The Idea Seed

The Imperial Press concept started in the summer of 2014 when Oliver was searching for some interesting prints to add a little visual interest to his home. He’d seen a Victorian copy of ‘The Graphic’ within a cafe while on holiday, and thought it was not only a beautiful example of an engraving, but also a snapshot into life over one hundred years ago.

Oliver searched around to find an example for himself and happened to stumble upon a collection of original Victorian newspapers. The book was full of amazing images, but the accompanying stories were the thing that brought them to life! Finding one describing a ‘fungus society trip to Herefordshire’ – his home town – gave Oliver the opportunity to own a piece of history that was personal to him, and something he could really associate with. This was the spark that made him think other people might be interested in these prints, he just needed a way of setting up an eCommerce site… hence our first Business in a Day was born.

Preparation before the BiaD

We can all get hooked up on the smaller things, so Oliver decided to get these out of the way before the day. He said it was like preparing for a fancy dinner – you need to make sure all the ingredients are there before you start cooking. His pre-BiaD ingredients included:

  • Name of business – this can take far too long and requires researching Companies House and web domain providers. Before the day we had bought the domain name and ensured it was available as a Limited company.
  • Competitor research – keep it brief.
  • Mission statement – the price, product, promotion, place (one liners)
  • Copyright issues – the business was selling reproduction prints, so we needed a little legal investigation
  • Four trial products – prototype prints and their info
  • Plan for the day – a clear instruction for the day, who was doing what, and what outcomes were required
  • Buying a reception bell – Forget the post-its; the purpose of the day was focused on doing and outcomes. We needed to rapid prototype ideas, concepts and creative solutions so all decisions were made in 30 seconds and ended with a ‘DING!’ on the reception bell!

Outputs from the day

The day went extremely quickly, but by the end of it we were all really pleased with the outputs. We had the bones of a complete business, with products ready for photoshooting, and four of them on the working website (mobile and desktop compatible) with the ability to continue populating the rest of the website in-house. Oliver could send the weblink out to people for review and user testing.

A complete brand was created, with accompanying tone of voice to be used in a targeted marketing campaign.

Supply chains for product packaging and logistics were found and included in a draft user journey for the customer.

Draft financial predictions were there, but more info was required to finalise.

Post BiaD to-do list

There were a few things left at the end of the day, with one particular area causing a knock on effect across the business. We were not 100% sure on the product framing, and because this was a fundamental product decision it meant that packaging, logistics and financials couldn’t be finalised on the day.

We held back on promoting via social networks (Twitter and Facebook) as we didn’t want to send people to a developing site – but posts were drafted before the official launch roughly two months after the day.
Populating the site with product after the event also produced a number of tweaks to the website design, but all were small rather than wholesale re-designs. Essentially, the site today is 95% the same as it was at the end of our Business in a day. You can see the site by going to

Lessons learned

As our first BiaD, we had underestimated the time to populate and snag the site – it would have been easier if Oliver didn’t have a day job! Oliver also greatly underestimated the time involved in getting people to the site. He thought once it was live people would come, but it actually requires continual pushing to get people to the site.

It was amazing to see how well a great team of designers can work together in a short space of time. By keeping focus and pushing quick decisions, we were able to output a complete working business in a very short space of time.

Oliver Tomlinson

Managing Creative Director, TDL-Creative

Gurus on the day

Assigning the different areas of the business to the most suited people; the dream team consisted of the following:

  • Becky ‘THE PRODUCT’ Wood – Outputs: four trial products printed and framed. Paper stock and framing supplier to be confirmed.
  • Pete ‘THE SHOP’ Meadows – Outputs: website and ecommerce designed and live, with ability to purchase products.
  • Craig ‘THE PACKAGE’ Melvin – Outputs: solutions for packaging different product variations. Costs and designs of packaging (e.g. repeat patterns and stickers).
  • Matt ‘THE LOGISTICS’ Standage – (because we could sing “Matt’s Logistics” like the well known logistics company!) Outputs: User journey through website and purchase, to packaging and final delivery. Costs and recommendations on delivery.
  • Dave ‘THE BRAND’ Stroud – Outputs: finalised logo, typefaces, colours, webpage design and storycard layout (each print comes with it’s news story as a separate booklet).
  • Francesca ‘THE MARKET’ Tomlinson – Outputs: Target areas for marketing (who, what, when, where), social networks, wordbank, tone of voice and copy for website.
  • Vicki ‘THE MONEY’ Tomlinson – Outputs: collection of costs from the team, including production, packaging, logistics and marketing. Forecasting and price setting.
  • Oliver ‘THE HEAD CHEF’ Tomlinson – Outputs: timekeeping, idea tasting, motivation, team feeding, decision making, time keeping.