Did you know that of the 11 Formula One teams on this years grid, 8 of them are based in the UK? Quite a surprising fact bearing in mind that Formula 1 is a global sport with races held in four corners of the globe. Between them the 8 employ thousands of UK Engineers, Aerodynamicists, Strategists all using UK based companies for car parts. Some 4,500 businesses in the UK owe their existence, at least in part, to motorsport, accounting for nearly 40,000 jobs. Motorsport is making a huge contribution to our economy and Formula One, in particular, is at the forefront of high-end engineering. I was amazed to learn that 80% of the world's best engineers work in the UK for various Formula One teams.
As a massive fan of Formula One I tuned into the BBC 5 Live Chequered Flag podcast recently where Sir Clive Woodward was hosting an episode about the Red Bull Racing Formula One team. He was going for a factory tour and interviewing key staff to find out exactly what makes them tick and ultimately so successful. When I saw this my instant reaction was that ‘why is a rugby coach interviewing a Formula One team?’. After listening to the podcast it was apparent that the common thread between running a Formula One team and a rugby team and business for that matter, is people. Without the right people in the right positions, you won’t shave that extra 1,000th off a lap time or score that vital try. When I say the right people I don't just mean the drivers or the players, I mean everyone; from the guy who cleans the factory floor to the head of design - each of them are an important link in the chain and when all working perfectly together, the results on the track, or the rugby pitch are clear to see.
As brand partnerships go, Formula One and energy drinks go pretty well together. Both are fast moving, full of energy and push the boundaries. So when Red Bull owner and founder Dietrich Mateschitz brought the old Jaguar Formula One team back in 2005, it was the start of the one of the most surprising success stories in the sports history. The Red Bull Formula One team have just won their 4th consecutive world championship, a record bettered only by the great Ferrari. The team is just 8 years old and what they have achieved in such a short time is astonishing. To put it in perspective, they (essentially a fizzy drinks company) are beating Ferrari, a team with years and years of motorsport heritage, pretty comprehensively every race. Poor Enzo Ferrari must be turning in his grave.
The first thing that strikes Sir Clive when he arrives at the Red Bull Racing factory in Milton Keynes is how ordinary it looks from the outside. It is positioned on a dull industrial estate and from the outside looks pretty uninspiring. Why would these world class engineers and mechanics choose to work in rainy Milton Keynes as opposed to the space age McLaren Technology Centre or the Ferrari Maranello base in Italy? This is the first question that Sir Clive puts to Christian Horner, the team principal of The Red Bull Formula One team. Christian talks about how the brand values of parent brand, Red Bull, are at the heart of the Formula One team. Staff members can come into work wearing jeans, the atmosphere is laid back and if you speak to anyone, they assume nothing. They have won so many trophies over the last 8 years that the trophy cabinet at the factory is overflowing, with trophies spilling onto the floor. Red Bull however will not buy another trophy cabinet until they can fill it. They assume nothing and take nothing for granted.
Christian repeatedly talks about how people are at the heart of their success - the right people in the right roles with shared values. Ultimately they love working for Red Bull and from the factory floor to the boardroom table, everyone wants the team to be successful - they share a common goal. Just recently, after Sebastian Vettel clinched their 4th title, Red Bull paid EVERY single member of staff £10,000 as a bonus, including the catering staff and cleaners as they are considered to be as important a link in the chain as the head designers. Amazing stuff that really sums up their team ethic and how important Red Bull consider their people to be.
Sir Clive is 'blown away' by the attention to detail that goes into the running of the company. Christian epitomises this obsessiveness and how, as a failed driver himself, he remains incredibly driven to keep succeeding. One of the mechanics tells how, in an average year, 3,000 of the cars 5,000 components will be removed from the car and improved in some way, whether that be making a part from a different material or a slight redesign of a panel. These small changes make almost minuscule improvements to a lap time but when you add them all up over the space of a season you can start to see the kind of advantage this kind of philosophy delivers.
Christian also tells the story about how he managed to attract Adrian Newey the most successful Formula One designer there has ever been to his start-up team back in 2005. Newey has designed championship winning cars for Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jaques Villeneuve, Mika Häkkinen and more recently Sebastion Vettel. He is quite clearly a genius when it comes to car design. Back in 2005 Newey was working for McLaren, a giant in the sport. He was working for the best team on the grid and undoubtedly earning big money but something was missing. Christian tells the story about how on the day Red Bull rocked up to their first Grand Prix, they erected the eye sore they call their ‘Energy Station’ - essentially a corporate entertainment building where you could drink Red Bull, hang out and experience the brand. Nothing could be further from the corporate straight laced world inhabited by McLaren. Intrigued by this monstrosity pumping out loud music, Newey got chatting to him and over the next year they became friends. Newey bought into what he was trying to do the the team and eventually joined Red Bull leaving a team in pole position for one at the back of the grid? Why? A new challenge is part of the answer but Newey ultimately believed in what Red Bull were trying to do. He brought into their vision and was drawn to the Red Bull culture and way of doing things.
Throughout the podcast Sir Clive talks about the similarities between managing a rugby team and a Formula One team - it's about the people. At The House we believe in the power that comes from having the right people at the heart of your business, with a big vision, a compelling purpose and shared values that everyone buys into to build a culture where people WANT to work for you. As Christian Horner says 'Its not just a job, its a way of life'.
Our Creative Head, Steve Fuller was interviewed for a recent article in B&NES Connect magazine highlighting the role of creative, inventive and future-focussed businesses in the regeneration of sites on the River Avon and a vision for a more enterprising Bath.
Click the link below to read the article.
It's always a good feeling when you come across an article that is wholly in alignment with your own sentiments.
If you're anything like me, however, I would urge self restraint at the moment of discovery so as not to blurt out loud some semi-triumphant exclamation like "Absolutely! I couldn't agree more", as I did last week on a British Airways flight to Prague. It's really disconcerting for those in your immediate vicinity. "Good article", I said sheepishly to the startled man in the next seat. He returned me a watery smile as his eyes scanned the adjacent rows for a vacant seat.
I was reading the 'What I've learnt' feature in the surprisingly enjoyable British Airways Business Life magazine, unearthed during my habitual pre-flight exploration of the seat pocket. An interview with Dani Reiss, CEO of Canadian cold weather clothes manufacturer Canada Goose, in which he answers the question posed by the feature, is warm and insightful.
Dani talks about the heritage and purpose of a business his grandfather, Sam Tick, a polish emigre, set up in 1957; his early impressions and how (almost inevitably) his life plan never included ever working for, let alone running, the family business. In a nicely weighted piece he tells of the origins of the company and the product stories that provide the brand with meaning and its values. In short, how he came to understand the importance of authenticity in business.
In case you're still wondering, the cause of my ill timed outburst can be found about half way through. In Dani's words, " ...most brands these days are not real brands, they're some product mass-produced in some factory somewhere else that has a fancy story woven in front of it by marketing departments. People buy the product and it just feeds the consumer engine.. Which is fine - I'm not a revolutionary! But I'm really drawn to authenticity and real brands.' 'When I went to Europe, I learnt how valuable the term 'Made in Canada' is for us..."
At risk of repeating myself, 'Absolutely! I couldn't agree more'.
If you'd like to read the full article, please click the following link
In support of the recent rebrand project for Norton Radstock College, we have created new signage for the launch of the college’s brand new one-stop Job Shop.
Aimed at both employers and potential employees, Norton Radstock College has partnered with Simple Recruitment (South West) Ltd for the initiative thought to be one of the first in the region between a vocational college and an agency.
It aims to give job seekers help in finding employment and employers informed about opportunities to develop their workforce.
This has brought the new brand to life and into the heart of Radstock, with on-campus signage yet to come.
And so Olympic fever is upon us here at The House, Special Olympics National Summer Games kickoff on Wednesday with an opening ceremony in Bath's Royal Crescent. 7000 people will watch the opening including athletes, their families and coaches.
We have been heavily involved as a supporter of the games, we created the visual identity, games website, flashmob and the hashtag #1bigsmile.
1bigsmile is the theme of the games - representing the crescent turned into a smile for the feelgood games. You can join in too, we've created a film to celebrate all those that have been involved in making the games happen (sponsors, spectators, donators, competitors, organisers, dancers and of course the media) - so watch this film, send us a smile, spread the news via social media #1bigsmile and see if you make the final edit of the film.
If you want to support Special Olympics Great Britain in anyway find out more at http://www.bath2103.org.uk
Coombe Castle has a 30 year track record of exporting our nation’s cheese, butter and cream to the four corners of the globe from the South West. We were appointed to help the senior management team prepare the business for the next 30 years. Work started back in 2011 when we repositioned and redesigned the export side of their business.
More recently we are delighted to announce that we have completely redesigned the consumer facing side to the Coombe Castle brand. We have designed everything from packaging to exhibition stands to their new website. Aimed predominantly at the US market, the new brand draws on medieval heraldic influences. It's unashamedly British with a quirky and playful sense of humour.
A full case study will follow soon.
Coombe Castle has a 30 year track record of exporting our nation’s cheese, butter and cream to the four corners of the globe from the South West. We were appointed to help the senior management team prepare the business for the next 30 years. Work strated back in 2011 when we repositioned and redesigned the export side of their business.
More recently we are delighted to announce that we have completely redesigned the consumer facing side to the Coombe Castle brand. We have designed everything from packaging to exhibition stands to their new website.
A full case study will follow soon.
Imagine if your business was a football club or a rock band, what would you measure - trophies, ticket sales, TV rights, chart hits, gig attendance?
Earlier this month, we ran a Masterclass in conjunction with Business Insider magazine discussing the value of fans to business with 9 business owners and senior marketers.
Here’s a link to the article
So how can we help you create fans for your business?
We’ll help you to write your “Happily ever after” – a clear vision for your business that you share with your team
We’ll work with you to define a purpose beyond profit – if profit is the outcome of a successful business, what do you want to do good at?
We’ll help you to make a promise and, as importantly, keep it – help everyone in your business to agree, share and stick with a commitment to your customer
We’ll ask you to do the ‘logo test’ – take your website or a piece of advertising and cover up the logo, why would fans get excited about you over your competitors?
We’ll talk to your fans and your critics so that you can know your customer – the more you know about your customer, the more likely it is that you will say or do something that will make them a fan.
We asked Graham about the vision for the business, potential obstacles and how The House plan to overcome them.
What is the vision for The House? Where would you love to see your business go?
We have a very clear vision for The House. We are fanatical about business and want to use our brand skills to help individual companies create customers and employees who are big fans of everything they do. As we all know, fans buy more, talk more, stay longer, work harder, go extra miles and recruit others; as for The House, well we’d love to create fans who love what we do too.
What might prevent you from achieving this?
Our challenge is always to treat our business as if it was a client of The House; allocate time to plan, share thinking with the team, shape outcomes and prioritise action. Then stick to it! Time is our most precious resource. We need to protect it fiercely – stay ‘frosty’. It’s very easy to get caught up in our client work and put ourselves and our housemates last; delaying important internal changes, creative ideas and improvements that will grow us, our capability and our business. It’s like being in any relationship; you need to nourish yourself at the same time.
How do you plan to resolve these issues?
We actually took a dose of our own medicine. Steve and I invested in a couple of days out of the business recently to write a new 3 year roadmap and spend some creative time playing and writing together. I’d recommend it! We realised just how much we still want the same things for the business – even after 17 years – and how much we still enjoy working together. Since then we’ve made two new appointments, run our first Brand Masterclass and instilled an ‘in-house’ communication & briefing ‘heartbeat’, three times a week that supports our values and brand promise. Our aim is ensure we don’t sacrifice the needs of our team when we’re meeting those of our clients. After all, we’re a learning business and our clients need to be confident that we’re in shape, evolving and growing too.
Thanks to business co-pilot for publishing this article
SACO (The Serviced Apartment Company) has selected The House to undertake a brand development programme following a 5-way agency chemistry and brand process review handled by Design Partnership.
SACO are one of the leading serviced apartment providers in the world and the appointment of The House marks the next stage in their ambitious growth plans. Brand Director, Jayne Mansfield and Creative Director, Steve Fuller will lead the programme, working closely with SACO’s Marketing Director Jo Redman
Jo described why The House was selected, “out of all the agencies we felt they had the best experience and demonstrated a good understanding of our requirements. The initial recommendation from Caroline Harris at Spirit PR also counted. Throughout the process The House has come across very well as a team and been receptive to feedback. We believe that The House is a good fit for our business going forward.”
The research part of the programme has commenced with conclusions and a board presentation likely mid to late April.
Of the appointment, Steve Fuller said, “We’re delighted to be working with SACO. A number of the team at The House have a travel background so it’s exciting to be able to put our brand skills to a sector that we really believe in.”
Global precision dental instrument and marketing company, Prima Dental has unveiled a major rebrand and marketing programme at the International Dental Show (IDS), Cologne, Germany. The multi million pound turnover Gloucester company has been working with brand specialists The House over an 18 month period to develop an industry defining brand and marketing initiative.
Prima Dental used IDS, which attracts dental professionals and distributors from around the world, to showcase an interactive website, a sales tracking tool, an e-learning training programme and an App designed to support distributor salesforces in the 100 countries their products are available.
“From the outset The House has shared our ambition and often fuelled it too.” Said Prima Dental CEO, Richard Muller. “They really got to the heart of our business and teased out what makes Prima Dental special and how this can be used to deliver commercial advantage.”
The extensive rebranding programme sees a revised corporate icon, a new bespoke typeface and a colour palette that stand outs from industry competitors. The creative work is supported by new sales tools (brochure, App and online sales tracking) and a new global website created to appeal to distributors, dentists and prospective new employees.
The House are also scripted and storyboarded a new corporate film, produced by Bath based Suited and Booted the film outlines Prima Dental’s approach to building marketing partners across the globe and how the company’s world-class facility produces micron accurate, carbide, diamond and steel dental burs.
Speaking of the partnership with Prima Dental, Graham Massey, Managing Director of The House said “What was on show in Cologne is the culmination of many months hard work, talent and dedication from the team at Prima Dental and The House. We have helped to create a stunning brand, a market leading online marketing tool and a set of communication tools that set Prima Dental apart from its competitors. Most importantly of all, Prima Dental has already started to generate business as a result of their investment in The House.”
The House has unveiled its latest work for race event specialist GO2. The agency has created the identity and race website for the Cheltenham half marathon which takes place on 15th September 2013. (Full website launch on the 22nd April)
GO2 appointed The House to oversee a completely new look and feel for this new South West road-race. This is the fifth project that the Bath based brand specialist has undertaken for GO2 following on from the companies own brand, Plymouth 10k, Gloucester 10k and the Plymouth Half.
The event name and identity play on the ‘apostrophe’ device to create a sense of ownership by the city of Cheltenham, “For events like a half marathon to succeed it is vital that the local community really get involved. Creating an identity that heroes the runner’s and their stories is vital in creating a race that becomes a regular fixture in Cheltenham’s busy calendar. We’re delighted with the work The House has created, adding and using the apostrophe really captures the idea that the race is for everyone in Cheltenham” Said Amy Budd, Marketing Manager from GO2.
Steve Fuller, Creative Director at The House adds “This is really rewarding work for the team at The House, using our brand skills to encourage communities to run for their health or to raise money for good causes.”
It’s a tough time on the high street at the moment, so you’d expect every business to be ruthlessly focused on delivering a great customer experience and encourage a return purchase.
Once a month I meet a friend of mine for an early breakfast. We visit the same restaurant – a highly visible well regarded high street brand which, by definition, you’d expect to offer a similar ‘brand experience’ every visit. For about 6 months I have made the observation that our ‘experience’ is never the same twice – either it’s the quality of the breakfast or the quantity; often indifferent presentation and worse still, the inconsistency in the quality (and temperature) of the coffee served.
So why did we continue to go? In truth, habit and crucially because it opened earlier than its competition, which allowed us to meet, breakfast and be at our desks by 9 am.
Earlier this week came the coup de gras. Arriving before my friend (and seemingly everyone else), I nodded a silent hello at a member of the kitchen team and sat myself at a table. For a full 17 minutes – including the subsequent arrival of my friend – we were untroubled by a member of staff until finally, after my vigorous gesticulation, a waiter who we recognised from our previous visits ambled over. Greeting him warmly, I enquired how he was. “Sleepy”, came the reply and he wandered off, presumably to fetch a menu. We didn’t wait to find out and left, unlikely to ever return but highly likely to tell others our story. We have found a new home – even though it opens 30 minutes later – the staff are welcoming, the breakfast excellent and the coffee exactly as it should be.
Anyone surprised? Me actually, but only with myself – in that it has taken me 6 visits over 6 months to vote with my feet – for there is power in our money, and how we choose to spend it can bring about real change. What we permit we promote and I might argue that the power has never been more with the people than it is today, especially with the increased competition for our ‘spending power’ in a struggling economy.
The rule of the (high street) jungle says that only the strong survive and in this context I suggest that means the provision of relevant products and services by well led, motivated employees offering a consistent and appropriate customer service experience. I often find the online experience with brands compares more favourably than a visit to a store! What does that say about the leadership on the ground? The demise of numerous high street brands in 2012 (JJB, Comet and Clintons included) has brought the importance of the customers brand experience sharply into focus.
Anyone surprised? Not me, for the leaders of consistently successful companies have a crystal clear vision for the business, a clear purpose (other than making money) and a ruthless focus on meeting the ever changing needs of their customer at the heart of a ‘values driven’ service culture. It’s amazing what businesses achieve once we have helped them to define a compelling vision, create authentic values and a bold customer promise; coupled with a responsive game plan.
It’s my belief that the purpose of business is to serve others and my view that many simply serve themselves. As for the leadership team at the restaurant where we used to have our breakfast, they are serving neither.
The 2013 Special Olympics has appointed Bath based brand agency The House to create the Games identity, event icons and volunteer website.
The Special Olympics GB is the country’s largest provider of sports training and competition for people with intellectual disabilities. In the region of 1,700 athletes from England, Scotland and Wales will compete in the event.
Held every four years, the ninth National Summer Games will be held in the city of Bath from 28 August to 01 September 2013
The House has created an event logo that captures the feel good nature of the games and marries it with one of Bath’s most iconic attractions, the Royal Crescent in a fresh and colourful fashion.
The website was launched at a civic reception in the Guildhall attended by Olympian, Jason Gardener. The website was created in conjunction with digital specialists, Storm and in its first 24 hours, the site already attracted 10% of the total number of volunteers required.
Karen Wallin, CEO of Special Olympics GB commented: “We are thrilled with the new look website and identity for the National Summer Games in Bath which has been created by local agency, The House. We are delighted with the vibrancy and colour which has been injected into the look and feel of the logo and online.”
About The National Summer Games
The National Summer Games are organised by Special Olympics Great Britain, a charity that provides year-round sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities (also known as learning disabilities) in England, Scotland and Wales.
The charity currently serves 8,000 athletes. Over 1.2 million people in Great Britain have an intellectual disability – the largest impairment group that exists.
The House has just created the new name, identity, store graphics and launch activity for a new Bath based boutique, Magpie & Bear (formerly Ellemee).
Traditionally an online store, as of February 2013 Magpie & Bear will open their first store here in the South West, in Milsom Place, Bath. With exclusive and hard to find designer jewellery and accessories from London and New York, the Magpie & Bear store is filled with rare and delightful treasures personally gathered by the founder, Karen Lyndon-Lewis from independent makers.
The House was responsible for naming, the brand story, the new visual identity, store window and display concepts plus the opening night launch concept, “it must be love”.
Full case study to follow soon.
I read recently that 2013 has been labelled “the empty year”. No Olympics, no Jubilee, no Ryder Cup, No Fun. I’m not going to tell you that 2013 is going to be as big as 2012 but I am sure that the lack of big events gives us all the room to make a mark this year.
If you’re stuck for ways to make it big in 2013, we will be posting 13 of them over the month of January:
1. No more, more of the same. It’s time to smash some of the sacred cows that hold your business back. If you’re feeling stuck or got a sense of déjà vu then déjà don’t – invite a cross business group into a room for 20 minutes and find a new, quicker, more efficient, more customer friendly way of doing things. Fresh thinking, innovation, invention whatever you call it , do it before all that new energy you have goes flat.
2. Carrot Sticks: Encourage or discourage. Treats or threats. Consider the best way to Motivate yourself and your team.
Food plays a big part in the way The House team work together, that's why we have a fully fitted kitchen with a dining table. Every Wednesday we share lunch and share what is inspiring us from the world of business, brands, Comms and design - we call it Food for Thought. This meeting of minds and menus has led to numerous great ways we can improve the way that we and some of our clients do business.
3. Back yourself!
Forget bonds, forget the market, invest in yourself. Why gamble your money on someone else's business when you can bet on yourself.
4. Get Closer
A big theme for 2013. If you want to win get intimate, show your customers you're willing to listen and understand how they want to interact with, buy from or talk about you.
5. Get more value out of your values
If you want to create a happier workplace then put your values to work. Too often brand is seen as something for the customer only. Your values are valuable! Use them to build a distinctive and consistent workplace culture that will both keep and attract talent
In collaboration with our sister agency; Re-Sourceful, we have worked with the National Trust on a number of imaginative initiatives over the last couple of years.
We have advertised summer puddings, promoted Wallace and Gromit and even designed, sourced and produced the cover and artwork for Jarvis Cocker’s National Trust – The Album CD. We have also used two of the nations favourite beverages (tea and ale) to promote some of our national favourites and treasures: designing and creating promotional teabags and interactive beer mats.
Every brief, like every visit is an adventure. We’re delighted to be working with an organisation that ensures that our past plays a role in our future.
Click here to see some examples of our work with The National Trust
We are delighted to announce that our identity for Coombe Castle has been shortlisted in the 'Corporate Identity' category at this years' Cream Awards.
Coombe Castle are champions of our country's dairy produce and have taken cream, cheese and butter to the four corners of the globe. Full case study will follow soon.
Back in June this year, our creative director Steve Fuller recently spoke at a Bristol and Bath Marketing Network event about brand and the bottom line and the importance of branding within your organisation.
We're delighted that one the event's attendees, Laura Purt from Catalyst Social Media, decided to write a blog about it.
"Not long ago, on the referral of a friend, I attended my first event run by the Bath Marketing Network. Speaker Steve Fuller, from The House, Brand and Business Agency, discussed the importance of branding within an organisation. Whilst no one would dispute the importance of this, I’ve heard few explain it as eloquently as Steve. His comprehensive appraisal of this inspired today’s blog post.
What is a company’s brand?
As companies evolve to suit an ever-changing cultural landscape, branding is becoming more humanised. It is ‘far more than just a visual representation,’ it is emotionally linked to each and every one of a company’s consumers and employees. At the forefront of a company’s brand stands the organisations founder, as companies develop as a reflection of this person. A brand is at its most powerful when it is engaged with, embraced and reflected both within the organisation and outside of it. As Steve concluded, if a company doesn’t ‘get it right on the inside first, it will appear false on the outside
The Top Ten Ways that Brand Benefits the Bottom Line…
Sense of vision – It’s important to know where your brands going. Create this vision and share it.
Be clear about what you offer and believe in it - If you can't explain your brand or your offer, how can you expect your customers to understand?
‘Singing from the same hymn sheet’ - Be clear about what your organisation is about and ensure your employees, and your potential consumers, understand it too.
Release the energy in your business – You should be excited about what you undertake. Use this excitement to create an enthusiastic and animated team. Check that they’re on brand and share your vision; a brand only truly thrives if its advocates believe in it too.
Strong brands are attractive to employees too – Brands are infectious. If your brand is strong then it will attract a dedicated and competent workforce who are excited to engage, promote and build it.
Create a promise you believe in (and can deliver) – ‘A broken promise equals a broken reputation.’ – This promise is one that is made inside your business as well as outside of it.
Know where you fit in the life of your customer – ‘Don’t try to be all things to all people.’ Research your target audience, understand their needs and what they require from your organisation and brand. Is there a potential customer or client that doesn’t fit with your organisations brand values…be prepared to say no else they’ll just drag you down. It’s important to only work with those that will excite and inspire your brand.
Stand out from the crowd – ‘Be prepared to show off, providing you’ve got substance behind it.’ – As a person, what we wear is an indication of who we are and what we want to achieve. The same can be applied to a company brand.
No point of difference, no point at all – This needs to be more than price. What makes your company different? Highlight this and stride forward, unique within your field.
Brand gives customers more reasons to buy – A strong brand gives a customer the confidence to buy it."
Please click here if you would like to read Laura's full article.
If you would like to view a PDF version of our brand and the bottom line presentation, please click here.
Over coffee with a long-standing client, a conversation began on the value of words in business and how at The House - we frequently attribute specific words to individual clients. I offered Chris a friendly wager that my business partner Steve would instantly name the one key word that we associate with him. When he arrived, Chris immediately challenged him with the question “what’s the one word you associate with me?” Without hesitation Steve replied “promise.” As a result, I won the bet and look forward to that nice lunch.
Chris’s love of the word promise conveys the value he places in a simple uncomplicated agreement between individuals committed to doing what they say they will do, when they say they will do it. Crucially, a promise made by those happy to be held to account.
In our work with clients, we strive to define a compelling customer promise to place at the heart of their business - a simple expression that conveys the unique benefit of product or service that they promise to deliver every day. This is what differentiates them and enables us to create a powerful image that associates with their values and brings to life their unique promise of an authentic brand.
I grew up with the notion that one’s word is one’s bond, so far better not to promise at all than fail to deliver on a promise made. Call me old fashioned, but in my view a promise offers as much merit to business as it does everyday life. I see real evidence that business leaders are moving away from cultivating the charmingly vague customer promise in favour of ‘nailing their corporate flag to an authentic mast’ and then galvanising and stretching everyone and everything in the organisation to deliver it, even if on occasion it falls a little short.
Perhaps, to borrow heavily from Mark Twain, ‘Better a broken promise than none at all’.
Our creative director, Steve Fuller spoke at Bath and Bristol Marketing Network about the link between brand and the bottom line.
He presented a top ten of examples of how brand can be used to improve business performance.
We know there are many more than 10 (we'd be delighted to hear yours) but our list consists of 5 internal and 5 external reasons why brand makes business sense, here's our starter for ten:
Create a clear vision and share it
Be clear about your offer
Hymn sheet, get one
Release the energy in your business
Strong brands are important to employees too
Create a promise you believe in (and can deliver)
Know where you fit in the life of your customer
Stand out from the crowd
No point of difference, no point at all
Brand gives customers more reasons to buy
To view a PDF version of the brand and the bottom line presentation, please click here
I have just returned from the Caffè Culture exhibition at Olympia and I am struck by the varying levels of quality stands, graphics, sales teams and presentation tools. Staying positive I am delighted to say that it was a really worthwhile visit and never at any point was I offered a logo bug or a spiral cut paper baseball cap.
The stands that really stood out succeeded because they had one really strong idea executed well, what we at The House call a single-minded proposition. From the graphically simple but striking Caravan Coffee Traders and Perry Court Farm (see images on Flickr) through to the playful approach of teapigs and Peppersmith; one idea seen through, consistently – easy to understand and a joy to the eye.
Conversely a number of stands were overstuffed with product and messages each one fighting to grab attention but actually only serving to confuse. One or two suffered from a lack of well thought through design or brand identity – in today’s market where consumers love graphic design and swoon over cleverly creative packaging, then kitchen table cut-outs just won’t cut it.
A couple of highlights for effective communication on offer and reasons to buy or believe included the Fair Trade stand and, again, the guys at Peppersmith.
The Fair Trade stand used shelf strips, wobblers and dividers to share insights into consumer buying habits, evidence of growing support for Fair Trade products and even statistics on monthly consumption; all of which left me in no doubt as to why I should buy into the brand and leaving me to discuss my needs in detail with the stand team.
Not only is the Peppersmith product a knockout but the identity, story and packaging all deliver a refreshing look at the mint market. I really believed in the selling story, the determination to use natural ingredients and have fun at the same time. Sincerely charming, deliciously minting and a sales team determined to promote their brands via the independent retail network because Peppersmith know the taste is more important than the price.
For me the biggest missed opportunity was the lack of film or motion graphics to capture the imagination or tell the brand story more dynamically than flat images or sales literature – with access to affordable technology and hungry young film-makers I wanted to see more adventure.
We will post images on site and Flickr but if you get the chance to go to the show, the coffee is top drawer and the exhibitors a credit to their industry.
So finally, my tips for if you want to stand out from the crowds – one story executed well, a team on the stand who believe in what you do and can articulate why, pull out your key sales arguments into your display and consider the use of film or animation to grab attention and tell your story better.
Creative Director, Steve Fuller and his sons Joseph and Harry ran the Corsham 10k in aid of Business Against Poverty.
All three broke their expected times and raised much appreciated funds for the Charity.
Well done boys!
How does improving your brand result in a better bottom line?
Steve will be posing this question to delegates at next week’s Rabbit Exhibition in Bristol, and talking through practical ways in which this can be applied to individual businesses.
Whilst every organisation faces individual threats and challenges, there are a number of reasons to invest in brand that can be applied universally. Here are just a few:
Secure market leadership
You know you have the best product in your field but how do you convince your customers?
Getting your brand strategy right and in line with your business plan will take you a long way. We helped thebestof team to change their business model and reposition their brand. They now hold an unassailable position as the UK’s strongest referral network.
From following fashion to leading the market
Turn business threats into a growth opportunity
How can you transform a potential threat to your business into an opportunity?
Fiskars were grappling with just such an issue in the UK when their 30 year license agreement with Wilkinson Sword came to an end. Whilst they were finally free to sell their products under their own brand, they were virtually unknown in this country.
By applying both business and brand knowledge to the issue, our team helped Fiskars to dominate the premium hand tool niche across garden centres and DIY stores across the country.
From who? To B&Q
How do you lift both a tired brand and its flagging sales?
The team behind Kitchen Devils contacted The House after recognised that their communications lacked spark and sales were declining.
We helped to reignite passion and confidence in the team, which led to a sales increase of triple digit growth and Kitchen Devils becoming the most successful branded knife in Asda.
From declining share to bigger slice
We’ve worked with some incredible businesses over the years, with each one facing unique and pressing challenges. What they all have in common, however, is a drive to grow their business and achieve great things. We help them do this through the power of brand.
Steve will be talking about the importance of branding to the bottom line at the Rabbit Exhibition next Tuesday, 20th March. Come along to hear him and benefit from great networking opportunities.
Tue 20 March
Brunel's Old Station
A client has recommended Creative Director Steve Fuller via his LinkedIn profile. If you are a client of The House or have worked with The House feel free to ask us for a recommendation.
“Steve's skills enabled him to find out what our company really stood for and what we wanted to achieve, in an engaging manner - with his creative approach he got us the exact result we were looking for - we so excited about our new tools!” April 3, 2012
Top qualities: Personable, Expert, Creative
Click here to read all of Steve's recommendations
Well, we made it! One cold, sleepless night later and we’ve smashed our fundraising target by a country mile...
As an update to our previous post, we wanted to send a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored our team for the Julian House Big Bath Sleep Out.
Last Friday, Graham, Sammy, Jean, Rebecca, David, Amy and Sarah joined one hundred other people in a dark, damp park in Bath city centre to sleep rough for the night. Our aim was to raise £100 each to support the vital work Julian House carry out with the homeless people of Bath.
Although we came well prepared with warm coats, furry hats, plastic sheeting and sleeping bags, the team slept fitfully and woke up rather stiff, cold and damp (or didn’t sleep at all in some cases).
Although the evening was planned and, dare I say a little fun, there were certainly moments during the night when each of us reflected on the real reason we were out in the cold. As we went home for hot showers, hot food and a good kip in comfort there were many people still out in the cold and wet weather facing yet another night of fear, cold and hopelessness.
That’s why the work that Julian House does is so important and why we are so grateful for all the sponsorship and donations from all of our friends, family, clients and suppliers. Money is still pouring in but we expect to have raised over £2200!
We're keeping our Just Giving page open for further week, so please do take a look and feel free to push our donation figure up further.
The House Without Walls
Photos from The Big Sleep Out
How does your company compete for business in a crowded marketplace? Do you effectively communicate the essence of your brand to potential clients or are you simply trying to bark louder than the rest of the pack?
This question was central to a presentation given by Steve Fuller recently at the Creative Bath event, ‘Brand and Deliver’.
If too many brands run with the pack and take a clichéd approach to their promotional messages, website images and advertising, you end up with a noisy yet generic group of barking dogs. There are three ways to make sure you stay ahead of the rest.
Understanding your companies’ raison d’etre and effectively communicating this to your customers is a vital component to successful branding.
Standing out from the crowd is easier when you understand what inspires your business and why this is relevant to others. Honda’s motto, The Power of Dreams, has been elegantly applied to successful advertising campaigns for decades, where the central product is often missed out entirely.
Understanding your audience and giving them what they want is just as relevant.
The recently launched Metrobank does just this, by providing a customer focussed banking service that aims to “remove all stupid bank rules from day to day services to offer simpler and more convenient banking.” Their opening hours are longer than traditional banks; they put extra staff on at lunch times and other busy periods and don’t insist on anyone making an appointment to open an account or discuss financial issues.
Brands who stay true to their word and close to the needs of their customers become trusted household names.
Amazon’s efficient service made it the number 1 online marketplace worldwide. The reliability of IBM machines made them ubiquitous in the hardware marketplace.
Breaking away from clichés is essential when positioning your business. Ultimately, branding must be different, relevant and trusted to stand out from the crowd and deliver real business benefit.
What would make an agency director, gallery owner, assorted friends and two dogs sleep rough in winter?
A singular moment of madness, it seems! A few of The House mates have decided to sleep outside in the cold weather to help raise funds for a local homeless charity. Julian House is organising a Big Sleep Out in Alice Park on the first weekend in March to help people who are forced to sleep out every night, so we thought we'd join in.
Having worked with Julian House for quite some time, we've learnt a bit about the complex issues surrounding homelessness. This short clip is worth a watch:
Julian House: The Home of Opportunity
So – on Friday 2nd March, Graham, Sammy, Amy, Sarah, Rebecca, Jean and David will be attempting to sleep outside with the aid of cardboard boxes, plastic bags and hot tea. At least, we hope there’s hot tea…
We’d love to raise as much money as possible for Julian House, and are already halfway to our £700 target:
Just Giving: The House Without Walls
Help us get the whole way and we promise to put pictures of Graham in his fetching onesie on the internet.
We have just created a new identity for friend of The House, and Bristol based photographer, Jim Johnston.
Taking reference from a camera view finder and his initials, we created a unique marque completely ownable to Jim.
The view finder icon was then brought to life away from the logo and used to frame imagery and copy throughout the website and stationery.
We’re very pleased to announce that Coombe Castle International – one of the UK’s leading exporters of British and Irish Dairy products - are working with us to develop both their business and brand strategies.
They have been exporting high quality cheese, cream and butter products to global markets for over 30 years. They have won multiple awards including two Queen’s awards for Export, they were the first company to export cream into South Korea and are responsible for 75% of the British cheeses in Canada. Coombe Castle International have developed a reputation for being one of the best distributors of high quality dairy products across North America, Canada, Europe and Asia.
We have taken Coombe Castle through a visioning and values-led process and will now move on to a new brand offer and visual identity. Our understanding of the business bottom line then allows us to use these new tools to build a robust long term strategy that will aid the future growth of the company.
We are delighted to announce that our work for Mission Burrito has been shortlisted in the 'Best Overall Visual Identity' category at this years' Transform Awards.
The Transform Awards are Europe’s only dedicated celebration of rebranding, repositioning and brand transformation.
Senior Designer Sam Dyer comments, "We are really proud that our creative work for Mission Burrito has once again been recognised in a national awards competition. It is amazing to be rubbing shoulders with global brand agencies".
What trends, challenges and ideas are likely to shape the business landscape in the new year? We've trawled through a huge number of published predictions, and come up with a shortlist of our own: the 12 most likely influencers in 2012.
The Future of Recycling
Trailblazing brands pushing the boundaries of recycling are set to win market share and increase brand equity in 2012. Companies like Nike, Patagonia, Garnier and DELL lead the way, helping their customers recycle ALL of their products (not just the component parts, like batteries or packaging, but entire shoes, computers, clothing lines and beauty product ranges) .
The carrot of these success stories, together with the stick of sharper consumer criticism and new legislation will encourage many other brands to follow suit.
Expect more from: Patagonia
Brands with strong values adopted and fully understood by a communicative workforce will achieve great things in 2012. Empowered employees with a full understanding of their company’s mission statement, brand values and future goals will implement these at every level of the business. Facebook is a great example of a company undergoing meteoric growth, thanks (in part) to its brand values being understood, embraced and developed by the workforce.
Waitrose is a more traditional example of an empowered workforce showing loyalty and commitment to their company and brand.
Brands showing more of a human side, including their flaws, will be awesome for 2012 consumers, according to Trendwatching.
While the global ‘Occupy’ protests focussed their anger on the financial markets, a record level of disgust at corporate greed was displayed in 2011. Brands who can communicate honestly and openly with consumers are likely to do well in 2012. An interesting example of corporate transparency came last summer, as Domino’s rented a large billboard space in New York’s Times Square, where both good and bad customer feedback was live streamed via Twitter on to the digital hoarding.
Expect even greater things from: Triodos
According to Forbes, simple answers to complex questions will win out in 2012. People’s desire for simplicity grows in parallel with the increasing intricacy of modern life, resulting in the convergence of complex services and products into clear, expectation-exceeding solutions. Brands need to really understand their own position and offering to give their customers that ‘wow’ experience. This will be a clear case of brands owning self-knowledge and creative intuition going far.
Expect great things from: Apple
Microblogging, social networks and information portals combine to a greater degree. Businesses will have to work harder across all platforms to ensure their message is simple, coherent and ‘on-brand’.
If your brand does not have a coherent, voice, vision and strategy shared both with customers and throughout the workforce the end result is likely to be a confusion of mixed messages. Spending time getting your communications strategy right will pay dividends in 2012.
Expect even greater things from: Delta Airlines
Co-operate to survive
According to many business leaders, co -operation will play a bigger role in building the economy in 2012 than competition will. Richard Branson, Jeffrey Sachs, and Charles Leadbetter all agree that a more co-operative, reciprocal, symbiotic approach to business dealings and finance will benefit businesses and consumers alike.
Read more on the topic from: Charles Leadbetter in The Guardian
Retaining talent in the team
While the UK faces a bleak economic outlook and a potential return of recession in 2012, individual companies will benefit from retaining knowledge within the business. Keeping IT staff will be a particular challenge in 2012 - unemployment rates are low within this profession as job opportunities continue to emerge. Talented programmers leaving key positions can slow company growth significantly, as their understanding of bespoke systems leaves too.
Read more about this from: Network World
One of the surest predictions of 2012 appears to be the rise of mobile purchasing. As technology becomes more robust, more providers come on board, and the adoption of smart phones rises worldwide, the switch to using mobiles as payment devices will affect purchasing patterns dramatically in 2012.
Expect great things from: Google
Traditionally conservative consumers in emerging markets are set to embrace more honest, frank, and potentially risqué brand messages in 2012. With an increasingly urban global consumer market, brands who push boundaries are likely to push up profits.
Comment from the horse’s mouth: Trendwatching
Fragmentation of mass markets
Niche markets continue to grow as mass markets disintegrate. The pharmaceutical industry is a good example of this, as better diagnosis and gene sequencing methods produce increasingly specific – and more accurate – medicines. The result is serving smaller markets higher quality products, rather than a broad mass of consumers making do with generic solutions.
This fracturing of mass markets will be profitable for companies who understand their consumer base, listen to their feedback and tailor their products and services accordingly.
Read more about this from: Forbes
While most businesses are growing to understand and utilise the power of social media to speak directly to their customers, many are simply not listening to the feedback, nor using this to aid future brand strategy. Companies who do as much listening as talking will fare best in 2012, whether they be small start-ups looking for market research to inform their first marketing campaign, or large multinationals wishing to measure brand equity of consumers across continents.
We found a useful overview of the most current social listening tools last month on Slideshare.
Find out more from: Rosie Siman
Ultimately, we see that to make your business great, you, your customers and your staff need to understand what your brand stands for and why it is different – and better – than the rest.
Brands who truly differentiate themselves within the marketplace will prosper in 2012, and for years to come.
Read more about this from: Steve Fuller at The House
Breathing life into some parts of an organisation can often have an uplifting effect on others. Our most recent rebrand and website refresh for Touchstone has not only given them a slick look online but also clearly illustrates their complete offering to both staff and clients.
As part of our on-going work with property management company Touchstone CPS, we helped them to differentiate the various offers within their business by creating a range of sub brands. Using the visual brand DNA created earlier in the year, we set each business area apart by employing variant colours within the brand palette and gave each new sub brand its own strapline.
“We’re really happy with the end results of this project”, says John Midgley from Touchstone. “One of the most satisfying part of the process was carrying out our own photo shoot, so that now all the imagery on the website is ours and truly reflects our identity and commitment to quality on every level”.
Incorporating of all Touchstone services on one site has set the standard for a collaborative working relationship within the business where all areas can benefit from each other’s experience and knowledge rather than working as separate companies. It has also increased chances for cross selling across the business for new and existing clients. The resulting suite of refreshed logos have been applied to stationery, office walls, brand guidelines and, of course, the new website.
Stand for something or stand for nothing.
I’ve just returned from an event where some of the most successful companies of today describe how they will continue to be memorable tomorrow.
Mumsnet, White Stuff, Metrobank, Patisserie Valerie all advise business owners to have a cause, be true to yourself, differentiate, be courageous, be controversial occasionally and have fun - not one of them said be fearful, be the same, be vanilla.
In a world as busy and complex as ours there’s no room for 'me too', for bland, for fluff. So dig deep, ask yourself why you are in business (other than to make a profit); remember the spark that made you start your business, join the company, have that idea and use it to light the touchpaper that will allow your brand to light up your customers and your employees.
This is not a call to be something you're not, to create spin or to polish something that is long dead. I ask you to recognise what is yours (and yours alone) that will be attractive to your audience - and here’s a clue, it has nothing to do with price.
Think of your brand in the same way as an introduction to a speech you are about to make. Wouldn’t it be great to be introduced as the person who has fans not customers, who has a loyal family not staff, who has customers who bake cakes for their birthday, who has customer comment cards that tell them that they can’t improve on their service levels?
These are real life results created by businesses that want to stand out by being true to what they believe in.
And what I love most of all about all of the companies I heard from was that they are profitable, market leaders, growing and most importantly, happy.
The House were recognised last week for our Mission Burrito rebrand at the Cream Awards 2011. We came top of the corporate identity category, along with Wyatt International.
Competition was tough, with several entries coming from global agencies such as McCann Erickson and Golley Slater. Judges commented that the standard of work was exceptionally high.
“Being recognised for the work we do by a well-respected awards body is great, especially against such strong competition. Knowing that we stand shoulder to shoulder with global branding agencies is good; coming top in our category is even better!”
Sam Dyer, Senior Designer
Mission Burrito case study
Our Autumn season has begun with a celebration – our appointment to a number of business-to-business clients in the region. Briefs range from helping clients renew their company vision, improve internal communication, undertake company culture and values surveys; visual identity and website development.
One of these, Consumer Intelligence, specialise in gathering consumer data and pricing research. They are leaders in their field working with the majority of the recognised national brands in the insurance and financial sector. Already a success story, the Directors at Consumer Intelligence have invited us to help them communicate more effectively inside and outside their business as they move into their next period of growth.
There are a number of definitions for brand but this is one of my favourites. Here at The House we work with all of our clients to focus on what their promise is to their customers and then help them to create a business that is equipped to deliver it.
A promise should be stretching and something to aspire to but also simple and memorable for staff and customers alike. It’s a statement of intent that will take your business into the future. Some businesses translate their promises into straplines; excuse the delivery gag but FedEx make their promise explicit on every plane, van and parcel that carries their livery “The World On Time”. This is a big, bold, confident promise that clearly communicates FedEx’s role of connecting people and businesses around the globe within a guaranteed timeframe. Promises also need to move to stay ahead of the market, FedEx used to be the brand that owned ‘Delivery by 10am tomorrow’, now that’s a generic message.
So what is your promise to your customer and does everyone in your business know what it is? More importantly do they believe it and do they care? I’m not an advocate of sticking company values and promises on the wall to sit there and fade, as a business leader or head of department you have to find ways to bring the promise alive for everyone in your organisation to understand.
If you get buy-in from your team you are more likely to be able to meet your commitment – the alternative is a broken promise and we all know what that feels like. I remember the first time I met Chris Lister, Managing Director of Envirotec, he spoke to me about how important promise was to him and how he can only work with people who understand the level of responsibility meeting that promise has. Imagine if The Bank of England broke its ‘promise to pay the bearer’ the notes in your pocket would be worthless.
So, if you can make a promise to your customer and deliver it to their satisfaction or delight you will become a brand that they will buy from repeatedly, talk about to their friends and may even want to work for – if not, well, I think you know the answer.
Our promise? To leave our clients clear, equipped and confident about their future.
Finally, the FedEx logo also reinforces the promise delivered ethos – there is a visual gag in the logo, see if you can spot it.
It’s hard to get your business to sing from the same song sheet if you haven’t got one in the first place.
Successful businesses don’t just define what their brand stands for; they craft it, agree it, then spend time and energy on making it meaningful for everyone, from customers, to employees, and suppliers. This song sheet turns a brand promise into actionable standards for all their teams. An in-tune business arranges these standards so that they deliver the best possible joined up customer experience.
Imagine a school choir singing at assembly but nobody has been told which song to sing. You’d end up with an unruly cacophony of noise.
What does a together business mean for me?
• It means less confusion, less wasted time and less wasted energy.
• It means greater team harmony, working in an environment where people are able to deliver
with more consistency, inventiveness and speed.
• It means better delivery, a better customer experience leading to happy customers and
inevitably customer referral, recommendation and repeat business
Businesses perform better when their people are truly together, when all departments are working to the same brand ‘song sheet’ and everyone is clear about what’s required of them to deliver the brand standards which deliver a joined-up customer experience. Sounds easy, but it takes discipline and effort. It requires cross functional team collaboration, communication and openness and someone to conduct the whole ensemble.
So, ask yourself. Do you have a song to sing and how many of your people actually know the tune?
A successful brand works to make a business outstanding.
The House is a brand agency with a difference. We put business imperatives at the centre of all we do.
This is because we believe that the best way for you to realise your business ambition is to put your brand to work for you and not the other way around.
Too many of our competitors put the cart before the horse; often they are in awe of brands and believe that the brand is more important than the business that creates it. It's an easy mistake to make.
So how are we different?
Because we make the business case first – it’s why we exist. We start and end with your business and your ambitions for it.
We work hard to understand your business (including customers, competitors and employees) because it’s only by getting to the heart of your business that we can really make your brand work for you.
We do this by working with you to develop the tools to grow: a crystal clear and inspiring vision, customer understanding, an articulation of shared values, a dynamic position in the market that is distinctly different and a believable brand promise that is anchored in a business truth and always with our collective eye on the business benefits.
From there we create internal communication that leads to a well-briefed and more effective team, and external communication that highlights what makes you attractive to your customers and drives growth.
Our promise is to leave you feeling clear, equipped and confident about your future and, most importantly, with your business in better shape.
We are, after all, in the service business.