David Nicol

A look back at 2020

December 17, 2020

As we prepare to say goodbye to a challenging and unpredictable year, we take a moment to reflect on the past 12 months here at NB…

Back in January none of us could have predicted the challenges that Covid would bring. It’s been a year of extreme uncertainty, but we are grateful to have been able to help so many of our clients to adapt and indeed thrive.

One notably positive feature of these past few months has been the trend for small businesses to improve their use of digital communications. From setting up remote working environments, to shifting retail operations online, our clients have been quick to adopt new ways of working in order to meet significant challenges.

From an NB perspective, we are thankful that we could support these clients, as their digital marketing plans shifted to reflect the different phases of lockdown. I am proud of the team here at NB who, despite the anxieties of the global pandemic, managed to show resilience and keep our clients’ online operations running smoothly, as well as launch some fantastic new client projects.

As a digital agency, we were fortunate to already have much of the infrastructure in place to make the switch from office to home working fairly seamlessly. All our systems are cloud-based, and we already had working practices well suited for situations where team members are distributed far and wide. This meant that as soon as the first lockdown was announced our team could dedicate all of our focus to supporting our clients.

Before we look ahead to what we hope will be a healthier, happier and more stable year for everyone, we thought we’d reflect on some of our business success stories from the year.

1. A new brand for Shetland

As part of the destination marketing service we deliver on behalf of Shetland Islands Council we carried out a strategic rebrand of Shetland as a destination to live work, study and invest. ‘Island of Opportunity’ is a fresh, dynamic new brand for Shetland, putting a firm focus on the opportunities ahead, while not forgetting Shetland’s nature and heritage. This was a hugely ambitious branding project, involving a number of partners and stakeholders, which we rolled out across all the marketing channels and communications we use to promote Shetland to the wider world.
Read more about the Islands of Opportunity

2. Supporting online growth at Sheila Fleet

Sheila Fleet is one of Scotland’s leading jewellery brands and we partnered with them to redesign their website and improve their ecommerce offering. We surveyed the existing customer base and used this feedback to create a dynamic new website for the brand, which is more intuitive and has sophisticated filtering options for their vast product catalogue. This project really allowed us to showcase our ecommerce capabilities as Shopify Experts, which has been timely in a year where online retail has been more important than ever.
Read our blog about the Sheila Fleet launch

3. Going global with the International Maritime Organization

NB expanded its client base in the IGO sector with a new website for the MEPSEAS project, run by the International Maritime Organization. We planned, designed, developed and launched the new website, which is an information hub for industry-related personnel as well as the general public who have a keen interest in the ocean environment in South-East Asia. Again, this was an ambitious project for a global audience, highlighting the scale and breadth of projects we are able to undertake here at NB.
Read the MEPSEAS case study

4. Supporting our online retailers

A key part of our client portfolio is our e-commerce clients, which includes everything from jewellers and clothing retailers to food suppliers and drinks brands. As noted previously, it’s been a challenging year, particularly for retail and hospitality, so we’ve been proud to help clients adapt their business models from predominantly bricks and mortar retail to doing most of their business online. This has involved creating targeted email and social media campaigns, increasing e-commerce functionality on websites and guiding clients through a completely new way of doing business.

And the good news is that this increased online activity is paying off. In fact, one client informed us that sales were so successful online that they had to stop taking orders for a time as they couldn’t keep up with the increased demand.

5. New launches

We’ve been fortunate this year to work with many new clients, too. This includes a new website launch for ReFLEX Orkney ­– a pioneering new green energy system for the islands – and new digital projects for Ocean Farm Services, Cruise Scotland, Northern Turbine Services, Alison Moore Designs, to name just a few….

6. Ongoing client activity

We've also continued to service our existing clients with a range of digital activity. For example, we were pleased to be able to continue rolling out new content and functionality on the Orkney.com website – the main destination marketing website for the islands. And, for Promote Shetland, we successfully covered the fire festival season before the pandemic hit and forced the cancellation of the last few events. We look forward to being able to celebrate the Up Helly Aa festivities again in 2022.

Looking ahead to 2021 and beyond

While it has been a difficult year, it has also been a rewarding year in that many ongoing projects have come to fruition and we’ve continued to operate successfully despite the upheaval of the pandemic.

Looking ahead to 2021, we very much look forward to the vaccine being rolled out and being able to travel freely again. We’ve certainly missed being able to meet up with our clients in person, particularly in Orkney and London where many of them are based. We also look forward to moving into a new, bigger office space within Lerwick’s Stewart Building, which will accommodate our ever-growing team of experts. The timings of this will, of course, be dictated by the latest coronavirus guidelines.

Finally, I’d like to express my gratitude to all our clients who have continued to work with us over the course of 2020, and I’d also like to extend a warm welcome to all our new clients too. We really do appreciate your support and look forward to continuing to progress your digital marketing projects in 2021.

If you'd like to discuss your digital marketing plans in 2021, we'd be happy to help you. Just drop us a message and we'll get back to you.

December 17, 2020

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