Dark Angels Note 77

Dearest Friends,

Welcome back to our weekly Dark Angels Note. Today we say thank you to brand writing supremo, Jo Lilford, for her bang tidy answer in this week’s note.


1. Tell us about something you’re working on right now. 

Ooh, hello!

Well interestingly, this has been the year my little Welsh outfit worked on some little Welsh projects, for the first time. I seem to attract a lot of international clients, but this year some Welsh brands have come asking for a hand with brand strategy, narrative, messaging and voice. I’ve been working with a wonderful team on the new brand for Amgueddfa Cymru – Museums Wales. A hugely under-rated national institution of seven sites that reflect diverse aspects of Welsh life for centuries, all free and amazing. I’ve helped them to find a voice that befits and reinforces their new brand, which is top secret and launches very soon. I’ve been helping their team get comfy using a cohesive voice, too.

Then there’s Ogi, a Welsh challenger brand in super-duper full-fibre broadband that’s going to beat the big internet guns at their own game. I  worked on the brand strategy and voice, but the thing I loved most was coming up with the name, after contemplating connection: stand in any Welsh stadium and listen what happens when someone shouts Ogi! Ogi! Ogi! Thousands of people connect in an instant, irrespective of background, team, age or anything else. It makes me shiver – in a good way – to think about that feeling.

And I’m just starting on a project developing the brand positioning, narrative and voice for National Theatre of Wales, which I’m giddy about. I feel heartened that our cultural institutions are so focused upon the people and communities of Wales as their starting point and that our national spirit is so culturally open, too. The lazy old tropes about Wales being a sleepy backwater have never been less true – there’s some unbelievably creative and progressive work going on here, it’s exciting.


2. Can you recommend something for us to read?

There is a single book I’ve had to replace due to overuse: Brian Patten’s Love Poems anthology. A book I bought as a sixteen year old, falling hard in and out of love for the first time. Its poignancy still makes me ache, inwardly. I still imagine pulling my heart out from beneath my overcoat and flinging it across the park railings, almost 40 years later.

But if you’d like a regular dose of rich encouragement and delight, subscribe to @feastsandfables weekly newsletter. It arrives at teatime on a Sunday, just in time to set your inspiration dial to 10 for the week. My other weekly indulgence is Nick Parker’s Journal of Messy Thinking, which is just brilliant and makes me giggle and you ought to know about already as he had these very boots on, just a few weeks back.


3. What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever read or received?  

Actually, it was quite straightforward: ’Jo, you can write.’ It came from fellow Dark Angel Neil Baker. I was his client. It made me completely re-evaluate what I was doing to pursue something I wanted to do, rather than things other people wanted me to do because it was convenient for them. It wasn’t even that long ago.


4. Share one thing you do when you get stuck.

Is it now that I have to admit I’m the Dark Angels digital sandwich board? Neil got question 3 and now Jamie Jauncey and Andy Milligan get the kudos for question 4. I resort to Dark Angels exercises, cross my heart, absolute truth. Love me a bit of constraint – like, start the next sentence with a number ( I usually choose nine or four, no idea why) which I learned on the very first course I signed up for, in bleak, beautiful Northumberland.

The other thing I do is album walks. I pick an album that’s new or forgotten, plug in and go for a stride. I’m not allowed to stop walking till I’ve listened to the whole thing, as albums are supposed to be heard, yet seldom are in these days of instant gratification and digital shuffling. It unearths all sorts of wonder, like contemplating whether David Sylvian is the only person ever to get the word inexorably into a pop song. Do let me know if there are others. Music and the outdoors are a terrific starting pistol.


5. What’s your desert island book and why? 

I have a Kindle. I don’t love it, is the honest truth, but it does serve as a useful record of what I’ve actually read, or in this case, haven’t. This book is like a reminder of my fallibility and weakness as a reader as it taunts me, year in/year out from the ‘Unread Books’ section. It’s George Eliot’s Middlemarch. I’ve started it about 9 times and never reached the end. Everyone bangs on about how bloody brilliant it is and I just don’t get it. Perhaps in a different context I might see it anew and feel differently. I don’t like this choice, but I’ve never been one to choose the easy route: I’ll run with it.


Thank you, Jo. What great energy in those answers! I’m sure someone among the DA fam will be able to persuade you of Middlemarch’s charms (but alas not this editor ☺️).


Seasons’ Greetings

If you haven’t got round to getting your copy of Seasons’ Greetings just yet, there’s still time. It’s a flawless book in every way; writing, design and production. A limited edition, numbered and signed for £40, it makes for a very thoughtful gift. Get yours here.

Dark Angels Gatherings

Our Tuesday night gatherings are off and running once again. Same time as before (7.00-8.00pm in the UK), but with a new Zoom link. If you fancy an hour of connection and reflection in the company of other Dark Angels, you’d be very welcome; bring a friend too.

Be well, keep reading, keep writing and know that we’re always here..

From everyone at Dark Angels

Also published on Medium.