Friday, 29 October 2010

New Forest, new site

Quick recap for you: Rocktime, the digital agency (one of our partners), asked us lot at Idealogy to create a fresh look for their client, New Forest Hotels.

After much research, a workshop or two and many butterflies, we created a new brand for the hotel group. This wasn't the end of our work, more like the beginning. Or possibly the middle. You get the general drift. We needed to put the brand into action.

A big task was to redesign the website so that it reflected the group's new motto of 'True quality, naturally delivered' and, of course, included the new logo. The copy had to be welcoming and not stuffy, just like the hotels themselves, the pictures had to be gorgeous, the information needed to be updated and we wanted the site to get lots of visitors.

We got the basics together and handed them over to the Rocktime bods, because they rock (it had to be done, don't sigh) at creating sites that search engines love. Not only has traffic to the New Forest Hotels site increased, but the cunning design has also resulted in increased dwell time, and made the folk at New Forest Hotels rather happy.

Posted by Anna Ecuyer

Friday, 22 October 2010

Idealogy believe it’s going to be a long, cold winter…

What is an Old Wives’ Tale? According to the brilliant minds at Wikipedia, an Old Wives' Tale is a type of urban legend, similar to a proverb, which is generally passed down by old wives to a younger generation. So without too much further debate, here are a few OWT’s (to coin the popular vernacular of TXT Speak) to get you running to your wardrobe and dragging out your winter woollies.

1. Siberian swans land at Slimbridge – one month early!
One swan does not make a winter. But yesterday, as the first migrating Siberian swans arrived in Britain, the omens were not looking good. Each year, the arrival of Bewick’s Swans at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, marks the end of summer. The birds, which head south chased by Arctic winds, usually arrive in November to spend winter in the UK. But they touched down yesterday - at dawn!

2. Consider the acorn.
It’s a nut overlooked by most… unlike almonds and pistachios, because they’re the tastiest of them all. However, this autumn season, there are thousands of beefy acorns falling all over gardens, pavements and denting cars. Assuming you have an ‘all-comers’ car insurance policy, tons of acorns with sizable girth is a good thing, but they do indicate a harsh winter ahead.

3. Lots of berries?
Not sure if this is another OWT, but I've noticed lots and lots of berries round country lanes and about the house. The orange pyracantha by the front door is loaded and the blackbirds are already taking advantage. Holly bushes and trees are also weighed down with loads of big red shiny berries. The rumour is that trees and bushes produce more berries when they know it’s going to be a hard winter. Ooh err!

4. Mince Pie Recipes on Cookery websites
Now, I’m trying not to be too cynical here, but why, 10 weeks out from Christmas, are most of the major cookery websites showing mince pie recipes? Are they trying to tell us something by preparing us for the worst, or should I keep my conspiracy theories under my hat?

5. It’s October – so why is the heating on in the office?
As much as I care deeply for the wellbeing of my working colleagues, I don’t count ‘keeping them warm’ as too high on my list of priorities. But I have bowed to the pressure from ‘the freezing minority’ – people who seem unable to put on sweaters or extra layers – and turned the office heating on, breaking my unwritten rule that the boiler stays redundant until after Firework Night. Bonfire anyone?

6. GazProm announce higher gas prices
In the simple world of 'supply and demand', the inevitable has just been announced. GazProm, the Russian Utilities giant responsible for most of Western Europe’s gas supply, has, in one breadth, declared record profits and hinted at much higher gas prices for this winter. And if anything is going to bring on a cold, hard, long winter it’s the cost of keeping warm.

So, with all of these clues staring us in the face, I have only one piece of advice. Gently crank up your central heating and get out your thermals... because winter is about to bite. And it’s going to be a belter!

Posted by Simon Dover

Monday, 18 October 2010

Running, jumping, ducking, diving – and a dodgy coccyx!

Now approaching the end of his 21st year with Idealogy, Darryl Akerman is the perfect embodiment of the ‘One-Company Guy’. But, if all of that sounds a little steady and safe, well, forget it!

When he’s not multi-tasking complex brand and design projects as Idealogy’s Design Director, he’s anywhere other than tethered to a TV. He’s a Runner. He’s a Beachcomber. He’s a Cyclist (well, at least he was until he fractured his coccyx in an infamous off-the-wall BMX incident!). He’s an avid outdoor fiend. And he’s a moody Meteorologist – his outlook set by the way the local weather is shaping up for his weekends with his lovely wife Jo, and his 2 equally fresh-air friendly sons, Cayden and Jamie. Can you imagine what that washing basket smells like on a Sunday evening?

So, what else is he notable for? Well, he’s earned the moniker ‘The Blogger Dodger” – so you don’t need to speculate about how difficult it’s been to get him to answer a few personal questions. Let alone admit an aversion to the Social Media black arts. However, we eventually got there – and there are no other peddling misfortunes to report – for the moment!

Jump, if you will, to his professional life, and Darryl is the consummate pro – digging himself deep into detailed, far reaching branding and market communications projects. Sometimes it’s tough to see where the concept ends and Darryl begins, but he’s working on sharing his knowledge, expertise and diligence with others as Idealogy attempt to create a design team that reflects all those qualities and sheer mileage. And that’s going to be tough!

Ask him what he really loves and he will reply “Branding, from audit all the way through to application – it doesn’t get any better seeing everything go the plan, the proposition hits the mark and the client GETS the value”. Well, amen to that.

So, our all-action Design Director isn’t going to change his approach to his challenging MO. And if his coccyx holds up (God bless Ortho cushions) he’s going to keep attacking his Creative responsibilities with the same gusto he puts into his weekends.

Crabbing anyone?

Posted by Idealogy

Thursday, 14 October 2010

It's not you, it's me... or is it?

I'm fully aware (as we all are) that I'm growing older. Not a lot, but a bit, and enough to shift interests a little. Don't pretend it isn't happening to you either - you used to like clubbing, and now you prefer ‘a bottle of wine in front of The X Factor’. You used to like energetic, adrenaline-fuelled sports, and now you prefer ‘a bottle of wine in front of The X Factor’.

But here's what's worrying me – the other night, I turned off the football for ‘Masterchef -The Professionals’. Now, it was England, and it was pretty much the sporting equivalent of watching my own hair grow (that's changing too, but I'd rather not talk about that at the moment), but even so... MASTERCHEF?

So, either England are simply not entertaining enough to hold the attention of a young and excitement-hungry mind like mine, or I am actually getting old and would rather learn how to quenelle my ice-cream. I spent an evening thinking about this predicament (with a bottle of wine in front of The X Factor) and decided this...

The definition of ‘cool’ is changing, not me. These days, cooking is way cooler than football.

So there, I'm still cool - in fact I'm right on it. 

Panic over, slippers on, and back to my bottle of wine in front of The X Factor.

Posted by Nick Hart

Friday, 8 October 2010

Google testing new search results showing full page previews

The big boys of search are testing some new layouts and functions for their search results, I have to say it looks pretty impressive stuff and incredibly useful for the end-user.

It’s certainly going to have a big effect on the way Search Engine Optimisation marketers, like ourselves, work considering you can see the page in Google without even needing to click! Some of the tips and tricks we’ve been so used to using will need to adapt. This type of change means that the page you show to the users will need to be visually appealing as well as containing appropriate information. Something many sites fail to combine well.

It will certainly be an interesting time for SEO.  Would you click a forum post over a nicer looking page that is potentially less informative? Only time will tell. I do hope they allow us to measure rollovers on top of clicks so that we’re able to analyse the data more thoroughly - good times ahead for users though!

Credit to blogstorm for the image

Find out more here.

Posted by Simon Johnson

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Fit for Purpose – 05.10.10 Fitness First revolutionise the ‘Join On-line’ experience for new members

Back in 2007, when joining any fitness club on-line was a very new and, often, traumatic experience, Fitness First, were one of the first to break new ground. Their initial foray into acquiring and retaining membership through a simple, web-centred system was innovative, worked well and gave them the impetus to adapt and improve – knowing full well that development of the function would generate more on-line membership, better customer data and a platform for increased and improved recruitment and membership campaigns.

Essentially, the process began 3 years ago when the first system went live and today, as part of an overall Fitness First site re-skin, a completely new 1-page click selection system is going live. And it’s a game changer! It’s been designed to revolutionise the ‘Join on-line’ experience and organically link to member promotions, offers and discounts with a simple click-through function. And the 3 pillars of effective web design apply; it’s so much more user-friendly, it uses the latest technology appropriately to enhance, not hinder, the user experience, and it is already improving the commercial effectiveness of the business.

Oh! And Idealogy helped with usability, design, development and deployment for all of the front and back-end systems and also the ‘go-live’ process with the internal teams at Fitness First. And it all works – right first time and completely fit for purpose!

Posted by Simon Johnson

Friday, 1 October 2010

Just another week at Idealogy…

Life is nothing unless it’s rich and varied – and the working week at Idealogy is all of that.

For example, this week, week 39, has been a fascinating mix of rush projects for US Trade Shows, preparation and delegate experience for upcoming Brand workshops in Italy, production of Press adverts for premium kitchen products in Norwegian newspapers, a little promotional activity for a ‘soon-to-be-famous’ Drummer, some brand reputation monitoring around the product recall activity for a leading Skincare brand, and a colourful and eclectic mix of web and email campaigns, product packaging, topped off with a liberal sprinkling of interior, environment and retail design.

Of course, there’s always the personal…on the down side, a good family friend passed away unexpectedly in Melbourne, Australia, (as good a place as any!) one of the Director’s daughters has just begun 4 years at University in London, learning Physiotherapy, the Christmas Party is planned and booked, and we’re all off to our Digital Director’s Wedding Celebration on Saturday.

Oh, and the first of the new Board Meetings happened as well…with plenty of actions for everyone to get their teeth into!

Still, at least we’ve got Sunday to get over it, before it all kicks off again.

Week 40 here we come!

Posted by Idealogy