The Canny Update: 2017 Year In Review
First of all, Happy New Year. We hope you all had a good break, and you’re ready to get back to it!
2017 was a huge year for Canny.
There were a lot of big developments, including moving into our new office building, launching our new website, bringing in a new staff member, starting our YouTube channel and more.
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What Happened in 2017?
When we ushered in the New Year at the start of 2017, we committed to blogging at least once per week. And that’s exactly what we did.
This in turn, grew our organic traffic, helped to build our email list, and increased the quality of leads coming through our website.
By having an up to date, well written, and (we hope) insightful blog, we’ve been able to attract companies that share our beliefs and vision.
Let’s break down the year month by month to find out exactly what happened:
In January we launched 3 brand new projects that we’d been working on back in 2016. They were Lean Mums, Steadlands and LetsG.ooo.
We’re pleased to announce that all businesses and websites are booming – with Lean Mums recently undergoing a refresh and a management addition.
In January, we had already started experimenting with “The C Word” – which eventually came to fruition as The Tuesday Show several months later.
Our most popular post in January 2017 was 4 Things I’ve Learned in 4 Years of Business at Canny – where things got personal when I talked about my 4 years with Canny, what it’s been like like and what I’ve learned.
Essentially, January was a very “heads down in the work” type of month, as most Januarys tend to be.
In February 2017, we were still clearing our headspace and working through projects.
We also signed a contract with Georg Jensen (Denmark’s favourite jewellers) to work with them producing print and web advertising campaigns on a regular basis.
Our relationship with the Georg Jensen team continues to grow month over month, and we’re now essentially their “go to” design team – which means a lot to us.
We also had the honour of designing a new gateway sign for the town I grew up in. Here’s a look at the design we created:
We were hired by Blyth Town Council to give the signage on the way into the area a new lease of life.
And for the first time, we faced what came to be known as “Facebook fury” – some residents of the town loved the work, others hated it.
It was interesting to hear the reactions across the valley, and being involved in the project was a huge honour for us.
We also wrote a post that we’ve been meaning to get off our chest for a long time:
Seriously, We Need to Know Your Budget! Here’s Why – in this post, we looked at the importance of knowing our clients’ budgets, and how we put together costs for projects.
It was a bit of a rant and a hope to raise awareness.
Interestingly, since writing this post, we’re finding we need to have the budget discussion less and less, as new companies seem to be a lot more open with us.
We also experimented with Facebook advertising in February, and while we didn’t notice a huge increase in enquiries, we did notice a massive growth in email list subscribers.
March saw the biggest change at Canny Creative. We moved into our brand new office space.
First of all, we signed up for 3 months at the Arch Workspace in Blyth. However, after being in for a month, we had decided we loved it, and decided to make it our permanent home.
Then, off the back of our designs for Blyth Town Council, we were approached to design signage for the next town over, Cramlington. And again, we agreed and delivered a refreshing design for Cramlington’s gateways:
We also had our first full team photoshoot – the results of which you can see on our About page.
Two of our weekly blog posts were very well received by our blog readers:
- The 51 Best Business YouTube Channels for Entrepreneurs, Marketers, and More – If you love video as much as us, then check out our favourite YouTubers and subscribe to your favourite channels.
- Building Brand Loyalty: How to Turn Customers Into Fans – And finally this month, we looked at the importance of building brand loyalty.
And I think that was quite enough for March, bringing our first quarter to a close.
In April, we picked up right where we left off with Swiss investment firm IAP.
Back in 2016 we created their brand identity, and in 2017 they asked us to help them launch their business online.
We were also approached to work with Sunderland based start up, Word Play Media. We designed the logo for their app, Tornado English – a children’s language education platform.
On top of that, we had several big client meetings that lead to the work that would keep us busy over summer.
We also wrote:
Rebranding a Company: 7 Things Your Boss Wants to Know – in which we investigated how to rebrand a company, and the process behind it.
In May, we started work on the project that would become eLojic.
The project was so big that it consumed most of our time for the whole summer. But it was great to be involved in!
With it being our largest project to date, we had a lot of work to do when it came to improving our processes and project management.
So, not only did we deliver a great looking dashboard and brand identity – but we also improved the way we operate on projects at Canny Creative.
A win win, so to speak.
We also struck up a deal to create the brand identity for Visuagro. A Brazil based agriculture analytics startup.
The project expanded our international reach into 5 continents, with only Australasia and Antartica to go!
Our most popular blog post in May was Top 16 Web Design Complaints from Actual Clients. In the post, we examined the top complaints we’ve heard from clients coming to us from other design agencies.
In June, I was still busy recovering from my week long experience of Las Vegas, where I got engaged.
We continued work on the eLojic project and concluded our work for Visuagro.
During this time, we also started to work with The Association of Nanny Agencies to redesign and rebuild their website. A directory and information portal for nanny agencies in the UK.
We were also invited to speak at the ANA annual meet up which took place in December. We gladly accepted.
On the blog front, we wrote a post explaining How to Increase Organic Traffic to Your Website in 8 Easy Steps.
Initially, the post didn’t really make any waves. However, as time has went by, the post is starting to gain quite a lot of attention. We’ve also noticed in our tracking tool, that the post is gaining rank in Google.
In the height of summer, we were still busy working on the eLojic project. But not only were we working on the dashboard, we were also producing a sales video for the company.
The video explained what eLojic is, what it does, and who it’s for. Right now, we’re not able to show the video on our website, but as soon as we can, we’ll add it here.
Also in July, we were working closely with our partners in Square One Digital to create websites for both Vanuse and First and Foremost Entertainment.
Vanuse is essentially Uber for vans, and is currently active in Brighton and London. We helped create their first marketing website.
First and Foremost are a Brighton based entertainment agency who needed help to grow their online presence.
And, we wrote one of our most comprehensive blog posts to date:
The Ultimate Small Business Branding Guide. If you’re looking to get help with your company’s branding efforts, then this post is for you.
In August we met with our good friend, Carly Morgan of The Shire Bakery.
Having completed their ecommerce website redesign a couple of years ago, it was time to take it to the next level.
Carly wanted to add a subscription box option to the website, and we were happy to oblige.
Also in August we were preparing the next edition of the Seaton Valley Futures magazine. Futures is a quarterly magazine that we create on behalf of Seaton Valley Council.
We were also nearing completion of the UI/UX design on the eLojic project, which was keeping us very busy.
Alongside our projects, we wrote another post about branding, this time it was Brand Audit: How to Carry Out a Brand Audit.
Alongside our Ultimate Guide to Rebranding, the brand audit post sits well to form a “double whammy” of practical branding tips and information.
September was mostly consumed with building out our brand new portfolio, ready to launch the new Canny Creative website.
It was exciting to finally have some of our more recent projects on our website!
The new Canny website was launched in mid-September, and was our first new website design in over 3 years.
Since launching the website, we’ve seen a huge increase in high quality leads and we’re also finding leads easier to convert into clients.
We’re not hugely “sales driven” here at Canny – we like to build things organically. But our old website was doing nothing for us so it was time for it to go.
Now we have a steady stream of leads to keep us on our toes, which is exactly the position we wanted to be in!
We also posted 10 Things You Should Do Before Hiring a Web Designer to the blog. In this post, we examined the top 10 things that should be done before a web designer is hired.
October was a very exciting month for us.
We had started talking with the Department of International Trade about the possibility of winning some funding for Canny.
After several lengthy meetings and idea generation sessions, we applied for funding to take Canny Creative to Canada, and deliver a series of live events.
The live events will be ran across Ontario, and have taken the name Canny Live.
Focused on branding, marketing, and building businesses, the idea is to run the event series in different locations around the world on an annual basis.
Later in the month, we had the funding approved and planning for Canny Live is now well underway!
Mid-October saw the launch of “The Tuesday Show” (formerly known as The C Word.) And it started working for us immediately.
Having entered discussions with Luxembourg based A Beautiful Green, they watched our new YouTube show and instantly decided to become a client.
And that’s the power of content marketing in 2017.
On the blog front, we wrote How to Define Brand Touchpoints for a Winning Customer Experience, a post talking about brand touchpoints and how they can work for your customers.
In November, we launched two projects that we’d been working on over the summer:
- Robbie Thompson’s new Website
- Total Tuition brand and website
We had worked with Robbie before to create Lean Mums. But, after shifting his focus to create his own personal brand, we worked with him again to design his new website.
Total Tuition is a London based private tuition company. They commissioned us to create their brand identity first, and after being impressed with the results, gave us the green light on their website project.
We’ll be adding both of these projects into our portfolio of work soon!
In this time, we also had a great meeting with Beach Accountants who then gave us the go ahead to design and build their new website.
In the office, we had the windows sign written, and more importantly, ordered a brand new iMac to join the ranks. We love it!
Blog wise, we shifted our focus from branding to digital marketing. In Digital Marketing 101 we examine how to get the most out of your marketing dollars.
It was written by Amy, who’s based out in Canada, hence the dollars!
And finally, winter was definitely here. And we had a crazy end to the year.
First of all, we spoke at the ANA event in London. We talked about making the most of your nanny agency website, and made some great connections with the people there.
Then, we created the Canny Live brand identity and started building out the website.
After being constantly disappointed with our email provider, we switched over to Google For Business, which was easily the best email experience we’ve had.
The Google support was fantastic and migrating over 10gb of email data happened in an instant. We couldn’t be happier.
Then we revisited the Hadrian’s Pizza website to add a new image gallery and customer testimonials.
We started working with a brand new business strategy consultancy, Complete Strategy. Our work with them will be kept under wraps until well into the New Year!
On the blog, we accepted our first guest post of the year. It was from the marketing team at AHREFs (our go to SEO tool!).
The post focused on getting traffic from unpopular queries. Check out Long Tail Keywords: Getting Traffic From Unpopular Queries here.
And finally, we received a massive crate of craft beer from our clients as a huge thank you – and it was b brilliant way to wrap up the year!
What’s Going to Happen in 2018?
But what about 2018? What are we committing to moving forward?
Well first off, the weekly blogging will continue, as will our partnership with the wonderful Amy Aitman and her company, Toronto based content agency, 8menCan.
In February, we’re intending to run our “28 Days of Blogging” challenge, which will see us release a new article every single day in the month. (Best get writing!)
We have plans afoot to start two new Canny Creative YouTube shows:
- The Random Rebranding Roundup – A show that will examine the biggest rebrands in the world, as and when they happen.
- The Weekly Website Review – A weekly show that dissects the design of a user submitted website per episode.
We’ve been thoroughly enjoying the creation of our video content at Canny, and as it’s already drawing more attention to the business, we want to double down on that in 2018.
And finally, our biggest plan for 2018 is to launch and run our Canny Live events.
We’ve talked about Canny Live on The Tuesday Show, a number of times, but in summary:
Canny Live is a series of affordable but awesome events for entrepreneurs, marketers and startups.
In October 2018, we’ll be launching Canny Live in Ontario, Canada. So if you’re in Kitchener Waterloo, Kingston, Ottawa or Toronto, we’d love to see you there.
As we already have links out in Canada, and we won funding to help with export efforts, Canada was a logical choice for our first event series.
So already, 2018 is shaping up to be a very exciting year for us.