Moleskine: Our take on the classic notebook

Jask's take on the classic Moleskine notebook

Jask’s take on the classic Moleskine notebook

Few in the creative industries will not have heard the name Moleskine. By its own endorsement, it is a legendary notebook, revered around the world.

Its tagline:

‘Culture, imagination, memory, travel, personal identity.’

Of course, the history of the brand is gloriously rich, just as you’d expect it to be. Used by artists and authors such as Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and Bruce Chatwin, one cannot deny that it has certainly earned its place among us and the respect that it deserves.

To us in the modern day of creative marketing, a pencil and paper are tools that we cannot do without, no matter how advanced digital methods of note taking and sketching are getting.

It’s not just us either who hold Moleskine in such high regard. Creative Overflow have found 30 of their most inspired Moleskine’s and listed them here – sheer amazing quality.

So we felt that we should pay homage to this great brand in some way, and have created our own version for ourselves, and if you’re lucky, for you too.

Jask Moleskine

We wanted to create an interpretation and design that is based upon Moleskine’s values and heritage, with a particular focus on personal identity.

To carry these values across we used plain white as our cover, and a simple, clean colourless de-boss of our logo. Nothing else.

With that, we feel that we’ve given our own take on a classic, which will be yours to do with what you will.

No frills, no spills, just every day extraordinary.

We hope you like it.


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3 Reasons to use HD Lithographic Printing

The letter C as created by HD lithographic printing dots...

The letter C as created by HD lithographic printing dots…

Over the next couple of blog posts I’m going to talk about print, and to those seasoned in marketing, you’ll know that print is still an important arm to the creative marketing mix…

… if done right.

Having taken a heavy hit to its popularity over the last few years, with marketers preferring the more measurable and cost effective routes to market available, print is once again finding its place in the marketing manager’s toolkit.

For us creative agency folk, printed communications represent a challenge – how to give them more impact, how to produce them more competitively and crucially how to ensure we deliver a viable method of communication that provides a good ROI.

With this in mind we are always on the lookout for advancements in the industry which can prove beneficial to our clients. Today I’m going to bring your attention to HD Lithographic Printing.

HD Lithographic Printing is a printing process that is subjected to a second generation FM screening, making dots appear finer and overall presswork smoother.

Put simply it brings pictures to life. Consider the difference between watching a film on a standard setting to watching it in HD. HD Printing gives the same added definition to your printed collateral.

Here are 3 reasons to make your print project HD:

1. Sharper Linework

Texts and lines are reproduced sharper, curves are smoother and variations in print are reduced. Vital for industries that require high tech, accurate illustrations.

2. Reliable Picture Reproduction

HD printing utilises a technology known as ‘Squarespot’, which essentially allows printers to reach a high level of stability, accuracy and reliability during the printing process. This in turn means your picture is reproduced in the finest, most accurate details.

3. Intense Colours

HD printing gives vivid, intense colours. The stability that the technology offers means there is less white paper not covered with ink, light is better absorbed and the reflection from the ink is more effective. This helps give your audience a more accurate colour representation of your products which can be particularly important in product-led industries such as the clothing, textiles, soft furnishings and kitchen markets.

When it comes to positioning your product against the competition, you can be sure that printing in HD will give you the edge over those that don’t print HD.

Want to see the difference for yourself? Click here and I’ll post you some samples. You’ll be amazed at the definition.


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A look into the world of a future creative – Jennifer Kate


Jennifer learning the ropes from Kristen, Phil and Matt

It’s that time of year again, Autumn.

For most of us, we’re thinking of cold nights, comfort food (pies, pies, and yet more pies) and everybody is on the run down to Christmas (our Shelley is anyway, and come to think of it, she started counting down the sleeps in June). Generally, it’s the time to start winding down and seeing the year out.

And yet, whilst I am busy wolfing down steak and ale encased in deliciously crispy puff pastry, Autumn does also mark the return of University.

For budding students, that means being one step closer to the world of work, and needing that invaluable experience that will stand you in good stead once launched into the working wilderness.

Jennifer Kate is one such student, from the University of Worcester.

Studying the Creative Digital Media course, Jennifer is required to complete a minimum of 60 hours on a work placement for her Art & Design module and she came to us for help.

Needless to say, being the wonderful bunch that we are, we’ve taken Jennifer on, and she has even taken on the hallowed seat next to our Creative Director Matt Ansell. Yoda-like teachings are soon to begin and we’ll be bestowing Jennifer with all things to do with creative marketing.

Jennifer herself is most interested in print design and typography. Living, breathing and dreaming in fonts and our current favourite Helvetica, she’s even chosen typography as the topic for her dissertation.

Why, you ask, when many say print design is a dying trade? Well number one, you’re wrong, print is not dying out, far from it in fact, and number two, Jennifer says that there are always going to be people who require print, and if we lose print, which is where design practically started, then it will be “like losing a piece of history.”

We admire Jennifer for being a champion for the traditionalists and above that, a real romanticist towards one of the long standing pillars of creative expression.

One word. Profound.

Want to learn about creative marketing? Need a placement? Want to make me a cup of tea? Give us a shout and we’ll see what we can do.


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Finishers of the Great Birmingham Run 2014!


Birmingham Half Marathon Race Day! Raising money for Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice

Hi all, Ricco here reporting on the Great Birmingham Run of Sunday 19th October 2014…

You may have thought we creative marketing folk here at Jask aren’t much for sports and running…

…and on the whole, you were probably right. We are avid armchair enthusiasts at best and it was a big surprise to me when we put our names into the hat for the Bupa Great Birmingham Run half a year ago in March 2014.

Our sole motivation? To raise money for Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice and their fantastic services to the community around Birmingham and Sandwell.

So cometh the hour, cometh the day, and yesterday, on Sunday 19th October 2014, me, Craig, Kevin and Stu took to the second biggest half marathon in the country, the race where 20,000+ people congregate in the centre of Birmingham to tackle a gruelling 13.1 mile course.

Our first stop? Well, it actually wasn’t on the run itself, but a lucky stumble across none other than our friends at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice stand. Here’s us (minus Stu, late on the train!) with CEO Tina Swani at the stand. Cheers for the water, safety pins and looking after our bags!


Jask Team (less Stu, stuck on trains!) with Tina Swani, CEO of Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice

The atmosphere was, as cliche as it sounds, electric. The sun was out, people lined the streets, ready to cheer the runners on, and the race start at Sandpits Parade was absolutely jammed. Here’s us doing a selfie just before the race began (apologies about the bad photography, yours truly is not a great snapper):


Boyband Selfie on Race Day

At the stroke of precisely 11:20AM, we were off! As I knew it would happen, Craig and Kevin bolted first, leaving me and Stu to eat dust, and then soon enough Stu left me in his wake as well…deserters!

They completed it easily enough, but for me it was a very tough run indeed. Being a half marathon virgin, by mile 7 of 13 I had hit the wall and running (or mainly walking) on pure determination alone.

Thankfully I got through it in the end and it was a great feeling running down the home stretch on Broad Street. I even had the energy to take a cheeky selfie of me and my finisher medal, boom!



The best feeling of all though? Smashing our target for the hospice. Check out our JustGiving page here, and keep donating!

Plans to do it all again next year! Come and join us! #RunJaskRun


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New website created for St Philips Chambers

New responsive website created for St Philips Chambers

New responsive website created for St Philips Chambers

St Philips Chambers (follow them here @stphilips) are widely recognised as the leading chambers of barristers in the UK and required a new website to help reflect their primary status.

Market research showed that specialism within specific areas of law was the key deciding factor in solicitors selecting a barrister. With this in mind we designed the user experience around our primary objective – to allow solicitors to make an easy and informed selection of the barrister best suited for their case.

With multiple filters, solicitors can quickly search and drill down results in order to find barristers with the specialist knowledge and skill set required to best represent their client.

Through a hand coded brochure builder, suitable barristers can then be added into a bespoke PDF brochure for presenting to their client. The brochure builder adds a cover and contents page, and pulls live data from the site ensuring the CVs presented are the most up to date available.

With analytics from the existing website showing an increasing number of site visitors viewing the site on mobile devices, we based the website around a responsive design with content optimised for mobile, tablet or desktop, removing the need for a separate mobile site or app.

Received with much accolade, the website now forms the primary resource tool for solicitors looking to select a barrister and has quickly become the centrepiece of St Philips’ marketing.

Heading up the project from St Philips was Chief Clerk Joe Wilson, and he gave us a great testimonial:

“Phil and the team at JASK were tasked with creating our new website. From the outset they were engaging and got the brief straightaway. They guided us through the process seamlessly and made a potentially daunting task, an enjoyable experience. We could not be more happy with the results; they have delivered exactly what they said they would and then some. I would have no hesitation in recommending JASK and indeed have just recently.”

You can view the website at:

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The Wolf of Cold Call Street – 4 Ways to Improve your Cold Call with Creative Marketing


Some of you may have caught the film The Wolf of Wall Street (if you haven’t, well worth a watch!). It is a true story starring the charismatic Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, a New York stockbroker who makes his millions in fraud and corruption on the stock market.

I personally saw the film only 2 weeks ago, and there was this one particular scene that inspired me to write this subsequent blog.


It is the scene where Leonardo DiCaprio walks into the firm brokering penny stocks, he picks up the phone to make his first call of the day, and says the lines:

Jordan Belfort: “Hello John, how you doing today? You mailed in my company a postcard a few weeks back requesting further information on penny stocks that had huge upside potential with very little downside risk, does that ring a bell?”

John: “Oh yeah, I may have sent something in.”

Belfort then goes on to sucker John in to buying lots of shares into a dud company.

What captured me about this scene was not the sublime way in which DiCaprio can reel off an incredible sales pitch over the phone in just 60 seconds (although I do so wish I was THAT good), but the fact that the cold call started by DiCaprio asking the client about a mailer which he had been sent and acted on, which is how the lead came about.

Now just think. What if DiCaprio, or Belfort at the time, opened up that sales call to John and John did not have any idea of who Belfort was or why he was getting the call? What would have been the outcome?

Probably a very quick thanks, but no thanks and goodbye.

And that’s the point. Your cold call is only as good as the creative marketing that precedes it.

Now, that scene was played out in an era where the internet was just starting up, where digital and content marketing had not even been heard or perhaps even dreamed of, and mailing and cold calling was still the norm.

Today the sales and marketing landscape is much different. The contingent that argues for digital and content marketing is ever growing and the cold call is now treated as a dinosaur sales tactic.

In my opinion though, the cold call is just as relevant to today’s market as it was in Belfort’s time.

It is still the first port of call where you as a company can find out the client’s needs, the requirements they seek, how we can solve their problems, and how to build rapport. Nothing can replace that confidence someone can portray by speaking over the phone, or even face-to-face for that matter.

Here are 4 ways to improve your cold calling.

1. Do send out information first so the client knows who you are

Be it a mailer, brochure, leaflet, e-shot, personal email etc. it will always pay dividends to send out some information to your potential client prior to calling.

At the very least, it will make them aware of you. At the very most, if your initial marketing is up to scratch, it will engage the client and create interest.

2. Use the Call-to-Action

Always give the client a reason to contact you. Whether it is by incentive, a no obligation quote, a voucher, a tear off and return form, never forget to include a call to action on your communications materials.

Whatever incarnation your call-to-action takes, it is the driver that allows clients to take their interest further.

3. Follow up with more marketing

Following up to your initial piece of marketing with even more marketing is another good way to make sure the message has hit home.

The benefits of doing more marketing prior to the call is that if the initial information had not been seen or had been lost in transition, then it gives another chance for the information to make its way to the customer. On the other hand, if it has been seen already, then it just helps reinforces the message.

For us personally, it can be anything from a simple e-shot, to some samples or a case studies portfolio.

4. The Call

By now, your cold call shouldn’t be so much as cold, but more of a lukewarm state if your marketing has done what it has set out to achieve.

I’m not going to teach how to do a cold call here as there are many many different ways you can approach this topic, but Susan Ward has given a detailed approach here if you want a read.

I personally prefer the soft sell, the reference back to marketing materials we’ve sent before and the sell on benefits. Certainly I wouldn’t be a fan of the DiCaprio/Belfort high pressure sales tactics, but some can make it work for them, albeit in a not so ethical manner.

If you want to know more about how creative marketing can help with other areas of your business just give me a shout.

Until next time!


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4 Key Values that Lead to Better Web Design

If you’ve been paying attention to our Twitter feed, you may have noticed we’ve been working with software development specialists Black Cat Solutions of late, and very recently we launched their new responsive website.

Now, just as much as we’ve been guiding them and their marketing strategy, they have also been giving us some useful tips from their experiences. Most notable is the process of Agile Development.

In a nutshell, agile development is a group of methodologies that enables swifter, better software development over traditional development models such as the waterfall process. It is underpinned by the following values:

Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools
Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation
Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation
Responding to Change over Following a Plan

These values are what also underpin great web design and development.

Here’s why:

1. Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools

In the modern world of digital marketing, things are constantly evolving. As such, processes and tools are always being outdated sooner than they can be written up.

Rather than limiting yourself to things that have been tried, tested and done to death, encouraging individuals and interactions between both client, agency and web developer leads to more creativity, thinking outside of the box and innovation.

Think back to Responsive Web Design, introduced by Ethan Marcotte. By ditching the processes and tools, and thinking ahead to the future of mobile-led interaction and browsing, responsive web design was born to fit the needs of the future generation.

Do not stifle creativity. You limit the possibilities of true innovation and might as well employ robots if you do.

2. Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation

Often, software developers in past times would be wrapped up in producing document after document to cover accountability and track progress. It is a long-winded and arduous task, often time consuming and in the end creates long lead times for development.

Developers will always favour working software over documentation. A lot can be found out from a work-in-progress website, even if it is half finished. Integral issues to a website’s success such as interaction, ease-of-navigation, user-experience, flow, design and engagement can often be concluded during the early stages of development.

If it doesn’t feel right from the outset, things can be changed early on. Obviously, this is not something that can be achieved through looking at documentation alone.

Do not get tied in knots perfecting one section before moving on. Your deadlines will never be met if you chase perfection.

3. Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation

In the creative marketing world, customer collaboration is key. It is your customer who will know best what their target market is, the forces in play, their competitors and the marketplace they are competing in.

The negotiation stage of building a website should come at the start of the process, where a brief is produced so that the agency can understand the overall goals and objectives of the new website.

As the client, it is then your duty to involve yourself during development to make sure the website being produced is “on brief”, and not straying away from the end goals that had been set out.

On the flip side, it should be the agency’s duty to challenge the customer, making sure the experience and creative input is what comes to the fore to make sure those end goals are being met in the best way possible.

Do not become personally attached. We often find one small opinion can vastly affect the outcome of a website. Step back and always keep in mind who the website is for and how they would react.

4. Responding to Change over Following a Plan

A final value to always keep in mind is that responding to change is part and parcel of great web design.

Confining and limiting yourself to a plan would be to ignore everything else that is happening in the digital world, and given that the digital world never stays still for very long, that is a dangerous game to play.

Responding to change will always give you the best chance to have an optimised website that best meets the needs of the end user. Where the means of interaction are changing all the time, the methods of communication will need to change along with it.

Do not plow on through a project if it will be doomed to fail. At the end of the day, you’ll waste your budget on a website that will be outdated even before its launch.

A Final Tip:

Fundamentally, a website is a tool for marketing. It is for end users to find out further information, make a purchase or enquire further. The development process, through each stage, should always have this in focus and in the end your design should be reflective of what your customer wants from your website.

Feel free to ask us on any questions about web design and development!


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#MWL2014 – More Adventures and 3 Key Lessons Learnt

#MWL 2014

#MWL 2014


“Eighty percent of success is showing up” – Woody Allen

I start with a famous Woody Allen quote as last year, I showed up to Marketing Week Live (MWL) 2013. I was, quite simply, blown away. The success that has since followed for us has been amazing.

Fast forward to MWL 2014, this time with partner in crime Craig Ward, we showed up once again to live, learn and breathe marketing with the best of them.

And again, blown away.

From the Green Man of Equinox Design, to the Lead Forensics’ Whack-a-Mole type game, everybody was there to excite, innovate, and inspire us marketers and agencies to do more and be more.

This year, we were privileged enough to be witness of 3 great conferences.

1. Help! 7 content problems and how to fix them – Sticky Content

Amy Nicholson of Sticky Content

Amy Nicholson of Sticky Content

Hosted by the sharp and witty Amy Nicholson of Sticky Content, this was a great conference from an expert in the field of how to create content well, publish consistently, overcome the problems of content creation and generally just being smarter about the way you write.

Some key tips we’ve learnt include planning well in advance, being clear on the content piece function and being organised with your content, whether it’s already been published or is in the pipeline for publishing .

With every day problems such as having our content go through too many rounds of amends, deadlines being ignored, not having a focus on your content etc. it was fantastic to get real practical solutions from someone who has been there and done it all. A massive thanks to Amy and Sticky Content!

Killer tip: Create a content calendar!

2. Building great client-agency relationships – Vision Express and Dare

Andy Portsmouth of Vision Express and John Owen of Dare

Andy Portsmouth of Vision Express and John Owen of Dare

Co-hosted by Andy Portsmouth of Vision Express and John Owen of Dare, we picked up a thing or two about how to create a lasting, fulfilling partnership between clients and agencies.

As the modern client-agency relationship now lasts less than 3 years, it is with great pleasure to find a relationship such as Vision Express and Dare’s, spanning many years and successful campaigns. See their latest ‘Vision. Taken Seriously’ TV ad here.

Their secret? It stems from 3 key fundamental values of Respect, Trust and Time.

As we’ve learnt, respect comes through knowledge of your audience, company, competitors, the marketplace and the structural forces that dictate your market. Only when you as a client know that can an agency start respecting you.

Trust needs to be earned over time, and both client and agency need to know where their jobs start and finish. Put simply, the “what” and “why” should be covered by the client, i.e. what the campaign is, why the campaign works, and the “how” should be covered by the agency, i.e. the agencies should be the master storytellers.

A key tip is to always challenge each other and make each other accountable. The purpose is not to lay blame but to find out if things go wrong, where they went wrong and why they went wrong.

Killer Tip: Always give each other time to learn, even from failed campaigns!

3. Ten latest trends in website and user experience – CIM

James Cherkoff of CIM

James Cherkoff of CIM

With the digital marketing landscape changing at a rate of knots, it was incredibly useful to have James Cherkoff of CIM to talk through the ten latest trends in website and user experience.

Highlighted important issues include the changing nature of search (Google Now predicts what you like, what you have searched for to give you the right information at the right time), changing environments including both inside the home and with outdoor developments (think smart homes and automated heating) and the way media devices are now vastly different and more advanced (in TV, rather than buying the media spot as a whole, you can just buy the audience!).

All these changes are constantly affecting our path-to-purchase and how we are stimulated as consumers, and how our “First Moment of Truth” is being replaced by “Zero Moment of Truth”. I won’t attempt to explain FMOT and ZMOT, but you can read more about it here, courtesy of Jenny Liu, Industry Marketing Manager, CPG.

Killer Tip: Whilst all these changes are happening, humans are still looking for the same values in products/services; value for money, reliability/longevity, services they can trust.

All in all, MWL 2014 was another great visit with great insight from world leaders in marketing and I for one am thoroughly excited to be a marketer in these times.

On that note, I leave you with an inspirational picture of promo item I picked up during our rounds. Thanks to Questback, who have given us new office mascot Malcolm the Moose.

Malcolm the Moose!

Malcolm the Moose!

See you next year for MWL 2015!



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Jask Host Seminar to Budding Design Pupils

Teaching with Charlotte Harrodine, Kate Maddock and pupils of Dickens Heath Primary School

Teaching with Charlotte Harrodine, Kate Maddock and pupils of Dickens Heath Primary School

Ever wondered what we do when we’re not busy creating?

Hint: we most certainly do not watch England and their abysmal excuse for a football team, that’s for sure.

Cheap jibes against England aside, what we do do is try and give back to the community, and last week we were playing teacher to some budding design pupils from Dickens Heath Primary School, helping share our experiences in creative marketing and design.

Working with the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, we were put in touch with local Solihull primary and secondary schools, including Dickens Heath, and were invited to partake in their Synergy Programme.

The main aim of the programme is to help guide students early on in their lives on routes into employment and showing what jobs are available at the end of their studies.

Magazine Production: Hints and Tips

Magazine Production: Hints and Tips


Stuart having fun being teacher for the day

Stuart having fun being teacher for the day

Playing host to a group of year 6 pupils who were designing an internal school magazine, myself, Managing Director Stuart Jordan and Creative Director Matt Ansell delivered a seminar on magazine production from start to finish to help guide them on how to progress. Topics included software options, page planning, design considerations and picture quality planning.

Our Creative Director Matt giving useful advice on how to design magazines

Our Creative Director Matt giving useful advice on how to design magazines

With young, impressionable and inquisitive minds, fair to say we were a little nervous! Thankfully it didn’t play out like an episode of Prime Minister’s Questions and the lovely students were kind to us with the Q&A after the seminar.

Thanks to Dickens Heath Primary School and teachers Charlotte Harrodine, Kate Maddock and Jacqueline Nicholls for giving us the opportunity to share our experience and thanks to Leeanne Parker Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP for putting us in touch!

If you’d like to learn more about marketing and design, just give me a shout.



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We’re looking for a new Web Developer…

We are looking for a talented Web Developer to join our expanding team. Working alongside our Creative Director and an existing web developer you will be involved in the full web development life cycle – from proposal to wireframe to build and deployment.

Take a look at our website to see the calibre of clients that you will work with – we get involved in a lot of projects, including some national names you will recognise. This is a chance to join an ever expanding team – and your opportunity to make a difference to a growing company.

Our modern, open plan offices are based 2 minutes from Solihull centre and there is a train station nearby (Olton) if you don’t fancy driving. If you do, we have free onsite car parking.

At Jask we work mainly with WordPress, so experience working with this CMS and PHP in general is a must- a good working knowledge of MySQL would also help. We also have some older projects running in Joomla so a basic understanding of this CMS would be useful.

Main duties include:

  • Assisting with proposals for new work
Sketching / wireframe development
  • Development of web projects
  • Working with creatives and account managers
  • Managing use of freelancers when required

Skills & Requirements
Skills and experience required:

  • Over 2 years experience in a similar environment
  • Advanced front end development (HTML, CSS & JavaScript / jQuery)
  • Experience building sites with PHP (ideally 2 years +)
  • Experience setting up and maintaining WordPress sites (essential)
  • Working knowledge of Magento (not essential)
  • Experience building responsive websites and testing those sites on physical and virtual devices
  • Working knowledge of Git for version control and collaboration
  • Ability to debug and code around the various quirks in different browsers
  • Good working knowledge of MySQL databases
  • Good understanding of user experience design
  • Knowledge of the latest web trends and open source projects
  • Basic Photoshop
  • An understanding of SEO best practices
  • We would expect applicants to be able to demonstrate some of these skills at the interview with some past projects.

What you’ll get:

  • A great salary
  • Company pension scheme
  • 25 days holiday
  • Training
  • Company/performance based bonus
  • The chance to make a difference in an agile company

We would expect applicants to be able to demonstrate some of these skills at the interview with some past projects.


Click here and send a copy of your CV and a portfolio

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