Layers 2021 Charity Challenge Update

Here at Layers we’ve been undertaking a Charity Challenge in 2021 as we felt at the start of the year that we wanted to make a difference and we were passionate about what we could achieve as a team collaboratively. Our aim was to travel 2021km (by any self-powered means of transport; your paddle boards, your unicycles, your legs) each across the year.



Once Daniel joined at the beginning of February our total aim for 2021 was to cover a collective 11,955km (2,021km each adjusted for Daniel’s late start), or just about the distance from Newcastle to Kuala Lumpur or Buenos Aires, so nothing too enormous…however, it’s the causes, money raised, and the collaboration that counts regardless of whether or not we reach our totals but we’re all doing what we can to get there between now and the end of the year.

Congratulations to James who has become the first of us here at Layers to reach their personal target of 2,021km covered this year, and any distance travelled will be put towards the teams’ total target of 11,955km.


In terms of a total target, as well as how much distance needs to be travelled daily by each person for the rest of the year, the results are as follows:

James Hanson

Updates from the team and our causes:



James – Chron’s & Colitis UK


The UK’s leading charity for Crohn’s and Colitis have over 50 pages of information to help inform anyone affected, including friends, family, medical professionals and even employers. Recently they have been focussing on sourcing volunteers for studies such as the SPIT study which aims to develop a new screening test for Crohn’s disease. 


“I’m so glad we decided to do this – at the start, it seemed like a tall order, but as I got into a routine – chipping away at this happened quite naturally. Having said that, I know some of the team have struggled, but we have a dog so the routine was much easier to stick to. I’m not sure I raised as much as I could (should) but It’s been difficult to keep promoting it – especially as I kind of keep it going one day at a time. But I’ve already smashed it! So I’ve done something right!


I chose my charity due to my own background and the journey I had through Colitis, I know how stressful this can be for people and I was lucky enough (although he was unlucky) to have a dad who had gone through it and could help me deal with it during my first year of university, which was a really tough time.”

Niall – The Haemophilia Society


The Haemophilia Society is the only UK-wide charity and free membership organisation for everyone affected by a bleeding disorder. It aims to empower people affected by a bleeding disorder to live life to the fullest.


The Society offers support through local groups across the UK, free membership events for people at all stages of life, and a vibrant online community, where people affected by bleeding disorders can find information, and share their views and experiences. Expert, in-depth resources and news updates keep members informed and help equip them with knowledge and confidence. They are soon to have their AGM and trustee election for the upcoming year, giving interested parties a say in the future of the charity.


“As the year is coming to a close it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll hit the goal of 2021km in 1 year. Which is a shame, however there are still some huge takeaways for me. The main one being that I’ve managed to get out for a walk significantly more than I had the previous year. I now know a little trick should I ever partake in this challenge again and that is…get a dog.”

Niall Baum
Paula Donnelly

Paula – CLAPA (Cleft Lip & Palate Association)


The Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA) works to improve the lives of people born with a cleft and their families in the United Kingdom. CLAPA host events designed to increase awareness and help parents of children with such conditions as well as adults. Recently they’ve launched the CLAPA Lounge, a meet up on Zoom for adults over 25 to learn more. These sessions cover topics such as treatment, extra detail and more.


“I love challenging myself but for something as long-term as this, I really needed an ‘accountability buddy’ and I feel that’s what the team have done. We had a great start to the year but as with anything, motivation dwindles and staying consistent when we lacked motivation was always going to be the real challenge.


After fracturing my ankle at the end of March the challenge kept me focussed on recovery and given that my fundraising had been so successful to that point I really didn’t want to let anyone down that had already donated.


I learned that taking time outdoors during the working day gave me time to think, destress, and made my afternoons more productive so my walks turned into something I looked forward to (and something I’ll continue after this year) rather than something I had to do. With the end in sight, I’ve still got a way to go but I’m confident and determined that I’ll hit the target, and I’m really proud of the camaraderie the team have shown throughout this year.”

Jonny – Music Venue Trust


The Music Venue Trust is a UK registered charity which acts to protect, secure and improve Grassroots Music Venues. They hold regular auctions and fundraisers to help support local venues in cities across the UK. They have been especially important during COVID due to the impact on small businesses and small venues being closed. Recent auctions have focussed on rare posters and records being sold to raise money for Manchester venues.


“The charity challenge has definitely been that, a challenge. From walking about 55km a month to be expected to walk 150+km a month in order to meet the goal was going to need a momentous lifestyle change. Unfortunately the change in lifestyle wasn’t as big as it needed to be, and the goal now is seemingly impossible.


However I have impressed myself and gained a lot from attempting it, going for walks during the hight of lockdown was definitely beneficial for keeping me sane, and taking up 5-a-side football to get the extra steps in has definitely improved my fitness. Although the target will probably not be met it was still definitely worth the attempt.”

Jonny Tabiner

Daniel – CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)


The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) are taking a stand against suicide. That means standing against feeling terrible, standing up to stereotypes, and standing together to show life is always worth living. Recent CALM ambassadors such as Rosie Jones and Suzi Ruffell have spoken about their own problems with mental health, and many celebrities have worked with CALM such as Tyson Fury to highlight the mental health epidemic.



“Over the course of the year, I’ve found that the charity challenge has helped me get out and about a little bit more than I would usually find myself doing. Working from home can be difficult, and summoning the energy to go out and stretch the legs or even for a change of scenery can also sometimes be challenging.



Thanks to this challenge I’ve found myself getting out and about a bit more which has been great for my mental health and work ethic and would recommend doing something like for a good cause or even for yourself especially if you’re struggling working from home.

Why Exactly is Branding so Important?

Why Exactly is Branding So Important?

To customers on the lookout for what you’re selling; how you appear, what you say and the way you say it, all add up to a perceived value that they’ll weigh up in their head in comparison to your direct competitors. However, gone are the days where branding was simply an aesthetic pursuit, and it is now much more than a visual exercise.


For example, what is it exactly you want your product to stand for? What do you want it to say? How do you want customers to perceive your company? Potential customers can get at a glance all of this information and more to make a split decision on whether or not your product is for them. As Tom Goodwin states, “brands are essentially patterns of familiarity, meaning, fondness, and reassurance that exist in the minds of people”.

Love at First Sight


As the saying goes, “you only get to make one first impression”, and it is an invaluable one in terms of whether or not you make a sale and attract new customers to your service.

Keep in mind that branding is for the outsider, the customer, who does not know what you know about the product. It has to speak to the skill, care, and quality you know went into the product but they have to absorb at a glance. If you have a particular target audience, it needs to reflect their values and interests as much as it shows off your product.

For every bottle of gin there are another fifty looking to take your customers, for every pair of trainers there are ten other brands looking for that money too. This means you’ve got to appeal, and you’re constantly competing for your customers’ interest. Your brand is what makes you appealing. If the branding is to a high standard, and reflects the message of your product effectively, then customers will tend to assume the product itself is made to the same standard. In a world of instant access and endless choice, it is being able to stand out via your brand that helps get you the sale over your competitors.

Your Branding Journey


However, the journey to reaching this ‘high standard’ is not as simple as you may think. Firstly, the branding needs to be in tune with what sets the product apart and the message it’s trying to portray to customers. It is essential to get to the heart of what difference the product is going to make to people, and the tone it seeks to project to potential customers.

Sometimes this can mean going deeper and more intricate than some people realise you can be with a product, because anything can convey a message. Effective branding simply aims to let the customer see the energy and purpose that brought the product to life in the first place.


Once the message that lies at the heart of the product is found, a natural progression through the branding and later design process can begin. This holds true for any product as some of our past work shows, from gin bottles to revolutionary apps for the construction and utilities industry. They all start from the vital place of what it is exactly that makes you as a company or product special.

It is this unifying aspect of branding that means it can be a lightning rod for the desires, future plans, ethos, and message behind a company that employees and customers can rally around. As such, a well defined brand can not only guide advertising and marketing but also engage and align employees with everyone working towards a common goal and idea. Ultimately, employees are no different from customers,  They want a story. They want to know what they do and why they do it. They want to know what’s expected of them by both customers and their leadership. All of this can be helped by effective branding.

In an ideal world, your brand will change how people perceive your brand, drive new business, and increase brand value – but it can have the opposite effect if done incorrectly. Take for example GAP. In 2010 they attempted a rebrand at an estimated cost of $100m as they felt they were in need of modernisation and were suffering from “brand fatigue”. However, the new branding lasted just six days before public outcry forced a reversion. This saga highlighted an often missed aspect of branding which is the emotional connection it makes to your customers. As a classic, the old GAP branding is still in use today for this very reason.


After all, the branding of a product is all about the connection to the consumer, what catches their attention, and what sets you apart from your rivals. The ability to realise a branding solution that works not only for you, but effectively projects the message you are trying to convey is what makes a product ultimately a success. When the branding of a product is in harmony with the message behind the company, ethos and atmosphere it seeks to create, great things are possible. Just ask some of our happy customers!