An infographic showing various reporting pages for website analytics

What Is SEO And How Can It Help Your Business?

What is SEO?

SEO, or “Search Engine Optimisation”, is a discipline focused on improving the performance of web pages in relation to organic search results. In layman’s terms, SEO aims to improve the visibility of your website when people use search engines, such as Google, to search for relevant queries.

If I search Google for “Painters in Sheffield”, I’m presented with the web pages it has determined will be most suited to your query. Now, good news if you’re featured in the first 3 organic results!

A screenshot of the google search painters in sheffield

There’s a 75% chance that I will visit a painter who has their website featured on page one of search results, and the first search result alone has an average click through rate of nearly 35%.

These are not paid for ads, these are organic results, and that’s why SEO is so powerful. In fact, 86% of searchers will skip past the paid ads completely and rely on purely organic results! 

Organic search is the most vital way for customers, both existing and prospective, to find your online content and for you to drive traffic to your website.

Let’s look at an overview of some distinct elements of SEO to give more context to this definition:

Organic Search Results

“Organic” is the important part of this label. If we return to the search used as an example earlier, “Painters in Sheffield” returns 10+ paid for advertisements (PPC Ads) before I get to any organic results.

A screenshot of the google search painters in sheffield

These organic results are much preferred by search engine users and are displayed because the search engine’s complex algorithm has decided all of these results are highly relevant to my query. To put it simply: they will give me what I want, and Google knows that!

It’s important to note that it is impossible to pay for your page to rank in any given place in organic search results – you can’t pay to come first here.

Quality & Quantity of Organic Traffic

The job of SEO is not to drive traffic to your website, it’s job is to drive targeted traffic to your website. This distinction is what makes SEO so valuable – if Google drives traffic towards your website when it is not relevant, it is likely that a vast majority of these visitors will bounce off your site without completing any conversions whatsoever. This is because this traffic is low quality.

SEO, implemented properly, drives high quality traffic to your website. This means visitors have found you through highly relevant searches, and arrive with genuine interest in your website, content and offering. These visitors are much, much more likely to turn into conversions, and by extension, revenue – nearly 40% of online purchases are influenced by a relevant search.

To maximise exposure to high quality traffic, you want to have your website displaying as a result at the top of the search results page – in a recent study, researchers found that 75% of search engine users will click an organic listing from the first two results.

A photograph of a man at a desk using Google on a MacBook Pro with a coffee cup next to him

What are the main types of SEO?

As a discipline, SEO centres around two main umbrellas of activity. These are called “on-page” and “off-page” SEO and all SEO work falls into these categories. Whilst we will be creating guides for each of these categories in the near future, this blog post aims to provide you with an overview of SEO, so here’s a little more information on both.

What is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO is, at its heart, all about content. The more you look into SEO, the more you will realise that much of its success rests on the shoulders of good quality content. Content that effectively drives targeted traffic should be:

  • Valuable & actionable/useful
  • Genuinely interesting to read
  • Well researched, in-depth and written well
  • Written with a particular audience in mind
  • Easily shareable and referenceable
  • Optimised around keywords

After you’ve finished writing this masterpiece of quality keyword driven content, you need to consider the other elements of on-page SEO too. These include site speed, tags/metadata, the responsiveness of your website and its crawlability, and the list goes on.

All of these factors are important and contribute massively to the success of SEO, but it’s important to remember that even if you get every piece of the puzzle perfected if your content is terrible and doesn’t provide value to a site visitor, none of that will matter.

A photograph of a woman using a MacBook Pro to edit a Squarespace site on a black desk next to a cup of coffee

What is Off-Page SEO?

Off-page optimisation is an umbrella term relating to anything happening beyond your website itself, and is usually used in reference to “backlinks” or “link building”. 

Backlinks are simply links between one website and another. If someone has written a blog post and linked to your website, they’ve given you a backlink, and if you link to them in your blog post, you’ve returned the favour. Blogging, and therefore the quality content mentioned in the “on-page” section, is integral to building backlinks: Companies who engage in blogging receive 97% more backlinks to their site.

So why do backlinks matter? Because these links are essentially treated as votes by Google and other search engines – every time your content or web page is linked to, especially by other websites that Google already see as trustworthy and high ranking, it’s as if each link tells Google that your content is of value to them and they’ve found it useful/trustworthy too.

Links, in general, are what enable Google and other search engines to determine the value of your content – if there’s no links to your web page, you’ve made it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for Google to do this job. Make no mistake about it, backlinks are vital to successful SEO campaigns, with one recent study proving that the number of domains linking to a page was the factor that had the highest correlation to rankings in Google.

However, off-page SEO extends beyond backlinks and encompasses a whole heap of other important activities that help build relationships, encourage brand searches and improve the following and engagement of your social media.

Two website icons linked together

So How Does SEO Work?

Before we start looking into how SEO works, here’s a brief glossary of terms that might help you understand the mechanics of SEO as you read on:

  • Index – Google, and other search engines, store all web pages that it is aware of in its index. These index entries contain information about the content and URL of any given webpage. 
  • Indexing  – This is when a search engine actually fetches your webpage, reads it, and then adds the entry to its index. 
  • Crawl/Crawling – Crawling refers to the process of seeking out new webpages or updates to already indexed webpages. Google and other search engines mainly discover URLs by following links (think of the backlinks we discussed earlier) and by reading sitemaps, but they can identify new URLs to crawl through other means too. 
  • (a) Crawler – As the name suggests, a crawler is an automated piece of software designed to crawl/fetch web pages and then complete the action of indexing these web pages. Google’s crawler is called “Googlebot” and crawls the web constantly.

An infographic showing Google crawling websites and putting it into Google's database

Now we’ve got that out of the way, here’s a quick explanation of how SEO works:

Google, Bing and other search engines work in the same way – they use crawlers to go from webpage to webpage, website to website, following links and gathering information, indexing their findings as they progress. 

These indexes are not static places – they are always evolving and updating as the bots continue to crawl across the web. 

You may have heard people mention “the algorithm”, especially in reference to Google. These algorithms are responsible for complicated analysis of the indexed web pages – each page is ranked across many, many different factors in order to determine how suitable a web page would be for any given query. 

Whilst Google keeps the exact formula and mix of ranking factors to themselves, studies have shown there are more than 200 ranking factors that the algorithm takes into consideration.

This result not only dictates whether a web page ranks for a search, but also its position in the results page.

By optimising your website and content in line with these ranking factors, you can better your chances of ranking well for related search queries and improve your search engine results page position – this is SEO!

These factors span different categories (like “content”, “website architecture”, “reputation” and “links”) and vary dramatically in weighting/importance, with something like content quality affecting website ranking more than adding alt-text to images.

So when you make a search query in Google, they prioritise presenting results that they have determined to be of high relevance, high quality, and from trusted, non-spammy websites. 

Google has gotten so good at this that the first 5 organic search results now account for nearly 70% of all clicks.

It’s our job as SEO professionals to help your website and content surface as highly as possible for the right search queries. This is achieved by optimising your content and technical elements of your website to provide users with the best possible experience.

An infographic showing various reporting pages for website analytics

What are the Benefits of SEO for Small Businesses?

If I asked you what you did the last time you needed to learn something new or make an online purchase, there’s an 80% chance that you started both interactions with a Google search query. 

Here’s a few ways investing in SEO benefits smaller businesses:

1 – SEO Boosts Customers Through Organic Searches

There are trillions of searches on Google every year. In fact, by the time you finish reading this sentence there will have been around 1.2 million new searches. As a small business owner, you might be interested to know that plenty of these searches have some sort of purchasing intent; in a recent survey, nearly 95% of respondents revealed they searched Google for information about a product/business within a week of purchasing. 

By appearing in the search results of related queries, prospective buyers can discover information about your business, your expertise, products and services. This gives you the chance to outrank your competitors, give yourself greater brand visibility and, ultimately, turn these site visitors into conversions!

This is so powerful that 60% of marketing professionals have revealed their highest quality leads stem from SEO activity; think about it, you’re finding potential customers at a point where they are actively seeking out information – it’s the perfect time to deliver value, create a seamless user experience, and reap the financial reward.

a screenshot of Squarespace website analytics

2 – SEO Benefits Other Marketing & Business Activities

A great SEO campaign rests on digging deep to develop a thorough understanding of what your website visitors will want to see and how they’d want to see it. 

As you’d expect, this thorough understanding can greatly benefit your other marketing efforts, and as so much of SEO rests on creating a wonderful user experience online, any advertising efforts directing traffic to your website will inadvertently benefit from this optimisation.

With a treasure trove of data and real world usage reports, SEO can even demonstrate what trends may emerge in your competitive landscape as well as provide you with interesting insights into popular services/products, where your competitors are outranking you and more.

As well as this, SEO is a digital discipline, meaning that by exposing yourself to SEO as an industry, investing in SEO yourself, and keeping up to date with the ever evolving landscape, your understanding of digital experiences, websites, consumer trends and competitors will be much, much deeper.

A photograph of six people around a wooden desk listening to a presentation at work

3 – SEO Forces You To Provide A Great User Experience

In case we hadn’t mentioned it enough, user experience is a fundamental element of any SEO strategy. Since 2021, Google has revealed that UX is a priority ranking factor and it’s not going to become anything but more necessary and relevant as time goes on. 

This means that SEO will force you to really get to know your target audience. You will need to be aware of exactly what they’re looking for, how they want to consume content, what they want to do after engaging with your initial webpage, and what value you can provide them.

Aside from content, your website will need to perform well enough to meet, or even exceed, expectations – this means loading speeds, responsiveness, design/aesthetics, and just about every other element you can think of needs to be considered, optimised, and continually refined.

If it sounds like hard work, that’s because it is! But remember that by prioritising your site visitor’s needs, you’re providing an incredible user experience that will not only improve their impression of your business, product or service, but will also be instrumental in ranking better, generating more leads, and improving your site authority.

A photograph of an app designer planning out user experience on a whiteboard

4 – SEO Builds Trust and Brand Awareness

Customers trust brands that appear on the front page of search results. They also like websites that perform well, are responsive and secure, and maintained regularly. The good news is that search engines love the very same things, so by optimising your website for Google, you’re building an online presence that generates trust in your brand and gives authority to your voice.

Another benefit of SEO is the effect it can have on your brand awareness. By featuring on the front page for related queries, you’ll be exposing your brand to so many more people than if you were to be stuck behind the invisible wall of pages 2 and beyond.

The great thing about this is that you don’t even need to get clicks through to your webpage in order for your brand awareness to improve – you can do this just by occupying a front page space and commanding that authority. Search users will start to associate your brand with that query. 

A good strategy to build brand awareness and increase traffic to your site is to optimise content for more specific and longer tail keywords – rather than something like “pet supplies online”, think more like “best online pet supplies for labradors in south yorkshire”. These will have lower search volume, but they will be much easier for you to start ranking for in the short term and will likely be much less competitive than shorter, broader keywords. All your efforts here will make it much easier to rank for less specific keywords too!

A cartoon showing 5 star reviews and an iPhone

5 – SEO Campaigns Are Long Lasting and Budget Friendly

As far as marketing is concerned, SEO is a relatively low cost investment that will outlast, and potentially outperform, other activities like pay-per-click advertising or social media advertising.

This is because investment in SEO is longstanding and aims to deliver organic results. To put it simply, when you stop paying for pay-per-click channels Google Ads, the benefits stop. There’s no residual traffic from these ads when your budget runs try or you pause a campaign – this is the opposite of SEO.

SEO is a long term strategy and aims to deliver return on investment far, far beyond the scope of the initial work completed. To put this into perspective, here are two facts:

The first is that industry leaders Ahrefs found that nearly 60% of pages ranking in the top 10 for Google search results are 3 or more years old.

The second is that 50% of marketeers stand by SEO as having the best ROI of any marketing channel. 

With SEO, it’s imperative to think big picture and long-term. Whilst rankings and site traffic may improve in a matter of weeks and months, optimised SEO content is there to perform for years!

Whilst SEO is an ever evolving practice, the core fundamentals of quality content, site health and user experience are timeless and, with minor tweaks, should stand the test of time for years to come. That’s what makes SEO such a powerful investment for small businesses seeking future growth.

a photograph of a man counting pennies on a table

6 – SEO Is Trackable

Whilst we concede that paid ads or shopping campaigns are more obvious choices for trackable data, SEO is still very much an easily trackable marketing investment. 

Utilising analytics software like Google Analytics, you can establish different trackable events/conversions that can paint a quantifiable picture of how your SEO efforts are performing and how they could be further optimised and improved.

This data allows you to establish key equations, like Return on Investment (ROI). This can be figured out with the following equation:

Keyword Search Volume X Click Through Rate (CTR) X Conversion Rate X Conversaion Value = Return on Investment.

Another piece of Google software, Search Console, enables you to dig out more data on visitor acquisition, what keywords you’re currently ranking for and what your competitive position is, as well as offering a suite of tools to further audit how healthy your website is and where improvements can be made.

A photograph of a MacBook Air screen showing google analytics with a woman typing on it

How Can Wilkes Wood Help With SEO?

We know how overwhelming the world of SEO can seem from an outside perspective and we’re here to help decipher the process and work with you to boost traffic to your website and improve your rankings.

We have in-house specialists ready to partner with you on sustainable, ethical SEO strategies. Everything we do is driven by cutting edge tools, in-depth research and compelling, keyword driven content that is designed to appeal specifically to your target audience.

We have packages for SEO site maintenance and content creation suitable for businesses of all shapes and sizes. If you want to optimise your website and content and reap the benefits of SEO, check out our SEO services page or get in touch today for a chat with one of our team.

SEO FAQs

What about PPC and Social Media Advertising?

Social media advertising and PPC can be fantastic avenues to utilise as part of your marketing strategy, yet we always recommend starting with SEO before diversifying. The reason for this is that the results of successful SEO should provide you with long-lasting and consistent visibility, with advertising that “extends beyond spend.” By contrast, if you run a successful PPC campaign through Google Ads, as soon as you stop spending, the benefits cease.

 

Can you get me to rank #1 on Google?

Any agency or freelancer promising to get you to #1 is at best misunderstanding how SEO works, and at worst trying to rip you off. We will always consult with you prior to taking on SEO work to understand your objectives and conduct a thorough audit of your current position. We can then present you with areas to improve upon and talk to you about where we might have the most successful impact on the rankings of your site, as well as what results we can realistically expect to achieve for the budget and time-frame.

 

How long does SEO take to see results?

SEO is not a quick fix, it is an investment designed to produce long-lasting results. Whilst some changes and optimisation may take days or weeks to update, serious SEO campaigns can take anywhere from 2 to 12 months to start to see measurable increases in traffic and, by extension, associated leads and conversions. This can depend on many factors, such as how competitive the targeted keywords are and how much content you are generating. 

 

How do I know what keywords to target?

Identifying the best keywords for your website is essential to ranking in Google for searches relevant to your business and industry. Our advanced SEO research tools means we can efficiently identify and target dozens of underused yet high traffic terms. It is also important to analyse competitor rankings and identify areas where they are securing top page positions for competitive keywords despite having lacklustre on-page content.

 

What are backlinks and why do they matter?

Backlinks (sometimes referred to as ‘inbound links’) are hyperlinks from one website to another. They are the foundation of ‘off-page SEO’ and demonstrate to Google the trustworthiness of your website. A website which receives a large volume of backlinks from authoritative websites (such as news organisations) has higher ‘domain authority’ – this makes it easier to rank for competitive and broad search terms. Backlinks are also a valuable source of traffic.

 

What is local SEO?

Local SEO refers to those strategies that are designed to increase visibility in search results aimed at locality, such as “Physiotherapists in Sheffield” or “Hairdressers Ecclesall Road”. Any business that has a brick and mortar store or a physical location, or a business that serves a particular and defined geographic area can reap the benefits of local SEO.

 

Does Social Media help SEO?

Whilst social media isn’t a ranking factor and won’t help your search position directly, social media can be used to bolster your content strategy. Featuring your content on social media may lead to new backlinks, improved social profile search results and increased social traffic.

Does SEO change over time?

The short answer is yes. SEO is a constantly evolving practice and relies on reacting to changes and developments introduced by the world’s largest search engines, like Google. As these companies are continually trying to improve the quality of their service, they are always tweaking their algorithms to try and optimise the search experience, and thus these changes have an impact on SEO practitioners. We are always following industry trends and ensuring that our SEO work is in line with the most recent best practices, and are committed to evolving our service to ensure we can consistently deliver results.

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Building Your Own Website? Here are 5 Things You Need To Know.

As a web design agency, we are often approached by clients with existing websites that they’d like us to re-develop. This means that we come across an array of websites set-up by clients themselves – a common and understandable move for start-ups and small businesses at the very start of their journey. Often created with site-builders like Wix or Squarespace, we’ve noticed that there are 5 common elements that are overlooked during development.

Let’s take a look.

Compression of Images & Videos

This is one of the easiest changes you can make to your website that can yield incredibly powerful results. On average, images comprise over 20% of a total webpage’s “weight”, and aside from any video content that you have on your site, should be the first thing on your list of improvements.

A photograph showing a photography studio with three lights read for a content shoot

How Do I Deal With Videos on my Website?

We often come across websites that have not really planned to deal with site media/content that ends up on their pages – whether it’s images taking far, far too long to load (or just not loading in at all) or video content sprawled across every page without any compression, it doesn’t make for a great user experience.

As a general rule, we’d always start from the position of asking why you want to host videos directly on your website. For most, it makes much more sense to host your videos on YouTube or Vimeo – this allows you to directly embed these videos onto your website/webpage and avoids having to concern yourself with bandwidth/storage.

An additional advantage of this approach is that whilst your videos are on YouTube or Vimeo, users may come across your video organically, thus potentially driving additional traffic to your site/content.

If this is something you don’t want, for whatever reason, you can always have your video as unlisted so it cannot be found through search, but can still be embedded.

Can I Host Directly On My Site?

Obviously, this won’t be an option that works for all cases, so if you do have to host directly on your site, then ensure that your video is as compressed as possible without compromising the watchability of the content itself. There are plenty of free tools out there that can help with this, like Free Convert. 

It’s also worth remembering that although video can be incredibly effective, with 72% of customers declaring they’d rather learn about your product or service through this medium, you should be careful with how much video you are using on your website and also honestly assess the quality of the content.

Shaky Iphone footage with terrible audio isn’t going to represent your brand well, and forcing a mobile user to waste their precious data watching a 5 minute rambling video that could have been succinctly communicated in a small paragraph of text isn’t a good move either.

A man sat using an iPad to view YouTube in front of television screen

What About Image Compression?

Like video compression/external hosting, much of the benefit you can bring to your web presence through image compression lies in the fact it can greatly aid your site speed.

Site speed matters for many reasons – with 1 in 4 site visitors abandoning a website if it takes longer than 4 seconds to load, and nearly 50% of site visitors reluctant to ever revisit a poorly performing site, it can be make or break for your conversions.

However, it also can’t be overstated how important site speed is to your rankings/performance generally on Search Engines. Google hates slow sites just as much as people do – and with image compression being such a low hanging fruit for so many websites, it’s worth looking into as your first port of call.

Again, it’s about balancing compression with the user experience – compressing an image so much it looks like it’s made of lego isn’t going to reap much reward – the best thing to do is experiment with tools like Free Convert and see if you can take your images down to a manageable size.

A screenshot of free convert website

Mobile Optimisation

All too often we’re confronted with a website that looks pretty decent and functional on a desktop, yet take one look on a mobile device and the very same site becomes unusable.

It seems to us that most people aren’t aware of the importance of mobile optimisation and how much of an impact it can have on your business. According to Statista, mobiles now generate around 58% of web traffic. That’s nearly 60% of users that you just cannot afford to ignore.

How Do I Optimise for Mobile?

We will be soon publishing a more comprehensive guide on Mobile Optimisation, yet for now we can focus on a few key points that will hopefully make it easier for you to offer a better user experience on mobile.

Firstly, you should look at the content on your website with mobile in mind. Have you packed walls of sprawling text on top of one another? Is there something on the page, like a form or pop-up, that doesn’t work for mobile? Making content work across all devices and screens is your number one priority.

This might require some serious rewriting & reworking of content, but after this initial workload you should see some real improvement and know how to optimise any future content/pages.

Another element that is key for mobile is a simple and considered navigation/menu. It’s bad enough having to click through 5 pages to access content on a desktop, but forcing mobile visitors to do so will annoy a large number of users. 

A photograph of a person using a mobile phone with a blurred background of an office behind them

Will Responsive Design Work Every Time?

It is worth noting that many site builders, like Squarespace, will allow you to utilise “responsive design”, where blocks/site content will automatically rearrange to display on mobile devices. A vast majority of web developers believe that responsive design is the key to successfully keeping visitors on your site. 

This automated stacking is not always perfect, however, and may require you to adjust layouts until it works just right – don’t rely on the “view mobile” button when building and always check the version on a real mobile device before publishing to your site.

What Tools Can Help Me Optimise for Mobile?

Finally, go through your website on your mobile device and see what problem areas you have, noting them down as you go. Google has a fantastic tool that enables you to determine how mobile friendly your webpage is and provides some great insight on what you may need to work on.

This will produce a list that you can work through and attempt to resolve. Some might be easy fixes and others may require you to reach out to more technical developers/designers to resolve – prioritise the low hanging fruit and then you can determine whether more technical issues are worth investing in.

As mentioned earlier, we’ll be making a full guide to this in the near future, but please get in touch if you have any questions about mobile optimisation on your website.

A screenshot of Google's page speed insights tool in use

Choose an Appropriate Domain Name

This is something we have to contend with quite often in our initial meetings with clients. It is not uncommon for clients to look to purchase their business name as a .co.uk or .com domain only to find that someone else already owns it – a fair few of our clients have then gone on to purchase a domain that has unusual suffixes, like “www.exampleclient.uk.com” or have gone for odd variations of their actual business name.

Like mobile optimisation, we are writing a comprehensive guide to domain/URL selection to be published soon, but for now there are a few key things to keep in mind.

So What Makes A Good Domain Name?

A good domain name is one that is concise, memorable and easy to type out or reference verbally. If you have a domain name that requires unusual spelling, hyphenation or is just far too long (over 15 characters), you could be accidentally scuppering word-of-mouth driven visits. 

Why Should My Domain Avoid Hyphens?

Whilst there are some cases where it may be appropriate to use a hyphen in your domain name, the vast majority of the time it is wise to avoid using one if you can (and avoid using more than one entirely!).

Hyphenated domains are strongly associated with spammy websites and it is unwise to put yourself in this same boat in the eyes of site visitors and Search Engines alike. As mentioned above, you always want to avoid needlessly complicating your domain name so that it is easily memorable – if our website was “www.wilkes-wood.com” rather than “www.wilkeswood.com” we would have added another thing for a site visitor to remember and have to communicate should they want to recommend our services to a friend or colleague.

An infographic showing cartoon a website domain registration

What About Getting Keywords In My Domain?

There is nothing to say that adding in a keyword in your domain name is a bad thing to do, and it can actually help make it very clear what your services relate to, your geographic region, or create a more memorable or branded domain.

If you had a dentistry business called “Smile” based in Sheffield, “www.smiledentistry.com” and “www.smilesheffield.com” would both be very valid domain names that have added keywords, and offer more information to search engines and consumers than just “www.smile.com”.

What you should absolutely avoid is creating domains like “www.best-dentists-in-sheffield.com” or “www.dentists-for-crown-fillings-in-sheffield.com”. This sort of search query matching may have once worked as a ranking factor yet nowadays Google and other search engines would likely be associating you with spammy or poor quality content and it could negatively impact your SEO.

What Suffix is Best For SEO?

It goes without saying that a “.com” or “.co.uk” would be the most popular top level domain choice; these suffixes are the most memorable and trusted (by consumers) of all available and therefore we’d usually advise getting these if you can. That being said, there is no evidence to suggest that Google or other search engines rank these higher than other domain suffixes, so if you’re forced into a different domain there’s no reason your SEO should suffer.

Utilise Analytics

Analytics seems to be an area of website ownership that most clients recoil at, often assuming that you need vast technical expertise to extract any sort of valuable data from. The truth is, whether you’ve built your site on site builders like Squarespace and Wix, or even if you’ve opted for a Wordpress site, it really isn’t difficult to get analytics configured and start reading into valuable data.

A photograph of a laptop on a sofa showing google analytics on its screen

What Can Website Analytics Do For Me?

Whilst analytics can be used to track and provide data on more complicated site usage, even at the simplest level you could be getting incredibly useful insights into who is actually using your website and how. The data available might seem overwhelming, but once you familiarise yourself with some basics you can uncover the following with ease:

  • Gender, Age and Location of site visitors
  • Amount of site visitors
  • Popular site content
  • Unpopular site content
  • How site visitors find you (Acquisition)
  • How site visitors are interacting with each page
  • How many button or form interactions you’ve had
  • Compare site performance over time

Why Is This Data Important?

Simply put, if you’re not tracking some metrics on your website, you have literally no indication of site performance and don’t know if your investment of time/money to create your website has actually been worth it. Knowing your website’s audience and how these visitors have actually found you can give you great insight into whether you’re reaching the right people and how effective your marketing efforts have been.

Quite often, we find that clients think they are targeting a completely different audience to who they are actually reaching – knowing this can help them adapt content and marketing campaigns to capitalise on this different audience or take steps to ensure they are actually reaching their target demographics. 

Data is knowledge and knowledge is power. There is no disadvantage to knowing more about how consumers are interacting with you, and analytics can provide a wealth of information for you and your business to use to your advantage. 

A photograph of a laptop screen showing various website analytics

So How Do I See This Data?

If you are on Squarespace or Wix, you will have access to an in-built analytics suite that will show you some of the data we’ve discussed. These are typically very user friendly and are a great starting point if you’re unfamiliar with analytics.

If you want more powerful insight, Google Analytics is an absolute necessity and remains the most popular tool worldwide. It is free and relatively easy to set-up; there are plenty of great introductory guides (like this one from Hubspot) to assist with setting up your account, but take a look around YouTube for video guides as these often visualise the process in a more digestible way.

Drive Traffic To Your Website

There is a misconception that a website will easily and immediately start to produce organic traffic and leads without any consistent effort across other marketing channels. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case – you might have built yourself the best website in the world, but if you’ve not told anyone about it then you can’t expect traffic to find you.

Should I Use Social Media?

Social media is the most commonly used channel in marketing and is a vital component of marketing strategy for businesses of all industries and sizes. Social media marketing is a vast discipline with varying degrees of complexity, but these fundamentals will get you started on the right track: 

1 – Know Your Audience and Where to Find Them. 

Different social media platforms attract different audiences and some might be much more tailored toward your target market than others. For example, nearly half of Facebook users are over the age of 45 whereas Instagram appeals much more to younger audiences (84% of US teens use the app at least twice a month); for B2B marketing efforts, LinkedIn would be the top social media platform by far, with 89% of college graduates and 50% of US adults that earn over $75,000 having a profile.

An infographic of backlinks, social media, email marketing, banner ads, direct traffic, search engines all leading to your website

2 – Prioritise Good Quality Content

It can be tempting to pump out content on social media just for the sake of it, prioritising output over quality. This approach is not recommended – for followers to grow and, most importantly, engage with your social media posts, you need to be providing relevant content that is of high value to really reap the rewards. Treat every post like it is representing your business because it is – that means no blurry, poorly lit photos, no rants at rude customers and no lazy duplicates of competitor’s content. 

A good strategy for content doesn’t have to be labour intensive – you can combine original posts/photos with sharing content made/posted by customers/followers and also share useful content made by third parties – this could be an interesting TED talk, a handy guide or anything you think your audience would enjoy or find valuable.

3 – Be Consistent

Consistency makes it easier for you to plan, but also ensures your audience knows when to expect content and that you’re regularly in their feeds. What you actually pick as a schedule will vary wildly depending on how much time you have in the week, what your business does, if you need to take photos/film videos, etc, etc. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver, and if you can pre-plan and generate content ahead of time then you’ll take the pressure off yourself.

How Can I Drive Traffic Without Using Social Media?

You don’t have to use social media to get traffic to your site – we should know, as we spent 4 years growing the business without it. There are loads of options available to you, and the best marketing strategy would be to try and combine a few of them together. PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Advertising, SEO/content marketing, email marketing (if you’re interested in this then you should buy this book), networking/word of mouth, Google my Business optimization, magazine advertisement, competitions, the list goes on and on.

The important thing is you start – pick a marketing channel, get it up and running, get familiar with it, and once it’s running smoothly you can look to add some more strings to the bow.

This All Sounds Too Complicated, Can You Do It For Me?

Yes. We’re web design specialists with over 4 years of experience building sites for businesses of all shapes and sizes. If you want a hand with anything we’ve mentioned in this list, just get in touch and we can have a chat.

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The apple, McDonald's and Google logos side by side

The 3 Things Great Logos Have In Common

This blog post accompanies a video from our brand new YouTube channel. Our channel is dedicated to sharing useful tools, tips, tutorials and conversations around design, productivity and business. Whilst we may only just be getting started on YouTube, we’ve been designing logos, graphics and websites for our clients for over 4 years and can’t wait to share what we’ve picked up along the way.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in click here to be taken over to YouTube and subscribe!

If you asked a random person on the street to think of a logo on the spot, there’s a good chance that most people would name the same 5 or 10 businesses that have achieved truly insane global recognition or awareness of their logos. James, our creative director, wanted to share some simple points that we can learn from great logos and help understand how we can use this guidance in our design work.

In the words of world renowned logo savant Sagi Haviv, a logo must be three things:

  1. Simple
  2. Distinct
  3. Appropriate.

A photograph of two hands using an iPad with a magic pencil

So Why Is Simplicity Important to Logo Design?

The world has changed. More so now than ever, our logos have to exist within a number of different contexts that extend far, far beyond the traditional applications that dominated even just a generation ago. Whilst these traditional applications are still very much in play, the introduction and rapid growth of the digital spaces that feature so strongly in our day-to-day lives mean our logos now have to contend with so many different modalities of display.

Simplicity allows us to present ourselves effectively in all such situations; let’s look at Nike as an example. Their “Swoosh” logo has to exist in all traditional formats, but also needs to work on app icons, smart watches, websites, hats, shoes, and even on products sold within virtual realities. With each application comes a different set of considerations like scale, texture or colour, yet the simplistic nature of the logo design ensures Nike can navigate these challenges whilst remaining recognisable to their global audience.

A man using an Apple Watch next to three apple watches in a promotional campaign

But How Is A Simple Logo Distinct?

Simply put, the purpose of a logo is to identify. It is the designer’s job to uncover a design that straddles the line between simple and distinct. Let’s look at the Starbucks logo as an example of how requirements for logos have changed and evolved over time. You can see that since its original concept, the means of identifying a business or brand have shifted dramatically to promote a simpler and more versatile form.

Simplicity does not mean forgoing originality – far from it, it means that as a designer your efforts should be geared toward producing the most simple version of an idea or concept that still possesses a distinctive and recognisable identity.

A poster showing the Starbucks logo evolution

Does A Logo Really Have To Match Tone?

The short answer is yes. Take a look at the example below – we have purposefully mismatched the tone of these logos to stress just how important it is that your designs truly reflect the ideals of the business/brand it seeks to represent. These designs both still work visually, but will hopefully strike you as completely inappropriate representations.

This is where you need to take responsibility in truly getting to know the business, its product or services, its audience and competitors – how can you find success in matching the tone of the business if you don’t know the qualities your design should be aiming to promote?

These three rules are at the forefront of our minds when we’re taking on logo projects and working through our ideation process, and we think they form the perfect working guide to produce strong, accomplished logo designs. 

Lego and Prada logos swapped in style

Want More?

If you’re looking to learn more about logos, catch up on last week’s blog post on the 7 Different Types of Logo Design where we break down the different types of logos and what they are suitable for.

We’ll be posting new videos on our YouTube channel every week, so keep an eye out and make sure to subscribe if you’re finding the content valuable!

We’re new to YouTube, so please let us know any comments or suggestions for videos you’d like us to make, any feedback at all would be greatly appreciated.

To make sure you don’t miss out, make sure to sign up to our newsletter for curated blog posts, videos, and tools sent directly to your inbox – fill in the form below!

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A black and white photograph of the apple logo on the side of an office building

The 7 Main Logo Types - What Are They and Why Do They Matter?

As with most things underneath the umbrella of graphic design, there’s often more to a logo than meets the eye. Even the most simplistic looking final resolution can be the product of a long and complicated process of development, and most iconic brands have evolved their logos across their many years of operation.

Take Pepsi, for example. Taking a look at their logo evolution below, it is clear that they’ve used a variety of different logo types over the years.

A poster showing the evolution of the Pepsi logo

With that in mind, we thought it would be interesting to explore the 7 different types of logo, look at some well known examples, and investigate what each logo type may mean for your business.

Type #1 – Pictorial Mark

A pictorial logo, sometimes called a “logo symbol”, is most likely what springs into mind when you think of the word logo. Formed with an icon, symbol or image, a pictorial logo usually utilises a recognisable object and uses this to represent an element of brand identity – some, like Apple’s apple or Target’s target aim to simply reflect the brand name, others try and represent business activity or attempt to appeal emotionally to the audience like the World Wildlife Foundation’s panda icon.

Although reflective of real world objects, pictorial logos are usually carefully stylised to balance simplicity with visual interest. A great example of this would be Twitter’s bird logo.

A black and white photograph of the apple logo on the side of an office building

What are the considerations?

As these logos consist of a single icon/image, it can be hard for start-ups and those without such strong brand awareness/recognition to use effectively. It can take significant time and investment before customers start to connect your logo and brand together, and thus many start-ups or smaller businesses tend to opt for combination logos (see below) whilst they are growing and developing.

The largest consideration when designing a pictorial logo is the image itself – the icon you choose to represent your brand needs to avoid current trends and aim to be timeless, and will have to represent some element of your brand or core business.

It is also worth thinking about the future of your business. If you are likely to change your service offering or heavily evolve your product range, having a logo mark that represents your business now may not be so relevant a few years down the line.

So, who is a pictorial logo suitable for?

Although pictorial logos are absolutely at their most effective when you already have an established brand, there are instances where they make perfect sense to utilise.

A logo symbol works great for those with long trading names as it can depict what your business does graphically rather than having to contend with sprawling text; in the same vein, those that trade globally can avoid having to translate their logo across multiple languages if they lean on a graphical representation instead.

Type #2 – Mascot

A mascot logo is an illustrated character designed to represent your company and act as an ambassador for your brand. They can be the colourful, engaging and fun face of your business and go a long way to developing a wholesome family appeal to your service or product.

As humans, it makes sense that we connect more readily to anthropomorphic characters than we do to abstract images. For this reason, a well designed and deployed mascot can be a fantastic way of forging deeper emotional connections between customer and brand.

A man wearing a KFC sweatshirt holding a KFC bucket of fried chicken

When do mascot logos work best?

It’s likely you’re not going to have much luck selling luxury handmade Italian suits with a cartoon mascot splashed across your branding. Mascot logos are very effective for companies aiming at younger aged audiences or those that are attempting to appeal to families, like KFC’s Colonel Sanders or Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger.

That isn’t to say that they can’t be used for any brand relating to adults, as Michelin’s eponymous Michelin Man proves perfectly, but generally mascot logos are much more readily utilised by those that want to be seen as approachable, fun and playful – and a lot of companies looking to do this have targeted their service/product towards children.

Are there any other benefits?

An effective mascot logo is a marketeer’s dream. By positioning the logo as a “friend” to the audience, and encouraging engagement through this playful appeal, mascots can have wondrous results when used in marketing campaigns across social media and are seemingly at their most powerful when trying to foster user-generated content. They can be just as effective in physical marketing spaces too, like banners or mascot stands at conventions.

What else do I need to know about mascot logos?

As touched on above, it can be very hard to use a mascot effectively if you are trying to establish your brand for an older or more refined audience. It is also worth remembering that mascot designs are often much more complicated than icon logos and due to this added detail may not operate well at all in smaller dimension designs.

Type #3 – Combination Logo

This logo type does what it says on the tin, combining images with words – it doesn’t matter if the image and text are situated beside one another, on top of one another or combined into one image, if it combines letters or words with an image, it’s a combination logo.

One of the most popular logo types, combination marks are used throughout all sectors/industries and suit small businesses just as well as large multinationals.

A marketing banner for Lacoste showing an old woman and young man both dressed in pink Lacoste tops

What is the appeal?

The main appeal for combination logos is their versatility. You can design and implement different variations of a logo to suit different contexts/modalities, all whilst maintaining a consistent brand identity. A fantastic example of this would be Lacoste – their combination mark features throughout their e-commerce store and media campaigns, yet a majority of their products utilise only the image element of their logo – the famous crocodile.

How do they work for small businesses?

Combination logos can really help small businesses build up brand awareness/recognition. If you start out promoting the logo with both text and image elements combined, you should reach a point where you have earned the freedom of choice between the two whilst remaining just as recognisable to your audience. They’re also much, much easier to legally protect through trademarks as the combination of a symbol and text forms a much more unique image than either one alone.

Type #4  – Abstract Mark

Similar in kind to the pictorial logo, an abstract mark logo centres on an image, albeit one that uses much more of an abstract form. This means that rather than depict a tangible real world object, like Apple’s apple logo, they represent your brand with visual metaphors.

The nike tick logo installed on the side of a building

Why would I use something so abstract?

Creating an abstract logo might seem like a strange option, but there’s a reason that they’re so popular with giant brands like Nike, Adidas and Pepsi. As they are not reliant on real world objects, there are an infinite amount of design directions to pursue and this gives your brand the chance to create something completely unique.

That isn’t to say an abstract logo should be random in any way – a truly great abstract logo conveys your brand’s core values and generates a real, tangible response in its audience. Think about Nike’s famous “Swoosh” design – this abstract shape looks perfectly simple, yet it conveys speed, movement, and even represents the wing of the greek Goddess that is Nike’s namesake.

Abstract designs also mean you and your company don’t have to rely on cultural implications of a real-world image or have to translate across different languages too.

Type #5 – Monogram Logos / Lettermarks

Imagine you are tasked with designing a logo for the International Business Machines Corporation. That’s quite a lengthy name to have to design around and print on a business card isn’t it? That’s where monogram logos come in. These are typographic logos that are created using a brand’s initials, and are often referred to as such – think NASA, HBO and CNN.

A photograph of the NASA worm logo on the side of a metal vessel

So it’s just letters?

Yes and no. As with everything logo related, the simple is never really that simple. There are many considerations when looking at monogram logo types, yet due to the nature of their design, a lot rides on the font used within the logo. Selecting a font or creating a custom typeface that represents your brand perfectly is no easy feat, and there are many small details taken into consideration during this process, right down to the spacing between letters (kerning).

So, if your business name is a bit of a mouthful, it’s definitely worth looking into lettermarks when designing your logo.

Type #6 – Emblem

An emblem logo or badge logo consists of text situated within a symbol; often ornate and harkening back to traditional designs, emblems are worn with pride by sports teams, represent some of the world’s most prestigious universities, and also adorn the Starbuck’s coffee cup. Badges, seals and crests are all part of the emblem family.

A photograph of three Harvard Emblems hanging from the Harvard building above a crowd

Is an emblem right for me?

Whilst it might not always be the most obvious answer for businesses, organisations that are related to education, community and heritage are the most likely candidates to be suitable for emblems to represent their brand. We’ve had the privilege of designing emblems for football teams, religious groups and school academies, yet don’t find ourselves leaning towards emblems for many private businesses.

What are the Pros & Cons of an Emblem Logo?

What makes an emblem so attractive for those institutions is the sense of traditional appeal that these designs lend themselves to, as well as the availability of space to reflect slogans and intricate details that can be packed with symbolic meaning. However, the very same qualities that may make it appealing to some mean that it is less than ideal for others, as all that intricate detail can remove versatility from the logo and make it ineffective on smaller scales, like business cards or embroidered on merchandise.

This is why a more contemporary take on the emblem is starting to gain popularity – these more minimal designs tread the line between tradition and practicality, with cleaner, less complicated designs for you to work with.

Type #7- Wordmark

Finally, we come to the wordmark. This is a logo that turns its attention to the name of your business, and that alone. Our own logo is a wordmark, as are some of the most famous logos of all time: Google, Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, eBay, the list goes on.

Like the lettermark, similar considerations must be given to the font selected during the logo design process. Coca-cola, for example, have created their own custom typeface, whilst a lot of more modern wordmark designs seem to feature sleek sans serif fonts.

The Coca Cola wordmark logo in white on a red background

Is my name suitable for a wordmark?

Wordmarks work best when they’re applied to a business name that is catchy, distinct and succinct – Google is a great example of this. If your name is too long, then it might be that other logo types are more suitable – you may want to abbreviate and look at creating a lettermark!

What needs to be considered?

Aside from the typography/font, there are plenty of considerations for a wordmark that will all have an impact on how much the design suits your brand – do you want to use all caps? No caps? A mix? What about colours? How will the text be weighted – heavy to promote qualities of safety and trust or more light and elegant?

If you’ve got a catchy name and strong sense of what you want to convey as a brand, wordmarks are the perfect choice!

I want to design a logo, what now?

We consider ourselves logo design specialists and nothing makes us happier than helping a small business create the perfect logo for their brand. If you’d like to chat to us further about logo design, please get in touch, or head to our portfolio of logo projects for some inspiration

To make sure you don’t miss out, make sure to sign up to our newsletter for curated blog posts, videos, and tools sent directly to your inbox – fill in the form below!

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The google chrome logo with a puzzle piece in the middle of it

5 Free Chrome Extensions Every Designer Should Know

This blog post accompanies the first video of a brand new series on our YouTube channel. This series is a space for James, our Creative Director, to share the tools he uses every day in his role here at Wilkes Wood, starting off with 5 Free Google Chrome extensions that every designer should know about. 

Our channel is dedicated to sharing useful tools, tips, tutorials and conversations around design, productivity and business. Whilst we may only just be getting started on YouTube, we’ve been designing logos, graphics and websites for our clients for over 4 years and can’t wait to share what we’ve picked up along the way.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in click here to be taken over to YouTube and subscribe!

Without further ado, let’s get stuck into the list.

Tool #1 – WhatFont

WhatFont does what it says on the tin, enabling us to find out exactly what fonts are being utilised on a website. After installing the extension, all you need to do is click once and it will bring up all the information about the font selected.

A screenshot showing Lorem extension in a chrome browser

This is a great tool, and as web designers we are always keeping track of great fonts we see elsewhere online to share with our clients.

Tool #2 – Lorem

Next, we have Lorem. Lorem is a placeholder text generator that has a fantastic user-friendly interface and can generate text efficiently with the click of a button. You simply select how many paragraphs and sentences you need and click once to immediately have the text on your clipboard, ready to be pasted in when needed.

A screenshot showing Lorem extension in a chrome browser

This extension is essential for us when we are building out wireframes when developing websites or quickly fleshing out text for graphic design concepts – it’s super simple but saves lots of time.

Tool #3 – Color by Fardos

Again, this is a very simple tool that comes in handy to save time, and whilst there are plenty of alternatives out there for this function, this is by far the best we’ve found.

Color by Fardos is a colour picking tool that has a couple of great features. Firstly, the eyedropper tool allows us to click on any colour on a web page and immediately get the information for that colour, as well as save the colours for later.

A poster for colors by Fardos showing different colour combinations

You can also click once and it will generate a complete list of all hex codes of any colours used on the website, which you can also save to a bank to be referenced later.

In addition to the colour picking tool, Color by Fardos also enables us to search for colours and then provides various shades and tints of that colour, as well as complementary triadic split/complementary colour pairings so it’s a fantastic tool to use for any design work, whether it be web related or graphic design.

Tool #4 – Toggl Track

Whilst Toggl Track is a full feature application, and a pretty good one at that, we’re only discussing its chrome extension in this blog post. Toggl is a really useful time tracking application that makes it incredibly easy to efficiently and accurately track your time between various tasks, jobs and clients.

A screenshot showing Toggl Track in a chrome browser

It is as easy as typing in what we’re doing, clicking the start button and then clicking once to stop the timer; we can then tag that tracked time to a project or client or whatever you want to file it as.

We’ve used this to track everything from time spent on internal development projects to tracking billable hours for our client work, and we think it’s just as good for those getting into freelance design work as it is for small agencies.

Tool #5 – Muzli 2

Muzli is an extension that we absolutely love, and also plays a big part in how we are able to come across plenty of useful tools and websites without spending so much time and energy actively seeking them out.

Muzli replaces the Google Chrome home screen with a perfectly curated feed of articles and tools related to design – it’s perfect if you’re seeking out some inspiration or want to engage in the more productive kind of procrastination.

A screenshot showing Muzli

James has found some fantastic apps here over the past couple of years, and we’ll no doubt be covering these in future blog posts and YouTube videos.

Want More?

We’ll be posting new videos on our YouTube channel every week, so keep an eye out and make sure to subscribe if you’re finding the content valuable!

We’re new to YouTube, so please let us know any comments or suggestions for videos you’d like us to make, any feedback at all would be greatly appreciated.

To make sure you don’t miss out, make sure to sign up to our newsletter for curated blog posts, videos, and tools sent directly to your inbox – fill in the form below!

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A poster showing logos for Google, Starbucks, Apple, Ford, Nike, McDonalds, UPS, Coca Cola, and Chanel

3 Reasons Why Great Logo Design Matters

All too often overlooked and undervalued, the humble logo has great potential to make a real impact on your business. It speaks volumes without uttering a single word.

Logos are foundationally important elements of your visual identity, allowing consumers to easily recognise your brand in a competitive marketplace. Research suggests that 42% of people believe they can accurately gauge a brand’s personality by their logo alone.

Robert Jones, professor of branding at the University of East Anglia, sees good logos as expressions of a company’s values. In an interview with the BBC, he stressed how logo design informs perception, stating that a logo helps “express how you’re different from your rivals – warmer, greener, stronger, and so on.”

That isn’t to say that logos can magically make your business a trusted and reputable one – no logo can build a respected brand on its own and will only be successful and impactful if the company it represents has put in the hard work to build their brand and reputation.

In short, consumers still very much assess your brand on the quality of the product or service. In Jones’ words, “…all of that real stuff matters more.”

So What Can a Logo do for Me?

To put it bluntly: a lot. In an analysis of the role of logos in brand performance for Entrepreneurial Executive, research concluded that for entrepreneurs with limited resources investment in logo design can yield great results.

By delivering “favourable unique brand associations” through design and combining this with delivering “positive consumer shopping experiences”, entrepreneurs can leverage this combination to create “strong customer preferences for their brand.”

That’s a very academic way of saying that if you combine a recognisable logo with great service, you’re onto a winner…

Here are a few key points that make the right logo such an important asset…

1 – First Impressions Count, Lasting Impressions Count More.

Your logo is, often, the first impression that consumers will have with your business. Like all good first impressions, you want it to be strong and memorable, but what good is an impression if it doesn’t last?

In a study determining the effectiveness of logos published by the Harvard Business review, a well designed logo was not only seen as a tool to “pique the interest of consumers”, but also as an opportunity to influence your audience and their purchasing decisions.

They highlighted that the initial interaction between consumer and logo (more specifically the logo’s design characteristics) can “considerably impact consumer behaviour and brand performance.”

This is a chance for you to immediately communicate ownership over your niche through good design – your logo’s first impression can introduce your business as an authority within the competitive space, and have a lasting, positive impact on the consumer.

Underestimating the importance of this opportunity can be a costly mistake.

2 – Brand Loyalty is Priceless

As touched on in the introduction, there’s somewhat of a formula to getting the most out of your logo. Combining excellent service/product quality with a great purchasing experience and a well-designed logo is a recipe for successfully building brand trust and loyalty.

By enabling your consumers to become attached to your logo mentally and physically, you have the best chance at converting one-time consumers into loyal brand followers that will make repeat purchases, share your brand with their family and friends, and be more inclined to test out other products or services in your range.

This is powerful stuff, and why research from Vengagge revealed that brand loyalty is worth as much as 10x more than a single purchase.

For this all to work, however, your logo must be appealing to your targeted niche, with 60% of consumers avoiding brands that have logos they find ugly or unappealing and 78% of consumers regarding brand logos as art, it is clear how highly consumers hold brand logos when choosing to shop with one company over another.

3 – Your Brand’s Foundation Depends on it

It is a common misconception that creating a logo is the same as creating a brand. “Brand” is a much more holistic term that, at its heart, is about telling stories that successfully influence the emotional responses of consumers.

Having said that, a well designed logo gives you the opportunity to build your brand around a solid foundation and provides the cornerstone of a successful visual identity.

Everything from colours and fonts to brand voice, tone and imagery grow out from your logo, shaped by the narrative that you want to convey to your audience.

Without this key element in place, there is no visual anchor for your brand to develop from; ahead of visual style, colours, voice and other branding elements, logos are proven to be the most recognisable brand identifier for consumers.

I Want to Invest in a Logo, Where Do I Start?

A good logo is one that is unique to your business, represents the quality of your product/service and differentiates your brand from competitors.

Our logo design service is entirely bespoke, so you can be sure it represents what is important to you, your audience and your business.

For more information about logo design and how we can help you create the perfect logo, get in touch today!

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