A Guide for Design Clients: How prepping your brief better could save you time, money and a headache!

A Guide for Design Clients

Are you a design client looking to streamline your collaboration with a design agency? Do you want to ensure your projects stay on budget and are delivered promptly? Or have you come to pay the bill and didn’t expect such a large sum on project management?

In this blog, we’ll explore how investing time in preparing a thorough design brief can ultimately save you both time and money.

The Power of Preparation

They say that proper preparation prevents poor performance, and nowhere is this truer than in the realm of design projects. By investing time upfront to prepare a comprehensive design brief, you set the stage for success and avoid costly delays down the road.

Approving Copy and Collecting Content

Before engaging with a design agency, ensure that your copy is finalised and approved internally. Providing the agency with approved copy saves time and reduces the risk of costly author’s corrections later on. Additionally, gather all relevant images, logos (in different formats), and other content assets beforehand to speed up the design process.

*Brownie points if you are a new client to the agency send over your brand guidelines so that the agency can understand your identity, rules and layouts.


Provide Examples and Preferences

Communication is key when working with a design agency. Spend time gathering examples of designs you like (and dislike) to provide the agency with a clear understanding of your preferences. This helps minimise revisions and ensures the final product aligns with your vision.

Setting Clear Deadlines

Time is money, and missed deadlines can result in costly delays. Clearly communicate your project timeline and set realistic deadlines for each stage of the design process. This helps keep the project on track and prevents rushed, last-minute revisions that can drive up costs.

Internal Sign-off and Timely Responses

Involve all relevant stakeholders in the design process from the outset. Ensure that your internal sign-off committee is aware of project timelines and deliverables to avoid delays caused by indecision or unexpected revisions. Additionally, commit to providing timely responses to emails and feedback from the design agency to keep the project moving forward smoothly.

Feedback and Revisions

Clear and timely feedback is crucial for ensuring that the design agency understands your vision and can make necessary revisions efficiently. Provide constructive feedback and be specific about any changes or adjustments you’d like to see. This helps prevent misunderstandings and minimises the need for extensive revisions.

In conclusion, investing time in preparing a thorough design brief can lead to significant time and cost savings throughout the design process. By approving copy, collecting content, providing examples and preferences, setting clear deadlines, involving internal stakeholders, and providing timely feedback, you can streamline your collaboration with a design agency and ensure successful project outcomes.

Remember, preparation is the key to success!

Now you’ve prepped your brief, want to send it to us? Get in touch today!

Cracking the Comms Code: Let’s Conquer The Annual Report Labyrinth

annual report

It’s time to venture into the labyrinth that is the annual report – those enigmatic puzzles of paperwork that both challenge and intrigue us! We get it, the struggle is real, from deciphering the data to dealing with cryptic feedback from Sue in finance who seems to speak in riddles – no offence, Sue.

At Be Smart Design, we’ve got the map and the compass to guide you through this maze of paperwork with style and flair!

Balancing Info and Fun

Alright, let’s be real here—annual reports can be be as intricate as a maze, with twists and turns, surrounded by walls of information that leave us feeling lost. But who says informative can’t also be fun? We’ll help you map out your reports whilst taking you through the scenic route – keeping your report fresh and engaging without losing the important stuff.

Running from the boulder of deadlines

Ah, the crushing weight of deadlines—they seem to come hurling at you out of no where! With our lightning-fast workflow and a dash of creative caffeine, we’ll leave those deadlines in the dust without breaking a sweat.

Illuminate the way with your brand

Your brand deserves to shine, so why settle for anything less than stellar? We’ll sprinkle some pizzazz into your reports to keep that brand essence bright for everyone to see, ensuring your report beams “YOU” from start to finish.

Breaking down barriers

Everyone should have a chance to join the discussion, right? That’s why we’re all about making your reports accessible to everyone. Whether it’s adding some forward-thinking features or just keeping things simple and easy to read, we’ve got you covered.

Handling Stakeholder Expectations Like a Pro

Stakeholders can sometimes present challenges, but we’ve got your back. We’ll help with navigating their expectations and ensuring everyone walks away satisfied.

Keeping Compliance Cool

Regulations, rules—whatever you want to call them, they can be a headache! With our keen eye for detail and knack for staying on the straight and narrow, you can trust us to keep your reports compliant, legit, and ready to impress even the toughest critic!

So, there you have it, folks—annual reports, decoded by Be Smart Design! With us at your side, annual reports will become not just a task, but a thrilling adventure full of fun, flair, and boundless creativity! 

Get in touch to let us help you achieve annual report success!

How To Lead The Way and Gain Trust On Social Media

Housing Associations, you’ve got a mixed bag of folk to reach out to, which means your marketing communications, especially social media, need a touch of TLC. Your social media managers will be juggling a whole circus of news, from shiny new builds to the latest buzz from the local community. The question is, how do you shine out from the crowd and really connect with your audience?

Well, we’re here to give you a leg up. Stay tuned for our savvy tips on how to master the social media game and win over your audience’s trust. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Be different by being authentic

Authenticity isn’t just a buzzword; it’s the star player in the game of trust, particularly in the digital playground of social media. Let’s wave goodbye to faux smiles and posts that paint an incessantly rosy picture. It’s time to bring some raw honesty into the frame.

Social media is the stage for authenticity and transparency, so don’t tuck away your mistakes in a corner. Be brave enough to admit when things have gone pear-shaped and address your followers’ concerns head-on.

But remember, it’s not just about holding your hands up; it’s also about how you right the wrongs. Discuss how you’ve tackled the problem, and elaborate on the new measures you’ve introduced to prevent a replay. That, my friends, is how you build trust with your followers and keep them coming back for more!

Bromford – Cyber Incident: How would you talk about it?

Choosing the right social media channels

Social media is a brilliant tool to connect with your residents and stakeholders. But remember, not all channels are created equal. So, it’s about creating content that fits like a glove for each audience.

Think TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook for customer and resident engagement, and keep LinkedIn and Twitter in your arsenal for business and corporate communications. There might be some overlap, particularly for companies who’ve got their ears to the ground to understand how residents feel.

However, it’s always a smarter move to create bespoke social content for different platforms than to churn out the same message across all channels. Trust me, your followers will thank you for giving them a tailored experience!

Respond quickly, and honestly

To show your followers you genuinely value their two pennies’ worth, it’s crucial to respond promptly and honestly to their comments and messages. This shows you’re all ears and ready for a chat.

Setting up alerts can be a handy trick to ensure you don’t let any interactions slip through the net. But, let’s not forget the personal touch. Avoid sounding like a robot, and mix up your responses so they don’t all kick off with the same old line. Remember, it’s not just about what you say, but how you say it.

And when it comes to complaints, honesty is always the best policy. Avoid biting off more than you can chew by promising something you can’t deliver. Always aim to take the complaints off the public stage as professionally as you can.

With this approach, you’re all set to build a loyal following and bolster your relationship with your audience. After all, every good conversation starts with good listening.

Use social media to showcase your work

Social media is a great way to share stories and highlight the good work that your organisation is doing. Share photos and videos of your work, and share testimonials from satisfied residents. People will trust reviews over the Housing Association’s word, so get lots of reviews and case studies that external parties can research into themselves.

Consider hiring a social media manager

If you don’t have the time or resources to manage your social media accounts effectively, consider hiring a social media manager to help you. This person can handle day-to-day tasks like responding to comments and posting updates, freeing you up to focus on other important tasks.

Ready to lead the way? Contact us today.

Ecommerce: Now a necessity, not a luxury?

Lockdown has been brutal for many business and industries. With little warning, the UK (and the rest of the world) went into shut down, and life as we knew it and all the activities we enjoyed, stopped.

Of course, this won’t be forever, but it’s clear that some companies took a bow and left. Others are left battered and bruised, and some have been changed forever. The ones who survived – and even thrived – were those who were able to tackle the new normal with ease because they were already set-up to do so.

Aside from ‘pivoting’ (don’t you just love that word?) like crazy, some simply glided into the rocky waters of Corona times like a pro swimmer into a hotel pool. For some… it was a natural progression.

One great example of this is a local coffee shop we know. They’ve simply not stopped. Not one day off. They already had a system that was Corona-ready… they just didn’t know it.

With iZettle contactless payments and a WhatsApp delivery service already in place, this start-up was able to continue serving coffee (via their delivery service) in a time when Starbucks and Costa closed.

Online payments and sales are on the rise

They always were though, right? In the first quarter of 2020 Amazon reported a large rise in sales. Predictably, the online giant profited from the burst in online shopping as the high street closed.

“Amazon reported that it had $75.5 billion in sales in the latest quarter, up 26 percent from a year earlier, surpassing analyst expectations. Profit fell 29 percent, to $2.5 billion, worse than expected, because it cost more to meet the increased customer demand.”

– The New York Times

Even Amazon had to make changes, but the profits far outweighed the investment in those.

Yes, pivoting is easy when you’re smaller, but being ready is even easier. So, are you ready now for the new normal? Because Coronavirus is here to stay. No, not the virus, but the way of life… allow us to explain.

The need for e-commerce websites is now higher

During the lockdown there was little to do at times and aside from watching Joe Wicks and baking banana bread (what was that all about?), so many people headed to the internet.

Facebook saw a huge increase in traffic, and it’s messaging services saw a 50% increase. The internet wasn’t just cool – it was essential, and it’s not going back!

Zoom meetings became the norm and Zoom fatigue a thing. Offices post-corona may well look very different… and some might not exist at all.

Lockdown has been a gruelling bootcamp that’s given us new habits. How long does it take to form a habit? About 12 weeks. Just as long as most lockdowns actually.

We’re now online more than ever and online shopping and ordering are likely here to stay.

What does that mean to your business?

Now is the time to go fully online

During lockdown, regular life went a little crazy. We all got a toilet roll obsession and then ‘online slots’ became the new gold dust. Tesco reported that their online shopping was doubled in lockdown as they offered a staggering 1.2M services in a 6-week period in April/May.

This will have undoubtedly bought on board new customers that will now stay as online customers. Were you able to serve online? Can you sell your services and products online?

It’s now not a matter of ‘when’ we’ll all move online… we already did. We were forced to!

Shopping is now a chore and challenge and that could well push people to do more of their shopping and buying online forever. The days of fearing online shopping are well and truly over for many.

Is it time to add ecommerce to your website? We think it might be, you know.

Mobile ready?

Not only will more consumers now hit the online high street over the socially-distanced bricks and mortar one, but they’ll be on a smaller screen, too. Mobile shopping was already set to takeover website shopping but with home schooling and far busier lives in the past few months, that trend has been accelerated.

Restaurants and pubs are now (at the time of writing this in June 2020) gearing up for more app-based sales and interactions. This will push your customers more and more online. It’s becoming normal to buy a pint from a table on an app, so what’s next?

The mobile phone is no longer a mobile phone. It’s a personal assistant, diary, social network and now – personal shopper. Did you hear about ASOS? Get this. The Queen of online clothes shopping released an augmented function to their mobile site that allows shoppers to add themselves into the images of the clothes on the online store. A true online experience is now more than just a static one.

Bye bye, bricks and mortar?

The increase in enquiries for ecommerce websites has been huge with us. It turns out that lockdown has pushed the hand of the company review and the results are in; shop fronts aren’t as justifiable as they were.

Plenty of our clients that had premises before lockdown now can’t justify keeping them. And they’re not alone. Even Silicone Valley giants Google and Facebook had to remote work, and it’s become the norm to see and hear from people working at home.

As the world becomes more connected online and less connected in real life (although we dearly hope it returns) it’s time to be honest and open about your current offering.

Buying online isn’t now a fad, a luxury, or even an unknown for the older generation. This crash course in online shopping has created a generation that supersedes generation X – Generation Next was born and we believe they’re here to stay. Are you?

Be Smart – get online now

There’s talk of second waves and lockdowns but that’s all irrelevant for many businesses now. They’ve moved online and they’ve taken it seriously. For the internet, this was the true perfect storm and those who are still here to tell the story are likely to keep clicking and collecting, rather than driving and queuing.

Does ecommerce need to feature in your business?

Give us a call now and we’ll get you started with your new normal. The habit’s been formed. The internet served us well and gained a whole new audience. Working from home is more accepted than ever.

As huge high street chains talk to administrators, isn’t it about time you spoke to us?