May 21, 2015
This week we’re embracing Throwback Thursday here at Mzuri, and we can’t think of a better subject than vintage packaging and signage. Phil has always had a special admiration for some of these painterly relics – and with Dean’s love for typography, they’re a design team’s dream!
Tin advertising first appeared on signage and packaging at the start of the 19th century in America. Back then, each piece of tin was hand painted, meaning that they were fairy costly to produce. It was the lithograph that changed the face of this process however, as industrialisation rumbled on, paper became the preferred option for advertising. At this time, most food products came in tin-plated packaging, which was then adorned with labels that had either been stencilled or printed onto paper. As the century progressed, tin signs were painted, stencilled and lithographed – creating durable, vibrant advertising.
Images courtesy of Jonathan Lawrence, typehunting.com
These revolutionary processes challenged and transformed typography – bringing about much of the brand imagery that we know and love today. There is something fascinating about looking back and observing the artistry in these examples of nineteenth century packaging and signage. We’re not sure what it is, but each is a piece of visual history – and we love them.
If you too are in the mood for a throwback, check out typehunting.com – a blog by Jonathan Lawrence in which he collates all kinds of swoon-worthy typography of the vintage persuasion. All the photograph’s are Jonathan’s own.
May 15, 2015
We were recently approached by Harrison’s Fund to work with them to spread the word about their brand new Blue Hair Day campaign. We used the campaign logo to design a banner and avatar for the home page and also designed and built a new, CMS controlled, Blue Hair Day specific page maintaining consistency with the site design but also incorporating the Blue Hair Day campaign brand. We were glad to offer this work pro-bono in support of the charity.
On the 26th June, Harrison’s Fund is asking individuals, schools, businesses and community groups to support this fun campaign and raise sponsorship for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy by donning a blue wig, or for the brave ones amongst us, dying our hair blue!
A Party Shop is also supporting the campaign, offering participants a 20% discount and free shipping on any blue wig. Just use the code BLUE15 when you make your purchase.
#maketime and get involved! Check out the Blue Hair Day Facebook page, and follow @bluehairday using the hashtag #justblueit. You can make a quick £5 donation to Harrison’s Fund via text – by texting ‘BLUE’ to 70660. Texts cost £5 plus your standard network charge, and the charity will receive 100% of the donation.
You can find out more by visiting the Blue Hair Day page here.
May 13, 2015
We’re pretty big coffee drinkers here at Mzuri, and really need no excuse to delight in its magical powers. Last week however, we were given one – as it was UK Coffee Week!
UK Coffee Week was the catalyst for a nationwide programme of charitable collections, public events and instore activities that sought to raise money for Project Waterfall – a charity that aims to deliver clean water projects in coffee-producing African countries.
We knew someone who was lucky enough to attend one of these exciting events, in the shape of the London Coffee Festival in Brick Lane. The event, which sounded fantastic, saw 23,642 coffee lovers attend over four days, and featured latte art workshops, world music, live roasting demonstrations, brewing tutorials, bespoke coffee creations and tasting competitions. Hundreds of exhibitors provided information and inspiration (and freebies!) to visitors, who witnessed exclusive product launches and the finest barista techniques. And with half of the ticket sales going towards Project Waterfall – it sounds like a winning event!
Starbucks were also supporting Project Waterfall last week in case you missed it – donating 25p from every flat white purchased during UK Coffee Week.
Check out the London Coffee Festival site, where you can see highlights from the event. We might have to get ourselves some tickets next year!
May 12, 2015
We sometimes need reminding that the internet is not always as secure as we’d like, as we have recently seen with the ‘Shellshock’ virus, given 10/10 for severity by the U.S. National Cyber Security Division. While many of us have no real idea about how to protect ourselves from this type of cyber-terrorism we can find support in the proactivity of organisations such as Google when it comes to security on the internet.
Late last year Google announced that they would be striving to encourage Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Security certification on all websites for ranking purposes (i.e. those with the certification would enjoy higher organic search engine rankings as a result). Certified websites have ‘https’ at the beginning of the URL, as opposed to just ‘http’. In short, certified sites, i.e. those that begin with ‘https’ will appear higher up in Google Search results, while those without an SSL certificate will start to drop down (and will continue to lose ranking position over time), as part of a larger campaign to make the internet safer. Google is also proposing to actively warn internet users that their data is at risk every time they visit websites without SSL certification. This could see sites without SSL certification becoming unfavourable very quickly.
To protect your website, and its hard won ranking for keywords specific to your business, our recommendation is that you consider acquiring SSL certification. To do this you will need to purchase an annually recurring certificate from a verified provider. For a basic level certificate, the cost is typically between £30-50 a year.
We are recommending the purchase of this certification to all of our clients as without it you may find that your site performance declines significantly over time. To discuss the protection of your website please call us on 01428 722990 or email Zoe at firstname.lastname@example.org
April 29, 2015
Calling all you budding (and blooming…!) entrepreneurs.
Virgin Media Business is giving you the chance to pitch Richard Branson your business idea. And as if the prospect of that isn’t thrilling enough, the ten best pitches will win a share of more than £1,000,000 in prizes.
There are three categories for which to apply:
– Grow: for those wanting to change their business from the inside. The winner in this category will receive a £250k campaign, while two runners-up will recieve £100k campaigns. Not bad! Read more about Grow.
– New Things: the category in which the #VOOM team would like to see ‘big ideas with the capacity to disrupt’, they’ll be accepting entries from yet to be formed ventures, small, medium and large businesses. The winner will be awarded a £50k cash investment as well as mentoring from Virgin’s investment team. Two runners up will receive £10k towards investment. Read more about New Things.
– Start-Up: Do you have an exciting, ‘game-changing business plan?’ The winner of the Start-Up category will receive a £150k campaign with support from Virgin for one year, while the two runners up will receive £50k campaigns. Intriguing? Read more about Start-Up.
The #VOOM website is full of useful resources that will help you to create a smashing application. Watch the Pitch to Rich 2015 #VOOM video here. Entries won’t be accepted beyond the 5th of May, so don’t delay, apply here. Good luck!
Images courtesy of Virgin Media Business
April 9, 2015
Blogging is an activity that comes naturally to some people. Some are gifted writers and story-tellers, while some have oceans of engaging content that lends itself beautifully to the blogosphere. Many people are yet to conquer the blog however, and it’s no surprise as it can be a pretty daunting task. If you’re thinking about blogging (and we think you should be!) you might be asking yourself questions such as:
What’s the point of a blog?
How will it help my business?
What on Earth would I say?
Who’s going to read it?
How am I going to find enough to write about?
All normal concerns, and the answers are simple. The benefits of blogging are no secret, and they’re not just reserved for foodies and healthy lifestyle gurus! Whatever your business, there are all kinds of ways to generate interesting content that you can share on a blog, whether it be things that interest and inspire you, things you’ve been up to in your workplace, experiences you’ve had or just general musings. Your blog needn’t be read by millions to make a difference to your business, you can still benefit from blogging in a big way!
- It’s a way to boost your website’s search engine ranking – the more you blog, the higher you might climb
- Websites with blogs get 55% more visitors than those without
- Over half of businesses find blogs to be the most effective SEO technique
- Blogs are big now! Most people read 5-10 blogs, with 46% of people reading one more than once daily
- Small businesses with a blog will generate 126% more than leads than those without.
It’s a no brainer! Your posts don’t have to be miles in length, and readers are more likely to digest a shorter entry – so don’t feel you have to be a captivating word smith or have content coming out of your ears to justify a post. We are a world in a hurry, and are becoming increasingly visual by the day – blog entries with images get 94% more views than plain text ones. Make the most of this when you pick your content, and if your product or service lends itself to display, or perhaps you’re not a confident writer, use media to your advantage. Photograph what you’re selling and just be sure to include at least 10% text to amp up SEO, making sure to name every image so that they show in search engine results.
More fun still, why not include some video? It’s a great medium that allows you to speak to and interact with your consumers. Twitter has just introduced video to its app. Instagram and Snapchat have embraced video in the past couple of years and it seems that every other post on Facebook takes the form of video these days too. It may seem off the wall at first, but you can make them long or short, and as plainly informative or as wildly creative as you like. It’s just another method of mixing up your content and amplifying your business’ message to your audience.
We hope we have inspired you to give it go. Happy blogging!
April 8, 2015
If you were one of the lucky small businesses to receive a government Growth Voucher, congratulations! You’ve taken a really positive step towards growing your business. So what now?
You have three months from the day that you were awarded it to spend your voucher and to submit your claim for reimbursement from the government so let’s get cracking!
We would be glad to offer an initial free of charge consultation to talk through your business challenges and to explain how you can use your Growth Voucher against our strategic marketing planning advice to help grow your business. At Mzuri we are experienced at offering structured and tailored strategic marketing advice specific to your business, industry, objectives, budget and circumstances.
Backed by accredited membership of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) we use proven, SMART techniques to examine, in detail, the challenges your business faces as well as its strengths and USPs, target markets, audience and business objectives. This in-depth research enables us to develop sensible, effective and creative strategic advice to market your business via a range of appropriate channels to achieve your goals.
If you’re looking to take another step in the right direction towards growing your business and you’d like to talk to Mzuri about the delivery of strategic marketing advice please do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you. You can also email us on email@example.com or call us on 01428 722 990.
April 7, 2015
We are delighted to welcome Senior Designer Dean Howard to our creative team. Dean brings extensive design experience across a wide range of sectors including education, blue-chip, charity and not-for-profit organisations, with his skill set expanding and complementing Mzuri’s existing creative services. Dean has a fantastic eye for layout and colour, with a keen interest in typography. He keeps up-to-date with design through blogs, his ever growing collection of design books and going to exhibitions.
Outside of work, Dean is a drummer, shares an allotment with his wife Jackie, loves embarking upon seaside adventures in his campervan and getting inky with letterpress! Dean is already making his mark with some exceptional design work and is a wonderful addition to the Mzuri team.
Dean’s appointment underlines an exciting phase for Mzuri, as we continue to celebrate our tenth year of business. In addition to client work, part of Dean’s role will be to focus on exciting in-house projects including the evolution of the Mzuri brand and the development of a new website, so watch this space!
March 23, 2015
What advice would you give to your 15 year-old self, particularly when it comes to careers and personal development? This was the question that sprung to mind when I was invited back to The Royal School recently to lead three careers workshops for girls aged 15-18. My feeling was: Be yourself. Believe in yourself.
The girls were able to choose their areas of interest and attended three preferred workshops. I was really excited (and a little nervous!) to be able to speak with, learn from and hopefully inspire the girls so was keen not to limit them to tales of my career alone. With that in mind, I canvassed opinion from my friends beforehand to ask them five questions covering what they do now, what they thought they would ‘be’ when they were at school, where they see themselves in 10 years, what impact having a family has had on their career (if applicable) and what advice they would give to their 15 – 18 year old selves.
Their fascinating and varied responses were really inspirational to read and a pleasure to compile in to a booklet for the girls to keep, which I wanted to convey my overarching message for the workshops: all young women (and men!) should be themselves and believe in themselves too. This was echoed in the booklet’s design, combined with inspiring notable quotes as well as the real opinion and advice from my peers who have since gone off in very different directions to the ones they thought they would, or that they ought to, once upon a time! The girls’ feedback was very affirming and the booklet seemed to really strike a chord with them. I hope it will be something they revisit and which will encourage them to keep the faith in those moments of stress about next steps.
It was great to connect with the girls, staff and other speakers at the event, including theatre tour manager Janice Brittain, artist Poppy Porter, childcare play specialist Zoe Parton, barrister Katy-May Balmer and M&S fashion buyer Roz Duncan. Justine Hardy from charity Healing Kashmir delivered a fascinating keynote speech. Her story is inspirational and as well as leading her charity in Kashmir, she also finds time to write and also to teach at MIT and Tufts. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hope that the students found it to be equally interesting and inspiring.
March 20, 2015
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As approved growth vouchers advisers under the Government funded Growth Voucher programme, Mzuri can offer advice on any area of strategic marketing including advertising, branding, communications, customer retention, marketing strategy, online marketing, PR, sales and social media.
What is the Growth Voucher programme?
The Growth Voucher programme is funded by the Government and helps companies find and pay for professional strategic advice by offering a voucher for up £2,000 to cover half the cost of the advice.
In order to be eligible, your business must:
- Have 249 employees or fewer (including any employees of companies that own a stake in your business)
- Be registered in England
- Actively sell goods or services
- Be independent (i.e. no more than 25% is owned by other businesses or organisations)
- Have a turnover of less than €50 million
The scheme closes for new applications on 31 March 2015. There is still time to apply though and the process is simple and straightforward. You can find out more about the Growth Voucher Scheme here.
Why should I spend my Growth Voucher with Mzuri?
At Mzuri we are experienced at offering structured and tailored strategic marketing advice specific to your business, industry, objectives, budget and circumstances.
Backed by accredited membership of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) we use proven, SMART techniques to examine, in detail, the challenges your business faces as well as its strengths and USPs. This in-depth research enables us to develop sensible, effective and creative strategies to market your business via a range of appropriate channels to reach your target markets and audiences.
We would be glad to offer an initial free of charge consultation to talk through your business challenges and to explain how our strategic marketing planning advice could help.
What to do next…
If you already have a Growth Voucher and you’d like to talk to Mzuri about the delivery of strategic marketing advice for your business please do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you. You can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01428 722 990.
If you are interested in applying for a Growth Voucher but don’t already have one click here to find out more and start your application. Applications will no longer be accepted after 31 March so don’t delay!
We look forward to hearing from you soon.