Dr Webs Consultation Corner - Browser Caching

Could Browser Caching make a difference to your website conversions - in all honesty the answer is probably a very simple yes !!

“My website is really slow and takes ages to load on my mobile.”, “Our clients SEO is being penalised by their PageSpeed results, can you take a look and recommend what can be done?”

In my last article we looked at how the hosting and speed of your webserver, or the server your rent via your web developer can affect your site visitors experience. Not only is this inconvenient to your visitors, even to the point that they click away, but also because it can and will effect your google rankings. We know how hard it is to get looked on favourably by the big ‘G’ at the best of times. However cool your website is, it will have a major impact on your online presence if it runs slow. Let’s take a look at another way to speed things up.

We can use something called browser caching to speed up how your webpage is presented to your visitors. This is something that your developer needs to setup and configure on your website but the Cache itself is actually located on you local machine, laptop, tablet or phone.

So what is a cache? We’ll let’s look at another type of cache that you may be more familiar with. When the great explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott set out to the South pole he left piles of fuel and food along the way in preparation for the return journey. This way he didn’t have to carry supplies all the way to the pole and then drag them all the way back. As we know it didn’t quite all go to plan but that is another story as they say.

In the case of your web browser the cache is actually a store, in a similar way to Scott’s, that is there when you come back. So if you think about it, when you visit a website there is usually a high proportion of the pages that don’t change very often, if at all. Lets take the logo as an instance. Every time you go to the same website and every time your visit various pages the logo remains the same. If we keep that logo file on our local machine we don’t have to download it every time we visit a page. If we expand that concept a little further and include CSS files, HTML Files, Images, Backgrounds and JavaScript files it becomes apparent quite quickly that we can get away with downloading very little when we are a returning visitor to a site.

When your browser visits a page it will compare it’s cache with the page content and if it is the same age there is no need to download it.

Essentially what we are doing is reducing the amount of time we wait for content to download, which is the slowest part of building your webpage, by simply not downloading it if we already have it.

If you want to test how effective browser caching can be simply go to a favourite webpage, one with nice content and plenty of images, and see how long it takes to load. Then clear your browser cache and see how long it takes when you visit it again.

It’s a pretty simple thing for your web developer to setup if they haven’t already done so and can make a major difference to you site visitors experience.

Next time we will have a look at something that can also have a major impact on your site speed when we ask “Where is your server located?”

If you want to find out more about how we may be able to make your website perform better and faster, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Remember, if you have a question just fire it at me and I will write about it in a plain English way that will help you to understand how your website should be adding to your business not detracting from it.

Image Credit to The Natural History Museum – https://www.nhm.ac.uk/natureplus/community/[email protected]=blog.html

Dr Webs Consultation Corner - Slow Servers

“More website visitors are lost through slow performance than any other reason...”

“My website is really slow and takes ages to load on my mobile.”, “Our clients SEO is being penalised by their PageSpeed results, can you take a look and recommend what can be done?”

These are questions that I get asked every day so I thought I would share some answers as well as give my LinkedIn connections the chance to ask their own. If you have questions about your website then comment below or PM me and I’ll give you an answer.

One of the most common complains is slow websites. Not only is this inconvenient to your visitors, even to the point that they click away, but also because it can and will effect your google rankings. We know how hard it is to get looked on favourably by the big ‘G’ at the best of times. However cool your website is, it will have a major impact on your online presence if it runs slow.

How Fast ??

A slow website can be down to many things and the best place to start is by typing your website address into PageSpeed Insights. This is a Google tool for developers but it will give you a quick idea of how your website stands up to what Google are looking for in a website, at least from a performance point of view. I wouldn’t expect any website owner to be able to fix things from here but it will allow you to start a conversation that may lead to getting a much faster, better built and higher ranking website. It is not my intention to make you into a web developer, but if things are not looking too rosy on your report then you can have that conversation rather than remaining in the dark.

It used to be that people complained about the speed of their internet connection, but more often than not these days, connection speed is not an issue. Even mobile phones over 4G can achieve speeds up to 60Mbps, that only a few years ago would have been appreciated over a broadband connection. This means that increasingly the speed of your webserver is coming into play.

Many web servers are hosted on shared servers. This means that there could be several websites running on the same server and fighting for the same resources. Some of them can be quite old or badly maintained, all adding to potential issues.

We prefer to have our clients servers hosted on individual virtual servers which means we can manage the resources to ensure they run as efficiently as possible. It also means that there is no chance of another website which may become broken, impacting on your site.

We are currently in the process of migrating many of our client servers to be hosted by AWS (Amazon Web Services) as part of their ongoing maintenance contract, because we believe that that is the best place for them to be hosted to get the best from their investment. It is always our aim to ensure that your website receives a continual investment and helps your business to prosper.

If you want to find out more about how we may be able to make your website perform better and faster, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Remember, if you have a question just fire it at me and I will write about it in a plain English fashion that will help you to understand how your website should be adding to your business.

Why do Hackers Hack

Why do Hackers Hack? Part 2

“In 2016, 3 billion Yahoo accounts were hacked in one of the biggest breaches of all time..”

Over the last few months we have increasingly been called to look at websites that have been hacked, compromised, taken over or however you wish to describe it. First of all these are not sites that we have developed or maintain – hopefully that keeps our reputation intact. Every time we talk to clients and potential clients about website security and hacking, the same question comes up – “Why do Hackers hack websites?”

I think that in order to understand why, you need to think about your value to a Hacker and how they can gain from you. This usually, but not exclusively, depends on how big you are or how much data you hold.

If you have not read Part one of this article then I would recommend that you take a look at Why do Hackers hack? Part 1

We have looked at the larger targets on the internet and they look far more enticing than your little website…. Don’t they?

Jackpot Day

That’s very true and if you crack one it is a Jackpot day. However they are probably well protected and you would hope that the likes of Amazon have a very on the ball security team who are spending some of that $7,385 per second to keep our data safe.

So that leaves you, the low hanging fruit for the lower league hacker.

Before we go any further it is probably worth mentioning that these types of attack are less targeted and use automatic tools to scour the internet for vulnerabilities. Let’s think of it a  sawn off shotgun as opposed to the sniper rifle approach from my last article. That probably reflects quite accurately the person pulling the trigger. These guys may not even be particularly skilled, simply young kids using pre-written tools – hence the name Script Kiddies

Hacking your individual website probably won’t yield much in the prize stakes but if a hacker can take control of a number of sites then the power he/she has on the internet increases. We are not talking about 2 or 3 sites here but 10’s of thousands

Wham, Bam, Spam


Yes, spam! It’s not from somebody that is sat at their desktop banging away on a keyboard. Oh.no… Spam largely comes from web servers that have been compromised and are doing the hackers bidding like internet Zombies. By sending fewer emails from a large number of servers the hacker can remain under the radar of the authorities.  The servers will also act as hosts for the spammers landing pages, spreading their message of cheap pharmaceuticals, bitcoin scams  and helping to spread that malicious payload like virus.


Large botnets ( Robotised groups of compromised web servers) are commonly used to perform distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, a way of disrupting a computer system by flooding it with data. Much as with spam, an individual computer in a botnet can’t do much damage on its own, but the combined resources of the entire network enable the hacker to overwhelm the victim server with an enormous amount of traffic.

On parts of the web access to large DDoS botnets is even sold as a “service” to hackers looking to sabotage competitors, take revenge on enemies, or simply make a statement.

Attacking you Visitors

In this instance we are looking at hackers trying to deliver a malicious payload to your sites visitors such as a virus or malware. These are usually disguised as innocent looking links, downloads or updates. Whatever they are they are, looking to propagate their nastiness further.

Cyber Safety

How to keep yourself safe.

The best way to keep your computer and website safe is not to have one in the first place. As that is a bit unrealistic we probably need to look at how we think about security of other things we have and work with. Would you leave your car by the side of the road, unlocked, windows down and the key on the dashboard? No, and I’m glad to hear that. So if we would lock the bad guys out of our car why are we so averse to doing the same with our computers. Here is a simple checklist of things you should have in mind to keep your website and computers safe.

  • Have complex passwords – there are plenty of articles on the web as to what a complex password should look like and some tools that will generate them for you.
  • Install a Web Application Firewall
  • Keep your core website framework (Wordpress, Drupal etc) up to date. It’s free.
  • Keep all your plugins/extensions up to date.
  • Avoid allowing users to upload files to your website.
  • Make sure that your web developer/host is keeping things secure.

We provide our clients with a weekly report that outlines what activity has taken place on their site including attempted malicious logins, patching and a list of other things. This means that we are accountable for what happens on their site. It shouldn’t be hard for your developer to provide this kind of information so if you’re not looking after these aspects of your site then make sure they are.

We have produced an eBook that is free to download from the homepage of our website at www.visiblethoughts.co.uk

Also feel free to email me at [email protected] and let me know what other articles you would find useful or simply for a chat.

Finally I you would like to be notified when we have more articles for you then just join our mailing list.

“Passwords are like underwear: don’t let people see it, change it very often, and you shouldn’t share it with strangers.”

- Chris Pirillo

Why do Hackers Hack

Why do Hackers Hack? Part 1

“60 % of small companies go out of business within six months of a cyber attack.”

Over the last few months we have increasingly been called to look at websites that have been hacked, compromised, taken over or however you wish to describe it. First of all these are not sites that we have developed or maintain – hopefully that keeps our reputation intact. Every time we talk to clients and potential clients about website security and hacking, the same question comes up – “Why do Hackers hack websites?”

I think that in order to understand why, you need to think about your value to a Hacker and how they can gain from you. This usually, but not exclusively, depends on how big you are or how much data you hold.

Corporate and High Profile Websites

In a nutshell corporate breaches tend to revolve around theft, leaking, disruption, money, activism, idealism or political motives.

Theft and Data Leaks

Theft and leaking often go hand in hand, kind of like large scale blackmail but your private information and possibly reputation is in the hands of someone else’s hands. Let’s have a quick look at the Ashley Madison hack of 2015. Wired ran a more in-depth article on what went on but in summary it was something like this…..

Ashley Madison describe themselves as “The most famous name in infidelity and married dating”. Now this article is not about judging people who are involved in such activities, however I think that it is safe to say that discretion is a key thing for the people involved. The hackers in question managed to gain access to the customer database and stole 9.7 Gb of data, which included account details and logins from 32 million users. The hackers demanded that Ashley Madison site be closed down or they would publish the data online. Which they did a couple of weeks later.

Coverage of the incident on Wired.com says “The hackers appeared to target AshleyMadison and EstablishedMen over the questionable morals they condoned and encouraged, but they also took issue with what they considered ALM’s fraudulent business practices. Despite promising customers to delete their user data from the site for a $19 fee, the company actually retained the data on ALM’s servers, the hackers claimed. “Too bad for those men, they’re cheating dirtbags and deserve no such discretion,” the hackers wrote. “Too bad for ALM, you promised secrecy but didn’t deliver.”

I’ll leave you to ponder the rights and wrongs of this, but it does demonstrate the reasons for hacking and in this case it ticks the Steal, Leak and Activist boxes.

Your data is your identity

Disrupt Services

Hackers love to take things down, no we are not back on the Ashley Madison case again, but if they can make something crash and stop it functioning properly they just love it. This technic can also be used to request a ransom payment. Imagine Amazon not being able to trade for even a few hours. Let’s put that in perspective a little more; last year (2018) Amazon was reported to have made a nett profit of $10.1 billion dollars. That equates to $7,385 per second.

The interesting thing about disruption of service attacks is that it could be you that is doing it!! Attacks take many forms but one, the Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS), gets you to help. It uses infected/compromised PC’s and servers to fire data, on cue, at a specific target. That could be millions of machines pointed at a single point. So if you don’t want to be part of this hacking party make sure that your Desktop, Laptop, Phone, Tablet and Servers all have a suitable Anti Virus installed and are on the latest version of all their software and patches. If you have a website then make sure your developer keeps everything up to data and use a Web Application Firewall as well. Our WAF of choice is Wordfence. If that is a bit much to take onboard then drop me and email and I’ll help you along the way.

Time is Sales & Sales is Money

Steal Money

This has got to be one of the main reasons for hacking a  large website. More often than not the larger websites are eCommerce and sell products or services. As we all know from experience when you buy things you have to pay for them and online you need to hand over your credit card details. But it’s not just your credit card details you need to hand over but your detail about where the card it registered to. In fact you need to part with all the details that are needed for a successful transition – all the detail that somebody else would need to make a transaction on your behalf.

There is also enough data here for an effective identity theft. Obtaining such data is not for the hacker to use but is more likely to be sold on.


Ransomware is not a new thing and probably started as early as the last 80’s. The problem with a ransom is getting paid. Asking for payment into your bank account is probably not the brightest thing for a hacker to do, but with the advent of cryptocurrency this is now a much safer method to rip somebody off. Effectively the ransomware encrypts all your files and any others it can find. You than have to pay a chunk of cash to get them back.

I’ve seen for myself when a virus or malware hits a large organisation and the devastation is instantaneous.

While websites are not often targeted for ransomware payments a great many personal computers and servers are. We have seen only recently how the NHS was effected. Further afield the city of Baltimore in the US was held ransom. This attack effected numerous systems across the city including phone systems and even the ability for people to complete on their house sales. And while many systems were not effected, they were turned off as a precaution to stop them becoming infected. In this instance the ransom was $70,000 which the Mayor refused to pay. The cost of the recover, mainly due to lack of proper backups, is alleged to have come in at $16m.


Hacktivism, Idealism, Political Motives

These are the guys with a specific purpose in life. They are idealists and out to expose injustice or they may have political motives. One high profile group that fits in this category is Anonymous which has a attacked governments and establishments across the globe since their inception in 2003.

From a small business point of view these are the least likely to be turning their attention toward you as they tend to be very focused. Although it does depend what you are up to.

That is probably enough for now, so in the next article we will look at how you fit into this story…….

In the meantime, if you are worried about the security of your website then read about our Hacked Website Recovery Service or Contact Us for a chat.

Finally I you would like to be notified when part 2 of this article is available then just leave your details here.

"Companies spend millions of dollars on firewalls, encryption and secure access devices, and it's money wasted; none of these measures address the weakest link in the security chain - their staff"

- Kevin Mitnick, "The World's Most Famous Hacker"

In the spotlight: New Moon Nursery

Ahh... The satisfying ping of a new enquiry dropping into your inbox.

Even more satisfying when the ‘Where did you hear about us?’ section says – ‘Internet Search.’ After giving our SEO guru a pat on the back, we responded to the enquiry and a routine discovery meeting was scheduled.

The initial brief was to produce a brochure for New Moon Nursery – a private day nursery based in Castleford. It was clear from the initial meeting how they wanted the business to be portrayed and our style guide was their existing website, which was aptly playful; featuring rockets, planets, stars and aliens.

We set to work on designing an initial concept, using the website as inspiration for the look. Having designed a variety of covers and a few internal spreads, we felt the initial concepts were ready to be presented, so we did just that.

Here is the initial concept we produced. Based on the existing website, we made sure it was consistent, engaging and relevant to help strengthen the Nursery's brand in a rather competitive local market.

As a designer, it’s always a nerve-wracking wait to have your work approved by a client, especially when it’s something you’re personally rather pleased with.

Ooh… That ping again, feedback had arrived in the inbox.

Though the concept reflected the current website, it had prompted a change in how they actually wanted the business to be portrayed. A more simplistic, modern approach was now on the agenda, along with the realisation that perhaps the Nursery had reached a point where a complete overhaul of the branding and website were also required.

Over the last few of months of 2018, we worked closely with them to redevelop their brand identity, rebuild the website, and of course finish the brochure that this journey was triggered by.

The final logo was a development of various concepts combined, giving a fresh new identity to the Nursery as they move into their 10th year in business.

Now that the new identity was approved, we could make a fresh start on the brochure. The final brochure couldn’t be further from the initial concept and previous website. Though that is the case we can rest assured that the Nursery have received final products that they are truly happy with and will stand the test of time.

The redevelopment of the website was next on the agenda. Keeping consistent with the Nursery’s new identity, we produced a new site which was approved and ready to go live for New Moon’s big relaunch in January 2019.

They now have a fresh and consistent image that is helping them to stand out from other nurseries, whilst showing how they work to create a supportive and trusted environment for young children. They are already receiving positive feedback from parents and within a week of the site being launched they saw an increase in enquiries and online interest.

Visit the site here: www.newmoonnurseries.co.uk

The Cutting Room Floor

No project is complete without the concepts and ideas that didn’t quite make the cut. We like to produce a good variety of concepts to ensure the client gets a final outcome that is right for the client.

Here is a selection of the logo ideas that paved the way to the final outcome.

Dyslexia & Creativity

“According to The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, up to 20% of the world’s population could be struggling with dyslexia”

That was a quote that caught my eye and to be honest I was astounded. We were told that my son had Dyslexic tendencies a few years ago, nothing major but it does mean that it takes a lot of effort for him to read, especially long paragraphs and he loses interest pretty quickly.

Dyslexia takes many forms but the idea that sufferers see words as an incomprehensible jumble of letters isn’t necessarily true and quite often it is more a case of the brain taking a little longer to change what it sees into sounds. For some people it can be numbers that are a struggle, but where there is a negative there is always a positive to balance it and dyslexics are proven to become some of the best entrepreneurs and engineers in the world. Dyslexia doesn’t mean you’re “thick” or “disabled” (two words that will get me shot down by the P.C. Police for using.) it just means your brain works in a different way and is better suited to other things. Albert Einstein (Legendary Theoretical Physicist), Richard Branson (Founder of Virgin) and Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock (Space Scientist) are just a few.

So, how does this fit in with web and graphic design.  Well, If I said to you lets reduce the number of people who read your website or brochure by 20%, how would you feel? That’s a pretty big chunk of potential customers that you are missing out o

So, what areas should we put some extra thought into to help people who may be struggling with our designs.


This is probably a good starting point as it can have the greatest positive impact for dyslexic users!

Research shows that the “hook” part of serif fonts can makes them difficult to read, so it’s wise to go for san-serif where possible, but what if you are forced to use a serif font because of your existing brand guidelines. Well, all is not lost as reducing the spacing between letters and increasing the spacing between words is shown to help.

It may also be worth considering dyslexic specific fonts which can be found at OpenDyslexic and Dyslexie .

Whatever font you are using it is wise to avoid italics and underlining, instead use bold to emphasise text.

Don't get hooked on Serif fonts


Keeping your content simple and not too wordy is always a good idea and particularly in this instance. Long sentences and text that spans across the page are not easy for anyone to read, so keep your columns to a maximum of 80 characters wide. Also, avoiding high contrast colours is helpful to all of us, especially if you spend your day in front of a screen. Using an off-white screen background can help and maybe a dark grey font instead of hard black.

Keep it simple.


You can give users an element of control by providing them with readability tools. There are a variety of simple tools available that let users adjust font size, line height, and even mask certain areas of the screen.

For users who really struggle with reading, a text-to-audio option could also be beneficial. This can be one with an automated tool, or by providing an audio clip of someone reading the text areas in full.


Finally, keep your navigation simple and always allow your users to find their way back to the homepage from wherever they are on your site. Again, it’s just good practice.

If you want to find out more about dyslexia the British Dyslexia Association is a good starting point…

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

- Albert Einstein (Dyslexic)

Change is inevitable

Change is inevitable

Rebranding is a big step for any business. You risk losing the identity you’ve worked so hard to build, and the only way to know if it’s a success or not is to release it into the snake pit that is planet earth.

We all saw Leeds United’s horror show and the endless memes that followed. What about the time when Animal Planet removed the animal and the planet from their logo and seemingly tranquillised the ‘M’ in the process.

Here’s one major rebrand that I have personally struggled to grasp.

I was born in 1993, the same year Formula 1 introduced this logo.

I used to watch Formula 1 every Sunday with my Grandad. The logo meant absolutely nothing to me, I was so engrossed in the action (and busy eating my Sunday dinner), I don’t think I ever really gave the logo a second thought… not consciously at least.

As I grew up and my career in design started to take shape, I began to pay more attention to the finer detail that design had to offer. The hidden bear in the Toblerone logo and the ‘secret’ arrow in FedEx, I’d started to appreciate the way things were done and the reasons behind them, and I’d paid closer attention to the F1 logo than I had initially thought.

Fast forward to a really cold, dark, miserable day in 2017… I was scrolling down my Twitter feed when I saw it…

I was gutted.

I don’t know if it was because there would be an unrecognisable new icon in the bottom corner of my TV screen every weekend, or the fact I could no longer inform people of the ‘1’ that had lived in the negative space for the past 24 years. Either way this was an unwelcome change of identity for me.

A brand new mission statement was revealed; ‘Formula One also unveiled its mission statement with five key behaviours – revel in the racing; make the spectacle more spectacular; break down borders; taste the oil and feel the blood boil.

It was said that the change represented a new era in the sport. The logo would be ‘easier to work with,’ ‘widen the appeal of the sport’ and ‘lead it into a digital future.’

As expected when a large brand changes their image, there was a bit of backlash online about the ‘overly simple,’ and ‘rushed’ look of the design. The old saying, ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ was sprayed around like champagne on the podium.

For me, it’s hard to argue with the reasons behind the change, but the new identity doesn’t have the same appeal to me as the previous one did. It’s not even that I dislike the new design, it’s just not the identity that I’ve always known, and it’ll take some getting used to.

I suppose what we can take from this is that you can’t please everyone. Change is inevitable, and design is subjective. Not everyone is going to love everything that you create, but if you have a strong enough reason to believe it is the right thing to do; Just Do It. (Thanks Nike).

Does anyone know how Lewis Hamilton is getting on? I’ve only watched one race since the new era was unleashed.*




*Lack of viewing may not necessarily be directly linked to the new identity, I just needed a dramatic end to my first blog.

No such thing as a free lunch!

No such thing as a free lunch!

No such thing as a free lunch, well that’s not necessarily true as was demonstrated the other day. In fact it was free training and a free lunch.

I’d taken the opportunity to attend a day long seminar entitled “Getting to grips with Google”. It was yet another event in a long list that have been run by innovative business support programme, Digital Enterprise – under their Digital Knowledge Exchange umbrella. The programme is funded by the European Union (European Union Regional Development Fund), Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership and the nine local Councils, which make up the Leeds City Region.

Buckets full of Google info..

Image courtesy of Digital Knowledge Exchange.

Empower your Customers.

As a business we are very much about empowerment. We work closely with our clients to understand their businesses, their aims and build them solutions that increase their revenue and grow their presence in the market place. We also get them as involved as possible with their digital presence, after all it is a tool for their business and something that benefits their business as part of their marketing and sales strategy. To this end we would encourage any business owner/manager to look at some of the offering from Digital Enterprise as we do our own clients.

Empowerment is about getting your clients to buy in to what you do.

Missed opportunities.

In my opinion, not enough businesses are making use of initiatives such as this to make sure that they are getting the most from digital technologies.  First of all you need to check if you are a qualifying business, but in a nutshell you need to be an SME who meets the following criteria:

  • Businesses based in the Leeds City Region
  • Employing fewer than 250 employees
  • With turnover below €50 million p/a (approximately £43 million)
  • With a balance sheet total below €43 million (approximately £37 million), and
  • Firms which have received less than €200k (£185,000) of State Aid in the last 3 years

It’s easy enough to do and takes only a minute or two. If you qualify, then you are open to benefiting from some of the following

  • A Digital Growth Voucher – a hugely popular grant worth between £2-10,000 to help eligible businesses who operate in a business to business (B2B) environment to invest in digital technology to achieve business growth and digital transformation –see here for more details.. The next phase of this scheme will open in October 2018.
  • A Connectivity Voucher – to help eligible businesses to upgrade their digital connection – worth between £500 to £1,000 – see here for more info.
  • Free to attend workshops, masterclasses, digital conferences, mentoring support and digital audits via their Digital Knowledge Exchange service – see here for more info.

Don't miss the bus.

Anyway, back to that free lunch.

Anyway, back to the free lunch. More specifically the access to knowledge days through the Digital Knowledge Exchange, opens up a raft of seminars presented by experts in a number of fields. At this particular event we had the pleasure of listening to the Digital Knowledge Exchange legend that is Pascal Fintoni. Starting with a review of Google plans for the future followed by hand fulls of tips on Google products and online marketing this proved that these events are a no brainer when it comes to extending your knowledge of the online world.

If you are an in house marketing manager, owner or manager, these events are invaluable for you. Or if you are in online marketing or Website Design & Build, why not encourage your clients to go along. They will either come back more knowledgeable, more appreciative of the work you do or with a long list of things for them and you to do. Either way it is a win win situation.

A dedicated team.

Finally, the Digital Knowledge Exchange Team are a dream to work with. Your success is their success, so get yourself and your clients involved and don’t miss out on this Free Lunch. In fact have a look at their menu  of events that will whet your appetite.

“Ain't no such thing as a free lunch"

- Milton Friedman

Coffee and Catalogue

Brand Identity, the face of your business.

“Can you write me a blog about branding?”

“Sure”, I said. You know when you have to write something to order and all you are really doing is staring in to the bottom of your second cup of coffee and thinking about the third. That’s just where I am at the moment. I’ve even opened the post in an attempt to find distraction.

Just a moment, the kettle’s boiled…..

Amongst the post there is a clothing catalogue. Not your 2 inch thick Next Directory, but 124 pages of very well designed and presented catalogue containing slightly off the norm clothing, not outrageously odd, but refreshingly different. The thing is that a few years ago, or maybe a few years more than that, I visited this company in one of the less fashionable areas of Leeds. It was little more than a back-street warehouse on a not very nice back street and they were selling very nice clothes over the internet, very successfully and probably many years ahead of their time. This is back in the day when I built IT systems and I can’t claim any influence in the success they have had since then.

A brand should reflect the quality of the product and not the warehouse or offices where they are shipped from.

Cardboard Boxes

The point is that if you were to visit them at their office come distribution centre and see cardboard boxes full of clothes ready to be shipped the length and breadth of the country, you would be less likely to buy from them than if you were to look at the well-presented, fashionable, high quality clothing which has a well-known household brand attached to it. A brand that reflects the quality of the product and not the warehouse or offices where they are shipped from.

Now there is nothing wrong with a sparkling Brand Identity standing between your clients and the harsh, unromantic reality of product distribution or manufacturing.

Its not about the box, but what's in it.

So, what does this strong brand identity provide?

OK, before we answer the question, let’s get one thing straight. There is a very big difference between Brand Identity and a Brand.

Your Brand Identity is the set of rules which specify how you present yourself to your customers. It encapsulates your core values and why your customers or clients would want to purchase your products or services. This is something that we specialise in and you can find out more on our Brand Identity page.

Back to our original question as to what a strong Brand Identity provides:

  • A strong brand identity can improve your brands perceived equity – how much you’re able to charge for you product.
  • Branding creates an emotional attachment between the customer and your product or service.
  • Strong Brand Identity unites & motivates employees making loyal, productive employees.

To strengthen you Brand Identity you need to consider the following:

  • Create a Brand Strategy – Creating a strategy can be the most effective way to strengthen your Brand Identity.
  • Integrate all your communications so they are in line with your Brand Identity.
  • Ensure that all your marketing communication is consistently applied using your logo, colour pallet, typography, website, photography and use of language.
  • Don’t forget to communicate your message to your employees. Not only will this help to motivate them but will also ensure a consistent message.

A strong brand identity can improve your brands perceived equity – how much you’re able to charge for you product.

The much desired Holy Grail.

Get all this right and you will create a Brand. That much desired Holy Grail where your customers become evangelists for your products and services. Remember a Brand can be influenced by you but created by your clients and customers, more importantly it is how they feel about you and your products. It’s what makes them loyally return for the latest version or renew their contract, but most importantly they become Brand advocates.

Now should I go for the 4th coffee…. That may be a step too far even for me. Although, I may order that shirt.

“The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them — preferably in unexpected and helpful ways.”

– Richard Branson

Like going back in time!

Like stepping back in time.

I’m full of cold, well it’s actually man flu. Today will be a work from home day. That was the plan until 9:30 when the electricity went off, but it will be back by 11:30 according to Powergrid.

We live out in the sticks but not the ends of the earth. Half a mile to an A road and 2 miles to the nearest shop. The broadband speed isn’t up to much and the phone signal could be better but, like I say, it’s not the ends of the earth.

It’s now half past one and very quiet, not even the sound of the fridge compressor keeping the milk cold. A few emails drop in to my phone as it picks up a 4G signal when the wind is in the right direction. I’ve made the odd crackly phone call and received the odd text including another from Powergrid saying that everything will be sorted by 15:30, but they said the same about 11:30.

Making a cup of coffee like you used to do when you went camping as a kid.

Time for Coffee.

It’s time to boil a pan of water on the gas stove, which fortunately still works, although I do have to light it with a match. It’s a bad day when the height of entertainment is making a cup of coffee like you used to do when you went camping as a kid.

We spend a lot of time interconnecting our technologies these days. Websites, social media, data and apps in the cloud, 99.999% uptime, server availability and resilience. Getting your targeted message to your target audience, wherever they are at any time of the day or night. Billions of pounds, dollars and other currencies are invested in making this all happen, in our here and now world. But not for me, not today.

An old fashioned book full of new ideas.

Back to basics...

I’ve written this blog with a pen in my notebook, which is a bit of a contradiction in terms and certainly a bit old school, but my laptop went flat hours ago. So instead of me clicking a button and this text being whisked into cyber space for you to be able to read in a few seconds from now, you’ll just have to wait until I get chance to type it up and post it. You see printed material still has its place and we can help you design it.

Till then best wishes from a relaxed 1972, North Yorkshire. (Flares not compulsory)

“No man is rich enough to buy back his past.”

- Oscar Wilde