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In 2016, there were an estimated 1.69m individuals employed in design roles across the UK economy, according to a Design Council report. The same study estimates that there were more than 73,000 ‘design-intensive’ firms in the UK in 2017, an increase of more than 60 per cent since 2010.

The UK ranks fourth in the world for design exports and exports 50 per cent more design than it imports. And in 2015, the total value of exports (both goods and services) in which UK design had made a key contribution was £48.4bn, representing 7 per cent of total UK exports that year.

With such a strong economic footing, the design industry needs to nurture creativity more by giving and creating more opportunities for students to gain work experience.

Next year will be 20 years since I graduated from Salford University. My time of graduating and getting my first job in the property marketing sector, could not have been better timed. Around 2003 it seemed every college and University was doing a graphic design course. Which meant 3-4 years later the entire sector was saturated with budding graphic designers all hunting and going for the same jobs, most of them with the same qualification, but differing portfolios and skill sets.

This led to the average wage for graphic designers going down and more ‘less creative’ roles to fill, as companies were employing in house designers, where they hadn’t previously. The industry started to become damaged, and good creative graduates were being driven out of the sector never to return.

Over my 20 years as a professional designer, I’ve interviewed and worked with a large number of designers with varied creativity. Some of the most exciting and creative people weren’t always the ones with the ‘first class honours’. For a portfolio to have bags of character, (as well as the person presenting it) it doesn’t just come from a qualification, it comes from experience. It is estimated that about 50 per cent of design employees are educated to degree level.

I started in the design industry when I was just 13 years old, (slave labour in Wigan was still about in the late 80’s). From that very early age I was picking up experience in interior design, graphic design, printing and sign writing. All of which defined me as the business owner I am today. Without the open arms of the businesses that let me work there at weekends, after school and in holidays, I know I would not be where I am today. The business owners, all of which I will never forget and am eternally grateful to, made time for me to to develop as a designer. All of these skills, physical and mental, are still used today.

Whenever we have the opportunity to develop a student through work experience, we jump at the chance. It’s a way of us giving back to the industry. During the time spent with us they will grow their skills and grow their portfolio with ‘commercial’ work, this is key to a more rounded designer, experience. Forget the fancy courses and high grades, their portfolio is a barometer of their creativity, and you can only have a truly ‘rounded’ set of work and skills with experience. I’m not saying don’t go to university, but a student shouldn’t think grades are the only thing they should be bringing to a business. We need talent sure, but ‘real’ talent, that comes with experience.

Therefore it is so important to nurture talent through experience, not just qualifications for the benefit of the person, the industry but also the economy.

Phoebe Rowe who is studying Graphic & Communication design at the University of Leeds has just completed a 3 month placement with us, and not only have we gained commercially from her time here, but she has also gained skills and developed as a designer. Phoebe explains:

“When beginning my 3-month placement at Blaze Marketing, the main thing I wanted to take away was not only a variety of work for my portfolio but an insight into how a fast paced and professional studio works. I had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects including branding, brochures, web design, digital marketing, map drawing, and much more. I think it’s safe to say I have covered everything.”

“Not only have my design skills but also my confidence and communication skills improved largely. At the start of this internship I was working in a very ‘student’ style, which has definitely been refined, adding potential use and value to my work.”

“One of the most interesting things I have learnt in my time at Blaze Marketing is how to approach and communicate a project through pitches to a client, whether this is communicating a new brand or web design etc. This has expanded my knowledge, which I will be able to transfer across all areas of design and marketing as a future designer.”

“My time here has been so valuable for me and I’ve learned skills and approaches I would never have learned in University. I can’t underestimate how this experience will help once I start work.”

(Source: The Design Economy 2018, Design Council)

Article written by Kevin Whitter – Creative Director of Blaze Marketing Ltd. Manchester 2019

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Blaze Marketing celebrate 5th year in business !

Blaze Marketing celebrate their 5th year in business with another great party !

The annual party, now a must in diaries of the great and the good in the property industry, saw a large turnout to help celebrate the success and gratitude from the Blaze team for the ongoing support.

Daniel Bourmad, co-founder, said “Our annual party really is an event people look forward to, and kicks off the Christmas season in style. The party is a way of showing our thanks, as we are very grateful to all our new and old clients who continue to support us. We’re always trying to improve our services and grow our client base, and 2018 has been another successful year in this respect”.

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Manchester-based property design and marketing agency Blaze has secured a plethora of new clients.

The company, which earlier this year moved to new offices at the Ironworks on South King Street, has secured numerous high-profile instructions from the likes of Hurstwood Holdings, King Street Commercial, Braemar Estates and Trebor Developments.

Blaze has also led on the design and production of a number of scheme-led marketing collateral in recent months for clients including The House Crowd, Chorley Council, M&G Real Estate, Quorum Developments and Leeds Federated.

Daniel Bourmad, who co-founded Blaze Marketing, said: “When we launched five years ago, we set out to capitalise on our unique sector experience. Our industry knowledge combined with unrivalled creativity and strategic marketing capabilities has enabled us to carve a niche and set ourselves apart from the competition.

“We set out our vision when we launched and have focussed on maintaining that unique place in the market which has been extremely successful for us.”

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Blaze Marketing have moved to new Manchester offices part of their expansion plans.

Blaze Marketing has moved to spacious, new, loft-style offices in The Ironworks on South King Street in Manchester city centre to accommodate a growing team and increasing workload from property sector clients.

Graphic Designer Richard McLeod is the newest Blaze recruit, specialising in brand identity and print. Formerly with Neville Johnson, Richard brings high end innovative design experience to the Blaze service offering.

Creative Director Kevin Whitter commented: “Richard has a passion for illustration and photography which, combined with his branding experience at Neville Johnson, makes him an ideal fit for our team. He is already contributing to our bespoke full service solution for clients – from the initial branding of a property right through to its on and offline supporting collateral.”

Blaze now employs five full-time staff and is the only property marketing specialist in the North West to have a qualified chartered surveyor working alongside creative professionals.

Co-founder and RICS-qualified Daniel Bourmad provides clients with a uniquely-informed perspective on what it takes to succeed in the sector.

Fuelling expansion at the agency is a cluster of high profile contract wins including Summers Quay for Cavendish Property Developments in Stalybridge. Blaze has been working on the £8million scheme of 67 one and two-bedroom apartments which is part of the stylish canal-side commercial and resi mix development.

Kevin again: “We developed a detailed strategic plan for the site including a brand, brochure, signage, marketing suite and website and am delighted to say a third of the apartments were pre-let in the first month of release – six months prior to practical completion.”

Katy Davison, Marketing Manager from end client New Charter Group, said: “The Blaze team are incredibly creative, professional and enjoyable to work with. They’ve really understood the brief from day one and been able to deliver on all aspects of our marketing and design needs and we’re looking forward to turning further leads into sales.”

Thorngrove Land & Property is another client benefiting from a high quality marketing campaign of signage, brochures and website from Blaze in support of Copper Beeches – an exclusive development of four luxury homes in Sandbach.

Tailored promotional work for urban space developers McCauls on the Warehaus Ancoats site has also kept the agency busy. This intimate development of just 32 properties set around its own landscaped courtyard includes a converted warehouse, two rows of new town houses and apartments with their own front doors.

Kevin commented: “This is a particular mix of character and new which needed a host of marketing tools to give it a strong identity in the market.”

Blaze has also recently won a project in Wolverhampton to help developer Black Acres market its first ever city centre office block conversion to residential. Blaze named the scheme Belvedere Residence and created a stylish brand, marketing brochure, website, animation and signage as well as a full launch campaign.

Daniel concluded: “We recently celebrated four years in the market and are really pleased with progress and excited about what 2018 will bring. We certainly have the people, skills and surroundings to increase our national client base, add further value to our current clients and enable further significant growth this year.”

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The Blaze team took part in Roughrunner’s 10k run with 20 “Total Wipeout” obstacles in a very wet, windy and muddy Cheshire yesterday. Despite the conditions, we made good time swimming through rivers, helping each other up ropes, and pushing each other throughout the run and up the dreaded final Travelator ! This picture sums up the strength of our team…..

It was great fun, and an amazing experience, and done in the name of charity for the Mariposa Trust (you can still contribute to help us reach our target at : ). The primary function of the charity is to support anyone who have been affected by the loss of a child at any stage of pregnancy, at birth or in infancy.

Despite everyone being in a bit of pain today, we’re talking about signing up again next year !


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Blaze Marketing have recently increased the team and appointed Benazeer Singh as the new Account Manger focusing on our residential marketing offer. Over the course of the past year we have experienced positive and continued growth and one of the key areas where future expansion has been identified is the residential market, which has led to our most recent appointment. Being based in Manchester and offering strategic marketing resources to property companies around the UK, we have decided to push our services to the residential sector too. Due to market trends and economic statistics we see a need for creative marketing campaigns to stand out from competing schemes.

There seems to be a flurry of constant statistical and economic detail regarding the UK housing market, whilst although saying different things, all point to one major fact, a shortfall in affordable housing. The term affordable housing perhaps has changed in modern times. It does not necessarily mean governmental schemes or social housing for those on low income, more so general housing that is simply affordable for the nation to get on to the property ladder. Various schemes under the governments ‘Help To Buy’ initiative – ‘First buy equity loans’ and ‘Shared ownership’ are just some of the ways the government has tackled this so called issue, but even though this may be helping, the UK is inevitably short of available properties.

The government has made various announcements. Last month they set a target of building 1 Million homes by 2020 with the current housing minister Gavin Barwell stating ‘We need to do better’ as only 150,000-170,000 homes are being built each year. Even though the average requirement being 200,000 homes per year, analysts still believe the shortfall is greater due to the current demand being set at around 300,000.

Last week the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, in his Autumn Statement said £3.7billion would be allocated to building more than 140,000 homes across the UK. The government has also agreed to spend £1.4billion on affordable housing and this could lead to 40,000 more affordable homes being built.

With the clear message that there is a lack of available housing what are the other identifiable facts that also point to the rise within the residential market over the coming years and also its effect within the North West.

Scarcity Of Land For Development:

One of the major issues is where to build the required housing to keep up with the demand for residential homes. Land is becoming less readily available and there is an increased pressure by a number of committees such as various developers and the GMCA (Greater Manchester Combined Authority). The GMCA are working alongside Greater Manchester’s 10 local planning authorities to identify the right land within the right places so that homes, jobs and the required infrastructure can be delivered up to 2035. The overall reaction to their housing master plan, the GMSF (Greater Manchester Spatial Framework), has focused on the proposed release of 3% of the city-region’s Green Belt area. With the added pressure also coming from developers the government looks set to give way to release more protected Green Belt zones to ease the pressure of demand and control the required supply for residential housing.

Economic Climate & Foreign Investment:

One of the more pivotal issues has been the recent Brexit movement that resulted in a fall in the GBP.  Whilst this fall has put a strain on the UK economy, it has increased demand and value within the UK property market. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors back in October 2016 declared that ‘House prices rose at the fastest rate in seven months and it will continue to rise over the next 3 months as a result of a dire shortage of homes for sale’.

Lets not also forget the flurry of overseas institutional companies, funds as well as sole investment from buyers in China, USA and other countries that has resulted in a demand for good quality robust properties. Whilst the GBP is weak there has never been a better time for overseas investment to buy within the UK. Chancellor Phillip Hammond presented a proposal of a 13-scheme Northern Powerhouse portfolio to Chinese vice-premier Ma Ka part of the UK-China Economic & Financial dialogue. A £5Billion foreign investment has been outlined for projects within the North, with seven of them earmarked within the North Western regions.

New Generation Rent:

The Private Rented sector (PRS) or Build to Rent sector has had much press lately due to the fact that even though further housing is required not everyone may be able to afford getting onto the property ladder. As mentioned there have been various incentives and schemes to help first time buyers, but this does not initially solve the problem. A clear indicator is the fact that home ownership is the lowest it has been in 30 years. The introduction of developments where housing is purposely built for rent and not for sale has been greatly received not only by developers but also politicians and financiers. Heath Thomas the head of Real Estate Finance North West at NatWest, recently said that ‘The government needed to provide more clarity on how it would meet house building targets. An emphasis on low cost homes to rent would offer an alternative to those requiring houses who are not able to support a deposited finance structure or credit availability and also counter act against the shortfall of residential housing’.

Final Word:

The UK is entering unchartered territory. A clear shortfall in housing has been clearly identified. A high investment from overseas is inevitable. Pressure of utilising various Green Belt Zones for development and offering not only deposit structured support for house buyers but also facilitated rental only schemes, have illustrated the dynamic thinking to ease the pressure of the demand for housing.  It is also important to consider whilst some of the major UK house builders may be capitalising on this trend lets not forget the rest of the market. With an abundance of smaller projects coming out of the woodwork, potential smaller property businesses will thrive from the current trend hitting our UK property market – Great Britain its time to deliver !


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Expansion Sparks New Flame at Blaze Marketing


Manchester-based niche property marketing agency Blaze Marketing has appointed Benazeer Singh as the company’s new Account Manager.

The appointment coincides with the company’s 3rd year anniversary and follows a number of recent client wins including Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council, Together Group, Marshall CDP and Himor, as the agency looks to strengthen its positioning as one of best in the North West for property marketing. Since its inception in 2013, Blaze has tripled in staff numbers and now has 5 full time staff.  Turnover has also tripled from year 1 to year 3.

Prior to joining Blaze, Benazeer was a brand and product manager for Synergy Health, having worked in the healthcare sector for 13 years. Benazeer also has experience working within an advertising agency.

Benazeer Singh commented:

“I look forward to working closely with the team at Blaze and supporting them as the agency continues to grow. Daniel and Kevin have jointly earned an enviable reputation for their marketing expertise and deep sector knowledge, and together they have attracted some of the property sector’s leading brands.”

Daniel Bourmad, director and co-founder of Blaze Marketing, said:

“Since our launch in 2013, we’ve achieved a substantial market share and have grown significantly. Benazeer is a great addition to the Blaze family and will help us grow our already strong client base with a particular focus initially on the residential property sector. This is a critical next step in our journey to establish ourselves as the number one property marketing agency in the region.”

Kevin Whitter, creative director at Blaze Marketing added:

“As we reach the end of our third year of trading, we are excited to welcome Benazeer to our team and delighted that our clients continue to stay with us for our design flare, creative thinking and in-depth understanding of the property sector.”

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So – how was my first trip to MIPIM in Cannes ? Was it worth going to ? Did I get any business ? Was it expensive ?


These are the questions I’ve been asked and here are my answers.


As a MIPIM-Virgin I had heard about the international property event every year during my property career. Each year stories filter out, and myths become circulated around the rumour mills. Even the Easyjet flight magazine suggested it was rumoured to be “a big jolly for property folk”. Apparently more champagne is drunk during MIPIM than at the film festival !


4 days in Sunny Cannes with over 21,000 official delegates from 89 different countries and around 2,450 exhibitors must surely be chaotic and is it really necessary ? That’s not even mentioning the thousands of unofficial attendees like myself. I was determined to find out one way or the other and being able to justify my trip to my business partner !


We decided to represent our property marketing company by simply being there, being seen and networking at various events that I had been invited to as well as meet up with the many contacts that only work within half a mile of our city centre office.


A cheap early booking with easyjet and an extremely small couch in someone’s hotel room made it affordable so the scene was set to place ourselves on the international property stage. We had designed and printed branded maps of Cannes highlighted with the main meeting spots on for the NW contingents, which were given out on the main flights out, and around Cannes, so our brand was being promoted from the start.


The flight out was around 95% full of property people which in itself was a great networking opportunity to chat with clients, and others which were on the target list, but seemed otherwise difficult to meet with during the working week. Everyone seemed excited and some were regular MIPIM goers with advice on the best venues and places to go to whilst others were also venturing for their first time like me. This was the 27th year of MIPIM.


The networking started from sitting down on the plane chatting to the guys on my left and right. An attempt to get an invite on their yacht party was perhaps a little optimistic but was worth a go !


People make their way to MIPIM in various ways – Cycling from London, by train, boat, flights and cars. Just getting there seems to have become an event in itself.


Arriving in Cannes I met up with a good client who I took for a sunny lunch by the port.  Walking along the Croisette on the stunning coastline past hundreds of like minded property folk in suits it all became clear why it’s so popular. I mean why not ! The tree-lined boulevard was furnished with banners from Cushmans, CBRE, Savills and all the main global players and I couldn’t help thinking about the cost for these sponsorships. All the restaurants, yachts, hotels and bars had been taken over for the week by the various property firms hosting breakfasts, lunches and dinners for their clients and staff.


As we sat in the sun people-watching “SO THIS IS MIPIM” I thought. And I liked it !! Who wouldn’t.


My 2 day trip was partly filled with appointments set with existing clients, impromptu catch ups in the bars, and sponsored evening events. One meeting was set up with a company who saw a tweet about MIPIM we had sent, and they we’re looking for property marketing advice ! How fantastic – and a great opportunity was secured. Shame it was on the 2nd day which poured down non-stop. Although it dampened the setting, everyone were still in good spirits.


Throughout the first day I found the “Manchester Bar” which was full of people whom I bump into at lunchtimes on the street back home, but the main difference was obvious. Everyone was relaxed, and in a like-minded attitude of taking time to chat and not rush off. The next infamous venue became evident as I heard a roar of laughter from around the corner where hundreds of people were gathered standing outside in the sun – “Cafe Roma”. This is where it all happens I had heard. Instantly I saw several people I knew so there I stayed until my next appointment.


I didn’t have the access pass for the Palais where the exhibition stands were based for all the different cities, countries and companies representing their regions and services to the masses. I felt I missed out a bit but there were plenty of others that didn’t go in “the bunker” as its we’ll known.  Manchester had its biggest delegation this year with 99 different companies representing the city although through social media I managed to keep up with the numerous announcements being made throughout the trip. In fact the whole MIPIM event was amazingly well organised and co-ordinated. This place knew how to do MIPIM and in it’s 27th year it’s had enough practice.


Throughout the trip, relationships were strengthened and new contacts were made. I managed to speak with those people I knew only by name but had not had the opportunity of meeting beforehand. Promises of new business on my return were made and that for me meant I had succeeded with my MIPIM venture.

The networking continued on the return journey at the airport and on the plane.


The 2 day trip was actually quite exhausting, with little sleep and long days, but well worth it.


Did I get any business from it ? Well this will depend on me following up on my leads and conversations during the trip, but yes the opportunities arose and will hopefully pay off.


Would I go again ? I think the answer is Yes ! I don’t think I could do a full week without a lot of preparation and events in the diary, but a couple of relatively intense days worked well for me. Perhaps better planning next time when setting venues for meetings instead of running up and down the Croisette every couple of hours.


I can now join in the conversations about MIPIM and relate to the true meaning of its purpose. Is it a big jolly ? Well you can make of it what you want really but we all seemed to have a jolly good time !

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Blaze Marketing Expands its Team

David Gaskell

Niche property marketing experts, Blaze Marketing, has appointed David Gaskell as graphic designer in its Manchester office.

David will complement, and further strengthen, Blaze’s robust design and delivery credentials and will be based at the firm’s office on St Ann’s Street, central Manchester.

After successfully graduating from Leeds College of Art, where he studied graphic design, David went on to hone his design experience and capabilities with a range of roles at a number of design studios, including Manchester Solutions, MARK Studio, B&W Studio and, most recently, Creative Spark.

Through his previous design roles David has developed both a passion for creative branding and a strong design background in art direction, editorial and digital marketing.

David gained recognition at the YCN Student Awards 2013/14 for his work on a Nescafe Azera campaign.

Daniel Bourmad, Director at Blaze Marketing said;

“We are thrilled to welcome David to the Blaze team. He has achieved such a wide range of solid skills and experience within his previous design roles and he will be a hugely welcome addition to the Blaze family.

“Our services continue to expand as digital technology becomes the biggest player in our property campaigns. David’s skill-base adds further insight and experience to the team as our clients embrace our cutting edge digital marketing solutions.”

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We held our 2nd Anniversary party at Sub-Zero at Avalanche in Manchester. There was a fantastic turnout and the food and Blaze Cocktails flowed throughout the night, with DJ spinning the tunes!

We’re very proud of what we have achieved in such a short period of time, and really thankful of our supportive and growing clientbase, so a celebration and a thank you was the aim of the night.

Here’s a selection of some photos from the night ..

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