Charity challenge - 2021km in 2021

When we came back after the Christmas break, like many we all had our New Year Resolutions fresh in our minds and the general consensus was to be more active. Now, personally, I thrive off competition. but more than that, I tend to stick to something more when I’m accountable to someone else. Something we’re really passionate about at Layers is achieving things as a team not just as individuals. We genuinely believe we’re better together and so was born our 2021 challenge.

 

 

The Challenge

 

The aim is to cover (walk, run, cycle, surf, swim or anything else self-powered) 2021km for every member of Team Layers. At the start of the year, we had 5 people on the team (James, Chris, Niall, Jonny and myself – Paula) so our collective total for the year was 10,105km (2021 x 5). That was until Daniel joined the team at the beginning of February. We’ve pro-rated his contribution for the year based on the month he wasn’t with us and his total comes out at 1850km, hiking up our total (pun intended 😏) to 11,955km to collectively hit before the end of 2021.

 

To put that into perspective we’ll have done just shy of 48 marathons EACH by the end of the year, or collectively we’ll have gone to the North Pole and back, and then back to the North Pole again. Luckily we won’t be stranded there at the end of the year 🥶

 

 

The Reason

 

Most people fail their new year resolutions by February, but we don’t want to be most people soooooo we threw down a challenge that doesn’t seem too difficult when broken down into daily targets (it works out 5.5km per person per day) BUT with this challenge consistency is key. Sticking with it past February is necessary (especially for those who thought it was too cold to go for a walk in January 🤭).

 

Although this is a collective goal rather than an individual challenge, we all have our own reasons for doing it. As part of our efforts, we’ll be fundraising for charities that are near and dear to our hearts.

 

 

The Charities

 

James – Chron’s & Colitis UK

Chris – Macmillan Cancer Support

Niall – The Haemophilia Society

Paula – CLAPA (Cleft Lip & Palate Association)

Jonny – Music Venue Trust

Daniel – CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)

Take a look at our Team page on Just Giving, have a read of our individual pages and find out why these charities are so close to our hearts:

www.justgiving.com/team/Layers2021challenge

 

Stay up to date with our efforts here: Layers.studio/2021km-challenge

 

We appreciate any donations, shares and encouragement along the way.


Layers turns 5 - Birthday messages from the team

Birthday messages from the team

James

 

I have so much to say about the last 5 years but that would make a lonnnnng birthday message so I’ll save that for another post 😏

 

For now, all I want to say is 5 years ago, I was determined to start my own design business and do things differently. Better. I truly think we’ve achieved that! I’m grateful to the team and the clients that have gotten us to this point.

 

I’ve never been as excited about Layers as I am right now and 5 years in, that’s a great place to be.

Chris

 

I’ve been with Layers almost since the beginning – worked on some cool projects, worked with some great businesses and had the privilege of working with some incredibly talented people. We’ve also made mistakes along the way but we’ve learnt from them and grown to be the team we are today as a result of them so I’m excited to see what we can do over the next 5 years.

Niall

 

Happy 5th Birthday to Layers! Can’t quite believe I’ve been part of this team for almost 2 ½ years, I’ve loved every second! When I think back to what I was doing 5 years ago, I was halfway through my Uni Degree, a lot of long nights procrastinating on assignments and playing video games, not too much has changed 😉 All joking aside, I can’t wait to help Layers grow and I’m excited for what’s to come in the future!

Paula

 

Happy frickin’ birthday to us 🥳 There are certain birthdays that feel bigger than others and 5 is definitely one of them. It’s a huge achievement and although I haven’t been with Layers since day 1, I’ve known you from the start and have considered you friends for a long time. I couldn’t be more proud to be part of such an incredibly talented team and to get to work with the amazing people and businesses that are our clients.

Jonny

 

Layers is 5 years old and 5 years ago I hadn’t even finished my A levels! Layers is my first and only experience of working in the design world and being here full time for the past 4 and a half months has been great. Definitely missing the days in the office while I was on placement, especially the daily lunchtime crosswords (I can count my contributions on one hand 🖐️). In my short time here I have worked on a lot of projects and it’s always been a goal of mine to see my work and contributions used in a physical setting and it’s great to be able to see that happening.

Daniel

 

I’ve joined the team just as they’ve hit their 5-year milestone and wow what a start it’s been! The team here really know their stuff and they’ve welcomed me like I’ve been working with them for years! Their bespoke yet laser-focused approach to every project and the value they place on everyone’s views in order to achieve the best results for our clients has me really excited for the years to come, I can’t wait to see the amazing things we can achieve together!


5 Years of Business Banner

Layers turns 5!

Layers turns 5!

As far as milestones go, this feels like a big one, maybe more so because of the trials of 2020 and running a business during a global pandemic. Add to that the fact that 80% of businesses fail within the first 3 years and it definitely feels like a milestone that needs to be celebrated soooooo…

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US! 🥳🥳🥳

‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’

 

It was Einstein that said ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’ and this is the ethos on which Layers is built.

 

Layers was born out of a belief that things could be done in a better way, so we challenge ourselves, our clients and our partners to explore the possibility of a better way to reach our goals rather than simply the way we know.

 

The way we achieve this is by involving our entire team from the offset and throughout on a project, so the solutions we implement and the advice we give is truly holistic in nature.

In keeping with this, our birthday series will feature insights from all 5 members of the team…

Keep your eyes peeled and have some cake to celebrate with us! 🎂

Hear from the team here:

Birthday messages from Team Layers


Cars Grand Prix Illustration

Tips to help you hit your year-end goals

Strategy

noun

 

; a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.

When it comes to strategy, a lot of businesses use their year-end as an opportunity to reflect and set out their plans for the following year. While I agree that this is a great time to reflect and plan for the year ahead, I want to explain why a one-off exercise isn’t gonna cut it as well as highlight some useful building blocks for creating a solid strategic plan to get you closer to your goals.

Set SMART goals

 

Strategy drives decisions. Every decision made by businesses should take into consideration whether it takes them closer to or further from their overall goals so it’s important that you have clearly defined goals. I’m not bringing anything new to the party when I say be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timebound) about the goals you set but it is still worth highlighting. 

 

The main one for me here is measurable! If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. 

 

By focussing on measurable metrics, you can essentially work backwards and understand what output is required to hit your targets. 

 

For example, if I currently get 1 new client for every 10 proposals sent, to get 10 new clients, I either need to send 100 proposals or I can look at ways of improving my conversion rate.

Write them down

 

This one is short and sweet. People that write down their goals are between 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to achieve those goals than those that don’t write them down. Please please please don’t just internalise your ambitions. Write them down, shout them from the rooftop and you’ll be more likely to realise your goals.

Break it down

 

So you’ve set your goals. Now what? Well, these goals can feel intimidating given the magnitude of what you aim to achieve and this is often the reason why many fail. Set yourself up for success by reverse engineering your goals into smaller more manageable milestones.

 

Then break each milestone down into daily tasks and habits. It takes an average of 66 days for an action to become a habit so start small and add one at a time. Small differences elicit great changes when they are repeatedly performed so be consistent.

 

| “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”

Revisit your goals

 

Revisiting your goals is important but so too is the frequency with which you do this. There is little point in setting annual targets and then only checking in on them in a years time. Reflect on a quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily basis. 

 

When you revisit your goals, it gives you an opportunity to celebrate the little wins, evaluate your current strategy and assess how to move forward. Be honest with yourself and ask, have you been doing what you said you would? What could you improve? Are your daily actions taking you closer to or further from your goals?

 

Remember that your current position is less important than your trajectory so if you’re doing a lot of front-loaded work and you believe it will pay off in the long run then stick with it.

 

Don’t fall victim to the sunk cost fallacy though – just because you’ve invested a lot of time, effort and money into your current plan shouldn’t be reason enough to stick with it. If it’s not working, adapt the plan. You’ve already lost that time, effort and money so don’t expend even more unnecessarily.

 

| “If the plan doesn’t work change the plan but never the goal”

Be accountable

 

Humour me for a minute and think about a Formula 1 team. A Formula One driver is only one member* of a huge team (*there are 2 drivers in every team) employing hundreds of people, including the Team Boss, Aerodynamics team, Design team, Engineers, Commercial team and many more. A standard Formula One season will comprise of 20 Grand Prix races (+/- a couple). I’ll not mention the 2020 season! 🙊

 

Sure, they’ll have a plan for the entire season but they’ll revisit their plan regularly and assess how they are doing against their goals and what needs to happen in order to achieve them. From qualifiers to practice laps to the race itself, the ‘back office’ team are in the driver’s ear (literally) advising on what is happening on other parts of the course, when to make a pit stop, how their competitors are doing etc. That constant feedback loop is everpresent even when things are going to plan, or maybe everything goes to plan because of the constant feedback. 

 

Regardless, this means the success of the driver and the wider team is not down to the driver alone. To execute their plan, an F1 team requires a huge amount of teamwork and every individual is accountable for the overall success of the team. Likewise, in a business, a specific department or individual person isn’t the sole reason for the success of the business. Everyone has their strengths so by playing to them and striving for a shared company-wide goal, everyone is accountable and more importantly, everyone is valued.

 

| “For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack”

Make adjustments

 

Every call, every meeting, every project you complete, take a minute to evaluate the good and the bad. What did you do well and what could you improve? Get your wider team involved in this too – a fresh perspective could prove invaluable. 

 

The same way that Lewis Hamilton (other Formula 1 drivers are available) will receive feedback throughout every race, every lap, every corner he turns, we too should be evaluating our performance and making adjustments as we go.

Basically, what I’m saying is in order to execute your strategy well, you need commitment from the entire team. So, this year when you plan for the year ahead and set your goals, make sure everyone in your organisation is aware of them. Write them down so you and the team are reminded of them daily. Revisit them often and don’t be afraid to change tact if your original plan doesn’t work.


Aesthetics or Function Banner

Aesthetics or Function - what is more important?

Aesthetics or Function – what is more important?

You’ve heard the question ‘Is looks or personality more important?’. The truth is, most of us like to think we’re not as shallow as we actually are and that personality trumps looks every time, but that’s often not the case. 

For us to give someone a chance in the first place, there has to be an initial attraction, hence the inclusion of a picture on dating sites. Personality is essentially a secondary filter. Personality is what makes us want to see them again. Personality keeps us engaged…or, what makes us disengage! At this point, it doesn’t matter how much of a fittie they are, if you don’t ‘click’ then it’s probably not going to go any further which is why a lot of first dates never make it to a second.

 

Yeah, but why is this relevant to my business I hear you ask? Well, because there are a lot of similarities between your website and dating. 

 

It’s irrelevant how well your website functions and how seamless the experience is for your users if it doesn’t look great because if it doesn’t look great, your target audience won’t want to engage in the first instance.

 

Likewise, it’s pointless having a great looking website that doesn’t work when potential customers land on it. Clicking on buttons that don’t take you anywhere, filling in a contact form and realising when you get to the end that it won’t send, waiting for what seems like an eternity for a page to load and the list of poor experiences goes on.

 

When designing something, making it look good should be a given. It should be expected. It should never be a question. Something that is beautifully designed will invite initial engagement and great functionality, UX, UI, personality or whatever you want to call it will keep users engaged!

 

But, if the functionality is poor, it doesn’t matter how good something looks, engagement will drop off a cliff edge and no amount of aesthetics will be able to claw it back!

 

There has been a lot of noise recently around the NHS Track & Trace system and none of the outrage seems to stem from the aesthetics of the app but rather its functionality and the government’s slightly adapted Ronseal slogan ‘doesn’t do what it says on the tin’.

 

So, is aesthetics or functionality more important? To be perfectly honest they’re both as important as the other. A website that is aesthetically pleasing will invite engagement and good functionality will keep your users engaged. You don’t need to sacrifice one for the other. That’s why our ethos is to design and build purpose-driven solutions, not just pretty pictures!


Hikers Going Up A Mountain

Collaboration - why is it so important?

Collaboration

noun

 

; the action of working with someone to produce something.

Collaboration is the joining of forces (individual or organisational) for the purpose of achieving a shared objective.  It can and should happen within teams, departments, cross-departmentally, within organisations and between organisations.

 

Collaboration is so ingrained in the way we work nowadays that we rarely notice that we’re collaborating. Tools like Slack and Trello make it easier than ever to work together on projects. They allow teams to seamlessly share knowledge, even when working remotely and when we’re not on top of our game (which we can’t be 100% of the time) we could all use a helping hand.

 

The Premier League’s top goal scorers thrive when they have a good assist, Dolce would have been nothing without Gabbana, and Ben without Jerry is a thought I never want to have again 🤤

 

There are so many benefits to collaborating of which I’ve expanded on just a handful below.

Benefits of collaborating

 

Strengthens relationships

Collaboration removes the ‘them’ vs ‘us’ mentality that siloed or regional teams often have and it helps create one unified workforce that becomes a driver for your business to achieving a common goal.

 

Enhances your team

Trusted partners act as an extension to your team and vice versa, you will act as an extension to theirs. For smaller organisations especially, this can prove extremely useful when stacking up against larger organisations on pitches and increases the value you provide to your clients.

 

Improves learning

By encouraging collaboration you create a workplace centred around learning and development which in turn allows your team to learn from each other’s mistakes as well as their own.

 

Increases efficiency

I strongly believe in working smarter not harder so if someone has done it before and can teach you in a few minutes what would take hours to learn yourself then that sharing of knowledge isn’t just encouraged but essential to the growth of your organisation.

 

Expands opportunities

Think about music collaborations. Working with another artist opens doors for both parties. It widens your fan base by tapping into the other artist’s fans. From a business perspective, working with businesses that provide complementary services to yours means you both have a trusted source of pre-qualified leads.

Finally, we want to say a massive THANK YOU to the amazing businesses and freelancers we have the pleasure of collaborating with on a regular basis:

Nebula Labs – Native app development

 

50:50 Future – Diversity & Inclusion experts

 

CUBED – Business strategists

Lucy Kyriakidou – Illustrator

 

Jade Gillham – Digital Marketing Freelancer

 

Nicole Dixon – Pattern and Textiles illustrator

Team of Hikers Going Up A Mountain

“If you want to go fast, go alone.

If you want to go far, go together.”

African proverb


Tips for working from home during the Coronavirus outbreak

Tips for working from home during the Coronavirus outbreak

Paula DonnellyBy Paula Donnelly|19th March 2020|12 Minutes

As we navigate through these unprecedented times, be aware that although you are having to negotiate unfamiliar, and for some, scary scenarios such as working from home and homeschooling, know that you are not alone!

 

It may not be a cure for Coronavirus but if it helps with your current situation then I’d say it’s worthwhile sharing. So in the spirit of ‘we’ll get through this together’, here are some tips on working from home 👇👇👇

Stick to your routine

 

That means getting up at your normal time. You’ll thank me when it’s time to go back to the office and it’s not like facing the 1st day back at school after the summer holidays! 

 

We’re creatures of habit so if you normally get up and go to the gym in the morning, how about opting for a home workout instead? Our friends at Gym Plan have a free app for those of you on Apple devices with lots of inspo on workouts you can do at home without any equipment. If you normally battle through traffic, line up some toy cars and scream at them for a bit. (I joke 😂 Kinda 😐)

Photo by Henry Becker on Unsplash

Get dressed for work

 

Getting home from work and into my comfies is my way of distinguishing the working day from my home life. So the same reasoning applies to working from home. Dressing for work affirms a commitment to actually working and it translates into being more productive.

Comfort ≠ Productivity

Create a workspace

 

Although it’s tempting to work from your bed or recline on the sofa, best practice is to set up a work station preferably in a home office but if you don’t have this, your dining room table will do the trick. You’re less likely to get distracted by Frasier, Home & Away or The Chase (Personal fave 🤓) when you have a designated work station and it’s much better for your posture too.

Get away from your work station

 

It’s not good to be sat all day in front of a screen. You’ve probably gained an hour or 2 by only having to commute from your bedroom to your dining room so use them wisely. Go for a walk, get some fresh air, have a stretch and actively remove yourself from your workstation. We can only concentrate intensely on a given task for short periods of time so break up your day.

Stay in touch with your colleagues

 

Tools such as Slack, Zoom and Whereby make it easier than ever to keep in touch with your team. 

 

Don’t just leave it until you have a question though. Keep in touch throughout the day like you normally would in the office. 

 

Check-in with everyone and see what they got up to last night (Likely not a lot considering the current situation), get Netflix recommendations, find out if they have any tips for staying focused etc.

 

Stop for team (virtual) coffee breaks:

Female and male colleague having a cuppa over a video call

Separate ‘home jobs’ and ‘work jobs’

 

Yes, you could very well just put a load of laundry on and get it out on the line. It’s a nice day after all with great drying (God, I sound like my Mum!). Maybe just wash the bed sheets and give the bathroom a quick clean while you’re there. Maybe just run the duster over the living room. 

 

See where I’m going here? It’s never just one thing. 

 

Leave the laundry for after work hours. Make your bed when you get up as normal. Stick to your routine otherwise you’ll end up working at 10pm and seriously blurring the lines between your work and home life.

Stay safe and much love from Layers 😘


Top 7 reasons for rebranding

Top 7 reasons for rebranding

Paula DonnellyBy Paula Donnelly|4th March 2020|12 Minutes

On average, businesses rebrand every 7-10 years. Sometimes, a rebrand is compulsory however more often than not the company, product offering, or audience has evolved and so the brand too must evolve in line with this.

 

There are sometimes multiple contributing factors that motivate a rebrand but commonly there is one main motivator. Below are the top 7 main reasons for rebranding 👇 👇 👇

Bad reputation ❌ 🙅 🛑

 

If a brand has a bad rep and business is suffering as a result, rebranding can ensure the negative connotations with the brand are dissipated.

 

A prime example of this is the new CEO for RBS Group, Alison Rose announcing a rebrand of RBS Group to Natwest Group later this year (2020). Alison said her focus is on making sure they’re a ‘safe, smart bank for the future’ and considering the association of ‘government bailout’ every time you hear ‘RBS’, a rebrand makes complete sense.

 

Topically, with the spread of Covid-19 a.k.a Coronavirus, 38% of beer-drinking Americans cited they would under no circumstances drink Corona beer (according to Uber Facts). With their worst quarter in over a decade and no signs of Coronavirus spread slowing, it begs the question, should Corona be considering a rebrand?

Internationalisation 🌍 🌎 🌎

 

Sometimes rebranding is necessary so your product can be sold internationally.

 

Do you remember Jif? In Spain, this would be pronounced ‘Hif’ so the company rebranded to ‘Cif’.

 

Or the Vauxhall Nova which, accordingly to myth, didn’t sell particularly well in Spain or Latin America because ‘no va’ in Spanish means ‘doesn’t go’.

A German company introduced a brand of beer called Fucking Hell in 2010. The brand name was a deliberate choice which referred to the village of Fucking in Austria, combined with the German word Hell which refers to pale lager. The European Union Intellectual Property Office initially refused to grant a trademark for the beer on the grounds that it contained an English expletive but relented on appeal.

 

Personally, I think this beer would sell particularly well around Newcastle. C’mon, send it over!

Copyright Fucking Hell Beer

Changing Markets 💱 💱 💱

 

Companies can face a serious threat of closure if they don’t ‘move with the times’. Changes to requirements may mean offering an additional product/service or pivoting completely in a sense of ‘out with the old and in with the new’.

 

HMV was forced into administration twice in the space of 6 years because they failed to evolve to meet the needs and wants of their audience and the move to entertainment being consumed digitally. Although adding a new product may not have been enough. A simultaneous rebrand would certainly help convey their diversification into other markets and aid their survival.

Outdated image 🧓 👉 🆕

 

What was trendy 20 years ago, or even 5 years ago, may not be so trendy now. We see it with fashion when we look back at pictures of our parents growing up but brands too can come across as old-fashioned if they have not been updated. Guinness does an impeccable job of keeping their brand fresh and this transfers to their adverts with them being released seasonally and topically. The Six Nations adverts are some of their best but the ‘Shane’ advert is my personal favourite:

Aligning Brand Portfolio 📏 📐 🖇️

 

When a business has many brands in their portfolio it often leads to high costs when it comes to maintaining and promoting the brand. Rebrand­ing can ensure that the entire brand portfolio is aligned and details a clear narrative about the organisation. Virgin does this well, with its companies (Money, Media, Mobile, Atlantic, Holidays and Trains) all being similarly identified. Positive association with one will translate to all categories; however the same is true of negative publicity.

Mergers and Acquisitions 👬 👫 👭

 

Generally, any change in business ownership will lead to a rebrand, not only to make the change apparent but to comply with legal and regulatory requirements as well. In the case of spin-offs, the new company is required to develop its own brand. This expresses that it is no longer part of the larger organization.

 

The merger of T-Mobile and Orange to EE wasn’t a quick rebranding exercise, rather a careful co-branding exercise that took over 5 years to execute. Their success was due in part to the long-term strategic approach with which they tackled this merger rather than rushing it through.

New CEO 🚀 🔝 👑

 

A new CEO normally equates to a new lease of life within a business. Oftentimes this can lead to major changes that influence the course the company takes. I mentioned the Alison Rose/RBS example under ‘Bad reputation’ however it is equally applicable in the context of a new CEO shaking things up.