance at meetings with both existing clients and prospects

WestgateComms
WestgateComms is an integrated marketing company specialising in web design and branding. With 10 years expertise Westgate creates integrated marketing plans combining digital and marketing skills which includes; web design, brand development, content creation, social media, digital marketing, PR and SEO.

www.westgatecomms.com

Please send your CV and letter to shaun@westgatecomms.com

Digital Marketing in 2014

image

Content is King, but it’s nothing without context

Throughout 2014, we will see a lot more big brands becoming far more creative about how they spend their marketing budgets. As a result, brands will begin to review their marketing spends, particularly on Christmas TV advertising, and question whether they really are getting value for money.

In the past, we have seen companies perfectly happy to spend a ‘kings ransom’ on TV advertising, with no real idea as to whether it will work or whether they will get the right return on investment.

What is exciting now, with Digital Marketing, is that with the right strategic plan, you can clearly measure the success of your campaign.

By planning carefully, you can create quality content that supports your key brand messages and then share this content on the most relevant platforms within your target community. Then, you can measure how much engagement you are getting with retweets, Google Plus Ones, direct messages, blog comments, etc.

It is interesting to consider that, with a relatively small budget, you can still create quality, easy to share content that gets far more brand engagement than big budget TV advertising.

Clearly, there are great opportunities to create a totally integrated campaign, where the TV concept is totally aligned with a digital campaign. By ensuring you get the best of both worlds, you will have far more peace of mind, knowing that you can measure your return on investment.

The skill now is not just in creating quality content that is integrated into an overall campaign, but also how you share it. There are incredible subtleties in developing the right content to support an overall campaign that will work effectively on individual social media platforms. Creating the same set of images and sharing them across a whole range of different platforms will just not work. But, developing an overall creative theme and then creating a video for YouTube along with a series of compelling images with engaging headlines for Facebook or an Infographic for Pinterest will get a lot more traction.

The content you create needs to work within the context of the social media platform you use so that you achieve the highest levels of engagement and ROI.

If you are looking for original creative content, supported by an effective digital marketing strategy, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with myself or one of the creative team here at Westgate. shaun@westgatecomms.com

www.westgatecomms.com

What does the future hold for Web Design?

With the explosion in popularity of mobile devices in our work and domestic lives, the traditional desktop website is becoming more and more redundant. There is a new wave sweeping through digital design and it’s all about integration. Users of all kinds are demanding far more from their online experience, because they are now accessing websites on a diverse range of desktop and mobile devices. With so many great apps around, I find myself going to the iPhone or iPad to access key sites – the user experience is just superior.

The app environment will become common place on all desktop and mobile devices, because the user experience is so much more fulfilling.

In the short term, the web designers’ challenge will be to create dynamic user experiences for a diverse range of developing mobile and desktop technologies. The web design solutions will become more complex, with responsive web design playing a key part in aiding delivery of a range of user experiences. Clearly, the user experience on a mobile device that fits in your pocket is going to be very different from a 24 inch desktop computer. This is where app technology will steal the march over the traditional desktop user experience.

I believe this will be a relativity short term challenge, because as technology develops, users will demand one user experience on a preferred device – the race is on for what that device is. The mobile phone and tablet designers are all looking for the optimum size device that is capable of providing a plethora of consumer needs, from ordering your groceries, having a video conference, taking the perfect picture, knowing what the weather will be tomorrow etc.

Google Glass or something similar will become common place. How we all interact with the web will be the same, there will be one common format that we all use. The web designer then will create distinction by developing how content is presented. It will also all be about the quality of the words, video, imagery and of course, the ‘look and feel’. This future world of communications will be incredibly exciting, challenging and rewarding.

If you are looking for an original creative solution in the digital or brand development space, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with myself or one of the creative team here at Westgate. shaun@westgatecomms.com

www.westgatecomms.com

Google Glass

How we develop creative web design…


…digital and brand strategies. 

What are the two key parts to designing and developing an effective website? 

How it looks and how it works. Obviously, the disciplines required to making a website function properly are clearly very different from what is needed to make sure that the website delivers the right creative impact, but both must work very much in unison.

In this highly competitive and visual world, the ‘look and feel’ of your website has to ‘catch the eye’ of the user instantly or your visitors will not stay and explore to find out more about your business. So, creating a unique ‘look and feel’ that stands out from the crowd is a challenge. This always requires a strategic creative approach so that your products or solutions are positioned as original and different from their competitors in the market place; the website must also work to reflect the personality for your brand.

But how do you get the most original results? Here, at Westgate, collaboration is at the core of our creative process – results produced this way are always better than ideas created by individuals. It’s simply strength in numbers. To facilitate a collaborative process is not so easy, it requires a certain type of chemistry, it’s is what made Morecambe and Wise better than Morecambe or Wise.

The first step is putting the right creative team together, one which will dovetail well together. Now there are some fundamental rules to ensuring the team is productive. For a start, there is no room for egos. An overbearing ego can kill the collaboration process ‘stone dead’ because if individuals think that their ideas will be quashed they will not contribute freely. The catalyst for generating original ideas is creating a culture where there is a freedom to contribute, all ideas are welcomed no matter how left field and when a team is relaxed and happy they will not be scared to join the process. 

Creative, original ideas do not come out of nowhere, they come out of a process. If you can put very keen, creative minds together working in a seamless manner, you can create the ‘stepping stone effective’. Where one thought leads to another, lots of ground is covered quickly and the ideas start flowing. 

Here at Westgate, we have been developing web design, digital and brand strategies for a wide range of brands for some years now and this approach has not let us down yet. If you are looking for an original creative solution in the digital or brand development space, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with myself or one of the creative team here at Westgate. shaun@westgatecomms.com

www.westgatecomms.com

Is your web design ‘fit for purpose’?

'You really don't want to be the person who commissioned the boat that didn't float'.

Before you start designing your website, there is some important prep work that needs to be undertaken to ensure that when you launch your website it is ‘fit for purpose’. 

To create a successful website that helps meet your business objectives requires the right design approach. You need to prioritise your business objectives making them clearly measurable so that you can adapt or change where necessary, then you can decide exactly how your website is going to fit into your marketing plan and how it is going to effectively promote your service or product. 

Clearly, your website needs to reflect your brand personality and have real ‘stand out’ from the competition. This can be achieved by using creative design but before this can be realised, the ‘digital skeleton’ needs to be produced. This is how the website will be structured, how it will work and what functionality it will require. This can only be decided once there is a clear understanding of the user groups, what they looking for, how they behave and what devices they will use to access the website. It is important to prioritise your user groups, creating a total website solution that is very inclusive and does not alienate anyone. You can also create user personas but don’t focus too much on their demographic details. Focus more on what they want and how you are going to give it to them in the most engaging way.

The key to effective online marketing is an integrated approach. So it is also important that your website dovetails neatly with your Social Media strategy, so that all your communications work as hard as possible to meet your business objectives. How you intend to develop your Social Media strategy can have big implications on how you design your website. Also, another key element is how it will support your SEO strategy – depending on how ambitious your SEO plans are will have an impact on the type of web design you create. 

So, spending quality time scoping out the needs of your website within your online marketing plan will ensure it will be ‘fit for purpose’ and help you achieve you business objectives. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like to chat to myself or any of the team here about how to develop an effective online proposition – shaun@westgatecomms.com

www.westgatecomms.com

Say thank you, it’s better for business

Helen Westgate, Founder and Director

Am I the only person in the UK who buys thank-you cards? Sometimes it feels like it, when I find about three choices on the shelves of my local Paperchase. I am alway surprised by how very few thoughtful and witty cards there are, especially as I think that thanking people for kind deeds is one of the fundamentals of life. 

Being thanked very clearly and thoughtfully for something that you have done, no matter how small, makes anyone feel appreciated and acknowledged. It also makes the “thanker” feel good about themselves too. In my view, all this mutual appreciation just oils the wheels of life and makes our daily dialogue with each other much more enjoyable and actually more efficient.

Saying thank you is not just important with your nearest and dearest - I believe that it is also just as important in business. Very simply, if people feel that you are grateful for their contribution, no matter how big or how small, they will want to do business with you again. I think that courtesy is particularly important when it comes to the issue of time - surely business’ most precious commodity? Whether I am in a meeting or on a phone call, I will always make a point to thank others for the time that they have spent with me. I like to think that I always (or as far as is humanly possible!) try to show the proper amount of appreciation for any kind deeds from either colleagues or clients. I think that it is important that they understand that I have acknowledged them and then hopefully in future they will be likely to repeat the process!

And I don’t think that I am being old fashioned. Courtesy and saying your “thank yous” seems to be just as important online too - it is no accident that one of the best ways to build up your Twitter followers is to actually send a “thank you for making contact” to any new followers. The etiquette of correspondence, so important in Victorian times when the Post Office was at its peak with letters being sent and received at all times of the day, now dominates all of our lives whether by text, email or on social media platforms. After all, who wants an online dialogue with anyone who doesn’t acknowledge you and says thank you for your time or contribution?

www.westgatecomms.com