Morning, its a dreich day in Dundee this morning, but I am looking forward to a business lunch with someone I respect immensely in the local business community. My thoughts as a small business owner are turning to 2011 and what that will mean for my business. I know that I need to drive it forward and be in control – something which I have come to realise is a strong motivator for me now that I run my own company.
I’ve been telling my ‘how I came to be in business’ story a lot over the last 18 months or so and sometimes the conversation comes round to how I chose the name. So that has inspired me to blog about it.
I knew when I launched my business that I wanted a strong brand which would stand out from the crowd. I was also very aware that I should consider having the kind of name that ‘does what it says on the tin’ but lets face it, Alison Henderson Event Management & Marketing Consultants makes a horrific web address, and an even worse email one. I’d need to give out 12-inch rulers as business cards!
So we sat down as a family (me, my husband Jimmy & my son Fraser) and had a bit of a think. We came up with loads of names and one of them really caught my imagination. For all of you out there with children, I’m guessing you are more used to the whole intertwining pinkie finger thing which is a binding promise to your child to take them to the cinema/football/park or whatever kind of activity you promised to do, that you double-promise to follow through on. Well, my husband ALWAYS did this with our son (it was their thing) and I loved the whole concept of it. Of course we could always have called the company ‘Cross Your Heart’ (for all you oldies out there who remember Playtext bras!) but its not got quite the same ring to it.
I knew that for me it symbolised how I would follow through on promises to my clients and it had a very strong and quirky feel to it.
So I began the process of working on the branding with my designer. I gave him a design brief (because its so important to be clear to your designer on what you want) and we began to design the logo, colour palette and business cards. I’ve never been a pink girly type of person so in the beginning I wanted greens & blues (?) but to give him his due he persuaded me to also look at a pink/grey/silver option. We also looked at quite a few font types – you need to carefully choose your business fonts to fit in with the messages you are portraying in your brand communications.
So after a couple of revisions to my branding, we were done.
When the file went away to the printers it was agonising: what if I didn’t like what we had come up with?
It was like the birth of a baby – a bit of fun at the beginning (just as well it started with my husband!), an incubation period with the designer where the brand grew and changed shape, then the birth of a brand with the delivery of my first business cards. I was (and still am) so excited by the whole process.
When I collected my cards, the printer said that they would display the cards on the wall in the shop because they were one of the most striking cards they had ever produced!
What is great about the business brand, is that it makes people interested in what you do, want to know more and it stands out from all of the other business cards in a pack. There is one big drawback: I’ve never won a business card draw….it must be subliminal. But I can live with that.
What’s also very important for me is that I have a strong brand which I can use to create a suite of sub-brands when I am ready to do so.
I also love to work with businesses: bringing their brands to life, helping them create strong strategic marketing foundations and marketing materials which have punch! I am very fortunate to work with a really amazing & talented bunch of people who are very good at understanding what design & print that I need for my clients. They run their own small businesses and understand the challenges that we all face, which makes them adaptable, quick to respond and deliver when they say they will.
Sometimes a client will wonder why I place so much importance on setting out their brand values, creating a mission statement and understanding what makes them tick. But a business which understands what it believes in, where it is going and how to describe itself, creates an immensely strong impression to the outside & inside world. We all need a vision!