Typeface has been working with restaurant upstart Billy’s Burgers and Shakes since February. With a diner in Manchester and a larger restaurant opening in Bradford, there’s been lots of room for creative projects which have come together to create a solid, fun brand.
The new retro
Fashion moves in circles, so instead of looking directly to the 50s/60s for influence; Typeface has taken its inspiration from the 90s interpretation of 60s retro. After all, we’re as far away from the 90s as the 90s was from the 60s.
Developing the brand
Once the flow and shape of the letters was decided, they were redrawn in Illustrator and built in to a coherent icon. Because the logo is such a complex shape, Typeface created four variants ranging in simplicity.
Beyond the logo
Typeface created two custom 8x3ft wallpapers to dress a dividing wall in the new Bradford restaurant. The brief was to use modern, recognisable comic book characters, and to create something a little fun.
To emulate that 90s comic book style, pannels were drawn in pen and ink, scanned in and then vectorised and coloured. Very little work was done to clean up the images themselves to keep the hand drawn look.
The new Ital Logistics website is a landmark project for me; while Typeface is about to celebrate its third year in December, the original Ital Logistics website was my first professional project back in 2000. I’ve been designing and developing their web presence ever since.
Currently in its sixth iteration, ital-logistics.com has always aimed to be as informative as possible. Now the company enters its 20th year with a mature, informed online presence that reflects internal development, roots and confidence.
The choice to put staff front and centre is something I’ve been eager for, as it adds a level of professionalism and personality which has allowed me to be as minimal and clean as possible with design choices without creating a clinical experience.
Over the years as the company has grown, it became more apparent to me that the quality of the company and service had sidestepped and moved past the message and tone projected by the website. In order to realign, we needed to open up Ital Logistics, from the warehouse to the office; and to show as many faces as possible and answer as many questions as we could.
Having the opportunity to grow as a designer while a company like Ital Logistics grows in both scope and reach is quite unique. We both started at a special time where businesses were still trying to figure out how to use the internet. We’ve tried a lot and I’ve learned a lot with the Ital website, and I see this current version as the next stage in one 20-year-long project.
A companies biggest asset is its employees and when your company is made up of people with over a decade’s experience working with you, you need to let your clients know who they are. As much as it is a celebration of 20 years in business, this new website is also a celebration of the Ital logistics team.
Typeface is pleased to launch phase one of the new Lets Vape website.
Why a first phase?
Because the paradigm has shifted, allowing us new ways to react. Consumer priorities have shifted, opening up new avenues for ambitious retailers to explore.
Over the past month, Typeface has been working with Lets Vape, a Manchester based vaping and lifestyle store. Like most high st. retailers, CEO Mo Azam found himself having to close the store during Covid lockdown. With the prospect of reduced footfall in the immediate future and an unpredictable consumer market moving forwards; Mo had to take his business online, as quickly as possible.
An Agile Development Process
Mo has had to adapt his business model to the current realities of retail and to support this Typeface has had to adapt its creative frameworks to prioritise deployment, while retaining thought and creative integrity.
The end result retains the same level of quality that clients have come to expect from a Typeface project. This was achieved by stripping the project down to its minimum viable product, and then building on top to produce a refined experience.
Fast deployment was key to the success of this project, but it’s important not to cut corners.
With phase one live, Mo can begin selling product. This gives us time to plan and to think about the more complex parts of Lets Vape’s online offering. It allows us time to refine the look of the website, ensuring that it feels on brand, and to engage with his close knit client base to find out what they like and what they’d like to see. While feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive, there are still refinements we can make to improve the overall user experience.
Mo came to Typeface five weeks ago with a POS database of 1500 products and prices. He now has a fully bespoke Shopify build that’s both on brand and on budget. Products have been categorised, photographed, collated and integrated in to the Shopify system.
As well as the Lets Vape website, Typeface has updated Mo’s window graphics, shop posters and signage.
During the development process, Typeface also produced a complete brand for Lets Vape’s sister project, Urbanite Coffee. This wasn’t just a one-off logo, but a complete branding exercise utilising the Typeface creative framework, to create something that feels established and looks like it belongs.
From a production point of view things are very much business as usual. Typeface will update and review the below when needed, and will continue to be as flexible as possible for both new and established clients.
Business contact hours have been extended
It’s understandable that many people are having childcare issues and there’s a general household restructuring as people ease in to working from home. Because of this, Typeface is available via email, or for scheduled calls until 20:00, Monday to Friday.
It’s important to keep communication as open and as easy as possible. Luckily there are a host of options for client meetings that include video chat, screen sharing and conference calling. If needed, Typeface can set up individual workgroups via Slack for larger client projects.
As well as the usual brand and web offerings. Contact email@example.com if your company needs help with any of the following and if the task can’t be completed in-house then Typeface will put you in contact with a trusted supplier.
Online advertising, email campaigns, marketing, PPC or SEO
I’ve been working on a personal project for the last couple of years. I say working on, it’s been tucked away on a hard drive since I started Typeface.
With the recent news of school closures, alongside government advice to stay indoors and keep safe. It’s just as important that we look after each other, remain positive and that we keep having fun. With that in mind, I’ve released Dogfights in Space, with Cats! in its current form as a free print-and-play game. All you need is six sheets of thick paper or card, some scissors and an A4 printer.
The game is still in its prototype phase, so much of the artwork is unfinished. It’s still great fun to play though, and an excuse to break the coloured pencils out.
Like many other freelancers and small business owners, I use a co-working space as a place to take clients, see other human beings and as a base in the centre of Manchester. However most of Typeface’s creative work is done in my small home office. Over the last couple of years, I’ve managed to carve an enjoyable, productive space away from the general organisational chaos that comes with living in a small flat. Now here I am like a smug doomsday-prepper, with some advice to make the transition towards working from home a little easier.
Why it’s important to have a separate working space
Working from home can be a big adjustment. The temptation to work from the couch is strong and although there’s nothing wrong with putting in a few hours in front of the TV, you don’t want that to become your routine. It becomes difficult to separate the end of the working day with the start of your personal time.
If you don’t already have a desk or you can’t set up a space in the corner of a spare room; clear the breakfast bar, the kitchen table or hop on the Argos website and get a small £50 desk delivered. I say Argos because they’re the only company I know who do same/next day furniture delivery, and a desk really is that important.
Here are some gratuitous Battlestation shots. This is where the magic happens and yes; that CRT monitor is only there so I can play House of the Dead on a Dreamcast, with a light gun. The books are also real.
Control your distractions
You are going to get distracted, so surround yourself with manageable distractions. Offices come with their own set of distractions that we’ve learnt to live with. Sitting in silence and trying to do eight hours of work is dull and tedious.
Make sure you take regular breaks. Over the first few days the urge will be there to plough through as much work as you can. You will burn yourself out and make mistakes. If you find yourself watching the clock, move yourself to a different room for half an hour and read a book, or destroy noobs in StreetFighter. Anything that gives your mind a rest.
When I set up Typeface, I first set up a Spotify playlist. Every morning at 9am, I’d put it on and at 5pm, turn it off. I’ve had Blade Runner, Hackers and the Star Wars movies running quietly on my second monitor probably 50 times each since starting the business. I’ve had Blade Runner and Return of the Jedi on repeat during crunch days, why? Because I find them familiar and comfortable.
I’ve been working in this 6 by 5 foot corner space for a couple of years now, carving out and earning each spare inch. It now has a book shelf, two desks, a small hand built arcade machine and two sets of drawers. An a3 printer on top of an overturned milk crate, underneath a desk? Yes of course, because space is premium, every surface is used and, most importantly; every empty surface is left deliberately empty.
Keep a routine
By the end of week one, the temptation to roll out of bed at 9am, coffee and laptop in hand will be strong. You still need to look presentable for video calls, so don’t forget to brush your teeth.
Set up workgroups
Facebook has some great peer groups for freelancers and people who work from home so it’s a good idea to add one if you find yourself getting distracted by your newsfeed. Check out Freelance Heroes for a good place to start.
I have a couple of WhatsApp groups I use to communicate with friends who are in a similar working situation. We’re lucky in that our skills all mesh, so if I have an SEO, PPC, development or WordPress question or I just need some quick feedback then I have a place to go. Did you know there’s a desktop version of WhatsApp?
Slack is an invaluable tool when working with larger clients, or clients with multiple projects. There are similar solutions that add more functionality, but Slack does what it does very well. Each project can have its own channel and set of users, conversations are easily searchable and file uploads are saved in the cloud for easy access. When you need to manage multiple lines of communication, focussed tools really do come in to their own. https://slack.com
I’m using Zoom more and more to replace face-to-face client meetings. The quality is great and the free version’s 40 minute meetings are pretty generous. https://zoom.us
Tips from the brain trust
In the spirit of the above, I’ve asked the grumpiest parts of my network for their advice on working from home.
“Get dressed as though you are going to the office and go for a walk outside before you start work. Keep the same routine.Use something like the Pomodoro Technique to split your day/tasks and use the breaks to go for a walk outside for 5 mins or do something around the house.” – Shane JonesUnder2/Developer
“Get Dressed” – Rhys WynneDwi’n Rhys/WordPress Expert
“Working from your sofa on a laptop is a good way to [mess] your back up. A proper desk is the only way to go if you’re aiming to get anything done.” – Matt DaviesSlingshot Search
“Make sure you’re visible and accessible to your wider team, especially if you’re normally working in an office. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but a quick update in an all-team group, or group e-mail in the morning, to say “Hi, I’m online & working from home today, let me know if you need anything” helps everyone out. It’s also a good idea to start using Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom etc. to help with the lack of face-to-face contact.” – Neil YeomansThis is Digital
“Just because you’re working from home, don’t be tempted to take on all the chores. Trying to juggle a full work day with a house load of chores is a quick way to burn yourself out. Keep these things separate in your schedule.” – Cassandra GroosLead UX/UI Designer
“Set up a proper workspace away from distractions (I set up in the kitchen away from the TV – but also close to the tea and coffee) but make sure you take breaks from the screen. It can be too easy to just sit at your desk so you can ‘prove’ you’re working but it’s a bad habit.” – Mike DaviesContent Marketing Expert
“Stick to a set workday, it’s very easy to find yourself working a few extra hours because of the convenience, but you need to make sure you have time for yourself. Take a proper lunch break. Enjoy the benefits of being at home like TV and decent food. Don’t get addicted to takeaway, your health and wallet will suffer.
Accept that your ISP is now your worst enemy, that virtual conference calls will not always be good quality and that your connection will go down at the worst possible time, so have a contingency plan. Make sure your working environment is comfy, don’t sit at the dining table all day as you’ll find aches and pains you didn’t know were possible.
Remember to shower, just because you aren’t leaving the house you shouldn’t let personal hygiene slip. Stock up on things you’ll need more of, like tea, coffee and milk, and food for lunch.” – Will Shaw Solutions Specialist, Barclays
“Have you ever witnessed a colleague looking to speak to someone in the office and on realising that person is working from home they respond with something along the lines of, ‘Its ok I’ll catch them when they are next in the office’? It’s as though WFH means not available.
This mindset could cost valuable time and impact on a project’s momentum. When working with multiple departments, with staff working both in the office and remotely it is really important to have an open communication platform fit for your project. We recently implemented Microsoft Teams across the company. Teams are created to focus on specific projects and strategies from product development right through to employee engagement.
This platform enables our office based staff and remote workers active communication throughout the day. Morning ‘stand ups’ are held, colleagues inform the team when they go and return from lunch and display their availability status. This helps keep the flow of a project moving forward and the company as a whole informed and communicating effectively.” – Elouise Sylkie Pemberton Lead Creative
“Hold a call or video call when you can with staff/colleagues as this avoids the risk of misunderstanding as well as allows for a semblence of ‘reality’ within work.
Book in daily or bi-daily team stand up meetings just to keep some verbal comms going. With clients, plan more calls to chat with them instead.” – Chris Simmance Neo-Futurist, Keynote Speaker
It’s a little late in the year for a spring clean, but Typeface has had a busy six months. A new, refined website was in order to showcase client work.
The past few months at Typeface have been focused on relationship building, both new and established. Two very enjoyable collaborations with development agency Under2 have resulted in some great creative and technical product for Manchester Gin and their sister brand Three Little Words.
Typeface is a proud Manchester company, but creativity knows no borders. Working with London-based Steve Hobbs on the Milestone Pursuit website has been great fun, and the end result reflects that; bold, solid and confident. The website itself embodies the Typeface creative ethos: On brand, easy to understand, forward thinking and adaptable.
This December marks two years of Typeface. With new work to launch and projects set to continue in to 2020, there’s always room for new clients, established relationships and creativity.
When I set up Typeface, I wanted to create a simple framework that would carry forwards and shape the direction of the company. I’ve written about a few of Typeface’ key influencers over the past couple of years and the ideas that I’ve taken from them. Collaboration was a huge part of the thought process behind the company as chef Jeong Kwan so succinctly explains why.
Creativity and ego cannot go together. If you free yourself from the comparing and jealous mind, your creativity opens up endlessly. Just as water springs from a fountain, creativity springs from every moment.
A website redesign doesn’t mean that everything old has to be thrown out. Just because something is published, doesn’t mean it can’t be revisited. The beauty of a standardised CMS such as WordPress means that websites can be built to grow and adapt as businesses gain focus.
An ongoing process
Over the past year, Typeface has been working alongside Partisan. Working with a business like Partisan as they start their journey is rewarding, because the design process becomes a conversation that adapts and becomes real as the company grows in to its own.
Last summer, Partisan started with a single page website. Now we’ve entered its second phase with a focused home page, a beautiful articles template and an even tighter mobile experience. Nothing has been thrown away, only refined and built on.
Over the past year, Partisan has produced more creative and the brand has been allowed to breathe. This visual conversation has permiated into the look of the website. Resulting in a tangible maturity and a truly organic branding process.
Adding to and refining
Typeface spent this past month working with Stuart Holiday, performance coach at Focused Mind Coaching, to get his website in shape ready for the launch of his new podcast. Building on top of the current website; Typeface refined and focused the homepage, added a section for press articles and blog posts, and created custom taxonomies and page templates for the new case studies and the podcast sections. There was also a bit of polish added to the mobile experience as well as a full width video on the desktop version of the website.
Because of the platform, Stuart was able to edit his existing content in WordPress while new features were seamlessly added in to the back end and a new bespoke theme applied.
The result is refined, feature rich, and familiar. A solid phase two.
The argument for staging your online presence
Your website is a window in to your company. It’s especially important for smaller companies to show what they do, and to make everything accessible to clients while staying on budget and retaining control. Invest your budget wisely instead of stretching it thin. Treating your website as an ongoing project and setting clear goals that align with your business growth is a solid, agile way of approach that can get you some serious value for money.
Work with an agency to create a plan that reflects the way you want your business to grow. Will a single page website work while you spend six months creating articles to share on LinkedIn and twitter? Do you need a case studies section building if you only have one case study to show? Do you already have content to share, or in six months time will the only news story on your blog be ‘welcome to our new website‘?
There’s already so much to do and to think about when starting a business, so don’t box yourself in and make unnecessary work for yourself, and don’t over commit yourself. Get something out there that explains your value proposition, your credentials, who you are and provides a clear call to action. Then you can take your time to gather content, build client relationships and cement your brand. When your website enters phase two, you’ll have a solid idea of the direction of your company and you’ll have an audience to share it with.
Typeface created a new brand and microsite for Business Management Partners, Biramis.
A fresh new website to celebrate Ital Logistics’ approaching 20 years in the business.
Working closely with Partisan, to create a great new brand and brand language.
Working alongside Oswaldtwistle restaurant officinados to create Tap Select; a modern brand for an exciting new bar venture.
A hand drawn brand for MJD Copywriting, with a website ready to go.
Working with Brooke on their PR/Social Centinary campaign.
A rebrand and a new website for SEO experts Coffeepot Digital.
A strong brand and confident website for Tanzanian charity, Tupo.
As well as servicing local agencies and building upon current relationships with studios such as Seabrook, Slingshot and Coffeepot.
All while maintaining and building upon the quality that clients now expect from, and associate with a Typeface project.
I like your owl
It’s 2019 and Typeface is looking forward to a focused second year as a full service agency. Building on relationships from the previous year and embracing new projects and clients. Getting 2019 off to a good start with two new website launches this January with clients from two very different industries.
Moving forwards, Typeface would like to build partnerships with more of Manchester’s digital agencies, as well as continue to provide large, small and startup businesses with added value through creative ideas and great design.
Some end of year statistics.
11 website design and builds.
13 beautiful new brands.
I have managed to use the same pencil for six months …
… in fact, I haven’t used a pen this year at all.
The Leuchtturm A6 notepad holds exactly six months of notes, fits perfectly in an inside or back pocket. I also feel the paper quality is slightly better than Moleskine. My current pad is orange.