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Interview with Tandem Digital founder Siobhán Tyrrell

Ask the Experts

22 June 2017

Posted by Ana Maria Nica

Hi Siobhán, tell us about yourself in a few words. 

I'm the founder of Tandem Digital, a digital agency based in Leith, Edinburgh. I got into digital before Google was around due to a love of tech, a curious mind and happy accident.  I still love the digital space and am continually amazed at the rate of change and what’s possible.  

Talk us through a successful campaign you’ve worked on

We work across different sectors but we like to think our success is based on being able to merge both creative and analytical thinking. One brand that we’ve been working with since it started in 2016 is Chapter London. Despite only launching in January 2016, it has become a leading student accommodation brand for London, attracting students from around the world. It’s a real pleasure to work with a company who has such a great appreciation of the importance of imagery in communicating brand. 

What image trends will dominate social media in 2017?

One of the biggest movement that we’re seeing can be summed up by one word; authenticity.  Visual peeks into the real lives or real people is what social media is all about, and brands are all over this movement.  After a decade of the filtered, there’s a real appreciation for the true moment… or at least the curated true moment.   

We’re also seeing a demand for images that challenge stereotypes. This is especially the case for female images. Strong is the new beautiful. Pictures of women working out, active, in challenging landscapes or circumstances are more prevalent.

We’re also picking up on a move towards simple and striking patterns in the everyday landscape. Usually the treatment is stark to underline the pattern. Very often the feel is more “gritty” and “grimy” in texture with the composition having an interesting perspective e.g. from above or from the side.

Video continues to be hot everywhere, on every device, immediately accessible and in real time.  Instagram’s stories with 250 million users is a perfect indication of our voracious appetite for the moving image.

What advice do you have for integrating visuals in content marketing strategies?

Strong visual imagery is a must for any brand operating in a competitive and noisy environment. And these days that’s just about every brand. With so much stimulation clamouring for our attention, the stand out visual is vital. It takes 150ms to process and image and a further 100ms to attach meaning to it. It’s much faster than for words, so investing in strong imagery is a definer of a content marketing strategy. Be very clear about your brand’s visual language and make sure every campaign meets strict criteria – go for consistency and impact for sustainable results. 

Which common mistakes do content creators need to avoid?

  1. Creating content for the sake of it. Everything that is created needs to have an objective and context. With any strategy we start with a 5C discovery process – Customer, Competition, Company, Collaborators, Context. We tend to create defined content streams for clients each with their own clear processes, objectives, timings and promotional strategy.  

  2. Creating content which is a bit “So What”.  We are all swamped in content. Much of it mediocre.To get it noticed you really need to be creating content that’s not only better, it’s 10x better.  Understand what the need of the audience is and address it comprehensively. Don’t rely on regurgitating already existing material, look for other angles and sources which are not on a quick Google search

  3. Falling in love with the content at the expense of the outcome. Everyone needs a good Editor. Don’t be precious about the phrases or images you love. Look at it from the audience perspective and be ruthless in your pursuit of quality.

  4. Not measuring. Before starting, marketers should ask a simple defining question; “What would success look like?” This clarifys strategy and allow the setting of metrics that’ll provide insight and learning.

Aside from your own work, what’s the strangest, or most memorable campaign you’ve ever seen?

A content campaign that really chimed with me in the last few months was Pretty Curious. The campaign encourages girls to explore future careers in Science, Technology and Maths (STEM) and was part of EDF Energy’s  sponsorship of the Edinburgh Science Festival. (We really are the world's festival capital!)  The campaign included interactive content and TV ads. Its success was in merging the the aspirational woman and the girls just like me to show girls that the attraction of STEM as a career.

Your #1 Tip for visual storytelling.

Starting with an empathy for your audience will help create impactful stories. If you understand the audience you understand how to communicate with them. Keep them front and center in everything.


"Love this picture of a Scottish scene of lots of everyday life with the tranquillity of the mountains and water."

"Love this picture of a Scottish scene of lots of everyday life with the tranquillity of the mountains and water." Read less

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Jacqueline Davidson

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"As soon as the sun makes an appearance I Edinburgh there’s a rush to any grassy place to chill. This is a familiar scene and shows off the city and its people."

"As soon as the sun makes an appearance I Edinburgh there’s a rush to any grassy place to chill. This is a familiar scene and shows off the city and its people." Read less

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"Love this image of a Rajasthani Fort. Beautiful ornate stairs leading to a closed door. "

"Love this image of a Rajasthani Fort. Beautiful ornate stairs leading to a closed door. " Read less

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