Happy Honesty Day

Alison, our Managing Director, discusses the importance of brand honesty in light of Honesty Day earlier this month.

Like many annual celebratory days, Honesty Day originated in the USA but, unlike most others, this one doesn’t encourage the purchase of flowers and the romancing of a beau, instead, was designed to promote honesty in politics.

According to former press secretary of Maryland, M Hirsh Goldberg, creator of Honesty Day, the average person lies about 200 times a day (admittedly, some of them are white lies!). In political terms, many of these untruths may be explained away as propaganda or campaigning. But we all know that promises made and un-kept can be extremely damaging to the reputation of the originator.

Few would argue against honesty being one of the most prized and precious qualities in human relationships of any kind. This includes our relationships with brands. In the same way that people form bonds with people who share their values, people also form bonds with brands that live up to their own ethical expectations. Honesty is an integral part of the decision making process that leads to purchase and brand loyalty.

If we consider the fashion industry, with its highly complex supply chains, history has shown how difficult it can be for brands to be 100% sure of the origins of their products and to monitor the ethical behaviour of their suppliers. Yet, it is vital for them to do so if they are to maintain their customers’ loyalty, as brands like Primark and H&M have found to their cost. Whether they were guilty of knowingly buying from unethical sources, or were the victims of suppliers’ dishonesty, the legacy of their issues will continue to damage their brands for many years while they rebuild customer trust.

When crisis strikes, there is much truth in bestselling author and entrepreneur James Altucher’s words: “Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure”. But, the harsh reality is that once the damage is done, it can take many years to rebuild trust in a brand’s honesty.

As an agency founded on the principles of a conscious business, honesty is embedded deep in our culture. Our brand of honesty isn’t the ‘honest guv’nor’ variety sometimes associated with the ‘spin’ of agency operations. It is a real, deep rooted honesty which we communicate through our core values, helping to keep us on-brand in our internal and external operations.

In the words of William Shakespeare: “No legacy is so rich as honesty”.

Three of our favourite social media tools

Social Media Tools main image.
Social media tools are essential for creating and managing your social media accounts in a professional and efficient way. The Conscious Communications team has chosen three of its favourite tools that will assist you in each step of your content creation – and better yet, they’re free!

Select: Pixabay
When choosing an image to post on social media you need to ensure that the images are free of any copyright laws that could potentially get you into hot water. There are a number of websites that you can turn to that offer thousands of royalty free images and will ensure you adhere to these laws. One of our favourites is Pixabay. All images on Pixabay are free from copyright under Creative Commons CC0, which means that you can download, modify and distribute the images as you please. Pixabay has over 930,000 stock photos, vectors and art illustrations for you to choose from. You also have the option to refine your search by media type, orientation, category, size and colour so you can find exactly what it is you are looking for quickly and easily.

Design: Canva
Once you know what it is you want to say, and know the image you want to use, you need to then create great looking content. Producing a social media post with both text and image doesn’t only look great but research by eMarketer found that adding an image to your post can result in an 87% interaction rate on Facebook and Media Blog suggests that adding an image can trigger a 35% increase in retweets on Twitter. Canva is a great tool for content creation – one of its main attractions is the ease in which you can navigate the programme; you can simply select which template you wish to use and build your content from this. ‘Social media’ is our most used template as it creates an image which fits the image specifications for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. You can then upload your chosen image or select one of the images already available to you on Canva, and choose a font or template text design to write your text onto the image. For example, at Easter you might wish to create a post that includes the message ‘Happy Easter!’ for your social media audience accompanied by a photo of a chick, egg or bunny in the background – a fun and vibrant way to convey a message to your followers. However, there are also pre-made layouts for those that aren’t as creatively confident as others.

Send: Hootsuite
After you’ve created your social media posts you now just need to post them! We recommend using social media scheduling tools to send posts for ease and efficiency. Hootsuite is a great tool to manage different aspects of your social media accounts, allowing you to schedule content in advance so you can be sending out content even when you’re away from your desk. This platform has a browser-based dashboard which supports a wide range of social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube, so all of your key social media channels can stay active for maximum exposure.

Once you’ve posted your content you can sit back and watch your posts get liked, retweeted and reposted by your social media followers and beyond and watch the engagement on your social media channels flourish!

The evolution of a logo

evolution of a logo main image

Paul, our Creative Director, discusses what’s in a logo, and how a logo can evolve over time in our latest blog post.

The logo – a graphic mark, emblem or symbol commonly used to identify a company or product; it is not the brand, nor the identity, but more of a graphic summary.

If you liken it to a cake, a logo is the cherry on top, which rather than describe the company or product, should symbolise it in a distinct and more importantly, memorable way.

Over time our familiarity with a logo adds to its strength and its main function – recognition.

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Rather like a painting in an art gallery, beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder. Our opinions on logos are often very subjective – take the 2012 Olympic logo for example:

As a sports fanatic I dislike this one as it evokes none of the ‘joi de vivre’ I feel an Olympic logo should exhibit. It is certainly different from past Olympic logos but I’m not convinced that being different makes it good.

I prefer the logo for the 2016 games in Rio which to me feels human, celebratory and relevant.

Rio 2016 logo
The evolutionary process

Many logos stand the test of time extremely well – they have a timeless quality about them – the V&A Museum and World Wildlife Fund are both good examples:


V&A logoWWF logo




Well-known brands often update their logos over time so that they remain relevant and ‘of the now’. This is done via an evolutionary design process so that the essence and equity already established with the existing mark is retained.

A great example of this is Qantas, Australia’s largest domestic and international airline. Established in the 1920’s, Qantas was originally called ‘Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services.’ Last updated in 2007, the logo has recently evolved once more to include a new, paired down, icon and new typography.

Qantas 1st logo images

Qantas 2nd logo images

Qantas 3rd logo image

Released in 2016, this is a recent favourite of mine. I liked the previous logo which was bold and confident; typifying Australia for me. The evolution of the icon and the sophisticated typography brings an already striking logo into the present beautifully.

Accenture, one of the largest consulting firms in the world, recently updated its logo. The new logo uses a new typeface along with a new identity system.

Accenture logos

This is a classic case of modern logos becoming just a little too bland. The old logo at least used a distinctive typeface which had character, whereas the new logo seems to have been stripped bare of any character. The new visual identity is appealing but the logo doesn’t do it for me.

Accenture logo 2

Conscious collaboration with international colleagues

Whether the UK is in or out of the European Union, the Conscious Communications team will continue to thoroughly enjoy our international working! We are incredibly privileged in our day to day activities to work with people from across the globe, from Cambridge to Washington, Germany to China.

We are currently getting to grips with gamification through our work with REACTOR – an exciting project with Anglia Ruskin University and the European Regional Development Fund. REACTOR was launched on the evening of Wednesday 29 March at the Big Games Challenge 2017 introductory seminar: the Challenge put to local SMEs is to consider the ways that applied gaming can enhance visitors’ experiences to the region. It’s not too late to participate – the Challenge is still accepting applications.

Since 2013 the team has championed Marshal Papworth through our work with the charity, which enables students from developing countries to develop practical agricultural and horticultural skills and valuable knowledge by attending training in the UK. In turn the students return to their local communities and are able to share what they have learnt to better meet the future needs of generations to come! The students also host a Taste of Africa event each year in which they, supported by the team at Marshal Papworth, can showcase some of their home cultures – click here to view images of the 2016 event.

The Conscious Communications team works closely with members of the International Baccalaureate (IB) team, based in The Hague, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Morocco, Spain, Germany, Turkey and the U.A.E, to name just a few. This gives Sophie, Senior PR and Marketing Executive, as well as the wider team, regular insights into the cultures and customs – and different (!) climates – of these countries, but even more than that we have been able to develop a real appreciation for the IB’s ethos, in which being internationally-minded is a cornerstone.  In fact, the IB values an international outlook so much that its programmes are designed to increase future generations’ understanding of languages, cultures, and how to be active participants in a global society.

Hannah, our Content and Communications Manager, is embedded in the team at St Mary’s School, Cambridge and has recently worked on the school’s termly magazine, Accolade, which on this occasion celebrates all things Modern Foreign Languages (MFL). The school actively embraces and celebrates its diversity – the student body boasts 30 different nationalities and a similar number of different native languages (and the two do not always correlate)! The magazine looks at how important it is for schools to invest in MFL, and the opportunities languages provide to young people (and older people), but also looks at the experience from the other perspective: that of all the day and boarding students, and staff members, for whom English is not a native language and yet is the common language of the school and the language used in lessons.

Switching from Modern Foreign Languages to Mathematics, Senior PR and Marketing Executive, Kathryn, has been working with Cambridge Mathematics to promote the work they are doing. Director of Cambridge Mathematics, Lynne McClure, spent a week in Beijing reviewing the differences and similarities between the mathematics curricula in the UK and China, and discussing how the two countries can collaborate to create a mathematics education that benefits students from all countries and backgrounds – taking the very best from both countries to develop evidence of best practice from around the world.

As a country we may be obsessing about Brexit, but we expect to meet and greet, correspond and collaborate with international colleagues as much as ever before!

Top 10 Typography Tips

Typography main image

Typography is the art and technique of arranging type (letters, numbers and punctuation) to make written language legible and appealing when displayed. To master the arrangement of type, you must first look at the basics. Alan, our Senior Designer and Sophie, our Senior PR and Marketing Executive have shared their 10 top tips on how to make your typography effective.

1 – Learn the basics
Your first step towards more effective typography is to learn about the art. If you’re unfamiliar with its concepts, you might think that typography must be a fairly simple discipline. The anatomy of a typeface involves very specific jargon, our graphic below displays some of the terms that you should familiarise yourself with.

Anatomy of Letters Typography

2 – Watch your kerning 
Kerning is altering the space between characters or letters in a piece of text to be printed, and is usually specific to headlines and subheads. It is important to note that this is a separate issue to tracking, which adjusts the space between all letters over large areas of text.

Conscious Communications’ top tip: One tip we find particularly useful is to kern upside down, as this allows us to see the letterforms and the spaces between them without actually reading the words.

Kerning graphic

3 – Tracking
It can be a tempting fix: you’re short of space, and you need to fit in a certain amount of text, so what can you do? You make the tracking (or letter spacing) a little bit tighter. The problem is, when your letters are too close readability is significantly decreased and can make your design look crowded. Edit the copy (where possible) as a solution to this issue. Conversely, headlines can often benefit from a little negative tracking as spaces between characters tend to ‘open up’ at larger point sizes.

4 – Leading
Leading applies to the vertical space between whole lines of text from one baseline to the next between successive lines of text. Leading is usually set (in points) to a greater size than that of the type, preventing ascenders and descenders clashing. The spacing between lines also affects legibility – you don’t want the spacing to be too tight or too loose; both make copy hard to read and a visually ‘off’ design.

Leading graphic

5 – Contrast your fonts
Choosing contrasting fonts is the first of two typography ‘combination’ secrets to create interest in your typography. This prevents the design from feeling too heavily weighted in one particular style, creating something that feels modern and balanced.

Conscious Communications’ top tip: Pairing a serif (fonts such as Times New Roman) with a sans serif, meaning a font without a serif (for example Univers) is a fail-safe trick to keep a design looking fresh and relevant. Take a look at our first graphic to remind yourself of what a serif looks like. The graphic below shows how the impact of a traditional headline can be changed with the addition of a contrasting fonts.

Contrasting fonts in logos
The anatomy of a serif

6 – Size and weights
This tip goes back to the time when type was set in metal. Each letter was set in a block and the size of the block was the point size, not the character on the block. Type a word, select the font Times New Roman and set the size to 18 point. Type the word again and choose Helvetica in 18 point. You will see that even though they are both set to 18 points they appear different sizes.

Conscious Communications’ top tip: It’s worth noting that type sizes are not fixed so the point size will be different according to the font you are using.

7 – Punctuation marks
Apostrophes (’) and quotation marks (“ ”) are not the same as inch mark straight quotes. Go to the preferences in your desktop publishing application and activate Smart Quotes (also known as typographer’s quotes, curly quotes). This will stop you typing the inch mark. Smart quotes will vary between serif and sans-serif typefaces and will be angled, curly or curvy however they will never point straight up-and-down.
Punctuation graphic

8 – Double spaces
Do not double space between sentences. Even though many of us grew up learning to type placing two spaces after a full stop, that practice is now considered outdated and unnecessary. Double spacing creates visual breaks in a block of text that interrupts a reader’s flow.

9 – Hyphens, en and em dashes
Hyphens (the minus sign on your keyboard) are used when a word breaks into two lines or to join two words, for example family-owned. The width of an ‘em’ dash equals the point size currently in use, while the ‘en’ dash is half that width. ‘En’ dashes usually appear with spaces either side whereas the ‘em’ dash does not.

‘En’ dashes are used to join two numbers together, for examples 22 – 23, or to join words that describe a range, e.g July – October 2017.

‘Em’ dashes tend to work better than commas to set apart the unique idea in the main clause of a sentence: “Sometimes painting for financial return—rather than full creative pleasure—is really fulfilling.”

10 – Webfonts and the rental revolution
If you were designing a website during the early 1990s, there was a limited amount of fonts you could safely use. Theoretically you could use any font you wanted, however in order for that font to display correctly on the user end, the computer would need to have the font installed on it. To address this, Apple and Microsoft incorporated propriety fonts like Arial, Georgia and Verdana into their respective operating systems. Consequently these fonts, along with around 10 others, formed a core set of fonts that were referred to as ‘web-safe’.

To overcome this issue, we suggest using technology such as Typekit, Font Squirrel or Google Fonts which allow commercial fonts to be served to and embedded into websites remotely without the need for them to be present on the end users computer.

Our favourite marketing moments (part two)

Last week, half of our team shared their favourite influential campaigns to commemorate the Advertising Club of New York’s 120th anniversary. This week, the same theme continues. What’s been your favourite marketing moment?


Friends Furever by Android

Chosen by Sophie, Senior PR and Marketing Executive

“Besides the obvious ‘aww’ value, Android’s Friends Furever is the ideal complement to the ‘Be together, not the same’ campaign that the company launched in 2015. Showcasing a series of cute animals always shares well, and it certainly did in this case as Friends Furever received 6.5 million shares and is the most viral advert ever according to unruly.”

Android’s effort shows us that by adding clever brand messaging (and maybe a duckling or two), you may have a hit on your hands. Friends Furever was one in a series of TV adverts that featured in the ‘Be together, not the same’ campaign, which was launched to set Android apart from Apple. The campaign focuses on the tailored services its devices offer (i.e. customer screens with widgets); poking fun at Apple and its ‘iSheep following’.


The Cinzano series featuring Joan Collins and Leonard Rossiter

Chosen by Paul, Creative Director 

“Although this campaign was very much of its time (late 70’s) it was clever and memorable for all the right reasons. Everybody remembered the ads – and subsequently the drink!”

Between 1978 and 1983, Joan Collins and Leonard Rossiter appeared in a series of TV adverts for Cinzano Vermouth. The ads were built on a witty repertoire, which managed to incorporate pleasant descriptions of the drink (highlighting Cinzano’s USP) whilst keeping viewers entertained. Last year, The Telegraph even reported that the drink could be making a comeback!


Should’ve by Specsavers

Chosen by Alison, Managing Director

“My favourite long-term campaign has to be Specsavers ‘Should’ve’ – it is such a strong concept that is has carried the brand for years. My favourite in the series has to be the over 60s one where the old couple sit on a bench to eat their sandwiches and find that they’ve actually sat on a rollercoaster.”

‘Should’ve gone to Specsavers’ is a line that has become part of UK culture, evolving to become an integral part of its long-term TV campaign. Having invested nearly £500 million in advertising over 30 years, the company commands a dominant share of voice and consistent revenue growth for the business. A broad appeal, commitment to humour as an advertising tool and distinctive, familiar brand assets that build memory structure have all contributed to £1.1bn of incremental profit over 30 years.


One Doughrection by Pizza Express

Chosen by Hannah, Content and Communications Manager

“I thought it was so clever that Pizza Express used its iconic dough balls to show off their brand personality and to create topical social media content. I feel like this was quite advanced at the time and before everyone else was creating ‘off the cuff’ posts in such timely manner!”

Pizza Express has used its dough balls for a number of characters, or just a way of commenting on popular news, as part of its social media strategy. The One Doughrection image was tweeted the same day as the One Direction, This Is Us, concert film opened in the UK (August 2013).

Our favourite marketing moments (part one)

To commemorate the Advertising Club of New York’s 120th anniversary, team members at Conscious Communications have reminisced on their favourite influential campaigns that have helped to shape what the industry is today. Part two to follow.


1984 by Apple

Chosen by Alan, Senior Designer

“Apple’s 1984 advert was prescient. For those that were not into blind acceptance, who didn’t want to stand in line when they were told to, it showed images of rebellion and hope.”

Listed in the 50 greatest adverts of all time, Apple’s 1984 first aired in the 1984 Super Bowl XVIII advert break. Directed by Ridley Scott, 1984 was awarded the top prize at Cannes and was replayed relentlessly on news programmes following the game. It has been estimated that 1984 generated over $5 million in free publicity.


This Girl Can by Sport England and the National Lottery

Chosen by Zoë, Client Services Director

“The This Girl Can campaign continues to surprise and delight me. The campaign has numerous ‘faces’, all designed to inspire fellow women and I have definitely been inspired by the photos and uplifting tag lines of real stories!”

The This Girl Can campaign is a simple concept; a celebration of active women who are doing ‘their thing’ no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their faces get. The campaign is led by imagery and messaging to tell the story, often with the logo as a secondary element of the advert. The campaign got over 1.6 million women in the UK exercising.


She’s a lady by H&M

Chosen by Kathryn, Senior PR and Marketing Executive

“I wouldn’t say I am a feminist, but I thought it was genius for a clothing brand to step away from the size 2 ‘beautiful’ and celebrate the everyday woman.”

Diversity is always a hot topic (especially in the advertising industry), and H&M’s advert for its autumn/winter 2016 collection features a range of normal women, doing everyday things: the sorts of people you see on your commute to work, the sorts of people you are friends with – the sorts of people you would see shopping in H&M.


#NoMakeUpSelfies for Cancer Research UK

Chosen by Becky, PR and Marketing Administrator

“I loved the rise of the ‘selfless selfie’ – it is a fantastic example of how social media can make a campaign viral to benefit a great cause.”

The #NoMakeUp selfie campaign grew organically in the UK, and ended up raising over two million pounds for Cancer Research UK. Author Laura Lippman started the trend to support a fellow actress whose looks were criticised at the Oscars. Other social media users picked up on the post and the hashtag #breastcancerawareness and donation links to Cancer Research UK were added to the selfies. Because most interesting ideas need a fun spin-off, the hashtag #manupandmakeup also started trending, as men put on makeup to raise money for Prostate Cancer U.K.

Jiminy cricket

Senior PR and Marketing Executive, Kathryn Ford, reminisces on her two volunteer days spent with the PCA Benevolent Fund.  

Many people perceive the lives of professional sportsmen to be full of glamour and glory. It often can be, but less well recognised is the reality that many dedicate their lives to their careers from a very early age, training to be the best, but by 35 it’s over.

There are few careers that require such physical dedication, and carry such risk – one injury can leave you no longer employable. What happens to all those individuals who, having achieved greatness and perhaps even proudly competed, wearing their country’s emblem, are no longer on your TV screen or radio airwaves?

For my charity days this year I chose to support the PCA (Professional Cricket Association) Benevolent Fund, working at two of its fundraising events. The PCA Benevolent Fund is a support network that helps former and current players and their immediate family members in times of hardship and upheaval. The fund provides vital financial support for medical treatment, including emergency operations and physiotherapy, alongside helping individuals who are having difficulty adjusting to life after cricket. The fund has also created the Mind Matters initiative, a confidential helpline that is committed to raising awareness of mental health issues.

To continue its work, the charity hosts a number of fundraising events each year, including the two I was able to attend – the PCA golf day and the Team England Christmas lunch.

As soon as I arrived at Woburn Golf Club for the golf day I was put to work creating goodie bags for each of the 22 teams – something I am very used to doing ahead of events like Brains Eden and FXP that Conscious Communications runs – registering teams and signing people up to the ‘beat the pro’ competition. Working alongside the team, time flew and before I knew it the morning was over and we needed to get the teams onto the course ready for their shotgun starts. Once they were off, the afternoon was spent helping to set the venue up for the dinner, preparing the auction, and ferrying latecomers to the right tee. As with any event, the day had the odd hiccup here and there, but it was great to be able to use the kind of problem solving skills I use at work in practice to support the fund. There really is nothing like the buzz you get from seeing an event go well, especially as we know how much planning goes on in the background. The day was a huge success and it was great to be involved.

The second event I helped out with was a little different; instead of turning up to the green of a golf course I faced the gates of Lord’s cricket ground. The annual Christmas lunch is one of the biggest fundraising events of the year, when cricketers past and present join a host of representatives from a range of supporting organisations to celebrate the sport, and the charity. Again I was involved in setting up tables, checking table plans and ensuring the venue was ready for the guests’ arrival – but with the addition on this occasion of stuffing Christmas crackers with raffle tickets! The event had a truly festive feel, with all guests embracing the time of giving, including one donation of £50,000, given to the fund for educational scholarships.

I also had the opportunity to hear some of the stories from individuals who have received help from the fund, and was inspired to learn more about how much of a difference to peoples’ lives the fund’s work makes – whether it is re-building a ligament, or a life.

It was fantastic to have the opportunity to give both my time and skills to such a great charity and I hope they will have me back next year!

Our daily values reminder


It’s not what you say but what you do – leading by example (whether you’re hoping to positively influence your children, your employees, your congregation) is a successful technique for influencing others’ behaviour.  A positive role model can fuel the strength and goodness within others and motivate kind and giving behaviour, energy and passion.  Conversely, a negative role model can just as easily promote poor behaviour, demotivation, low morale and productivity in others.  A boss who shows no respect for their team will quickly leave them feeling undervalued and unmotivated.  These people have the ability to suck the energy out of an otherwise positive working environment.  At a time when foul words and thoughts appear to spring easily from the mouths of world leaders and are as easily dismissed by their followers for having no importance, it seems to us that the need for each and every one of us to focus on providing positive role models to those around us is greater than ever.

At Conscious Communications we operate by a set of values which the whole team has developed together.  They describe the way that we set out to work with each other and with our clients and suppliers on a daily basis and provide us with an anchor from which to measure our activity.  They ensure that we not only do right by our clients but that we also do right by each other and those working and living around us:

Respect – for our clients and business partners, the environment, local communities and each other

Responsibility – committed to delivering what we promise

Integrity – honesty and openness, where our behaviour matches what we say

Investment – in our continuous learning and development ensuring we deliver innovative and creative solutions

Commitment – striving to ensure we not only deliver quality but we exceed expectations each and every time

Appreciation – we listen to and value others’ contributions and are thankful for their support while offering the same in return

This year, to give us a daily reminder of these values being the things that bind us together and make our work worthwhile, we invested in a small Christmas present for ourselves in the form of these stick note blocks!


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