Think of your ideal client? How would the relationship be? Simple and easy? Low maintenance? Drama-free? When you’re juggling a million and one other things, smooth and breezy interactions seem incredibly appealing. But to build long-lasting and fruitful relationships with clients, our interactions need to be honest, and we need to create a genuine connection with them.

So how can we go from transaction to connection?

Be there in the storm and the calm

How do your clients see you? Are you the saviour who sweeps in to save the day in their time of need? Or are you the quiet confident, ready to lend an ear at any time? If you can be both, you’ll be in a good place.

It’s something David Ogilvy talks about in Confessions of an Ad Man:

“The head of an agency has so much on his plate that he is apt to see his clients only in time of crisis. This is a mistake. If you can get into the habit of seeing clients when the weather is calm, you will establish an easy relationship which may save your life when a storm blows up.”

To be able to help solve clients’ problems and challenges you need to be armed with the insight into what works for them, how they see success and what their goals are. To get an understanding of this goes beyond their top-level strategy, it’s what makes them tick on a day-to-day basis, and the more interaction you have the deeper your understanding will be.

Don’t flatter to deceive

Think your client’s product or service is flawless? Brilliant, be sure to tell them. But if it’s not, don’t flatter to deceive – there’s a strong chance it will come back to bite you.

Ogilvy has words of wisdom on this too:

“It is difficult for a doctor to tell a patient he is suffering from a serious disease, and equally difficult to tell a client his product has a serious fault. But the time comes in the life of every advertising agent when he must grasp this nettle. When I told one client that I had doubts about the consistency of his spaghetti, his reaction was to question whether I could do a good job for any product I disliked… On the whole, however, I have observed an increasing tendency on the part of clients to welcome candour.”

Tell people their offer is flawless, and they will expect immediate outstanding results. And if those results don’t materialise? It’s likely you’ll be in the firing line. Tell clients where you think their strengths and challenges lie and you can focus on amplifying the strengths and together you can work on the challenges.

For a well-functioning relationship, both parties need to feel free to speak their minds. It takes time to build trust but inviting honest feedback from clients from the off and accepting this without pride and hostility will set the tone for open communication as the relationship progresses. Sometimes the client will know their industry and market the best and sometimes you will have the expertise and ideas to change their perspective. But when you have established honesty and openness in the relationship, these discussions become constructive rather than destructive.

Build deeper relationships

Deeper, more honest and connected relationships with clients take time. But the investment is worth it. It will allow you to set realistic goals, expectations, and deliverables – and meet them. You’ll be better positioned to address bottlenecks and potential challenges. And you’ll be armed with all the information and insight you need to better report on your success.

Every relationship is different, but have a think about your current clients – do you really know what their motivations are? Have you a firm grasp of what success looks like for them? Are you investing the right kind of time with them? Do you need more face-to-face meetings and less reporting? Could they benefit from networking in your circle?

The easy client relationship might on the surface free your time up to concentrate on other things. But you might be missing opportunities to foster a deeper and longer-lasting connection.

If creative businesses and organisations are not made central to the government’s economic plans, the UK’s creative industries risk falling behind international competitors.  

That’s the conclusion of a report by the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee.

Following an inquiry into the future of the UK’s creative sector amid increasing global competition and technology-related disruption, the committee said the government’s approach can be categorised as complacent, missing opportunities and failing to recognise the sector’s commercial potential.

All this, the report said, is despite the following statistics:

The UK is world leading in many specialisms within the creative industries, the committee said, but rapid technological advances are changing the nature of the sector, and international competition is rising.

“We heard mounting concern that the UK’s success was being taken for granted, and increasingly at risk,” the report warned.

Among the committee’s key concerns were the government allowing other countries to create more competitive tax incentives, proposals to relax intellectual property law which threaten creative sector business models and a “perception in government that DCMS [Department for Culture, Media and Sport] is the ‘ministry of fun’ rather than a key driver of economic growth”.

Julia Lopez MP, media and data minister within DCMS, referenced the “ministry of fun” description during the inquiry. She said:

“I want it to be understood as the ministry of a major economic growth area, future technologies … it is incredibly important that we do not try to diminish the public perception of what are fundamentally important industries and ones where the UK has a real competitive advantage.”

📢Out now: our report on the UK’s creative industries, covering
👉How technology is disrupting the sector
👉How the UK’s world-leading position is at risk
👉How Government policy can harness the sector’s potential to turn it into an engine of growth


— Lords Communications and Digital Committee (@LordsCommsCom) January 17, 2023

Recommendations to support the UK’s creative industries

The committee made several recommendations including:

The recommendations mirror a report released last September by Bristol Creative Industries which also called for action on R&D tax relief and skills.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston, chair of the Communications and Digital Committee, said:

“The UK’s creative industries are an economic powerhouse and have been a huge success story. But the fundamentals that underpin our success are changing, and rivals are catching up. The government’s failure to grasp both the opportunities and risks is baffling.

“International competitors are championing their creative industries and seizing the opportunities of new technology. But in the UK we’re seeing muddled policies, barriers to success, and indifference to the sector’s potential. We acknowledge the government has introduced important programmes in recent years, but we are concerned past success has bred complacency.

“Our report sets out some immediate challenges that the government can address now.

“These include improving R&D tax policy to stop excluding innovation in the creative sector; abandoning plans to relax intellectual property rules which would undercut our creative businesses; making the Department for Education wake up to the reality that the future lies in blending creative and digital skills rather than perpetuating silos; and urging senior figures across government to take the creative sector’s economic potential more seriously.”

Related content:

A creative force: Unleashing the power of Bristol’s creative industries

What the government should do to support the creative industries

A guide to funding for creative businesses

Getting traction online can be tricky without the right approach, but with a bit of creative thinking, generating online awareness can be done for even the most seemingly ‘stuffy’ brands. 

Digital PR is very important when it comes to SEO, links are crucial to the algorithm for Google, and other metrics like social mentions and branded mentions are great for building your brand online. 

Digital PR and creative content outreach is one of the key pillars of Varn’s full service approach to SEO, and covers a wide range of tactics and strategies around research and competitor analysis, content creation, and digital PR/link building. 

Here we take a closer look at digital PR and why it is crucial if you weren’t your business to succeed online and your website to rank well in search engines. 


What’s the difference between digital PR and traditional PR?

There are a few key differences between digital PR and traditional PR even though they are often two complimentary channels. 

Digital PR is a term which typically applies to more online activities and covers but is not limited to the following:

Traditional PR can often work as a stand-alone push and in many instances targets traditional media like print and television advertisements and placements. The ways that you measure success are also more apparent than with traditional PR. 

Whereas a television campaign or print media advert may have reached a certain target demographic, tracking the actual numbers of people that saw it can be difficult and tracking the revenue impact is often even more challenging. 

Whilst the tracking and right KPIs need to be set up in advance, measuring success is often easier with digital PR. 

Brand mentions social media interactions and link coverage are all easier to track and set key performance indicators against. Other follow-on metrics can also be used like ranking increases when looking at SEO and the potential increased revenue impact from these increases in SERP performance. 

What is the process for digital PR? 

Once you have content to reach out with (be it survey data, products, commentary or infographics) it is time to put together the target publication list. We work with the client to understand their ideal placements and tie it in with data on sites that we know move the needle when it comes to SEO value. 

Before we start with the outreach, we ensure we have a list of ideal target rankings that we want to improve. You need to drive the right keywords to the right pages, which is why developing a proper keyword map is crucial, this is typically done as part of the Technical SEO onboarding process in the form of an audit. 

Once we have developed the list we work through it in our quality control process then start with the outreach. Leveraging a tool like Buzzstream is great as you can scale the outreach and gain better insights into how each campaign is performing. 

After that comes the outreach, email scheduling software helps you greatly scale up the efforts, from that we can then get a more targeted plan together to get placements on sites depending on the individual publications content guidelines and tone of writing.

After the outreach, we report on the links attained and over time are able to measure the impact on rankings. If we are working on an ongoing campaign, then these reports are more regular and can help build up a better picture when it comes to the digital PR impact on SEO in terms of rankings. 

The diagram below shows one of the key differences in the method of outreach for digital and traditional PR. Whereas with traditional PR you want to get the content in front of the right audience straight away, with digital PR you are just as concerned with getting coverage on high-authority websites and increasing your rankings within Google. This way you are able to interact with potential customers when they are browsing content, but more importantly when they are seeking out relevant services that you want to rank for. 

How to measure success? 

When it comes to measuring success with digital PR, the following metrics are great to have within your reporting toolkit: 

All of the above are great ways to measure the success of campaigns, of course the ultimate aim is to build revenue and grow the business in a profitable way, but with more top of the funnel activities like digital PR having the above metrics to benchmark against is a great way to show the value of campaigns to clients and senior management. 

Some of our digital PR case studies 

Digital PR is a great way to create noise in your industry whilst also benefiting your SEO, at Varn our approach to digital PR is as transparent as it is effective. We always report on campaigns, and some get amazing results, others a slightly more muted, but we are always up front with performance. 

Some of our favourite case studies include the Thought Clothing Black Friday survey push and the Festival Bag from Paper Bag Co. These are examples of two great digital PR tactics: 

The above tactics are great for getting a large hit of links from news relevant sites and also consistent links to support your SEO over the long run. 

Get in touch to learn more 

Digital PR is a growing industry and is a very important part of a strong ongoing SEO strategy. If you would like to learn more about digital PR and the benefits it could bring to your business then get in touch with a member of the Varn team. 

We have put together campaigns in the past which have driven great results for clients both in terms of coverage and impact on SEO. Our campaigns are set up with performance in mind, which is why we are trusted to deliver on our promises. 

In summer 2021 we ran an event discussing funding for creative businesses with the south west team at Innovate UK EDGE and a group of Bristol Creative Industries members.

During the discussion, attendees said it would be useful if we could provide regular updates on the finance schemes that are available for creative companies in the south west and beyond. This guide is our response.

The post now is one of Bristol Creative Industries’ most popular ever blog posts. We keep it updated with the latest funding schemes for creative businesses so check it regularly. We also include the post in our monthy email newsletter, BCI Bulletin. To sign up, go here.   

Latest funding for creative businesses:

Creative Catalyst 2023

Micro and small businesses in the UK creative industries sector can apply for funding up to £50,000 with a package of support to grow their business.

Proposals must demonstrate clear benefits for the UK creative industry and the wider UK economy with a focus on a clear opportunity and the proposed innovation which addresses it.

Eligible projects must start by 1 June 2023, end by 30 November 2023 and last between three and six months.

Applicants must not have previously received funding from Innovate UK.

Applications are open until 11am on Wednesday 15 February 2023.

More details.

DCMS Create Growth Fund

The West of England (with Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly) is one of six regions covered by this scheme via which creative sector micro, small and medium enterprises can apply for funding of between £10,000 and £30,000 for innovation projects to grow their business.

The other regions are:

Proposals must focus on a clear growth opportunity and the proposed innovation to address it as well as demonstrating the impact funding and support can have on the growth plan of your business.

Projects must also start by 1 June 2023, end by 31 December 2023 and last between three and six months.

Applicants must not currently be in receipt of public funding for business growth

Applications are open until 11am on Wednesday 8 February 2023.

More details.

Catalysts and Connectors: Tools for the Creative Industries

This programme by MyWorld, in partnership with Digital Catapult and funded by UKRI Strength In Places, is a 16-week acceleration programme targeted at developers, creative studios, start-ups, and scale-ups in the West of England.

Successful applicants will explore innovative tooling solutions addressing industry challenges relating to the creation, delivery and assessment of experiences.

It includes up to £50,000 to develop a challenge focused proof-of-concept prototype or innovation to extend an existing project and supporting material.

Applications close on Monday 13 March 2023.

More details.

Bristol Council vacant commercial property grant scheme

Bristol Council is offering grants of between £2,500 and £10,000 to organisations taking on a new city centre or local high street commercial property.

The funding is open to businesses, charities, CICs, sole traders and arts and culture groups for both long term and temporary/meanwhile use.

Organisations must employ fewer than 50 people, have a turnover of £10.2m or less, and a balance sheet showing £5.1m or less.

Funding can be used for structural works to a property or equipment to be used in the property (capital expenditure). The funding needs to be matched by 20%.

Applications are open until 12pm on Friday 31 March 2023.

More details here.

Creative Growth Finance

Creative Growth Finance from Creative UK provides scale-up finance to creative businesses. Loans of £100,000 – £1m with fixed interest rates from 7% – 15% are available.

Eligibility rules include:

More details here.

Arts & Culture Impact Fund

This new £23m social impact investment fund is for socially driven arts, culture and heritage organisations registered and operating in the UK. It offers loans between £150,000 and £1m repayable until May 2030.

More details here.

New £200m South West Investment Fund

In the October 2021 spending review, former chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new £200m fund for businesses in the South West.

Delivered by the British Business Bank, it will provide loans from £25,000 to £2m and equity investment up to £5m.

The fund will launch in Spring 2023 and cover Bristol, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

More details here.

Internationalisation Fund

The Department for International Trade is offering match-funded grants of between £1,000 and £9,000 to businesses in England (applications for businesses in London have closed).

The fund can be used to support areas including:

More details here.

The Elephant Trust

The Elephant Trust says its mission is to “make it possible for artists and those presenting their work to undertake and complete projects when frustrated by lack of funds. It is committed to helping artists and art institutions/galleries that depart from the routine and signal new, distinct and imaginative sets of possibilities.”

Grants of up to £5,000 are available. Applications for the latest round of applications close on 23 January 2023.

More details here.

Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants

Grants of up to £100,000 are available for arts, libraries and museums projects.

The grants support a broad range of creative and cultural projects that benefit people living in England. Projects can range from directly creating and delivering creative and cultural activity to projects which have a longer term positive impact, such as organisational development, research and development, and sector support and development.

More details here.

UKRI Circular fashion programme: recycling and sorting demonstrator

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £4m for a demonstration of innovative technologies, services and processes for the UK’s fashion and textile sector.

The application deadline is 11am on 11 January 2023.

More details here.

Innovation Loans Future Economy Competition

UK registered businesses can apply for loans for innovative projects with strong commercial potential to significantly improve the UK economy.

Applications close at 11am on 11 January 2023.

More details here.

Innovate UK Smart Grants

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £25m for game-changing and commercially viable R&D innovation that can significantly impact the UK economy.

Applications close at 11am on 18 January 2023.

More details here.

Start Up Loans

A Start Up Loan is a government-backed unsecured personal loan for individuals looking to start or grow a business in the UK. Successful applicants also receive 12 months of free mentoring and exclusive business offers.

All owners or partners in a business can individually apply for up to £25,000 each, with a maximum of £100,000 per business.

The loans have a fixed interest rate of 6% p.a. and a one to five year repayment term. Entrepreneurs starting a business or running one that has been trading for up to three years can apply. Businesses trading for between three and five years can apply for a second loan.

More details here.

Developing your Creative Practice

This fund from Arts Council England supports individual cultural and creative practitioners in England thinking of taking their practice to the next stage through things such as: research, time to create new work, travel, training, developing ideas, networking or mentoring.

Grants of between £2,000 and £10,000 are available. Applications for the latest round of funding are open until 17 January 2023.

More details here.

UnLtd funding for social entrepreneurs

If you’re running a creative social enterprise you may be able to access funding from UnLtd.

Finance of up to £5,000 is available for starting a social enterprise and up to £15,000 for growing a social enterprise.

Successful applicants also get up to 12 tailored business support plus access to access to expert mentors and workshops.

More details here.

Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme

Businesses can apply for up to £3,500 to cover the costs of installing gigabit broadband.

Check if the scheme is available in your area here.

Help to Grow: Digital

The government scheme provides a discount of up to 50% or £5,000 (excluding VAT) towards the cost of buying approved software.

More details here.

€144.5m Horizon Europe Funding

European research and innovation funding includes opportunities for the UK cultural heritage and creative industries, with over €144.5m available. Despite the UK leaving the EU,  the government announced the UK will associate to Horizon Europe. This means UK scientists, researchers and businesses can access funding under the programme on equivalent terms as organisations in EU countries.

More details here.

Know of more funding and support for creative businesses?

If you know of another scheme that we haven’t listed and you’d like to share it with other creative businesses, email Dan to let us know.

The Effectiveness Series: Building confidence and better business performance in times of uncertainty

Join a three-part workshop programme to help you change you mindset and behaviour so you are better equipped to navigate through change. Sign up here.

As 2022 draws to a close we’re delighted to be ending the year with top-line growth of +40%. We’ve welcomed major new clients and projects including, Bristol Innovations, Loughborough School of Business & Economics, premium plant-based nutrition brand Vivo Life, Made Smarter Innovation, Medi-Tech innovator Radii Devices and law firm TLT. 

We moved to a new home in Engine Shed in March, the natural location for our focus on scaling innovative organisations. From here we continue to support leadership teams in this enterprising region which recorded an investment flow of £1.1bn in 2021 – putting it into the top 20 in Europe. 

Moving into 2023, we’ll continue to work alongside The University of Bristol, developing its commercial quantum offering, The Enterprise Sessions and other projects. 

And our ongoing relationship with Vittoria, the world’s most advanced bicycle tyre company, has also flourished and we’ll continue to support the leadership team on global brand development. Notable achievements this year include supporting the launch of the 5-hectare Vittoria Park next to the brand’s HQ in Brembate Italy and advertising projects including the benchmark-busting OWN THE UNKNOWN campaign which brought about a collaboration with the Velosolutions team and percussionist Ian Chang.

We also captured the spirit of the brand for internal and external audiences with their Manifesto film.

“It’s been a fantastic year for Firehaus. We’ve worked with some inspirational people throughout 2022 who have maintained a visionary approach to the role of their organisation – even in these difficult times. Each of them is changing the world for the better and it’s great supporting them in that endeavour. We’re super-excited about what’s to come!”
Ian Bates – Founder and Creative Partner

Your brand – you’ve spent years getting it to the exact place you want it to be in and now it’s there, in that perfect position in your market. Your audience can now make an informed, rational decision on your brand. Everything’s perfect.

Except, it isn’t perfect. And your audience won’t make a rational decision.

Let’s take a step back for a minute. It has become increasingly accepted that your brand is no longer simply your logo, or visual identity, but is more about the experience or environment linked to your business, product or service. Your brand can no longer be considered a vehicle through which to facilitate a desired transaction, from business to consumer. It shouldn’t even be considered the sole property of the business it is associated with.

Your brand is shaped by the relationships formed in that space in-between business and people, and importantly between people themselves. It is in this acknowledgement of brand being about relationships that we must appreciate two key points:

no relationship remains the same – relationships always evolve
no-one wants to be in a relationship with someone perfect
In order to have healthy relationships you need to appreciate that people will not seek to understand your brand intellectually. Decisions are very often not made intellectually but intuitively. What is important isn’t what people know about a brand, but what they feel about a brand.


Consider a personal relationship that may well be close to your heart – you and your mum. In one way your relationship with your mum will always remain the same, she is your mum and you are her child. That will never change. However, is that really your relationship, or is that simply a label?

Let’s consider the actual relationship you have with your mum over a lifetime. If we think about the relationship rather than the label we can see how our roles and expectations are constantly evolving. At birth we are totally dependent on our mum, without her we would die. As we grow into childhood we are nurtured by mum, but we are becoming less dependent. As older children / young adults we challenge mum, pushing for independence. Entering adulthood we become friends and equals with mum, still getting support and guidance but being able to share some of our own guidance. As mum ages we find that the dependency role switches, with mum becoming reliant on us and relying on our support. Throughout our life we remain mum and child, but the relationship is constantly evolving.

When considering your brand be aware that your relationship with people will evolve. Be open to changing roles and expectations.


So what about perfection? Well, how would you like to be in a relationship with someone who is perfect? Someone who never does anything wrong, is always right, always the best, infallible. Sounds pretty awful right? Of course it does because we know that no-one is perfect, we all make mistakes and bad decisions. That’s not a bad thing though, it is what makes us likeable. It’s what builds relationships as everyone is fallible, we are all prone to mistakes. ‘To err is human’.

So if you are hoping to build a relationship with people through brand then forget about trying to seem perfect. We are all fallible and prone to mistakes, but what that gives is the opportunity to show growth, improvement, self-awareness. Perfection leaves no room for improvement – it is a dead state. Forget perfection.

The Space In-Between

When considering your brand, consider it the ‘space in-between’. Your brand is the space in-between numerous contributing factors, such as your business, staff, product, visual identity, customers, detractors, the current environment.

This ‘space in-between’ must be a space of vitality, of evolution, of imperfection, if you want people to relate to the brand and the brand to remain relevant. This ‘space in-between’ is not static or stagnant, it is always in-process. It should be considered temporally rather than spacially. It will most often be appreciated and experienced intuitively not intellectually. When considering your brand – the ‘space in-between’ – it’s not rational, it’s emotional.


Contributed by Paul Bailey Strategy Director Halo

For over 20 years, I’ve been working in or running my own branding agency. First design side, and then moving strategy side, I’ve learned a thing or two in my time. However, there is one thing which I seem to learn but then need to relearn again and again, and that is the need for and the role of transparency.

Now, what has led me to relearning the need for transparency you might ask? Well, in my current role I am Brand Strategy Director. This means I’m not only responsible for the brand strategy work with clients, nor does it mean I’m only responsible for the rest of our strategy team. No, what I take this role to mean is that I am responsible for the understanding and application of brand strategy from the whole of the agency.

As a full-service agency, we have people doing all sorts of roles, from design, to development, to client partnerships. Everyone will, at some point, work with the strategy team on projects, and so I believe that the more they can understand strategy the better and more effective our agency’s work will be. Now, of course, in meetings people get a little window into what we do in strategy, but I realized that in order to really make the strategy teams work transparent I needed to find ways to open up our working. So, I decided that I would decorate the walls with some of the models and frameworks that we might use in a project. (See above)

Models and frameworks seem to be either loved or loathed by strategists, but the use of a good one can create much needed focus at a critical point in a project.

The thing about them is, they’re not intended to give you an answer. In fact, even the best use of the smartest model only ever gives you an approximation of the answer. But for me, that is fine, because in strategy there is never really an answer, there’s just one of a number of answers.

So, I looked through the models I’ve used over the years, printed out some of the best and most used ones, and stuck them on the wall. This immediately led to some great feedback and some very interested people passing our strategy area. Conversations about models, their uses and application, and what they would be useful for, flowed freely. You see, once you put your ways of working out there, people are invested and interested.

In a project, models should be used as your hidden secret. We use them to create focus from a wide range of inputs, but we rarely show them to clients. They’re not really the best way to present work, so we use them as a tool for focusing our work, not presenting it. Good models should be used to cut, to hone, to give you less and not more.

Now there are many models I no longer use, they no longer meet my standards and have been dropped. As I said previously, I’ve spent over 20 years doing this, and one of the things I have learned is what models work, and which ones don’t. So, here’s a short list of a few of the models I still use, and what I use them for.

PESTLE Analysis


This model is old, and many people knock it, but I still use it. Why I use it is I find it a simple and helpful structure to work through one of the aspects of the context within which our brand exists – market forces. The six areas the PESTLE name stands for (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, Environmental) are still a good way to break down the market forces at play on a business and its associated brand. I find that they help me focus, but also they give an indication as to the areas in which a business has more to think about.

SWOT Analysis


Yet again, another old model that doesn’t get much love these days. Well, I still love it. When we are researching a brand project there are two key areas we need to find out about – the context (market forces, audience, competition) but also the business itself. The SWOT gives us a very simple model to learn something of what the business is good and bad at, and where they see opportunities and threats. Now, the slight variation in my model is that I use a grid which sets out the strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats on the outer edges, but on the inside where they cross over there are four panels where you can start to set out strategies for improvement (S-O, S-T, W-O, W-T).

Brand Pyramid

3. Brand Pyramid

Now I don’t think I’ve ever shown this as a pyramid to a client. The reason I find the pyramid useful is that it mirrors the process I go through mentally to try and reach a core brand propositionAt the base of the pyramid is the context within which the brand exists (market forces, audience, competitors). The wider this base is (the more research we can do at this stage) then the more stable the pyramid will be. Diagnosis of the context of a brand is the foundation of a good brand proposition. At the other end of the pyramid is the point, the tip, the core proposition that encapsulates the core value of the brand to its audience. You might manage to get this down to only a few words, or at most a sentence or two, because this should be the distillation of all of your work so far.

Evolutionary Branding

4. Evolutionary Brand Cycle

There are many models like this, but this is the one I use. It is a simple breakdown of a never ending process of evolution which every brand should constantly go through. Because, although we’ve just written a distillation of the brand, in reality the brand is always changing and shifting to a pointA brand is a dynamic entity which evolves over time. So, this model has four stages; Understanding, Clarifying, Communication, and Evolution. Understanding is your research phase. Clarifying is your distillation phase. Communication is your communicating phase. And Evolution is your listening phase. Keep doing these phases, over time, and your brand can shift and move at the right place and the right times.

Marketing Sales Funnel

5. Marketing Sales Funnel

The Marketing sales funnel is yet another old and supposedly broken model. Not as far as I am concerned it isn’t. Now, my approach to the marketing sales funnel is quite loose, and we don’t put strict rules on how we use it. What we do find it useful for is assessing what marketing touchpoint should be used for which part of the journey through the funnel. At the top of the funnel we are looking at Awareness, and so touchpoints such as OOH and TVC will feature heavily. At the bottom of our funnel we have Advocacy, so Google Reviews or user reviews may feature here. Really, we find the funnel a helpful tool to give our touchpoints a role and responsibility.

Disney Experience Ecosystem 1957

6. Experience Ecosystem

Finally, we move into the Experience ecosystem. What is this you might ask? Well, it is something that we do to give a function to every ‘moment’ a person comes into contact with our brand. A ‘moment’ is an audience-centered view of a touchpoint. Brands are shaped through ‘Associated Memorable Moments’, and every one of these moments in time should be used to encourage a desired action or reaction. Whether that action or reaction is just awareness of your brand, or is a driver to purchase, if you attribute a behavior you would like to encourage from that ‘moment’ you are creating a focus for everything you do. Make sure every moment is clearly identifiable as you, and is remembered for something you would like.

BJ Fogg’s Behavior Model is also useful here – motivation + ability + prompt = behavior.

So, there are six models I use pretty often. Of course, there are many more worth using. From Kapferer’s Brand Identity Prism to Keller’s Brand pyramid, Stephen King’s Planning Cycle to Kotler & Armstrong’s 3 Product Levels. But remember, a model is only there to help you cut and refine. It will never give you the answer, and what you get out is only ever as good as the quality of research you put into it. As I said at the beginning, there is a value in and a need for structure.

Contributed by: Paul Bailey, Strategy Director at Halo

There is an image of an advertising campaign poster making the rounds on social media that has been marked with comments that question the motives and manipulative methods behind the design (see below). It is a good example of social and cultural commentary being added onto a commercial poster, but it is far from a new idea.

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The first time I became aware of this type of movement was in the 1990s, by a group called Adbusters. As a graphic design student, and taking great interest in designers such as Jonathan Barnbrook who were very social and counter-cultural in the work they did (and it turns out he was a part of Adbusters too), I was very interested in this movement. Although I didn’t join in with their activities, I followed them with some interest.

Adbusters have spent the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, and the 2020s railing against capitalism and in particular advertising’s role in capitalism. Their magazine’s international circulation peaked at 120,000 in the late 2000s, but it has been their campaigns which have had more impact. Buy Nothing Day, TV Turnoff Week and Occupy Wall Street have all left their mark, but they are probably best known for their “subvertisements” — adverts which subvert the original message of the advert.

Blaming advertising for playing a central role in creating and maintaining consumer culture, they have used the creative skills and talents against advertising itself. They claim to be combating the negative effects of advertising and empowering its readers to regain control of culture. The big question they ask with all of their work is “Are we consumers and citizens?”

Citizen or consumer?

This is something I believe is an important discussion that those of us who work with brands need to have — are we creating enough space for people to be citizens as well as consumers? This is a big question, and one that brings other factors into play such as ‘brand purpose’ — is a corporate brand the best vehicle to promote a social or environmental purpose — but that is for another article.

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Adbusters might have blazed the trail, but now groups such as Brandalism are picking up the ball and sprinting with it. Emerging in the UK during the 2012 Olympics, Brandalism has been using ‘culture jamming’ to rail against corporations with anti-capitalist, anti-consumerist and environmental concerns. Brandalism has also done a lot to expand the people who are able to take part in these activities, by among other things publishing ‘how to’ guides for things like opening poster sites.

Cultural landscape

Now, there are some who are against all of these ‘subvertising’ activities, but that isn’t my view. For me, they are an important addition to the cultural landscape, and can be a valid challenge to corporate power. On top of that, I think that some of the Adbusters and Brandalism work is some of the most creative work out there. Not only are advertising companies getting their work busted, it’s being improved upon at the same time.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this subculture, take a look at the books and websites below.

Advertising Shits in Your Head‘ by Vyvian Raoul & Matt Bonner

Culture Jam’ by Kalle Lasn



PAUL BAILEY – Brand Strategy Director Halo

20+ years professional experience in brand diagnosis, strategy, realisation – improve experience, empower culture, achieve business objectives. MA Brand. Mini-MBA Marketing. Author, speaker, lecturer.

Sarah Warewinter joins Bristol operation as Associate Director, Strategy

McCann has bolstered its strategy team in Bristol with the appointment of Sarah Warewinter.  Sarah joins as Associate Director for Strategy having headed up IMA HOME’s insight and strategy team in Leeds for 11 years.

Prior to her time at IMA HOME, Sarah worked across a diverse range of sectors, with her portfolio including major brands such as Argos, Dr Oetker, Interflora, Jet2 and the NHS.

In her new role, Sarah will build on the strength of the existing team to deliver meaningful work for the agency and its clients. Talking about her appointment, managing director Andy Reid said: “Across the globe, McCann is known for providing our marketers with best-in-class strategic and creative services to help brands play a meaningful role in people’s lives.

“For us at McCann Bristol, Sarah’s appointment is central to delivering this core function, as we continue to proudly create award-winning work for our clients.  Sarah comes with an impressive track record, along with a wealth of expertise across a range of sectors and I’m pleased to welcome her to our senior leadership team as we head towards 2023.”

Sarah added: “I’m really excited to join the McCann family.  The ambition and direction of the business is really exciting, and I can’t wait to be involved in the next stage of growth for McCann Bristol.”

With climate change on the agenda at COP27 in Egypt, a major new report has examined the steps different sectors within the UK’s creative industries are taking to reduce carbon emissions and what more needs to be done. 

Published by Creative Industries Policy and Evidence CentreJulie’s Bicycle and BOP Consulting, the Creative Industries and the Climate Emergency study describes the the creative industries as an “economic powerhouse” which delivers £115.9bn GVA to the UK economy, accounts for 2.2m jobs, and exports more than £50bn per year.

The government’s strategy for the UK economy to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 says “everyone will need to play their part”. With the creative industries representing 6% of the GVA of the overall UK economy, the study stresses that it’s vital the sector works with the government to achieve its goals.

The sector has responded dramatically to that call to action with the report highlighting how businesses and organisations of all sizes and in all sub-sectors of the creative industries innovating in production, design and supply to reduce their impact on the environment.

Several carbon calculators have been developed for businesses to measure their carbon footprint, and industry associations are forming alliances to produce reports, campaign groups and other activities to tackle climate change.

There are extensive challenges for all sectors though, the report said, and much more action is needed including government support to encourage and more investment for applied research.

Hasan Bakhshi, director of the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre, said: 

“We are calling for a change to the definitions of research and development (R&D) used by the HMRC for tax relief, which currently excludes arts, humanities and social sciences. Without this we risk under-incentivising creative industries companies who want to experiment with new production and supply methods to reduce carbon emissions.”

The call for R&D tax relief to be extended to the creative industries is also something higlighted by Bristol Creative Industries board member Gail Caig, and the issue was highlighted in Bristol Creative Industries’ recent report on creative businesses in Bristol and the wider south west region.

We found that almost half (46%) of respondents to our survey stated they have not applied for R&D tax credits because they are not eligible.

Another significant barrier is the lack of knowledge of R&D tax credits, the report found. Although these barriers are higher among freelancers, 38% of commercial business respondents believe they are ineligible for R&D tax relief, and 17% admit they lack knowledge.

The BCI report said:

“While progress is being made to strengthen the links between the tech community and the creative industries, we need to raise our game in terms of research and development across the sector. There is a major UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) cluster programme in Bristol as well as the Catapult Network in the South West, but the research shows that these initiatives are not cutting through to BCI members. The challenge is on to build even stronger connections between creative and tech, educate more businesses about R&D and ensure programmes delivered at a national level deliver more for our members.”

Alison Tickell, founder and CEO of Julie’s Bicycle, said:

“For so long we’ve asked what is needed to motivate the political, economic and social change urgently needed. This report provides an answer; culture. Not only do the arts motivate change through storytelling and the unique ability to inspire connection and empathy but on a very practical level; it is these industries that across all sub-sectors are adapting their processes and monitoring impact. We find clear evidence of a willingness to learn and change from CEOs, boards, employees and artists themselves; it is clear culture is ready to prioritise change.”

Professor Christopher Smith, executive chair, Arts and Humanities Research Council, said:

“Climate change and environmental issues are now at the top of the agenda for creative businesses, from international corporations to start-ups. There are dozens of innovative projects and tools to help reduce carbon emissions, and some are supported through UKRI. But there is so much more to do. This report is a starting point and a call to action.”

How the creatives industries are tackling net zero

The full report is jam-packed with useful information on how the creative industries are tackling climate change, the challenges that remain and what needs to be done to solve them. We urge you to read it.

In the meantime, here are some sector-by-sector highlights from the report of net zero schemes and initiatives with links to useful resources: 


The advertising sector is largely computer-based work in offices but approximately 20% of its carbon footprint is generated through production. According to the Advertising Association, the largest footprint of a single production shoot was over 100 tonnes of CO2.

The sector also has a significant environmental impact through media distribution including tens of thousands of advertising billboards across the country and a million tonnes of leaflets, brochures and flyers.

Efforts taken by the advertising sector to reach net zero include the Advertising Association’s Ad Net Zero initiative, with several well-known brands, advertising agencies, media titles and industry bodies signing up to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030. It also launched a report with guidance for measuring and reducing emissions through advertising, including how to enable consumer behaviour change.

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising has launched its Ad Net Zero course.


Like other creative sectors, architecture has relatively low direct environmental impacts due to mostly being computer-based work undertaken in offices.

However, its role within the wider built environment is crucial to the climate agenda. Estimates suggest that the construction sector as a whole contributes as much as 40% of all global carbon emissions, with the production and use of concrete alone responsible for 8% of all emissions.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) launched the 2030 Climate Challenge to support architects to “design within a climate conscious trajectory”. It provides performance outcomes targets for architects in how they design for energy use, water use, embodied carbon etc.

With Architects Declare, RIBA also produced the Built for the Environment report which makes the case that the built environment must drastically reduce its carbon emissions to work towards net zero.

The Architects Climate Action Network (ACAN) was established in 2020 as a “network of individuals within architecture and related built environment professions taking action to address the twin crises of climate and ecological breakdown”.


Small scale crafts businesses, such as designer making and jewellery, have a relatively small carbon footprint. It is the creative sub-sector with the smallest economic size according to government figures.

The Crafts Council produced a report in 2010 promoting environmental sustainability in crafts, which remains an active part of the organisation’s programme. The Crafts Council is also part of ‘Ecological Citizens’, a project with the Royal College of Arts and commercial partners such as IKEA, which explores the digital preparedness of the sub-sector for net zero including manufacturing of surplus materials and helping people digitally exchange knowledge and resources.

Research by the Crafts Council in 2020 found that almost 50% of consumers said that buying from sustainable businesses using sustainable materials and local supply chains is important.


Design is not a single creative sub-sector with a distinct value chain, but a set of creative practices and skills applied across industries and contexts. Environmental impacts depend on the type of work being undertaken. For example, graphic design and visual communications is linked to advertising, while product design is associated with engineering and manufacturing.

In 2021, the Design Council launched Design for Planet which “aims to turn policy into practice and allow us to design our way to net zero”.

The Design Council also runs the Design Value Framework, which helps designers and commissioners to identify and assess the wider social, environmental and democratic impacts of their work.

Designer fashion

The report said that designer fashion “has almost certainly the largest environmental footprint of all the creative industries”. It added:

“Due to the complexity of international supply chains, estimates can vary widely – one study by McKinsey estimated the entire fashion product life cycle is responsible for up to 4% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Such is the extent of the problem that London Fashion Week, the UK industry’s flagship event, has been specifically targeted by activists, with high-profile campaigns by Extinction Rebellion for it to be cancelled.

“At the same time, controversies about ‘greenwashing’ and potentially misleading claims from fashion businesses have led to an investigation by the UK Competition and Markets Authority.”

In 2020, the British Fashion Council helped to establish the Institute of Positive Fashion, with an ambition for the fashion industry to be “more resilient and circular through global collaboration and local action”.

There are various organisations and commitments encouraging voluntary sign-ups such as Textiles 2030. Signatories collaborate on carbon, water and circular textile targets, and contribute to discussions around policy development for textiles in the UK.

Other initiatives include the UN’s Fashion Charter for Climate Action and The Fashion Pact.

Film and television

The BFI collaborated with BAFTA albert and Arup in 2020 to measure carbon emissions from film and television. There are significant impacts, particularly for big budget productions which are estimated at 2,840 tonnes of CO2 for an average film production with a budget of over US$70m. Around half of emissions are linked to transport, 30% of which is air travel. There is also considerable onset energy consumption, with electricity and gas use accounting for 34% of emissions, while diesel generators contribute 15%.

In 2011, BAFTA launched albert, an online tool that calculates the amount of greenhouse gases as a direct result of a production. The tool has been used by more than 1,300 television production companies, with 7,500 production footprints calculated.

Other tools include the Green Book of Sustainable Buildings which has resources for cinemas, the Independent Cinema Office Green Cinema Toolkit and Green Screen, an online tool that supports environmentally friendly filming in London.


“The environmental impacts of the music industry are probably better understood than the impact of any of the UK’s other creative industries,” the study said.

A study by Julie’s Bicycle into the UK music industry found that the annual greenhouse gas emissions from artists touring in the UK and British acts touring overseas was approximately 85,000 tonnes of CO2e in 2010. Research by campaign group Powerful Thinking in 2018 found that the UK festival industry generated 25,000 tonnes of CO2e (excluding audience travel), created 26,000 tonnes of waste and used  million litres of diesel.

Spotify estimated in 2021 that it had a carbon footprint of 353,054 tonnes CO2, and that 42% of its GHG emissions come from listeners streaming.

In 2019, Music Declares Emergency was launched as a call to action backed by more than 3,000 UK music artists. It is now also a campaigning entity that issues guidance, co-produced with Julie’s Bicycle, on how artists and businesses can create change, such as pressing lighter weight 140 gramme vinyl instead of 180 gramme.

LIVE (Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment) was established in October 2020 to bring the UK trade associations under one umbrella group as a single, united voice. It launched the LIVE Green programme.

All 14 association members of LIVE have ratified its declaration to deliver measurable and targeted action on climate change, with the ultimate aim of reaching net zero emissions by 2030.

Vision: 2025 is a network of over 500 outdoor events and businesses taking climate action.

Smaller independent companies in the recorded music industry can measure their carbon footprint using a custom carbon calculator developed by IMPALA and Julie’s Bicycle.

The Music Climate Pact is a global platform, initiated by the UK’s Association of Independent Music (AIM) and record labels association the BPI, that was launched as a response to COP26 and the urgent call for collective action to combat the climate crisis.

Performing Arts

A study by the GLA and the Theatres Trust found that London’s theatre industry generates 50,000 tonnes of CO2e emissions a year, with audience travel estimated at an additional 35,000.

The Act Green report examines audience attitudes towards the role of cultural organisations in tackling the climate emergency.

The Creative Green Tools, developed by Julie’s Bicycle, underpin the Arts Council England’s environmental reporting programme for more than 800 annually funded organisations.

The Theatre Green Book outlines a new standard for environmental action in the performing arts.

Choreographer Matthew Bourne piloted the Julie’s Bicycle Creative Green Touring Certification with its 2018-19 Swan Lake tour of the UK.


The sector’s environmental impact is linked to printing and paper production. The UK produces more than 180,000 new book titles each year (more per capita than any other country), and is home to more than 10 national newspapers, hundreds of local papers and several thousand consumer and trade magazines.

The report said:

“Producing virgin paper from timber for all of these is highly energy intensive, and the print industries are thought to represent up to 4% of global energy consumption. Added to this is the large amount of water required in producing virgin paper – estimated to be 10 litres of water per A4 sheet. Pulp and paper mills, with their extensive use of bleaching agents and other chemicals, are also significant polluters.”

The Publishers Association (PA) has a Sustainability Taskforce, the Publishing Declares campaign and a carbon calculator.

The Sustainability Industry Forum was launched by six publishing organisations.

Video games

The video games design sector is almost entirely digital so the environmental concerns are mainly related to the large amounts of energy required for playing games. London software designer Space Ape calculated that 50% (or approximately 375 tonnes) of their carbon emissions are produced by the cloud servers used to operate their games.

The Playing for The Planet Alliance is a campaign group launched by the United Nations that seeks to create change within the global video games industry.

UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie) partnered with Playing for The Planet to create the Green Games Guide.

Visual arts

In 2010, a report by the Greater London Authority and Julie’s Bicycle estimated that audience travel accounted for a majority share (56%) of the London visual arts sector’s CO2e emissions. A 2019 report by the Tate Gallery found that audience travel accounted for 240 million tonnes of CO2e, or 92% of the gallery’s total carbon footprint.

The Gallery Climate Coalition has grown from the London arts community to over 900 country-wide members, and an international membership of 20 countries. Its aim is to facilitate a reduction of the sector’s carbon emissions by a minimum of 50% by 2030, as well as promoting zero waste.

If you’re a Bristol Creative Industries member, let us know what you’re doing to tackle climate change by emailing Dan.

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