The keenly observant amongst you may well have noticed something different with i2i. After almost 15 years as a yellow brick it was time to say goodbye to the old logo and introduce a fresh, more dynamic look.
Working with long-time friend and associate Alan Hayward we bounced around several ideas, colour schemes and shapes until finally settling on the new look.
We’re delighted with the look of the new brand identity and feedback has been very positive. Now I’m wishing I’d taken the plunge a few years ago but at the very least we took the important step and engaged a professional designer to sharpen up the image.
Interestingly Google also thought the time was right to re-brand with their change of font. This has delivered the usual array of positive and negative comments but from my perspective it’s spot on and timely.
If you have a brand identity are you happy with it? If so is it because, like a pair of old slippers, it’s comfortable and not hurting anyone and the thought of changing it gives you a headache? Or it might be fresh out of the box and still shiny so not ready for any tweaks.
When engaging with clients on this topic I find it can quickly become an emotional rather than rational discussion. Business owners feel protective of the brand, probably because its creation felt a little bit like the birth of their first child or most successful effort at DIY. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is a regular retort to suggestions of brand updating. I’m not unsympathetic to such views but if there is an engrained and stubborn refusal to accept an obvious flaw in a design or brand projection the business may well be losing custom simply through a perception based on looks rather than experience.
The Yellow Brick has come to the end of the road and now we’re hoping to A-peel with Orange (I can hear the groans from here you know). Essentially those involved in the business are behind the new brand and first impressions and feedback by clients has been better than we could’ve expected. As is typical in the culture of our business we don’t want to just talk about an area of marketing we want to get under the skin of it and understand it fully. By taking ourselves through this process I can assure you we understand both the pain and pleasure it can bring and for us in the short term so far the rewards.
The Values what are you looking to convey – expertise, good value, professional, quality, friendly, exclusive
Making an impression – will a new design create the impact you require, look at other brands and how you have responded, what do you want you brand to say to customers.
Staff – don’t overlook those working for you. Engage with them in the process but try and avoid committee led decision making. That typically ends up with consensus but little creativity.
Strapline – This is an interesting one. Some love the idea of a tag line to a brand others avoid at all costs. It can work very well or it can undermine the overall business strategy. For i2i we kept it very simple – moving to Marketing Management two words that for us sum up what we do but still contain a full range of services. Alternatively there is the ethos of the business and examples such as Adidas “impossible is nothing”, Subway “Eat Fresh” and then there’s the bold statement such as Carlsberg “probably the best lager in the world” great examples of enduring messages that underscore and enhance the brand.
Creativity – we all have an element of creativity in us and to lesser or greater extent an ego that wants to see our ideas in lights. In truth you don’t always need an expensive brand consultancy but we would recommend investing in an experienced graphic designer who can turn the ideas into a professionally finished identity.
Colour – If trading globally be aware of international conventions with colour and their cultural references. Also be aware of the way certain colours may appear in print or online. Checking out an HTML colour wheel against a printed pantone guide can deliver two very different results.
Feedback – take comments on board but retain your focus. This is very much a subjective area and will offer up a wide variety of opinions.
Old design – don’t lose customers by moving away too dramatically or quickly from a long standing brand. If you need to modernise consider a 2 or 3 phase approach taking as many years.
Context – consider all areas where the brand will appear – online, TV, video, radio, news print, glossy print, letterhead, e-mail, business cards etc…
All in all have fun with the process if you think it’s time to bring your business forward with a refreshed redesign of your brand make like Nike and just do it.
Last week proved to be an example of what life can deliver if you just say “yes” rather than look at the diary and excuse yourself. Like many I have a busy schedule but as you know “busy” doesn’t always translate to productive or necessarily interesting. So why do we stick with the mundane routine? It’s safe, familiar and something we’re comfortable with but are we denying ourselves experiences that may not only help us but also the business to grow?
This image is my son who bravely donned a pair of high heels in a school fashion show, literally stepping out of his comfort zone. Thanks Bob for letting me use this perfect example.
What happens when the boss asks you to prepare a presentation for a forthcoming meeting or you’re sent on a residential training course by HR? Or if you are the boss and you get an opportunity to attend an engagement that requires a little extra preparation, above and beyond your usual workload?
You might be aware of the often quoted, bizarre but apparently true statistic. We actually fear public speaking over our own deaths? Yes, I know hard to believe but for many the thought of giving a presentation can genuinely put them under so much stress that no other single meaningful act can be achieved until the event passes. It demonstrates how much we can worry about such things and for that read most “new” experiences either within your job or socially.
The question we should be asking ourselves is this. What is the worst that can happen if I do this? What are the likely benefits and potential pitfalls? Noting those worrisome factors work on eliminating them through gaining a better understanding of what you’re going to be doing, those who will be there and if presenting rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. A polished performance comes from practice and the confidence in your own ability as a result of putting in sufficient preparation time. Even if it’s simply being somewhere to attend a meeting, dinner or networking event try and gather as much intelligence as you can beforehand.
Of course sometimes an opportunity presents itself that doesn’t afford the luxury of hours of preparation. In those circumstances it’s important that your decision factors in the likely outcomes and a polite “no” may well prove to be the right response, after all you may be asked as an after-thought, late replacement (something that has happened to me). However, being a 2nd or 3rd choice shouldn’t be a dent to the ego but a potential challenge to prove that you should’ve been their natural first on the list. [NB] It’s still important to retain a clear objective and thoughts on its likely achievement given the short notice period.
Just by taking simple steps and allowing yourself to be in unfamiliar territory you become an explorer and collector of experiences that broaden your horizons.
Last week I presented at a national forum for law firm leaders. Despite having presented more times than I can care to remember I still experience the adrenalin and anxiety of making that public appearance. That critical moment all eyes fall on you and they expect to be entertained and learn something at the same time can be quite nerve wracking even for the most experienced presenters. That very same week I also made a successful application to be in the audience of BBC Question Time, again taking myself out of the usual comfort of watching the show on the sofa and instead taking part in the programme.
What did I do to make the experience more rewarding?
At the leadership forum I primarily went to learn and connect with others who are leaders in a sector I have a great interest in. I made copious notes and really gained a better insight into factors that impact my business. For my presentation I requested, in advance, a list of the attendees from the organisers and spent an hour googling various names to see who would be in the room with me. This creates familiarity. One of the great benefits of our “connected” World is that it can be relatively easy to find useful facts and information on senior business figures, some perhaps share a little too much but that’s for another blog.
With BBC Question Time I made an even greater effort to track the week’s political news and also researched the panel – sending a tweet of introduction a couple of days before the show. I was prepared with my question, rehearsed it several times but as luck would have it we ran out of time for me to pose my query.
These are 2 examples of events both of which required a decision, personal commitment a step outside of a comfort zone and break from the routine. They also required an investment in time to gain a tangible benefit. OK the BBC show was more pleasure for me than a business opportunity but having met so many very interesting people at the venue I wouldn’t hesitate in going again if the opportunity arose.
I appreciate many readers will have examples of their own no doubt far more entertaining and interesting but the point I’m hoping to make is that the simple step to participate is one we should take more often. Escape the routine and find a challenge that will stretch or stimulate.
Our lives can become too full of tasks, others problems and “stuff” that makes us weary and unable to commit to extra curricula activities. In my experience the simple act of participating in “out of the norm” activities provides the spark and stimulation to re-invigorate our lives back at the coalface.
Meeting new people in new surroundings and entering into these situations with an open and challenging mind is a way to bring real value back to what you do during a “normal” day. Perhaps we just shouldn’t have standard days, ideally we should engineer something unique. If not each day certainly once a week challenge yourself to be somewhere new and make connections.
So the next time you receive an invitation or have a fleeting thought of attending a show or event that interests you don’t let it escape, step outside the comfort zone and say yes, you never know where it might lead.
We all need a virtual or actual boost in our businesses now and again. It’s too easy to become complacent, comfortable or afraid of making any changes that might make things “different”.
What many successful businesses do is harness a culture of continual evolution never settling for the status quo. This can be massively helped by recruiting staff who don’t fear change and have their own streak of entrepreneurism. If this is harnessed to a leadership team with clear goals and a strategy to enable attainment of the objectives the future will look bright.
Unfortunately certain sectors contain more than their fair share of risk averse personalities and they can in turn keep a business locked into a mode that ensures it fails to capitalise on new trends and seek out opportunities.
Smaller organisations can rely on the owners far too much and expect them to feed the company through their efforts to win new customers. For a large number of proprietors the challenge of running a business alone is enough to fully occupy them and the additional responsibility of bringing in revenue gets consigned to a “to do” list that rarely gets actioned.
So what can be done for these many ambitious but largely stagnant businesses? How can they rekindle the pioneering, energetic and challenging spirit that formed them?
There are any number of resources available to the average business – but this in itself can prove to be an inhibitor as too many options can prove confusing and ultimately fail to deliver the desired result.
The same may be said of certain third party agencies who approach business owners direct and feed their anxieties. They make promises to provide the solutions sought but end up costing the company an expensive fee and wasted time in pursuing false hopes.
On a more positive note I’ve recently had the opportunity to work with the Growth Accelerator programme. The phrase “Growth Accelerator” for some seems to conjure up rather dubious pills that might be promoted via spam e-mail but I can assure you it is no quack solution. This is a well organised and effective initiative for commercial enterprises covering three core areas:
Growth Accelerator provides access to finance to assist the companies in achieving their agreed goals.
What is reassuring about this programme is the assessment and selection of coaches and clear focus on quality service and the ultimate delivery for the businesses taking part.
Growth Accelerator is available to businesses registered in the UK who have fewer than 250 staff and a turnover less than £40m. Essentially they must be looking to grow their business by 20% – turnover or profit.
The Growth Accelerator process uses template guides that are introduced by experienced coaches offering a highly visible and effective tool to help the business see their future growth over a 3 year period.
It’s certainly not the only option but it is currently one of the most popular initiatives sought out by businesses wishing to grow but to do so in a manner that is both practical and sustainable.
If this is something you would like to explore further please feel free to drop me a line and we will put you in touch with your regional Growth Manager.