The NBurman Design Blog

Kelling Heath - Brand identity

Author: Nick Burman, 16th June 2014

Near the North Norfolk coastline at Weybourne, Kelling Heath is a unique choice for an outdoor getaway.

The 270 acres of woodland and heathland are host to lodges, luxury homes, caravans and areas for camping. There are miles of trails suitable for cycling and walking, a swimming pool and regular events held in the park's centre. Having stayed there for a few days, I can attest to the fact that the design of their brochures and menu reflect the feel of Kelling Heath perfectly.

Kelling Heath Brand Identity Kelling Heath Brand Identity Kelling Heath Brand Identity Kelling Heath Brand Identity Kelling Heath Brand Identity Kelling Heath Brand Identity
Have your summer holidays begun yet? Share your favourite brochures designs with the rest of the class.


Trade Fairs - Taking control of your brand

Author: Nick Burman, 6th March 2014

trade show materials, trade fair stand design

I recently met up with a client who had just spent two days at a trade show. He showed me thick pile of quality leads, all awaiting his reply. But along with that stack of contact details and business cards came a host of stories from the frontline. This was a trade show like all the others. Long hours, little sleep, hard work and a big bill at the end.

Worth it? Absolutely. But now it was time to plan for the next show. As well as a long list of new contacts, he had also gained a new knowledge of what prospective clients were looking for, so it was time to redesign his literature.

Taking your business on the road takes planning, an understanding of your clients and a focussed approach to marketing. In a sea (or in my client’s case, a flood, thanks to the inclement weather) of competition it is vital to make the most of the space at the show and present your business and your product or service in the best possible light. A trade show is one of the best ways to network, research what is going on in your industry and get face to face with customers. And since this is a show, after all, it is a great opportunity to rethink how you can reach people.

So before you back up the rental van to your office front door and begin packing for your next show, here are a few ways that you can look your best and make the most of your next trade show.

Order Early

When you book your spot, get the design process rolling straight away. Consider the space you have and how you are going to make the most of it. This may involve banners, backdrops, point of sale stands or video displays. The key point to designing trade show materials is to make sure your brand’s message is consistent. The tone of the copy, the colours, space, design and quality. The best way to confuse people is to give them conflicting messages, so keeping yours looking and feeling the same across all materials is vital. Hanging on to old materials because you don’t want to throw them out even if they don’t fit your new materials won’t help. Toss them out! This may also be a good opportunity to reconsider strap lines and headings.

Make it Specific

Brochures or handouts that reflect the event you are at can work well to enforce your message and remind people of where they saw you once they get back home or to the office. If you have a product or a campaign message that is unique to the event, make sure you have supporting materials. For example, you may want to use the event name or location on the cover of your materials in a creative way to tie in your brand with the event.

Get What You Need

It should go without saying that you will need a lot of materials to hand out, including business cards, brochures and information cards. Business cards usually need to be a standard size to fit in wallets and transparent sleeve folders, but other materials don’t need to be so predictable. Using oddly shaped or oversized print pieces can literately make yours stand out from the bundle. Adding samples or another way to make the piece bumpy, bubbly or awkward to stack neatly will also make it stand out. Look at what your competition are doing and do something different.

Make it Real

While brochures and handouts work well as a leave behind (or take away) reminder, if you have a product or service that has to be seen to be experienced, make sure it’s there! At the very least, give your visitors a chance to experience it while they are on your stand. Video, particularly if it is interactive, can work well to describe and explain a product or service. A point of sale display on your stand also works well as an additional salesman for those times when you are busy talking to another prospect and can’t get to everyone at the same time.

Do you exhibit at trade shows regularly? What steps have you taken to make an impact with visitors?


I'm very much alive. You just won't find me on Facebook.

Author: Nick Burman, 9th January 2014

I’m not moving to a kibbutz, eschewing social networking or becoming a business Luddite. Facebook just doesn’t fit into my life anymore.

In the Beginning

Like most people, I found it exciting to be able to share my life (thoughts, insights, photographs) with a large number of people instantly. One post and everyone would know what was going on in my life. Then I noticed something was happening with all the people I was trying to keep in touch with. It all got too personal.

Friends would share, publicly, online, the most intimate details of their lives. At first it was trivial - “Off to work now, oh look, it’s snowing again” and then it got personal. Holidays, appointments and meetings, then illnesses (symptoms, diagnoses, recoveries), engagements and weddings. Then it got worse. It was when I noticed people announcing deaths in the family that I knew it had all gone a bit too far. Was nothing so serious or personal that it couldn’t be aired publicly? These were the things that I would prefer to share in person, face to face. I wouldn’t put a poster up outside my house to tell people that my dearest friend had passed away, so why should I post it on Facebook with the same amount of disregard for what is intimate?

So I decided I wouldn’t share what I considered to be important. I dropped out of conversations. Suddenly, the only people filling my newsfeed were the people who posted the most, not necessarily the ones I mattered to the most. All you have to do is click Like in a group devoted to an interest and the quiet mention of a friend gets drowned in commercial updates.

Once in a while I would share something that I cared about deeply. I would write, rant and rave. I might get a few Likes and a couple of comments. But if I wanted to get a huge response all I had to do was write something innocuous and off the wall, preferentially written in a large font on a bright background, like those posters of quotes. People like the stuff that doesn’t make them think. Meaningless and zany is what they want.

It’s Everywhere.

Facebook became too prevalent. Sharing your entire life online is one thing, but what I also found shocking was the amount of people I would see in restaurants checking Facebook. How would I know they were on Facebook? I would get up, walk around and peer over their shoulders, just to satisfy my curiosity. While on holiday in Marrakech, I even noticed a group of four men in a restaurant all using their mobile phones. Some were on Facebook, some were on Skype. But why on earth would you pay money to go on holiday, agree to go out for a meal with friends, presumably pay for that meal and then spend the time mentally elsewhere?

I understand that the way other people use Facebook or their mobiles is nothing to do with my life, but it is a social problem. It shows clearly how we have lost our ability to live in the moment. The here and now has been replaced with the possibility of being anywhere at all.

"I Saw it on Facebook!"

I also found that Facebook muted my desire or ability to share anything in real life. “I know, I saw it on Facebook” was the typical response I would get in conversations. It was like having a busy-body friend who calls everyone I know and tells them my business before I get a chance to tell them myself. I also found it quite disconcerting when I would meet my wife’s friends who would then announce “Oh yes, I’ve seen you on Facebook!” This wasn’t adding to my fifteen minutes of fame, it was making me feel like I had been spied upon. Internet privacy doesn’t really exist and the voyeurs of your private life like it that way.

A major problem with Facebook was that it had became too much of a distraction, and one that yielded few (if any) benefits. When you have a thought or an idea, and the next thought is to post it on Facebook, you may have a problem. When you are standing in front of a beautiful scene, camera in hand, and your next thought is concerning the caption you’ll use when you post it on Facebook, you may have a problem.

When life is what you do just so that you can make great Facebook posts, you’re not really living. For me, living life and broadcasting it robbed me of the privilege of being there. If I want my friends to know about me and join in my experiences, then they would need to do it in person, sitting across from me with a coffee/tea/glass of wine in hand. That is what friends do. There’s no such thing as an online friend. They are contacts - not friends.

Facebook and a Service Based Business

Facebook is meant to be for business too. And why not? Over half a billion people are on Facebook so it’s the perfect place to advertise. Millions of people all walking by your shop window.

It doesn’t really work like that. The fact that any business owner will tell you, is that people do business with people they like. One more touch brand point may help retail businesses, but if you are in a service based industry, the personal contact is vital.

Facebook doesn’t do anything that my website doesn’t do. It’s just as easy to find my business via Google as it is by using the Facebook search box. There are also no SEO benefits to having a Facebook page. My website should have fantastic content and be found on search engines anyway, so if it can’t be found on Google, Facebook won’t help. It’s nice that other people like to share what I share, but the fact is that more people share videos than textual updates, so a business is better off using the other major search engine, YouTube. That’s what I’ll be doing.


If Facebook doesn’t fit my life, what makes me think that it’s going to fit my business? As a creative, my life is part of my business. My life informs my creativity and people hire me because of who I am, not just the skills I possess. Simplifying my life and focusing more on what I want to achieve and be meant trimming away the fat. Facebook is all fat and no lean.

When I left, I didn’t write any long accusing prose professing my new found way of life and aloof point of view. All I did was write one last post announcing my email address for any that would want it. Within an hour I got two emails. It was working. The people who matter to me will still keep in touch, no matter what.

I feel lighter already.


Show, Don't Tell: How Motion Graphics Can Tell Your Business Story

Author: Nick Burman, 2nd December 2013

Bring It To Life

When you want to tell a story, motion, animation and video give it life. Add a spoken track and background music to set the mood and you have a living, breathing advert for your business that you can share with others to spread the word.

Telling your business story can become a lively experience with video. Motion graphics or animation is very effective when used to show manufacturing processes, how an end product is developed or ideas that don't lend themselves to being recorded on video. In fact, anything that you need to communicate to people quickly and easily is often best shown with motion.

Take It Wherever You Go

Video can be used in a number of ways. Install on your website, upload to YouTube and other social media sites to allow people to share and comment or copy to your mobile device to share with people on the go.

SEO Love

Another great feature of video is how much it is loved by search engines. VIdeos can show up in search engine results ahead of other listings. Also, people spend longer on your website watching videos and search engines like Google interpret that to mean your site is popular and increases your ranking.

Instead of telling ideas, show ideas. Here's the process involved.

The tone of the video needs to be set first. Language, visual style and timing all depend on how you want the video to be perceived. Branding also affects the tone, so it all depends on your company identity and how you connect with people.

Drafting a storyboard shows how the story will progress and unfold. Timing is setup here so that the story moves at the right pace. Too slow and you put people to sleep; too fast and you lose your audience. Either way, they may not watch the whole thing and will miss the amazing ending you planned.

Initial draft
Composing a few frames before the entire video is created will give you an idea of how the rest of it will look and allow for revisions early on.

Completing the video
When the first draft is approved the rest of the video can be completed.

Adding a soundtrack
Music will set the mood - do you want it relaxing and chilled, or driving and exciting? Do you want to alert viewers or quietly inform them? NBurman Design will compose a bespoke soundtrack that will fit your story and make sure that your video sounds unique too.

Once complete, it's time to share your new content. Uploaded to YouTube, Facebook, mobile devices, your website and linked to on sites like Twitter, your video will be easy to share by your viewers.

Are you already using video in your business? Leave a comment and tell us all about it!


Should a Logo be Obvious?

Author: Nick Burman, 21st October 2013

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to just ignore the obvious?

Everything and Anything

Somewhere near the beginning of the design process is often a stage involving brainstorming. Everything that comes to mind - good, bad and ugly - is thrown on the table without any consideration as to its usage. You pour it all out and then sift and sort. During this process, there will be some obvious answers or ideas. Some of them might be too obvious or just silly. Relating a computer mouse to anything rodent-like, for example. Just silly. Chuck it and move on.


But sometimes the obvious solution is the right one. If you want the general public to make connections between a logo and a business, sometimes the first thing that springs to mind is likely to be the most 'sticky'; the one thing that people will remember about the logo and draw connotations to the business.

Take, for example, Limesquare Car Rentals.

bury st edmunds graphic design

What is the first thing you notice about the logo? Yup, it's red and grey. Not lime, dark red. About as far away on the colour wheel as you could get from anything resembling lime. Perhaps somebody in the decision making team had an aversion to the colour green, or their surname was Lime and persistent playground bullying meant that they developed a hatred for anything green. Why was lime not used? Who knows? It would have been the most obvious choice, and when it comes to brand identity, being ironic is not always the best card to play.

Just Go With It.

suffolk media designer

Limesquare Web Design in Adelaide went with a green logo. Lime Office Interiors in Liverpool and Stoke on Trent decided to go green, as did Nottinghamshire landscapers Lime Orchard.

As a matter of fact, Limesquare does use lime in their branding, but they reserved it for their sales division, Limesquare Vehicle Sales. When I see Limesquare rentals, I still see red.

A great logo takes time. It has to be exact and precise, joining the correct mental dots and creating something memorable in the viewers mind. There are times when it is a good idea to avoid the obvious. Showing an ability to think in an out of the ordinary fashion and avoid cliches is vital. But when it comes to brand identity, it is best to not confuse your target audience and give them what they are looking for. After all, visual identity is about being remembered, not convoluted and evasive.


London Design Festival - not just furniture anymore.

Author: Nick Burman, 22nd August 2013

suffolk graphic design, bury st edmunds graphic designer, london design festival

It drives me nuts. The word 'design' grabs my attention, only to be met with wallpaper, impossible chairs and kitchen appliances.

Just My Type

But it seems I'm not alone. Previous London Design Festivals have come under fire for focussing on domestic three dimensions and ignoring graphic design, which (call me biased) is actually more prevalent in everyday life, but never mind. This year the centre of the design universe is dedicating an entire weekend to graphics at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Bowie Is Design

Among the free sessions on offer is a talk by Jonathan Barnbrook, graphic designer filmmaker and typographer who worked on the V&A's recent masterpiece, David Bowie Is. From 2pm-3pm on 15th September, Jonathan will discuss his long-term collaboration with one of the world's most influential artists. I know, I know, my bias is showing again.

Ok, Other People are Design Too. I Guess...

Peter Saville, one of the biggest names in graphics, will be talking on 16th September with journalist and broadcaster Paul Morley. Born in Manchester and a student of Manchester Poly from 1975 to 1978, Saville, stepped straight into the music scene and designed many record covers for the likes of Joy Division, New Order, King Crimson, Roxy Music, Peter Gabriel and Ultravox. Morley also became a prominent figure in the late 70's music scene, writing for the NME and has been attributed with writing the slogans that adorned Frankie Goes to Hollywood shirts and posters.

London Design Festival runs from 14-22 September. For more information on events visit


Video Going Underground

Author: Nick Burman, 19th August 2013

Advertising on London transport used to be just posters. Not anymore.

underground video, bury st edmunds graphic design

Keeping it Moving

The London Underground is at the heart of every culture and community across London, offering the perfect platform to reach and engage the hugely valuable urban audience that uses it. A staggering 150,000 people enter the Underground every hour - consisting of workers, tourists, shoppers and residents.

While advertising on the London Underground is nothing new, and you may be forgiven for ignoring most of it, video is relatively new. While it is easy to get used to the overwhelming presence of large-scale posters promoting everything from performances to perfumes, projected video advertising is relatively recent.

London Transport, in partnership with CBS Outdoor, is turning the Tube into the UK's largest single advertising network by installing digital advertising in many of the busiest Underground stations.

Stand for Nothing

Nobody likes waiting. But during the three minutes that people spend on average waiting for a train, travellers can now enjoy (yes, enjoy) video advertising being projected on walls opposite the platform.

No Longer Station-ary

Video can tell the story much better than static images and since the captive audience has time to kill, why not show them an eye-grabbing, all singing, all dancing video?

Where are Your Customers?

You may not have platforms full of millions of customers everyday just waiting for you to catch their attention, but you may have opportunities and spaces where you can use video to get your message across.

  • Receptions and waiting rooms
  • Queuing areas
  • Cafeteries
  • Showrooms
  • Tradeshow booths

Don't Just Sell, Tell!

These don't have to be spaces used just for advertising. Consider using spaces like waiting areas to inform customers or answer frequently asked questions and reduce wait times.

How Are You Telling the Story?

You have a story to tell - tell it better with video. Email NBurman Design to start the conversation.


Are You Leaving Customers Empty Handed?

Author: Nick Burman, 16th May, 2013

There’s more to business than providing a service, collecting the cash and moving on to the next customer. So when your customers leave your premises, what do they take with them?

advertising materials, bury st edmunds graphic design

Dining at The One Bull

I recently had the pleasure of visiting The One Bull in Bury St Edmunds for the first time. From its historic exterior to the updated decor, The One Bull is full of charm, sophistication and class. The extensive wine list gives you plenty of choice, the menu is creative with several unexpected twists, and the service is top notch. What else could you ask for?

Just when I thought I couldn’t be more pleased with my experience (I had wonderful company too, but that’s for another blog!) the bill showed up. With the bill, came a five panel folded card leave-behind outlining the other locations operated by Brewshed.

So why did this impress me so much?

1. Advertising That Doesn’t Advertise

This clever piece of advertising didn’t even appear like advertising, which is why it’s so clever. Instead, it is a well designed pictorial of other venues you might enjoy with a brief description on the back. No special offers, no coupons, no punchy tag lines or gaudy graphics aimed at those with the attention span of a goldfish.I felt like an intelligent customer who could make up his own mind!

advertising materials, bury st edmunds graphic design

2. Quality Stock

The first thing you notice when you pick up printed material is how it feels. Stock is not just a consideration of cost, it’s the impression people get long before they even look. Heavier stock speaks of quality and should always be part of the budget.

3. Perfect Size

After picking up this folded card, it was easy enough to tuck in a pocket or inside my wallet. I didn’t have to fold it or stuff it into a back pocket to get it home. Perhaps something that large wouldn’t even make it home. If you have ever attended a trade show, either as a vendor or visitor, you’ll know how much printed material gets thrown out, and even if it makes it out of the door, how little of it actually gets read. Making this leave behind small and convenient was a stroke of genius.

4. Just Enough Information

A leave-behind isn’t a novel! There’s no need to put the entire history, product list and endless, rambling thanks for your business all over a leave behind. Keep it short and to the point, and this is exactly how The One Bull used their card. It’s clear, to the point and brief.

advertising materials, bury st edmunds graphic design

5. Brand Consistency

The One Bull had the cards designed in keeping with the visual brand they set up with the exterior, the menus and everything else involved with the business. The type, photography and layout all reminded me of the experience I had. That’s the point!

6. A Memento

The card didn’t give me the feeling that I was looking at a sales brochure, but that I had just been thanked for being a customer and I now had a memento of my visit. I’m sure I’ll be back, so I may build up a collection of these cards, but for the first visit, I had something by which to remember it.

When customers visit your restaurant or place of business, do they leave with a reminder of their experience? Have you thought about how customers can take your brand home with them?

Find out more about The One Bull online and follow them on Twitter.


When Stock Photography Fails.

Author: Nick Burman, 13th May, 2013

Stock photography, bury st edmunds graphic designI´m not a fan of stock photography as a rule, but I am working on a musician’s website that needs some images we can’t get elsewhere.

One of the images I was looking for was a female singer. It had to look somewhat natural but most of the images I found were too silly, too sexy or too dull. Then I found a series that looked perfect. Except for one major point.

So what could be so wrong with this picture? The girl is pretty, dressed well, the background is ok (although it could be better) and the lighting looks fine. As a photograph, there is nothing technically wrong with it.

The problem is that the poor woman obviously has no idea how to use that microphone. That mic is probably a condenser, which is very sensitive to noise. If she is recording, she should be putting that thing on a stand, not holding it.

Secondly, the mic is most definitely a side address mic. This means that she should be singing into the side of it, not into the end. At least it’s plugged in, I suppose.

I don’t want to sound overly picky when it comes to mic technique, but if someone is planning on using a picture like this on a site that is likely to be visited by musicians (especially those that have spent any time at all in a studio or have used microphones), this picture just looks plain silly.

If you are planning on using stock photography for your site, you have to make sure the photo doesn’t have any seemingly minor details in it that could potentially undermine all your credibility.

Are you trusting your company’s credibility to an unwitting, anonymous photographer, or are you going to look after every detail of your brand and hire a real photographer?

Hiring a professional, whether it’s a photographer, graphic designer or hair stylist, is the best way to make sure all the details of a project are taken care of.

A job worth doing is worth doing right.


The Vendor-Client Relationship.

Author: Nick Burman, 10 April 2013

The relationship between a vendor and a client can be a tenuous one. But with a few useful metaphors, we can understand each other, learn to get along and bring about world peace. Or at least make a start.

It’s easy to see how well meaning the people in this video are. After all, they just want a deal. They don’t want to take risks, spend money they don’t have or get ripped off. But the short sightedness that is made more obvious by the mocking style of the video can’t really be excused. The customers are making bad comparisons (the restaurant and the taco stand), undermining value (the hair salon) and even complicating a simple transaction (the DVD/music store).

Buying services of any kind, whether there is a physical product or not (as in the case of the restaurant customers, who purchase a service and a product), requires some understanding by both parties. Sometimes the missed point can be the fault of the service provider who should have made sure there was value inherent in the service from the beginning. In the case of graphic design, it’s a good idea to make clear what is included in the service and what the customer will be getting at the end of the day, as well as what isn't included.

No one is likely to argue over a restaurant bill and compare it to fast food, but that is no different to comparing crowd sourcing with bespoke logo design services or click-and-publish sites with custom built web design.

When you invest in professional graphic design services, you are investing in your business and ensuring your marketing works for you. Graphic design is not an after thought or add-on for your business, it’s part of what you do, how you look and how you keep in touch with your customers.


The Creatives.

Author: Nick Burman, 9 April 2013

This one made me laugh and cry at the same time. The details in this are so uncanny!

Are the stereotypes fair? Do you think account executives are more likely to side with the client than appreciate the hard work undertaken by the creatives? Are creatives underpaid?

Silly question. They're dead on!


More than just the best burgers: St John's Street.

Author: Nick Burman, 19th March, 2013

Benson Blakes, Bury St Edmunds, home of Britain's best pub burgerFriday night is no night to be cooped up at home with the telly, so we ventured to discover what exactly the fuss is all about at Benson Blakes.

Benson Blakes is the bar and grill near the top of St John's Street that has recently been awarded Best Burger of Britain by the National Pub Food Challenge. The best of anything is a dubious title, and I'm not one for popular opinion. I avoid awards shows, sniff at the records charts (except when David Bowie's first album in ten years reaches number one and becomes his first chart topper in two decades - then at least they are onto something) and walk on the other side of the street when confronted with the idea that 'that's what everybody does/says/thinks'. Add to that the fact that I just spent the last twenty years living in one of the world's beef capitals and I'm a fully qualified, bona de beef cynic.


Our evening escapade was a spur of the moment decision, so naturally there were no reservations made. Walking in at around eight o'clock it was no surprise that Benson Blakes was already humming with eaters, drinkers and socialisers. The decor had a very welcoming yet contemporary look, not unlike other newer pubs in the area. We took a perching spot at the bar, and asked for a table, fully expecting a long wait, but ve minutes was all they needed - just enough time to order drinks. Fortunately, for once, they had no Guinness, which meant I had to make a selection from the various more unusual brews on o er. The bar sta even let us sample a few before making our nal decision.


More fortune followed - tonight was live music night. Keeping us entertained this evening was an acous- tic/electric and djembe duo. The singer played plugged-in acoustic guitar with a looper pedal to record his own rhythms while playing melody and solo lines, while his bandmate performed complex rhythm duties on a djembe and hand drums. I love playing Name That Tune when the musicians are this creative and fun.


Now for the food. We both ordered beef dishes, but I just had to have one of those famous burgers I had heard about, the self-titled Benson Blakes. 100 % beef, emmenthal, black bacon, fresh salsa and salad with chunky chips. Pub food is not pub food without chips.

Was I surprised? Was the meat tender, juicy and tasty, like it should be? Remember that I've had a lot of burgers in the last couple of decades, and I don't mean high street fast food junk. Alberta has its beef exported as a delicacy to some parts of the world, so I know that I've had some of the best beef there is. But this burger - available in Sufflk, home of many a pig-farm, of all places - beat them all. The consistency meant it stayed together without being too sloppy, the taste was rich and was cooked to perfection. Some people seem to think a burger needs to be ame broiled until it resembles briquettes, but the Benson Blakes burger was a very tender medium. Yum!


Benson Blakes was the perfect spot for a Friday night. Fantastic food, great service, very friendly and helpful sta and a good vibe. The musical guests were also a perfect - edgy and interesting, creative yet sitting nicely in the background if needed. Great job, guys!

What is there not to love about Benson Blakes? It's situated in one of the most exciting streets in Bury St Edmunds and proof that you don't have to be a big star to make it big in this little Suffolk town.


Revisiting St John's Street

Author: Nick Burman, 13 March 2013

suffolk graphic design, bury st edmunds, st john's street

One of my favourite places to frequent when I was growing up in Bury St Edmunds was St John's Street.

Golden Years

When I wasn't at school, doing homework or practising violin or piano, I would make model aeroplanes, so one place I would visit on my weekly tour was C.F Rogers. Rogers was how I imagined heaven would be. Model kits stacked higher than I (or any normal height human, I was sure) could reach: masses of balsa wood in every size imaginable; rainbows of Humbrol model paints; tools galore, and inspiration in the form of retired aeroplanes swooping overhead. If I wasn't buying, I was soaking up the atmosphere.

A few years later, I got into music and Andy's Records became one of my stops. I would fliip throughthe thousands of used vinyl LPs in the back room hoping to find one golden nugget amidst the otsam and scuffed obscurities.

Times change, people move on and businesses come and go. Sadly, Rogers and Andy's are no longer with us. But St John's Street is still there.

Honestly, it is. The problem is that there is a new hub in town, bigger and shinier than the precincts I remember, and replete with ample parking that draws crowds from neighbouring towns.

Modern Love

Arc is the new shopping complex that is home to all the big chains: Debenhams, Next, Clarks, Nando's. The grand, contemporary architecture is a fantastic example of how modern features and new design can integrate into an historical setting without competing with the landmarks from previous centuries. The Norman Gate, Abbey Gardens, Cathedral as well as other smaller monuments such as Moyse's Hall are the stu of postcards, the making of this town and still a major drawing point for tourists. But what of the lesser known side streets that are made up of independent retailers, run by locals and their families?

Space Oddity

Sadly, the inevitable progress has kept pedestrian traffic from the gems. Cafés, bistros, jewellers, book shops and others are neighbours to vacant spaces, waiting for a new tenant. It's as if the vacancies are harrowing reminders that the turnover for lesser-frequented spaces outside of the shiny malls is very high. The centre of Bury is also made up of The Cornhill, Buttermarket and Abbeygate Street, but the ever-rising cost of rent has been a deterrent for smaller retailers for some time and space is mainly occupied by the bigger shops. Somehow, these areas are still getting the trac necessary to keep doors open and staff employed.

Dancing in the Street

I no longer build model 'planes or collect vinyl, but St John's Street is still jam packed with hidden treasures! There's an award winning bar and grill (Benson Blakes recently won an award for Best Pub Burger in Britain) or a vegetarian bistro if you'd prefer. You can get a tattoo, order flooring or get ready for that next fishing trip, all in one windy, narrow street!

The Next Day

I'll be writing more on my favourite Bury street, but I have to dash out for lunch. I wonder if I'll try one of those Classic burgers, or go for a sandwich and salad at The Bay Tree? Maybe I'll find something I hadn't seen before!

Do you have a favourite street in Bury St Edmunds? Tell us all about it!


Consciousness at The Barbican: A Lecture

Author: Nick Burman, 5 March 2013

Consciousness Barbican, Bury St Edmunds, suffolk graphic design

The right message isn’t enough – it has to be SEEN to be the right message.

On Saturday 2 March, Marcus du Sautoy, BBC presenter and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford – presented a performance lecture entitled ‘Consciousness’.

After briefly introducing how science has examined consciousness, what it means to be conscious and how humans experience it, he gave some examples of how the brain interprets information. One point I found particularly interesting was how he illustrated our brain’s preference of visual data over audio data.

Ba Ba Black Sheep

du Sautoy showed a video of himself mouthing three syllables repeatedly. Firstly, BA (as in “meet me at the BAr for a drink”). The sound of his voice could clearly be heard to pronounce what was seen. Then he mouthed FA (as in “a long long way to run”). Lastly, he said DA (as in “isn’t it DArk in here with the lights out?”). After hearing and seeing each syllable, du Sautoy revealed the illusion. While the video changed, the audio track was the same syllable – FA for each video clip. While you could see lips saying BA, FA and DA, you were actually only hearing BA all along. Your eyes told you that you were hearing something different, even though you really weren’t.

The idea was that your eyes told you what you were hearing. Once you knew the con, it was easy to spot the difference. But Marcus made a very interesting point.

The Eyes Have It

When we see one thing and hear another, our eyes rule. What we see is taken as being more important than the other senses. Even throughout the lecture, visual backdrops (animations, still images, video clips and visual effects) enhanced the lecture and made it more palatable, more easily retained.

Show, Don’t Tell

What does this mean to a business using marketing materials? It means that any message can be greatly enhanced, underscored and enforced with effective visuals. Spoken messages on videos can be received more effectively with the right combination of images. A website that conveys the right image visually is going to be received better than one that just has the right words.

Motion graphics showing processes and explaining points with animations are psychologically proven to have more impact than just text or just spoken words. By using the brain’s favourite sense, you can make your message really hit home


If SEO is dead, what do we do now?

Author: Nick Burman, 5 March 2013

The headline says "SEO is Dead".

The copy reads

"Instead of building links that become less valuable with every Google update, drive targeted search visitors to your website by focusing on the most promising organic keywords in your existing traffic."

Isn’t that SEO? After all, SEO is just making sure your website can be found by search engines. If you’re going to draw people in by saying THIS is dead, and THAT is dead, make sure you’re actually offering something else. Something completely different.

So if we’re not meant to build websites that lean on search engines for their ranking, how do we get websites to turn up towards the top of search results?

You don’t sell your products or services to websites, you sell to people. So if people don’t like what they see, they aren’t going to buy. Make sure your content … is useful, speaks the language of your target audience and offers something they need.

seo is dead, Bury St Edmunds, suffolk graphic design


For the eight millionth time, content is king. Everyone and their dog (with opposable thumbs) could build a website, but the key (or king) here is the content. Once you get people to your site, what are they seeing?

Having a site rank well in search engines is like having a flashing light in your shop window. People will turn their heads, stop and may even go in, but once they are there, they realise that they didn’t want what was for sale anyhow.


You don’t sell your products or services to websites, you sell to people. So if people don’t like what they see, they aren’t going to buy. Make sure your content (that is, everything that is on your website, your YouTube channel, your brochure… you name it) is useful, speaks the language of your target audience and offers something they need.


What this means is that if your site is built for people, Google will recognise that and put you to the top. Search engines run a popularity contest, so the more people read it and like it, the more popular you are. I don’t think that could be stated simply enough. Make your site what people like!

Where Now?

Motion graphics, YouTube videos and well written copy, all wrapped up in a site designed to keep people’s attention is what you really need. Not goofy search engine tricks!


Logo Design: Why a Logo is Not a Brand.

Author: Nick Burman, 16th January, 2013

The terms ‘brand’ and ‘logo’ get mixed up all the time. Let’s clear this up!

What is a logo?

A logo is a stamp or mark that is used to visually identify a business. Sometimes a single word in a particular typeface may be used. This can be termed a logo but is more accurately called a wordmark. But whether a logo is a designed shape or a unique font-based treatment, the logo should be unique and identifiable with one company. A logo is also part of visual branding.

A logo should not be an illustration of what a company does, but rather an impression of the way a company does business. It should represent the characteristics of a business or service. For example, the Nike logo does not show athletic wear in any way even though when you see the swoosh you know it is Nike.

How does a logo become more than just a meaningless or generic shape? Branding.

What is a brand?

A brand is what other people say about a business – the impression a business leaves, how you think of a business. When someone mentions a business name, the first thing that pops into your head is their brand, good or bad. It’s the aftertaste. A brand can be built with advertising, images and product design, But it is also constructed from the experience someone has with a company. How the staff greet customers, how clean the toilets are, how customers are treated when they have concerns – everything involved in interacting with a company builds a brand.

The practice of branding goes far beyond designing a logo, although that may be a part of the process. Branding considers a far wider range of issues than just graphics and design.

A logo can help a company establish a brand as it is a visual representation of the company. It should embody the nature, style and impression but not be expected to solve problems with the brand. No logo is going to make customer service problems go away, for example. But if a company is embarking on a new direction or has changed their internal structure sufficiently that the visual representation they have been using no longer fits, then a new logo can help others see the company in a new light.

Knowing the limitations and far reaching importance of a logo versus a brand can help you decide when it is time of a logo redesign.


Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid in Print Advertising.

Author: Nick Burman, 16th November, 2012

With print advertising you don’t have long to catch an eye, peak interest and encourage action. Here are ten tips to help make the ad more effective and save you losing money on a cheap looking ad that doesn’t work.

print advertising, print design, bury st edmunds print ads

1 Cramming Everything in

How do you want people to reply ? A phone number and email address is all you need. Including your web address is always a good idea too. But in a print ad where space is at a premium, you do not need to include your full address (with postal code), fax number, mobile number and free phone number.

2 Putting Your Logo or Company Name First

You may be advertising your company, but the ad is not about you. It’s about your customers and their needs. Customers care about their own problems. Tell them how you are going to solve problems and people will want to know more.

3 No Reason to Call

You’ve listed the plethora of things your company can do and put in a phone number, but you haven’t answered any questions or suggested why people should call. Is it to make an appointment, order something or find something out? Make it clear and make it obvious. Don’t suggest people call, compel them to.

4 Clichés

“For all your ____ needs”. “Call Now”. “Call Today”. You know what the clichés are because you’ve heard them a thousand times and now they mean so little there is no point in using them. Be creative!

5 Bright Colours to Draw Attention

Don’t make your ad an eyesore. Bright colours might attract attention, but they aren’t going to keep it. You’ve probably seen flashing ads online. Yes, they make you look but that’s as far as they go. There is no holding power. It’s just an ugly ad that doesn’t work.

6 Lack of Focus

Visually, your ad should have a focal point, a main attraction. When you squint, what do you see first? You can’t make everything a focal point. Pick one subject and use that as the goal of the ad.

7 Poor Photography

Do you do poor work? If you don’t have fantastic photos, don’t include them. People who know photography can take fantastic photos very easily, so in comparison your snaps will look sad and be a poor reflection of your business. By all means use stock photography, but make sure they aren’t used by anyone else in your industry, or you’ll be advertising for the competitor. Or the stock agency! By the way, there are services that allow you to search images rather than keywords, so it’s not difficult to find out who else is using your stock photos.

8 Saying Too Much

Just because you do 25 things doesn’t mean you should list all of them at once. People aren’t going to remember a laundry list of services. Focus on one and make that the goal (see no. 6)

9 Poor Font Choice

Light colours on a dark background, fonts with a thin stroke and using all italics are a few poor choices that are way too common. Using type well is an art and science, but keeping it simple is always the best plan. Your computer came with a zillion fonts. You don’t have to use them all!

10 Spelling

This shouldn’t even be on the list as it should be such an obvious point, but typographical errors are sadly far too common. I think most people know by now that spell checkers don’t check grammar (there/their/they’re). How long will it take to read your ad? How about getting someone else to proof read?

Print advertising is a commitment – once it’s done it’s done. You can’t change your print ad design like you can change a website. So before you commit your ad to print, take some time to look it over and make sure the design and content are going to attract customers.

What glaring mistakes have you found in ads? Share and share alike!


Cheap Logo Design – Unlimited Revisions

Author: Nick Burman, 7th November, 2012

Cheap logos are not cheap.

You can buy a logo for the same price as a cup of coffee. You don’t have to spend thousands on graphic design – get it all cheap, quick and easy!

print advertising, print design, bury st edmunds print ads

Now wait a minute…

Did you click the link to this page out of curiosity, or are you really looking for cheap logo design?

The idea of representing a company with anything that is cheap should annoy and confuse any business owner. The thought that the one thing that will take up most of your time, energy, thought processes, financial investment and emotional involvement could be stamped with a quick symbol is beyond me. That may be because I design logos for a living, but that’s also the reason why my ire is so appropriate. It IS my job, and it’s my job to be concerned!

I believe there are two reasons that people think a logo is not worth the investment. One is a lack of understanding regarding the process of developing a visual brand, and the other is a lack of understanding as to why you need a logo.

Developing a logo – that is, an effective logo that represents a business properly – is a process. It starts with an understanding of what the business is all about, what makes it different from the competition and how customers or visitors view the business. How can you represent a business if you don’t understand what they do, why they do it and why people should remember it?

Why you need a logo is obvious at first; something to put on business cards, letterheads, signage and websites. It’s something to remember the business by. But what a logo is not going to do is solve problems with the brand. I have even heard the argument that an expensive logo isn’t going to market a business for you so why bother paying for it? Why? Investment. If a business is seen as cheap and inefficient, no logo in the world is going to fix that – the logo will just become synonomous with cheapness and inefficiency. But once a logo is developed, it is up to the marketing department to make that logo link with the values of the business. The Nike swoosh only has connotations to sporting goods and apparel because advertising says so. Does the swoosh appear clean, efficient, timeless and memorable? Of course. But marketing made it point to what the company does.

So Can You Represent Your Company With a Graphic That Cost the Same as a Large Mochaccino?

Of course you can. But it is unlikely that you’ll have a logo that is imbued with the same research, care and understanding that only comes with brand development. But will you have it in the graphic formats that you need? Do you really own the copyright? Was it built with original artwork, or does it contain copyrighted clipart? Do you have the time to do due diligence in researching what your ‘logo’ is, or did you think you were paying a branding company to do that?

Being so inconsiderate and lazy with the first impression that many people have with your business is the kind of sloppiness that doesn’t have many parallels. Maybe I can come up with a few similes! It’s the thought that you are taking something so supposedly precious and presenting it poorly.

Can you imagine having five children (hang on a minute, let me finish!) and naming them all Jon because you didn’t want to spend the time thinking up other names?

Can you imagine spending months writing a book and getting it published, but only spending five minutes throwing together a cover? (I’m sure there are times when this may have worked, but there are always exceptions to the rule)

Can you imagine spending a years’ salary on a wedding and showing up in jeans and a t-shirt?

Any Questions?

Visually branding a company properly is an investment in first impressions and instant recognition. Unless your company is one you want people to forget and think little of, then using a well designed and developed logo is essential.


Ten Ways to Get Ideas and Boost Creativity

Author: Nick Burman, 8th October, 2012

Creativity is not just for designers, writers, artists and others who routinely create. Businesses of all types need ideas and inspiration for new ventures and problem solving. Here are a few ways to help boost your production of ideas, no matter what they might be or how you might use them.

Where ideas come from, inspiration, suffolk graphic desgin

1. Watch What You Watch.

Television and movies can be a good way to unwind and relax, but why not use that time to also feed your creativity? Instead of filling your head with reality TV and aimless sitcoms, try material that has been made with some view to exploring new angles and outlooks. Nature documentaries often highlight unusual qualities of other species; foreign films are often made without the need to appeal to mainstream audiences; dramas about unusual topics or shown at off-peak times often take more risks and can be more creative. By watching the creativity of others, your expectations can be disrupted and you can be led to think slightly off the beaten path.

2. Listen to Music

The playlist you use for working out at the gym may not be the same stuff to help you here. Eye of the Tiger may inspire you to pump iron, but it’s not necessarily going to help you think differently or generate ideas. Traditionally, people will recommend classical (or romantic) music styles for meditation and provoking creativity, but even then you can think even further outside of the box. Instead of Bach, consider Mussorgsky. Instead of Chopin, consider Mahler. Consider listening to jazz as an alternative. But don’t just listen, really listen. Study the textures, intervals and moods. Think about why each new passage may be a surprise compared to the previous section.

3. Now for Something Completely Different

Stop thinking about what you’re doing! Go and do something completely different. Play a musical instrument; tidy the garage; mow the grass; put together the flatpack furniture you bought three weeks ago. Giving your brain a rest from the task at hand gives it a chance to think about it anew when you approach it again. Exercises like making music also involve the side of your brain that produces ideas.

4. Eat

Feeding your brain is key. But the process of chewing can also help you think. Just like doing something completely different helps you think of new ideas, the time taken to step away and make lunch serves to give yourself a break.

5. Procrastinate

This isn’t really procrastination, but more like stretching the task over a period of time. Rather than hammering out ideas in a pressure induced, short period of time, allow yourself several sessions spread over a few days (if possible) to allow the ideas to germinate. When you come back to the project after a period of sleep, you may see things you didn’t see before. As your subconsciousness works on the problem, ideas may jump at you at the oddest times. Which leads to point number 6…

6. Make Notes

If you’re taking time to solve a problem, you may have fits of inspiration at the oddest times. Use your smartphone to record an audio message or type out a message in a notes app to record the idea. iPhone has Siri, a voice activated assistant, to quickly do this for you.

7. Do Something New

Ruts are the opposite of creative. So if you’re stuck in a media routine, try reading. watching or listening to something new. Take a look at your iPod playlist, your movie collection and your bookshelf and see what your media has in common. Then visit Amazon, HMV or wherever else you buy music and movies and look for something different. Try a different genre. Look for actors you may not have heard of. Getting out of a rut can help upset predictability that tends to put your brain to sleep.

8. Draw it Out

You don’t have to be a professional illustrator to use a pencil to sketch out ideas. Sometimes seeing things in front of you can help you work through what you have in order to get to the new ideas. Try flowcharts, diagrams, scribbles, anything to get the stuff out of your head and onto paper. You may see something you hadn’t seen before.

9. Quantity Leads to Quality

Linus Pauling famously said “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” Sometimes your first idea is your best idea. But if you don’t have lots of other ideas to compare it to, you still won’t know if its your best. Being critical – ridiculously critical – of your ideas also helps you to fine tune them to make sure there isn’t anything else you could be doing. Get lots of ideas, discount the rubbish and hone a few winners. Revise, hone, rinse and repeat, and soon you will have the best idea you could possibly have come up with.

10. Do it all the Time

Getting ideas when you need them can be hard work. It’s much easier to constantly be generating ideas and thinking a little off the beaten path on a regular basis instead of panicking when you need to be brilliant at the last minute. Regularly choosing movies you wouldn’t normally watch, driving a different route home or ordering new foods off the menu encourages you to not be so predictable and encourages your brain to look at things slightly differently. Break up the monotony.

How are you getting ideas? What kinds of challenges do you face when inspiration doesn’t strike?


Menta Trade Fair 2012

Author: Nick Burman, 13th September, 2012

The Menta Trade Fair 2012 was held on Tuesday at Ickworth House just outside Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Being new to the area (after a 22 year hiatus in Canada) it was a great opportunity to meet some of the new, established and exciting businesses in the area.

There was a huge range of businesses represented, from health and wellness to technological to legal, and every size of business from entrepreneurial to corporate. If there is any kind of recession or economic set back going on in the country, local businesses aren't paying attention and are forging ahead anyhow!

Trade shows are often a showcase of design materials, including business cards, leaflets, display stands and other collateral. Here are three companies that caught my attention.

printing, bury st edmunds, suffolk graphic desgin 1. Kall Kwik - business design + print

For over 30 years Kall Kwik have been supplying a comprehensive range of high quality print and design services to UK businesses. They are highly regarded for their professionalism, service and integrity but even more so for understanding their customers and delivering what they need when they need it. They also happen to have produced my most recent set of business cards, beautifully and just in time for the Menta Trade Fair.

You would expect nothing less than great results from a printing firm at a trade show, and Kall Kwik were handing out useful AND attractive spiral bound notebooks and informative, eight page brochures. Creative printing and Clever Thinking indeed!

printing, bury st edmunds, suffolk graphic desgin 2. Virtual Head Office - the Pay As You Go Head Office

Virtual Head Office provides full Head Office Support for small to medium sized businesses who want to reduce or minimise their office running costs. They treat your business as though it's a satellite office of their own providing you with a Virtual Head Office without the real Head Office price tag. The enormous range of services includes accounting, printing, admin/PA, telemarketing, mail handling and social media support.

VHO love print! They had a wide range of brochures, hand outs and other giveaways making use of their bold, red visual branding and beautiful photography. One of their most unique offerings is a networking event called Office Drinks. Twenty five businesses meet around five table in a friendly, non-initimdating environment for group chats and a quick fire pub quiz. Akin to speed-dating, you are limited to about 15 minutes of chat at each table and then it's time to move to the next one for another round. At only £7.50+VAT per head, it's geared to be a fun way to network.

printing, bury st edmunds, suffolk graphic desgin 3. FixedAt - Fixed Price Solicitors

Fixed solicitor prices in easy to understand packages is a real refreshing change – Authorised, regulated and insured professionals providing excellent personal service at transparent, fixed prices. A service provided by Atkins Thomson Solicitors, FixedAt is not only a welcome change to legal pricing, it also features visual branding that is friendly, welcoming and attractive. Perhaps I'm easily bought with coffee, chocolate and cupcakes, but I found their line of promotional materials to be both professional and warm.

Print is far from dead, and these three business prove that using print materials in a branding and marketing strategy can be very effective in making a lasting impact on visitors to a trade show or office. How is your business using print?


To read the blog archive with earlier posts, visit Life Imitating Design.


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