THE benefits of new technology can work both ways, for clients and providers alike, as demonstrated by Liverpool brand and digital communications agency Bolland & Lowe.
Its expertise won a recent commission from St Helens charitable hospital Fairfield Independent Hospital to relaunch its online presence and develop future strategies.
And part of the process involves a platform that the Vanilla Factory-based agency builds for each client where they can upload information to keep them constantly up to date and in control of the whole process.
Joe Bolland said: “We can upload designs on a mini-website for them to comment on.”
Business partner John Lowe added: “Fairfield has a focus group and we upload footage of meetings etc on their website.”
The interactive element helps with the agency’s overall delivery and simplifies what could be a complicated process for the less digital media savvy, and Mr Lowe said: “We won the website job for Fairfield, and now they have asked us to help them market themselves.”
Mr Bolland said: “Fairfield have a chef, so we are looking to get their recipes on the website if people are trying to cut back on salt to improve their cholesterol levels – they can get things like that coming up in searches. It is all part of brand awareness.”
Mr Lowe added: “We look at clients very holistically. It is all about the return on investment. We try and be their internal marketing person.”
It is a far cry from when the pair set up in 2003 with just a couple of iMacs in the back room of Mr Lowe’s flat, before moving to incubator space two years later in Parr Street Studios when they took on their first member of staff.
Now they have six staff and are in grander surroundings. Mr Lowe said: “When we were in Parr Street we had a room the size of our boardroom now.”
They initially met working for housebuilder Redrow. Mr Lowe was national client manager and Mr Bolland was a designer. Mr Lowe said: “We found that we worked very well together.”
Mr Bolland added: “John met the clients and came back to me and fed into me on the design side.”
Mr Lowe went back to university to do a BA Hons in graphic design and art direction to understand Mr Bolland’s side of the business more, but said: “I still realised my strengths were on the client side.”
One of their first clients, and still a constant in their business, was National Museums Liverpool, but the list has now grown to include the likes of Liverpool Local Enterprise Partnership, the Ministry of Defence, Halton Borough Council and Morecrofts Solicitors.
Touching on new developments again Mr Lowe said: “Technology has helped us tremendously. We have a client in Kent and one in South Africa but we don’t need to make those trips. With Skype we can talk over designs with them over the web.”
The whole industry has been hit since the downturn and Mr Lowe said: “Turnover has been up and down over the past four years, so it has been time to re-focus and realign.
“Any design agency would be fibbing if they said they haven’t struggled over the past three years, but we have held our own and are in a very healthy position to move forward.”
One area offering big potential is retail. Mr Lowe said: “It’s kind of frightening, but by 2015, 45% of destination purchases will be made on smart phones. People are more savvy because they have a research facility literally in the palm of their hand.”
They believe retailers have to adapt to the new technology and Mr Lowe predicted: “Shops in the future will be showrooms.”