Purple Circle new website – Ready for 2011

After my post yesterday about Purple Circle winning Midlands Design Agency of the Year again, I am now very proud to introduce you to Purple Circle’s brand new website.

Purple Circle - New Website for 2011
Purple Circle – New Website for 2011

Please have a good play, help us spot any holes that we may have left and pass it onto your friends and family to play with too.

It’s a lot more Google friendly than the old one and we think it’s a lot more easy to navigate.

We’ve added lots of new stories and some projects you may not have seen before.

Our work over the last few years has become more and more digitally focused, so this is a reflection of our current thinking in what works well online.

Hope you like it.

Purple Circle – Midlands Design Agency of the year (again)

In the Drum magazine today, it was announced that Purple Circle have been named Midlands Design Agency of the year for 2010. Which is really rather good news. It’s the third time in four years we have won it.

2010 was a very tough year for us, we had some key people leave us, we had our nicest member of staff ever pass away and we had a government that decided that it would not just run down it’s spend with the creative services industry, but switch it off immediately and altogether. After ten years investing in a creative industries sector, they decided they were going to attempt to kill it overnight by totally withdrawing all of their work. It was our very own Annus horribilis. If we found it tough, some of our peers found it disastrous with some great and famous agencies falling by the wayside.

So to have survived and adapted at all was a pretty happy ending for us and it is genuinely the icing on the cake to have our peers voting to say our work is still the best you can get in our sector in the midlands.

Thankyou the Drum. We love you a little bit more now, than we even did before.

2011 will be better. And we’re going for four out of five.

Anywhere, better, best – in an age of austerity, it just makes sense

New Orleans floods from the air - the perfect place to show the concept of anywhere, better, best in action
New Orleans floods from the air – the perfect place to show the concept of anywhere, better, best in action

I’ve just written a bit of our latest thinking on the Purple Circle blog. You can read that here in full.

It came from Kelly Herrick, but in summary, our thinking goes like this.

If you were in New Orleans when the floods hit, you needed to get anywhere to save yourself. Up a tree was okay for a short time. It was about survival.
When the water subsided and you could get to safety, a better situation was in a football stadium with hot water and a bed for the night.
When you eventually were rehoused in a new and safe area, you reached the best position.

In some ways, many companies and brands are in the same position. Parts of what they are doing are in the anywhere section and parts are in the better, or maybe even the best, so why change all of it at once?

But have a read and comment away if you disagree.

HSBC 100 Thoughts

I just had this rather cool email.

HSBC 100 Thoughts winner
HSBC 100 Thoughts winner

Congratulations, you’re our second HSBC 100 Thoughts winner.

As a winner you are invited to one of the HSBC 100 Thought events. These events are taking place around the country and there will be a number of business thinkers and influencers making up the panels. You will get exclusive access to the panel at your chosen event.

Your thought will also be entered into a public vote and if you win you’ll receive a one to one consultation with a globally renowned business guru (who we will be announcing very soon).

I’ve listed the events below for you to choose from. Not every panel has been firmed up yet but I’ve entered the ones we know for you. They start fairly early and are finished by around 10.30 so you shouldn’t need much time out of work to attend.

Please let me know which event you’d like to come to. We will pay for travel, via standard class rail or mileage rates approved by HM Revenue & Customs, to and from the event and this will be reimbursed after the event.

And the thought?

“#100thoughts if you really want to improve your business, why not give your customers a really good listening too.”

Which is something we have been talking about for ages anyway, as the problem with most social media strategies is that they involve a lot of talking and not enough listening.

Funnily enough, my other entry “#100thoughts if you can’t change the people, change the people.” didn’t get picked!

Just to prove it’s one we believe in, we did employ a bit of good listening only yesterday to our good friend and client Lisa Harlow, who has given us some direct feedback as to how we can simplify our own presentation at Purple Circle. Her idea is being actioned now and will be live on our website within the next day or so! It works.

So i’m off to the Nottingham event on July 15th.

Jimmy Bullard’s Wash and Go Ad

It’s all very funny and that , but in what way is this adding to the brand value of Wash and Go. As an April fool it may have worked, but this came out in mid March. What on earth were they thinking? He’s ugly, not too well known and very few of us would aspire to his look. I think size zero models can be a disaster for many brands and real life could be where it’s at, but this is a badly executed, badly filmed parody that should have stayed as a joke amongst the creatives.

For the record, here is one of the original ads from 1991. (the year we started Purple Circle!). I wonder what happened to Vidal Sassoon?

Polishing the Rhubarb

I was on a Purple Circle photoshoot the other day for McArtney’s Catering and tried out a new App for my iPhone called iCamcorder, which adds video functionality to the iPhone 3G. It seems to work pretty well. I also couldn’t quite resist adding some music from the mad TV programme Rhubarb and Custard, which seems to suit nicely. Victoria Blundy is the Rhubarb Polisher.

Oh, and I should have added a picture of the finished shot. So here it is: Nice work by Keane Beamish.

The Rhubarb - Nicely polished
The Rhubarb – Nicely polished

The best TV ad of 2010

I’ve just seen this article written by Champagne Jane on the Purple Circle Blog and I love it. In my opinion, this is the best ad of 2010 (so far).

We were at some awards a few years ago when the team at Specsavers were robbed of the gold and Grand Prix awards for their previous ad called Collie Wobble. I was so incensed that they didn’t win (probably because they were a in house team rather than an agency one) that I went and told them and also told the judges that we wouldn’t be entering their awards again unless they got their judging criteria sorted.

These guys do consistently brilliant work in building their brand and their powerful strapline and should be applauded for it. So for those who’ve forgotten it, here’s Collie Wobble.

10 brands that will disappear in 2010

Ten brands that will fail – starting with the dodo

In an article written by 24/7 Wall Street, there is a great article about the ten brands that will disappear in 2010.

Now for UK based businesses, they will not be as familiar with all of the ten brands but the lessons are pretty much the same for any dying brand you can think of the world over.

Adapt or die.

None of these have adapted fast enough, so they’re all dying.

Lets deal with each in turn

1. Newsweek

It’s printed news. The end.

The fact that you are reading this on a blog and I read the original article on another blog just goes to show that we are gathering most of our information online these days. It used to be that the credibility was offline in print, but that just isn’t the case anymore. There’s good stuff in both and crap in both too. The man problem is that advertising has followed the readership and not many of the old media barons have worked out how to monetize the new media platforms, because Google seems to own the space at present.

2. Motorola

I’m surprised it’s lasted this long really. Back in the mid 90’s I had an original Nokia Orange phone (that was in the days when they didn’t even have model numbers) and we needed two more mobiles, so we bought Motorola MR1’s (luggable rather than mobile) as they were half the price.

Big mistake.

Non functioning menus and useless interface. It was so hateful, I smashed it against the wall to give myself an excuse to buy another Nokia.

Any Motorolas I have seen since, seem just as bad.

3. Palm

Not since the Palm pilot and the shortlived ‘Pre’ have they had anything the market wants. When did they last produce anything innovative?

4. Borders

All a bit pointless. They stood for nothing and offered worse pricing than Amazon and less loveliness than Waterstones. They reminded me of how WH Smiths have been for the last ten years and I could never really think of any single occasion when I would need to go and buy from them. So I didn’t. It appears that few others did either.

5. Blockbuster

How have they survived this long against the marching digital army? If I want to watch a film, do I pay the same amount and watch it now on Virgin or Sky or drive down into the town and hire one, only to be bollocked for returning it late?

For a brilliant exchange of letters and emails between David Thorne and Blockbuster, have a read of this. It’s brilliant!

I’m sure we’ve all tried the monthly subscription thing where we can pick films and they send them to us, but it’s not actually that spontaneous is it? On a Monday, you can’t really say whether you’ll feel like a ‘romcom’ or a thriller on Friday night can you? Its a model that suits them and not us, so will never take off really big.

6. Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac

It’s named after a front bottom and a burger. Enough said.

7. Ambac

Never heard of it, sorry to see you go, It’s been a blast.

8. Eastman Kodak

To me, this is going to go down as the biggest brand ever to fail. They let the market swamp them by not seeing the digital revolution. They used to be innovators and now are in danger of being totally unknown by a new generation.

They have tried to move to digital products and even to printer paper, but the market just isn’t convinced.

I will be sad to see this go. But I will make a prediction. It will go bang and then someone will buy the name and after a few years, when they have shaken off the years of debt and structure problems, it will come back with some small innovative products that will take the market by storm. It is just too good a name to allow it to die forever. Give it ten years and it will be a force again.

9. Sun Microsystems

This isn’t one I can talk about with any authority, but for any brand to have the name of a type of computer that was superceded ten years ago seems to be a problem to me. Microsystems were the babies to replace mainframes in the 80’s weren’t they? So what relevance do they have now?

10. E*Trade

Again, I don’t know much about these other than they are some of the eejits who lent money to people who shouldn’t be getting it. Surely if they had no income and no way of repaying a loan, you shouldn’t lend them money?

Maybe this is a bit simplistic of me, but just because it has the word ‘E’ on the front of it, doesn’t make it a good business. They deserver all the failure they’re getting. Bye.


There’s no really surprises to me here. Bad businesses that haven’t evolved are failing.

I run a small design business and have done for over 18 years. It’s called Purple Circle. What we do know is very different to what we did then, because the market has changed massively. If I was still trying to sell pasted up artwork on bromide and magic marker visuals all round, do you think they’d still be buying?

No me neither.

So why have all these businesses assumed they could do the same?