Meet the team – Tom

Meet the team – Tom

Meet the team – Tom

Alan

My family and I will agree I was an annoying but creative child – building towering lego cities in my bedroom or angsting over needlessly intricate art and construction projects for school. I was also quite fat, spending too much time on indoor pursuits like watching TV and teaching myself skills in graphic design, web coding and feature writing, the latter of which I used for the local newspaper as soon as they’d let me contribute (read: so I’d stop emailing them to ask for a job as a junior reporter).

At university in Bristol, where I studied literature, I spent every free day interning at a lifestyle magazine for the elite addresses of Clifton; helping create adverts and layout editorials with self-taught graphic design skills as well as writing monthly travel, property and technology features.

During those three years, the media bug bit hard – fancy press trips and creative brainstorming sessions became my world, and when I finally graduated I got a grown-up job right upstairs from the magazine office, with another publishing company, this time in scientific research.

We sourced content from across Europe and, with a knack for languages that even I can’t explain, I was put in charge of working with the teams in Spain and Italy. In early 2011, with rudimentary Spanish under my belt, I quit my job and moved to Barcelona to study the language full time, living in the heart of the gothic quarter.

Returning to the UK that summer and hungry for another adventure, I moved immediately (and rather recklessly) to London, having preached my disdain for the capital for several years prior. Here, I learned workplace diplomacy at a chaotic but electric events management company opposite Big Ben, tried marketing management at a world-leading publishing company I was wildly underqualified for, and ended up at a boutique copywriting agency on the South Bank – my dream role at the time.

After two educational but exhausting years in London, it was copywriting that moved me to Zurich, Switzerland. Continental life suited me perfectly and I found myself (both personally and professionally). My workplace – a Swedish multinational in the travel and education sector – was also my social group. After six wonderful years I decided to move back to the UK, with friends for life and new skills in project management, art direction, business strategy and leadership added to my CV.

I met the Think! Associates team on a project in summer 2019 and was instantly engrossed by Alan, Dora and Dan’s tales of design, art direction and strategy from across the decades. We realised there was an exciting opportunity to offer up my skills and experience whilst honing new ones in the cosy Think! Studio – and the best, as they say, is yet to come!

Think! Associates Limited
Victoria House, Victoria Street, Taunton TA1 3FZ
+44 (0)1823 423212
studio@thinkassociates.co.uk

© Think! Design Associates Ltd

Website designed by us, naturally!

© Think! Design Associates Ltd

Website designed by us, naturally!

Meet the team – Dora

Meet the team – Dora

Meet the team – Dora

Alan

I graduated from art college in 1989 and immediately moved to London where I teamed up with a young copywriter. As we prepared our portfolio, we were eager and full of expectation for our first job but it was to be much tougher than we expected. The pursuit of creative positions within the advertising industry was fiercely competitive and the financial recession at that time had a huge impact on recruitment.

We experienced many rejections and knock-backs, and there were times when we wanted to give up. But we persevered until finally we landed our first full-time position within a small, but prominent, agency in Covent Garden where we found ourselves working on some exciting accounts such as Mini and Silk Cut cigarettes (how times have changed!). It was a rewarding and highly valuable experience, but junior art directors were not well paid and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay in The City for long.

A move home to Dorset in the early 90s, and a new start at an agency in Bournemouth, saw my career return to graphic design – but not to a drawing board as I had been trained to do. Apple Macintosh computers were emerging in the creative industry in the UK and, as designers quickly adapted to the new digital technology, our roles changed significantly as huge new possibilities in creative communication opened up.

Changes in my personal life a couple of years later saw me head up to Reading where I worked for a small consultancy on major brands such as Microsoft and Denplan. Around this time, I also fulfilled a desire I’d had to serve in the armed forces and I took a commission as a reservist in the Royal Navy. So began the juggling of two very diverse careers.

In 1996, I took up a new position as a senior designer in Bristol and it was here that I first became involved in client meetings. I found that I was fully at ease in presenting proposals and I thoroughly enjoyed the client contact – all valuable preparation for the future.

My final move was to South Somerset where my husband and I bought our first house and where both my children were born. Taking the time to bring up young children and invest in family life was, without doubt, exceptionally rewarding but I knew I was not ready to let go of a career I’d worked so hard to attain. I returned to work, initially on a part-time basis, offering freelance design services to a Taunton agency which is where I met my Think! business partner and trusted ally and friend Alan.

We set up Think! in 2001 and have seen the business transition and diversify over the years, but it remains true to what we believed in from the start – that through a process of strategic thinking and creative design, we could help transform businesses by establishing strong brands that would drive growth. Our ethos – when our clients succeed, so do we – is what drives us still!

Think! Associates Limited
Victoria House, Victoria Street, Taunton TA1 3FZ
+44 (0)1823 423212
studio@thinkassociates.co.uk

© Think! Design Associates Ltd

Website designed by us, naturally!

© Think! Design Associates Ltd

Website designed by us, naturally!

Meet the team – Dan

Meet the team – Dan

Meet the team – Dan

Alan

Motoring was always an interest for me so my first design job after leaving university in 2000 was something of a treat – designing vehicle liveries as part of the largest signage factory in the UK. This meant working on special projects for clients such as Jaguar, Land Rover, and Ford, but also designing the wraps for emergency vehicles with their iconic graphics – and believe me, the squares on police cars are more complicated than you would think! Essentially it involved creating a giant 2D jigsaw puzzle that has to fit and align once it was cut from reflective material and applied over the complex curves of the vehicle. Alongside the livery work I also designed various signage projects during the time, including some that showed up on the set of Eastenders.

It was definitely a steep learning curve, managing different projects at once and making plenty of mistakes along the way. But it was also time well spent for a different reason – I found out what I didn’t want to do for the rest of my design career. So, after two very intense years, I’d had enough of police cars and ambulances and took the decision to leave to do some part time design teaching at Bridgwater College, alongside some freelance design work.

Several interesting projects came along in this time including t-shirt designs for clothing brand Howies, and working on book designs for a couple of independent publishers. Moving on from the college I worked for a small marketing company producing brands for South West firms such as food producer Jon Thorners and furniture company Myakka. This was the kind of design work I really enjoyed.

In 2004 I contacted Think! Design Associates and they offered me some freelance opportunities. It worked out well, and after many successful projects, I was offered a permanent position in autumn 2006. What has been different working at Think! compared to previous jobs has been building relationships with clients, being part of their brand journey over a long time – for some clients that’s been for more than a decade. When they blossom I’m proud to be able to say that I contributed to it.

Around the time I started working at Think! some new neighbours moved in, one of whom was illustrator and printmaker Jim Starr. We found common ground (largely in the local pub) over our enthusiasm for art and design. So we arranged and hosted several small, but well received art shows in the region. This meant I could keep my hand in with illustration and art projects – something I continue to do in my free time. And this experience was invaluable when, in 2013, some friends in Cornwall asked if I’d like to get involved with a new and darkly themed exhibition, which aimed to showcase South West artists in a beautiful, rustic National Trust setting near the sea. Seven years and six shows later The Cruel & Curious is a well respected event, with a dedicated audience. Not only am I part of the creative and marketing team, but I get to exhibit my own artwork too!

Think! Associates Limited
Victoria House, Victoria Street, Taunton TA1 3FZ
+44 (0)1823 423212
studio@thinkassociates.co.uk

© Think! Design Associates Ltd

Website designed by us, naturally!

© Think! Design Associates Ltd

Website designed by us, naturally!

Meet the team – Alan

Meet the team – Alan

Meet the team – Alan

Alan

I started my career in London in a tiny design partnership – two designers plus me – straight from college. It was a steep learning curve, going from college projects to client projects. But it was a great foundation – working on projects with time pressures and budget constraints. I learnt a lot.

Most of my time here was spent working on smaller print projects for the BBC such as the programme catalogues for the BBC Proms; and graphics for media production companies – things like end credits for TV programmes. These were the early days of computer-aided design and I remember spending some time being given some instruction on a fantastic new computer called a Quantel Paintbox. This was a specialist (and hugely expensive) computer for compositing video and graphics. It was 1981 and the Apple Mac was yet to make its presence felt across the creative industry. Interesting fact: the cover of Queen’s album The Miracle was created on a Quantel Paintbox!

Staying in London, I moved to a more traditional graphic design studio with large corporate clients like BT, ICI and Blue Circle Cement. I worked on corporate brochures, sales brochures and direct mail projects for these companies, alongside rebrands for newly merged and breakaway companies. Occasionally I even got to work on food packaging for the likes of Findus, a frozen food brand owned by Nestlé. This was a great time, early in my career, working with some very talented individuals and learning my craft. It set me in good stead for the next chapter.

I’d grown up in Taunton, Somerset, so I returned here after my extended stint amongst the bright lights of London. I started a freelance career whilst working part-time as a lecturer at a local art college. Here, I worked within the main graphic design department to deliver specific typography instruction – after all, you have to understand the rules before you can break them!

My time at the college also put me in touch with like-minded industry professionals in the area, and that evolved into a co-operative business where I, along with five other freelancers with different specialisms, came together to offer a full design service to our local client base. You might say it was ahead of its time with its joined-up, ‘out of house, in-house marketing team’ approach. It was here that I met Dora when she joined us in 1997 to supplement the design team. That friendship blossomed into one of the most important in my life and career and, in 2001, we struck out on our own to start Think! Associates. The rest, as they say, is history.

If you’d like to find out more about Think! – or, indeed, my experiences of working with clients through design delights and design dilemmas – get in touch today.

Think! Associates Limited
Victoria House, Victoria Street, Taunton TA1 3FZ
+44 (0)1823 423212
studio@thinkassociates.co.uk

© Think! Design Associates Ltd

Website designed by us, naturally!

© Think! Design Associates Ltd

Website designed by us, naturally!

Branding – more than just a logo

Branding – more than just a logo

Branding – more than just a logo

more than just a logo

We often hear how important branding is for your business – but what is a brand and how does it help a business to grow?

 

A logo is not a brand

It’s a popular misconception that your logo is your brand. It’s a fair enough mistake to make: after all, a logo is the most recognised part of your brand’s visual identity and is often the first part of your business the outside world will see. But branding goes way beyond this.

Your brand is the way your customer sees you. This will, of course, be down to your logo, your website, or printed brochure… but it can equally be about your customer’s experience of you: everything from how you respond to their custom, to how you answer the phone.

 

A brand secures business

Once we begin to look at branding in this way, we can begin to see not only how critical it is to a business, but how important it is to get it right so that you are telling the right story to your audience. This, in turn, begins to distinguish you from your competitors.

Your brand should create a powerful and memorable impression with your customers and help them to know what to expect from you – after all, why would someone buy something from you if they have no idea who you are, what you can give them or what you stand for?

When we begin to look at this broader definition of branding, we can see how brands are levers of growth and a powerful asset to any business. But a good brand doesn’t just happen: it’s a creative, strategic and well thought-out business plan. What’s more, failing to spend the necessary time thinking about your brand can not only hinder growth but also have a negative impact on your business.

 

Think about branding

Here are a few thoughts you might consider when thinking about your brand.

  • Does your brand promote recognition? Is it consistent and easy for customers to recognise. Remember, people are more confident doing business with companies they’re familiar with.
  • Your brand will help set you apart from your competitors, but you should be standing out for the right reasons. What does your brand say about your company’s ethos, presence and value to the customer?
  • A strong brand will generate new business because we love to tell others about the brands we like – brands we wear, brands we eat, brands that leave a positive experience. But we can’t tell someone about a brand we can’t remember.
  • Employee satisfaction. Your team will take pride in a business that has a strong brand vision because there’s a sense of belonging which makes their working day more enjoyable and fulfilling. In turn, they’ll talk about your brand to others, and your business becomes known for its good working culture. This is called Employee Advocacy.

 

Work with branding experts

Branding agencies are experts in looking at a brand and working out how it works, who’s buying from it, and how it could grow. At Think! we love to work with businesses who want to do more with their brands and understand how important a strong brand is to driving growth. We’ve partnered with businesses large and small to create bespoke brand blueprints that align with the business vision and offer exciting opportunities for growth. If you’re ready to start or restart your brand journey, get in touch.

Think! Associates Limited
Victoria House, Victoria Street, Taunton TA1 3FZ
+44 (0)1823 423212
studio@thinkassociates.co.uk

© Think! Design Associates Ltd

Website designed by us, naturally!

© Think! Design Associates Ltd

Website designed by us, naturally!