picture research

SGE Travel Coach Tours reaches out to the Midlands from the Highlands

SGE Travel based in Dunoon has recently launched tours to the wild highlands of Scotland from the Midlands via Executive Coach Tours and offering a fantastic deal on their chain of wonderful hotels. We have developed, as part of an ongoing update for the group on their hotel websites, the new tour operator’s website. Available here, the new website also displays the new logos for SGE Hotels’ chain of hotels. Including a hefty element of picture research, illustrator and photoshop work alongside social network integration and a live help system, this site (and her soon to be launched sisters) are state-of-the-art.

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An e-commerce website for an architecturally-inspired book publisher

We have worked with Watermark Publications Ltd before, and this time we have created a site which comes closest to the publisher’s print design. Elegant, concise, visually appealing and above all readable. Using WP 3.0 we have made extensive use of a non-flash slideshow, the built-in thumbnail functionality, and a really nicely implemented e-commerce package. The latter is presently using Paypal as its merchant solution – with 220,000,000 users it has a pervasive presence in all the necessary markets.

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Argyll and the Islands Leader

Out of our work on the Argyll Communities website for AVA, came the Argyll and the Islands Leader website. Ideally suited for WordPress, this project utilises post thumbnails, gallery slideshows, custom fields, some php applets within the theme itself, as well as some fairly thorough-going optimisation techniques for search engines and speed (a lot of which we have learned on ForArgyll.com). The main challenge however was to create a sufficiently capable template to cater for the hundreds of projects Leader has funded while making them search engine friendly, both to Google et al. and using the internal WP search. The result we think is an excellent and accessible WordPress implementation which with ‘Thelonius’s’ fab auto-upgrade will stand the test of time.

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A Small Ad

This is another artwork developing the graphic identity of the Kames Hotel. Using typeface from the A4 wedding brochure we designed last year, we’ve created a punchy, visually appealing Ad for the Scotsman on Sunday. As ever the photography is by the ever-creative Philippa Elliott, and shows elements of what the Kames has to offer (more personality per square foot than anywhere else on the West Coast).perfectdays

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Something Lairdly this way comes …

We have just finished design and writing the copy for the new A4 Presentation Folder for the ScottishLaird.com project. This is the first version of what will become a series of souvenir presentation folders which existing lairds and ladies can purchase. To market this new development we have produced a ‘3D’ artwork for the website.


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Bring Your Heritage To Life! A Gorgeous Cover for the ABMHF

…. even if we say so ourselves. This project continues to intrigue and delight us here at Arbu, not only because the visual material we have been sent is so strong, but because of the variety of historical material these Museums and Heritage sites exhibit. When we were writing the back cover copy, something which I took particular pleasure in, we could draw upon the entirety of Scottish history for inspiration. The result was some of the bast marketing copy I have written for a while:

“Viking, Celt or Pict, Sassenach, Gael or Scot, Argyll & Bute‘s museums will bring your heritage to life.

“From bronze age man to the Picts and the Gaels, from the Spanish Armade thrugh the Clearances to the rise of the Victorian Industrialists, the museums and heritage sites in this guide, together create a stunning narrative of life in the region which spans its beautiful geography as much as its complex and ancient past.

“Learn about the lives of the ordinary folk as well as the clan chiefs, of the battles fought here as well as the peace lived, of the craft and artistry of the West Coast people as well as the harshness of some of their lives.

“This guide is designed to introduce you to the full breadth of Argyll and Bute’s heritage, and perhaps connect you with yours!

Now aside from writing superlative copy, one of our underplayed strengths, the branding and visuals have provided us with some challenges we have relished. For example, the original logo, works extremely well on its own, however in this context we needed to give the visitor a guide on what the Forum actually means and how it is trying to connect with its audience, hence the tag, “Bring your heritage to life!”. We wanted to subliminally empower the visitor, ask them to see these venues as being of value because of their, the visitor’s, attention. It also brings in the idea of folk tracing their genealogy, taking a positive role in constructing an historical narrative in which their family plays a part – after all what are we most interested in? Ourselves. And then there is also the idea that these 15 Great Museums create a really fantastic themed tour around Argyll, allowing the guide’s users to bring their heritage to life in a narrative of the actual journey to each of these venues.


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ABMHF Map First Draft

This is in development, but is sufficiently advanced to show here as a piece in and of itself. We particularly like bringing the 2D cartographic environment into the 3D with our square, Frappr-like pins. Evidently the ongoing “map-everything” meme which Google began with GoogleEarth is infecting all areas of the design industry, and in this case for the better:

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A Big Signage Revision for the Dunans Charitable Trust

The Dunans Charitable Trust have commissioned ARBU to create and revise existing signage which guides walkers around the Dunans Project’s Woodland Garden in Glendaruel. We have been working on the first element of this: the revised map sign. Of course edits have to be made, but in addition the trust has extended the path network (and has plans to extend it further) and is in the process of creating a new visitor facility in the grounds. These works have been enabled both by active directors and the ScottishLaird.com project which has made available several hundred man hours as well as trees for planting and material for the new path elements through the sale of laird- and ladyships. In the next week we will be producing small direction signage as well as a new panel to celebrate the tallest tree in the UK, the Stronardron Fir, of which the Dunans pathways have the best view.

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To Conquer or Die!

Such is the translation of the McDougall motto, which the new Homecoming Production, the Hidden Jewel is using as its strap-line! We have just completed phase 1 of this project (and thoroughly enjoyable it is proving to be too), and we’re now working on the reverse side of this ticket, including maps and terms and conditions, as well as an A4 poster and DL format flyers (all of which more later). In the meantime, here’s the ticket artwork — some of the text isn’t finalised, but the graphical side is ready for go.

To Conquer or Die

Dunollie & the Hidden Jewel

As part of Scotland’s Year of Homecoming 2009 Dunollie Castle are hosting a spectacular theatrical event, The Hidden Jewel. Arbu are branding the print material for this weeklong extravaganza and we have just had approval of the logo design. Next on the roster is the ticket for the event, and after that posters and flyers. The event which runs between the 17th -23rd July 2009 is set to tell some amazing stories about Clan McDougall and their family seat.

A theatrical spectacular at Dunollie Castle

A theatrical spectacular at Dunollie Castle

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