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The Power of Pantone: what your brand colours say about you

With more than 10,000 standardised colours in the Pantone Matching System and a number of companies going so far as to trademark their signature colours, just how important is pigment to the strategy and success of your business?

From the distinctly vibrant and energetic orange of EasyJet to the bold and passionate red sole of a Christian Louboutin heel, we are all consumers of the creative colour system founded more than half a century ago.

Any designer worth his salt will have a plethora of fan books with Pantone’s Chips, Formula Guides and Colour Bridges, arming him with the assurance and control that is required to specify the exact colour of everything from the printed design on different paper stocks to the multiple digital channels and its usage on fabrics and materials.

According to Pantone “all colours express different emotions… with colour influencing 50 to 85 percent of customer purchasing decisions and it is the first thing a consumer will notice about a brand’s logo.”

So all in all, it’s an important factor in the concept or redevelopment of a brand. Pantone defines some of its most popular brand colours as follows:

  • Black – dramatic & sophisticated
  • Blue – trustworthy & secure
  • Red – bold & passionate
  • Yellow – optimistic & innovative
  • Orange – vibrant & energetic
  • Purple – enchanting & regal
  • Green – rejuvenating & natural
  • Grey – sleek & timeless
  • Brown – grounded & robust
  • Pink – festive & fun

How closely do these descriptions support the identity of your brand or that of your favourite brands?

Looking at Interdirect’s colour pallet of orange and grey, I would say that Pantone’s descriptions are an accurate representation of the brand and all it is exudes. This means that, as you would expect from the creative mind of our managing director, Nicholas Mann, the business continues to reflect the ethos that was established when the agency was set-up more than two decades ago.

The language of colour is interesting and diverse, and although we can’t all claim to be colour technicians just because we’ve picked up a bit of insight into Pantone, we should certainly be conscious of the science behind it and the perceptions of our brand through its communication in colour.

15 Reasons We #LoveMK

This month will mark the 4th #LoveMK day since Destination MK, the official tourism organisation for Milton Keynes, started the trend in 2012. As key supporters of the city’s past, present and future, on Thursday 28th April we – alongside hundreds of others – will aim to set social media alight with quirky depictions of the hashtag, causing our great city to start trending.

#LoveMK Day aims to celebrate MK in all its glory, promoting the city as a great destination for businesses, as well as for leisure, sports and entertainment. It’s certainly a place people take great pride in, evident from the sense of community and potential.

As professionals and residents of Milton Keynes we may be slightly biased, but we think that this great city has everything to offer and more, whether you’re into country walks, skydiving, fine dining, fantastic shopping, or the arts.

Here are the top 15 reasons we all #LoveMK!

  1. Development sits comfortably next to greenery, with parks, green spaces and lakes nestled amongst the estates and business areas.
  2. There’s ALWAYS something going on, from festivals to family fun days, marathons, concerts, sporting events to live music and theatre.
  3. Travel for 5 minutes and you feel like you’re in the deepest countryside.
  4. … And indeed you are! There are so many beautiful rural villages just a stone’s throw away.
  5. MK is connected, with high speed transport to London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow. We’re also just 30 miles from the m25, and the m1 runs through the eastern edge of the city.
  6. With 130 roundabouts – that’s almost 4 per square mile! – it’s easy to see why MK is often called Roundabout City, but the running joke doesn’t detract from the grid system’s practicality. Sure, we might never know precisely which roundabout we’re on, but we love how easy it makes driving.
  7. That same grid system has helped to mould out communities, each with its own village feel.
  8. MK behaves like a city, but doesn’t feel like one. We attribute that to its confidence and vibrancy!
  9. Innovation is what we do, and when we bend our minds to something we really trail blaze, from SmartCities to driverless pods and much more.
  10. Even the less common sports are embraced, from wakeboarding to skiing, go-carting, skydiving and biking in the Woburn woods.
  11. You never have to cross a road if on foot or on a bicycle, since the city really encourages cleaner and more active modes of transport.
  12. It’s so clean!
  13. The canal that runs through the heart of the city is fantastic for biking, walking, jogging or just a great place to meet.
  14. Our many parks – from Ouzel Valley to Caldecotte, Willen, Furzton and Campbell Park.
  15. Milton Keynes has such a “can do” attitude, apparent in both businesses and local communities.

Keep an eye out for how we’re going to celebrate #LoveMK day ID style on social media on the 28th April!

How could the rise of Virtual Reality affect marketing?

 When I think about Virtual Reality (VR), my mind tends to wander and becomes filled with fantastical scenes such as the ones I’ve seen in movies; Tron, Avatar, The Matrix and even *that* scene from Demolition Man.

But away from Hollywood and back to reality, VR is no longer the work of science fiction. With some of the planet’s biggest technology brands bringing their VR tech systems to the market this year, many people are wondering if it will live up to the hype.

VR tried (and failed) to take off in the late 80’s and early 90’s with Nintendo’s Virtual Boy console ending up as one of the biggest flops in gaming history – it was discontinued in 1996 after just 20 games were released, due to the console inflicting migraines and even retina damage upon players. Ouch.

However, questionable VR consoles looks set to be a thing of the past, with several tech giants recently launching VR headsets; including Google Cardboard, Sony’s PlayStation VR and Facebook’s Oculus Rift – we all saw those photos of Mark Zuckerberg at Samsung’s S7 event, walking through a crowd of event attendees, all of whom wearing the Oculus Rift headset, looking eerily like the cast of Apple’s infamous ‘1984’ advert.

Eerie press conferences aside, Business Insider estimates that that the VR hardware market could be worth a staggering $2.8billion by 2020  and will be found in millions of homes, which is a huge incentive for marketers to sit up and pay attention to the opportunities within this developing industry.

The aim of VR is to completely immerse a user within a virtual world or experience through the use of a headset, often complemented by additional controllers, microphones etc., which aim to allow a more immersive user experience. 

Google Cardboard is probably the most accessible foray into VR for most people, only requiring a smartphone, and the viewer itself only costing around £10 to buy. You could even make yourself a viewer with the use of some cardboard, lenses, sticky-tape and a strong dose of Blue Peter style enthusiasm. 

Google Cardboard works by the user selecting an app from their smartphone (I opted for a rollercoaster experience) slotting it into the back of the viewer, and holding the viewer to your face. There’s a washer on the side with a magnet attached, which helps you to control your phone by using the phone’s magnetometer. The phone’s gyroscope controls what you see on screen, adjusting itself to the way you move the viewer around.

The ride on a VR roller-coaster felt alarmingly similar to the real experience, with the familiar swooping sensations that fill the pit of your stomach, the urge to ‘lean in’ to the direction of the track, and all topped off with an unpleasantly familiar bout of nausea, all from the relative comfort of my desk.

As with any new technology that allows brands to connect directly with their customers, brands that choose to dip their toe into the VR pond must make sure that it remains relevant to their brand and demographic. Some sectors lend themselves naturally to the VR craze, with industries such as gaming, entertainment and travel & leisure diving headfirst into the technology.

The FMCG market is also keen to experiment with VR where they can, albeit with varying degrees of sophistication. Boursin cheese created a tongue-in-cheek ‘Sensorium’ that allowed an immersive, sensory rollercoaster experience through a virtual fridge  complete with aroma machines, fans and 3D binaural sound to complete the immersive experience.

In stores across the UK, Germany and Belgium, Thomas Cook holidays invited potential customers in to ‘try before you fly’ and experience a series of virtual holidays to destinations such as New York, Egypt and Singapore in 360 VR on the Samsung Gear headset. The content allowed customers to ‘try out’ a range of experiences, such as a helicopter tour of Manhattan and a trip to the Egyptian pyramids, without ever having to leave the store.

In the first three months of this campaign, flights and hotel bookings to New York across the UK and Germany generated £12k and the project has seen a 40% return on investment. A huge boost to excursions revenue proves that a digital experience beforehand only increases the human desire to want to channel their inner Christopher Columbus and discover a destination for themselves.

Whilst VR can deliver entertaining and immersive marketing experiences that dazzle our senses and transport us to unattainable destinations, there’s still a lot to be said about real world experiences.

A 360 video recording of Sir Paul McCartney’s performance at Candlestick Park allowed those who were live-streaming the event from home to feel like they were there on stage with the musicians, which is a great idea in theory, and received a great deal of publicity. But some things are just better in the flesh, and an experience like seeing Paul McCartney in concert is one of life’s ‘you had to be there man’ moments that no machine could replicate.

I’ll be watching with interest to see how VR develops and enhances our experiences with marketing, creating engaging and immersive user experiences. But can it ever replace our need to experience the world through our own five senses (despite how good VR technology may be)? I’m not so sure.

Joined up thinking – helping businesses make the most of their marketing

Paul Kitchen, business development director at Interdirect, explains the importance of omni-channel marketing and how cross-communication between digital, PR and marketing services can offer the best return on your businesses’ marketing investment.

We’ve all been there, you’ve got a great product or service, a finite amount of money, and you don’t know how to tell the world about it. With so many options available, it is tricky for many businesses to decide how to approach the management of their marketing and where to concentrate their efforts and budget. As tools and tactics grow, an integrated approach must be taken, and the basis for any successful strategy starts with a consolidated review of where you’re at right now.

Knowledge is key; how easy is it for your customers to find out who you are, what you do and how well you do it, through your marketing channels? Once you know this, you can start to look at how your business is fairing compared to its competitors and plan your priorities.

The first and most crucial step is to review your brand, and to make sure that you are placing this at the heart of everything you do – it should emotionally connect your employees, clients, prospects and ambassadors.

In terms of the tools required to deliver your marketing strategy, the optimum starting point is a solid assessment of your website. Think of your website as a calling card for your business; it is at the centre of your marketing activity and the one place where all other touch-points lead back to. Meticulous attention must be paid to the user’s journey through the website and how effective it is in terms of conversions. Once you know the current state-of-play here, you can take time to make your website work as hard as it possibly can for you, for example ensuring it is responsive, engaging and easy to navigate.

Once your website is in order, the next step is to ensure you are using Google’s best practices so that your business can rank as high as possible on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), preferably above your competitors! This isn’t a quick fix; it’s something that needs regular pruning to keep your website in favour with Google’s 200 ranking factors.

You’re now in an ideal position to explore an area that is still largely overlooked by many businesses, your social media strategy. This is your opportunity to showcase the personality(ies) behind your business and to grow your audience, whether we’re talking customers, prospects, media or ambassadors. This should be strategically planned - it is not a case of simply jumping on the social bandwagon - to ensure you are choosing the best channels for your business.

Taking all of this to the next level requires the skills of a PR professional, who can position your business as industry experts in your relevant online, print and broadcast media. With an integrated approach to PR and social media, a PR expert will ensure the positive management of your reputation through various media, speaking opportunities, awards and networking.

The preceding activities are then strengthened by the likes of pay per click, direct marketing, targeted email campaigns and advertising. These activities support your ongoing business messaging and can also be beneficial for specific topical and campaign marketing.

In a nutshell, strategic planning and implementation of your marketing activity leads to more website hits which will convert at a higher rate, meaning more business. With a deep understanding of what is required to successfully deliver an onmi-channel approach, a full service marketing agency can advise on and implement a joined up strategy that gets the best return on your businesses’ marketing investment.

Really it’s simple; with experienced marketers in your camp, your great products or services will be flying off the shelves in no time!

Interdirect Launches new SiteLite for Allen & Son

Interdirect has launched a professional and cost-effective new website for Allen & Son, using the Lite version of the agency’s advanced content management system (CMS), SiteMachine.

Allen & Son is a family-run business of electrical contractors and commercial electricians based in Kempston. Established in 2008, they rapidly gained a first class reputation for the quality of their work, and needed a website refresh to reflect their position within the market.

Allen & Son opted for a SiteLite website, as they wanted a professional and stylish website with an intuitive CMS, delivered within a short time frame, at an affordable, one-off cost.

David Allen, Managing Director of Allen & Son, commented: “Interdirect created our new website in only a few weeks, the process was easy and they responded to our various queries quickly and positively. It felt like nothing was too much trouble for their team.

“We are delighted with the new site; it looks fresh and professional and will definitely help us achieve our growth objectives.

“The CMS is so easy to use and very intuitive. SiteMachine is a great solution for businesses looking to take the next step in terms of website functionality and design, all coming at a fixed price.”

WhatsApp Encryption: how private is private?

One word has been hot on everyone’s lips recently, and that word is “security”. I don’t mean how many locks are on your door or whether your savings account is as liquid as it should be – I’m talking about data security and all the potential breaches we now have to consider as data and its storage gets bigger and bigger.

Everyone dreads a personal conversation being overheard, whether its spoken, typed or even thought – even the most open of us have secrets we share at our own discretion. But arguably it’s these secrets the FBI has claimed in recent weeks it should have access to, whether you consent or not, whether you’re Syed Farook or Louisa from Interdirect.

Perhaps most worryingly, to my mind, is that the FBI accessed personal information without Apple’s help. It is widely suggested that they hired professional hackers to access the information without wiping the iPhone’s content. Agreed, this method only works on iPhones (and of those, only ones before the 5S), but it shows how even the security of the most valuable brand in the world can be breached.

Perhaps the most private social platform in worldwide use at the moment is WhatsApp, where over 30 billion private messages are sent and received every single day. As a suspected stand against this attack, WhatsApp announced the introduction of end-to-end encryption on April 5th: all types of message shared within the app (texts, images, videos and calls) will be encrypted for the entirety of their journey from one device to another. This, in effect, means that the messages will be a complete secret to all but sender and recipient – not even the company who designed, own, and run the app can decode your content.

Founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton commented in their official announcement, “while we recognise the important work of law enforcement in keeping people safe, efforts to weaken encryption, risk exposing people's information to abuse from cyber criminals, hackers, and rogue states.”

Whilst this sounds incredibly noble and reassuring, many in the digital community are commenting that this is not the radical clampdown it sets out to be. Upon closer review of WhatsApps’s privacy statement, I found that: “WhatsApp may retain date and time stamp information associated with successfully delivered messages and the mobile phone numbers involved in the messages”.

Agreed, no message can be sent without leaving a data trail, but is this really any more shocking than Google collecting demographic information on your search history? To my mind, digital breadcrumbs are largely a given in today’s world, and that isn’t always something to panic about – I very much doubt Jan and Brian are all that interested in what I really think of my best friend’s other half. 

I do very much agree, however, that rights of access to recorded data should be on an absolute need to know basis, and security must be able to block every point of entry to those who are refused that access – not just the front door. “While WhatsApp is among the few communication platforms to build full end-to-end encryption that is on by default for everything you do, we expect that it will ultimately represent the future of personal communication” said Jan Koum - we can only hope so.