Make Complex Simple

Make Complex Simple

Make Complex Simple locationAncoats, Manchester, Greater Manchester

(4 Reviews)

Make Complex Simple is a creative agency based in Manchester.

We clarify the complex for our clients, producing compelling creative ideas that surprise, engage and add value. These are delivered through our skills in design, brand development, literature, advertising, copy, web and animation.

So if you want to present your business case more effectively, we can help.

It’s as simple as that.

Make Complex Simple Reviews

Make Complex Simple Reviews

Review of Make Complex Simple by Susan Bailey
5 13/07/2015 Susan Bailey

Top guys - with me from the start of my business venture. I was clueless - they did everything, and made it simple for me to understand. They did an amazing job of creating my company image - how they ever deciphered my hastily scribbled notes I'll never know. They just seemed to be able to read my mind and what they came up with was perfect, and three years down the line still is!!
I would not hesitate in recommending them.

Review of Make Complex Simple by Chris Byrne
5 08/06/2015 Chris Byrne

The guys at made complex simple did a great job for me and my company. I used them when i was starting up the business and at the time underestimated the need and importance of a great looking brand, but these guys had the design of my logo, point of sale, stationary and website on point straight away. The brand image matches what what need to protray as a company perfectly, and now coming up to 4 years down the line looks just as current as it did then.
We will countinue to work with Make complex simple goin forward from here.

Review of Make Complex Simple by Gillian Nuttall
5 04/06/2015 Gillian Nuttall

I have known the guys at Make Complex Simple for a number of years. Back then I worked in law and they developed the most innovative campaign that I have ever been involved in. They just 'got it', right from the moment I met them. The campaign was a great success and attracted a lot of commentary from competition. I am no longer in the legal profession, but am looking forward to working with them again in my new role in the charity sector.

Review of Make Complex Simple by Kelly R-M
5 04/06/2015 Kelly R-M

Make Complex Simple delivers exactly what their name promises. Their work on our new branding and website has made a significant contribution to the visual transformation of our business over the last 12 months. From creative direction to technical know-how, their positive and responsive approach to problem solving has made my project managing the process much easier. Fun to work with too, I thoroughly recommend them.

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Make Complex Simple Location

The Flint Glass Works, 64 Jersey Street, Ancoats Urban Village, Manchester M4 6JW, UK

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Services provided by Make Complex Simple

Make Complex Simple Services


We’ll work with you to develop a brand identity that communicates clearly. Your new brand identity will be the result of thorough research and a detailed understanding of your business.

Web design

We create websites designed to appeal to customers and search engines. Because we understand that the world comes to the web from multiple devices, all sites we produce come with a responsive version.

Design for print

We are specialists in the design of stunning print that supports your marketing activities. We combine elegant design with precise artwork and carefully written copy to give your brand authority.


Devised to work across all media from digital to ambient, our work engages audiences, defines brands, raises awareness and elicits measurable responses.


Illustration helps to tell complex stories clearly, lending consistency to a campaign. Either commissioned or created by our team we can show you how to use illustration to enhance your communication.


The to-do list of written communications can sometimes feel endless. We can help you develop what to say, and how to say it, in the most effective way possible.


Animation is ideal for storytelling. Perfect for use in web videos it allows brands to get attention and communicate quickly. An explainer animation transforms a message, making it easy to understand.


Ideal for use on a variety of media but particularly popular on the web and social media, we design infographics that visually represent your information, data or knowledge in a compelling way.


Illustration is rubbish!

Creating fuel from waste is a great idea. But given that all the really clever stuff is hidden deep inside recycling plants, household waste sites and power stations, it’s a bit of a challenge to show it off. All of which makes it perfect as a subject for illustration. With this in mind we asked the lovely folk at Dust to produce this set of light hearted illustrations to show a variety of energy from waste technologies. And then we used them in a simple brochure for Balfour Beatty Energy and Waste.

Invite design served for Wimbledon

We were asked to put our invite design skills to good use and produce a posh invite for the 2011 Wimbledon Ladies Singles’ Final. We thought this would raise a smile and make the invite all the more memorable. The final invite design was printed by Windmill Printing on GF Smith Colorplan Pristine White using gold foil.

Animation achievements

Commissioned by Balfour Beatty Capital to celebrate their annual achievements, this lovely little 5 minute film features a character who we christened Archie. Archie hops, jumps, swims, drives, parachutes and flies his way through an imaginary world made up of thirty or so achievements. Unfortunately because the animation was for internal comms we can’t publish it online but there’s some stills to take a look at here. If you’d like to see the animation let us know and we can host it securely just for you.

Simple direct mail is the best

We produced this direct mail piece as a self-promotional item to send out to prospective clients. As well as helping us get to meet some new clients, it also won an award at the Roses Creative Awards 2012. Proving that simple ideas are often the best. Printed single colour and die-cut by Windmill Printing, Aberdeen on GF Smith Colorplan Pristine White.

The secret of success!

We’ve been working with Mansell to help them develop ‘Success Factors’, a brochure that describes what it takes to be a success in their business. For the brochure design we used a simple illustration style that allowed us to highlight the different behaviours in a consistent manner and bring the content to life in an interesting way.

Best Manc Ever! web design

Noel or Liam? Jack or Vera? Vote for your favourite Manc here. We devised this self-initiated identity and web design project to test a simple web based voting system. We think it has applications in other business sectors such as music, sport and film.

Happy anniversary!

Calderpeel is an architectural practice based in Altrincham. We were asked to use our literature design abilities to produce a book to help them celebrate ten years of successful architecture. Splitting the completed projects into 3 sections of City, Urban and Rural allowed us to break the content into manageable areas. Each area was designed with its own subtly different typography helping the reader to navigate through a large amount of content. The book also needed a cost-effective postage sleeve that protected the book during posting. We designed a solution that could be produced cheaply out of a single piece of corrugated box board while screenprinting the outer in white allowed for further branding.

Marketing – an infographic

Over the last 2 years Balfour Beatty has combined a number of operating companies to form CSUK. The marketing team asked us to produce a number of infographics detailing what they’ve been up to over this busy period.We love infographic work so we were very happy to oblige!

Our survey said? Excellent

When Mansell asked their 2000 staff members what they thought of the company they got an impressive 1580 responses. Unfortunately these responses then suffered a short but painful death by PowerPoint. Which meant that it was our task to resurrect the data from the survey and use our brochure design skills to create a compelling and coherent brochure for print and online distribution. Did we make complex simple? Have a look and see what you think.

Annual report captures a landmark year

Hitting a record turnover of £1 billion and making a profit of £34 million was a great achievement for construction firm Mansell. As a result we were asked to design and print the annual report for this landmark year for the company.

Student infographic

Apparently today’s students are a lot more discerning about where they live than their predecessors. Balfour Beatty Investments asked us to create an infographic that demonstrated their knowledge of this market. It’s fair to say that it’s a far cry from The Young Ones!

Imagine the possibilities – a design for print project

Imagine is a continually growing web based database that captures best practice in school design from around the world. It contains over 200 pieces of research and we were asked to create a piece of design for print to promote the site to a select audience of educators and commissioners. A series of questions and answers was an ideal way into this project, challenging the reader to consider their own attitudes to design for learning. These were supported by a variety of print processes such as foiling and die cutting which were used to breathe life into some great examples from the database. It was all wrapped up in an A6 interscrewed, French folded book. A lovely, simple piece of design for print.

The name’s simple…

These self-promotional postcards let us indulge our passions for James Bond, crap jokes, typography, illustration, graphic design and…ahem…Pacman. We liked them so much we thought we’d animate them as well.

Brochure design – a guide to student etiquette

Living away from home for the first time is an exciting experience. But to be honest it can be a bit scary as well. What to do? Where to go? How often should I wash my socks? Balfour Beatty tasked us to use our skills in brochure design to create a welcome guide for their brand new student accommodation at Aberystwyth University. The brochure design called for an engaging copy and illustration style that spoke directly but reassuringly to the target audience. Needless to say we had some fun with this one, bringing some of our own unique insights of student life to the party.

Poster design fundraiser

What does £15 buy you these days? Couple of cinema tickets? A pizza and a glass of wine? Or twenty minutes at a Premier League game? Well now it could buy you this beautiful signed and numbered A2 limited edition print of ‘Make Life Simple’, a poster design that we’ve been working on with Liverpool/London artist Peter McCabe. Printed CMYK by Identity Print, London on GF Smith Colorplan 175 gsm, we’ve got 400 of the 1000 edition to sell and all money raised will go to our favourite charity Rainbow House. All you have to do is click HERE, follow the instructions and donate a minimum of £15 per print inc. P&P (UK) or £25 (worldwide). Of course, you can donate more if you are feeling flush. Then the postie will bring your lovely poster design to you as quick as he can. Many thanks to Identity for printing the poster free of charge and to GF Smith for giving us the paper at cost. But most of all to Pete – one of life’s good ‘uns!

Creating corporate identity

Mott MacDonald’s uniquely diverse £1 billion global consultancy works across 12 core business areas. As one of the world’s largest employee-owned companies it has 14,000 staff, principal offices in nearly 50 countries and projects in 140. To mark their 20th anniversary, they asked us to help them to redesign their corporate identity and create an evolved marque that we hope will see them through the next twenty years of successful growth.

Presenting a new app design

Light, always on and highly portable, tablets such as the Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy open up a world of possibilities as a corporate presentation and sales tool. The iPad app design featured here was designed and built for Balfour Beatty and allows their business development managers to download up to date corporate information and case studies featuring the company’s work in a broad range of sectors.

Growing brand identity

Balfour Beatty plc was relaunching its Sustainability Roadmap and Vision to incorporate new targets for 2015. This was viewed as an opportunity to refresh the brand identity and we were invited to pitch for the project. Happily for us we were successful and the new brand identity has recently been launched across the company. In addition to the identity itself there were a number of additional requirements including multiple language versions of the Roadmap, User guide, magazine and case study handbook. A sub-brand named S-Innovation was also developed which allowed the company to detail its innovative work across the world and showcase best practice in sustainability to its employees and customers.

Great British design

Martin-Baker design and manufacture ejection escape systems designed to save aircrew life. The seats themselves are complex pieces of engineering with very precise performance statistics. We were briefed to produce a brand book that told the Martin-Baker story in a clear and engaging way so that a none technical audience could quickly and easily understand what the brand represents. The fact that these seats save lives was the ultimate proposition. To bring the brand to life we developed the ‘Designed…’ copy platform. This helped us detail the heritage, experience and skills of the company alongside the stories of those whose lives have been saved by Martin-Baker products. The larger format allowed commissioned photography and archived materials to enhance the Martin-Baker brand story, a truly brilliant story of Great British success. And highly deserving of a beautiful piece of design for print.

Print advertising campaign

Ralli Solicitors briefed us to create a print advertising campaign promoting their expertise in the specialised area of partnership law. The target audience is other solicitors and legal professionals experiencing difficulties in their current business partnerships. The campaign is running in trade magazines such as the Solicitors Journal.

Constructing brand guidelines

We’ve been busy helping Balfour Beatty deliver a consistent brand image for their UK construction services business. A significant requirement it demands close adherence to brand guidelines and the production of multiple brochures for a variety of brands with a close focus on quality, accuracy and timely delivery. Simple.

Website design for Make it Britain

Manufacturing in the UK is going from strength to strength. Hard-working, dedicated businesses who manufacture in Britain are the backbone of the sector. Their creativity, inventiveness and skills are the reason why the UK remains one of the world’s greatest manufacturing nations accounting for around 11% of our economy. To help sustain this growth and ensure that it is built on rock-solid foundations we created the identity and used our website design skills to design and build the website for Make it Britain, a campaign from EEF to celebrate, engage and challenge perceptions about UK manufacturing. And we did it all in record time! Visit the site at

Illustration for regeneration

The brief for the 2012 regeneration report from Balfour Beatty Capital was clear. Create a simple book that tells of the company’s achievements within regeneration in an exciting and interesting way. To get us started we were provided with a diverse collection of reports, images and other information relating to each activity. We devised a simple storybook format, wrote up each story in a consistent style and used our design and illustration skills to bring the stories to life before printing and wiro binding on a fully recycled and carbon balanced stock. Simple.

Branding the Hawk

The Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) from BAE Systems provides a cost-effective and flexible way to train fast jet fighter pilots. As well as the aircraft, the system provides on-site trainers and maintenance teams. With new competition emerging from Italy and Korea, the existing branding was no longer appropriate and we were asked to develop a new brand and associated materials that reflected the position of the Hawk as the number one AJT in the world. New identity and livery for the Hawk demonstrator enhanced the existing shape of the aircraft giving it a sleek and dynamic image while a large format brand book told the Hawk story. A story of performance, heritage and reliability.

Print design never ages

What do you get the company that’s got everything? A piece of stunning print design, that’s what. It might be 80 years old but Balvac, structural repairer to the stars is going from strength to strength. To celebrate their special birthday they commissioned us to write and design a book to tell the story of the company. And what a book. Bank jobs. Exploding tunnels. Exotic locations. All it’s missing is a cheetah on a chain. Beats a pair of socks any day.

Advertising safe working

In October 2008, Balfour Beatty launched Zero Harm. This is a worldwide safety initiative aimed at reducing the company’s accident frequency rate (AFR) to zero. Balfour Beatty’s Construction Northern business had made excellent progress in this respect. However to help them ensure this progress continued we were asked to help them promote excellent working practices among their site operatives. An initial site visit and discussions with several site managers helped us identify the main issue. Conventional health and safety communications were pinned to notice boards in site offices. These sit outside the main build area and most operatives rarely venture into the site office anyway. Once actually into the live area of the site there was no visible health and safety communication of any description. So it was pretty easy to see why any communications on the subject were failing – they were literally being left at the gate. As we toured the site to experience the operative’s journey through it, we saw that there were loads of opportunities to target specific behaviours and risks using outdoor, experiential and ambient advertising techniques. We created a powerful advertising campaign aimed at minimising common hand, wrist and eye injuries and each site was sent an easily adaptable advertising campaign pack featuring toilet posters, canteen table toppers, vinyl banners for perimeter fencing and experiential elements. The side of the portacabin where each operative took their site induction was also dressed with a bespoke large format landscape poster. Thanks to advertising photographer Jonny Oakes for the excellent photography. But most of all to Ashleigh for her infinite patience in producing dozens of severed finger props for the campaign packs.

Literature design, French style

If there’s one thing you can’t deny the French, it’s their style. We were approached recently by the French construction company Bouygues to help them write, design and produce a comprehensive set of literature detailing their offer to the UK market. Rapidly expanding, and with a portfolio crammed full of beautiful landmark buildings they tasked us to create a suite of brochures that would support their bidding team. Working closely with the marketing team over several months our designers explored various interpretations of the Bouygues Group design and branding guidelines, giving a uniquely British flavour to the corporate look and feel while staying happily on-brand. In the meantime our copywriters created a consistent tone of voice for the content and produced a large number of case studies to showcase Bouygues impressive credentials. Our final design solution provided a simple, elegant format that showcased our client’s projects from across the UK. Featuring a 2 spot colour overprint Bouygues UK are delighted with the results, we wish them continued success and look forward to working together again in the future.

Recruiting a new identity and website design

Earlier this year we were tasked to create a brand new identity and website design for new financial recruitment specialist Lucas McLean. Based in Manchester city centre, our client asked for an identity that was a little different but that still respected the financial services sector. Using the notion of searching and following a trail, we designed a simple but effective identity. This was then brought to life through a responsive website which allows clients and candidates to register while on the move. Beyond this we created a visually strong, advertising campaign for use in print and digital. We wish Lucas McLean all the best in building a successful business. Visit the site at

Design for members only

EEF, the manufacturers organisation asked us to design and write a piece of literature aimed at driving enquiries and sales regarding their corporate membership package. This is the highest level of membership that they offer and the audience are very discerning and can be hard to reach. With this in mind our brochure design solution married quality papers and print finishes with a simple illustration style and inclusive tone to argue the case for the benefits of membership.

Responsive website design for Connect Plus Services

Connect Plus Services is the business responsible for operating and maintaining the M25 and surrounding A-roads on behalf of Highways England. We were briefed to create a new responsive website to replace their old site and bring their web presence up to date. The first task was to distill the information from the existing site map and redesign it for a better and more consistent user experience. Using the language of roads and motorways as a starting point we designed an icon based system that could be used for navigation and filtering of content. This was complemented by strong imagery, a reader friendly typeface in Interstate, eye catching statistics and HTML5 animations which were all used to bring the client’s story to life in a website that delighted users and client alike. Even better, it is fully responsive, meaning that users can view the website easily, no matter what device they are using. See it here:

Exhibition stand design for Sibelco

Metec in Dusseldorf, Germany is the major trade show for metallurgy and foundry technology. With 78,000 visitors from 120 countries attending over 4 days, it allows Sibelco to showcase their range of performance minerals to expert buyers from companies involved in the production of iron and steel. The minerals that Sibelco produce for this sector must perform consistently in extremely high temperatures and we were briefed to communicate this point via the creation of these graphics for an existing exhibition stand design. Using colour gradients helped to give the impression of an active foundry, while the main message was rendered with a ‘molten’ effect.

Mobile friendly website design

We were briefed by Sibelco to create a new fully optimised and mobile friendly website design for its toll processing business based in Derbyshire. As one of the UK’s most experienced toll processing companies, their customers rely on them to provide the expertise needed to convert raw materials into finished product in the most efficient way possible. In addition to design we were tasked with achieving a high rank in organic search. Following a keyword analysis we designed the site around a number of agreed keywords, wrote the content accordingly and also commissioned photographer Matt Swift to capture the plant at work, providing us with a great set of images to optimise and use in the design. See it here:

Generating new business

Syspro is an ERP solution used by around 15,000 companies in over 60 countries worldwide. In the UK, more than 450 firms benefit from the product through Manchester based firm K3 Syspro, a company that develops and delivers excellent ERP solutions for small and medium-sized manufacturing and distribution companies. It’s a solution with a long sales cycle that requires significant time and capital investment from the customer so it is essential that the new business pipeline is kept topped up. We were asked to create a new business campaign that would generate new enquiries for the solution while taking advantage of K3 Syspro’s existing prospect data and market insight. Working closely with the sales and marketing team at K3 Syspro, we identified fourteen selling points to build the campaign around and using Norwegian illustrator Oivind Hoyland gave us the opportunity to express these consistently across relevant trade press, direct mail and email. In terms of final results, the campaign is in its early stages so we’ll keep you updated as it progresses but the first email has resulted in 3 meetings. Which has made the sales director extremely happy and bodes well for the rest of the campaign.

Designing a sales toolkit

We were briefed by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation to create a sales toolkit designed to promote their corporate training and development courses. A key requirement of the brief was that each element of the toolkit needed to work together and on a standalone basis. As one of the largest training organisations in the country, EEF offer a huge range of accredited and non-accredited training and consultancy programmes to all levels of business. This gave rise to the positioning statement ‘From the shop floor to the boardroom. Expert training for everyone.’ Once this was agreed, we worked closely with the marketing team at EEF to design and write a capability brochure that was available in printed and digital versions. This was followed by the creation of a suite of Word templates designed to accommodate a variety of locally printed case studies. Finally we designed and printed a pack that neatly housed all the elements together when required. Definitely a case of making complex simple.

Bespoke web to print solution

The nature of bidding in the construction sector often requires the generation of bespoke brochures designed to showcase the experience of the company and bid team on similar types of project. Allowing bid teams in a multinational company to generate this work locally can be problematical in terms of cost control, consistent brand presentation, internal resource and timing. With this in mind Balfour Beatty’s UK construction services division asked us to design and deliver a web to print solution that would allow their bid teams to easily create small runs of bespoke brochures using a mix of background information on Balfour Beatty, its brands, sectors, strategic priorities and case studies. Definitely a case of make complex simple. We spoke to a number of potential print partners before deciding on Prime Group based in Nottingham. Working closely with their IT team we developed a bespoke web browser UI that takes the user through the process of building their own bespoke brochure. Our simple solution starts with the front cover with an editable title and image, to an editable introduction spread, to a content selector for the pre-defined main spreads, to finally an editable back cover. The content selector allows the user to choose the spreads required for their brochure. Over 300 unique spreads are now loaded on the portal for users to choose from. Spreads displayed in the selector panel depend on the brand and division chosen from drop-down menus. ‘Drag and drop’ is used to build the brochure. The user can also preview the brochure within the browser as a low resolution pdf at any time. When the back cover is complete, the brochure can be saved and then it’s ready for ordering. Once placed the order is automatically integrated into Prime’s workflow and the system generates invoices, delivery notes and confirmations. Simple!

Corporate literature design

As the voice of UK manufacturing and engineering and a leading provider of business support, EEF briefed us to create a high quality piece of corporate literature that sold the benefits of membership through case studies, success stories and compelling photography. The only problem was that we had just 20 working days in which to do it. And then deliver it to multiple locations in time for EEF’s National Manufacturing Conference. But since solving our clients’ business challenges is what we’re all about, we rolled up our sleeves and got stuck in. First job was to do a test pagination of the initially supplied content and it was running to well over 60 pages. This was too long and would also create problems with the print finishing – too many pages for stitching, not enough time to finish a perfect bound brochure. So our initial task was to rewrite the content into a manageable length while also making sense of the five membership levels and finding a way to explain these in an ‘at a glance’ format. Once this was completed we produced a page plan for client sign off and started work on the design and artwork supported with a set of quality images that we sourced for the project. Because we were on a tight schedule, we decided to keep the print specification relatively simple. Four colour process was used throughout with the addition of two metallics to provide a level of stand out quality which met EEF’s expectations for one of their most important pieces of corporate literature. Taking feedback from many internal stakeholders throughout, we worked at speed on each draft and handed the project over to print in line with our schedule. Written, designed and printed within 4 weeks, the 44 page brochures were delivered to our happy client team at ten UK locations just in time for use at EEF’s National Manufacturing Conference at the QE II Conference Centre in London.

Internal communications

Sibelco is a leading provider of industrial minerals, bringing value to customers in a wide range of industries. When the global organisation was restructured we designed a suite of internal communications to communicate these changes to employees across the world. Vision 2020 and Update help senior board members to share the new vision and structure of the company with their colleagues throughout the business. We also produced the 2015 Annual Report featuring stories from across the business, commissioned photography and a simple, clean design. The final report is made up of two documents – an Activity Report and the Financial Report, both of which are housed in an outer sleeve.

Brochure design and print

For the second year running, we have produced Connect Plus Services’ annual Business Plan. The Plan details CPS’ values, goals and targets for the coming year, and also contains yearly reports from the services departments. This year a change in the page layout was required, along with new photography and coloured sections. The brochure was turned around quickly and efficiently, and printed and delivered on time, resulting in a thoroughly delighted client.

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