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Darton College: Beyond the Classroom

“FCD helped Darton College to engage our learners by displaying our school ethos in a host of creative ways. The team installed bold and creative concepts around the building to enhance and stimulate learning” – Public Relations & Marketing Lead.

Tasked with more than just the design and installation of new signage and a prospectus, FCD were required to understand the vision and core values of Darton College and what the Love Learning ethos was trying to achieve. Our objective was to visually underpin the learning beliefs beyond the classroom. Working in partnership with the school team, FCD defined a strong visual identity in key areas and styled numerous environments where everyone could be inspired. We helped create an establishment they could be proud of and associate with.

Some of the work we’ve produced here are featured on our schools case study. Check it out!

Since Darton College began their initial consultation with FCD in 2015, Signage, Print, Photography, Display Graphics and Digital Work have been successfully completed.

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Grooving in the 70’s

Being creative is what we do best and ‘The way we were’ exhibition, Frenchgate Centre, Doncaster, has given us the opportunity to be creative in a big way. This former ‘foot eating fish shop’ has been transformed in to a place of colourful nostalgia that’s proving to be a bit of a talking point.

The exhibition covers the experiences of the children of the ‘Windrush Generation’, who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. It’s a great insight in to what this generation experienced and how they juggled growing up in a changing world with Caribbean family values. The walk through experience has a mock-up of a typical front room, a taboo place for the kids. Every day items and clothing from the 70’s and 80’s are on display together with a speaker unit that use to fill the Blues Clubs with a wall of music. There’s also an audio experience from members of the group.

Originally the exhibition was going to be a couple of display panels and cabinets within the Frenchgate centre. But covid cancelled the original launch date and Santa decided that he wanted that area, so the group was offered this shop. The original display was just quotations and a map of the Caribbean, but the shop needed more content to fill the space, so we outlined other areas that could help create a story and after tweaks from the client, the final message took shape.

The shop before we started to build the display.

FCD created the layout, designed the graphics and over a couple of days, built the exhibition using timber, pvc exhibition panels, and because the client wanted to re-use certain graphic displays, we’ve hung weighted banners that really look the part when up and when not in use, will roll up to store. Other areas have had the 70’s and Caribbean treatment. The shops counter has been transformed in to a DJ booth covered in Caribbean flags, the old ‘fishy foot eating fish tank’ has been filled with multicoloured table tennis balls and we’ve used the old 70’s string curtains to add dimension to the display.

The transformation after we’d finished.

It hasn’t been plain sailing though. Due to the Covid situation we had to plan how the exhibition could be a safe environment to visit. The central display area allows people to walk around the exhibition while keeping socially distanced. To make sure visitors get the message we’ve funked up the covid floor and wall graphics, using pac man and disco divas making the graphics fit the theme.

Funked up covid instructions, keeps the 70’s theme going.

If you remember the 70’s and 80’s, pop down, you might see stuff you remember. If you wasn’t there, check out this time of change and find out why ‘the front room’ was out of bounds.

The exhibition runs from 4th October to 12th November, Monday to Saturday, 2pm til 5pm.

How to set a Zoom video background

Video call backgrounds give you the confidence to chat in your very own professional environment

In the last few months, we’ve all had to adapt the ways we communicate with customers. Gone are the days where we sit face to face, batting ideas back and fourth like a game of tennis. So we’ve all resorted to video conferencing platforms, but how professional do we look to our clients? Here are two ways to impress.

Zoom virtual backdrops

Cluttered environments, poor presentation and lighting can make your video stream look unprofessional.

To solve these problems, FCD are creating virtual backdrops, designed to polish up your Zoom calls. These branded backgrounds fit your business and allow you to present with confidence.

To change the default background image for all Zoom Rooms in your account.

  1. Log in to the Zoom web portal.
  2. Click Room Management > Zoom Rooms.
  3. Click Account Settings at the top of the page.
  4. In the Account Profile tab, under Background image for Zoom Rooms, click Upload New Image.
  5. Select your image and click Open.
Benefits
  • Push your branding wherever you are.
  • Look more professional.
  • Quick and easy solution.
Best practices
  • Ensure you’re lit properly – poor lighting can leave a halo effect around your face.
  • Don’t use ‘busy’ images. A custom designed background image will be designed to fit you.

Don’t use Zoom? How about a physical backdrop

If you use Google Meet, FaceTime, Skype or anything else, FCD have the perfect solution.

A custom branded backdrop can be designed and made large enough to fill the screen, but small enough not to take up loads of space. You can use them with any video streaming platform, whether that’s Google Meet or a Facebook Live video, allowing you to stay consistent and professional.

Another key benefit of a physical backdrop is they’re multi-purpose – you can use them for literally anything!

There are other benefits, too
  • Push your brand identity.
  • Use them with any video stream – video calls or live video.
  • Add a bit of flare to your Instagram or Pinterest images.
  • Use them to block poor lighting from windows.
  • + loads more.

Interested in a Zoom virtual background or physical backdrop?

Send us a message and we’ll advise you with the best solution that suits you!

Creating a COVID Secure Work Environment

In order to keep operating, or help companies get back into the groove from lockdown, the government have released their latest guidance on how to encourage social distancing practices within a working environment.

We are all encouraged to still maintain a 1-metre distance from any other individual, and as the current lockdown is relaxed with more people returning to work, these new measures will need to be enforced within the workplace.

Clear and effective communication has never been more important and our team at FCD have been sourcing the best COVID-19 safety solutions currently on the market to help protect your staff, co-workers and customers. We now offer a full range of branded specialists products including; social distancing pop-up banners, signage, floor stickers, sneeze/cough guards, hand sanitiser stations +more.

Did you know it will be compulsory in England to wear a face covering on public transport from the 15th June. Even though many people don’t feel comfortable wearing a face mask, what better way to keep your brand active and current.

Here are our top picks to get you back to work safety:
  • Use floor stickers, queue barriers and bollard covers to facilitate compliance with the social distancing advice of 1 or 2 metre, particularly in the most crowded areas and where queuing is likely.
  • Place clear safety posters and signage throughout  your working environment. This will remind staff and customers of the social distancing measures and asking them to follow any  rules your have in place.
  • Erect physical barriers between work-stations, sneeze/cough guards at receptions.

You can grab one of our lightweight free-standing or wall mounted hand sanitiser stations, complete with automatic dispenser unit. FCD work with suppliers throughout the UK creating bespoke items to support businesses like yours during these times, helping them to adapt in the best possible way.

We’re all changing the way we work, so if it’s printed direct marketing, branded social distancing signage or digital content you need creating, our team are here to help! ?

FCDs lockdown marketing solutions to make you stand out

Here at FCD we like to think differently from other creative agencies, actually we’re well know for it! We’re always approaching business challenges in new ways, that’s way we’ve decided to create and share brand and marketing tips while STILL in lockdown.

Business is about adapting, making changes and solving problems. We’re all looking for ways around the current Coronavirus problem, which is why so many clients are asking us how they can continue to push their brand and marketing?

At team FCD we’ve put our creative heads together and come up with some great products that don’t break the bank! Below are a selection of ‘new ways to work’ and an oldie making a reappearance.

A new way to do business

When we go out and about are we going to be able to leave our potential clients a business card, and will they want a business card off you. It’s going to be difficult, our innocent little business card could potentially carry the dreaded COVID-19.

We’ve got the answer. A fully branded, VIRTUAL BUSINESS CARD that can be sent to a clients phone, tablet or computer. From this digital business card the recipient can easily click to call you, click to email you, look at your latest product video and that’s just some of the features.

A professional edge to your video call

We’re told to try and avoid meeting face to face as much as possible so people are turning to video calling using apps such as Zoom or WhatsApp. While calling, instead of the viewer seeing your bland magnolia wall or dusty bookshelf, why not invest in a BRANDED BACKDROP. You’ve seen them before on ‘Match of the Day’ and news feeds where logos and messages are displayed behind the person been interviewed. Well you could do the same. At FCD we believe that a backdrop that is bold, branded and colourful, will capture the space around you, creating a great piece of marketing designed to make the call memorable for the right reasons. At FCD we believe that a backdrop that is bold, branded and colourful, will capture the space around you, creating a great piece of marketing designed to make the call memorable for the right reasons.

‘Stop’ social media video ads

Since the start of the COVID crisis, social media has been awash with content. People posting videos of themselves, cutie stuff and content that’s just there to entertain. To cut through and get over a strong marketing message, we have developed the social media #QuickVid. A message led short video designed to sell anything from services to product to information. The bespokely designed #QuickVid is a video that’s branded, effective and above all, hard to miss.

Learn more about our #QuickVids on Buzzz Media.

Old school makes a comeback

Some say ‘Old School’, we say classic marketing especially in COVID times! You have the message, service or product so let’s get it fired in to those letterboxes. DIRECT MAIL MARKETING is an incredible and effective form of marketing. Yes we all love social, but at this moment in time everyone is fighting for that split second on your social feed. DIRECT MAILING is aimed right at the person who’s attention you want! Here’s a tip, why not personalise your marketing, make a compelling offer or integrate it with digital campaign elements to gather data on how well it’s done. If you are to mail drop locally and use this as your once a day exercise please follow the latest Government guidelines.

Stay safe, keep your distance and be resilient.

At FCD we are exploring ways for the business world to adapt and keep going. Look out for in-depth details of the products above.

We are here for you

These are extraordinary times. We all have the ability to adapt in business throughout these difficult and challenging times!

Running your own business has always been a challenge and over the years we’ve had to adapt many times, if that be competition, trends, financial difficulties, digital movements or even global melt downs. Coping and reacting with the unexpected is all part of running your own business and dealing with the cornovirus challenges isn’t any different. 

Working towards normality

These are strange times, however instead of sitting at home watching re-runs of this and that, we’re going to keep our minds active by looking in to updating ourselves with the changes in our industry and preparing our business so that we hit the ground running when normallity is back. If you intend to do the same then we’re here for you, working and supporting you through the crisis. 

A few things you could look at:

  • Is your marketing up to scratch
  • Do you need a brand refresh
  • Are there updates you need on your website
  • Do you need to create more social content such as marketing QuickVid’s.

Social media – the remedy to Covid-19

The world of social media will be red hot during the outbreak. Blogs will be read, podcasts listened to, new hobbies learnt, purchasing will go stratospheric and videos will be watched. This is where FCD can help, yes you might be self-isolating but this doesn’t mean your business has to STOP!

Use this valuable time to create a new on-line marketing strategy, if times are to change for the foreseeable future then your business should definitely react and change with it. If orders can be placed online, via chat or over the phone why not tell customers you’re open for business as usual. Generate more content for your website or social audiences, helpful tips, how to videos or downloads are great ways to keep engagement current. This will give customer reassurance that your brand is strong and will deliver on promises when needed.

If you have the urge to challenge this virus head on, why not book a video call with our team and let’s keep business moving.

From all the team at FCD, stay safe and we hope to see you soon. #CoronaWho

Did you get a Party Box?

The Doncaster Business Showcase was the ideal event to start our 10 year celebrations.

Watch this space throughout 2020 as we have more creative fun to come!

FCD had a great time at the Doncaster Showcase on 27 Feb. We managed to secure a last minute space so put our creative heads together to see how best we could promote our design, marketing, web and video services in Doncaster, to the world in the limited time we had.

But the team nailed it and we produced a stand worthy of FCD. If you visited the expo, we were the big blue stand with the big screen stood upright showing us and what we can do in glorious technicolor. Team FCD didn’t just stick to our stand though, we got out and about to spread the word of FCD. Someone said we should use ‘the futures bright, the futures FCD’, but that might have been taken.

The expo was really well attended with stacks of people busying around, so we got to catch up with lots of folks we know and to meet new interesting people and companies. There were some great stands too with some great ways to promote themselves and there services. I got to test my shooting skills on a shooting range (where I was told I was taking it too serious, but that’s me, got to do my best), eat tonnes of cakes and sweets and I found out from a facial recognition stand that I’m ’61’ and female (it was a bit of a shock, but I’ll just have to take it onboard).

If you was there, you might have been given one of our ‘Party Boxes‘ full of goodies that we’d put together to celebrate our 10th year in business. If you didn’t get one, get in-touch and let’s see if we can rustle you one up. Look out for any other 10th year celebrations we’re doing throughout 2020.

All in all it was a fantastic day and well worth the time spent exhibiting. Well done Doncaster for staging and attending.

2020 is our 10th year. Happy birthday to us!

Where do all great ideas come from? The pub of course, and that’s were the decision to create the rebirth of First Class Design Ltd started.

Paul had previously worked at FCD before joining a local authority studio, however knowing this wasn’t for him and that it restricted the creative ability you have working within the agency environment decided his time had come to leave and face a new challenge. What Paul didn’t count on was his work colleagues Mark and Nick wanting to be part of this new adventure.

The story begins…

All sat one afternoon in a Rotherham boozer, terrible December weather sipping on our first pint of watered down, over carbonated lager the conversation turned to starting a design and marketing agency. Four pints later it sounded like a great idea and six pints we’re definitely up for this, nothing can stop us now. We have more than enough experience between us and the drive to make this a success and so the rebirth of First Class Design Ltd happened.

We love everyone who helped ?

The support from family, friends and past work colleagues has been amazing, there have been many up’s and down’s along the way. There’s been many late nights and over worked weekends, as a team we have experienced success, failure, laughter and total exhaustion. We’ve grown both personally and professionally, at many points it’s been extremely stressful and demanding, but I can honestly say we would do it all again. We’ve met so many great people along the way, worked on some brilliant projects, learnt from our mistakes and produced some really great work, well, we’d like to think so! Many of the clients we worked with way back in 2010 are still clients of ours to this very day and we thank them for their loyalty.

Embracing change

We’ve changed quite a bit over the past 10 years. Apart from us all looking slightly more jaded, there’s been new logo’s and branding, staff changes and multiple office moves, to highlight just a few. Our permanent studio space is now on South Parade, Doncaster and feel this is the best place for us to grow and develop along side our great clients. The renovating work is nearing completion and this allows us to take the next step in our journey. Time to refocused on building better marketing and creative brand strategies to help businesses of all sizes achieve their goals.

Small and mighty

We’re a small busy creative team and because of the design deadline requirements of day-to-day life at FCD don’t often stop to think and reflect. But during the next 12 months we plan on rolling out some exciting new changes, hopefully some surprises and a small tea party to celebrate the past 10 years. New projects are always piling up and we can’t wait to share them with you over the coming year, as we look forward to building more relationships with clients. 

Thank you!

From all the team at FCD, we’d just like to thank everyone for their help and support. A big thank you to our wonderful clients who allow us to get creative with their brands, websites and marketing. Massive shout out to our suppliers for the amazing work they produce. A very big thank you to the people we work in partnership with and last, but definitely not least our friends and family for all of the support you have shown us.

Keep your eye on us… #FCD10 ?

Invites will be sent out shortly, so watch this space. There will be cake for everyone, party bags at the ready, and who doesn’t love birthday cake… We’d not want anybody to miss a slice of the chocolate sponge action. Here’s to another 10 creative years together.

The Wonders of Sonic

#SonicMovie has hit the big screens this valentines, giving us a flutter in ye olde chest back to the 90s.

Nostalgia marketing is a BIG trend lately with the release of miniature arcade and old school game machines – the latest one being the classic PlayStation One. Though, that is an interesting story in itself with Crash Bandicoot battling the market with Sonic.

And now Paramount has released the Sonic Movie after a massive (alleged) $35m character remake, giving everyone a much loved flashback to the 90s playing the first ever Sonic game on the SEGA Mega Drive.

The first Sonic the Hedgehog game was released in 1991 for the SEGA Genesis (Mega Drive for us British folk).

Sega developed Sonic because they wanted a new flagship mascot character to replace Alex Kidd and compete with Nintendo’s Mario. 29 years later, we think they’ve done a pretty good job. Nostalgia marketing is a powerful trend and Sonic has never looked so good. Think about your marketing, does it resonate with people or reach them on an emotional level?

Can your business tap in to brand history just like the Sonic film?

Brand history is a great way to drive sales and increase leads. This kind of marketing strategy reminds customers of great purchases or experiences. Brands with strong identities build lasting relationships, and even emotional bonds. Do you have a history to tell your audience?

Sonic collects rings

Mario grabs coins, Sonic collects rings. They’re a source of power and energy which protects them from attacks – I’m sure we can all remember the pain of loosing 100 of them!

Have you ever thought that your business needs a super power. A new energy boost to compete with direct competitors in your sector? A new logo, brand, website or marketing strategy could launch you into the next zone. Think about your uniqueness or strengths. Is it time to unleash your new super-power?

‘Sonic The Hedgehog’, ‘SEGA’, and ‘Alex Kidd’ references are registered trademarks and copyright of Sega Games Co., Ltd.
‘Mario’ references are registered trademarks and copyright of Nintendo Co., Ltd.
All character design, themes and logo designs are copyright of their respective owners. All rights reserved.

Model Railways, I want one!

As designers we appreciate a fellow designers eye. It’s the eye for detail and the eye for colour that really impresses us.

But on Saturday at the Doncaster Model Railway Exhibition, Doncaster Racecourse, we saw mind blowing amounts of detail. Layouts that must have taken a lifetime to construct with intricate buildings and tiny figures painted with such minute detail. I’m not a train buff but that didn’t matter, by the time I left the exhibition, I wanted a layout like what I’d just seen (I don’t have the space, but so what).

Large model train layout
One of the larger layouts. It took ages to take all the detail in.

Some of the layouts took us back to the docks of Southampton where the Allies were loading the ships for ‘D’ Day. Others took us in to the industrial dirt of a goods yard or the peace and tranquillity of a quaint country stop. And the size of them! Some were enormous and others would fit neatly under your bed.

Model engine shunting

All of the layouts weren’t just ‘have a look and move on’, because if you popped back later they had different trains thundering through stations or shunting wagons backwards and forwards. Some of the steam engines, as tiny as they were, puffed out steam!

And there was no shortage of information, the enthusiasts couldn’t wait to tell you the story of their engine, layout or how they painted a certain wagon.

One of the smaller layouts
One of the smaller layouts, but just the right size for me!
A little bit of steam.
This layout didn’t seem to short of anything.
Back in time. Loading the ships for ‘D’ Day.

It was a day well spent and we’ll definitely be going again next year. Look out for it next year, it’s well worth a visit.

Mince Pie Taste Test 2019

What is Christmas all about? That’s down to debate, but the run up to Christmas is all about ‘Who sells the best mince pie?’.

The team at FCD have so many skills, it would takes us ages to list them. But our main Christmas skill is ‘mince pie testing’. It’s unofficial to the world of retail, but of major importance in the FCD studio. Every morning we have a mince pie-off, with offerings from all over, and below are the ‘2019 FCD Mince Pie Results’.

Co-op’s little mince pies – The taste is good, the pastry is excellent but they’re just one bite wonders – 6/10

ASDA’s offering – Not bad, a bit standard, but acceptable – 5/10

Iceland crumble topped mince pies – Where’s the tradition Iceland, a mince pie with a crumble topping. This isn’t right and gets marked down because of it – taste wasn’t too bad – 6/10

Morrisons quality mince pies – Seem to be as good as last years. Not too crumbly and great with a cuppa – 6/10

Sainsbury’s quality? mince pie – Don’t eat these while wearing your going out outers. One bite and they crumble to nothing. Taste isn’t bad, but we’ve tasted better – 4/10

Greggs Christmas offering – Paul says “These are amazing”. Pastry and filling are in perfect harmony – 9/10

My favourite is ‘Audry’s mince pie from No.20 (next door neighbour). Laced with vodka, these are hardcore wobbly leg wonders and not recommended for the under 18’s. Just throwing this one in as it was my favourite even though they aren’t on sale.

FCD, clapping on the pounds in pursuit of the perfect pie. Merry Christmas one and all!

How we made our group photo

The simplest of images can have the most impact

We’ve recently spiced things up on our website by introducing a group photo of the team on our about us page. The services we offer aren’t just about the final product you receive, they’re also about #TeamFCD and how we work with you to achieve your goal. We love solving problems, being creative and coming up with awesome ideas to help grow your business and engage with your target audience, without faff.

Our group photo doesn’t fall short of this motto, and it’s a great example of how much work can go into creating something seamless and effective. Each individual person is cut out using Photoshop and manipulated so everybody fits on our digitally created 4 seater sofa. Well, half digital. We have it in the studio!

(It worked us to death!)

It all started with 2 seats

The original, untouched futon was cleaned, lit and then photographed. After some tricky placement of ourselves and careful Photoshop editing, we managed to turn our 2 seat settee into a 4 seat settee, complete with talented individuals sat down. And, we even created ourselves looking like zombies as part of Halloween 2019.

Do you want us to make your team look hipster?

Get in touch with us and let’s get talking!

Paranormal Happenings at FCD

Our building creaks and shudders and groans. We’re not sure if it’s because of natural occurrences or the paranormal. The building has been here since 1795 and will have had many occupiers.

So two of the latest occupiers, Matty and me, decided to investigate. Over a few evenings we prowled our rooms, corridors and the cellar, waiting for something to happen. On an evening, or when we work a late one, we have heard doors banging and seen shapes on the CCTV which look human in form or seen orbs floating along the main landing, down the stairs and towards the front door. Sometimes we feel a presence like we are been watched.

Over the next three days we are putting out the best of our footage so that you can make your own mind up.

The first hunt:

The second hunt:

Happy Halloween! ?

Dark user interfaces are the hot new trend for web content

If you haven’t noticed, the rising trend of 2019 is to implement a ‘Dark Mode’ on your website

“We’ve been using the light mode for years?! Surely it doesn’t matter?” – whilst it’s not important, a dark mode has its benefits and enhancements over the traditional ‘light mode’. Let’s be honest first, dark modes are fantastic! They’re stylish, dramatic and elegant – Facebook has just introduced their dark mode on the Messenger app and it looks sleek.

To celebrate this trend, our ‘Dark Mode’ is now available on all our blog posts.

Why make a dark version?

try it – find this

The simple answer is, it makes your content easier to read. You want to make your website content, especially dynamic content like blog posts, as readable as possible – and having the option for visitors to enable a ‘Dark Mode’ provides a stimulating user experience. It’s elegant too, a majority of the content on the web is on white so why not shake things up a little?

  • Improved readability of text
  • Better contrast
  • Reduced eye fatigue
  • Less blue light – something that can add to eye fatigue
  • And the most important of them all… saves on phone battery life.

Leave it up to the reader

It’s important to give your visitors the option to use ‘light’ or ‘dark’. You should treat a ‘Dark Mode’ as a secondary view option, an accessibility feature more than a core part of your website. But if your branding and logo design benefits from using a dark colour palette then a dark theme as your websites primary style is what you need.

When it’s OK to use a ‘Dark Mode’:

  • To save readers battery life and, in essence, the environment.
  • When the design is minimalist.
  • When it is appropriate for the context and use – take Netflix for example where viewers are going to be watching content in the dark.
  • To reflect an emotion – for example, a feeling of intrigue and mystery.
  • To create a striking and dramatic look.
  • To create a sense of luxury and prestige – Apple iPhone XS is a great example.
Apple’s iPhone XS web page is stylish and feels high-end and luxury
Netflix benefits from a dark user interface – people watch content at night or in the dark
Facebook Messenger’s ‘Dark Mode’

Our blogs ‘Dark Reader’

Twitter’s ‘Night’ Mode

‘Dark Mode’ readers eyes don’t feel the strain

Picture this – you’re curled up on the settee, the lights are low and you are reading your favourite blog content from your favourite design + marketing agency, but nightmare, your eyes are feeling the strain. If the blog was using ‘Dark Mode’ there would be far less chance of eye strain because ‘Dark Mode’ helps reduce this when viewing at night. Supporters of ‘Dark Mode’ claim the benefits of this have been extremely good.

When it’s best to stay away from dark UIs:

  • When there is a lot of text (reading on a dark background can be difficult) – that’s why an option to switch between light and dark is good.
  • When there is a lot of mixed content on the screen – e.g. images and icons.
  • When the design calls for a wide range of colours.
  • Online stores should avoid it unless it fits the branding – it can be confusing.
  • When your brand / industry warrants a ‘light and fresh’ feel.

How do I add a ‘dark mode’ to my website?

Well, unfortunately, its not a one-click solution. But FCD may be able to help you achieve all the benefits a ‘Dark Mode’ has to offer and look at building one for you – get in touch today and let’s see if you can be turned to the dark side?

Huge Apology! FALSE New compulsory EU rules come in to effect today

We must apologise for the mistake made when we published the EU directive. 90% of this directive was false with only the ‘to have your business cards re-designed, contact FCD’.

Hope you have a great April 1st.

As we know, Friday 29th March should have been Brexit Day.

As the UK did not leave the EU we must now comply with the new compulsory rules regarding the size of business cards which have come in to force today. The old size of 55mm x 85mm has been totally scrapped and a new standard size of 255mm x 195mm has been brought in with immediate effect. Card stock weights have also been standardised to 450gsm with a non-glare, matt laminate on both sides.

Backing up this rule, the ‘Department of Business Card Communique’ in Brussels stated that ‘during 2016 just over 37 complaints had been received by the department regarding business card illegibility. This was causing great concern and as a result, these strict but necessary rules have been put in place. Adding to the that, the Government added that ‘UK business were loosing out on some very big contracts due to tinny tiny business cards. Our motto here in the Government is MAKE BRITAIN BIGenough to read’. 

The rules for the much larger card, issued in the EU blue paper 1-42019, allows for accessibility (a large print format, fonts no smaller than 24pt) and for the content of the card to be translated in to several core European languages. The new design must also include the EU emblem which is to be clearly shown on the top right hand corner of the card, no smaller than 20mm x 10mm (although this will be altered to the Union Jack after Brexit Day).

Guidance on how Electronic business cards have to be viewed have also been brought in to force. Electronic business cards must be viewed on screens no smaller that 32 inches with again, the several core European translations of the cards content to be clearly shown plus the EU emblem.

Additional information regarding ‘how to avoid excess baggage charges when flying to a business meeting’ and ‘where can I purchase a business card trolley’ are available on request.

Business failing to adhere to the EU directive will incur a stern email.

For more information and to have your business cards re-designed to the compulsory EU standards, contact FCD.

Winner of the FCD Speed Trial takes it to the wire!

We had a day of tension and drama on the FCD stand at the Doncaster Showcase, Doncaster Racecourse.

We set visitors and exhibitors a challenge to get around the FCD track in the fastest time, with a prize of a bottle of bubbley to the winner, plus prizes for second and third places. All day, drivers of the FCD scalectrix cars have competed against each other, with early runners posting fast five lap times.

Then, around 2pm, Glen Galbraith and Stuart Crabb of Doncaster College turned up, posting times that took them to 1st and 2nd on the FCD podium. Many tried to topple Glen from pole position without success. But with just 20 minutes to go, up stepped Susan Thomas of JMS Doncaster. With Glen watching on, Susan posted a time of 12.65 seconds, putting Glen in to second place. Not to be outdone, and wanting to win the big bubbley bottle, Glen had one last go and on his very first attempt he re-took 1st place with a time of 11.7 seconds.

So the final FCD podium was Glen in 1st, Susan in 2nd and Stuart in 3rd. They received their bubbley bottles from FCD’s Mark Shipway. Well done everyone who took the challenge, hope to see you next time.

Our 90s Ford Focus zooming around the track

Not many know this but St Valentine was a Yorkshireman

Way back when, Valentine Postlethwaite worked down’t pit somewhere close to Donny. He was a willey kid, nowt like a proper miner, as his Gran use to say “Our Valentines’ got muscles like knots in cotton and legs like garden canes”.

He worked just off the coal face, shuvelling stuff in to trucks. But Valentines passion helped him through his hard shifts, his passion for giving gifts to the downtrodden ladies of his village, but only once a year, (he wasn’t made of brass) the day of his birthday, 14th February.

Weeks before the big day, Valentine would spend hours making hand made choccies and designing slushy cards with slushy verses. Then the night before his birthday, out he’d trot with his carrier bag full of goodies and deliver them to each and every lady in the village. They all knew it was from him but never let on.

Next morning, Valentine would walk to work listening to the shrieks and yelps with a warm, satisfying skip in his step, it was his perfect birthday present. But the blokes of the village thought it to be a “reight sissy act”. They showed affection to their lass by demanding tea be on’t table by’t time he’d get in, and to wash and iron their Sunday Best so that they could spend a full day down’t pub with their mates. This treatment was tried and tested, after all, it had worked for centuries.

But their moaning didn’t stop Valentine, and his fame spread. Within a couple of years, charabancs full of giggley ladies would be shipped-in every 14th February, looking to be part of this loving atmosphere. Poor old Valentine, he couldn’t let a lady down. So on the run up to his birthday he’d work even harder, making choccies and cards, handing them out to each and every lady every year. But the more gifts he gave out, the more ladies turned up, and eventually the stresses took their toll. On the night before his 42nd birthday, Valentine sadly passed away through exhaustion.

The news was too much for the ladies of Yorkshire who all became down in the dumps, which played havoc with the economy of Yorkshire. The men folk had to act. They agreed that once a year, on 14th February, they would molly coddle their lass, but only if they too got a card and pressie (as they say in Yorkshire “You don’t get owt for nowt”).

So there it is, that’s how St Valentines Day started and it was in Yorkshire. And how did Valentine become a ‘Saint’. Well the ladies of Yorkshire asked Pope Dougie the first, also a Yorkshireman, to canonise Valentine, and as they asked nice like and slipped him a bag of Pontefract Cakes, summat he couldn’t get in the Vatican City, he said “No problem lasses, leave it wi mi, it’s as good as done”.

This Yorkshire hear say has been brought to you by FCD, Yorkshire’s own Design and Marketing Agency.

It got wild on Friday

I finally took the plunge and visited Yorkshire Wildlife Park, which happened to be right on my doorstep.

An adventurous place to visit if you are near the area, Yorkshire Wildlife Park offers tonnes of fun for you and the family, and is responsible for looking after over 70 species of animal. The park has over 400 animals, a big leap from when it first opened in 2009.

We are proud to be DHYP’s Charity Partner 2019

FCD are proud to announce that we will be the Charity Partner 2019 for DHYP.

DHYP are a Doncaster based charity who help and support young adults between the ages of 16 and 25 who are vulnerable to homelessness. Having met the team and the young adults, and been impressed by what we saw, we just had to support their fantastic work. During 2018 Crozier Jones, this years Charity Partner, have done an excellent job in raising funds and we will be hoping to make 2019 as big a success.

2018 has already been a amazing year for DHYP as they have been shortlisted for the prestigious 24housing Care & Support Provider of the Year award.

Last Friday we attended the DHYP annual meeting where we were announced as the 2019 Fund Raiser in front of guests which included The Rt Hon. Dame Rosie Winterton MP, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons.

We’re looking forward to 2019 fund raising and are already coming up with little events to push that total.

Rolex Exhibition at Doncaster Mansion House

The Mansion House, Doncaster, hosted a Rolex and FCD created the display graphics.

The displays of Rolex watches and HL Brown jewellery looked amazing as they were set up in the Mansion House’s breath taking ballroom. We produced and set-up the backdrops and display graphics that led the guests from the main entrance through to the sparkling exhibition, plus graphics around the event. The event was a huge success with our client saying “Thank you so much for all of your help to pull off an amazing Rolex and Jewellery event that I think people will talk about for a long while to come”.

Google Chrome & SSL, what does this mean for websites?

A lot of you may have begun to notice the “Not Secure” badge appear on your Google Chrome browser when visiting certain websites, this is a big deal and here’s why.

With the rising number of ‘scam’ websites, the reputation of legitimate sites are being significantly hurt. FCD have found that users are more likely to leave a website earlier if the SSL green browser padlock isn’t implemented – and if you own any online store, you MUST have this secure connection.

What is SSL?
SSL encrypts the data transfer between the web server and the visitor – this link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral. It is critical for protecting sensitive information such as a credit card info and passwords, but it also protects your site from attackers adding advertisements to your website. A potential attacker will just see a jumbled mess of letters if they manage to get in.

Why now?
Google wants to flush out all ‘vulnerable and dangerous’ websites by favouring SSL secure websites. Growing numbers of mobile devices and increased internet speeds mean securing the flow of data is vital to ensure your personal information isn’t stolen when you shop online, transfer data or sign-up to promotional newsletters.

How will it help me?
Securing your website will increase customer trust and provide a safe environment for your visitors to browse. It prevents personal information like passwords and credit card number from being stolen. To put it simply, the extra “s” (https://) means your website is secure and encrypted. The security of your website and accounts are just as important as having SSL security compliance.

What will happen if I stay “not secure”?
Google will begin to slowly rank secure websites higher than non-secure, initially with a warning message in their web browser ‘Chrome’. But with the mobile first update Google have introduced, your website could start to rank lower if it isn’t secure or mobile friendly.

FCD are now able to provide SSL security on all the new websites we host, as standard – for FREE, no extra cost! Plus, all our websites are bespoke with a priority on mobile performance to ensure you and your visitors have the best experience possible.

Fancy a chat about your current website? Give our Web + Media Designer Matt, a call or email: [email protected]

Inventing solutions that work

Video production comes with its own set of problems, some that require the invention of their own special kind of solution.

We’ve just began a video project with Marcrist to produce a set of ‘modular’ videos that sell/promote their high quality tools. The idea is to have short yet informative videos produced independently of one another, then stitch them together in one big edit to produce one continuous video – very useful for exhibitions, shows, meetings etc.

As they are designed with modularity in mind, the client can freely request the removal of a tool video or swap videos around, depending on the application. We wanted to make this as easy as possible without sacrificing quality. So, we created a master template that we can use for each video, with new additions and changes to the scenes depending on a tools feature set. On top of this, we managed to make it simple for the the client to ask us to film another short video and then add it to the continuous video – without much extra production time required.

But there are some downsides to filming a lot of tool / machinery in action… dust. A lot of dust!

We needed a way to protect the camera. So we sent Mark to sit at his desk brainstorming ideas, sketching down solutions, and work out the Maths! And he came up with this…

A uniquely manufactured polymer shielding with an adjustable rubber seal to fit any sized DSLR camera that protects it from the rough elements a film set can offer.

This one-of-a-kind solution sports an almost invisible design so you aren’t losing camera usability, and features a secure locking ‘zip like’ closing mechanism to hold the DPS polymer shielding in place. Scoring 99.9% on the dust protection scale, the DPS also provides tea splashing resistance, for when the task at hand becomes thirsty work!

Get yours for as little as £15.99*!

Optional extras include:

  • A bright-yellow tag so you don’t lose it – £6.99*
  • FREE additional rubber grip for those bigger lenses
  • Easy-to-use cutting device for an adjustable mount – £12.99*

Yes OK… it’s a zip lock bag with a hole cut with scissors at the end, held on with an elastic band.. don’t spoil our dreams!

 

*a disclaimer was needed.

Good Vs Bad Design

The visual impact of any design is what draws attention to the message, and that’s so important because once a readers eyes have turned away from the message, they very rarely come back for a second glance.

That’s why ‘Bad Design’ is bad for business. First impressions are so important too. If you turn up to a first meeting dressed like you’ve just slept in what you’re wearing, the prospective client probably wouldn’t think much too you and odds are that you wouldn’t get the work. Putting out poorly designed marketing gets the same results.

Remember, you can’t make a first impression twice, and if you want to be the best new company on the block or to confirm you’re the established leader in the market, good design counts! All companies no matter how large or small should want prospective customers to feel a connection with their brand and understand the product or services they offer. We’ve all encountered good and bad design and people have differing opinions on what good is, however the main aim is always the same.

We find that when we talk to people they generally have an idea as to what ‘Good Design’ means to them, but the truth is that it’s hard to design your own marketing, that’s because there’s a risk of getting too emotionally involved which leads to ‘Bad Design’ decisions.

Choosing to work with a design agency can really help you make the correct decisions and take the pressure off you and your marketing team. Forging a long-term relationship with an agency has massive benefits to both parties. One main advantage is that the agency gets into your head, understands your market and becomes part of your team, setting goals, creating new strategies and achieving market share.

At FCD we believe the following points makes for ‘Good Design’, so on your next project think about the following five steps before you plan your attack!

Step One – The first key element you need to consider is your target audience, who you are aiming at, and what data do you have at your disposal? Look at your brand and marketing material, place yourself in the shoes of the audience you’re attempting to capture, would you buy the product or service on offer, if not, why not?

Step Two – Colour is vital to design. Used well, it can be immensely powerful, colour can suggest feelings and inspire emotions. Have you ever asked yourself, how does the colour make me feel? Is the colour used compatible with your branding? Does you marketing look passionate, aggressive and important or fluffy, limping and cheap?

Step Three – This might sound crazy, but words are more than just for reading. The shape and appearance of a word can say as much as the word itself. That’s why it’s important to use the correct font. Ask yourself, how many different fonts are on show in my marketing material? Too many fonts look confusing and lead to ‘Bad Design’, a balanced set of fonts that work well together create a ‘Good Design’. Fonts should be easy to follow, should attract your attention and above all, communicate. A design agency will choose the correct fonts with the personality that fits other elements within your branding. When this is done correctly, the message is powerful. When it’s done poorly, the project will struggle to have any impact at all.

Step Four – When you’re looking at a marketing project, your eyes should be taken on a journey in a way that provides you with the information instantly. Effective ‘Good Design’ will inform without being overwhelming. Badly pixelated photographic imagery, misleading info-graphics, spelling mistakes will dilute the final sales message. Let’s make sure your next project isn’t a ‘Bad Design’ piece that’s tedious and disorganised. Working together we can make sure your customers are impressed and informed.

Step Five – Finally, emotion… Your gut feeling is the best indicator of whether something is ‘Good Design’ or ‘Bad Design’. Having carefully dissected a brief or marketing project using the four steps above, how does it make you feel, and what will your potential customers think? ‘Good Design’ communicates clearly and concisely, helping your audience understand the message, helping you to achieve your goals. ‘Bad Design’ is an obstacle, misleading or confusing your message and not engaging at all with your target audience.

FCD are proud to say that we’ve built long-term relationships with many of our clients and always practice ‘Good Design’. If you want to work with a marketing agency that’s passionate about results, give us a call and we’ll stick the kettle on and have a cosy chat about ‘Good Design’.

Security of your website & accounts, why it’s important

If you have a content management system like WordPress, security should be your number one priority after the design. Here’s how we do it:

On average, a small website with around 100 weekly visitors can get at least 70 failed login attempts a day, and that’s just from one country!

Overlooking security is like leaving your front door unlocked when you leave for work in the morning, hoping no one enter’s during the day. A simple response would be “it’s unlikely anyone would enter”, but you’d be surprised. Website security isn’t just about making sure you have an SSL certificate, it’s a number of little things:

Secure passwords

Whenever we setup a CMS, we don’t know the back-end passwords. We randomly generate them and store them offline on a hard drive so it’s virtually impossible for the passwords to get out in the wild by a data breach. For personal accounts, we’d recommend Lifehacker’s ‘Five Best Password Managers‘ article. Great for anyone looking to secure all their personal passwords.

Hidden login pages

The worst part of any website is having admin login pages accessible to the public. So we hide them the best we can, and block access to them when you’re not logged in. We’ve found this prevents false login attempts by at least 80%, sometimes getting rid of them altogether!

Difficult to guess usernames

Any account shouldn’t include the website name or ‘admin’ because it can give an attacker a jump start. FCD don’t do this. We create usernames unique to you with no relevance to the website name or ‘admin’, ensuring it is difficult to guess.

Tracking and prevention

Security platforms that track changes, modifications, login attempts etc. are utilised to their full advantage to automatically block stuff. Though, the best form of prevention we practice is done through website maintenance. We invest a lot of time into making sure everything is safe, triple checking files and the fine edges of a website every time we do maintenance.

Think your site could do with a security check-up? Get in touch.

SSL Website Security: Is it really that important for your site?

84% of online shoppers abandon a website if it doesn’t have the SSL green padlock

The ‘green padlock’ on a browser shows that a site has the full protection of SSL, providing a level of trust to the visitor. Security on a website is crucial as cyber attacks are becoming more and more common. SSL protects a site by encrypting the information sent not just when it leaves the site but also when it arrives at its destination. By doing this, it means that only the intended recipient can view it, important for sensitive information like credit cards.

A site without security leaves you vulnerable and could reduce your online marketing potential. 

Another reason to have security is that Google favours secure sites, so it helps to increase your search engine ranking too.

With every site we create at FCD, we will give advice to the client, giving them tailored security options and build the security they require in to the site.

WiFi security breaches

With the news last year of WiFi WPA2 security being cracked means that every WiFi device in your home and business could potentially get attacked. Attackers can then get access to your insecure website and all of its contents. You can watch this video by Austin Evans who shows how WiFi can be attacked and how data can be captured.

Luckily there are software updates to combat security breaches like this, but not all devices are up-dateable. At least 35% off all WiFi devices will still be vulnerable. You can protect yourself and your website visitors by using SSL encryption and making sure your software is up to date.

If you want more information about how FCD can secure your website, get in touch today.

Rebrand: FCD have been hard at work!

AT LAST! The NEW FCD branding has been launched.

Re-branding other companies is what we do, but finding the time to re-brand ourselves is hard when there are only 24 hours in a day. But miracles do happen and we’ve found that elusive time. So after creative meetings, creative collisions and creative evolutions we have finally reached the highly branded look we want to show to you.

We needed to move our image on. With a new building, that is also getting the FCD branding treatment, we wanted to show that we are not just Doncaster’s, but Yorkshire’s all-round design and marketing agency who can confidently turn our hands to anything, as our portfolio of past work certainly shows.

Our new fully featured, scalable, and responsive website has been built in-house from scratch and includes future proof systems like ‘Facebook Instant Articles’ to create blogs. Each page has been crafted with the end user in mind so information is easy to read and understand, whilst giving us a sales/reference tool for clients. We have all the SEO data populated to give a professional look when a link is shared. Everything on our site has been created to maximise communication, as we would do for all our clients.

This might not be a secret, but at FCD we find it far easier to re-brand others than ourselves, as you will see from the examples on our site. We’ve branded quite a few businesses since starting and the results have been, in the words of our clients “outstanding”. We are very proud of our teams effort and all the hard work that has been put into what we have achieved.

If you think it’s time for a re-brand, give us a call, email or tinkle on social media.

Photography for Sir Thomas Wharton Academy Y11 Prom

“We were over the moon with the photography shots FCD produced for us. They captured the evening & memories perfectly.”

We were asked by Sir Thomas, a local school within Doncaster, to do prom photography for their Y11’s and capture the evening event. We covered the varied, colourful arrivals and the main event, taking photos of groups and individuals. These serve as a memory for every student who took part. FCD were happy to join alongside these talented young individuals as they celebrate completing their first journey in education.

Some students took to the stage with stunning, colourful, vibrant outfits, and amazing rides. Whilst others went with the subtly beautiful approach to attract attention. It’s safe to say, everyone enjoyed themselves!

We’d like to wish all students good luck to their future.

Exhibition Display’s for Doncaster Mansion House

FCD had an exhibition on display in Doncaster’s Mansion House.

The two 3×2 pop-ups are info boards that tell the story of James Paine, Architect for Doncaster Mansion House, and social gent of the 18th century. We designed, created and installed the displays. But we didn’t stop there, Mark dressed in costume to meet and greet with members of ‘The Friends of the Mansion House’.

The Mansion House had an open day on Friday 16th – Sunday 18th June 2017. Before the event took place, we took some photos which you can view below.

We have moved

On the 1st May 2016, we moved in to 10 South Parade, Doncaster, our new and permanent residence.

Since starting FCD 6 years ago, we planned to have our own building, and we finally have. Built in 1795, 10 South Parade has a lot of character and still has some of its old features such as the servants bell pulls, an original cellar kitchen and an 18th century ceiling.

Our aim is to keep the old buildings character while adding our own FCD personality. We’re well on with it so keep checking for updates. Consider popping in for a cuppa too,