About our thoughts

Our work with 52 Lives

19 August 2015 in Business

We started our 1 in 10 scheme to enable us to help worthy charities and people who might otherwise miss out due to lack of funding. It was this scheme that introduced us to Jaime of 52 Lives, a one-woman voluntary organisation that changes people’s lives on a weekly basis. We think that the following write up from Jaime demonstrates just how valuable 1 in 10 is to the people that benefit from it - and how rewarding it is for us.

"About 18 months ago, I started a website called 52 Lives. 52 Lives aims to help change someone's life every week of the year, with the help of kind strangers all over the world. Every week, I share a story of someone in need of help and request what they need - and our amazing network of supporters do the rest.

"52 Lives started as a Facebook page, and later became a website (which I created myself). I soon realised that the site wasn't adequate for what I needed - it was fairly poorly designed, updating it was complicated, and the functionality was very limited. But I had no budget for a new website so was a bit stuck.

"Then I came across Blanc's 1 in 10 project - an amazing initiative that involves the lovely Blanc team donating their time to worthy causes. I submitted an application for them to consider helping 52 Lives, and was absolutely thrilled when they said yes.

"From day 1, they were nothing but professional. Although they were doing the work for free, it never felt that way -they dedicated significant time and resources to helping me. From initial logo concepts and web design, to the more technical side of things, I was so impressed by everything they did for me. They have a brilliant mix of talents - a very strong and adaptable creative team led by helpful (and very patient - sorry for all my questions!) technical people.

"A few days after the website launched, 52 Lives was featured on ITV's Surprise Surprise programme and the website traffic went through the roof. 52 Lives gained more than 50,000 supporters in a few hours. Without me even asking them to, the Blanc team had systems in place and were on standby to deal with any issues, which they did quickly and professionally.

"I am so grateful for everything they have done for me. The website looks fantastic and does everything I need it to do and more. I was kept fully informed every step of the way. And above all else, they are just a lovely bunch of people to work with.

I think the 1 in 10 Project is a fantastic idea - more companies should do this!"

Jaime Thurston, 52 Lives

The power of the selfie

15 June 2015 in Inspiration

There are some things in life that need to be done, no matter how much you don’t want to do them. Most of these are pretty trivial - commuting in rush hour traffic, or going to visit your in-laws. Getting a smear test is not.

Smear tests, also known as cervical screenings, save the lives of 5000 women annually. Yet there are many women who ignore their invite to be screened, with a third of women aged 25-29 not making an appointment. Is it that they don’t care about their health? No - many say that they are too embarrassed, scared it will be painful, or they are just too busy to attend.

Sadly, there are also a lot of women who are scared that they will be told that there is something wrong. Cervical screening is commonly seen as a test for cancer - it’s not. It’s actually a test to check the health of the cervix, to find any abnormalities that may lead to cancer if left untreated. Over 90% of screening results are clear, and many abnormal results are mild cell changes that are likely to go back to normal on their own.

June 15th-21st is Cervical Screening Awareness Week and there are so many ways that you can get involved. Jo’s Trust is behind the #SmearforSmear campaign, which involves putting on your favourite lipstick, smearing it and taking a selfie. You then upload your selfie to every social media account you own and nominate a friend to do the same. With celebrities from Cara Delevingne to Rita Ora posting their own #SmearforSmear selfies, this campaign has a lot of potential, especially when it comes to reaching young women. Men are welcome to join in too!

The Red Lippy Project is running a similar campaign called Flip Your Lips. For this you just have to apply red lipstick, take a selfie and then rotate the photo sideways. Again, upload to social media and nominate three of your friends to do the same. Their 2014 campaign also drew celebrity attention and saw the Red Lippy Project team up with Topshop to create a limited edition lipstick and makeup bag. There’s been a significant build up to today’s launch and it will be exciting to see where they take the campaign this year.

Both of these campaigns are great examples of charities and individuals harnessing the power of social media to bring attention to incredibly worthy causes. With the unprecedented success of the Ice Bucket Challenge and #nomakeupselfie, charities can reach wider audiences and prompt engagement at levels they never have before. They are also really easy ways to raise awareness of the importance of getting a smear test - there’s no excuse not to get involved!

Kerrie, Account Executive

The missing letters

10 June 2015 in Inspiration

Last week we wrote about a beautiful campaign that was being run in Peru in order to raise awareness for more organ donations. This week we’re talking about a campaign and issue a little closer to home. The NHS launched a week long campaign on Monday called #MissingLetters to highlight the fact that they desperately need more blood donors. It is a known fact that not enough people donate blood, but what you may not be aware of there being a 40 per cent decrease of new people donating blood in the last year compared to the amount donating ten years ago. To put this into perspective, this means 120,000 fewer people are giving blood.

As part of #MissingLetters and National Blood Week street signs and shop fronts have been removing the letters from their signage to raise awareness and encourage people to sign up and give blood. The phenomenon has spread vast and wide with Green and Blacks tweeting their packaging with missing letters to London’s Downing Street dropping their ‘O’. The NHS is hoping this campaign will encourage 204,000 new donors to come forward in order to replace those who no longer can donate.

Assistant Director for Donor Services and Marketing at NHS Blood and Transplant, Jon Latham believes we ‘can’t ignore the fact that there has been a stark reduction in the number of new donors coming forward’. Blood donation is vital for a number of medical procedures and isn’t just limited to emergencies and operations. The blood you donate it used in vast range of medical situations from patients receiving chemotherapy to giving relief to those who are terminally ill. Some people are unsure if they can give blood for medical or personal reasons, but the Give Blood website provides a quick and easy check to see if you are eligible. 

Roz, Designer

Wifi in the shadows

9 June 2015 in Inspiration

Who doesn’t love a vacation in an exotic country soaking up the local culture and catching a tan? 

But a lot of us still aren’t taking enough caution with our skin when it comes to sun rays. Statistically malignant melanoma is the 5th most common cancer in the UK with a shocking 27% of cases diagnosed bing in those aged under 50 years. But a lot of us still don’t wear a high enough sun lotion factor, or if any at all.

That is why I was so pleased to see Happiness Brussels recently team up with the Peruvian League Against Cancer to help educate us some more when it comes to skin protection and cancer prevention. ‘Shadow WiFi’ is a recently launched campaign in Peru on Playa Agua Dulce that provides Wifi for those at the beach. The catch? The Wifi tower provides a shadow space, and in order to hook up and use the internet you need to be sat in said shade.

By taking this approach people are interacting and having fun while protecting their skin as well as learning just how important that is. So how does it work? the looming blue structure has a directional antenna ensures that the Wi-Fi is only delivered to the shadow area. Throughout the day the antenna tracks the sun’s movement, synching and changing the rotation of the Wifi antenna. This means that as the sun rotates as does the shaded Wifi location.

Providing over 250 users with a network connection at a time, the users are also provided with valuable analytics on how much time they’re spending in the shade. Sunscreen provides great protection and shouldn’t be forgotten, however sitting in the shade of often over looked and is one of the best ways to help prevent skin cancer. Shadow Wifi is currently only available in Peru, but there are plans to launch more towers in San Francisco, New Zealand, and across beaches worldwide.

So as your vacations roll on round remember to take the time to sit in the shade during peek hours (12-4) and wear plenty of sun screen.

Roz, Designer

The art of organ donations

4 June 2015 in Inspiration

Organ donation is a personal subject and everyone has their own opinion and stance on it.

The NHS Blood and Transplant, the health authority responsible for organ donations, recently shed light on a chronic shortage of donors and the ever increasing demand for organs across the UK. Every year 1,000 people in the UK alone die waiting for a transplant, while only one third of us are currently on the Organ Donor register. But just one Donor can save up to nine lives.

Campaigns take place across the world on a regular basis in order to raise awareness whether it be likening donors to super hero’s or using shock tactics to provide a sense of fear. One hospital however, that want the world to take note is Beneficência Portuguesa in São Paulo, Brazil. They recently launched a campaign in order to raise awareness and encourage more donors to sign the register. It is renowned for having medical staff that specialise in heart, liver, kidney, bone marrow, cornea and pancreas transplants, among others.

The campaign featured a series of Ice Men placed in three of the busiest locations by agency DM9DDB. Within the ice sculptures were ‘organs’, visible to the hundreds of people passing in downtown São Paulo. As the day progressed the ice began to melt, leaving just a single organ for each statue.

To illustrate a metaphor for the circle of life the ice itself is made from reclaimed water, which then melts and is used yet again in order to make other statues, while the ‘organs’ were made using red acrylic. “We used them as an analogy for the human body,” says Manuel Coelho, Executive Superintendent of Marketing at the hospital. The analogy works beautifully, as the ice melted and the organs remained intact illustrating how death does not eliminate the use of organs to save another life. Each of the organs were engraved with the message: Life goes on. Be an organ donor.

The campaign also consisted of a two minute video to capture the campaign and educate on a broader level.

Roz, Designer

Safety after dark

4 June 2015 in Development

I’m an older sister, and last September my not so little sister went off to university. I think I’m secretly more scared and nervous about it all than my parents. There’s a mere 4 years between me and her, but I’m forever telling her to be careful, be home on time, to walk in pairs, the list goes on and frankly I think she’s getting sick of me and my nagging.

But I do it out of love and with good reason. This January a survey commissioned by the Telegraph reported that one in three female students has been physically or sexually assaulted, on poorly lit UK campuses. Further statistics found that one in eight male students has also been subject to a similar experiences. Even more shockingly more than half of female undergraduates know someone who has suffered sexual assault or unwanted advances. So in a world with so much darkness it’s nice to hear of those that are shedding a little light.

Hannah Dow and Steve Coffey are some of those people. Graduates of University of Michigan they have developed a brand new mobile app called Rudder that could help those travellers of the dark with a little guidance. The app provides directions to your given destination, by displaying a route that is the quickest but more importantly best lit option. It does so by incorporporating a selected city’s street light data with precise turn-by-turn directions. The app states to provide directions to a destination with an algorithm that ensures to not take you more than five to eight minutes out of your way en route.

The app features a progress meter to track how much of the journey is completed/yet to complete, as well as a light meter. This enables the user to determine how well lit their current surroundings are, making you a little more aware and alert when necessary. Dow and Coffey have bigger plans though. They are now looking to expand the app by adding a feature that enables the user to share their travel progress with family and friends, allowing them to keep track of their progression and giving them a heads up on arrival at the destination. Furthermore they want to enable turn by turn notifications. This would allow the user to keep their phone in their pocket while still receiving directions and being able to focus on their surroundings and environment instead.

The app is currently available in a range of states across the USA, Canada and even venturing to Paris, France. Here’s to hoping this app reaches a lot more places providing us all with a little more guidance and light when needed.

Roz, Designer

' The Tray Typer'

2 June 2015 in Fun

Who doesn’t enjoy a good burger and fries from time to time. 

I’m not talking fancy restaurants, I mean the likes of Five Guys, McDonald's and the occasional KFC. For me it’s not a regular occurrence, but after a long day in the studio, sometimes the thought of facing a kitchen or making plans to go out for a meal just requires, well, effort? Queue fast food for one and attempting to multi task while eating and checking the latest football scores, friends face books or the e-mails. The downside- grease everywhere!

This is where KFC have not only perfected that oh so good recipe, but they’ve recently invented the ‘Tray Typer’. When I first read about this little beauty I was adamant it was a hoax. As part of an advertising campaign in Germany they released a durable paper tray that allows you to connect to your phone via bluetooth acting as a rechargeable wireless keyboard. Measuring at just 0.4 mm thin the ‘trapped’ is also rechargeable with a USB port that resembles something very similar you would find at your work’s desk no less.

Designed as part of promotional campaign to launch new locations that had recently opened in Germany, it proved to be quite a success. They were handing out during the first week, with customers so impressed, according to management, that the ‘traypads’ were taken home! It may have just been for promotional purposes, but I think this fast food joint has found a sweet spot…

Roz, Designer

Improving the safety of cycling

2 June 2015 in Design

Over the years there’s been a range of aids to help those chose to avoid a large carbon foot print and instead take to the peddles. We’ve seen cycle lanes, 'Boris Bikes’ and bike to work schemes. However safety when cycling is still a big concern, especially when it comes to evening and night time rides.

Again, it seems that technology is paving a way forward for cyclists, so to speak. A former software engineer from Google, Zach Vorhies has decided to focused his attention on designing and creating a kick start project on ‘turn gloves’. Vorhies teamed with Murat Mzkan, senior design engineer at Nuvation to create Zackees Turn Signal Gloves.  Their initial ideas to improve cycling included a Hydro-Pak and Shoulder-Shrug Turn Signals to name a few. They decided to develop the gloves, working by having a blinking arrow light on a pair of left and right gloves. The cyclist can simply hold up the relevant hand to indicate when they’re wanting to turn, allowing motorists to know whether they’re going to turn or pass, and on which side.

The concept is simple, however there’s a lot more technology behind it that you’d think. When a set of metal resits and sensors connect a circuit is formed causing the lights to blink. This is done by simply holding your thumb and pointer finger together in order to form the circuit and start the blinking indicator. When the rivets are separated the lights turn off.

Despite the electrical components the gloves are machine washable and work with rechargable batteries, or the coin batteries dependent on what the individual wants. A single charge will keep the gloves lit up for a surprising two months for a brief daily cycle pattern.

The development team at Zackees have also highlighted that not only are these gloves great for cyclists, by the benefit a wider audience including motorcyclists, joggers and those who walk at night to give them extra safety in the dark and making drivers more aware of their presence.

Roz, Designer

Backup memory

14 May 2015 in Inspiration

Earlier this year I was one of many to join the crowds to see Julianne Moore’s heart wrenching performance of a young woman facing the early onset of Alzheimer’s in ‘Still Alice’. Through the years I’ve known too many friends whose family members have been taken by the disease, or similar ones. Seeing what they go through on a daily basis is both heartbreaking and inspiring, so the film hit me hard.

In the movie Alice (Moore) relied heavily on her smartphone to help her work against the symptoms she faced. It illustrated just how helpful technology can be for Alzheimer patients when trying to jog their memories and recall information that would otherwise be lost. So when I read of Samsung’s latest release,  Backup Memory I was inspired and intrigued.

Charities like  Alzheimers Research UK have dedicated staff that have given huge parts of their lives to finding a cure, but to date Alzheimer's is incurable. However recent studies suggest that ‘mental stimulation in the form of regular reminders of past events could potentially slow down the progression of the disease’ explains Azer Jaafoura, marketing manager of Samsung’s latest app.

Jaafoura has spent a long time working with technology to create something to help both Alzheimer's sufferers and their caregivers. During his spare hours he volunteers at a local hospital, so he and the team decided to create a simple app to help the fight against Alzheimer’s.

The app prompts its user to recall people in their lives and the moment that they first met. The idea, as the name suggests, is to help create a stimulant to backup up their memory and aid recall. With Alzheimer’s, whatever is forgotten is in fact lost forever. There is no way to undo what is lost, but through cognitive stimulation memories can be held on to for longer and slow down the effects of Alzheimer’s.

Developed with input from the Tunisian Alzheimer's Association, the app uses bluetooth to detect nearby family or friends who have the app. To help the patient, when a family or friend is near the app pushes a notification in real time with a photo of the person including details of relationship identity, for example husband, daughter, grandchild. It also shows them a range of photos and videos of past events involving said patient so the sufferer can help piece their memories together.

This is classed as non-medical therapy but the app is currently being trailed with patients, and research suggests that by continuously exposing the diagnosed to their past greatly improves the their memory. So for those that say there’s too many apps, we say look at the benefits those have brought to the world.

The lack of snap-happy charities

7 May 2015 in Inspiration

I class myself as fortunate for a number of reasons but I won’t bore with you my list. But one I will share is I’m a 90’s kid, and for that I’m beyond thankful. 

I’ve had the chance to live before the boom of the internet, social media, mobiles etc. I’ve also got to see the growth and effects it’s all had. Maybe that’s why I’m forever championing social media and the positive outcomes it can lead to

Instagram has taken the world by storm since it’s infamous launch in 2010. Let me just illustrate how big that storm is…

Everyday an average of 70 million photos are uploaded, with the app boasting an impressive 300 million active monthly users. It’s believed that more than half of young adults aged 18-29 are using the service, and help to generate a whopping 2.5bn “likes” every day. Yeah, big numbers! So why is it that so few charities are embracing this free platform in order to connect with a broader audience?

Currently only 21% of charities have established their presence on Instagram, which is pretty shocking all things considered. A picture speaks a thousands words I was taught, so Instagram could surely help engage with an audience when telling a story and trying to reach them emotionally.

It seems that many non-profit social media managers can appreciate the movement, Joe Freeman from Sue Ryder included. In the Guardian last week he said: “The best charity accounts on Instagram, for me, are those that use the app in the way it was originally intended – taking photos directly from their phone. There’s definitely a time and a place for you to share your ‘professionally’ taken photos, especially around supporting a very public campaign, but it’s the quick, insightful photos that for me, always look better in the app and actually show better rates of engagement.”

One of the key benefits of using Instagram, I’d argue, is to reach out to the younger generations. I can’t stress this enough. We spend hours scrolling tweets and instagrammed frame shots, to the point where you get thumb cramp and have to swap hands- the habit is too strong to stop! We’re visual creatures, but we’re also curious. Many people would rather follow a journey through a series of images than be presented with big billboard prints that are often ignored due to being constantly immersed in a world of advertising. In many respects we have become desensitised. Share a story, get people involved!

Another great thing about Instagram is being able to not just share you’re own story, but to create a bigger picture by asking your audience to get involved. A perfect example of this is The National Trust. Every weekend they challenge their followers to get involved by snapping their locations and then tag the images with #NTChallenge. This creates a buzz around the charity, further boosting engagement. You may argue that this doesn’t generate instant donations, but it DOES spread awareness. It encourages people to get involved and send out a bigger message to more and more people.

Our friends at Médecins Sans Frontières believe that the platform allows their audience to get closer to the action their charity encounters on a daily basis. “Instagram is a fantastic way to give an up-to-date insight into our lifesaving work in over 60 countries. It’s opened us up to a wider, and younger, audience.”

Now for all you smaller charities I am not saying- go out hire a new person who will go around snapping till their heart’s content. Although it sounds like a awesome job!

If you do want to join the movement then be sure to establish your goals. What do you want to achieve? What is the desired outcome? When you’re posting thing about the context, the story behind the image and the message you want to convey. Always keep you hashtags relevant and use them sparingly. Be consistant- post regularly, that way you will continually be reaching out to your audience and your presence will be solid. Happy snapping!

Roz, Designer