Thursday, 11 December 2008

sign of the times

Farewell Woolies. With only two weeks to go until Christmas it seems that every child's favourite high street store is soon to be no more - with closing down sales starting now. See the BBC website to find out the latest.

Woolies will always have a place in my heart because of its Pick 'n' Mix. What will you remember?

Sunday, 7 December 2008

All about blogging... from the experts

Click here to see Arianna Huffington (of Huffington Post fame) talk to Jon Stewart about blogging on the Daily Show. Looks like an interesting book for aspiring bloggers like me.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

The Blog is Back

We've been a little remiss lately - not blogging as often as we ought. Really bad when you look back at previous posts and see how we boasted about our Alexa ranking - and now we've crept up over the 1 million mark.

Watch this space and we will be keeping you posted about what's been going on in the world of Hughes Design.

Christmas is coming

3 weeks to go until Christmas. What do you get for that music lover in your life? What about a pair of Ferguson Hill 007 speakers. Award winning, these speakers usually retail at £400, but are available online for only £200 when you quote XMAS when prompted.

Visit and have a look.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

hughes design news: inBox

Readers of our newsletter, inBox, will be aware of the great special offer that we are telling all our friends and followers about!

Thanks to our great relationship with Ferguson Hill, a longstanding client, we are delighted to be able to offer readers of inBox a massive 50% off the FH007 mini speaker system.

To get your hands on these award winning speakers simply buy online direct from Ferguson Hill entering XMAS as the offer code. Click Here to take advantage of this exclusive deal.

Monday, 10 November 2008

One of our projects here at Hughes Towers has been the development and promotion of a community website for East Finchley. Now in its second year, it has a regular readership of at least 800 unique visitors per month and many repeat advertisers. To promote the website, the local cinema, the Phoenix, is screening this advertisement, when it can, before films. This film is also available to watch on YouTube.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Sensible-music goes live

We're proud to announce that the Sensible Music Group website is now live. This has been a very exciting project for us being as we are big music fans here at HUGHES | DESIGN. Obviously not as big as fans as Sensible.

This site is a great show case for the kind of work we do. It's a bespoke design with a content management system. It also streams audio and video content, which is a first for us, or certainly in such quantities.

When we first met with Sensible, they had some pretty clear ideas about the kind of site they wanted, and the features hey wanted in it. Being a recording complex with a sense of history, but also very cutting edge with some of today's biggest names passing in and out of the studio, it was necessary to try and get a balance between retro and modern.

The header and navigation are inspired by vintage guitar amps, the nav switches based on the those on the Mojave Ampworks Scorpion 50 watt amplifier head. The dimensions of the home page are based an a Carvin 212 BELAIR 2 x 12, 50W, all-tube combo guitar amp - just to give the site an authentic rock'n'roll feel.

We commissioned Ben Sullivan an illustrator to measure up the studio complex and then create the isometric illustrations used throughout the site and the interactive one that acts as a studio navigation on the Home page.

Technically, the site is part static and part content managed. The Equipment pages and Clients & Projects section have have a simple to use CMS (content management system) that allow Sensible to upload images and text descriptions of the recording and musical equipment they have available while the clients and projects section allows them to upload images of acts, along with streaming flash content of the recordings and or/videos that Sensible have been involved in. The system also allows Sensible to organise the Clients and Projects content in a top 100, alphabetical or a combination of both.

Visit the site at and see for yourself.

The site is so new, it's still being populated with content. So it could change while you are there.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

From Lee Odden's blog on Viral Campaigns

This is copied from Top Rank blog and was posted by Lee Odden, and I have pasted it (and included a link) to cut out that extra click.

"Viral makes you think of something horrible, right? Like an outbreak of a virus taking over the world’s population and turning us all into zombies? Well, trust me, when it comes to online promotions and link building, “viral” means “success”.

During the session this morning, we heard a lot of fantastic tips for how to create and promote viral campaigns. Fionn Downhill of Elixir Interactive gave some fantastic statistics about the use of social media for viral marketing purposes and how to leverage that to gain buzz for your product.

According to a recent Nielsen study, 78% of respondents trusted recommendations from consumers over what they read in the newspapers. This is nothing new, as word of mouth has always been one of the most trusted sources of information, but finding out where consumers are getting these recommendations (blogs, online media, etc.) is very important. Fionn also showed that 7 out of 10 Americans use the internet as their main news source. And guess what - journalists are online too! 97% of journalists use the internet to find resources for their stories, 79% use it to generate story ideas and 72% of journalists read blogs to find out what is going on in the online media space.

Keeping all of these statistics in mind, it is easy to see how a successful viral campaign can gain tons of coverage for a company or product. But how do you go about creating this campaign?

Jennifer Laycock of Search Engine Guide gave some fantastic tips on what to think about when planning out a viral campaign. She gave three very simple commandments to follow, under which every bit of planning should belong:

  1. Thou Shalt Know Thy Costumer - in order to successfully market to the correct customers, you need to know a bit about those customers. Listen to their feedback and get involved in their online communities. This first hand knowledge will really come in handy when creating strategic messaging
  2. Thou Shalt Be Remarkable - You must be different to get attention in this world. Creating the same old “me too” campaigns wont get nearly as much coverage and buzz as being the first to do something great. An amazing message should translate into an amazing company.
  3. Though Shalt Try, Try Again - You can’t know what is going to happen with a campaign idea until you have initiated it and tested it out. Not all campaigns will be come viral. But with each new campaign you learn more about the process, more about the messaging and more about the consumer so the next time, you’ll get it right.

So, you have the plan underway, and you know what you want to do. But how do you actually get it done? Justilien Gaspard of Search Engine Watch and Chris Winfield of 10e20 both gave fantastic examples of how a campaign, marketed to the right people in the right places, will become viral within a few days.

Justilien stressed first that we need to have clear objectives. is the objective of this planned viral campaign to increase brand awareness? To launch a product? To gain new customers? To acquire thousands of inbound links? Once the objective is clarified, the plan will form around it.

A good strategy, Justilien said, is to find the people of interest, those who influence the space you are marketing in. These people could be the prominent bloggers in the industry, or the social media power users who have hundreds of friends and whose opinions everyone trusts.

Chris Winfield brought us through how to use social media to get the initial message out about our new campaign launch. Since social media is basically word of mouth marketing after drinking a lot of Red Bull, beginning a conversation within the social media sphere can be very successful. Chris shared this step-by-step progression that a viral campaign could follow on its way to popularity:

So, you have a story that was submitted to Digg, and makes it to page 1. This is seen as Mecca for some marketers, and here is why: Now you are getting 1,000s of visitors to your site every few minutes. Bloggers, who need content to write about, find this Digg top story and share it on their blog. Other bloggers see it and write about it as well. Now the individual readers of the blog see this coverage and share the cool piece of content with their friends via IM or email. Journalists - as Fionn stated above - also read the blogs to get ideas for new stories and they could write about this piece of content as well. Now you have mass exposure in multiple media sources from one tiny little link on a popular site. Excellent.

In order to keep this success going for future viral campaigns, the basic steps spoken by the entire panel were to outline a clear objective when starting the campaign, make sure the content is good and relevant, take time contributing to online communities to spark life within social media and make all pieces of the campaign work together.

What are some of your favorite tactics for promoting viral campaigns?

And be sure to check out all of TopRank’s coverage of SES San Jose and sessanjose08 Photos."

Friday, 10 October 2008

online pr

Click here to see a funny film about online dating - just more interesting than me writing about online press releases as I was going to.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

My bank's now a trendy wine bar!

Oh, those were the days! When the most irritating thing about banking was the TV advert about lack of local branches. Well recent events have changed all that, and will no doubt change the advertising landscape too. Imagine an advert for Sleepezee mattresses "Did your bank squander your pension by indirectly lending it to a long term unemployed man from South Carolina so he could buy an over-priced wooden house? Well now you can Sleepezee knowing your money is safe under our mattress with it's 'Unique Savings Deposit Underpocket' – you'll never need of a bank again! This of course will be broadcast in the middle of TVs next big hit game show: Who'd like their job back?

That aside, no matter what happens on the other side of the Atlantic, we've all got to look closer to home to and find ways to keep our businesses going, to keep our customers loyal, so we can all be trading in 18 months time and be stronger for it...

So, the last thing you'd probably want to hear about now is an "investment opportunity". But here it is: Invest in your own company.

How? Simply spend a little time and energy communicating with not only your customers, but with your competitors customers. Talk with those who have ever inquired about your business, catch up with the people who've stuck their head around the door and had a nose but never purchased. Hunt down those who've shopped elsewhere but are now shopping around for deals.

Here are a few tips:

1: Think Long Term: Invest in your company by investing in your marketing and communications
2: Raise the Bar: Look at what your competitors are doing – and then do it better
3: Talk: Stay in communication with your customers
4: Gold Stars for Everyone: Reward customers for loyalty & reward new customers for switching
5: Look Up, Look Down: Be as focused on your customers as you are on the bottom line.

If you need any advise on how to invest in yourself, then please feel free to contact us. We may not be able to offer to dizzying returns promised by Financial Gurus – but then neither did they.

But what we can do is help you get your message out there – with a big effect on your customers and modest impact on your pocket.

HIT ME! How to get your business to punch its weight on line

Did we blog about this before? Some time ago, Mike produced an eBook for Fresh Business Thinking (those of you Hughes|Design aficianados will have seen it in our Showcase) but if you would like to read and hear all about Online Marketing, Online PR and the like, click here.
You will have to give up your email address, but there is some interesting stuff in there.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

money 2.0

after the dot com crash came web 2.0, so remember where you first read about money 2.0. The new banking system that will emerge once these tumultuous days are over...

every day that passes, it feels like the end of the world BUT it will bring new and different opportunities. When these opportunities arise grab them, and then get in touch with Hughes|Design for your logo and all your print and web requirements.

In the meantime, need some cheering up?

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

It is all about the blog...

Optimising our website is going strong, and this is probably as a result of this blog. Using to chart our progress, we are now ranked as 896,788 in the world. Interesting to note that many of our page views are from Turkey. It would be good to think that this is as a result of the book cover that we did for Mahmut Suner (see August blogs).

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

open source browser - google chrome

Click here to read a slightly technical but accessible explanation of the virtues of Google Chrome, the new browser from Google.

Best of all, as the official Google blog says, "We owe a great debt to many open source projects, and we're committed to continuing on their path. We've used components from Apple's WebKit and Mozilla's Firefox, among others -- and in that spirit, we are making all of our code open source as well. We hope to collaborate with the entire community to help drive the web forward."

Sharing knowledge is what the internet is all about.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Let the sunshine in!

Let Hughes Design bring sunshine into your life!
Brimming with ideas, we can offer you a fresh perspective on all your marketing materials. Click here to get inspired by our showcase.
From design for print and web to copywriting and website content management, Hughes Design provides the sunshine needed to propagate the green shoots of recovery!
Sign off work by the end of October and get a 10% discount on your existing rate!
Introduce a new client and get a preferential rate until 30 September 2009!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Design by committee

A few years ago a consultant to a Housing Group came to me in a quandary. A designer he had used many many times, whom he respected and trusted, had supplied him with a rather under-whelming logo for a Housing Group he was working with. The consultant just couldn't understand what had happened. Had he upset the designer? Or was the designer just not interested or had they misread the brief? He asked if I wouldn't I mind looking at it, to see if I could work out what had happened.

The next day I received a 20 plus page word document, and it soon became clear what had happened. It was filled with market research, charts, surveys, questionnaires and graphs about colours, themes and elements that the tenants and staff of the housing group liked, with percentages next to the most and least popular. The results were: Blue, the sea and the sun. Not unreasonably from this the designer produced a blue logotype, with a wave and a yellow circle to represent the sun. Unfortunately the solution used all the visual short hand of a Travel Agency.

What had happened here was the committee – in this case the staff and tenants of the Housing Group – through a survey which was based on series of compromises, had democratically dictated the corporate identity for the group. As far as I know none of those involved had purchased creative services before but their opinions were key to the creation of the briefing document.

But, the survey in itself wasn't the problem. Surveys like this are useful if only for an overview of the organisation. No, the problem lay in the brief. It completely failed to ask the designer to have any creative ideas on behalf of the Housing Group. Clearly they acknowledged that they themselves lacked the skill set to create a logo for themselves which is why they appointed a designer. But then they shackle the designer with this well intentioned but ultimately misleading document. The designer does their best to meet the brief as they see it, with results that completely flummox the client.

It was only when I pointed out to the consultant, that according to their own research 53% of those surveyed had agreed that they would be satisfied with a blue logo with a wave and a sun, did they then re-brief the designer, removing the survey, and appointing one person with decision making responsibilities to oversee the project. After a second attempt, I'm happy to report that they got the logo they wanted.

HUGHES | DESIGN will be producing a handy guide to purchasing creative services, and how to avoid the design by committee pitfalls. Keep and eye out here for more details.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Why waste your money on design?!

If you've got a minute (and you're interested in this kind of thing) watch this. It is so funny that we can even forgive the people who created it.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Home Sweet Home

All back in London after our working holiday and the office is now up and running again, with hopefully a seamless transition. If you did experience any difficulties in communicating with us, please let us know, so we can make sure that it doesn't happen again.

Moving forward, we've a couple of exciting projects in the pipeline, including a new website for the Finchley Charities, a 500 year old charity that supplies housing, the continuation of work for the London Clinic and projects for Trinity PR and the imminent completion of the Sensible Studios website.

Following that, next month we have projects including an annual report for a new client in the Shetland Islands, who we met via the Deal Generator. Progress will also be made on the website for a property development company we're involved with.

Of course with the continuing gloomy news on the economic front, you may think that now might be the time to tighten the belt on the design and communications front. But studies show that actually companies that spend through a slowdown or downturn tend to be stronger when the economic cycle picks up. Basic rule of thumb being; you should never let your customers forget you are there. We of course are here to advise on how to do this with cost effective solutions to keep you in your customers mind.

If you have any projects coming up that you'd think we might be able to help you with, please contact us at HUGHES | DESIGN on

Monday, 18 August 2008

Scuba Datça

Mahmut Suner, underwater adventurer, cinematographer, former dive centre owner, and neighbour to us here in Datça, asked us to look at the jacket for his new book on the dive sites of the seas around the peninsular.

Mahmut has published 4 books over the years, his most recent being The Dive Sites of Bodrum where he lived up until recently.

The new book, like his others is to be published in English and Turkish, so we needed a solution that was bi-lingual – so we tried a few options
. The strongest solution was simply Scuba Datça.

word Datça also presented us with the opportunity to be playful with the cedilla – which we experimented with, intiall trying it as a fish, a diver in scuba gear, eventually settling on making it an air supply and mask.
We then combined this typography with some stunning under water photography, the results of with are published below.

Mahmut was very pleased with the results.

So, much so, we think we can confidently describe
Mahmut Suner as an underwater adventurer, cinematographer, former dive centre owner, neighbour to us here in Datça... and a happy client too.

Friday, 8 August 2008

The perfect work/life balance

School summer holidays can be expensive for working parents, childcare suddenly rockets and a certain amount of guilt can set in.  As an experiment this year we have relocated our business to Villa Diva in Datca, Turkey, where there is broadband in the house and wireless by both pools.  A Blackberry means that we can see what is coming in, when it comes in and for peace and quiet one of us can work from the house while the other stays by the pool keeping an eye on the children.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Thinking Linked-in...

Back in the mid nineties, both Julia and I worked at BCA – Book Club Associates – recognised then as one the leading players in the DM business. We produced full page adverts and inserts in the press selling book club membership around the simple proposition of 4 books for 99p. Admittedly, the work wasn't the most exciting, but the people and the atmosphere at the office more than made up for this. The other great thing about BCA was that it was full of marketers, copywriters and art directors/designers and we all socialised together regularly.

Over the years as that group has moved on, many of us have remained in touch. This loose affiliation have helped each other out with freelance work and recommendations, staying in contact, first through email and more recently with the likes of Facebook, Myspace and Linked-in.

Recently we (HUGHES | DESIGN) needed a Heavyweight copywriter on a project and we were trying work out if knew anyone from the old days. At roughly the same time an old colleague from back then, whom I was in touch with already on Facebook, asked for a recommendation on Linked-in. Now this probably says more about me, but it never crossed my mind to think of this ex-colleague as a professional when I'd be in contact with them on Facebook. It took an e-mail from Linked-in to make the professional connection and prod me into action. Suffice to say they did they did the copywriting job too.

So is it just me who when on Facebook sees it purely as social tool? Or should I increasingly be thinking that Facebook presents business opportunity to network? Should I be using Linked-in to be sociable? I've heard tell of a man who if you buy him lunch, will give you access to his thousands of friends on Facebook and in return you can market your product or service to his contact book. Is this really the future of marketing or just one man's plan to eat well? If it's anything, it's certainly food for thought.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

What's with the blog?

Mike and I have been watching our website creep up Alexa's traffic ranking table, we are currently 919,917 - and, between you and me, I am pretty pleased about this. The blog is a little experiment in search engine optimisation: everyone knows that content is king, so let's see if a blog makes a difference.

Sunday, 20 July 2008 one year on

Our involvement with this project came after we responded to an article in our local newspaper, The Archer, where Paul of the Phoenix Cinema and Jana of the Noble Sage Art Gallery were suggesting that local businesses should get together to put East Finchley on the map - in its rightful place alongside better known neighbours such as Muswell Hill, Highgate and Hampstead. Meetings were called,traders were interested, and REEF (the Regeneration and Enhancement of East Finchley) was born.

The first projects included a website, and this went live one year ago. In addition to providing local news from the Phoenix Cinema, The Archer and general sources, the website is becoming an online directory for local businesses with its free listing facility. Paid advertising slots have also proved popular, so popular in fact that we have had to build in capacity!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

HIT ME! How to get your business to punch its weight on line

It's not very often that a project comes your way that challenges you to find innovative solutions, pushes you to flex your creative muscles while educating you on how to improve your own business. The HIT ME! eBook, which we are just putting the finishing touches on, just so happens to be one such project.

The Brief was simple and very open: Fresh Business Thinking asked us to create an eBook from a series of interviews with several renowned Internet Marketing experts about specific aspects of online marketing... that was it. No Title. No preferred format. Just a deadline and a budget.

First up, we asked ourselves, what exactly is an eBook? There doesn't seem to be an established format. There's Adobe Digital Editions, Mobipocket Reader and Microsoft Reader which are all software interfaces to manage/read downloaded "eBooks" – but no default/industry standard, like the ubiquitous 'pdf'.

The second consideration was that the content of the interviews for the book were all about the internet and internet marketing. Logically any eBook produced, would need to be internet based and marketed using the techniques outlined in the eBook.

So we needed a suitable supplier to help us create our eBook. We recommended to Fresh Business Thinking.

We first came across Yudu publishing last year when we were working on Welcome 2 The Fun House book with Terrence Brake from TMA. At one point during that project TMA proposed publishing an on-line version of The Fun House, but upon reflection they decided against – their preferred delivery method for The Fun House was a hardback.

But with HIT ME!, there would only be a digital edition.

Having never published with Yudu before, we were initially weary of their promises that creating digital editions was simple, straightforward etc. Their online examples were very persuasive, their trial even more so. In fact, we're so impressed we would be hard pressed to be convinced to used any other supplier for a project like this. Not only is the end product interface attractive and easy to use, actually constructing the online edition is relatively simple too; the only caveat being that you need to have a basic understanding of publishing/layout etc...

That aside, the process is really simple. Create your book in your usual layout package, ie InDesign or QuarkXPress. Output the document as a pdf. Upload to Yudu via the account login area and then follow the instructions. Once there, you can move pages around, add AV content and create links out to relevant websites. Then publish. So simple it deserves to be the industry standard.

As for HIT ME! The book itself is full of useful advice and tips about how to improve your business online and it's not just for e-commerce businesses. The lessons within can be applied to all types of businesses. We've applied them ours, and have learned many useful tips which we can now pass on to our clients.

So, thank-you to Fresh Business Thinking, and best wishes for a successful launch of HIT ME! We hope it will be as positive an experience for you and your client as it was for us.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

A break in Cornwall

If you're looking to go to Cornwall, click here.

Set in five acres of land, Tredarras is a 17th Century restored farmhouse. For more information contact Robin at Tredarras Altarnun Cornwall PL15 7SF

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Entrepreneurs in London

Taking advantage of a little downtime on a Sunday afternoon, I have been blogging about EiL on the Fresh Business Thinking trade space on BT Trade Space. This is an event that is taking place on 20 November 2008. Entrepreneurs in London is a one day extravaganza with speakers ranging from Ben Way (one of the original and youngest UK dot-com millionaires) to Lawrence Dallaglio the former England Rugby Captain and Zac Goldsmith, Green Social Entrepreneur (and adviser to the Conservative Party on green issues). Should be really interesting. Find out more click here.

Blogging and BT Tradespace are all new experiences for me, and I will wait to see how effective the blogging turns out to be for EiL, but also how this one works for Hughes-Design and its ranking on search engines.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

We Love East Finchley

Thursday 10th July saw a flurry of e-mails regarding the looming pavement tax in East Finchley, London. What this is is a local tax enforced by the borough council on high street retailers who use the footpath to display their wares. Why does this concern us? Well, some of these businesses are our customers, and from time to time we are asked to produce content for their 'A' boards. Should the council implement the tax, then retailers have indicated that they would remove the taxable items rather than pay, so there goes a revenue stream... of course, being a creative agency, we would suggest alternative ways to promote their offerings, but frankly we think that flower displays outside our florists and furniture outside our cafés add colour to the area, so we'd rather join the retailers and dispute this tax.

So, with this in mind, and support from fellow members of REEF (Regeneration and Enhancment of East Finchley) we used the website we created to promote EF to raise awareness of this issue and try and get some public support behind the campaign with an entertaining editorial...

It has come to our attention here at that Barnet Council wish to introduce a pavement tax on local businesses who wish to advertise their wares on the High Street. In the first instance the council claim that 'A' boards, flower arrangements or street furniture are a potential danger to pedestrians – quite right too in this age of Health and Safety. But, if retailers pay them a quarterly fee, it turns out they can put these "hazards" back on the street! It seems to us here at that there's some muddled thinking going on. Many people feel that the tables outside our cafés, and the flower displays outside our florists add character to the area. But it's not just the retailers who are upset by this, one local resident, Harriet Copperman summed it up best "How can something like this be right or wrong depending on whether or not money is paid - isn't that akin to bribery?". She has a point. So will this tax go towards all the insurance claims generated by the lethal obstacle course that is our High Street? Or is it going to used to plug holes somewhere else in the council's budget?...

You can find out more at
Right now we're focusing our attention on promoting our business, with the sole intention of increasing our profile to attract new business. While we are busy at the moment with 2 two major website projects, and many print projects, our gut feeling is that things seem to be slowing down.

With this in mind we are actually stepping up our marketing activity, adding pages to our website, creating this new blog and reaching out to our customer base and collecting testimonials – an exercise that has been entirely successful in so much as hearing from clients that we haven't heard from in a while, and getting glowing references to add to our site.

Here are a few samples:

"(The exhibition stand you created) attracted so much attention in our products that I was interviewed by the local TV station!"

Alistair Frost
Vitec Air Systems Limited


Throrough, detailed and creative. Refreshing to find a creative agency that listens and understands the business goals."
Christopher Crosby

TMA - Transnational Management Associates Ltd.

So big thanks Chris and Alistair for these and everyone else who said great things about us.