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The 2013 thoughts archive

Our BIGGEST campaign to date...

A few months ago we were appointed by Chester Zoo to produce a super-sized campaign for their summer exhibition of giant animatronic bugs. Since then the studio has been buzzing (sorry couldn't resist) creating a name and brand for the campaign, as well as rolling it out across everything from a digital advertising campaign, an animated TV commercial (with a little help from our friends at 422), giant on-site environmental graphics, as well as retail and educational ideas.

The campaign, which we named 'mind-bogglingly BIG BUGS!', focuses on creating a sense of wonder and fascination around the scale of these giant insects. We teamed some fun, clever copywriting (thanks Dave Forster) with some hand-drawn watercolour illustrations by Simon Henshaw to create a campaign which captured the imagination of children, whilst hinting to parents that their kids can learn some mind-boggling facts along the way too.

Mind-bogglingly BIG BUGS! opened to the public on Saturday, but we were lucky enough to get a sneak preview a couple of days earlier and we can confirm that the exhibition definitely lives up to its name. We were particularly impressed by the 30-foot Redknee Tarantula that wouldn't fit in your bath, never mind down the plughole!

If you haven't caught the TV ad yet you can see it here

 Or even better, why not go and see the robotic creepy crawlies for yourself (if you are brave enough that is!)

From fonts, files and print to swim, cycle, run

Finish Line

1 hour 46 minutes, that was how long I took to do my very first sprint distance sea triathlon. A year earlier I'd watched it with my mum in Llandudno. She said at the time she would love to see me complete it - I laughed and said maybe, one day. My mum died six months later.

My mum had terminal cancer, she was diagnosed with Multiple Myleoma. In the two years after being diagnosed she spent a huge amount of time in hospital, or being supported and cared for by St Davids Hospice in Llandudno.

It was because of the care and support they gave my mum and my family, I felt inspired to take up the challenge my mum had suggested. I decided I would take on the sea triathlon and whilst doing so raise money for the charity.

In January of this year I began training six sessions a week. Two runs, two swims and two cycles. I ran in the dark before work, in snow, rain and finally sun. I overcame my fear of swimming and spent my evenings in the pool and then subsequently in freezing lakes and the sea. I pedaled my way  through the valleys in Yorkshire soaking up the fresh air and rain.

Then the day finally arrived. Perfect conditions made for a perfect race day. Dry and warm with a slight breeze.  I found the swim incredibly hard but somehow kept going, albeit slowly. Once on dry land I began speeding up. The bike route took me around The Great Orme, twice. 46 minutes later I was back at transition for the final 5k. A run towards the Little Orme, along the promenade. My legs felt great, I felt great, I never stopped smiling right up until I crossed the finish line. I am convinced my mum pushed me all the way.

I have raised £850 for a really brilliant charity, who provide such amazing facilities for people who really need it. Saint Davids and charities like them provide so much support to patients and the families of people with progressive life threatening illnesses they really are hidden treasures and Saint Davids is a gem.

And if you are wondering will I do another… As long as I can move my body I will take full advantage of the outdoors. There is amazing countryside right outside the door and I embrace it, my next one is in August.

Thinkpiece 3 - Putting a man on the moon.

"You don't turn a company into a Virgin company by sticking a logo above the door."

This quote from Ashley Stockwell, Managing Director of brand and marketing at Virgin Media brilliantly captures the topic of our third Thinkpiece.

We're discussing the importance of internal brand engagement and the benefits for staff and customers (and by virtue, the bottom line) when organisations get this right.

If you work in internal communications or have responsibility for internal engagement, or just want to know more about turning your staff into brand ambassadors, contact Nick Morgan on

Manchester’s intellectual curiosity needs to be celebrated. And stimulated.

After a few months in the planning Wednesday night saw the first Discuss event at The Albert Square Chop House, Manchester. True North has been involved in naming and branding the event which takes the form of a series of participatory debates. We have placed debate right at the heart of the brand, encouraging people to have an opinion on important topics and issues. The identity then goes on to reflect the idea that there are two sides to every argument, using a series of double sided posters, half and half backdrops and perforated leaflets with FOR and AGAINST tear off voting cards.

The event, which is organised by Michael Taylor, Mike Emmerich and our very own Martin Carr involves a panel of four guest speakers debating a motion. Wednesday's debate was 'MARGARET THATCHER’S NORTHERN LEGACY: ALL DESPAIR, NO HOPE. DISCUSS.' With the panel made up of Derek Hatton (Former deputy leader of Liverpool City Council), Karel Williams (Professor of Accounting and Political Economy. Manchester Business School), Susan Williams (Conservative parliamentary candidate and former leader of Trafford Borough Council) and Mike Emmerich (Chief Executive, New Economy Manchester). 

The format of the evening began with the audience being asked to vote for or against the motion. The guest panel were then given 10 minutes each to construct their arguments for and against the motion. After being given an opportunity to ask questions the audience were then asked to cast their deciding vote. The side who managed to sway the vote in their favour was then declared the winner, which at Wednesday's event meant that those arguing against the motion were declared victorious.

The idea behind the event is to give Manchester a platform to get people thinking, promoting healthy discussion and sharing opinions, and if Wednesday's attendance was anything to go by, the event is set to be a great success.

A Discuss website is set to be launched in the coming weeks with new on forthcoming debates as well as recaps of previous discussions.

Dunham Massey rose garden opening

Last week saw the True North ladies attend the opening of the Dunham Massey Rose garden. We have been working with the National Trust property to design a press pack for the launch of their new rose 'Rosa Dunham Massey' at the Chelsea Flower Show and also created the guide to the rose garden.

The new rose garden has been developed on the site of an original rose garden that was situated there during the early 1900s. Taking inspiration from the gardens secluded location and it's rich history, we created a secret garden themed press pack which told the story of the rose garden, past and present, and unlocked the secrets of the Rosa Dunham Massey.
We used a storybook style design, incorporating the visual language that we had created for Dunham Massey's guidelines. Using a french fold design, we hid secret patterns depicting the different stages of the garden within the pages.

The sun came out for the open evening and there was a great turnout to see Gardeners World presenter Rachel de Thame cut the pink ribbon!

A new look for Collections

Over the last few months we have been refreshing the catalogues and brochures for Royal Mail's stamps and collectibles range. This has included a new look for 'first' as well as a new monthly magazine called 'featured', of which the first issue goes out this week! 

Royal Mail's quarterly catalogue, 'Collections', has also been given a makeover this month. We have worked with Will and Jen from Will Shaddock photography to create a series of showcase shots that show off these great products to their full potential. These have been introduced throughout Spring Collections. 

At the start of the photo shoot we spent a day at Will Shaddock's studio with Kerri and Fraser from Royal Mail during which Kerri captured these great behind the scenes images of the sets on her ipad.

We've had great feedback on the new look Collections. Design begins on the Christmas issue very soon!

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