Precious Days – words arrive in my sleep

Precious Days – words arrive in my sleep

Tears of sadness fill my heart,
For when does one decide it’s time to depart,
Not making a call to have a conversation and chat,
To talk about what’s worrying you under your hat.

This evening my heart feels heavy and sad,
For young lives that end before they start,
What sorrow, pain and sadness must mist their view,
If only they knew how much they were loved – if only they knew.

I don’t even know this young man,
But I know he’s left a hole,
Friends and family will unimaginably miss,
Such a beautiful young soul.

May he sleep now in peace,
No more troubles to bare,
No worry and doubts to carry,
That he feels unable to share.

It’s at time like this I realise how precious life is,
To wake in the morning with a smile and a kiss,
To breathe in and out with zest for the day,
Even when frustrating and AAAAGHHHH,
I know to breathe in and breathe out – and let go to clear the way.

I offer you my heart to know that I care,
In the hope it will bring comfort to ease your despair,
A hole has been left in many lives,
But you have good memories and when the time is right – to cherish and share.

With love, Emma x

Image from Unsplash by Simon Wilkes
@simonfromengland

A colourful return to nature creates a sense of wellbeing

A colourful return to nature creates a sense of wellbeing

The pandemic has created a seismic shift in human behaviour. We have adapted well to new ways of working and new ways of communicating with our friends and family, but how will the hospitality industry use colour to connect with the new type of customer that is emerging?

Reassuring the post-corona consumer

Colour is a powerful tool and it has ability to control the emotional noise that surrounds us. I think it’s fair to say that the last year has been a rollercoaster of emotions from worry and anxiety with the announcement of the first lockdown in March 2020 to frustration and confusion with the ongoing uncertainty as we enter a new year.

Like many other sectors, the hospitality industry has been hit exceptionally hard all over the world but I’m sure the appetite that many humans have to travel, see and experience other parts of the world remains. Having been cooped up in our homes and restricted to our local areas (in some cases only a 5km radius from our front-door) – as human beings we are craving a change of scene, to get away from our daily routine, and to have shared experiences with loved ones that help us reset, recharge and refocus.

Beach - reflect, recharge, refocus
Image by Thomas Lipke

The new meaning of colour in hotel design

As we continue to move through 2021, I believe colour will play an increasingly significant part in hotel design. Whilst the world is undergoing one of the biggest global ‘resets’ in decades – with many people re-evaluating their lives, how they use their homes, where they want to live, their choice of career, right down to the way they wish to show-up and be present in the world – this is also a tremendous opportunity for hotels to ‘reset’, refresh and reinvent themselves ready for the new customer that will emerge post pandemic.

In some instances that may be a guest that’s looking for a high-end, luxury and high-tech experience that gives them the power to control and operate everything in their room or suite from an electronic device, to the more environmentally values based guest who’s seeking to immerse themselves in nature and to find a destination that has focused on bring the outdoors in and adopted a more ‘biophilic’ style to their architecture and design that enables humans to reconnect with nature. Moreover, perhaps where a hotelier has sourced all their products locally and from sustainable sources – the two types of customer are very different and demand a different colour scheme and design style. Given the fact we’ve had so much screen time in the past 12 months post pandemic it’s likely we will see a surge of the environmentally values based consumer.

In addition, just as colour has the ability to create an effective and productive workplace, it also has the ability to evoke an emotion and a positive memorable experience at a hotel. Remember your guest’s make decisions based on their emotions and colour has the ability to influence our emotions and change our behaviour – so it’s imperative for a hotel to get their colour scheme right to establish true, meaningful connections with their guests.

Common pitfalls to avoid when choosing colour

Choosing a colour scheme for a hotel is hugely complex and an expensive decision to get wrong. It’s important to think about what the hotel brand stands for, who their ideal guest is (who do they want to appeal to), what do they want their hotel to offer that others don’t, what behaviours do they want to elicit, what feeling’s do they want to evoke, what memories do they want their guests to take away with them – all of these elements and more need a huge amount of consideration.

“Choosing a colour scheme because it’s ‘on trend’ means you’re following someone else’s version of ‘good’ or ‘great’.”

Emma Potter

So, when choosing a colour scheme, consider this:

Brilliant white

I would recommend that you avoid choosing brilliant white to paint a space, whether it’s big or small. From a psychological stand-point white may be perceived as perfection to bring a sense of calm and quite; yet on the flip side it makes a space feel sterile, cold and lifeless. It reminds me of stark, clinical hospitals which is not a vibe or experience a hotelier wishes their guests to experience whilst on vacation. However, I do appreciate that some architects may be a fan of using white as it shows off the lines in the design and construction of a space, or the sculptural fluid curves that may be been employed as part of the design – but it does nothing to invigorate and comfort the human spirit in post-Covid times.

- Over satiation

Just as it’s important not to saturate a space with brilliant white, it’s equally not advisable to saturate a space with any ‘one’ colour. All colours, with the exception of pure greys, have positive and negative psychological aspects. Of course, grey may make us feel safe because it has the capacity to help us blend in with the background but for me it’s quite nondescript and when surrounded by it for too long depletes my energy levels, resulting in me feeling drained and lethargic. Equally if I was immersed in a red space initially, I may feel energised and excited but if I remain in a red room for a long period of time, I’m likely to become agitated and annoyed because I’ve been over stimulated by the colour.

Think about the space as a whole

When designing for a space it’s easy to get carried away with the colour scheme on the walls, but it’s important to think about the space as a whole. There are many elements to consider, from the walls, carpets, and cabinetry, to soft furnishings (including fabric type and textures as well as the construction of and / or print pattern), to lighting, glassware and the many accessories that adorn and embellish an environment. Think about the design journey and space as ‘one’ and the experience you with so take your guests on will flow.

Tonal harmony

A colour scheme will always come together and be a success when the colours chosen relate and come from the same tonal group. When colours don’t harmonise it generally creates a sense of confusion or disharmony which guests will pick up on innately, but what they won’t always be able to identify or articulate is ‘why’ they feel this sense of discomfort. In essence it all comes down to selecting a colour palette that has tonal harmony.

Choosing a colour because it’s on trend

I imagine opting for a colour scheme because it’s ‘on trend’ is more common than we realise. Yet to help us choose the right colour scheme it would be good to understand how, as humans, we relate to colour – be that psychologically, personally and symbolically. Additionally, it makes senses to understand the influence of both the positive and negative traits, plus the application and proportion of colour used to create the desired results. Choosing a colour scheme because it’s ‘on trend’ means you’re following someone else’s version of ‘good’ or ‘great’, and not tuning into your intuition to discover your own. There are many well-respected paint-manufactures who make trend predictions at the beginning of every year like Pantone, Dulux, Farrow and Ball or Benjamin Moore – these are great places to go for inspiration, but in the end, make sure you select a colour palette and design style that’s right for your brand and the experience you wish to create – in the end it’s all about creating an immersive and memorable customer journey.

Clever ways of injecting colour to enhance your wellbeing

The idea of connecting hotel design and hospitality with nature is not new, yet in response to the pandemic there has been some discussion of the re-emergence and rise of biophilic design – which builds on the idea that as humans we have an innate attraction to, and love of, the nature world. This would possibly explain why people will happily pay more for a room with a view of never-ending mountain ranges or the expansive horizon of the sea – as these vistas will most likely deliver an incredible glowing sunrise to start your day whilst sipping on a delicious cup of freshly brewed coffee or tea, or to end your day with a mesmerising sunset whilst enjoying a chilled glass of rose or perhaps a gin and tonic as a sundowner.

Sunset
Image by Pixabay

In essence ‘Biophilia’ means ‘love of life’, however, when it comes to biophilic design this does not mean putting in a few plants as a token gesture. It means embracing all elements of biophilic design, a true engagement of all our senses – sight, taste, hearing, touch and smell – to help us understand and absorb what’s going on around us. This means using natural materials such as wood, maximising natural light, making organic shapes a priority, and using a range of plants to create a sense of the great outdoors – all of which helps to balance our emotions and support our emotional wellbeing whilst introducing a natural range of tones, shapes and colours. In this way, not only do we create a space where guests feel safe and secure, we enable them to better connect with themselves by creating a peaceful, tranquil environment, making it a memorable meaningful experience that they’ll want to come back for, time and time again, year in, year out.

Feature image by David Clode on Unsplash

Decoding colour – a catalyst for connection and business growth

Decoding colour – a catalyst for connection and business growth

Colour is one of the most important marketing tools. Did you know that humans connect with colour first and words second? That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to understand the huge impact colour has on connecting with our target audience – the words and the emotive message are secondary (yet equally important to convey the desired message).  In essence, colour has the ability to influence how we, as humans, emotionally connect with a brand or a product in an authentic, meaningful and positive way. Think strategically – never overlook the part colour plays as a key marketing tool. 

Since my teens I’ve always been curious about colour and how we use it in our lives. From a marketing perspective, whether we’ve chosen to acknowledge it or not, when we look at a marketing campaign, for a restaurant or item of clothing, the first thing that impacts us is colour. Of course, storytelling and the words chosen to accompany the colour and design style are important too as they reinforce the message a campaign aims to convey and enable customer to better emotionally connect, but are brands truly aware of the subconscious messages they communicate through the use of colour?

A powerful marketing tool – not to be overlooked

From a marketing perspective, colour is the most overlooked marketing tool. In this day and age we’re quite rightly focused on delivering digital experiences and crafting content that sparks action, but the first thing that a consumer will notice and subconsciously react to when looking at an advertising or marketing campaign are the colours employed – and our intuitive reactions are inherent – sometimes we just know something is ‘off’ but we can’t quite put our finger on it. Subconsciously we’ve instantly had a positive or negative reaction – that will either draw us in and make us curious to know more, or repel us and physically encourage us to move on – which of course results in a missed opportunity for a brand to build trusted, authentic relationships with their target audience and from a commercial perspective, lost sales.

Let’s look at a brand that in my opinion, has really nailed it. Famous for its ‘swoosh’ logo and ‘Just Do It’ slogan, active lifestyle brand Nike is one of the most well-known and probably most well-respected brands in the world. Known originally for making athletic footwear, they enable their customers to customise key products so they’re able to create a pair of trainers using your favourite combinations of colours – to look at an example check out ‘Nike by you’. This is a marketing person and brand strategist that understands the power of colour to influence a purchase and to deliver a personalised, memorable experience that has the ‘talkability’ factor amongst friends and family. When it comes to marketing, personal referrals are the holy grail – a conversation created in this authentic way is most likely to bring new customers. 

Make an impact – use colour strategically

Entrepreneurs and founders who really understand the benefits of building a brand, and understand what their brand stands for, are most likely to buy into the fact that when they are clear on who they are as person – their business benefits. In addition, brands need to show up authentically, just as humans do, otherwise people see through them and move on (like a magpie) to the next shiny object that’s caught their eye.

To apply this thinking on a personal level, applied colour and design psychology expert Karen Haller asks this question – “Why is it that you’re drawn to wear blue one day and green the next?” How do you feel when you wear red, or black – do you feel powerful and strong – or have you chosen to wear those colours because that’s how you want others to perceive you on a given day? 

To resonate with our target audience, think strategically about how you build your brand playbook and guidelines right from the start. Everything you communicate stems from this critical but often overlooked piece of work. Your brand and all elements (visual, written, colour palette and more) must interplay and work cohesively together to establish and build your brand value over time. If a brand gets this wrong it can have a negative on their bottom-line and has the potential to push customers intio the arms of the competition.

On the subject of competitors – don’t copy what they’re doing. Understand who you are, what you want to stand for, who your customers are and don’t chase what someone else has got – remember to always be authentic to you.  Know your customers and be of service to them. 

Connect with colour

Never underestimate the power of colour to influence and be a catalyst for growth, it’s an incredible marketing tool so use it wisely. Fancy a chat? Then get in touch to talk more about consciously creating and connecting with colour. 

Featured image by Robert Katzki

Inspiration is all around us – where do you find yours?

Inspiration is all around us – where do you find yours?

There’s nothing like waking up in the morning and feeling inspired. Sometimes there’s clarity, and sometimes there are so many inspiring ideas buzzing around in my head I don’t know where to start – either way, I always welcome ideas and inspiration that influence my decisions and help me make better choices. 

Sources of inspiration are all around us – from reading news in the media, attending conferences and industry events where you’re presented with new technology and platforms that are pitched to automate and solve today’s marketing challenges, to listening to music and reading a good book… Personally I always find it beneficial to speak with my network, take a wider look at the challenge at hand and let inspiration arrive through participating in a mixture of activities.

For me being outside and connecting with nature, taking a walk in the woods or by the beach is particularly good for clearing my head and mulling over challenges faced in my working life; moreover I find exercising, mostly cycling, yoga or swimming, a great way to let ideas roll in and out. Being on the bike also provides a great networking opportunity as lots of people in my network have a passion for technology and all things digital, as well as a passion for this beautiful sport. 

That’s one of the most incredible things about working with entrepreneurs – they see the world differently, they’re passionate about what they do, they’re open to new ideas, they’re innovative and they’re always looking for creative ways to solve a problem.

Pearls of wisdom

Here are some of my favourite inspirational quotes that I refer to when I feel like I’ve hit a bit of a brick wall – they help to get me in the right mindset for creativity, curiosity and conscious creating.

Impossible is nothing…

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. 

Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion.

Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare.

Impossible is potential. 

Impossible is temporary.

Impossible is nothing.”

Muhammad Ali

Creativity…

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them for a while.” 

Steve Jobs

Follow your heart…

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Steve Jobs

Failure…

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

Henry Ford

Change…

“It’s not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change.”

Charles Darwin

“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”`ins

Socrates

Knowledge…

“The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive.”

“It’s our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

K J Rowling

Respect…

“Brands that respect you as a person and make you feel like you are you, and that you, rather than they, have control over you, will be the ones who are successful.”

Martha Lane Fox

Take a risk…

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

Mark Zuckerberg

Imagination…

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

Albert Einstein

On Purpose – Consciously Creating with Colour

On Purpose – Consciously Creating with Colour

For as long as I can remember I’ve been drawn to colour, perhaps as a means to express my individuality and personality, perhaps it also reflects how I’m feeling as I do believe colour has an energy, a flow, and the power to change how we’re feeling: Just as listening to music has the ability to influence our state of mind, because of the rhythm, beat and lyrics, colour has the ability to change our mood and influence how we feel in an environment – both natural and man-made.

Texture also has the ability to alter our state of mind – from rugged, rough, and spikey to smooth and soft – when our fingertips and flesh come into contact with different textures it will react in a mixture of ways. For example, from a pleasurable sensation if the texture is soft and sensual, which would make me want to lean in and get cosy – to painful if the texture is hard and angular, which would make me want to lean out and move away. It really all depends on what you’re aiming to create. 

We all have the ability to consciously create with colour – to make us feel confident, comfortable and charismatic when the need arises, and marvellously mellow when we’re at the end of a long week and we’re looking to relax, re-cooperate and refresh our senses. 

Colour yourself – brand me 

The way we dress and present ourselves also has in instant visual impact on the people we meet – this doesn’t mean that their interpretation is right or wrong, it just means a bigger picture of who they think we are (or may be) has been instantly formed in their minds, quite literally in a matter of milliseconds. One stereotype being the freshly pressed suit and tie wearer representing a serious corporate city type; another being the Diesel jean, fitted shirt and brogue wearer being a London Westend Agency type. Whatever you choose to wear, you’re reflecting ‘brand me’. 

As for my choice of attire, be it smart or casual, for some reason I just don’t feel like me when I wear black. I have a couple of select items that are black, for example a leather jacket, a knitted roll neck, and several pairs of lycra cycling shorts (it’s the most flattering colour when you have curves). However, I’m more drawn to colours that are warm, are evocative of an emotion, stir memories of times gone by, or locations and environments visited – usually the colours I choose reflect how I feel or how I want to feel on any given day. 

Moreover, I like individuality and items that have a history, like silk scarves from second hand shops – their distinctive colours are rarely seen in more modern, mass-produced clothing lines. My niece Issy thinks I have a somewhat eclectic taste – her saying being “That’s very you Em” – I take her comment as a compliment that I choose and select items that are unique, both to wear and to have in my home. 

I also enjoy wearing colours that are opposites on the colour wheel – such as orange and blue, and pink and green – they fuel me with good energy, yet other opposite pairings like yellow and purple don’t feel good on me at all, so I avoid them. Our skin tone has an influence on the colours we choose to wear – yellow makes me looked washed out and I associate purple with Cadbury (I don’t wish to walk around looking like a chocolate bar). What colours are you drawn to? How do they make you feel?

Colour your environment – home and office

As an adult, the two places we spend the majority of our time is either at home with our families and friends, therefore an environment where we want to create comfort, stability, nurturing, and warmth – and our office space – where hopefully our employers wish to create something similar, only with a commercial, collaborative brand lead influence. 

For me my home is my sanctuary and it’s very much a reflection of myself. I have objects that are IOU (Interesting, Old and Unusual) that I’ve lovingly sourced from my travels, brocantes and car boots sales (I love finding a hidden gem). Each room has a different purpose – my lounge is painted a dark grey neutral green called Treron, houses a pair of mid-century modern 1950s Italian chairs, and has a hint of pink and silver in the soft furnishing and accessories; my bedroom is painted an exotic and adventurous pink called Rangwali and houses a gorgeous 1930s haberdashery unit purchased from the Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair held in Battersea twice yearly; and my kitchen / dining room is painted a calm and serene protective olive green called Bancha, which connects the inside with the outside (an extension of my garden), and also lets the orange accessories stand out and sing. Yes, in my kitchen I have an orange fridge, a beautifully ornate orange glass vase from a brocante in France, chunky orange candles on the fireplace, an orange and green glass light fitting on a lamp featuring a semi-naked reclining lady found in a car boot sale about 15 years ago, and the curtains that dress the French doors into the garden have a bold orange, pink and silver leaf print – combined together, the choice of colours and objects in my home radiate my unique taste and personality.

In addition, each room has two walls painted a colour, and two walls painted white – I do this because I want the colour to be reflected by the natural light on the white walls, and because I want each room to give me, and those that visit, a welcoming hug.  

With regards to our work life, the office environment and space we spend up to 40+ hours a week at is vitally important to supporting a thriving company culture and mindset. I recently talked about the importance of brand power, and the values that are driving your company and your competitor advantage. Your brand extends to all areas where there’s human and virtual interaction with employees, partners, agencies, sponsors, investors, and each touchpoint is an opportunity to deliver a memorable, engaging brand experience. How do you reflect your brand in your environment?

Colour your business – brand DNA 

Some business ideas evolve over time, some out of passion, some out of necessity, some from a light bulb moment experienced in the shower, some from a need to use a product that’s not yet been created, therefore the desire to create this product or service becomes your focus, and as such, a new market with a new audience is created. Who knew we all needed a smartphone – yet where would we, and many businesses be, without it now?? We use it communicate with friends and family, collaborate with colleagues, connect with industry leaders and influencers on social networks, purchase products on the move using the plethora of apps that are readily available at our fingertips – the list is endless. 

Speaking of smartphones, there’s still a battle between Apple and Android for market share – I’m not sure who’s winning that currently. But the brand that stands out as a brand that’s recognised globally is Apple, I view it as head and shoulders above Android on various levels. For me, the Apple brand represents sleek and beautiful design, forward thinking technology, secure products, excellent customer service, seamless simplicity, and an iconic, inspirational, detail orientated, fastidious founder in Steve Jobs. When thinking of my own or someone else’s transformational change, I regularly reflect on one of his many quotes…

“Follow your heart and intuition. Somehow they already know what you truly want to become.”

Steve Jobs

At any stage of your journey, you have the opportunity to set new goals, launch new services and target new markets to build revenue, become a unicorn even – all of these businesses have a few things in common – a core brand DNA and huge brand value – they incorporate their brand experience into every marketing and communications touchpoint, both on and off line. 

The business of applied colour psychology – let’s explore

The business of applied colour psychology – let’s explore

All my life I’ve been consciously creating with colour – as a student and artist studying textile design 25+ years ago, and latterly as a marketing and brand strategist. The colours we choose to wear, to dress our environment such as our home and office space, and those we choose to brand our business with, have a huge impact on human behaviour, and how we are perceived by others. It’s a subject I’m really passionate about. 

So last September I was hugely flattered and honoured to be invited by Debbie Pinder, the Programme Leader and Senior Teaching Fellow for the MA Luxury Brand Management course at Winchester School of Art, to be a guest speaker, to present to her international students. Debbie had read an article I had published in Hotel Designs Magazine titled ‘The psychology between colour in interior design and wellbeing’, so the remit for my talk was to expand on the piece, share my industry experience and real case studies on brand development, and guide the students on the key stages to develop a brand strategy.  

Arriving on the campus was pretty daunting but also exciting. Having not stepped inside a university building for many years, I found the smell of turps and paint oozing from the print rooms strangely comforting, and the sight of all the sculptures and pieces of clothing being made utterly beautiful. It definitely stirred many wonderful memories of being a student and appealed to my creative spirit. 

Luxury hotel design

When drafting an article titled ‘The psychology between colour in interior design and wellbeing’ for Hotel Designs magazine, I was asked by the editor Hamish Kilburn to checkout and review three luxury hotels from around the world, namely Plaza 18 in Andalucia, Spain; the Riveria Hotel and Spa in Mykonos, Greece and Nhow in London, UK. For now, I’m going to further explore the luxury elements of Plaza 18.

In many ways, luxury is in the eye of the beholder but for me there are some key ingredients that make something stand out as ‘luxury’. When I think about hotels, it’s a combination of the richness, depth and tone of the colours chosen, and the textures of the fabrics applied to the soft furnishings, to the reception and welcome experience, the dining lounge and bar, to the hotel rooms and suites. It’s also about the art, sculptures and artefacts that have been added to spaces to embellish the atmosphere and create a sense of mystery and intrigue. 

When I look at the design and colour applied to Plaza 18, this hotel showcases discreet, understated luxury with a hint of history and heritage. The choice of monochrome design and classic style, demonstrated in the chequered black and white floor tiles is bold and classic, and creates wonderful geometric lines. There’s also a splash of vibrant red that pops out in the artwork featured on the wall, in contrast to the soft green foliage that brings a hint of nature, softness and balance to the space. 

Black as a colour portrays glamour, elegance and sophistication and for many gives a sense of allure and mystery. In this room it adds gravitas and presence. However, if used excessively it will create an experience of heaviness and oppression. 

White as a colour suggests clean and quiet, and helps us keep our emotions in check. In other environments white can feel stark and cold, therefore it’s important to use colour with context and purpose. Here the white creates contrast next to the black, and the ­sharp lines draw a guest into the space.  

It’s worth remembering that all colours have psychological duality in how they can change and influence our behaviour, both positively ­and negatively (with the exception of grey – it has no positive traits). Also, we never see colour in isolation so it’s always a combination of colours that evokes an experience, feeling or behaviour.

Developing a brand – Workshop framework 

Whilst the students at Winchester University learn the theoretical knowledge and practical skills required to succeed in the management of complex luxury brands, they were keen to hear about some case studies of how a brand is created and developed outside the luxury space, and to identify where there are synergies. So, it was fantastic to share my experience of 20+ years of building brands in the agency and technology space, and to give them guidance on a workshop framework to kick-start conversations when building a brand from the bottom up. 

The business of applied colour psychology 

To expand my knowledge and to better understand the behavioural science of colour and its impact on us as human beings, I’m studying a course aimed at professionals in applied colour psychology. It’s funny going from guest speaker to student, but I’m a firm believer in paying it forward, giving back when I’m able, and in continuing to grow ­– personally and professionally – to better serve myself and those around me. 

In this course I’ve been recapping on colour terminology, debunking colour myths that exist in the colour industry, understanding more about the psychological properties of the 11 main colours and much, much more. As the months progress I’ll be learning about colour physics with colour psychology and how, when brought together, they can evoke predictable psychological responses, to how to apply specific colour combinations to create positive behavioural effects in any given situation and space – from building a brand, to creating a home, an office, and every other environment or building space you can think of. 

It’s time to get creative and consciously create with colour 

So, this is where you come in… If you’re curious about colour and how you can better apply it in your life, your home and your business, I’d love to hear from you. I’m keen to put what I’m learning into practice so I’m inviting friends and family to experience a little of this journey with me – we will grow together. 

Initially this will take the form of us meeting (most likely virtually for 30 minutes) and us exploring your thoughts around colour. Over the duration of the course, the end result for me will be me embedding my learning and knowledge, and hopefully you will have a better understanding of your relationship with colour and how to apply it in various areas of your life. 

Transformative, immersive, revolutionary – what’s your experience with colour?

Transformative, immersive, revolutionary – what’s your experience with colour?

Continuing the theme of colour and its subconscious impact on our lives – physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and on our environmental wellbeing – last week I visited an amazing company in Soho called MyCoocoon. For those that are not familiar, MyCoocoon are experts in colour wellbeing products and they design bespoke colour experience solutions. Based on chromotherapy (wellbeing, light and colour therapy), and aimed at relaxing and re-energising, they combine ancestral beliefs with cutting-edge technology. I appreciate that for some people who are unconvinced of the impact colour has on our lives this may seem a little ‘woo-woo’, but for me I was like the cat that got the cream, all my Christmas’s had come at once. 

Speaking with Valerie and her team of colour experts was incredible – I knew I had found an inspirational group of people that were speaking my language. For years I’ve had a fascination with colour, its energy, it’s vibration, and its subconscious power to influence our mindset, our heart rate, our decision-making power and even our body temperature. My approach and interest is quite holistic covering all aspects such as nutrition and the food we choose to put into our bodies, clothing and how we choose to dress on a daily basis, interior design and how we choose to decorate our homes to nourish and nurture our souls, business and how we choose to create a brand and identity for a company, its products, and services. 

Whether we like it or not, the colours we choose to feature and be present in our lives say a lot about us. 

A fully immersive experience – Spectrum Yoga Meditation 

From my experience, the only way to understand the power and influence of the MyCoocoon approach to colour is to get inside a Pod for a 30-minute meditation. There are no words to describe it… immersive certainly doesn’t do it justice, it’s more like embodiment through every fibre of your body and beyond.  

Whilst laying in the Pod, with a blanket over my body to keep me comfortable, I place the headphones over my ears, the pod is lowered so I’m literally cocooned inside, the ‘play’ button is activated on the tablet, and then I hear the relaxing voice that will guide me during the meditation and talk to me through the experience so I receive the optimum benefit.  

Slowly and gracefully the transformation begins. My body and my mind are immersed in key colours in a pre-determined sequence. My eyes are closed but the intensity of colour makes me feel like I’m absorbing it through every part of my body.  Being a yoga meditation, the colour sequence follows that of the Chakras (red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, indigo and violet). What surprised me most is that as I’m lying there I’m transported to a completely different world – almost like an outer body experience. Some of the colours are so intense it’s like you become part of them, fully absorbed and almost living in them. They are not just present in front of my eyes, they occupy my body, extending past the ends of my finger tips and toes – the intensity, vibration and energy overflowing every aspect of my being – truly transformative experience. 

Feeing curious? I actively encourage you to find out where they are next exhibiting and experience it for yourself. There are various methods – the Pod, the Cloud, the Immersion Wall and Energy Hub. 

Let your senses come alive 

Designed to cater for each of our five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch – the colour passport gives insight into how we can engage our senses. Did you know for example that our sense of smell increases when it gets dark? Why – because our sight is reduced another sense is naturally amplified. 

Feel rebalanced when taking time for yourself with purple 

  • See a lavender field, listen to the birds and the bees, smell the scent of lavender, taste a blueberry and touch amethyst to relieve stress  

Feel peaceful with blue 

  • See the sky, hear the sound of the wind, smell the scent of a geranium, taste elderflower and touch lolite to inspire creative self-expression 

Feel and project yourself to be successful with turquoise  

  • See the sea, hear the sound of the waves, smell the salty water, taste old fashioned lemonade and touch topaz to enhance your communications skills 

Feel balance with green 

  • See a forest, listen to the rustling of leaves, smell the scent of cedarwood, taste a kiwi and touch peridot to open your mind and gain clarity 

Feel optimistic with yellow 

  • See the sun, hear the sound of energy, smell the scent of bergamot, taste a grapefruit and touch citrine to cleanse your mind and regenerate 

Feel happy with orange 

  • See a sunset, hear the sound of joy, smell ylang-ylang, taste a carrot and touch cornaline to bring positive energy 

Feel connected to the earth with red   

  • See a fire, hear the crackle of wood burning, smell the scent of sandalwood, taste a tomato and touch red jasper which helps control our emotions 

Feel connected to love with magenta 

  • See a rose, hear sounds of love, smell the scent of the rose, taste a strawberry and touch rose quartz which symbolises love

From stimulating energy and encouraging self-confidence, to activating our memory and calming the nervous system, the benefits of colour to our wellness and wellbeing are endless.

What colour would you say reflects your personality the most?

Influencer Marketing – the do’s and don’t’s from specialists in their field

Influencer Marketing – the do’s and don’t’s from specialists in their field

Last week I joined a networking event hosted by the Surrey Blogger Collective. A totally new event for me as my usual stomping ground is London, but in recent month’s I’ve made a conscious decision to connect with entrepreneurs in the great boundaries of our wonderful capital. Why? Because there’s so many inspirational people out there living incredible lives, establishing new career paths, that in previous years were unimaginable. 

The rise of the influencer  

With Fatima Truscott, Fashion Journalist and Lifestyle Blogger behind the FT Times hosting, the Autumn Social networking event titled ‘Success Behind The Squares’ presented a fantastic line up of speakers, namely psychologist and blogger Anna Mathur, YouTube Star and Channel Mum SJ Strum, Parenting and Lifestyle Blogger Keely Busby, and Co-Founder and Company Director of Wickerwood, Shirley Leigh-Wood Oakes. 

Here are some of the insight’s speakers shared on the night…

Quality and authority 

Focus on quality and authority, both micro and nano influencers, look at who they are, what stories are they telling, are they stimulating their audiences, and are they real, authentic and honest? Your followers will see through content that isn’t genuine, especially when sponsored ads pop into their feed. It’s essential to engage with your followers… reply, comment, feedback… and have a voice. As consumers, we have a love hate relationships with ads – the lines are becoming more blurred. Do consumers even know or recognise one from the other?

Authenticity 

Write about what you think and be authentic. As an influencer you are the middle person between the brand and the audience, you have a responsibility to have a two-way communication, and feedback audience comments to the brand. Be natural. Be human. Focus on great followers, know your community, and don’t be anything that you are not. 

Recognise your worth 

Know your value and what you’re giving to the brand. Remember brands have a budget to work with so don’t work for free. Be confident in yourself and recognise your worth. We proud of the brands you work with, and work with brands that fit into your lifestyle. Influencers used to be at the end of the conversation, now they are right at the start – for example a real mum showing how a product fits into her and her family’s life, in her home – for a brand this is priceless. 

Be relatable 

Be gentle, relate to your audience, and understand how you connect. Think audience first, how will my audience feel about me sharing this post and be responsible for your representation of a brand. 

Gifting 

It’s been suggested that influencers need to make it known when they have been gifted a product that they are posting. Or do they? It’s not legal, but remember your audience and community want authenticity, so it’s probably best to reflect reality. It’s an interesting question to ask and address as currently celebrities are not subjected to this… so why the influencer? Do you think influencers should write a disclaimer if they have been gifted a product? I’m sure this conversation will continue…

Click and pay 

Platforms and new technology have launched features that make it easy for the consumer to ‘click and pay’ on social, so in theory a follower is only three clicks away from making a purchase. If that’s the case for Instagram, imagine what’s coming for TV?

Use the features available 

Maximise what’s available within Instagram, use all of their features and get familiar with IGTV. Understandably they want to keep users within the Instagram platform and video content is more-sticky; it also helps to increasing dwell time. Embrace the changes and be the early adopter of new features and channels. Instagram TV has vast volume and reach. 

Themed content and frequency 

It’s incredibly useful to have a schedule, not only for your structure, but it also provides a reason for your followers to come back and check in with you. For example, create one themed video a week on YouTube on a Monday – your followers will grow to expect an engaging piece of content from you, so give them what they want. Read the YouTube bible, go to workshops, they will show you how to use the channel and tools available. When picking a theme, stay true to what your content is and stay true to you. Stick to your principles, share what you’re passionate about and know what you are there for. 

Establish your boundaries – Instagram is always hungry, what are you feeding it?

It’s good to understand why you have chosen to use Instagram. It’s also good to know what it’s giving back to you – for example escapism, financial freedom, community, friendship, connection, a place to freely express yourself. With this in mind, know and establish your boundaries, the frequency that you wish to post, and stay healthy. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you need to respond straight away, DM and reply to everyone who’s messaged you, follow up and review all notifications… but this can be a challenge and also very time consuming. 

Here, Anna Mathur – psychotherapist, mum, writer and speaker – discusses and shares her thoughts about the pros and cons of being an influencer on Intragram. With 79K followers, there’s potentially a lot of people for her to respond to – yet she makes a point of responding to all of her messages. People are emotionally connected to influencers, however, being a psychotheratist means Anna follows an ethical code of conduct and can’t give mental health advice. 

Without knowing it, people and Instagram will take and take and take, so it’s imperative to know what Instagram is giving back to you. As an authentic influencer our soul is in our content – it’s hard therefore, to hear negative feedback. But there’s always more positive than negative. Be mindful to not base your value on what other people think (they may be having a really bad day). Trolling can also become an issue… so remember to stand strong in your foundations, know you are loved, these are the truths, and know you are enough. 

Moreover, as an influencer it’s not uncommon to get what Anna calls an ‘Insta wobble’ or ‘funk’. She deals with them by taking the pressure off having to post every day. It’s also important to remember that not every post will receive the same amount of likes and that’s OK, not everyone or everything appeals to your audience. People are drawn to authenticity so going back to a point mentioned earlier, be true to you and stick to your principles. Don’t be scared to take a break and don’t filter yourself.

On the flip side of being connected to thousands of people, downtime must also be a priority. Leave your phone in another room so it’s out of reach. Find a balance and do things that fuel and energise you – exercise and doing something physical is really important. If yoga keeps you stable, do it daily or weekly. We need to find ways to reinvest in ourselves to stay healthy. Selfcare (or self-preservation) is essential. Everyone benefits when we look after ourselves. 

Don’t berate yourself for not finishing things… life happens 

To all influencers… some final words for @annamathur – My content enables other people to have a voice. I consider the content that I put out, there’s thought behind it – it is filtered to keep my boundaries in place. I value my family’s privacy therefore I don’t show my husband or my children’s faces, and that’s the right decision for me and my family. I am a professional and I have to be accountable – when necessary I signpost people for help – see their GP, call 111, or call 999. 

When in doubt, ground yourself by putting your feet on the floor. Be grounded in your truth, you are loved, you are doing good stuff (teaching and educating), everything else is just subjective, it’s noise, it’s opinion… 

You can find out more about the Surrey Blogger Creative here. I know I will be attending more of their events in the future. Feel free to come and join me. 

Change your frequency – Connect with colour and vibe with your voice

Change your frequency – Connect with colour and vibe with your voice

For those that haven’t had the privilege of meeting or working with Judith, she’s the founder of ‘Your Whole Voice’, and is a public speaking coach, vocal confidence specialist and sound healer. With a background in acting, she is high energy, extremely inspirational and through her business, is on a mission to transform the lives of over 100,000 million people. From ripple to wave, slowly but surely her voice and vibe is going viral, globally. 

This year started with me participating in a competition hosted by Judith whereby I had to create, daily, a 60 second video following a specific challenge; each video was then shared in a closed group Facebook group with other great people from all over the world, vying for their chance to win the range of prizes Judith had on offer. To my surprise, I won a two-day workshop, to take place in London, that gave all participants the opportunity to explore their voice, and to improve their style of public speaking. I had not expected to be filmed during the training (before and after), but there was a marked difference. It’s incredible what 48 hours can do for your vocal confidence.  

Many of the exercises to explore and gain confidence with our voice stemmed from Judith’s professional training as an actress, she truly understands how to connect with your voice, and to find a natural pace and tone where your audience are able to receive and fully hear what you’re expressing. 

Immersive retreat – sound your voice 

From completing the workshop, I felt compelled to join a three-day sound your voice retreat being hosted by Judith in Sussex, to explore my voice, and sound, further. Just for the record, by now I’m feeling well and truly out of my comfort zone – as a child I had a lisp and a stutter, and to this day I still get stuck on certain words.  At a very early age I devised a strategy whereby if I got stuck on a letter or word, I was unable to speak, I’d deviate and find alternative words that meant the same thing, that more readily came out of my mouth. So, for the retreat, l decided to adopt the approach of ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’, with the caveat of ‘enjoy the journey, play, and have fun’. 

And what a journey it was – what I experienced over those three days was quite enlightening. From getting up early in the morning and doing silent walks and barefoot yoga on the grass, to sounding on a hill top in a bracing breeze and at the beach with waves crashing in, there’s no doubt in my mind that, for me, being in nature is an essential part of enhancing my wellbeing.

Prior to the retreat I was relatively familiar with chakras, energy and colour, but I had not fully made the connection with sound and yoga, which is strange because I’ve been doing yoga on and off for 20 years – perhaps it never featured as part of the classes.  Either way, as someone who’s passionate about colour, its energy, vibration, and in the business world how it’s highly influential in how we relate and feel about a brand, I was really intrigued to discover this extended knowledge. 

Colour energy – it’s relation to our body and our voice 

I’m going to dive right in… For those that aren’t familiar with what Chakras are, the part of our body they focus on, the colour they represent, and the sound they are associated with, I’ve provided a snapshot overview – in total there are seven.

Chakra – means ‘wheel’ in Sanskrit. A chakra is an area in the body connected with life energy. There are seven main chakras in the body – each is an interface for the flow of life energy. A chakra vitalises a physical body and is associated with interactions of a physical or mental nature… each carries a specific meaning and colour.

Red

  • The theme for the colour red is survival, security, grounding, family and community.  Red is representative of the ‘Root’ and ‘Muladhara’ chakra; located at our coccyx – the sound associated with the Root is ‘Haw / Hore’, and the yoga poses are warrior and tree.

Orange

  • The theme orange is sexuality, creativity and emotional stability. Orange is representative of the ‘Sacral’ and ‘Svadhisthana’ chakra; located by our belly button – the sound associated with the Sacral is ‘Hoo / Who’, and the yoga poses are wide-angled seated forward bend and goddess.

Yellow

  • The theme for yellow is power, purpose, and wisdom. Yellow is representative of the ‘Solar Plexus’ and ‘Manipura’ chakra, is located at our solar plexus just at the bottom of our ribcage – the sound associated with the solar plexus is ‘Hoe’, and the yoga poses are half lord of the fishes, boat and lion.

Green

  • The theme for green is love, healing and compassion. Green is representative of the ‘Heart’ and ‘Anahaha’ chakra; located at our heart – the sound associated is ‘Haah, and the yoga poses are cobra and camel. \

Light Blue

  • The theme for light blue is communication, self-expression and authenticity. Light blue is representative of the ‘Throat’ and ‘Vishuddha’; located at our throat – the sound associated with the throat is ‘Hi’, and the yoga poses are bridge, fish or shoulder stand.

Indigo

  • The theme for indigo is awareness, intuition and imagination. Indigo is representative of the ‘Third Eye’ and ‘Ajna’; located in the middle of our forehead – the sound associated with the third eye is ‘Hay’, and the yoga pose is child. 

Violet

  • The theme for the violet (or white) is spirituality, enlightenment and interconnection. Violet is representative of the ‘Crown’ and ‘Sahasrara’; located just above the top of our head – the sound associated with the crown is ‘Hee’, and the yoga poses are half lotus, corpse and head stand.

Raise your energy

I can’t remember the last time I did a head stand but over the last 25 years I’ve benefitted hugely from practicing yoga – more recently Vinyasa Flow (which focuses on the smooth way the poses run together), Yin (mostly floor based postures held for  3-5 minutes; it may sound easy but believe me it isn’t, however I do feel like a new person at the end of the class) and Bikram (90 mins, 40+ degrees, 26 postures, from head to toe, a full body and mind workout) – now when participating I have this additional knowledge to tap into. 

Speaking of vibe and tribe, synergies and synchronicities this year have been happening with a wonderfully warm frequency – with opportunities crossing my path, introductions being made through my network, new projects I’m being invited to participate in – perhaps the colours I’ve consciously decided to surround myself with and energy I’ve created around me is acting like a magnetic? What do you do to raise your energy?

A Hattrick of Happiness – Investing in mental fitness, sport and technology… say Hello to MyArkeo

A Hattrick of Happiness – Investing in mental fitness, sport and technology… say Hello to MyArkeo

Nationwide, throughout the month of May, Mental Health remained topical in many publications. The Telegraph explored whether working in the City is bad for your health?, BBC One showed a programme called A Royal Team Talk, which bought together five current or former professional footballers, and amateurs, to talk openly with the Duke of Cambridge about the effects of mental health in sport, demonstrating that mental health is no longer a secret folded away in sport’s dressing rooms, and BBC Two showed the mini-series called ‘Depression and me’ where Alistair Campbell candidly talked about his experiences. 

Moreover, Stephen Moon, Group CEO, Science in Sport Ltd recently shared his thoughts on the challenge’s executives face in dealing with the subject of mental health – his key question being ‘Is mental health the last taboo in business’? – a really insightful read. 

Continuing the theme, locally in Richmond I attended a panel discussion about mental health in sport, hosted by Bella Velo, a south west London cycling club dedicated to women who cycle. The event invited a panel of male and female speakers to talk about their own personal mental health stories following challenging life experiences that have been thrown in their path.

And in central London, The Happiness Index hosted an event at Google called Happiness and Humans – it was truly insightful sharing a day with so many inspirational people and speakers who champion freedom to be human. On a personal and professional level, it’s great to be part of a growing wave of momentum, where businesses and organisations are recognising the importance of investing in employee wellbeing. 

Introducing My Arkeo – Fitness for your brain 

In December 2018 I was fortunate enough to connect with Jana Dowling. A friend, Matt Phelan, had mentioned her and her business idea in a LinkedIn post and I was keen to hear more, so dropped Jana a note to connect directly. 

I’m a firm believer that mental fitness and physical fitness go hand in hand. Yet, at seemingly opposite ends of the scale, whilst mental fitness is less talked about, physical fitness represents a booming global industry of personal trainers, gyms, apps and other wearable technology – all in favour of actively talking about, participating in, and building communities (virtual and in person) to support our physical fitness and to help us achieve our goals.

Which begs the question – What are we doing to support our mental fitness?

From seeding a thought – to seed investment 

Pardon the pun, but a seed was sown when Jana and I first met in person in January 2019. Over recent months it’s been extremely exciting to see MyArkeo preparing to step out of the shadows, and into the limelight. Yes, there are competitors out there, and that’s healthy, but MyArkeo is slowly but surely carving its own path, gaining traction and recognition at every turn. The overall objective of MyArkeo is simple – to empower individuals and organisations to take control of their mental fitness. 

Built from the ground up, on real-life experience of monitoring and measuring her road to recovery post burnout, Jana built a tracking system to give her insight into how her own actions, food consumption, sleep pattern, level of activity – and a whole lot more – influenced and accelerated her road to recovery. Recognising that her tracking system was the KEY component in her own recovery, she wanted to share her system with others – millions in fact – starting in the UK, with a vision to launch in other territories when the time is right. 

In the past six months I’ve downloaded the beta version of the MyArkeo app, used it daily, talked about it to friends and family, fed back on my user experience – as have hundreds of others – delivered a brand and messaging workshop to establish the foundations to build the brand both internally and externally from a marketing and communications perspective, and latterly discussed and agreed seed investment. 

This is a completely new path for me, personally investing in a business. But MyAkreo brings together many things I’m passionate about, namely, sport, fitness (mental and physical) and technology – a hattrick of happiness. I feel extremely privileged to be in a position to invest, to contribute my ideas, and to see the business go from strength to strength. 

So why did I choose to invest in MyArkeo?

  • 9 in 10 UK workers affected by mental health challenges 
  • 48% of employees in the UK have experienced a mental health problem 
  • 300,000 people lose jobs over mental health every year 
  • Poor mental health in the workplace is costing the UK economy about £99bn a year 

MyArkeo – the mental fitness management app, facilitates users to ‘TRACK’ lifestyle habits and symptoms, ‘ANALYSE’ and highlight user pattern and trends, ‘SET TARGETS’ to change behaviour and alleviate symptoms, and to ‘TAKE ACTION’. 

In addition, Jana is an incredibly inspiring individual. Her personal knowledge and experience put her firmly in the driving seat to speak authentically, and her passion and energy for building a global brand and business are unbound. 

Go to market strategy 

There are multiple benefits for businesses and organisations who choose to invest in MyArkeo, namely improved mental fitness, less absenteeism, and higher productivity – so in fact a win-win situation all round – for both employees and employers. 

In addition to those benefits, the MyArkeo app will help reduce the 300,000 people losing their jobs due to ill mental health in the UK, and increase the number of people actively taking care of their mental fitness.

For individuals (B2C) the app presents a simple four-step process:

  1. App – self tracking and analysis 
  2. Data analysis – of your stats over time 
  3. Set targets – around what’s important for you 
  4. Take actions – empowered to make choices that serve you 

For businesses and organisations (B2B) the app presents a three-stage process:

  1. Employee tracking on the MyArkeo app – empowers staff to take control, and facilitates self-tracking and improvement 
  2. Data feedback – view aggregated anonymous employee trends and patterns via a company dashboard 
  3. Training – MyArkeo bring in experts and qualified trainers focused on hotspots highlighted in data feedback 

Jana and her team of experts have developed an ambitious go-to-market strategy, targeting businesses and organisations, cross sector, public and private, with 250+ employees; that are prioritising employee wellbeing, diversity and inclusion; and are looking to invest to further develop their wellbeing strategy.  

What will seed investment be spent on?

Whilst funding rounds continue to secure the £250,000 Jana is seeking to raise, the initial funds will be utilised for app development to build out tech to version 1, to develop UX, and to drive adoption of paid pilots with hero clients and early adopters.

From a traction and growth perspective, with pilots booked with global organisations, NHS Trusts, Financial Services, and Media and Broadcast businesses, and interest from London Sport, the next 12 months are shaping up to be extremely interesting. 

My prediction for the future 

MyArkeo will become the measure of mental fitness and will become a global fitness brand, and the platform will help organisations measure and support staff in improving their mental fitness. 

MyArkeo is so simple to use – it’s informative, it empowers people to make more informed choices about how they support their mental fitness, there’s so much more in the pipeline, and some great features to be revealed in V1 of the app that will enhance the user experience, and provide more insightful data to individuals and organisations. 

I will leave you with a quote:

“Rule your mind or it will rule you”

Horace

You can discover more about MyArkeo here and connect with Jana here. 

Sources