The graphic design trends for 2024

Graphic design is a field that is constantly developing and changing. In the age when art meets technology, creativity has never had more opportunity to inspire and excite people through graphic design.

Capturing the zeitgeist and designing something that resonates is a skill that requires us to articulate – in technicolour – the visual trends that are constantly infiltrating our subconscious. To help bring some of these trends to the forefront of your conscious mind, here are Nerd’s key design trends for 2024 based on some of our current work…

  1. Bold and Bright
  2. Nature-inspired
  3. Gradients
  4. Pixelation
  5. Brand Illustrations

Design trends 2024 – Bold and Bright

This style is all about using bright, eye-catching colors to create a vibrant design. The combination of eye-catching colors and contrasting shapes is certain to capture the attention of the viewer and consumer.

This fearless style can be used in all areas of design but gives noticeable pizazz to posters, advertisements, and social media posts.

A study by HubSpot found that using high-contrast colours in website calls-to-action can increase click-through rates by 21%. So, it’s the perfect way to make your designs stand out from the crowd!

Design Trends 2024 – Nature-inspired

Less plastic, more nature-inspired designs! There are many ways in which you can draw inspiration from flora and fauna. This includes incorporating nature-inspired shapes in your design, such as the gentle curved outlines of leaves or flowers.

For print designs, look to beautifully-textured, sustainably-sourced paper stock or neutral colors to capture a stealth-wealth aesthetic on packaging design or stationery templates.

And if you don’t believe us, follow the numbers. Sustainable packaging solutions are growing at a rate of 12% annually, fuelled by consumer demand for eco-friendly products.

Design Trends 2024 – Gradients

Gradients add depth and dimension to designs. In fact, the visual of a gradient is so strong and recognisable that it can be the main element in your brand identity. From bright and explosive to calm and pastel, there are different ways to combine colours according to Itten’s wheel. These combinations will greatly help you when creating a harmonious look.

To give you some inspiration, here is Itten’s colour wheel, which is used by designer’s to help them pick colours that compliment one another:

You can see this put to good effect in some of our designs below.

From subtle background accents to eye-catching hero images, gradients offer a flexible way to add depth and dimension to designs.

Design Trends for 2024 – Pixelation

This retro-look design trend has returned! Pixel art taps into a growing sentiment for retro aesthetics, offering a unique way to evoke emotions and memories of playing Pacman and the like.

Combining today’s favourites with styles popular decades ago creates a great, on-trend design. The pixel graphic can be used in all sorts of ways, such as fonts, as small elements/accents, or big square grids.

Design Trends 2024 – Brand Illustrations

Handmade illustrations and doodles will be one of the trends in 2024. When a brand has its own character, it adds recognition and emotional connection to the customer….even small hand-drawn details will add a unique touch to the design.

Being a bit ahead of the curve, the above illustrations were used as part of the International Carrot Symposium in the run up to their huge event in York. Research by Nielsen shows that consumers are 83% more likely to remember information presented with visuals, so what are you waiting for?

Design trends for 2024 – Capturing the zeitgeist in your designs key takeaways and trends:

Embrace these key trends for 2024 and watch your creations shine:

  • Bold & Bright: Let vibrant colours and contrasting shapes scream for attention. Think posters, ads, and social media posts that pack a punch.
  • Nature-inspired: Go green with textures like paper, wood, and natural shapes. Opt for sustainable materials and earth tones for an eco-conscious aesthetic.
  • Gradient magic: Add depth and dimension with colour transitions. Explore vibrant explosions or calming pastels, remembering Itten’s colour wheel for harmonious combinations.
  • Pixel power: Inject nostalgia with retro pixel art. Use it as fonts, accents, or full grids for a playful, eye-catching touch.
  • Handcrafted charm: Embrace personality with unique illustrations and doodles. These emotional connections build brand recognition and leave a lasting impression.


  • Trends are tools, not rules: Use them to inspire, not dictate. Inject your own creativity and leave your unique mark.
  • Experimentation is key: Don’t be afraid to play and explore. Unleash your inner creative and see where the trends take you.
  • The world awaits your masterpiece: Go forth, create, and leave a lasting impression on the design landscape.

So, what are you waiting for? Dive into these trends, add your own twist, and get ready to lead the zeitgeist in 2024!

By Rachel Anderson and Halyna Dobrianska

The Magic of Creating a Mood Board

The Magic of Creating a Mood Board

The term “let’s create a mood board” suggests that in life there exists a magical pinboard that informs us what we’re in the mood to do today. In which case, first thing in the morning, the answer is likely to be: “You’re in the mood for a strong cup of coffee.” A motivational mood board may even tell us: “You’re in the mood for a strong cup of coffee, before you smash it today.” 

Now that you are hopefully awake, in this blog we help you to demystify the art of creating a mood board…

What is a mood board?

In actual fact a mood-board is a tool that can help you to bring together your thoughts and visual ideas at the beginning of a creative project. And, in a way, they do have an element of magic about them because they bring your initial ideas to life – transforming our feelings, thoughts and ideas into something colourful, real, and useful.

However, given how handy they are, mood boards are used for a variety of projects, such as website design, event planning, photoshoots, and the like. Usually, they are in the form of a presentation or collage of images.

What should I include in my mood board?

There are no certain rules – your mood board can include anything! And you don’t have to include polished ideas – you simply need to demonstrate the design (or project)’s direction and some initial concepts.

Here are some ideas for your mood board:

  • inspirational images
  • logo(s) and existing elements of the brand
  • keywords
  • colour palettes
  • sketches
  • typography
Creating a mood board
How to create a mood board, picture of green leaf variations
How to create a mood board, with a cup of coffee and coffee colour variations

Types of mood board:


To create a physical mood board, for sure, you will need a board. It can be a classic cork noticeboard, or even a simple piece of cardboard that can be used as a backdrop onto which to stick or pin everything. So, you can pin onto your board your hand-drawn sketches, key words and notes, any photos you’ve printed, or snipped from a magazine etc.



Creating a digital mood board is easier and quicker! Best of all is that you can (as if by magic) easily share it with your
colleagues or clients anywhere in the world, just by sending them the link to the file. Below you can see the mood-board we created for the website redesign of Rival Colour, our client who does the printing for cool clients such as the Glastonbury Festival

Best way to create a mood board for the printing company Rival Colour
Girl thinking about how to create a mood board

Key steps for creating a mood board

1. Brainstorm

Get your creative juices flowing (we find that a cup of coffee helps!) and think about the topic of your project. Then, note down a few main points that you want to show on the mood board. This will help you to visualise your ideas. For example, if you want to create a mood board about social media posts, you should consider what colours, fonts, and visual content will fit in with the theme of the posts and the brand’s style guidelines.

2. Collect the elements of the mood board

Colour means a lot! Will your design be subtle and use pastel colours, for example. Or do you need to capture people’s attention and create something big and bold? For inspiration, perhaps you could look at what colour combinations can be made from a photo of your surroundings or a morning still life.

When it comes to sourcing photos for your mood board, you might like to take some pictures of your own – or you could simply search for some inspirational images in stock photo libraries (such as Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Freepik, etc.) to show the examples to your client.

Pinterest is also a great tool, where you can search for content on a particular theme and add images to one folder (and then print them out, if necessary).

Moreover, fonts add an individual style to the design. Classic hand-drawn calligraphy, modern bold letterings, or vintage fonts can bring accents to the whole idea or can be the main decorative element.

3. Bring all elements of the mood board together

When your content is ready, it is time to put everything together into a single layout and arrange everything into a beautiful presentation to show your idea to the client or colleagues.

To put together your digital mood board, you can use the following:

– An online mood board design tool (like Canva)

– Photoshop

– Illustrator

– Just create a folder on your computer with all the content inside it.

Voila! Now you can share your mood board with your client or team to receive feedback and start working on the project! 


Mood boards are a powerful tool for visualising and communicating your creative ideas. They can be used for a variety of projects, from website design to event planning to product development.

To create a mood board, simply gather images, colours, fonts, and other visual elements that represent the mood, style, and tone of your project. You can then arrange these elements on a physical board or in a digital format.

Here are some tips for creating a great mood board:

  • Clarify your goals. What do you want to achieve with your mood board? Are you trying to inspire yourself or your team? Are you trying to communicate your ideas to a client? Once you know your goals, you can start to gather the right elements for your board.
  • Select a variety of elements. The best mood boards include a mix of images, colours, fonts, and textures. This helps to create a rich and visually appealing composition.
  • Experiment, experiment, experiment. There are no rules when it comes to mood boards. Feel free to experiment with different layouts and arrangements until you find a look that you like.
  • Dare to share. Once you have created a draft of your mood board, share it with others and get their feedback. This can help you to identify any areas that need improvement.

Mood boards are a great way to start any creative project on the right foot. By taking the time to create a mood board, you can clarify your vision, inspire yourself and your team, and communicate your ideas more effectively. If you would like to get some inspiration for your design projects, new website or advertising campaigns please contact 

The Video Content Marketing Revolution

The Video Content Marketing Revolution

Wherever you look online, there’s no escaping video content – from social media to website landing pages, brands everywhere are making a significant impact. So why should you embark on your own video revolution? In this post, Nerd Digital delves into the why and how of video content marketing.

Why has video become the cool kid of Content?

Firstly, there’s no escaping the fact that video content has both the highest reach and highest engagement of any other content posted online. Online videos are truly the key to unlocking a global audience, with a staggering 92% of internet users worldwide consuming video content.

Video has the power to engage multiple senses and become all-consuming to a viewer, unlike, say, a still image. But what truly gives video the title of cool kid on the block? We believe you can distil it down to three factors: effective storytelling, sparking conversations, and the digital landscape itself.

Effective Storytelling

At the heart of video content marketing is storytelling – where you can weave a narrative with captivating audio and visuals that ultimately bring your brand to life. To start, you need to understand your target audience’s preferences, interests, and needs – and tailor your video’s story to resonate with them on an emotional level. If you can evoke emotions from your video content, you will leave a lasting impression and build a strong connection with viewers. Knowing your audience helps you craft a narrative that captivates and engages them effectively.

Through effective storytelling, you can capture your audience’s attention from the beginning and maintain their interest throughout the video. To achieve this, ensure your storytelling is concise, focusing on a clear and compelling narrative. Avoid unnecessary details and distractions to ensure your message shines through effectively.

This leads to the all-important hook at the beginning of your message. Social media giant Facebook discovered that if you can get your viewer to watch at least the first three seconds of your video, you can get them to stick around for a full 30 seconds. This means that if you want to capture the attention of your audience, you need to ensure the first three seconds of your video are scroll-stopping – if nothing impactful happens right away, your audience will simply scroll past. You need to give them a reason to watch!

That being said, make sure you don’t lose sight of the overall story arc so viewers watch until the very end and complete your desired call to action (CTA).

Sparking Conversations with Your Audience

Many standout videos have the power to spark conversations among viewers due to the emotions they evoke. Think about your favourite film -– you’ve likely discussed it with your peers and explained why it stood out to you. You can achieve the same for your brand through video.

Some of our key tips for video content marketing are below:

  • Use emotions to spark conversations. People are more likely to discuss and share videos that evoke emotions, such as joy, sadness, anger, or surprise.
  • Create a series of long-form video podcasts. This gives you a lot of video content marketing material to work with, which you can repurpose into shorter videos, blog posts, and social media posts.
  • Repurpose your podcasts into bite-sized nuggets. This makes it easy for your audience to share your content with their own networks.
  • Encourage your audience to leave comments. This will help to boost your algorithm and reach more people.

So, how do you go about repurposing content?

To start, begin with your long-form piece of video content, such as a podcast episode. From there, rework it by creating multiple short-form clips and formatting them correctly for each platform, adding captions and graphics to maximize engagement. Then, you’re ready to spread your message further and reach new audiences by sharing your newly-repurposed videos on multiple platforms and taking the digital landscape by storm.

Video content marketing agency

The Digital Landscape

Your short-form video content is set up to perform better than any other content wherever you place it online. The primary reason video content is cool is because online digital platforms have deemed it so. The head of Instagram said: “More and more of Instagram is going to become video over time,” as that’s where users are dedicating more of their attention. It’s no secret that to get your content seen by your target audience, you need to get involved in video content marketing creation and align with the algorithm. Across all social media apps, the algorithms favour video content, especially those that tell effective stories and spark conversations.

Video content that tells a story well will encourage people to watch the video in its entirety. If the video goes a step further and evokes emotion, it’s likely to spark conversations among viewers and their peers. Both watching a video in full and engaging with it will ultimately lead people to spending more time on their app of choice, which is the goal for app creators!

Video Content Marketing Conclusion

Video content marketing has become the cool kid of content for a reason. It is the most engaging and accessible form of content online, and it’s what audiences are demanding. If you’re not already using video content marketing, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to reach your target audience and build your brand.

In this blog post, Nerd Digital has discussed the importance of video marketing and how to create effective video content. We’ve also shared some tips on how to repurpose your video content to reach even more people.

If you’re ready to start your own video revolution, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Tell effective stories. Video is a powerful storytelling medium. Use it to create stories that will resonate with your audience on an emotional level.
  • Spark conversations. The best video content sparks conversations among viewers. Think about topics that are relevant to your audience and that they’re likely to want to talk about.
  • Align with the algorithm. Social media platforms prefer video content, especially videos that are engaging and tell effective stories. Make sure your videos are optimised for the algorithm so they’re more likely to be seen by your target audience.

By following these tips, you can create video content that will help you to reach your target audience, build your brand, and achieve your marketing goals. If you would like to chat with our video content marketing agency experts on this topic, please use the contact us form on the homepage or email me directly on

Social Media for Business, Where Do You Start?

Social Media for Business, Where Do You Start?

Nerd Digital looks at the different social media channels and the best ways to make the most of them, and what’s likely to work on each platform.

With 4.62 billion people using social media for more than two hours a day, the chances are you’ve regularly experienced at least one of its platforms – be that for business or pleasure. Now, one of the first questions we get asked by clients who are launching a product, service, campaign or new business is…

Which social media channels should we use? 

Now – more often than not – this question actually translates to:

Which social media is best for making money? 

So, at this point – after a quick wink and a nod – we get down to developing a winning social media strategy to find new customers, sell more product, and promote client events etc.

Different businesses will use different social media platforms depending on what their company is offering its customers. In this blog we will give you the low down on the key channels, their basic features and benefits, and some of Nerd’s social media agency tips that we’ve learned along the way.

Most people we speak with rarely have the time for social media (which is why they call us), but for those who master it, the rewards are huge.

Social Media for Business

Nowadays, we are up to our eyes in different social media platforms, with each one being handy for different things and all of them having algorithms that work in their own unique way. There are, for example, Facebook, LinkedIN, Twitter* X, YouTube, and Instagram – each of which are the most popular for businesses. And then there are platforms such as TikTok that are growing in popularity amongst companies that may be looking for more of an online presence or trying to connect with a younger audience. 

Recently, Instagram launched Threads, a simplified version of Twitter. However, Threads is not a must-have for businesses unless there is a demand for it among your customers. In essence, Threads is just Twitter with fewer features.

Not all companies will need to use every platform – use what works for you. There is no need to complicate things and put yourself on platforms your customers don’t use. We always advise our clients to select one platform first and get GOOD at that, before spreading themselves too thinly. 

*sorry, we’re not fans of the new Twitter name/letter/mark – in fact there’s a very good joke about this … Why is it that every bird Elon Musk touches turns into an X?! 

The most popular Social Media platforms – what works best?

Each platform has certain content that works best. The following infographic gives the pros and cons, with the key points below that:

X (Formerly known as Twitter)

With a platform like X, companies can share everything and that’s why it can be such a popular choice for people to use and to promote their business. Short-form videos work well and you ideally want the video to be no more than 30 seconds – any longer and (unless you have premium) you may struggle to upload the video. Posts with images do well compared to posts without so it’s always worth having an image to go with your post.


Instagram is becoming less about imagery and more towards short-form video content. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t upload images to Instagram because ultimately that is still its main purpose – an image-sharing platform. But short-form video content is starting to be recognised by its algorithms. This is clear from the many re-uploads of TikToks you can find on Instagram.

Another example of Instagram taking a liking to videos is the addition of Reels, which again are simply more short-form videos around the 30-second time frame. However, unlike X, Instagram Reels can be more than a minute long without you having to pay any money.


Possibly the most popular social media platform at the moment with everyone and their nan using the platform. Once again, we are talking about short-form video content. Unlike X or LinkedIn for example, TikTok is best for the more informal, jokey content. You are more likely to get a higher view count on videos that are ‘silly’ in nature rather than a serious video. But a big part of TikTok is trends and, done right, you can have a very successful week on this platform. Social media trends come and go, from Wes Anderson to Pedro Pascal eating a sandwich… it can simply switch overnight and you can never be quite sure what’s next but it’s always worth keeping an eye on what starts becoming popular.

But the key with all these platforms – hashtags. Without the proper hashtags on a post you are unlikely to find your audience. This is especially important if your company fits a very specific niche of people.

An example of where hashtags can be important in social media is in sports social media specifically – for example, when tweeting as a football club, the hashtags are very important and can be a kind of identity for the club. All football clubs will have their own hashtags from the bottom of the Non-League pyramid up to the best teams in the world.

Just remember – hashtags are important!

Snapchat – to use or not to use?

When it comes to using social media platforms and spreading the word about your business, it’s unlikely that you would have considered using Snapchat – which is a fair point considering the average age of people who use it.

According to The Social Shepherd – 77% of users on Snapchat are aged between 18-24.

Age isn’t the only issue when it comes to using Snapchat for your business – another problem you may run into is the length of videos and how long your content is viewable because Snapchat videos and photos last just 24 hours.

But if you do decide to use Snapchat, a ‘Public Profile’ that allows users to build a more (as the name suggests) public profile would arguably be the better option for businesses as it would allow them to store content on the app more easily.

For a business looking to expand, Snapchat might not be the best route to go down unless your audience and clientele use it regularly and are in the target age range.

Regarding what works best on a platform like Snapchat, you want to follow similar guidelines to what you would do for TikTok – short and snappy videos.

Discord – good for gamers but what about your business?

We’re sure that when you think about Discord your mind will go to gamers or crypto or NFT investors … but can it be used for your business?

Discord – although classed as a social media platform – isn’t really used as one in the same way Snapchat or Instagram are for example. Discord is much more focused on the connectivity side of things.

Although yes you can message people via Instagram and Snapchat, they have other functions as well – content sharing. Discord, on the other hand, is more about connecting and speaking with people in a similar way you would do so on Zoom, for example.

You aren’t going to find success in promoting a business in Discord, but it could be a great way to connect and chat with a client about ideas, and maybe create one of the next BIG communities in your space.

LinkedIn – or Linked(Out)?

When it comes to the perfect social media platform for business, look no further than LinkedIn. The perfect platform to share your work, meet potential clients, and connect with people who can help your business in any way, shape, or form.

LinkedIn is a great organic way of growing an audience. Which is no surprise given that there are around 58-61 million businesses (based on articles from The Social Shepherd and Sprout Social) signed up to LinkedIn.

The best piece of advice we can give is to spend 15 minutes per day on LinkedIn, no more and no less. We took this advice from someone and landed one of our favourite client’s this way.

YouTube? You Choose…

You only need to make a YouTube channel for your business if it’s needed or wanted by your audience. YouTube is a great way to share long-form content; for example, filmed podcasts can do well on YouTube.

But much like a lot of other social media platforms, YouTube is giving a lot of time to short-form content – hence YouTube Shorts. This appears to be used in a similar way to TikTok. You are looking at 30-second clips, which you can churn out on a regular basis – you can even re-upload your TikToks onto YouTube Shorts and they can do just as well.

Facebook [not just for friends?]

Like every current social media platform at the moment, Facebook has also taken a liking to short-form video content, although Facebook has had short videos on its platform for a long time – so although not a new thing for Facebook it will likely have seen a surge in popularity that may have caused a change in the algorithm over time.

The good thing about sharing your business on Facebook is that the average age demographic of Facebooks users which ranges from 25-44.

With such a wide demographic, it shouldn’t be too hard to find an audience.


There are many different social media channels available for businesses to use. The best channels for your business will depend on your specific goals and target audience. It is important to experiment with different channels and see what works best for you. But get good at ONE first!

Key takeaways from Nerd’s social media for business blog:

  • Right message, right audience: Use the right channels for your audience. Some platforms are better suited to certain types of businesses and audiences. For example, TikTok is a good platform for businesses that want to reach a younger audience, while LinkedIn is a good platform for businesses that want to connect with professionals.
  • Be engaging: Create engaging content. Your content should be interesting, informative, and relevant to your audience. Use visuals, humour, and storytelling to capture attention and keep people engaged.
  • #usegoodhashtags: Use hashtags strategically. Hashtags can help people find your content. When using hashtags, be sure to use relevant and popular hashtags that your target audience is likely to use.
  • Be consistent: The key to success on social media is to be consistent with your posting. Post regularly and on a schedule that works for you.
  • Can’t measure, can’t manage: It is important to track your results so you can see what is working and what is not. Use social media analytics tools to track your follower growth, engagement, and website traffic…and most importantly, return on investment.

By following these tips, you can use social media to reach your target audience, build brand awareness, and grow your business. Nerd manages social media and social media advertising campaigns for its clients, so get in touch if you have any questions or need our support.

How To Get a Digital Marketing Masters

How to get a Digital Marketing Masters

If you want to change the future, be that change

A client once said to me that in Italy most men indulge in one of the three M’s of a mid-life crisis, namely; motorbike, mistress, or a marathon. Not wanting to delve into the world of leathers  – and with knees too dodgy for a marathon – I added a new M to the list.

‘Do a Masters Degree’ was always on my bucket list. I wrote a list of life goals in my early twenties, and this one looked lonely without a tick by its side. So, a couple of years ago I looked at several MSc. programmes and learned that financially you are looking at over ten grand to complete a distance learning post-graduate qualification. Not cheap.

So, I weighed up the pros and cons, decided to go for it and eventually signed-up for the University of Salford and Digital Marketing Institute’s Digital Marketing masters MSc. programme. 

Was it worth it? It was tough. I managed to get a distinction, but it came at a cost. To anyone else thinking of taking on any serious academic distance learning, here are some tips from a 40 something sales and marketing professional, and dad of two, who thought he knew it all and very quickly found out he didn’t!

Do your masters degree for a (good) reason

You need to really want to do this if you are going to get through the long and laborious road ahead. Here were my main reasons for choosing a digital marketing masters degree:

  1. I really wanted to understand what the future digital landscape might mean for my kids. I did not want to be a digital dinosaur, and aspects of social media targeting, and surveillance capitalism, annoyed/terrified me. If you want to change the future, be that change
  2. I was keen to get involved in start-ups and give better support some local community projects I’m involved with, such as Small World Cinema and Music Masters
  3. I became aware that my skill set was getting rusty and I wanted to get ahead of the curve. I was not a digital native, was asking people to do things that I could not do myself, and was therefore driven to upgrade my skills and get a new toolbox

I recommend that you set out your genuine goals for wanting to do this advance.

Apply what you learn

The beauty of studying subjects such as a digital marketing masters is that you can dive into academic subjects such as futures studies, psychology and sociology (all of which I love) and you also get to see the fruits of your labour in a live, practical work environment.

The course is split into two sections:

  1. First up, hours and hours and hours of online lectures and tests on everything you can think of that’s digital marketing, with two long form 5,000+ word assignments on digital marketing research and strategy.
  2. Secondly, several detailed academic case studies, innovation projects and literature reviews, ending with a 15,000+ word thesis on a specialist subject of your choice.

Through listening to the online lectures and immediately implementing what I learned in the work environment, I was quickly able to write advanced digital strategy plans, carry out detailed surveys and market research, launch more effective pay per click (ppc) campaigns, write blogs, create infographics, and make and narrate content marketing videos (all activities that other people had done for me in the past). All this whilst getting up-to-date with all the latest digital marketing strategies, tools and tech.

I MADE myself apply the learning from each module in a real-life scenario, that way you can learn from your mistakes and use analytics to constantly improve upon your work. Listening to lectures and notes is a big chunk of what you need to do. There is an awful lot of course material to get through, so if you think you can skive this part of the course because you know it anyway, well, good luck!

A key piece of advice I would offer at this stage is that you should make sure that your clients or employer will let you experiment, conduct research and/or try out new things in a live environment. I heard some horror stories about students not being able to access data, do research with real clients, download the digital tools etc. that are required in order to properly complete the assignments. Get buy-in from the very beginning.

Talk to people. Pick up the ‘phone

Studying remotely/online is hard as you don’t know your classmates or get to meet your tutors in person. Therefore, get everyone you know involved and tell them what you are doing. Locate your lecturers and get their opinion on work you are undertaking. Use the group forums. Talk to people (the most basic and best piece of advice ever, thanks Bill). I rekindled many past working relationships throughout this period and uncovered many new opportunities and skills along the way. It was ironic that I was talking to more people as a result of doing digital. Many of those people pointed me in the direction of experts in digital marketing with whom I conducted Delphi research for my thesis titled ‘exploring futures studies in digital marketing’. Thanks again to every member of that expert panel.

Don’t be a smart arse

In the past, I’ve been guilty of trying to be a smart arse – finding my own hacks, shortcuts and ways to cut corners to get faster results. At first, I tried to apply this philosophy to my studies but, after a few false starts, I deferred to the experience of the tutors when I rapidly realised that my strategy was not going to work. There are no short cuts, and if you want to do this you really have to commit a lot of time. Sorry! By the time it came to do the thesis I made myself a promise to:

  • never miss a deadline
  • follow the process to the line
  • listen to my tutor and take constructive criticism as an opportunity to improve

And I didn’t break my promise. The tutors on my digital marketing Masters programme were excellent (you do have to bang their door down, as they won’t come to you) and I listened to every word and went back and changed things regularly: my methodology, the thesis topic, the analysis, how it looked, etc. It was painstaking, but by not being a smart arse I knew that I had done the best piece of work that I could. And that was more rewarding than anything else. Handing in my thesis a day early was as thrilling as other bucket list items I’d ticked, such as jumping out of an aeroplane, live theatre and stand-up comedy. Just with cleaner underpants.

More than a few sacrifices

So, what are the sacrifices? Forget about going out. I worked on this outside of work hours most mornings, lunchtimes, weekends and evenings for over two years, with some breaks. Seeing family and friends becomes a rare treat and your life can become really, REALLY boring. I nearly gave up halfway, but a good friend popped over to see me one afternoon as a surprise with a massive piece of steak and a bottle of red wine. I told him that I was thinking of cashing out with a Diploma and he looked at me, sneered, and delivered the classic line “Don’t be a prick, finish the Masters.” Back on track, thanks Gareth.

The toughest part of this study is if you are a parent. Being at home more often than usual is not the same as being present. My daughter was a bit older at 11 and kinda got it, but my son was six when this started and he could not understand why I was not available to play, and why I was increasingly stressed around the deadlines for the frequent assignments that I had to hand in. Honestly, I found the thesis easier than the fast and furious mini assignments. If your life is not in a degree of relative stability then think really hard about this study. If it were not for my awesome wife Rachel I could never have done this. She is studying for an OU degree and put it on ice for me when I had to write the thesis over the last six months of my study. For that (and her many other sacrifices) I will be forever grateful.


If this is an itch you too want to scratch, then go for it. When it’s all over it really is rewarding, and you have it forever. And who knows, maybe I’ll do a PhD next *dodges plate that Rachel throws at my head*. Do make sure that your company or clients are genuinely on board, and just follow the advice of your tutors. I found distance learning great. It would have been even easier in lockdown, but I handed in my thesis on the 30th March 2020, typical!

To close, here’s some tools and books that I found invaluable for my digital marketing masters. If you want to chat about anything in this blog, DM or email me at , and I will be glad to help. I could not have achieved this without the generosity, encouragement and support of others.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!



Make sure that you get access to a proper library of journals. I didn’t get on with the EBSCO tool and found a hack (sorry, old habits die hard). Finding and getting access to the best journals is one of the most time-consuming, yet important disciplines. Once you’ve cracked this however, it becomes quite addictive. keep this up-to-date as you go along – I cannot begin to tell you how much time it can save you when doing Harvard referencing I made a video for a blog project and found this tool really easy to use, and free great templates for building interesting infographics, charts and tables For my thesis I had to transcribe over 80,000 words from my live primary research interviews. I used this AI transcription service and it saved my life! 

The top ten books that I read during my study

Contagious – just a great, great book on the psychology of marketing 

Homo Deus – this provides an excellent history of what might happen tomorrow

Human / Machine – how AI will be your big Butler, big Mother or Big Brother 

Platform strategy – detailed dive into how digital platforms bring buyers and sellers together 

Superforecasting – politicians have seriously got the wrong end of the meaning of this book 

The age of surveillance capitalism – truly scary, use digital for good, as a consumer you have more power than you realise

The future, a very short introduction – an excellent introduction to futures studies, loved this book and the short introduction series in general

Thinking fast, and slow – THE tome on behavioural economics 

Utopia for realists – a more positive view on what the future could hold, with a sobering sting in its tail

Webs of influence – a deep dive into the psychology of online selling, its methods and ethics

Wearable Devices, The Next Big Thing?

Wearable Devices, The Next Big Thing?

Wearable devices have been hyped as the next big thing for years, but are we finally entering into this brave new world? The evidence suggests yes. With new products and apps launching all the time, and the market expected to grow by more than 50% in the next three years, wearable devices are poised to revolutionise the consumer and business world as we know it. 

So to understand where wearables are going, we need to look at how and why they have evolved.

In this blog post, Nerd takes a deep dive into the history of wearable devices, their current use cases, and where they could develop in the future. We’ll also explore the potential benefits and challenges for wearables in marketing.

So whether you’re a marketer who’s curious about wearables, or just someone who wants to learn more about this exciting technology, read on!

Wearable Devices Introduction

At the Japanese Olympics in 1964 a marketing message was communicated by a pedometer manufacturer that taking 10,000 steps a day was the secret to a healthy lifestyle. As explained by Professor David Basset at the University of Tennessee, this message had no scientific backing, but as it was so simple to understand it caught on.

More than fifty years later, the 10,000 steps myth has become part of the zeitgeist and had the unintended consequence of creating the major use case for the adoption and commercialisation of internet-enabled wearable technologies like the Fitbit and Apple Watch. Modern consumers are entering the era of ‘the quantified self’ and are increasingly adopting the mega trend of health, wellness and wellbeing as a way of life, with wearable devices and apps making self-improvement and fitness more convenient and fun.

Businesses are assessing how wearable devices can increase employee productivity and reduce staff sickness. Governments are looking for new ways to motivate people to adopt healthier lifestyles due to costly healthcare challenges such as ageing populations and obesity.

The consumer electronics industry has been placing increasingly faster computer processing power inside smaller devices. Today, sensors and internet-enabled components are small enough to be housed within watches, wristbands, glasses, and other worn devices – something that has given birth to therapidly growing wearable technology sector.

Wearables are now a key part of the emerging ‘internet of things’ ecosystem. In combination with big data, cloud computing, and data analytics, we are about to witness a myriad of new applications that could revolutionise business and consumers’ lives.

However, these advances may also present adverse unintended consequences for society which have been popularised by recent sci-fi programmes such as Black Mirror. Breaches in cyber security, unauthorised access of personal data and the increasing psychological problems for people in an ‘always on’ era are hot topics where the innovators in this brave new world need to give careful thought and consideration.

The Rise of Wearable Devices

In their academic paper, Canhoto and Arp define today’s wearables as machine-to-human internet of things devices, embedded with internet technology, with the capability of collecting, storing and transmitting data. They include smart watches, wrist bands, hats, smart glasses, healthcare wearables, lenses, smart fabrics with many more innovations appearing almost every day. 

Did you know this? Pre-internet, the first smart wearable was designed by Edward Thorpe and Claude Sharman. They created a smart shoe that concealed a computer timing device that was able to predict where a roulette ball might land and increase the chance of winning at the casino by up to 44%! 

In the decades that followed consumers began embracing wearable technologies such as the Pulsar calculator watch in 1975 and Sony Walkman in 1979 In 1981, Steve Mann, placed an Apple II computer within a backpack to control photography equipment attached to a helmet. 

Now known as the father of wearable technology, Steve has pioneered many innovations in the field of wearable computing. He created the first wearable wireless webcam in 1994 and became known as the first ‘life-logger’. 

Since the 1990’s, many new devices with enhanced functionality and applications have entered the market. In 2003 the Garmin Forerunner was the first performance tracking watch for athletes, in 2012 Pebble released the first smart ‘internet-connected’ watch and in 2014 Apple launched its first smart watch. Whilst Apple is very protective over its sales of devices, it is believed that unit shipments of Apple Watches exceeded 100 million units by June 2021. 

Digital strategy firm Endeavor Partners explain that “smart wearable devices have finally moved from a niche product just a few years ago to a mass-market product category”. 

But it’s not all plain sailing for the industry. Haider Raad states in the wearable technology handbook that “compared to smart phones, tablets, and laptops, which were swiftly embraced by consumers, wearables are being adopted on a relatively slower pace”. We will see later that abandonment rates for these devices are high and in its hype cycle model the IT consulting firm Gartner placed wearables in the ‘trough of disillusionment’ for a very long time. 

However, despite this slow start, in a 2023 survey conducted by Statista it was revealed that India leads the way with 45% of respondents having used a wearable device in the past year, closely followed by 41% in the United Kingdom and 40% in China. The technology has therefore entered the ‘early majority’ stage of its development and could witness accelerated growth as the share of populations owning one of these devices rapidly increases.  

The global wearable technology market was valued at USD 61.30 billion in 2022 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.6% from 2023 to 2030.

Wearable Devices privacy and security concerns

Cloud computing, the internet of things, and big data are the enablers for smart wearables, but also create a host of privacy and security concerns. 

In the USA, the Federal Trade Commission stated that while wearables can promote wellness, convenience, and better health services, they are also “collecting, transmitting,  storing – and often sharing – vast amounts of consumer data and therefore creating a number of privacy risks. The FTC’s report goes on to state that wearable devices challenge traditional privacy principles and pose a considerable risk to the security of the collection, use and storage of personal health, location, financial and other sensitive data”. 

Companies in a rush to get a wearable device or app onto the market should be wary, as Gary Davies of Intel security states that the information stored on a wearable device is “worth ten times that of a credit card on the black market”. They are also easy to hack, with weaknesses within the device itself, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections and where the information is stored on the cloud.

Despite these concerns, in a study by the accountancy firm PwC, 70% of consumers said they would wear employer-provided wearables streaming anonymous data to a pool in exchange for a break on their insurance premiums. 

A similar finding was found in the journal Adoption and Sustained use of Health and Fitness Wearables. Here, all 20 participants in a focus group stated they would accept an employer-provided wearable provided they did not have to share their personal data with the employer or insurance companies. 

So is this good for business and consumers? 

According to IT consulting firm Gartner, around 10,000 companies across the world offered the use of fitness trackers to their employees. The company Humana uses wearables to reward fitness activities with lower insurance premiums, gift cards and health devices. A three-year study showed that employees using this scheme witnessed a 44% decrease in sick days. 

However, in the best-selling book Black Box Society it was revealed that some employers are already abusing these technologies with one example of a hedge fund that uses Fitbits to track how much their traders eat and drink to correlate how they will trade the following day. Scary! 

For adoption to fully take place, there is a very fine line between the benefits of wearables on health and productivity and the fear of a loss of privacy and/or security breaches.

In Tapping into the wearable device revolution in the work environment the authors reinforce this point very clearly:

“Wearables present many legal, social and ethical implications, which in turn could lead to reduced productivity and efficiency. It is imperative that any stakeholders involved must not take advantage of a wearable device’s power to infringe on an employee’s right to privacy at the risk of causing both direct or indirect psychological harm”.

Indeed, employers introducing wearables for staff self-improvement should also be mindful that constant interruptions from this technology can prevent people from concentrating on a single task, which can elevate stress levels and anxiety. Recently, in a Skinnervian nightmare, heavy users of smartwatches have even been found to gain a ‘phantom watch’ effect, constantly checking their wrists even when they are not wearing the device.

Are wearable devices improving healthcare?

Wearables have been enjoying a steady rate of adoption – mostly in the fitness band and smartwatch categories – with consumers utilising new features such as heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking and step-counting. 

The technology works best when these devices are gamified, with human-centred designs focused on the psychology of motivation to drive behavioural change, especially in areas such as healthcare, fitness and personal wellness. 

It is estimated that one in six people born today will live until they are 100,which poses a serious burden on global healthcare services. Ageing populations – together with other modern health issues such as obesity – increase the risk of chronic diseases which are extremely costly for society at large. For instance, Montgomery, Chester and Kopp found that obesity-related illnesses cost American businesses $73.1 billion per year in medical expenses and lost productivity. If wearable technology can motivate people to adopt a prevention over cure mentality, then all privacy and security issues must be overcome to ensure the continued adoption and use of these devices. 

Increasing wearable technology adoption and use cases

In Ana Viseu’s paper Simulation and Augmentation; Issues of Wearable Computers an argument is put forward that wearable device adoption will only take place if these devices are: 

  • Reliable – must never breakdown
  • Secure – confidential nature of the data means that connections must be secure 
  • Safe – must be proven that it is not harmful to wear 24/7 

However, adoption is not the only issue as Ana Isabel Canhoto’s research states that “the benefits of wearables will only be realised if users adopt and continue to use these devices as opposed to abandoning them shortly after purchase”. 

This could be the major issue for wearable technology. Research conducted by Gartner revealed that 30% of wearable devices are abandoned because consumers do not find them useful, they get bored or they break. 

<] style="font-weight: 400;">However, the growth trends suggest that as these devices are becoming smarter, gain more features and become trusted as a day-to-day tool they will become essential technology for consumers. 

A great example is cWatch, a wearable device for workers in the retail sector. This wearable device provides retail and warehouse workers to send voice messages and communicate with any connected team member. The transfer of information happens seamlessly in the background, improving productivity and the customer experience. 

So, what could be the 10,000 steps of tomorrow?

Crowd-based social change using wearable devices, and conclusion

In the book Mapping and the Citizen Sensor the authors explain how volunteered geographic data collected from wearable devices can be used for large scale scientific projects that need a regional, or even global-wide, coverage to unlock the power of the crowd. 

Whilst we explored the potential negative aspects of these developments from a privacy and security standpoint, when these wearable technologies are combined with social media, the internet of things and location tracking, the volumes of data that can be collected are immense. This opens the door for the average person to become a ‘citizen scientist’.

An example of this in action was researched by Chrisinger and King where biometric sensors were given to citizens in San Francisco to measure the relationship between the volunteers’ stress levels and their environment. 

A limitation of this research was that only 14 people were involved, however the methodology used was effective and could be scaled-up to uncover more ways to understand the causes of stress in urban environments, which can be a precursor to depression and other chronic illnesses.  

To conclude, wearable technology is going to be increasingly adopted by businesses and consumers and is on a current trajectory towards mainstream adoption in the next decade. Whilst this will undoubtedly reveal potentially negative unintended consequences for society through abuses of privacy, psychological ‘always on’ issues and security breaches, there is also huge potential for individual self-improvement, a healthier society and the sharing of vital information for the benefit of mankind. 

An area of research that deserves further enquiry should explore how businesses could work with academia to adopt citizen science projects with their people as part of their corporate social responsibility programmes. Would employees adopt wearable technologies – to not only improve their health – but also to become citizen scientists who research the big topics of today such as health and wellness, climate change and urbanisation with their volunteered geographic data. Nerd looks forward to working with start-ups, entrepreneurs and businesses that launch such services for the betterment of our environment, society and individual lives.

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Email Marketing, Does it Still Work?

How to be King of the Email Marketing Jungle

Nerd Digital discusses some of the top email marketing trends that can help your business swing from the top of the marketing trees.

Most of us have made a sneaky purchase after opening an irresistibly-titled email that’s shouting “25% off” or “LAST CHANCE to buy” at us. Or perhaps, whilst having our tea-break, we’ve taken the opportunity to sit down and devour our favourite newsletter after it was emailed to us that morning. Certainly, email marketing – with the help of software such as Mailchimp – is a powerful tool.

So, what is email marketing?

Before we start ooh ooh aah aahing about these trends, let’s knuckle-walk our way back to 1971. Then, a man named Ray Tomlinson invented the first electronic mail. Since then, email has steadily grown into this amazing and efficient digital mail system that’s still evolving – and email marketing plays a huge role in this evolution.

Email has become a popular marketing tool for businesses largely because it forces the user to act. If you think about it, an email will sit in the inbox until it’s read, deleted, or archived. It therefore allows you to build a relationship with your audience while also driving traffic to your blogs, social media, or anywhere else you’d like folks to visit.

You can even segment your emails and target users by demographic so you’re only sending people the messages they want to see most. Email is also one of the most cost-effective tools available. In fact, a 2020 study by Statista found that for every £1 spent, email has an average return on investment (ROI) of £35. 

Figure 1 – Email marketing return on investment 2016 to 2020, source Statista

With that in mind, it’s little wonder that email marketing remains one Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ulamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.of the most advantageous marketing channels out there in the marketing jungle. Put simply (and chimply), it’s a form of direct and digital marketing that uses email to promote your business’s products or services.

This strengthens your customers’ awareness of your latest items or encourages them to go bananas for over your newest offers. It can also play a pivotal role in your marketing strategy with lead generation and brand awareness. By using different types of marketing emails, you can also help to build relationships with your customers or keep them engaged between purchases.

You heard it on the ape vine – the top email Marketing trends for 2023

To help you unpeel the email marketing trends and move your business forward, we look at those strategies that are flying high and swinging your way.

1. How to Use User-Generated Content in Email Marketing


User-generated content (UGC) is a powerful tool that can help you add credibility and social proof to your email marketing campaigns. When potential customers see that other people are enjoying your products or services, they’re more likely to do the same.

There’s several ways to collect UGC from your customers. You can ask them to leave reviews on your website, post photos of your products on social media, or participate in contests and giveaways.

Once you’ve collected some UGC, you can use it in your email marketing campaigns in a variety of ways. For example, you can:

  • Use UGC in your email headers and subject lines to grab attention.
  • Feature UGC in your email body to show off your products or services.
  • Use UGC in your email calls to action to encourage readers to act

When using UGC in your email marketing campaigns, it’s important to make sure that it’s high-quality and relevant to your target audience. You also want to make sure that you have permission from the customer to use their content.


Personalisation that looks beyond just the consumer’s first name is another growing trend. Hyper-personalisation is all about looking at customer behaviour, and how we can link that behaviour to driving business.

SurveyMonkey found that almost six in ten consumers would make a purchase based on past buying history. This sort of data is very significant and can be beneficially utilised.

But beware! When personalising your emails, it’s important to make sure that you’re not being too spammy. You want to make sure that your emails are still relevant and useful to the customer.

3.Use Interactive Emails

Ditch the boring emails! Interactive content is a great way to capture your customers’ attention and keep them engaged. Drawing on no.1, using a combination of the fashionable user generated content, quizzes, polls, and surveys are also all great examples of interactive content that you can use in your emails.

Top tip – not a lot of people know this, but in platforms like Mailchimp you can insert surveys and polls into your copy with relative ease. Using the personalisation merge tags, there are codes like *|POLL:RATING:x|* and *|END:POLL|* where you enter your question in the middle and hey presto an interactive polling question appears, with easy to find results. Click here for the full instructions.

Here’s what you users will see…

Interactive content also helps you to collect valuable zero party data about your customers, which you can use to improve your future marketing campaigns.

When using interactive content in your email marketing campaigns, it’s important to make sure that it’s relevant to your target audience and that it’s easy to use. You also want to make sure that the content is engaging and that it provides value to the customer.

4.Mobile Marketing and Evolving Email Design

More and more people are using their mobile devices to check their email. In fact, a recent study found that over 50% of all emails are now opened on mobile devices. To ensure that your emails are seen by your customers, make sure they’re optimized for mobile devices.

From an email marketing design perspective, get up to speed with the three clear email design concepts for 2023:

Interesting: play with beautiful illustrations, animate, and spread the gift of GIFS.

Adaptable: pair imagery to your audience – one person’s evening wear is another’s casual. Show all possibilities.

Accessible: how we use the internet is always changing, as approximately 70% of consumers prefer to do their research online, instead of asking people in person.

So ask yourself, how can I optimise my mobile friendly marketing?

5.Privacy Conscious

As GDPR is still an important issue that’s arguably bigger than the jungle, 2023 sees a growing concern about how our data is used. Focus, therefore, on enticing and transparent ways of collecting and storing customer data.

6. AI for Email

There is a new monkey in town. Hello chatbots! AI and machine learning combine to develop email chatbots; automated emails reaching out to consumers with human-like interaction. AI is no longer a buzzword but becoming the everyday expectation. As well as bots, AI can aid email segmentation – streamlining your marketing and targeting niche audiences. AI is growing so watch this space!

How to Track Your Email Marketing Results

It’s important to track the results of your email marketing campaigns so that you can see what’s working and what’s not. There are several tools that you can use to track your email marketing results, such as Google Analytics and Mailchimp. By tracking your results, you can adjust your campaigns to improve your results. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

To close, here’s a quick low down on the best email marketing platforms for 2023

Six Best Email Marketing Software of 2023, from New York-based Investopedia:

  1. Best Overall: Mailchimp
  2. Best for Automation: ActiveCampaign
  3. Easiest to Use: MailerLite
  4. Best All-in-One Marketing Suite: Hubspot
  5. Best Affordable Option: Moosend
  6. Best for E-commerce: Drip

By following these trends, you can create email marketing campaigns that are more effective and engaging in 2023. Good luck.

Sources – Further Reading