A modern reworking for a cathedral of creativity…

5 days a week, 52 weeks a year we spend our waking, and often sleeping hours, thinking about our clients and what amazing pieces of creativity that we can deliver for them.

Finally though, enough was enough.
It was time to do something for ourselves.
And top of the list was looking at our office space.

It needed to feel fresh and exciting.
It couldn’t be too visually dominating otherwise it might ‘inspire’ our designs for other clients.
Naturally, it also needed to reflect not only MONK’s ethos and approach to projects, but also somehow capture our general leaning towards irreverence.

Early on in the design process we embraced the concept of a stain-glass window.
These canvasses of light are not simply used in places of worship to dramatise inspirational stories, they draw the face upwards to the heavens. Asking the viewer to look towards something greater than themselves – in our case, creative inspiration.

These windows would also allow added light in, would change colour with the seasons, while all the time maintaining our privacy.

Cubes of colour were connected with geometric shapes that spills out of the widow and spread across the walls, changing into origami creatures. Animals and objects that echo our traits of strength, determination, inspiration, response and playfulness. These designs also blur the boundaries between the window and the wall, creating a space that feels larger than in actuality it is.

Made from folded paper and using black and the MONK dark blue, the two key messages of CREATING BELIEVERS and NOTHING IS SACRED fill opposite walls.

The result is a room that transforms with the seasons and changes with the passing of the day – both inside and out. Becoming a beacon of light at night that draws the casual passerby in, and tells of something rather special and unusual happening inside.

More than that, it’s simply a nice space and one that we’re all happy with. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about?
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Is content simply a commodity for brands?

The phrase ‘content is king’ has been bandied about more and more since the social media boom and the expansion of the Internet. Everyone from stay-at-home mums to the world’s largest brands is jumping on this increasingly saturated bandwagon – but to what effect?

Most of us will remember the time before the Internet, when display advertising, TV and radio where the mainstays of brand interaction with consumers. Nowadays, however, brands have huge opportunities to engage with their consumers in a myriad of different places in more meaningful ways. The media landscape has transformed and social media sees consumers expecting brands to engage with them directly.

Due to fast-paced market conditions, brands have rushed headlong into publishing, thinking they will miss out on opportunities if they don’t – but few have been successful in their forays. In my opinion, one of the major reasons brands fail is that they lack the strategic vision, talent, infrastructure and genuine audience understanding to succeed. So determined are they to create ‘content’, that their resulting efforts usually bear no resemblance to the brand and is seen by business leaders as just another commodity.

As such, this ‘content’ has little intrinsic value and its cost can always be driven down. Of course, there are exceptions, and while clients will often wistfully look towards these, at the end of the day they are looking at ways to deliver the required ‘content’ for the least expenditure.

If, as a brand, you want to maximize your chances of cutting through the content bullshit, then an asset audit is the best place to start. It will allow you to really understand the value of your content assets and how to maintain them.

Furthermore, brands should have useful content that serves its different audiences and customers. The purchase path is far more complex than ever before and as such; content needs to be served at the various points of their consumer journey. However, brands need to be able to create fast, flexible and often reactive content – sign-off procedures need to be slick and a war room assembled for big events – look how brilliantly Oreo handled the Superbowl blackout with it’s ‘you can still dunk in the dark’ tweet.

Most importantly, brands need to align their content strategy with their overall mission. Everyone is familiar with the peaks and troughs of a media plan, but to succeed as a publisher, brands need to adopt an ‘always on’ approach and that takes serious investment in the right people to keep the operation from falling off the rails. Before creating reams of content, brands should take a step back and look at how their content strategy aligns with the overall business plan. They need to be in-sync. Content is there to support the overall business mission and serve its consumers.

Lastly, brands need to think about what they want their content to achieve. Is the main aim to build brand awareness, sell more units or drive registrations? It is not enough to pump out a ‘one size fits all’ piece of content and expect to reap the rewards. Properly crafted content that knows its audience and serves a purpose will gain the desired traction, while the rest will just add to the increasing amount of noise being created that has no real purpose at all.

LexisNexis – Women in Prison

We were approached by LexisNexis in order to create a film around the sensitive subject of should women be sent to prison and exploring the impact of imprisonment on female offenders and the wider community.

From the off this was going to be a contentious subject, so we had to handle it with kid gloves – simply allowing the ex-offenders the platform to tell their story in a reasoned manner.

The result is a powerful six minute film.

T0 support this, we also created a series of posters.

When different is better

Recently we were creating new ad for a client.

The concept was that they would put the financial news right in front of you – more than that, the news would be delivered to you by the reporter.

Powerful stuff we thought.

So we drew up the visuals and presented them to the client.

The client loved them – but had to get internal sign-off.

And this is where it could have gone horribly wrong.

The feedback was could the reporter be standing beside the desk.

After all, wasn’t this how people really behaved?

Well, yes.

But isn’t that what people would expect?

So would it have standout and would it catch peoples’ attention?

Thankfully we have a client who realises that you can’t simply create the safe and the ordinary – sometimes you have to do something that feels and looks different.

Using Augmented Reality to bring posters to life

MONK was recently tasked to help LexisNexis bring one of their events to life. One of the keys areas of focus at this event, was staff. Now, like most organisations, the people who work at LexisNexis are an interesting bunch – but no one ever gets to hear what they get up to. Yet if they did, it might actually be a pleasant surprise.

So we spent a day filming a cross section of the staff. We then created a series of A1 posters that went up around the event. But here’s the clever bit. When attendees held their smart devices over the posters, the film that related to that person played.

A little touch that really helped to bring their collateral to life and actually got the posters talking for themselves.

Direct Mail is dead. Excellent.

Now that direct mail has fallen out of favour, MONK’s Creative Director Mark Blaylock argues that there’s never been a better time to use it.

When was the last time you walked to your front door and having flicked through the small pile of direct mail, opened up something other than a bill from your services supplier company?

Remember, the joy of opening a lovingly crafted piece of direct mail from an automotive brand?

The delight at seeing a die-cut mailer from a cereal manufacturer?

Even the beautifully worded letter from a bank hoping to entice you into starting a pension?

This has all but faded into the mists of time.

And understandably it has been replaced by the new digital kid on the block.

And why not? It offers so much.

It is traceable and accountable.

The agency and the client can see where every penny goes.

They can turn it on or off as they see fit and as responses come in, so these can then form a part of a well-defined CRM strategy.

One that ensures the minimum attrition while delivering the maximum conversion rates.

It’s very now.

The brand and its Marketing Directors can pat themselves on the back that they’re doing everything they can to stay on trend and to keep themselves abreast with the latest digital strategies.

What’s more, they can achieve all this without the costs of postage or print.

So what’s not to like?

Surely this is the way forward?

Which is why everyone but everyone has digital at the core of their strategies.

Well for me this is lazy thinking.

If everyone is online, then that’s the last place I’d want to be.

Let’s put it