Happy Cat, Fit Dog

There are some days when I absolutely love my job! Today was one of them! I had the delightful task of coming up with a website idea for a pet grooming/pet services company. Now for those of you that know me, I love animals and especially fluffy ones at that. So spending an afternoon playing around with Photoshop to make sad cats happy and unhappy dogs peppy, it really did put a smile on my face.

The concept was to show owners how the small things like interaction with other pets, regular exercise and a grooming session makes a big difference to an animals wellbeing. We feel better for a trip to the hairdressers, having a facial or going on that regular run or dance class, and by using the animals in a humanistic way, conveys this message.

I used Photoshop’s Liquify to get the results of the upturned mouth and raised eyebrows and made sure that it was a subtle change to steer away from it looking too comical.

Click the images below to view the animation.

happycatsml fitdogsml

I definitely had to hold back on the awe’s and ahh’s whilst doing it!

Happy Christmas from Bussroot

Bussroot Christmas Card

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and a healthy New Year.
Thank you for all of your wonderful support in 2014, it really does mean so much.
Let’s all have a toast to a successful and prosperous 2015.
Anna-Marie and Vin xx


microphoneNow I’m not going to confess to being hooked on the TV talent shows but I’ve watched a few in passing and I’m convinced there are valuable lessons to be learned in how we market a brand. Have you noticed how often contestants on their first entrance shuffle onto the stage in front of the panel in scruffy clothes, looking dreary and uninspiring…and then they begin to perform and there’s no doubt that they have something to sell…a unique skill that the right audience will buy into. And so the journey begins.

As with the budding stars, a business may well have a great product or service but unless it reaches out and connects with its fan base, the target audience, the message is going to fall flat. The mentors in a talent contest (the brand developers) know exactly how to transform the contestant’s image to attract loyal followers. Are they appealing to teenagers, tweenies or adults? If we were privy to the demographics and gender of the voters we would no doubt be able to foresee the result from the start.

Emotions play a big part in building any relationship. How many times do we hear the judges in a talent competition tell the contestants that they need to connect with their audience…to show that they believe in what they have to offer? They’re told to ‘make it your own’ and avoid imitation. When you set out to build your brand personality, make sure you understand your target audience inside and out, have an outstanding image that remains constant and hits the right note. You don’t want to lose your fans to a competitor do you?



What colour are you today?Purple

So you’re laying in your warm snuggly bed, the alarm has already gone off and you need to get up and face the day. When searching to find something to wear how many of you think about the colour you are going to put on? Is it something you spend time on, or do you just reach for the first thing closest to you?

We are always amazed by the mysterious clothing world that Anna-Marie lives in and her vast array of colourful clothes! The same colour is never worn two days in a row and the combinations are… well… quite unusual!

This week we overheard her mumbling that she thought the wonderfully bright imperial purple top she was wearing was enhancing her creativity! Now we realize that there might be many factors that make us more creative one day to another, however we started thinking about wearing certain colours and it evoked some research.

It turns out that wearing purple helps you to open your mind to higher forces thus making a channel for creative energy…! Wearing purple will help to inspire you and others and help you get in touch with your creative side and intuition.

We asked Anna-Marie why she chose to wear purple that day (especially as we had a heap of ideas to originate) and whether it was subconscious or pre-planned. She told us that it was an easy decision when peering into her magical wardrobe and that she was drawn to it instantly. Anna-Marie also wore a purple Sodalite necklace that when researched found that its healing properties were associated with the right side of the brain, stimulating intuition and imagination.

Below is a very brief overview of colours:

Red: Strength, stamina, action-oriented, movement
Orange: Energetic, practical, sociable, healthy
Yellow: Communicative, happy, new ideas, clever
Green: Harmonious, relaxing, understanding, peaceful
Blue: Loyal, trustworthy, caring, authoritative,
Violet: Creative, powerful, inspirational, spiritual

We all have certain tasks that face us each day – maybe the colour you are wearing today could make it that little bit easier!
Oh and for a visual picture, Anna-Marie is wearing red with peacock green today…! Work that one out…


National Conservation Service Business Cards

Card Envy!

When first impressions count so much, how do you feel when you hand over your business card?

Is it tactile, colourful, tells a story, thicker than most, a different shape, unusual material… Is it memorable?

We love our business cards and have always spent a long time in trying to make them stand out and be remembered. We feel proud to reach into our pockets and hand a card over to see what reaction we get. We also have a collection of business cards that we keep in our “card envy” pile.

Being in the creative industries we are lucky and able to be extremely creative and different when it comes to our marketing, however when creating a design for our clients it doesn’t mean we have to hold back on making it noticeable and reflect an essence of what it is the company specialises in.

We have just created a new corporate identity for the National Conservation Service and one of the first items of marketing they wanted was a business card. To give you a brief overview of the company, NCS provides support and expertise in the conservation and care of parchment, paper objects, books, manuscripts and seals for museums, libraries, archives, businesses and private collections. It was only natural that the paper the cards were printed on had to be tactile and have a beautiful quality to them. The paper stock used was Colorplan duplex, mid green/natural. We used a gold foil to the dark green side and a subtle deboss to the winter-white reverse. The results correlate well with the activities of the organisation and enhance their brand – we’ve also had some very nice feedback on comments when they have handed them out. For more images of the card please go to our “branding” Portfolio>

So the next time your business card reserve is getting low why not try something different? It doesn’t need to break the bank and with a little bit of thought you can get some amazing results.

For a little bit of fantasy fun, if you could have any business card you wanted not having to worry about the price, what would it be like? Would it be able to talk, show a movie, smell of something, what colour, made out of what material, how would it amaze others?





The day Anna-Marie got her fingers burnt…!

Ok, so we get to do some really strange things at Bussroot! This has to be one of the quirkier ones! 

We were asked to come up with a presentation brochure with a difference. What a brave thing to ask a design team I say… and oh so wonderfully liberating for us! So we got our thinking-caps on and came up with a beautiful brochure that was printed on Colourplan with a Morocco emboss in two tone, ecru and green. The pièce de résistance was a bespoke wax seal that sealed the brochure closed. The client was open to the idea and let us play.

After getting the customised seal made overnight and delivered the next day, Anna-Marie set about the task at hand. We had two colours of wax, a traditional black sealing wax and a modern pearlised light green, the black wax was the first to be tested. After drawing around the seal with a pencil on to greaseproof paper (we didn’t have enough time to seal the finished printed brochures, so had to supply the wax seals separately to be stuck on before they were flying to Sweden), the wick on the sealing wax was lit and very quickly it started to drip. This was a rather tricky process as the flame had to be held at exactly the right angle, not too deep as the flame would burn the wax to quickly and burn, too small an angle and it would drip to slowly and dry too quickly! Once a even (well as even as you can with dripping wax) circle was made Anna-Marie had to work very quickly with a cool and slightly oiled seal to press down, not too firmly but not too soft onto the wax to make the perfect impression. She was quick to find out that if you didn’t leave it long enough you pulled up all of the wax, leaving it on to long and it stuck fast not to be removed without breaking the fragile seal.

After some very burnt fingers and a few disaster-darlings she soon had it off to a fine art, perfecting the seals in both colours ready and boxed to go onto the brochures.

Just another creative day in the Bussroot office!

For a more detailed Case Study of the finished brochure go take a look at our portfolio >>


Brewing your brand

Venturing through a train shed with the aroma of diesel oil and malt Tom found himself up close and personal to Kissingate and a cheeky Black Cherry Mild! At the end of the evening was he left flat on his back staring at the stars or was there something else etched on his mind…

As a favourite pastime Tom decided to pay a visit to the Tunbridge Wells Spa Railway Beer Festival this weekend and had the pleasure of drinking with a Caveman (which left him feeling a little bit Palaeolithic himself), and milking out over a third of a pint from the Old Dairy Brewery. He was left impressed, and merry, by the great selection Kent and its surrounding area has to offer.

Since this little jaunt a thought ran through his mind as to how important the label on the beer was to the decision making process. Was it a case that a first time a punter would experience a beer through brand before the taste? Thus make a decision based purely on a visual experience (if they were still functioning cognitively so to speak)!

In fact he realised that this was one of the criteria in his selection process. It was the feeling that he got from the label and the subject matter that made him choose one over the other. The quality of the label was also a major contender in this process. Now we know that Tom is a nerdy designer and that he eats, sleeps, breathes design, however… what if this was the case for many others?

So what is it about a label that sways our decision? Is it the colours, the textures, the typeface or the subject matter? Tom concluded that it was a mixture of all of these, however it was down to knowing your target market and how you can hold their attention and herald your product as the most scintillating refreshing offer you can muster that was key.

After his 8th, third of a pint it materialised that he was glad that all the labels weren’t to his taste and others needed some improvement!

So how do you choose your beer or wine in your local pub/supermarket when you don’t know anything about it? Our Tom would love to know…


Bussroot has a new website

Yes don’t fall off the back of your chair or spit out your tea… we can’t believe it’s actually happened either! Not that it’s been a particularly hard job… (well trying to let go of the perfectionism brush as been a bit of a struggle) but trying to fit in doing something for yourself when you’ve got so many other jobs on the go is a tricky thing.

So where did our inspiration stem from…? We knew what we didn’t want – a cookie cutter style site of coloured squares and template tints. It had to represent our style and personality, hints of cheek and playfulness, whilst showing our company values and of course our skills and recent work projects.

The inspiration for the etched illustrations on the front page came from Anna-Marie’s art class where she was playing with printing techniques and fell in love with the style. The intricate backgrounds were hand drawn by Tom who was inspired by Japanese prints with a modern twist. We didn’t want to lose the movement that we had in the last site and so using java script we were able to use it throughout the site whilst being seen on different platforms.

Totally carried away with the theme of the site “expect the unexpected” we are now bursting with new ideas of adding to it and updating it, so watch this space… work permitting that is…!

We do hope you like our new site and if you have any requests for new drawings to be added to our backgrounds, then fill your boots and get a mention in our next blog update.


Of course if you want us to do anything like this for you… we’re Bussroot!



We don’t talk anymore

In this digital age that we’re now living in, have we lost the art of verbal communication? When was the last time you had the full attention of the person you were talking to without being interrupted by chirping text alerts, or the tapping of outgoing messages?

Without a doubt, technology is harming our basic ability to listen. We’re easily distracted, burying our heads in laptops and iPads, mobiles and on social media sites. There was a discussion running recently on whether dinner party hosts should be offended if a guest chatted on the phone during the meal. It’s concerning that we may even consider it to be acceptable…but it happens. I’m talking about social chat, not the urgent call that may come from the babysitter or from a neighbour warning that the house is on fire! Presumably we believe that talking into a tiny hand-held device is discreet enough to be acceptable. Would we feel as comfortable if we were holding a mobile phone the size of a brick with an aerial long enough to poke our dinner companion in the eye?

In business, we may well be losing the emotional connection, invaluable in cementing a long term working relationship. We email when we could easily pick up a telephone and avoid personal meetings by communicating via Skype and MSN, using the excuse that we’re saving valuable time. We panic when the internet goes down or our mobile service fails to provide us with a strong signal. A recent university study in Tel Aviv determined that excessive use of the internet and associated applications has similarities with other obsessive behaviour, including sex addiction, compulsive gambling or kleptomania.

If we allow it to, technology can easily get in the way of our relationships and leave both friends and business associates believing that we have little interest in them. Ikea, who are no doubt familiar with couples showing a lack of communication when walking around their stores together, carried out a recent study on technetronics in the bedroom, concluding that a high percentage of couples continue to use their laptops after they get into bed. Amazingly Facebook now figures high in the reasons given for divorce with one in five citing the social media site for the major cause of the marriage breakdown. I know of one couple who communicate by computer during the evening sitting in different rooms, while the teenage son sends orders by text for snacks to be delivered upstairs. Will the next generation lose the ability and the inclination to engage in personal conversation, preferring to interact remotely through the internet?

We may or may not be forgiven anti-social behaviour within our family, but when it comes to communicating in business we’re led to believe that 55% is down to body language, 38% in the tone of voice and only 7% in the words we use. If this is the case, the less we meet face to face with our clients, the weaker the message we’re hoping to deliver will be.  We need to find the time to talk in person and to avoid outside interruptions while we do so. In the words of the 18th Century theologian  Joseph Priestly, “The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate”. Surely the least we can give someone is the gift of our attention. Let’s talk.


Packaging predicament

I had a wrestling match in the kitchen this morning, but not I might add with someone resembling the Incredible Hulk. I was grappling with a plastic carton which was proving to be impossible to open. Optimistically, I had attempted to prise it apart with my fingers, followed by a futile attempt at frenzied stabbing with a pair of scissors and then hacking into it with a carving knife. This carton just wasn’t going to give up its contents. Does this sound familiar?

Is it my imagination or are we having to pit ourselves against an increasing amount of impenetrable packaging? The Australian state of Victoria hosts the Golden Dump Award for the most excessive use of packaging material. Dump by the way stands for ‘Dangerous and Useless Materials in Packaging’. My complaint isn’t just about the over use of plastic, it’s as much about the irritation of having to battle to get into it. Short, slippery pull tabs that are impossible to grab hold of, bottles hermetically sealed that even your multi-purpose Swiss army knife wouldn’t open and boxes that are virtually bullet proof. Useless packaging must be high on the causes of the increase in consumers stress levels.

Have you noticed how deceiving packaging can be? Giant size plastic containers in supermarkets hide mini portions for a premium price, that wouldn’t satisfy the hunger of a mouse. Easter eggs housed in enormous boxes usually contain a few mouthfuls of chocolate and leave us feeling cheated. Graphics on packaging are often guilty of faking proportions, leading us to believe we’ll get value for money when the reality is quite different. Surely design concepts should be developed with the end user in mind and in making the consumer feel good about buying the product. Designers should take into account that someone will actually need to open the package. We’re frustrated by packaging which doesn’t meet our needs and statistics show that 67% of consumers will choose the product with the least packaging when given a choice. Personally I don’t want to see an apple encased in a giant plastic bubble. It doesn’t need to be given room to breathe! Britain uses more packaging than anywhere else in Europe. In Switzerland and Germany customers have the option of leaving the unwanted packaging behind at the checkout, to be returned to the manufacturers. The only snag may be in removing the packaging without holding the queue up for half and hour or so!

Apart from the fact that the environment pays dearly for all this over-packaging, I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of breaking and entering. Could we please have packets in proportion and that don’t take the skills of Houdini to open?