It’s like a little family – this is one of our eldest still in existence.. the Colour Classic. A first at the time with a colour screen and the forerunner to the Imac it now occupies a prized corner of reception – on display for all to see. Awwww…..

I love our clients.

As graphic designers we love being told what our clients think of us. We received this very recently from a client I have worked with for over 18 years. We’ve designed and built a number of brands for him over the years and in that time have built a good friendship through a few different businesses as he is a true entrepreneur.

“How many creative agencies have been around for nearly 18 years? How many clients have stayed with such an agency for all of those 18 years? Through a variety of businesses in a range of market places? Not many would be my guess. I have stayed with Philippa throughout because she has that rare ability to combine true creativity; commercial acumen and real world results. She is simply the best in her field.”

Mike Hurney, The Shooting Party, July 27, 2011

Top qualities: Great Results, Personable, Creative

It’s fair to say our working relationship has weathered very well despite the odd disagreement about the direction of a brand; that happens because we genuinely love his businesses as much as he does; we laugh about them now which just goes to show the strength of the relationship. We’ve also achieved some tremendous results for him.

This is some of the latest work we have done for him. Over the years we have designed and developed brands and then implemented them across many disciplines. Adverts, catalogues, websites and latterly social media and packaging. What a mix!

Ferreting in the archives the other day we came across some old promo footage for Smart Ideas from 2001, and I have to say we did smile somewhat. We didn’t even hesitate about blogging about it – we found it really quite funny. My, how things have changed!

One of our clients who was in the office at the time we unearthed the footage asked me “how do you manage to look 10 years younger now than you did 10 years ago?“. I smiled sweetly and answered “it’s the joy of working with you that does it.” I hasten to add we have worked with him as long as Smart Ideas have been in existence and he is without doubt a lifelong friend.

However, I think we definitely need to do an updated version (although we haven’t used this one in years); looking back that promo video cost us around £1000 and today, due to the changes in software and smartphones it will cost us nothing. So please watch this space for a new updated version.

Whatever we put together will really reflect the characters and culture that has prevailed at Smart Ideas Design Limited for nearly 20 years; that of really getting to know the client in order to give them something that gets results and therefore a great Return on Investment.


On Bank Holiday weekend I was visiting friends in Liverpool. On Saturday we visited the big shopping centre which is called Liverpool One.

Imagine my reaction when I came across the shop Everton Two, particularly when I realised the address of this shop is Everton Two, Liverpool One!


by Philippa Smart

Many times over the last twenty years, I’ve been commissioned to design new brands, literature, packaging, advertising and of course web sites. The brief could at best be described as ‘brief’ and it was always my mission to question, question, question.

Without me doing this, I could never have created and achieved the results we have for clients. The quality of the brief is paramount. Without the depth and background of what the business is trying to achieve how can this design gain tangible results? The return on investment for a design alert business is £225 for every £100 spent according to research by the Design Council. Design must be aligned to the company’s strategy – makes complete sense to me.

So this list is designed to help marketeers achieve a much better result in their dealings with design agencies.

  1. Business plan including vision and strategy.
  2. Marketing plan
  3. All existing marketing collateral
  4. Brand guidelines
  5. The purchasing procedure
  6. Contacts – who does what and full contact details
  7. A full written brief not a paragraph
  8. Any research or focus group feedback
  9. Product info and the product itself
  10. Budgets
  11. Examples of brands they aspire to and why
  12. Competitor analysis
  13. Holidays booked!

by James Merrick

Let’s get one thing straight, the word font is usually a no go area for me; I had it drummed into me at college (thanks Tim) that the term typeface was to be used, not font. I’m now in this school and only utter the word font when I have too… it makes me think Windows, or ‘Paint’ (shudders), and think of the countless times I have to say it to people who really should know better. Sometimes it’s just a lost cause… you’re not in the club and I think I like it that way.

The word font does have a place, I just choose not to use it… think of it like this… you have music albums and you have tracks inside it.. well it’s a direct comparison; the typeface is the album and fonts are the tracks aside from that specialist font we have all searched the internet for I deal with typeface families each and every day! Not fonts, typefaces! I hope we’re clear! Great! Moving on..

Now I’m one of the many designers out there that have 100+ typefaces in their library (it might be more!), heck I’m swamped in them. It’s a good 5-10 seconds to scroll from Arial to Zapf Dingbats and I don’t have the time to sort them, adding new ones along the way i just go with it and time and time again I’m drawn back to my trusted favourites, my old friends that never let me down.

This is how I came to write my first blog for Smart Ideas, I sat and thought about what I could possibly write that would be informative and give other designers my opinion on you know… designery things.

I studied Typography at Stafford College greatly influenced by some fantastic lecturers, one of which I still follow to this day. Tim Donaldson (www.timdonaldson.com) was and is a big influence as to why I got into design and typography. It was here on this course and at the age of 19 I was re-born as a type geek.

I was told from day one “be prepared to see type in everything” boy were they right! But it goes further that; I often surprise myself at how I’m able to pick a font from an ad or a magazine on the shelf at W H Smiths and what do I do if I don’t know what the typeface is? There’s an app for that! Beautiful, just beautiful! (shame about the name ‘what the typeface’ maybe doesn’t have the same ring to it..for this they are excused) Continue Reading »

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