Industry thoughts, sharing great ideas,
snippets and top tips, by Olivia Lane-Nott
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Usually when I meet a new client, one of my first questions is: “do you want to be great company, or a desirable brand?”
The answer is often down to these three factors: the business has been built, they are retaining and attracting great people, and have a loyal and trusted customer or client base.
But their brand identity hasn’t moved with them.
It hasn’t evolved to represent where they are, where they are heading, or what they stand for.
1. Take Carter Jonas, the national UK property consultancy.
Since 2009, their turnover had grown from £15 million to £45+ million (impressive especially given the global economic climate).
But their brand identity needed to grow with them.
So with their in-house graphic design & marketing team and creative agency NextBigThing, we went from this…
2. With The Oxford Science Park, change was happening as Magdalen College Oxford, which had owned 50% of the Park, acquired the other 50% to own 100%.
This was a big opportunity for the Park that was established 25 years ago.
So we needed to tell the Park’s story, explain why so many businesses - 65+ with more than 2,400 people - call it home.
Also how its owner, as one of Oxford’s oldest and most famous Colleges with a tradition of academic excellence and entrepreneurship, was going to continue to build it as one of the most influential science, technology and business environments in the UK.
And so with creative agency Impact we went from this…
3. Lastly, I was brought in to help Barwood Capital, a long-established and respected real estate investment and development business.
We soon realised that having made some great hires and delivered excellent returns to investors over their many years in business, that their branding didn’t reflect what they were doing and where they were heading.
We also used the opportunity to consider in the project its sister businesses: Barwood Homes and Barwood Land.
So for all three businesses, with brand strategist Amanda Yensa and design agency Kimpton Creative, we went from this…
To this…bringing in a glow to represent their clever approach to property development and investment and enhancing lives.
So in summary...
Desirability is key when it comes to brand identity.
You can’t make a brand desirable if their business objectives, values and people aren’t operating at that level, offering exquisite service or products.
But you can enhance a brand. You can ensure that it reflects your business and resonates with your target audience.
These businesses are benefitting from having clarified their proposition, defined who they are, what they are, and why they do what they do.
And importantly, what they stand for in terms of who they truly are and what their customers and clients need.
Their new brands now support them, their products, their marketing, and their promise.
Need help with making your brand more desirable?
Olivia Lane-Nott, founder of Spacecraft Consulting, works with many businesses in the high net worth and luxury arena become more desirable, meeting their business objectives, and benefiting their bottom lines.
Having spent more than 16 years helping national and global brands thrive, she acts as your Marketing & Communications Director, working with your in-house teams and becoming an extension of your business for the project’s duration, whilst always keeping things simple.
To find out more, get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Who would have thought that in the last month I would have spoken to a total of eight friends and ex-colleagues who have been asking me for top tips about setting up their own consultancy?
In June, it will be five years since I started my business at my kitchen table.
That turned into a desk in our front room, and then we converted the small old wash house in our back garden into my Farrow & Ball painted space, with vintage apple-crate boxes for my shelving system, and our old dining table fashioned into an uber cool long workbench!
It was a big milestone and reinforced why the world demands offices, or at least designated separate office space, whether it's serene calm or funky co-working!
I have built up my consultancy business to advise some wonderful clients, and I haven’t looked back.
I tap into a brilliant network of suppliers: design & creative agencies, digital providers, print companies, photographers etc. I’m in my office probably one to two days a week, and go out to clients on the other days.
I’m always so flattered to be asked for advice on starting up on your own – it means that hopefully I’m doing something right!
So I thought I would list the top things that I couldn’t live without and my top tips:
Running your own business is brilliant, and if the last five years are anything to go by, I would recommend it to anyone.
Google's new logo, Mr Kipling's new packaging, and HSBC rebranding to HSBC UK - all launched in the first week of September
It's must have been a busy summer for the marketing teams and their agencies of Google, Premier Foods' Mr Kipling, and HSBC as all three have launched new looks in the first week of September: Google's new logo, Mr Kipling's new packaging just 12 months after the last redesign, and HSBC changing to, well, HSBC UK.
The world is slowly returning from the summer holidays but spare a thought for those people who will have had the pressure on over that time to prepare themselves to tell the world about their new, defined brand positioning and brand identity, and importantly, use the opportunity to tell their stories and control their main messages.
Last year, as Interim Head of Marketing and Communications for Carter Jonas, I took the firm through a national brand refresh with their wonderful in-house team and the superb design agency NextBigThing.
With the launch in the first week of September, it meant that August was by no means quiet, or a time to catch up with filing, for the team as we pulled together the last phases of the project which had taken just six months from start to finish.
It was all hands to pumps as we geared up for the big unveiling from advertising to sales boards, stationary to website, but importantly, during June and July, we had also carried out an internal brand refresh roadshow which took us across the country to nearly all of Carter Jonas' offices to explain the brand essence and new look and feel way before we told the world. It was a whirlwind of a summer but when we finally launched, it was a great feeling, and client feedback was very positive.
And finally we were able to see the brand out there, in action, and implement it across the plethora of on and offline marketing material that the company produces.
To see Carter Jonas' brand refresh results...just click here.
Reading a recent PR Week article (29.06.15) “The top seven mistakes PR companies make with existing clients”, written by Chris Merrington, the author of 'Why do smart people make such stupid mistakes?', it got me thinking, as his points can be applied to any professional services advisor or consultancy.
So, here are "The seven mistakes" and my response:
1. What's special about your agency? You might think you’re different but too often PR agencies look the same to clients. Then you’ll be bought predominantly on price. What’s the real or perceived difference between you and competitors?
Olivia: we’ve said goodbye to the arduous monthly 2 hour client/PR agency meeting where 5 minutes before the meeting, the client says: “What do we update them on this time?”; we're also said goodbye to the retainer, the infrequent conference call, the: “We’ll pitch with our senior team, but you’ll be working with our junior team, who are back at the office”. When you instruct us, you get us, and you get us for a regular time, mostly once a week with clients, for a full working day, so that we are an extension of your team. That way we can catch up with your team to fit in with their schedules
2. Not understanding your value is the next mistake. It is easy to become focused on the ‘doing’ rather than the result or impact of our work. Clients want to buy the result of the PR campaign, not the PR campaign. Value is in their eyes, not yours.
Olivia: it’s all about results and output. Even better when you can track back a particular piece of PR or result to an increase in business enquiries, or brand perception. That moment when you open the newspaper, magazine or read online a piece about your clients or their work that you’ve worked really hard on and you think: yes, they’re going to be pleased with that, let’s shout it from the rooftops
3. As a PR agency making a fair profit is a fundamental business goal. Revenue growth without profit growth is nuts. Don’t be too focused on the topline revenue rather than on the right balance between revenue and bottom-line profitability.
Olivia: I completely agree!
4. Under-pricing is a massive and costly mistake. By under-pricing we set a precedent with that client going forward and it will be hard to increase our price with that same client for subsequent work. Price is the number one factor to influence profitability. Price is A factor; it is rarely THE factor.
Olivia: this is true; you often don’t get selected purely on price. People instruct people. Human chemistry is key
5. Over-dependence can be costly. If a client represents more than 15 per cent of your business there is a danger that you avoid increasing your prices, avoid challenging the client and avoid presenting standout work. Instead we play safe, avoiding 'rocking the boat'. Just because you’ve had a client for 10 years, it is not a guarantee of the future. I have seen too many agencies destroyed or decimated by the loss of one or two major clients. Hope is not a strategy.
Olivia: very true, especially when you are building your business and client base, and you realise your exposure if you only have one or two clients. But it’s about being fleet of foot; keeping them front of mind for everything; thinking that right behind you there’s another agency who wants your client and you have to work hard to keep yourself the number one choice, and most importantly, as fresh as the moment you first pitched
6. Poor briefs are costly to PR agencies. What makes a poor brief? A verbal or poorly thought through brief is dangerous. It’s your responsibility to extract a great brief. A verbal brief isn't worth the paper it's not written on.
Olivia: true – whilst you’re only as good as what your client does or tells you, you also are only as good as what you extract from them. But even within one client, there are many different people and personalities, and adapting to each of those styles is key to getting the best briefs. Often verbal briefs are the first stage – our clients are busy and time pressed. Common sense has to prevail and going back with an initial outline shows you’ve put thought into it, and often they’re more willing to further expand
7. Scope creep and over-servicing drain profits. Clients will ask 'could you just...' and expect that extra work to be covered by the original budget or fee. Scope creep is like a disease. It won't get better unless it is treated. It simply gets worse. Your ability to tackle scope creep is linked to your confidence, your differentiation, your pricing, understanding your value, the brief...
Olivia: having worked client side for many years with lots of different agencies, big and small, marketing & design to PR & data; by far the best fee structure is to do away with a monthly retainer, and charge an hourly or day rate, keeping timesheets. It’s transparent and fair on both sides. Often clients go down this route but with a monthly time/fee cap. That way, we aren’t going over their budget, and we are motivated to doing a superb job, which is rightly rewarded. And whilst we offer retainers, timesheets are still kept, to justify and give visibility of what we are providing
And I would add one more:
8. “We never hear from them”. Something I sadly hear all too often. PR agencies are overstretched or accounts have too many people assigned to them, so responsibility for keeping the client informed is overlooked and the motivation to service them diminishes. My career started agency side, and then I went in-house as the client, then back out to form my own consultancy. You’re being instructed by your clients to provide a service; think of them as your employers, think like them, communicate, anticipate their needs, and keep raising the bar
For Chris’ original PR Week article, please click here.
Stories; telling and sharing them with each other. That's what makes the world go round; and Olivia Lane-Nott loves them. Here she shares her thoughts.