Author: Elizabeth Willis

Manchester Flower Festival 2023

During the Spring Bank Holiday, I had the priviledge of representing the RHS at the annual Manchester Flower Festival. 

Over the weekend, our main focus was promoting tickets to RHS Flower Show Tatton Park and encouraging visitors to explore the beautiful RHS Garden Bridgewater in Salford. Our stand was a collaborative effort with Northern Flower, a local florist based in the Northern Quarter of Manchester. Their stunning floral displays were, inspired by the history of the city and in celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community.

The flower festival was a huge success for the RHS, with hundreds of people taking photos in front of our flower wall. We handed out over 400 packs of free sunflower seeds to children… or anyone who wanted some!

It was also lovely to hear from so many RHS Members about their love for Bridgewater and Tatton, and the RHS’s increasing presence in the North. I felt very proud to work for a charity which does so much for the local community!

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023

This year, I had the privilege of being part of the team working at RHS Chelsea Flower Show – the world’s most famous flower show! As a member of the Brand Team, it was extremely rewarding to see our new brand come to life at the show. 

Preparation for the Chelsea starts months in advance. I worked closely with our design studio and RHS Shows teams to create all the RHS-branded touchpoints, and it was wonderful to see the success of our collective efforts. The vision for the new RHS brand was to infuse it with more vibrancy, youthfulness and excitement – which our bright purple assets certainly achieved. It was especially exciting to receive praise from our department director and the RHS Council.

Our core focus at the showground was leading two photoshoots. I organised our professional photoshoot on Monday, coordinating with model agencies to hire two fantastic models who embodied the RHS brand. On Tuesday, our dedicated small team scouted members of the public to capture enjoying the show. Both shoots were a huge success; we captured an extensive variety of on-brand images, which will be key in promoting future RHS Chelsea Flower Shows in 2024 and beyond.

My two days at Chelsea were hugely enjoyable and professionally fulfilling. Seeing our brand flourish at such an iconic event, after many months of hard work, was a truly unforgettable experience! 

RHS Malvern Spring Festival 2023

To kick off the 2023 show season, I had the opportunity to visit RHS Malvern Spring Festival in the Midlands. It was my first time at the show, and I was impressed by its size and popularity, as well as its beautiful location at the foot of the Malvern Hills.

I spent a day at the showground conducting an extensive branding review. The festival is unique at the RHS; it has been run in partnership with the Three Counties since 1985. As part of the new RHS brand, Malvern Festival was given its own identity – the vibrant blue from the main brand, combined with its own unique master pattern and a rhododendron botanical. It was fantastic to see how impactful the new brand was onsite, and how cohesively all the assets worked together. 

Following the show, I created a brand review to present back to the Brand and Shows Marketing teams. After collating our feedback, we’ll be sharing this presentation with the RHS Shows and Three Counties departments, recommending our improvements for 2024.  

Winter lifestyle shoot at RHS Garden Bridgewater

In January 2023, I had the amazing opportunity to visit RHS Garden Bridgewater for the first time, on set for a winter lifestyle photoshoot. 

I organised the shoot, working with model agencies to hire two sets of professional models for the day — two friends and a family with two daughters. The aim of the shoot was to capture people enjoying the garden during its “off-season”, showcasing it as a great choice for a winter day out. We were extremely lucky with the weather – after a rainy start, the sun blazed through the clouds and shone all afternoon. 

First, we asked the two friends to explore the beautiful colours and textures of the walled Paradise Garden, one of the highlights of Bridgewater. In the afternoon, we went over to the Woodland Play area with the family, which the children absolutely loved. We were even visited by an inquisitive robin — no doubt used to the gardeners digging up tasty worms!

The models were fantastic, and we almost took too many images for our photographer to edit. The final photos looked brilliant in our winter campaigns and social posts, and played their part in Bridgewater reaching a huge milestone in May 2023: on the garden’s second birthday, they welcomed their 1 millionth visitor!

Photoshoot at RHS Glow 2022

In November 2022, I organised my first photoshoot on behalf of the RHS brand team. 

In preparation, I created a survey which I shared with local RHS Members and garden visitors, collecting volunteers to model in the shoot. We selected a family of four and two couples/a group of friends – two target audiences for our Glow campaigns. 

Capturing RHS Glow comes with its own unique set of challenges. As our photographer explained to me, even hundreds of years of camera development can’t always replicate what millions of years of evolution have done for our eyes! 

On the day of our photoshoot, the event was already open, which meant setting up shots around a stream of visitors. Whilst the misty weather created a gorgeous atmosphere in the garden, it did pose some technical challenges for our photographer. It was also our first time shooting with younger children — who were not used to standing very still in front of the camera with a slow shutter speed! 

However, great teamwork helped us overcome these difficulties and the shoot was both a huge success and a great learning opportunity. We captured some amazing photographs to use in marketing the event for 2023, but also took away some key ideas for future shoots. For example, for shoots we think might be more challenging, we’ll hire professional models who have more experience on set. And when working with families and younger children, it’s helpful to have a secret pack of Haribo to hand…

FRA Student Guidebook 2022

As part of our marketing efforts to encourage our applicants to enrol with us, we created a Student Guidebook for offer holders aged 18+. It contains useful and fun information including apps to help with their studies, local lunch spots and travel tips. To create the guide for 2022, I edited and updated a previous version written by one of our students when she was at the Academy.

Once the content was up-to-date, I redesigned the layout of the guidebook using Adobe InDesign. The Guidebook was then sent out to everyone who holds an offer to study for an undergraduate degree or Level 4 diploma at the FRA in September.

FRA Online Course Guide 2022-23

Following the launch of our new online courses in 2022, I adapted our current prospectus to create an Online Course guide. It includes all the pages from the main prospectus that would be relevant to a student studying remotely at the FRA, as well as information specific to our online course offering.

See the FRA Online Course Guide 2022-23

On Your FRAdar – FRA Internal Staff Newsletter

In October 2021, I supported the Business Development Team with the creation of the first FRA internal newsletter. I wrote the newsletter content using the information provided by the newsletter reps from each department at the Academy. Using Adobe InDesign, I designed a fun and engaging layout for the newsletter, to encourage staff to read it and help promote internal communications across the Academy.

FRA Prospectus 2022-23

Part of my role at the Fashion Retail Academy is the management of the Prospectus project every year. I source, edit and write the content to be included in the prospectus, working with teams across the Academy.

During the summer of 2021, I also created the graphic design for the 2022-23 Prospectus using Adobe InDesign. When the project was complete, I worked with our printing agency to make sure the final products were printed to our specifications and budget. We printed 3,000 copies in two print runs, in October 2021 and January 2022.

See the full copy of the FRA Prospectus 2022-23

FRA Tone of Voice Guidelines

When I started at the Fashion Retail Academy in June 2021, my first task was to create the Tone of Voice guidelines. I researched other brands I thought had a strong Tone of Voice and used their guides as inspiration to create my own. I wrote the guidelines for the FRA and then designed the document using Adobe InDesign.

After sharing the guide with the rest of my marketing team, I continue to be the guardian of our tone of voice, making sure all our marketing communications follow the specifications.