Agency-client relationships

September 22nd, 2016 by Simon Bollon

client meeting

Customers have moved and evolved

Marketing is in a period of fast change. Technology and the rise of digital has changed the marketing landscape and the role of the marketer and agency has been rewritten.

Consumers now have a plethora of information at their fingertips, loyalty has diminished and decision making processes are influenced by a greater number of elements than ever before. Consumers utilize influencers and their own bespoke research ahead of brand messages directed at them. Audiences are more cynical, less receptive to the ever growing volume of marketing messages and as such have become more selective. Permission marketing has impacted greatly and brands need to earn the right to communicate, gain trust and in turn engage a consumer. Only then, will ‘selling’ convert a customer.

Traditional selling approaches through marketing are delivering diminishing direct returns whilst driving increased market/product awareness and/or desire.

Customer journeys have become more complex and navigating your way through the vast array of channels can be confusing and daunting. Customers choose the channels in which they wish to engage – not brands, the channels themselves, or agencies. That means brands need to be at every touchpoint with the right message, at the right time.

The historic processes of segmenting audiences and making well-supported assumptions about the demographics that engage across platforms is becoming less relevant as society moves and evolves.

Brands themselves have had to adapt and evolve to changing consumer behaviors and in turn so have agencies.

Total adspend in the UK is set to grow by around 4.5% in 2016 but ‘digital’ is set to grow at a much more rapid rate whilst mobile alone will see 35% growth in spend. McKinsey and Company estimates global adspend will grow to $2.1 trillion in 2019 with digital accounting for more than 50% of that spend.

This increase of digital disruption in customer acquisition models has created digital dilemmas. Further, the early focus on digital being an acquisition channel is now changing and those brands that use digital purely as a route to sales growth will be left behind by those who win hearts, minds and heads through strategic digital implementation.

The ‘I need’ has changed the agency game

Having undertaken a research piece (more on that another time) on why clients use agencies and what they expect from them, we have seen a clear shift. The volume of reasons has multiplied due to the complexity of the landscape and there’s an increasing requirement for brands to engage with agencies who offer solutions around understanding customers; who they are, where they are, how to engage them, how to use disparate channels appropriately, access to competitor activity and more. All these things proceed activation of campaigns so agencies have become rich in knowledge and data like never before.

Further, scale and/or buying power have become hygiene factors for many clients (though, understandably and rightly, not all) because price is not a key persuader in agency selection when customer understanding and market complexity are top of the ladder.

The fundamental media agency model has changed little in 10 years beyond a diversification of service delivery rather than value proposition. This will change.

The need of many clients has changed.

Think and Do.

Overwhelmed by channel opportunity, many brands and marketeers could be forgiven for focusing on implementing actions rather than ensuring those actions are cohesive to the long-term strategic plan. Indeed, long-term strategies are becoming difficult to develop due to the speed of change and as such we tend to favour long-term objectives, delivered through mid-term strategies and short-term implementation.

At this point I am drawn to the workshop of Roger Harrop who talks about ‘Staying in the Helicopter’ and this should resonate with those leading marketing teams, developing marketing strategies and leading agencies; ensuring a bird’s eye view of everything on the table will ensure better strategic implementation.

At Boutique we have a focus on ‘Think and Do’, which means we understand that balance between strategy and implementation. Activating a PR, media or digital campaign (or ideally, a combination of them all!) that isn’t embedded in long-term objectives or short-term strategies will ultimately fail. Therefore, we only implement when we’re confident that we’ve developed an appropriate strategy.

Agencies evolve

Born in 2011 we’ve grown up in a period of dramatic change. It means that it is core to our culture to remain nimble and flexible, open to change and disruption. It also means that we have moved from a ‘media buying agency’ to a media communications agency delivering strategy and implementation across the fragmented media landscape.

Whilst no longer fresh terminology, the acronym of an agency of POEM (Paid, Owned, Earned Media) still resonates with us internally as we cover all areas through core disciplines in media, digital and PR.

Income split

With agencies having so many disciplines it is easy to retain a structure of silos with individuals focused on their core discipline. The problem with this approach is when agencies remain implementation-focused with strategy only cascading in short bursts, structured around actions and ‘to do’ lists. Further, those silos are disrupted as people watch TV on tablet devices, PR strategies blend with social and SEO becomes content-focused in which the PR team leads through their ability to communicate brand stories most effectively.

At We Are Boutique we have remodelled our structure so that client engagement comes through two divisions; Client Services and Implementation. The Client Service team is focused on integrating with a client’s business, putting us inside that business, developing better understanding and harnessing tighter partnerships. Doing so creates agile collaborative partnerships that thrive. We call it intimacy.

That allows the implementation team to focus on their core strengths of doing.

All is underpinned through strategy. That’s why we Think and Do. Only, we do it better.


We Are Boutique is a multi-disciplined agency working across paid, owned and earned, with core skills in media, digital and PR. We believe that strategy comes first and better results come from hard craft combined with creative thinking.

A modern agency structured around the ever-evolving world of disparate communication, we work with clients to whom we can add real, sustainable and measurable advantage.

If you’d like to know more about how we can help navigate you through the plethora of communication channels, contact Simon at or call us on 0113 394 8990. We love to talk.

Does Heritage Matter?

August 18th, 2016 by Sarah Bartlett

Gold Hill, Shaftesbury

Think about your favourite brands for a moment. What is it about them that you love? Their catchy jingle, emotive animal-based marketing, or their exceptionally-executed social strategy? In a marketing world filled with tough competition for consumer attention, brands are at risk of becoming lost unless they are able to differentiate themselves.

With more and more brands clinging onto their heritage as a form of consumer engagement, are we simply going to be left drowning in a sea of nostalgic storytelling? I’d say that depends on how they utilise it. Heritage can certainly be used to a brand’s advantage – take the Nationwide ‘by your side’ advert, where a Nationwide ‘hero’ delivers a lost scarf that is years old – signifying the high street bank being ‘there’ for the customer through more than one generation. It tugs on the old heart strings, and is a pleasant watch, but is it really enough to solidify a brand in positive consumer light?

A study published in the International Journal of Marketing suggests so, explaining how significant the effects of brand heritage are on the perceived economic, functional, affective and social values of a brand. Put simply, they suggest that brand heritage matters in the eyes of the consumer, not just for the loyalty/trust factor, but emotionally too. The full published article can be read here.

It seems the bank scene is rife for heritage storytelling, as we’ve also got the newest of Lloyds bank’s ‘For Your Next Step’ ads, where this time we follow the iconic black horse through some of life’s key milestones, to a stunning piano cover of Madness’ ‘Mad World’ (and as an avid pianist it scores high in my books) – so is that enough to get me thinking about the nostalgia of the brand? Short answer is yes, but I’m not sure it means I’m rushing to switch.

The trap that brands may fall into is focusing too heavily on their heritage without being relevant to the modern-day consumer. Many brands have heritage, but it takes a strategic campaign to harness the heritage alongside appealing to the wants and needs of consumers today. Hovis is famous for its 1973 Ridley Scott-directed ad, featuring the beautifully cobbled Gold Hill in Shaftesbury where we watch a young chap riding up and down the hill as he brings home the bread. “As good today as it’s always been” is the tagline, which doesn’t feature in their latest spot, but is certainly reimagined among the core themes from the original. The latest ‘Good Inside’ ad features three adventure-hungry kids (led by a girl – it is the 21st Century after all) racing away from a house which is trying to trap them in, Transformers style. The tagline here includes “don’t get stuck indoors … pack a sandwich, and go on”. So what’s great about it? The ad has moved with the times yet held its heritage, appealing to both those who remember the original boy on a bike, and those seeing it in all its advertising glory for the first time. Bravo.

As the published study above states, consumers are searching for products with authenticity, and ‘genuine history’ is a key factor in their decision-making process, especially as the global market is so easily within reach. Heritage brands who readjust their identity to keep up with present and future consumer behaviours, but stick with their core values, are sure to fare well in a constantly changing marketplace.

What was I saying about a sea of nostalgic storytelling? Life jackets at the ready.

Acceleration of Slow

June 16th, 2016 by Emily Holgate

snail pace

The roots of the Slow Movement are said to have been planted around 200 years ago, with the philosophy taking typically slow steps towards sprouting legs in the 1980s, with activists advocating a slower pace of living.

This cultural shift began with political activist Carlo Petrini in 1986, who protested against the fast food chain, McDonald’s, opening a new restaurant in the idyllic Piazza di Spagna in Rome. This saw the birth of the Slow Food Movement, which overtime has developed into a subculture, advocating all things snail-paced, and endeavouring to change the way in which society tackles the modern ultra-fast age.

Ever since the Industrial Revolution, everything has been increasing in speed and convenience, with the majority of this stealth speediness benefiting our lives exponentially and leading to remarkable technological advances – however there is a big chunk of, in some opinions, less-necessary advances which have swept in in the last decade or so, such as the ‘death of the written word’, replaced by the humble emoji and technology including fridges that automatically order milk when you’re running low. Slow Movement author, Carl Hororé, asks, ‘Have we reached the point of trying to accelerate the unacceleratable?’. The Slow Movement endeavours to be the antidote to this immediate and disposable culture we have inadvertently arrived in.

The Slow Movement has crept into all facets of modern culture, with the moderate mantra resulting in ‘Slow’ products – the World Institute of Slowness (yes, that’s a real thing) have developed products for elongated enjoyment, including Slow Coffee, Slow Chocolate and even Slow Beer, each product is produced taking the ‘scenic route’, so to speak, ensuring quality over quantity, which is at the heart of the philosophy.

TV programmers have identified the consumer’s desire for a change in pace, with programming recently aired by the BBC including a canal boat journeying its way down the Kent and Avon canal, over a two hour, commentary-less stint, along with another programme featuring an hour of bird song, followed by 30 minutes of a man making a glass jug.

The philosophy of Slow has fed into modern marketing, with Slow Marketing strategies identified from brands including Kit Kat, with their ‘Free NO Wifi zone’ as respite to constant communication, Audi’s ‘Slowest car we’ve ever built’ and Häagen-Dazs’ 12-minute piece of footage, featuring ice cream reaching the perfect temperature once being removed from the freezer. Good things come to those who wait!

Most recently we’ve seen Ronseal deploy Slow strategy, taking over a 3-minute ad break on Channel 4 with footage of a man painting a fence – literally encouraging viewers to watch paint dry. If 3 minutes weren’t enough, an extended 11-and-a-half-minute version is available on YouTube, which has currently been viewed by 12,800 very busy individuals… (join them here:

Waitrose brought a cow in on the action (or lack of) – with their most recent TV ad showcasing live farm footage, filmed by a cow with a GoPro strapped to its head – “Cow Cam”. Waitrose’s Slow campaign also featured live footage from their farms on YouTube, showing bees buzzing around a hive…

As consumers, we’re so used to brands using their advertising to shout at us, with overly direct messaging, encouraging us to ‘BUY NOW’. With transparent ploys ‘SALE ENDS MONDAY’, the consumer can be forgiven for disengaging with the messaging. Even some of the cleverer, content-led advertising campaigns can get it wrong with poor execution, and an over-zealous frequency count. Subtlety is key, no one needs to hear James Martin preaching about cauliflower couscous 57 times in one week. With a plethora of predictable ads, Slow Marketing is a breath of fresh air and, quite literally changes the pace of advertising, creating enormous stand-out, without shouting.

This sentiment was echoed by Red Bull marketing director, Huib Van Bockel, who describes modern marketing as “like Tinder”, focusing on the immediate and disposable, and not taking the time to slow things down and think about the long game.

Of course, Slow Marketing won’t work for all brands, with inappropriate attempts likely to fall flat. And there is certainly an expiry date on this strategy, as brands hop on this accelerating ‘Slow’ trend, ad breaks will become saturated with silence and the novelty will quickly wear off. However, for those few brands which are truly aligned with the values of slowness, and lead the pack in changing the pace, Slow Marketing could prove fruitful.

Lessons from Grandma

June 6th, 2016 by Thomas Selby

lessons from grandma

Many cliché’s, common phrases and stereotypes are largely based on an exaggerated truth.

So in this instance I’m going to ditch the wanky modern buzzwords and stick to a phrase my Grandma would frequently say to me. She’s from the North East so try to read it with that accent in mind.

Usually in reference to some new jeans or clothing, “Eeeee, well I never. Are those back in fashion? Everything comes back around!”

I only want to concentrate on the last part – ‘Everything comes back around’.

With so many tools available to the modern marketer you’d be forgiven for thinking pure brand marketing could be a thing of the past. Every pound of budget is boiled, mashed, passed through a fine sieve and then thrown into a customer’s face as often as possible.

I’m often exasperated by how regularly brands find a way of interrupting my day only to shout at me. I work for a communications agency; god knows how normal civilians feel.

I’m not suggesting advertising is on its way out, or that we should stop finding new ways to reach consumers, it just seems like we aren’t thinking about quality anymore. Perpetual sales cycles and shouty messaging have diluted the marketing landscape so much that people will begin to seek out sanctuary.

Don’t forget that the advances in technology are also allowing people to ignore advertising, how often do you actually watch live TV? A recent piece of research showed that 60% of the TV 25-35 year olds watch is pre-recorded or VOD programming, which makes it pretty easy to avoid the ads.

We’re so focused on DR, so focused on continually weighing the pig, we often forget to feed it properly.

Working in sales is a similar story; technology and free access to data changed the way we do things. Hearing my dad talk about how he used to do business used to surprise me. He worked with people he knew well, who liked him and would always put in a good word. He almost entirely brought in new business through referral; I occasionally go back home for a round of golf and it’s safe to say he keeps good company, firm handshakes all round…

Up until recently I’d always worked in environments where you were charged with gluing the phone to your ear and bashing your way through a long list of bought data. I’d then occasionally take a break from the cold calling to send out some mass spam.

Any sales professional worth their salt will now tell you this approach doesn’t work anymore.

We have to look inwards and identify what we’re good at and who could actually benefit from our skills. Taking the time to approach the right people in the right way is so much more compelling than saying ‘do you want to buy some stuff’. We need to put our efforts into fostering meaningful relationships, something that takes equal measures of effort and time.

It seems that Grandma may have been right after all… everything does come back around.

The Consumer Journey

January 15th, 2016 by Ryan Roodt


The consumer journey online can be described as a road trip with the family, picture if you will… climbing into the car with the wife and kids and heading down from Edinburgh to London.

With the road trip music blaring, the search journey has now begun and you’re making good grounds down the A1!  It’s at this point you start being bombarded with road signs and billboards… ask yourself the following questions “how many of them would you actually remember?” or “how many of them would generate enough interest for you to pull over?”.

Now skip ahead several hours later, music is still blaring and you’re making great headway down towards the capital… however, your kids are complaining about being hungry and needing the toilet!  The relentless onslaught of signs and billboards now enter a whole new category of desire… because they now serve a purpose!  As the driver your sole job now is to watch every sign and find the one that is most relevant and possibly the closest.

The above example illustrates the impact and importance of strategy in all elements of search and digital marketing including ad copy. If you’re serving your ads (road signs) at irrelevant times, wrong target audience or failing to answers the searches questions then your strategy is wrong and needs to be re assessed. Never underestimate how important ad copy is, because it delivers that crucial first impression potential customers are going to have of your business; it’s what will make or break their decision to click on your ad and visit your site.

Here are several pointers to get your ad copy strategy right!

  1. Write Specific Ads for Specific Keywords

Tailor your ad copy to the specific terms in your paid search accounts. Statistics tell us that visitors are more likely to convert to a sale, sign-up or other type of conversion when they see queries they’ve keyed into the search engines in your actual ad copy.

  1. Cater Ad Copy to Different Buyer Needs

As we all know, buyers are motivated by different factors (remember our road trip).

  1. Ad Copy Should Be Appropriate in “Feel” to the Industry Category

Use the appropriate ad tone for your audience. For example, if you’re selling children’s toys, ad copy can be lighter and more playful in tone than if you’re trying to sell to business executives.

  1. Consider the Buy Cycle

With many products and services there are several buying stages. At the beginning of the buy cycle, searchers may be looking for general information and product reviews, while at the end of the cycle they may be looking for return policy information or where to make a secure purchase.

  1. Analyse Paid Search Results

CTRs (Click Through Rates) and conversion figures are key (if your focus is to generate sales). With higher CTRs, advertisers generally get lower PPC prices and this can obviously have a significant impact on ROI (return on investment).

  1. Ensure PPC Data is Statistically Significant

Generally speaking, inconclusive data means ad tests haven’t been running long enough.

  1. Carry Over Ad Copy Keywords to Landing Pages

If possible, try to have the keywords in your ad copy appear on your landing pages (the pages that people go to when they click on your ads).

  1. Keep Testing Ad Copy

I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to test. We like using A/B testing to get a feel for ad tone and overall market positioning. In general, the rule of thumb is to test at least 3 ads at a time per ad group.

  1. Spend Time Creating Killer Ad Copy

Killer copy doesn’t come out of thin air. It takes time to generate good ad copy, so give copywriting the time it deserves. I like to break up the task of generating ad copy. Try the following steps:

  1. Determine differences between you and your competitors. Or, in other words, get clear on your company’s USPs.
  2. Brainstorm copy segments like various USPs, product or service descriptions, etc.
  3. String copy together in various combinations.
  4. Write ads with different tones.

And finally… the one we are all probably guilty of not doing!

  1. Think Outside the Box

Road trips and billboards should now take on whole new meaning and there are a lot of factors to consider when creating ad-copy and implementing your strategy. If you need any help or further explanation on the ten point please give us a shout, we will be more than happy to help!

Have a happy and safe Journey.


PPC and the Dreaded Question

October 23rd, 2015 by Ryan Roodt

Pay Per Click

One of the many joys of digital marketing is the new and different questions we ask ourselves, and are asked by our clients, every day. There are, however, some questions that make us quiver at the very thought, and we were dealt that question last week during a client meeting. On the face of it the question was a simple one… But one that was littered with twists and turns and potential pitfalls if not dealt with carefully!

The question was “Where and how does paid search fit in our marketing strategy and what effect do the generic keywords have?” and more specifically, the time period was Christmas 2014!

We love a good challenge at “We Are Boutique” and we wanted to use this question as a real opportunity to explore and understand where and how generic keywords played a role in a digital marketing strategy.

We didn’t want to create the bog standard report that contained the usual metrics of clicks’ cost and revenue, we chose to look a little deeper into the relationship between the paid search users and the website/brand. In order to achieve this result, we focused on three additional sets of data, which were the following:


  • Sessions: the number of times visitors are actively engaged on the website. Generally speaking, every visitor has at least one “session” when they visit the site, but they could have multiple depending on the circumstances.


  • Average Session Duration: the average length of visitors’ sessions. Again, longer sessions indicate that users are more engaged.


  • Bounce Rate: the percentage of visits that are single-page only (i.e. people who visit one page and leave). Usually a high bounce rate is a sign that people are leaving your site (or a certain page) because they aren’t finding what they are looking for.


We felt that these metrics gave us a better understanding of the keyword and site engagement. We then created our own grading matrix which gave each keyword a guideline score, the report was then split into two sections; converting keywords and non-converting keywords.  It will come as no surprise but the majority of the keywords that converted were brand orientated, but what was more interesting was that there were a very large number of generics that were graded very high in our matrix due to a large amount of time on site, low bounce rate and a large number of pages viewed. This result suggests that consumers were landing on the site and spending a considerable amount of time on the site and not bouncing off straight away.

The non-converting keywords were dominated by generic keywords but again their overall time and page sessions were very high and there is certainly ground to assume that these consumers could have returned via another digital channel. If you had to compare to a real life scenario, you are more likely to have a new or returning customer the longer they spend walking and looking around your store.

As part of our research we also looked into the paid search attribution funnel, which gave us a visual birds eye view of common paths that were carried out in the purchasing process and the total conversions associated to each. The results were brilliant and it clearly showed that paid search played a role in the consumer buying/searching process, to be more precise over 45% of the common paths consumers used over that period in December were attributed to paid search. Understandably paid search does have a cost associated to it but there is a lot to be said about the role it plays in site conversions and its place in a digital marketing strategy.

As part of our conclusions and recommendations, we have put a digital plan in place to really push the generic keywords and to really use this busy Christmas period to generate sales and brand awareness. We will then compare the year on year results and more importantly the conversion funnels! We will certainly be posting our results so keep checking our blog to see how we got on.


Five brands that are killing it on Twitter

June 25th, 2015 by Charley Downey


Twitter is the ‘big dog’ within the constantly evolving social media world, and these days you can search for almost any celeb or business and find their Twitter account. Whether it be breaking news, opinions on a TV show or social competitions, Twitter is the first point of call for many consumers- so it’s incredibly important for brands to stay active and ‘ahead of the game’.

In saying that, tweets about ‘niche’ products or services will, understandably, require more thought and ‘thinking-outside-of-the-box’. No one likes sales tweet, after sales tweet, after sale – you get where I’m going with this.

So I’ve decided to compile a list of brands that, I think, are killing it on Twitter.

5) Charmin

Who said toilet roll was boring? With a following of 67k and engagement on every tweet, Charmin take toilet roll to another level.

Charmin Tweet     Charmin Tweet


4) Tesco

The likes of leeks, sausages and other groceries could prove difficult to tweet about- but Tesco goes about this problem perfectly.


Katy Perry- Tesco Tweet

Tesco Tweet
Tesco Tweet


3) Delta

Who said aeroplanes don’t have a sense of humour?


Delta Tweet

Delta Tweet


2) Arby’s

This American sandwich chain knows how to throw humour into their posts while also spreading brand and product awareness.

Arby's Tweet Arby's Tweet Arby's Milkshake Tweet


1) Taco Bell

And finally, my winner. With 1.57m followers you know these guys are doing something right. Oh and their followers have become so loyal over the years, a three word tweet can rake up 4.3k favourites. The screenshots say it all…


Taco Bell Tweet Burrito- Taco Bell Tweet Taco Bell Tweet  Bell is life


At Boutique we strongly believe a little humour gets you a long way. Where it’s possible to instil this into social, it goes along way to people engaging with your brand. The above examples all portray how important social engagement is to a business, whether it be loo roll or tacos!

If you want media advice, we’ve an office full of comms champions bursting with ideas. Drop in for a cuppa and we’ll happily share our thoughts!

Happy Tweeting.

New AdWords editor

May 21st, 2015 by Rory Dunlop


This week saw the latest version of AdWords editor released (11.1), bringing further improvements to version 11 which was released late last year.

For those who aren’t aware of the tool, AdWords editor allows advertisers to make bulk edits and quickly change particular elements of their Google AdWords account.

The revamped version 11 brought with it a completely new layout, making it one of Google’s most comprehensive makeovers to date (see below). The navigation is distinctly fresher and admittedly took me a few days to become fully accustomed to. Version 11 did however come with some flaws and minor bugs, which seem to have been rectified with this latest 11.1 release.


JW 2


JW 2

In terms of the main new functions, Labels integration is probably the key one. Labels have been integral in the grouping of our campaigns, and having the functionality to edit and manage within the editor interface is of huge benefit from a time saving, organisational perspective. The vast array of colours also spice up the screen.

Another benefit of the upgrade is the ability to build call-only ads. Although we have only built these out on a small minority of accounts, the bulk creation and management of the feature has been still been adopted.

Other benefits such as upgraded URL support and spell checking in other languages can only further enhance account performance in other areas.

With the growing emphasis on Google shopping through online ecommerce, I’d be interested to see how this area evolves to become compatible with editor, perhaps it will be seen in 11.2!

Print isn’t dead

May 13th, 2015 by Simon Bollon


Dominic Mills (Ex Publisher of Haymarket and Editor of Campaign) wrote recently about the cover lines of magazines being detrimental to sales, and I’d have to agree that the salacious, personal ‘bullying’ and hyperbole of headlines is often off-putting.  The societal need for self-loathing and desperation for self-improvement in equal measures is well represented on many mainstream magazine front covers- it’s a damming statement for society that the biggest selling titles tend to cover horror stories you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemies!

However, the need to shout is a consequence of cluttered and declining market. Who wants ordinary?

In April the Advertising Association and WARC released a report showing the advertising industry, as a whole, was in rude health with UK spend up 5.8% to £18.6bn.

National News brands and magazines were the only losers with print ad spend in steep decline, rescued only by the increase in digital income.

The problem newspapers and magazines face is the perception that they remain platforms that their names allude to; paper and print. In reality, consumption of those platforms are evenly spread across print and digital, and the platforms must work hard to be seen as news brands and content platforms.

In the news brand market the Sun and Times have limited their shift to digital due to the paywalls, but the likes of the Telegraph, Mail, Mirror, Guardian and Independent have seen huge shifts of reach from print to digital and, as such, their commercial structure has shifted also.


However there’s still a place for print. The recent UK elections demonstrated the power of press and the importance of the platforms as outlets for news, opinion….and bias!

Whilst the newspaper still saw a mixed bag of declining circulation or a period of stabilisation (probably worse than expected results?) their role in a democratic society should not be underestimated.



Daily Mirror, May 8th 2015. Staying true to its core!




For news brands, we should never underestimate the importance of these platforms for news distribution, opinion and information. In a content rich world, newspapers often remain the key platform to which society turns for knowledge.

In terms of magazines, several titles still return healthy circulation and readership figures. From TV Choice, to Glamour, Radio Times and Good Housekeeping, circulations for several titles are still in the hundreds of thousands.

We have several clients in the magazine market and we continue to give the channel due consideration for all clients. The change we have instigated is a shift of budget away from print to digital, but also from generic display advertising to more creative, more integrated ideas around content, native, inserts and competitions. Ultimately, using the titles to their strengths.

Magazines are a highly trusted medium and referred to for inspiration and ideas. Integrating with content and being part of that inspiration is one common tactic whether that’s online or in print.

They offer significant dwell time in a relatively uncluttered environment which means greater engagement.

The declining circulations also mean titles have become introspective, focusing on their customers, understanding their desires, needs and motivation and providing better content and better opportunities for advertisers. That makes them a compelling partner for us and our clients.

Magazine circulations will continue to decline and more consumers will shift to digital platforms but with more engaging and connecting content, magazines should remain on every client’s eye line.

As Sue Todd, Chief Executive of Magnetic, the magazine marketing agency stated, ‘Magazine media is growing in power and influence as consumers demand more compelling content which inspires ideas and helps them make choices in an ever more cluttered world’.

The making of ‘We Are Boutique’

April 30th, 2015 by Simon Bollon

We Are Boutique Logo

The making of ‘We Are Boutique’

This week we launched our new branding and brand positioning, designed to give us a solid base on which to continue our rapid growth over the next few years.

Below I’ve provided a snapshot and top line overview of how we reached the end result.

The brief.

After four years of significant growth and development, we needed a positioning; a tone, look and feel that could assist us in another four years of growth.

Our business has developed from the inception of the Boutique brand and, whilst the name remains relevant, we recognised that it was a little too bespoke, too ‘fluffy’ and lacking impact.

Essentially, the brief was to create a brand look that was more ‘grown up’.

Why Boutique?

The name is fair representation of our business; it represents a passionate, personal, bespoke, exceptional service with high standards – everything you would (hopefully) associate with the term Boutique.

We have no desire to be a £100m+ turnover business and, whilst £25m is a lofty turnover ambition, it remains a drop in ocean compared to our network rivals, meaning the relevance of the word Boutique remains valid even with that growth.

We Are Boutique.

We made the decision that the separate trading elements we had in Boutique Media and Boutique Digital were redundant. We had previously felt nervous that clients wouldn’t see us as experts if we had one holistic agency offering, but the reality is the proof is in the pudding. We are one big happy family, delivering astonishing results across every channel. We therefore needed to be one brand:
One brand, one business, one family of champions.

Furthermore, we don’t feel there is a need for either ‘media’ or ‘communications’ in our name. People know who we are and what we do. The name needs to be a statement of positioning, not of operation.

The process.

We started with a workshop with Fist of Fury that took us through three stages of disseminating the brand. This enabled us to more precisely and succinctly identify who we are, what we do, how we engage and what the core messages of our proposition are.

The process was refreshing, challenging and full of debate but, ultimately, got us to a point of clarity and raised some key points (we realised we use far too many words when explaining who we are and what we do)

Beyond that, we had a team away day to engage all employees and ask them to go through the same process. It was a litmus test to check that we as directors perceived the business in the same way. Thankfully, the results were in line with our own findings!

1 2 3


The brand.

Whilst it would be remiss of us to detail the exact outcomes, you will of course see some of the results in our website and communication. Suffice to say the key areas we are focused on are strategy, our strength as an independent, alternative agency and our promise to be better. They all sound pretty standard but are brought to life in our daily work, communication and internal activities. In essence, our ways or working.

The look.

We wanted a look that was more grown up but still personal. We wanted to avoid imagery and focus on the name that we have worked hard to make known. Boutique is not necessarily usable as a standalone word, and therefore we wanted to include the broader ‘We Are’ which we will be able to trademark.

As we went through various connotations, we identified that we wanted a font focused position that was bold and somewhat clashed with the word Boutique. Representing our position as an agency which is Boutique in service but big in scale, resource, knowledge and experience.

The stages below show we developed the initial concepts to create the final result:





The end result is (we hope you agree) a strong development of the concepts and a fair representation of our positioning…