With winter on the way out, are you feeling ready for something shiny and new? It’s definitely the time of year when many of my clients start thinking about having a spring-clean on their branding/marketing materials. Before you dive in and start speaking to designers, I recommend spending some time drafting a design brief. Committing your thoughts to paper is a great discipline and really helps you get a clear idea of what you want to achieve.

Here’s my six essentials to include in a design brief:

  1. Provide background information
    A design agency needs to understand the context of your project. Be sure to include a brief summary of your organisation and its aims, as well as how this particular project came about – Why is it needed? What are the strategic objectives? What do you want it to achieve? Does the project have a lifespan or potential to be developed further in the future?
  2. Think about target audiences
    Who does the design work need to communicate with? It is essential to explain who you are targeting and how you want to engage with them. Consider whether you have any information which will help create a picture of your audiences – for example, survey data, focus group reports, or even anecdotal stories from front-of-house staff.
  3. Explain your brand values
    What do you want to mean to people as an organisation? Spend time defining your brand values as you should refer back to them every time you create new copy, photography, design work: ask yourself, are our brand values being effectively communicated? Your designer needs to understand your brand values in order to express your organisation visually.
  4. Include a budget and a timescale
    The nitty-gritty! If your agency is going to deliver on time and on budget then ensure you are clear about your expectations. Include important milestones, such as a board meeting, which the project needs to take into consideration.
  5. Detail the required outputs
    Make sure you know exactly what you want and include it in the scope of the project. For example, if you are looking for a design refresh, are you just after a new identity and style guide, or will you need it applied across various marketing materials such as social media, stationery, e-news templates, front of house etc.
  6. Describe the pitching process
    Explain how designers can pitch for the work. It is usual to meet to discuss their credentials and thoughts about your specific project. Requesting initial designs is not considered acceptable practice and usually guarantees little (if any!) interest in your project.

Good luck drafting your design brief – I do hope this article helps you commit pen to paper. However, if you need some marketing support, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Coventry Culture’s Family-Friendly Conference – My Take-Homes

Yesterday I swapped my desk for a day trip to Coventry Transport Museum, the venue for Culture Coventry’s very first Family Friendly Conference. Colleagues from across the sector generously shared their experiences in presentations and workshops, so I thought I would do likewise and share my principal take-homes from the event:

 Keynote, Dea Birkitt, Kids in Museums

  • There’s no such thing as ‘hard to reach’ families. Turn the phrase on its head and concentrate on what you can do to ensure you offer an ‘easy to reach’ museum to all families.
  • Be more Butlins! Learn from other organisations which are brilliant with families, such as Butlins which is committed to “helping hard-working families rediscover their zest and sparkle.”
  • Reflect the families outside your museum, not just the few on the inside.
  • Remember that families come in all shapes and sizes – and you need to make provision accordingly. For example, don’t assume that the floor is always the best place for family activities – think about those participants (children, parents, grandparents) in wheelchairs and with other mobility problems and ensure they can participate too.
  • Museums help us to shape and build our futures by telling stories of the past. They help us understand where we come from and who we are. We need to facilitate families sharing their own stories.

Approaching STEM, with Anja Keitel-Campsall, Coventry Transport Museum

  • Introduce ‘art’ to expand STEM activities to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Maths) to attract more audiences and add an extra dimension of creativity to your activities. E.g. learn about gravity by spinning paint
  •  Make use of your staff and volunteers when putting together STEAM activities. The knowledge and interests that people have is amazing and can help shape your programme. This wider museum team can also be a helpful resource when collecting raw materials, from yoghurt pots to old computer keyboards.
  •  If you are already putting on family arts activities, then give things a twist by adding ‘the science bit’ e.g. an arts activity based on a neon light installation could go up a gear and explore the speed of light, colour refraction, shadow or nocturnal animals.

Creating an award-winning family-friendly museum, with Gaby Lees, York Art Gallery

  • Ensure ‘learning’ is part of the process from the very outset. When thinking about an exhibition the focus should always be on creating for somebody rather than about something.
  • Think about the museum as a place where ideas are shared and visitors have a sense of ownership. York Art Gallery has lots of fab examples including the ‘Hands On!’ signage which invites visitors to feel different objects, such as bronze sculptures. York also commissioned new seating which includes a special pocket for visitor sketch books and pencils, encouraging people to draw, look more closely at the displays and reflect them in their own way. York also has a free membership scheme for local visitors, ensuring the message is clear that the museum is very much for them.
  • Similarly, York has also added lots of sensory objects to attract children, such as a felt version of a painting which children can play on; a cardboard sculpture representing waves which changes shape and texture the more it is touched; a big comfy story chair which is covered in a fabric featuring children’s drawings; and an area where children can play with ceramics (on a large soft rug to minimize breakages!).
  • Think about the role of touchscreens – they need to enhance the exhibition experience not suck all the attention!

The conference gave me lots of inspiration and hopefully there’s some ideas for you here too. For more comments and thoughts from the conference, search for #CovFamCon on Twitter.

Telling your organisation’s story

An annual review is, of course, the perfect opportunity to reflect on the year gone by and to pull together all your successes into one place. This year I introduced a new format for NYMAZ’s annual review – the aim was to make the most of the updated image library as well as the raft of positive quotes from participants and their parents/carers.

The 16/17 review  highlights the positive changes that NYMAZ’s music activities have made to the lives of children in rural areas as well as how the charity has supported and influenced the wider music education sector.

Read more here:

Laying the foundations for Sculptors

I’ve recently started working with the Royal British Society of Sculptors – they have been somewhat under the radar but that is all set to change with a new director at the helm. Based in South Kensington, the Society has bold ambitions for the years ahead.

I am very excited to be involved at the early stages, working with the team to identify their brand values, develop a SWOT analysis, get under the skin of their target audiences and wordsmith a narrative which neatly explains their direction of travel…of which more, at a later date!

Investing time and effort in getting the building blocks right is essential. It sets the framework for future communications and basically makes life easier in the long run. I find running brand workshops really rewarding and interesting. Participants always comment on how much they appreciate having some time away from their desk to properly think about their organisation and what it stands for.

Celebrating modern childhoods

I’m delighted to tell you about my latest project –  the NYMAZ Early Years Songbook: Songs for Modern Childhoods which is designed to celebrate the diverse lifestyles of children in contemporary Britain, and is accompanied by a CD featuring children from early years settings across North Yorkshire.

The new commissions mirror modern, everyday life: a long journey to see relatives becomes an adventure; festivals from Diwali to Chinese New Year are observed; a curiosity in exploring the great outdoors is fostered; cross-cultural friendships are celebrated; and the concept of a ‘family’ and its different forms is neatly explained.

I thoroughly enjoyed drafting the introductory copy for each of the twelve new, original songs and putting together a playful design brief. The end result has had a fantastic response from young children so far – and also provided rich content for social media and PR.

A series of CPD workshops for music practitioners will take place in November 2017 to demonstrate creative ways of engaging the under-fives with the songs. The songbook can also be purchased from Harrogate International Festivals’ web site.



Campaigning for better broadband

For the past couple of years I have been working with youth music charity NYMAZ to brand and promote their pioneering project Connect: Resound. It was conceived to overcome the problem of providing a well-rounded music education offer to rural schools when they are often time-consuming and expensive to travel to. The answer lay in technology.

Connect: Resound explored with primary schools how technology could provide a high-quality, cost-effective way of offering virtual, real-time instrumental tuition and live-streamed professional performances to pupils in isolated areas. The results have been tremendous: from Cumbria to Cornwall, children and music teachers alike have quickly become advocates for this new type of music lesson. Yet, there’s still one big sticking point: reliable, superfast broadband access.

Although digital technology could revolutionise the way schools provide music tuition, poor broadband in rural areas is limiting young people’s access to equal life opportunities. Superfast connections need to become the norm in order for virtual music tuition to fill the gap in provision for remote schools.

I created an easy-to-read summary of the latest phase of Connect: Resound and leveraged the publication of the report to add NYMAZ’s voice to the growing campaign for better broadband.

See the report here:

Launch of #PlayFarAwayDay

Do you think that everyone should have access to music, no matter where they live? Youth music charity NYMAZ champions the power of music to change lives, with a particular focus on ensuring that children in rural areas don’t miss out. To spread this message, we recently launched #PlayFarAwayDay with Yorkshire Festival.

On 18 June 2016, twenty-five music groups played in remote locations across North Yorkshire to promote the benefits of participatory music in rural areas. We shared the video footage and photos across social media, receiving over 43000 impressions on Twitter in one week plus retweets from mighty musicians such as Ruby Turner and Kate Rusby.

It’s all Gone in the Air

Longstanding client, the youth music development charity NYMAZ, conducted research into the opportunities and challenges faced by young people living in rural areas and of the particular benefits that out-of-school music activities can offer to their life chances.

Made by Marketing was responsible for launching the report, titled ‘Gone in the Air’ – from proofing the report and managing design, through to PR and social media. Our highlights? Securing an opinion piece in Yorkshire Post, hearing the story on breakfast radio and creating a real buzz online.

NYMAZ has made six policy and practice recommendations to spark discussion and influence the way this type of music project is both funded and delivered. One thing is for sure: this debate is only just getting started.

To see the summary of findings, visit


Fair Education Alliance

Will we ever have a fair education for all? This is the critical question posed by the Fair Education Alliance, which is composed of 27 leading organisations – from Barnardo’s, Kidsco and The Prince’s Trust to Teach First, UBS and National Literacy Trust.

This question also underpinned the Alliance’s inaugural Report Card, launched in December 2014, to outline the state of educational inequality in the UK and offer recommendations for achieving real change. Made by Marketing drafted the Executive Summary and was responsible for copy editing the rest of the report.