Design recipe: add interest, get engagement

Refugee Week brochure: a graphic design case study

How we kept the brochure’s visual design high for a second year in a row, ensuring that the focus remained on helping the beneficiaries of the week’s campaign.

In a nutshell…

Upbeat Communities partnered with us again to design the Refugee Week brochure for the campaign in Derby.

We have worked closely with Upbeat in the past, so it was good to pick things up again for a cause we believe in and we knew we could look forward to good communication built through previous projects.

Overall, we built off the previous design, planned updates and revisions with the Upbeat team and gave input on printing and how to present it online.

A little bit about Upbeat Communities

Upbeat is one of our longest and most dedicated clients, choosing to partner with us when we first arrived in Derby. It is a Christian charity that exists to help refugees settle and rebuild their lives in the UK. Here’s what it says:

Upbeat Communities provides support to refugees and asylum seekers at different stages of their journeys. We address the needs of those newly arrived in the UK, as well as supporting those who have been through the asylum process and have been granted refugee status. We work primarily in Derby, with some projects extending into Derbyshire. Our work falls into three categories: welcome, empowerment and awareness.
— Our work

You can find out more about Upbeat and its work at

Sam at Upbeat approached us to provide some specialist graphic design support for this recurring project.

The before

Upbeat’s communications officer, Sam, has come on a long way in this role since we first met him, growing his skillset.

However, there are some jobs that are outside of his capabilities, which is why he approached us for the specialist graphic design layout of the booklet.

Our brief was to take last year’s design, give it a refresh and make it different for this year’s campaign, updating the content as provided by Upbeat.

The after

Time freed up

By allowing us to take care of the specialist graphic design, it freed up Sam to focus on other important tasks in preparing for Refugee Week.

Not only that, but Sam had all his ongoing responsibilities, so being able to delegate a vital task like this key piece of publicity with confidence was important.

Often you might well be able to do something with enough time, space and practice.

However, these are luxuries when time is against you, so the peace of mind and time saved by using an expert pay off.

Tricks up our sleeves

In the course of the project, we were able to give Sam a bit of off the cuff advice about how to showcase the Refugee Week booklet online.

We made Sam aware of Issuu as a good platform for hosting the booklet, allowing people to browse it digitally. As you can see from Sam’s comment, it allows you to analyse impressions and read times.

Simon, I've taken your recommendation of using Issuu and it looks great! Apparently it's been read 53 times online so far, with an average read time of 3 mins 11 seconds!

N.B. Issuu has just changed the functionality of its basic plan so that you can’t generate an embed code directly in the app. However, you can get around this via

So what?

General business and marketing thinking says be good in your niche and don’t try to do everything.

This project with Sam at Upbeat is a good example of this.

It’s tempting for a small business or charity which is buoyed up by exciting projects to think that it can do everything in house.

It may do down the line, but using good judgement to call in experts at the right time will reap rewards.

Upbeat may well expand Sam’s department in time to be able to handle more specialist graphic design and desktop layout projects, but on this occasion we were able to partner effectively together to get the results the charity was looking for.

The Apple Yard provided an excellent service for the official Derby Refugee Week booklets. Their eye for design was key to presenting lots of information in an accessible, creative way. We love working with them because they offer fantastic customer service, graphic design expertise and a personalised approach to work.
— Sam, Upbeat Communities


Overall, this project went very well, and Sam’s testimonial above attests that. In terms of surprises or things we have taken away:

Simplifying refinements

Getting feedback and customer buy-in to designs is a very important part of the creative process. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so it can become a difficult, subjective process.

To help with this, we have done work on simplifying the feedback process - we are currently trialling using direct feedback via feedback instead of online, digital forms.

We’ve also pared down the supporting, explanatory text with the feedback forms to make the parameters clearer and avoid distractions from the designs themselves.

Where there is a Google, there is a way

This one was a bit of a shock - in writing up this case study, we have discovered that Issuu has changed it’s basic (free) plan.

Issuu used to be an excellent way to upload and generate embed code to host publications (like brochures, booklets or portfolios) on a website.

However, Issuu has now disabled the ability to generate the embed code directly from the web app.

Thankfully, where there is a Google, there is a way.

A quick search on Google reveals that allows you to generate an embed code (basically an iframe) by pasting in your Issue link.

Pasting the link directly into a LinkedIn article works too, and without the need for an embed code.

If that’s gone over your head, look out for an upcoming cheatsheet on this workaround.

CSS hacks

This one’s a bit more technical, and again discovered while writing this up. If you want to style an inline quote in the body of a Squarespace blog or page, you need to target:


If you want to target one of the drag and drop blocks that can be added via the ‘teardrops’, you need to target:


And you?

If you’d like to find out more about our branding work (which includes graphic design), do check out our branding page.