Here at Blackwood, we like to challenge our clients’ thinking. Not in a ‘We know best’ way, but more in a ‘Have you considered…?’ way. As a channel-neutral agency, we understand that there are many possible ways of delivering every message, and that some are more effective than others. We like to apply our knowhow and years of experience to every job, making sure that clients are using the best channel (or mix of channels) for what they want to say.
When a client comes to us with a brief – say, asking us to produce a 50-page brochure to launch a new financial product – we don’t simply jump straight to work. More often than not we’ll first have a chat with the client about their goals, their audience, their broader strategy. We don’t just want to know what they want us to produce, we want to know what they want to achieve.
Because sometimes a brochure isn’t the best tool for the job. By carrying out a full channel audit with a client, looking at the full range media streams they have access to, and by conducting some R&D and audience persona work, we can ensure that we set the parameters of a campaign so that it gets maximum cut-through.
Listening is one of the most important skills an agency can have. How well we listen has a major impact on the way we interpret project briefs and the ongoing quality of our client relationships.
Here are five examples of how we used our rich understanding of different media streams to help our clients achieve their goals.
• Grabbing Attention – When a client wants a piece of work that’s going to catch people’s eyes – a major new campaign launch, for example – we are great at thinking visually to ensure the project gets the attention it deserves. This is how we approached the animation and accompanying print communications we created to help publicise the Alliance to Fight Avoidable Blindness (AFAB), an initiative that includes the Islamic Development Bank. Saving people’s sight in poor countries is certainly something to shout about, and we were up to the task.
• Engaged Stakeholders – When a client is not simply announcing or publicising an existing project, but actively trying to win the hearts and minds of its stakeholders to secure their buy-in for a possible future endeavour, we know we have to get creative – a graphic-led explainer animation was the perfect solution.
• Translational Design – At times we are challenged to bring our design understanding to bear in solving a particular problem. In the case of the Council of Europe Development Bank’s quarterly magazine, the problem was ‘How do you present the same content in two different languages – English and French – without the reading experience being disjointed and frustrating?’ Our elegant solution, a ‘flip’ design with English and French starting from opposite ends and meeting in the middle with a dual-language infographic, did the job perfectly.
• Demonstrating Progress – If you’re doing well, you want the world to know. We are pleased to team up with clients who are looking to share updates on the progress of ongoing projects. As part of our enduring relationship with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) we created an eye-catching annual report updating investors and other stakeholders about the tremendous success of their Lives and Livelihoods Fund. The initiative is lifting people out of poverty in many different ways, and so we made sure that this success was foregrounded, while also making it clear that there was still a strong need for support.
• Year-long Visibility – Some projects have a limited shelf life, while others are intended to keep working hard all year. The latter is what the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development wanted us to achieve with a publication spreading word about their Trade Facilitation Programme. We ‘chunked’ the content as much as possible, breaking it off visually to make it both easily digestible and varied enough to ensure year-round interest both in print and online.
If you have a message that needs conveying, why not get in touch? We’d love to start a conversation about the channels open to you, and the best mix to reach your desired audience.