Entrepreneurship
Power of Branding: Part 4

Naming Brand names are an important aspect in setting the tone and personality of your brand, as well as being a key element in marketing activity. Along with design and tone of voice, a name can be a means of differentiation and should reflect the overall brand strategy you’ve developed. Choosing a name can be a difficult task in itself, but it’s made even harder because so many are already in use and trademarked. By sure to check carefully that any names you’re considering for a company, product or service aren’t already in use and protected by law. On the whole, a name falls into one of a few types, which can be arranged along a kind of spectrum of attributes. These attributes are: Descriptive Names which simply say what the company/brand does. For example: Easyjet – makes flying easy Toys ‘R’ Us – is all about toys AA (Automobile Association) – is for motorists Evocative Names which suggest associations to the brand but do not try to describe the offer precisely. For example: First Direct – first bank to offer instant telephone banking Innocent – natural purity of the fruit juice Abstract Names that break sector rules and stand out. They make no clear reference to the nature of the business. For example: Orange – bright, optimistic, Modernist Aviva – an invented name than suggests dynamism and movement Toast – suggests familiarity and warmth Consistency In branding and brand management a lot of importance is placed on achieving consistency, so that the same attributes and characteristics are evident in all areas of the business’ operations. Essentially, ‘the big idea’ touches and informs everything you do. Some contemporary brands are less heavily ‘policed’ in this way. There is a trend towards encouraging customers to generate their own content or interpretations within a framework of branded elements or templates. The London 2012 Olympics logo, for example, was designed by Wolff Ollins with these types of user- generated adaptations in mind. Evolution or revolution An important question when undertaking any reassessment of your brand is whether to go for small, incremental changes as a refresher, or to plump for a major overhaul of your company’s or product’s image. Broadly speaking, evolution is preferable if you are already in a strong position with a solid customer base and you just need to keep up with a growing or developing market. Revolution, on the other hand, might be more appropriate if your customer base is in decline, the market has changed substantially since the inception of your current brand or you have no point of difference from your competitors. To work through these kinds of questions it’s a good idea to consider hiring a designer to look at the current state of your company and explore possibilities for developing it. In more depth We have compiled a free step-by-step guide to hiring and working with a designer which provides expert advice, useful tips and first-hand commentary from small business owners and designers. Visit the Design Council website to find out more. BP: evolution then revolution A BP corporate identity designed in the early 1920s was used for over 80 years, with refreshed versions appearing periodically to keep the logo looking contemporary. However, in 2000 there was a break from the past when the corporate identity was completely redesigned to create the current tessellated \'sunflower\' or Helios identity. This change was a reflection of a change in the company’s approach to environmental concerns. BP\'s emphasis on the development of renewable energy sources was encapsulated in the tagline ‘Beyond Petroleum’, along with other similar aspirational, environmentally themed messages, such as ‘bigger picture’ and ‘better products’. Apple: revolution then evolution The original Apple Computer logo was a complex, illustrated picture of Isaac Newton sitting under a tree. Company chief executive Steve Jobs thought the overly detailed logo had something to do with the slow sales of the Apple I computer, so he decided on a complete change in identity – a revolution of the corporate visual design - and commissioned the rainbow striped logo, which then ran for 22 years. A revolution in branding was needed to kick-start demand for the company’s products. But by 1998, Apple was firmly established as a successful computer manufacturer and so the rainbow identity underwent an evolution to become the more contemporary ‘transparent’ Apple logo in use today. Durex: evolution Condom manufacturer Durex decided to broaden its appeal by positioning the company as being concerned with sexual wellbeing, rather than just condoms. It’s an evolution of the existing Durex brand that adapts to a changing marketplace and keeps the company’s identity and associations fresh. Lucozade: revolution Carrying the slogan ‘Lucozade aids recovery’, the product was originally manufactured by a Newcastle chemist as a source of energy for people who are unwell. But its market share was declining in the 1980s, so the company opted for a revolution of the brand, targeting a completely new customer base. Its energy-giving qualities were promoted to the sports performance market and an advertising campaign featuring athlete Daley Thompson used the new slogan ‘Lucozade replaces lost energy’. Product packaging was completely redesigned and sales subsequently tripled between 1984 and 1989. Shelter: evolution Housing charity Shelter had changed its focus to the problems of poor housing conditions, but a strong association with homelessness – its previous focus – remained. So its identity was evolved to emphasise the fact that housing is at the core of its activities. To achieve this, the letter ‘h’ was adjusted on all its typography so that the top of the ‘h’ looks like a pitched roof. Case study The benefits are clear: How rebranding helped Kingsdown Water tap into new markets It can be considered risky to meddle if you’ve already got a winning formula, but re-vamping your brand can also bring great rewards. William Bomer, Managing Director of Kingsdown Water was aware of the risks when he decided to refresh the look of the company’s mineral water brand. But Bomer wanted to take the gamble to generate new revenue streams. In the first eight months after brand was relaunched the value of sales were up by roughly a third on the previous year and the conversion of customers at the top end of the market increased five-fold, with several top restaurants now stocking Kingsdown water. Branding for different sectors In this chapter we will outline: The similarities and differences between branding in different market sectors Examples from the business world Start-up businesses If you’re launching a new business, you’re in a unique position to operate as what is often called a ‘challenger brand’. This means that you can take a look at a market sector from the outside, assess all the players, opportunities or gaps in the market and then launch your product with a brand that challenges and shakes up the conventions of the sector. It’s hard to do this once you’re established as there’s more to lose, so think carefully about how brave and ‘rule’-breaking’ your product or service can be if you’re about to launch to market. Another benefit you may have as a start-up is that the business is likely to be small and therefore responsive and adaptable, with no existing processes that have to be changed to create a new brand. In short: you’ve got one shot to do something exciting, relatively cheaply, so go for it. Gü: start-up brand Gü was launched into the chilled desserts market as a premium product whose name (an invented word) simultaneously hints at a European origin and evokes thoughts of gooey chocolate or treacle. The name and graphic black and white packaging all broke the ‘rules’ of design and branding in the desserts sector and the product consequently stands out strongly in supermarkets. The brand has subsequently been extended with the launch of Frü, a range of fruit desserts. Public sector Although all branding is about communicating a clear offer to your customers or users, branding in the public sector is not necessarily as concerned with maximum market stand-out, as it typically is in the commercial/private sector. For public sector organisations, such as the police force and health services, the focus may be on clarity and access to important information. So branding and design may focus on signposting this information or communicating issues clearly in order to change people’s behaviour – a Department of Health quit smoking campaign, for example. Clarity can sometimes fall foul of the complex nature of public sector services, which are often run by a network of stakeholder organisations or partners. In branding terms, putting the logos of all such partners on ‘customer’-facing communications can lead to visual clutter, a lack of clarity and confusion. It’s important, therefore, to be clear when a brand or branded campaign is needed and to ensure that its identity is distinct and clear for users. National Health Service: greater clarity The NHS visual identity had become fragmented, with around 1,000 organisations using different identities. An NHS identity programme was set up to address this and create a national unified brand. This ensures clarity and consistency and permits costs savings across the organisation because implementing one brand is more cost effective than supporting many. Service companies Whilst most companies and organisations are providing a service of one type or another, for some businesses customer service is the dominant part of the offer. For these companies particular attention needs to be paid to how the brand (the big idea and all its components) are reflected in the way the service is provided and the way staff interact with customers. In essence, service brands are built on the people who deliver them. This means that staff needed to be trained to get an understanding of the company’s culture, its ‘promise’ to customers and how they will be put into practice on a day to day basis. In this scenario, the human resources department is closely linked to brand management. First Direct: service First Direct was the first company to bring a 24-hour banking service to the market and its level of service was a key message in promoting the bank to potential customers. To ensure the delivery of high quality service, First Direct recruits people with customer service skills rather than those who are already in the banking industry. This ensures that the company’s service delivery matches is brand ‘promise’. Business to business A lot of the brands discussed in this guide are consumer-facing brands, but many businesses market their products and services directly to other businesses, not the public. But the principles of effective branding apply in just the same way in the B2B sector as elsewhere. As in consumer products, B2B companies need to use branding to differentiate, stand-out and create a distinct personality, even if that personality is more corporate and business-like in its tone. Mechan: B2B branding Mechan designs and manufactures mechanical handling equipment for the rail industry, but by 2005 its image was starting to look dated. At the same time the company was faced with a static UK market and growing competition from abroad, so it needed stronger communications to create impact with potential business customers. Working with a designer the company researched what the brand actually stood for (the big idea) and then a branding consultancy created a visual identity that is strong, clean and simple and works across all the company’s communications, including products, website, trade stands and literature. Read the full story online in our case study. Case study Saving grace How a brand refresh changed the public perception of NS&I: In the late 1990s, the government’s National Savings department was perceived as an old fashioned brand for grannies and children. Working with a design team, National Savings developed a new brand name, identity and positioning. They formulated a new approach to the marketplace that was consumer needs-led rather than product-focused. In 2000, National Savings re-launched as NS&I. Inspired by the positive reception they received, NS&I went on to redesign their website – increasing their online sales by £45m in just eight weeks. Design and branding In this chapter we will outline: The relationship between design and branding The key design ingredients of branding Examples from the business world As we started out by saying, an organisation’s brand is a whole set of associations which people make when they think about or encounter that business. A common misconception – and one that designers are always at pains to correct – is that a brand is simply a logo or identity. The logo is just one manifestation of a brand, although it’s often a top-level communication, seen most frequently by the greatest number of people. It should therefore embody the key ingredients of the brand in a distinctive, recognisable marque. Take the Nike ‘swoosh’ for example. Designed in 1971 by Carolyn Davidson, then a graphic design student at Portland State University, the swoosh is a simple yet effective logo that conveys energy and movement, appropriate to a company that makes performance sportswear. So, while brand building and branding are complex, strategic activities, there is almost always a vital creative design component too. Design is what translates the ideas into communication. And many designers will work through both the strategy and the implementation to ensure that the results are consistent, adaptable and in-keeping with your original brand attributes. Key design ingredients There is a range of design elements that can be used to convey a brand proposition. Here are a few of them, with an example in each case: — Colour – Orange — Shape – Toilet Duck — Name – Egg — Touch/materials – iPhone — Sound – Intel — Illustration – Lloyds TSB — Typography – BBC — Environment – Guinness Storehouse After working through a branding project with designers you should be left with something called brand guidelines. This is a document which details exactly how the different design elements (typically visual) should be applied in different situations. It will give information on things like typography, graphics, colours, materials, templates and photography used in the visual manifestation of the brand, providing instructions on how to apply them in different contexts, at different scales and so on. More detailed brand guidelines may include things like cultural or behavioural directions for staff training. The organisation can use these brand guidelines to manage the brand after the designer’s work on the project is completed without losing the original consistency and clarity of the designs and, most importantly, with losing sight of your original big idea. In more depth If you’re thinking commissioning a design project, we have compiled a free step-by-step guide which provides expert advice, useful tips and first-hand commentary from small business owners and designers. Visit the Design Council website to find out more. Case study Smooth operators Strong brand values are at the heart of Innocent drinks’ success From its humble beginnings as a stall at a small music festival in 1998, Innocent drinks now lays claim to an impressive 63% share of the £111m UK smoothie market. Yet despite becoming Britain’s fastest growing food and drink company, Innocent has managed to maintain the integrity of its brand values, retaining the trust and support of its employees, customers and retail partners.

Entrepreneurship
Innovation: Customer Service is the CONDUIT Through Which Direct Brand Conversations Happen

Customer service and brand marketing are rapidly converging. With the help of social media and courtesy of greater competitive forces, most companies are now finding that the experience of their brand is one of if not the differentiator for their brand. But wait, the experience does not have to be passive on the company side - the story the company reinforces in the minds of its customers counts. This is valid especially with mature brands where predictability can become a double edged sword. Was Starbucks too much of a good thing?I asked a short two months ago. There is a conversation going on right now on several blogs about how the company could take its brand to the next level. Although the company may call this a “brand conversation”, our customers just think of it as a cup of coffee and a chat worth going to that specific store and paying for. The brand is a by-product of that experience - no more and no less. Let’s not over-think it. John Moore of Brand Autopsy, author of Tribal Knowledge, sums up this lesson for any business nicely in his book: Be passionate about your business Educate customers on how and why they should appreciate what you offer Create a welcoming place, an experience easy to remember Every word counts, every action counts, attitude counts. This is where I see plenty of opportunity for businesses to move back into customer service. The whole business, not just a lucky few on the front lines. Recently Starbucks closed 7,000 of its U.S. locations for three hours so it could provide espresso excellence training to employees. Was that valuable to us? I believe we become repeat purchasers of those products and services that have a good ratio between price and value. Yet, the most valuable of all brand experiences happen through direct conversations. These are the “in the moment” instances in which a company has the opportunity to either make or break your day, to choose whether it will be difficult and sloppy, or if it will make its actions count. Actions matter. “Companies that focus on delivering remarkable products and services attract significant attention from customers conditioned to a retail world in which the necessities are bought and sold without fuss or feeling.”(Page xiii) “Companies that put their money behind their brand and not their business fail to realize that the business is the brand.”(Page 6) “Starbucks learned the most effective way to spend its marketing dollars is not on making funnier television commercials but rather on making better customer experiences.”(Page 10) “…lasting brand loyalty is built on making the common uncommon…”(Page 11) “Measuring the reputation of a brand can and should be as simple as measuring the reputation of a company – something that is earned through purposeful execution and not merely fabricated to exploit a worthwhile business opportunity.”(Page 24) “The challenge for a company that chooses to open its doors – and grow its business – based on quality products and services and quality customer experiences is that it has only one shot to make a meaningful customer connection. Customers will overcome their aversion to higher prices if the product or service they are buying is well worth it.”(Page 32) “Businesses can simplify sales strategies by focusing on acquiring new customers; getting current customers to buy more, more often; and/or raising prices. It really is that simple.”(Page 40) “Growth was and is encouraged, and made possible, by wanting to meet the desires of customers more than wanting to meet sales or profit projections…Starbucks’ steadfast drive to become the best coffee retailer has resulted in its being the biggest coffee retailer. It can often work out that way…but it never seems to work in the reverse.”(Page 51) “What is the benefit of the benefit of your best-selling product or service? Think about its most important feature and make it more personal, until you’ve reached the ultimate experience your customers derive from it.”(Page 59) “Needs are basic. Needs are rational. Needs are boring. Needs have been commoditized. Every unremarkable business seems to be in the needs-fulfilling business. Wants are emotional. Wants are aspirational. Wants are thrilling. Wants are where the profits are. Only truly remarkable businesses are in the business of satisfying customer wants by helping customers actualize their aspirations.”(Page 96) “Delivering on promises is not enough today. Businesses, big or small, must find ways to over-deliver on their promises, implied and expressly stated, to customers…The most important part of over-delivering on promises to customers is having conscientious employees who make over-delivering a part of their everyday on-the-job way of life.”(Pages 103-104) “…experiences provide customers with rich and compelling stories to share with others, while products typically satiate immediate, basic needs.”(Page 136) “The best internal culture a company could hope for is one where the employees are so loyal they spread word of the company and its product with fierce passion, a culture where employees go way beyond being minions to being missionaries.”(Page 157) “Brands are made possible by people because, unlike products and services, competitors cannot replicate a brand’s promise, or their passion.”(Page 189) “Starbucks doesn’t view profit and the maximizing of profits as business strategy. The company views profit as an outcome. The mindset at Starbucks is, profit happens as a direct result of doing everything else right.”(Page 225)  

Entrepreneurship
Power of Branding: Part 3

Case studies Clean break How domestic cleaning manufacturers Challs reinvented its brand Ipswich-based Challs International was good at launching cleaning products, but not so good at getting them noticed. With the help of a design team, a confusing range of products was dramatically streamlined, repositioned, rebranded, repackaged and a powerful sales presentation created. Sales increased by 35% and Challs is now listed in most of the UK’s major supermarkets and is in negotiations to take the brand to Europe. Read the full story online in our case study Branching out Rebranding to expand a family-run fruit farm Bank End Farm was a thriving, family-run fruit farm in Finningley, outside Doncaster. But farmer David McCallum wanted to take the business on a stage, build a brand and sell his products to a much wider market. A design expert appointed by the Designing Demand programme helped them write a brief for a couple of local design agencies then choose Sheffield-based Vivid Creative to work with on a brand identity project. ‘It has been a very good experience,’ says farm manager David McCallum. ‘It has really taken our business up a level and given us a much more professional image.’ Read the full story online in our case study Brand Management Techniques In this chapter we will outline: — Ways to communicate, manage and develop your brand identity — Examples from the business world Getting your message across Once your encompassing brand ‘promise’ is in place, you need to consider how you will communicate it and then how you will manage and develop it over time. Here are a few techniques and issues that are worth considering: Storytelling An established technique in branding a business is to tell its story through communication elements such as corporate identity, packaging, stationery, marketing materials and so on. This can be quite low key, but it paints a picture of the provenance of the company and its products. Sheffield butcher John Crawshaw, for example, hand-picks the meat sold in his three shops, whilst most of his competitors have their meat delivered in vacuum packs from an abattoir. Credibility The credibility of your brand’s offer must also be solid. For example, a Yorkshire drainage company called Naylor launched a range of lifetime-guaranteed flower pots, but the Naylor brand was inappropriate to market this range because it was associated too directly with the drainage side of the business. So the company set up a new brand called Yorkshire Flowerpots, with its own tone of voice, personality and visual identity so that it could sell the products with greater credibility. Differentiation A great deal of branding is about defining and presenting a point of differentiation in the sector you’re operating in. Get this right and your organisation will stand out brightly against your competitors. Construction company Hilti provides an example of differentiation in a sector. Whilst most other construction companies use technical images of buildings and products in their communications, Hilti emphasised its relationship with the people involved in construction, showing black and white photographs of workers using Hilti tools, which are highlighted in the company’s corporate red. Engaging with customers Part and parcel of creating differentiation is engaging with your customers or users. If you stand out of the crowd for positive reasons and your tone of voice and communications are credible customers will look at what you’ve got to say. When Orange launched in the mobile phone market in 1994, its identity, language and offer were very distinctive from its established rivals. It presented an optimistic vision of the future based on technology, but from a human rather than technical point of view. Its logo and name were abstract, creating stand out against BT Cellnet, T-Mobile and Vodafone, and its services were organised into simple talk plan packages. For over a decade, this approach has remained more or less unchanged. For instance, the 2008 Orange campaign revolved around the slogan \'I am who I am because of everyone\'. Adverts featured a series of individuals (including recognised entrepreneurs, athletes and writers) listing the people that have most influenced the course of their lives. By appealing to everyone\'s sense of individualism and focusing on the value of human interaction and communication rather than competitive price plans or the latest technology, Orange are able to extol the benefits of their service without ever having to mention mobile telephones. Focusing your product portfolio If you have a number of different products or services it may help to consider how you can streamline or organise them to make the offer easy for consumers to understand. Sometimes, the logic of internal company structures can dictate how a product offer is organised, but this does not necessarily make sense to an external customer. So think carefully about the best way to present what you do, even if it means setting things up differently from your internal organisation. Rationalisation of products or services might also allow you to focus your investments more efficiently. After working through the Design Council’s Designing Demand programme, household cleaning product manufacturer Challs did exactly this by shifting the focus to four key products, rather than the 92 it had previously been promoting. Case study To find out more about how branding helped Challs make its products stand out on the shelf, read our case study online. Multiple brands and brand ‘stretch’ If your company operates in more than one sector you will have to consider how you present the business in each area. One approach, as illustrated by Virgin, EasyGroup and Tesco, is to have a single brand identity which is applied to sub-brands for the areas you operate in. So we have Virgin Money and Virgin Atlantic, Easy Pizza and Easy Cruise, Tesco Entertainment and Tesco Finance and so on. Just how far you can ‘stretch’ your primary brand in this way depends on the core ideas, values and associations you have to start with. In some cases it may actually be more effective to develop a completely distinct brand for the different sectors you want to operate it, rather than stretch your existing brand to meet new markets. As mentioned above, for Naylor’s flower pot business it made more sense to set up a dedicated brand called Yorkshire Flowerpots than to associate it with the existing Naylor drainage business. There have been some notable and high-profile failures when it comes to brand stretch. A natural cleaning vinegar launched by Heinz bombed as a product because people associate Heinz with food, not cleaning. Harley Davidson (over-)extended its range to include perfume. This failed because it was perceived as being at odds with the Harley Davidson brand values of masculinity and strength. Endorsed brands A slightly more sophisticated possibility is to set up ‘endorsed’ brands. This is where you create a new brand in its own right but allow the ‘parent’ brand of your main company to feature as an endorsement of the new brand. Playstation, for example, is a powerful brand in its own right, but it has always been endorsed as Sony Playstation, leveraging the reputation of Sony Corporation. Reinvigorating your brand Whatever sector your work in, keeping your communications fresh is essential. Using designers to help reassess your designs, language or identity every few years should be seen as an ongoing investment in your company rather than a costly extra. All successful companies revisit their communications periodically, even the world\'s most recognisable brands. But reinvigorating your brand doesn’t necessarily mean you have to start from the very beginning, reconsidering your big idea or vision and so on. Take Coca-Cola for instance. In 2007 they commissioned design agency Turner Duckworth to produce a range of new packaging designs that would breathe new life into the cornerstones of Coke\'s visual identity; the classic logo, the contour bottle and the use of red and white. If you\'re happy with your company\'s big idea, vision and personality, these things can remain the foundations of what you’re doing - but the implementation of your brand should be refreshed to keep things on track and ensure it remains relevant to your target audience.  

Entrepreneurship
Directors’ Briefing: Personal Development Plans

Personal development plans (PDPs) provide a powerful, flexible way to link employees’ professional and personal development with the development of your business. A PDP is a short, unambiguous written document — usually one side of A4 paper — that maps out how a person can develop skills and progress in his or her job. Using PDPs, you can engage your people’s abilities, commitment and knowledge to maximise their potential and that of your business. This briefing outlines: ◆ What personal development plans involve. ◆ Who needsPDPs. ◆ How to implement PDPs. More than training Using PDPs is not the same as simply putting groups of employees through traditional training programmes. A. PDPs focus on the development of the individual employee. ◆ The company will also benefit if the PDP is working well. ◆ To reap the benefits of a PDP, it is essential to secure the trust of your employees. Let them know you are fully committed to meeting the expectations that will be generated by PDPs. ◆ You will also need to enlist the commitment of the managers responsible for running PDPs, and provide appropriate training B. PDPs are personal for each employee, reflecting his or her individual aspirations. ◆ Agreed long-term objectives are the foundation of each plan. These can then be broken down into short-term goals. ◆ Once you have agreed the objectives you can decide how best to achieve them. ◆ Regular reviews are essential to ensure that the PDP is on track. PDP reviews should be held at least twice-yearly and can be built into your formal appraisal system. The new recruit’s PDP Using a PDP is an ideal way to manage the development of a new employee. A. The broad objective will be to enable the newcomer to become a useful member of the team. Within that, typical objectives might be: ◆ To find his or her way around, and learn company policies and who the key people are. ◆ To be able to use the computer system. ◆ To build a productive relationship with his or her manager and co-workers. ◆ To be able to communicate with customers in a professional manner. Each of these objectives should have a target deadline. B. For each objective, the most appropriate method can be agreed. For example: ◆ A formal induction programme, with copies of appropriate company documents for self-study, to cover company knowledge. ◆ Computer skills could be developed in training courses and on-the-job training. ◆ Working relationships might simply be allowed to develop, but kept as part of the plan for review. ◆ The customer communication goal might be addressed later, by seconding the trainee to the sales team. C. The PDP might initially be reviewed each month, with the aim of moving to normal quarterly reviews after three months. Reviews will aim to ensure the objectives are met. ◆ For example, if the employee is still struggling with the computer, further training may be appropriate. D. Over time, the new recruit should start to have more input into setting objectives. ◆ The employee will report on how well the objectives are being achieved, and how effective the training has been. 3. Consider what resources you need to support employees’ PDPs and review them regularly. ◆ You may need to provide access to training, mentoring, finance or equipment. If you underestimate the resources required, you risk setting employees up to fail and damaging morale, productivity and the trust of employees. Who is involved? Ideally, every employee should have a PDP. ◆ Junior employees benefit from PDPs that help them to develop their roles within the business (see box). ◆ Managers and employers also benefit from PDPs, which keep them motivated and stop them resting on their laurels (see box, page 3). Typically, each employee’s line manager is responsible for the employee’s PDP. ◆ Managers need appropriate training to ensure they can manage PDPs effectively. Developing these skills can be built into the manager’s own PDP. Courses to develop the relevant skills of counselling, coaching and mentoring are widely available. Contact your Business Link or the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (020 8612 6200) for further information. ◆ The most senior employees—and those whose performance has the most impact on the performance of the business — may benefit from an external mentor (see Using training effectively, HR 28). Get the involvement of all your people by encouraging a learning culture. For example, senior employees may be involved in mentoring others. ◆ Provide support and training to enable mentoring. Setting objectives To help the employee determinine PDP objectives, use a standard PDP questionnaire. This triggers issues for discussion and shows that everyone is being treated the same way. Useful questions might include: ◆ What do you want to get out of work? ◆ What are your strengths and which parts of your work would you like to improve? ◆ Where would you like more responsibility? ◆ What is preventing you from developing as you would like? ◆ Which interests or abilities would you like to develop? ◆ Which new skills, or improved skills, would enhance your work performance? ◆ How do you like to learn? ◆ What skills or experience would allow you to feel more confident at work? ◆ Who would you like to oversee your personal development plan? You can create different questionnaires for different roles in the business, but these questions are relevant to everyone from the MD to the cleaner. Asking the same question in different ways can help you to uncover the key issues. B. See where the employee’s PDP objectives can be matched to the requirements of your business. ◆ With the questionnaire, provide a copy of the company’s objectives or business plan. This makes it easier to agree what is and is not in line with your plans. ◆ When updating your business plan, identify what new demands will be placed on employees. For example, be clear who must learn to use the new IT system. ◆ It can take skilled negotiation to harmonise the employee’s objectives with those of the company. For example, an employee who wants additional qualifications may have an eye on employment opportunities elsewhere. C. Agree the development objectives. ◆ You may need to compromise with the employee. For example, agreeing one objective which suits the company and one which suits the employee. ◆ Unless the employee genuinely accepts the objectives, and believes they are worth striving for, the PDP will not lead to change. ◆ With short-term objectives in particular, make each objective SMART (specific, measurable, agreed, realistic, time-limited). ◆ Resources are limited, so prioritise the objectives with the employee. ◆ Limit the number of main objectives to three or four. You can then add subsequent objectives if appropriate, as progress is made. ◆ Agree the action points necessary to achieve each objective. Be positive and upbeat. For example, if absenteeism is a problem, talk in terms of ‘improving attendance’ rather than ‘stopping absenteeism’. Provide challenges for the next period rather than criticism about the previous period. A PDP for the boss As people become more senior in a business, there is a strong tendency for them to be forgiving of their own weaknesses. This is particularly true of hard-working owner managers, who may readily criticise employees, without ever beginning to address their own shortcomings. Part of the problem is that employees are reluctant (or scared) to give feedback to their bosses. So the first step to improve is to involve a neutral, professionally-skilled person to come in and ask employees and colleagues what they think (this is known as 360 feedback). This person can then help the boss evolve a suitable PDP. Typical problems that are revealed are: ◆ Reluctance to ‘let go’ by delegating work and trusting people to do it. ◆ Poor listening and lack of interest in — or understanding of — what makes employees tick. ◆ Autocratic rule by the boss, where better results would come from introducing efficient management structures and systems. ◆ Lack of communication, so that employees are left unclear about where the business is going and what their own priorities are supposed to be. ◆ Unrealistic ideas of what can be done, so that too much work is taken on. All these weaknesses can be identified and successfully addressed using a PDP. Developing A. Many PDP objectives can be achieved through learning in the workplace. ◆ Assign a suitably skilled manageror colleague to provide guidance to the employee, as requested. ◆ Delegate additional tasks (and authority) to the employee, expressly to develop new skills. Or second the employee to a different department. B. More formal training can help to develop specific knowledge and skills. ◆ Objectivesthatarecommontomany employees, or that demand special expertise, are often well suited to formal training. C. Self-directed development can be the most powerful way of ensuring employee ‘buy-in’. For example: ◆ An employee with an ‘attitude problem’ may resolve it independently if you bring it to his or her attention. The issue can then be monitored as part of the PDP reviews. ◆ More senior or expert employees may be highly motivated by achieving development objectives independently. Managers can encourage self-directed development by making it clear they will support and reward employees’ efforts. Any form of development will be more effective if the employee takes responsibility for reviewing its effectiveness. PDP reviews Like any strategy for growth, PDPs must be managed and monitored to yield results. A. Schedule your next PDP meeting according to the timescales outlined in the previous PDP session. ◆ This can be as often as necessary—even monthly, in times of rapid change. Twelve months between PDP reviews is too long. B. Give each employee a self-assessment form, based on the questionnaire used to set objectives (see 3A), before your meeting. The form should cover: ◆ What the employee feels has gone well. ◆ What the employee feels can be improved. ◆ What training, if any, would help the person achieve future goals. C. Use the PDP session to give feedback. This should be done in a positive spirit. ◆ Recognise achievements. ◆ Focus on ways to improve areas where development has been slow, rather than writing them off as failures. PDPs in action The power of PDPs is that they focus on the development of the individual. But certain employees may still have similar needs. A. High fliers need to be challenged. If they are not constantly developing, at the speed they feel is necessary, they may leave. ◆ Such employees may wish to consider objectives such as winning promotion, running an exciting new project or getting involved in setting business strategy. B. Under-performers need clear-cut, short- term objectives. ◆ For example, a driver who has a problem with lateness needs to focus on correcting the cause of this bad habit. ◆ An under-performer must start by recognising his or her own failings, rather than blaming other people. Otherwise there is no motive to improve. Measuring success A. Use performance measures to track the business benefits brought by PDPs. ◆ Compare the benefits and costs, for each individual. ◆ Link your business performance indicators with employee performance and identify areas where employee development would be beneficial. For example, improved customer relations, team working and attendance, reductions in waste and increased productivity. Results may not come instantly. Be prepared to take the long-term view. B. Identify factors that have prevented the achievement of objectives. They may reveal underlying problems. For example, sales may be unable to improve the quality of their paperwork because standard forms are out of date. C. Look for hidden benefits. For example, the customer loyalty brought about by improved handling of complaints is a major asset to your business.

Entrepreneurship
Sellsumers

In a recession-induced need for cash, and an ever-growing infrastructure enabling individuals to act as (part-time) entrepreneurs, are fueling concepts that help ordinary consumers make money instead of just spending it. SELLSUMERS: Whether itʼs selling their insights to corporations, hawking their creative output to fellow consumers, or renting out unused assets, consumers will increasingly become SELLSUMERS, too. Made possible by the online revolutionʼs great democratization of demand and supply, and further fuelled by a global recession that leaves consumers strapped for cash, the SELLSUMERS phenomenon is yet another manifestation of the mega-trend that is \'consumer participation\'. Just to be clear: the SELLSUMERS trend is not about individuals starting a business as a primary source of income. At most, we\'re talking a secondary or even tertiary source of income. SELLSUMERS is yet another manifestation of \'consumer participation\' and consumer power. Let\'s look at existing assets first: there are now plenty of (novel) ways for consumers to capitalize on anything they already possess, from unused parking spaces to excess energy. So what\'s being done besides firmly established SELLSUMER marketplaces like eBay? Space * Parking spots | Parkingspots.com connects those who have parking spots to rent out with those who need them on a monthly basis. The Toronto-based company lets spot-holders in the US and Canada list their off-street parking spots, along with the price they want to charge. A similar service is offered by JustPark, operating in the UK, Ireland, Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand and The Netherlands. Fun detail: car owners can pre-book a spot daily, but can also make one-off bookings for a football match or a day of shopping in the city. * Storage | Los Angeles-based Homstie offers listings for excess storage space, collecting fees for featured listings and for providing custom lease agreements. Also check out Store at My House. * Camping | Swedish Single Spot Camping offers a P2P camping solution by connecting anyone who owns a suitably sized piece of land with anyone looking for a place to pitch their tent. Listings cost the landowner a mere EUR 40 per year. * B&B | Air BnB is an online marketplace that allows locals to earn money by renting out their extra space as alternative lodging for hotel-weary travelers. Also see Roomorama. * Any space | Combining all of the above, UK-based Spareground is a marketplace for just about any kind of unused space. Consumers with space to share simply create a listing with its description, location and price. Those seeking space search by category or keyword and then contact the owner directly to arrange the terms. Eco Green SELLSUMERS looking to reap the spoils of ECO-BOUNTY will want to check out the following initiatives: * In the UK, Ecotricity pays customers who want to sell back to the grid 12 pence per kWh, while Green Energy offers a Home Green Generator plan for those producing less than 6 kWh.   Design and Manufacturing * SELLSUMER-posterchild Etsy now boasts 200,000 SELLSUMERS and over 3 million products. In 2008, the value of products sold was USD 87.5 million, and the first two months of 2009 have already produced sales of USD 20.2 million. * Much publicized Ponoko allows SELLSUMERS to make and sell everything from jewelry to furniture. In addition, the PonokoID feature invites shoppers to post requests, which professional and \'amateur\' designers then bid to fulfill. * North Carolina-based Spoonflower lets users design and print their own fabrics for USD 18 per yard with no minimum order. When Spoonflower comes out of beta, it plans to allow fabric designers to sell their fabrics on the site. Also check out Beehive Co-op, which allows SELLSUMERS to rent a portion of stores in Atlanta and New York in exchange for a monthly fee and at least four hours of staffing assistance. Tell a Friend SELLSUMERS & CREATION While countless creative SELLSUMERS are already making money from their designs, software, sculpting, knitting, manufacturing and so on, we\'ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. Expect a skilled, handy and brainy SELLSUMER \'workforce\' to genuinely blossom when the youngest generation takes over. They\'ll not only be the first generation to be fully \'wired\', but also the first generation to be completely comfortable with taking on the roles of both consumer and producer. In the meantime, check out these random spottings for inspiration: Other * Hiring | New Zealand-based Hire Things offers an online marketplace for \'micro-hire-businesses.\' Think everything from tableware to boats. * Advertising | French \'carvertiser\' Liberty Drive offers a program that rewards Smart car owners in France and Switzerland for participating in carvertising campaigns, paying them up to EUR 100 per month if they turn their cars into driving billboards. Makes us wonder: what about other SELLSUMER properties that could do with a bit of (not too flashy or too gimmicky) paid advertising? Boats? Caravans? Bikes? Houses? Clothing? All yours ;-) Check out Ex-Boyfriend Jewelry and My Gold Party. The latter facilitates Tupperware-style parties that help guests sell excess baubles. The company sells the equipment that SELLSUMERS need to host gold-selling parties, including a scale, a karat tester and an instruction manual. * Delivery | French site Colis-Voiturage aims to bring together those with a package to send and SELLSUMER drivers who are already planning a trip to a similar destination. Also check out German raumobil.

Entrepreneurship
Power Of Branding: Part 2

The Key Ingredients In this chapter we will outline: — The four cornerstones of any good brand — Examples from the business world Defining your brand So if you’re thinking about how to rebrand your business, its products or services, or if you want to assess where your brand stands at present, there are a few key aspects to consider: The big idea – what lies at the heart of your company? Values – what do you believe in? Vision – where are you going? Personality – how do you want to come across? If you can start to answer these questions with clarity and consistency then you have the basis for developing a strong brand. Let’s take a closer look at each of these key aspects in turn. The big idea The big idea is perhaps a catch-all for your company or service. It should encapsulate what makes you different, what you offer, why you’re doing it and how you’re going to present it. The other ‘ingredients’ are slightly more specific, but they should all feed from the big idea. The big idea is also a uniting concept that can hold together an otherwise disparate set of activities. Ideally, it will inform everything you do, big or small, including customer service, advertising, a website order form, staff uniforms, corporate identity, perhaps right down to your answer machine message. To pin down your own big idea you will need to look very carefully at your own business and the marketplace around you, asking these types of questions: How can you stand out? What is your offer? What makes you different? What is your ‘personality’? What do consumers want or need? Is there a gap in the market? To aid this process it’s usually very helpful to get an outside perspective on things too, so consider working with a management consultant, business development consultant or design consultancy. In more depth If you’re thinking about commissioning a design project, we have compiled a free step- by-step guide which provides expert advice, useful tips and first-hand commentary from small business owners and designers. Once decided, the articulation of these ideas can be put into action through branding techniques such as design, advertising, events, partnerships, staff training and so on. It is these activities that set up the consumer’s understanding and expectation of your company; in other words, its brand. And once you’ve set up this brand ‘promise’, the most important thing is to ensure that your products and services consistently deliver on it. Easyjet Easyjet is a great example of a basic, clear big idea and its implementation. The Easyjet premise is simply to make things easy and cheap. And because the big idea is so simple, company founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has extended it to a wide range of otherwise unrelated services – from pizzas to watches – without having to change the basic brand. This is known as ‘brand stretch’ and we’ll look at this in more detail later. Ikea Ikea is another company with a big idea. Its brand is based around the notion that good design is for everyone, not just design snobs. Past campaigns have advised us to ‘chuck out the chintz’ and fit out our homes with well-designed furniture and products at affordable prices. In 2004 their advertising played on this central idea of the ‘democratisation of design’ by using an elitist designer caricature that would turn his nose up at the low cost, mass produced Ikea products. In stores, products are given individual names and customers stack up their trolleys from the warehouse themselves (saving Ikea money in the meantime). This is all in keeping with the idea that you don’t need specialist, privileged knowledge to go out and buy good design. Vision Generating a vision for your company means thinking about the future, where you want to be, looking at ways to challenge the market or transform a sector. A vision may be grand and large-scale, or may be as simple as offering an existing product in a completely new way, or even changing the emphasis of your business from one core area to another. Although corporate visions and mission statements can often appear to be little more than a hollow dictums from top management, a well-considered vision can help you to structure some of the more practical issues of putting a development strategy into action. If you’re clear on what you’re aiming at, it’s obviously easier to put the structures in place to get there. Microsoft An example of vision on the large scale comes from Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, who knew exactly where he was going even in the early days: ‘We started with a vision of a computer on every desk and in every home... Every day, we’re finding new ways for technology to enhance and enrich people’s lives. We’re really only just getting started.’ And this comes from a company which doesn’t (and has never) manufactured computers. The vision lies in seeing where the market is going and asking where you want to be: in this case, providing operating software for the computers that do indeed sit in every office and every home. The Microsoft brand which resulted is inextricably linked with computing. Most PCs come with Windows as standard, even though computer hardware can be run with a number of different operating systems. And as computing technology moves beyond the PC, Microsoft is well-placed as a leader in software provision for a growing range of devices and applications. Values Like the word ‘brand’ itself, the term ‘brand values’ is perhaps a little over-used in design and marketing circles, but it does relate to important aspects of how people see your organisation. It’s what you stand for and it can be communicated either explicitly or implicitly in what you do. But imbuing your company’s brand with a set of values is tricky for a number of reasons. Firstly, everybody wants the same kinds of values to be associated with their business. A survey by The Research Business International (now part of Synovate) found that most companies share the same ten values, namely: quality, openness, innovation, individual responsibility, fairness, respect for the individual, empowerment, passion, flexibility, teamwork and pride. Secondly, it’s not easy to communicate values: overt marketing may seem disingenuous, while not communicating your values in any way may result in people not seeing what you stand for. And lastly, any values you portray have to be genuine and upheld in the way your organisation operates. Branding and design consultants can help you clarify what your organisation or business stands for and then they can develop ways for you to communicate that effectively. This might be through graphic design, language, advertising, staff training, the materials used in product manufacture and so on. Pret A Manger Pret A Manger makes a big play of valuing fresh food and minimising wastage. So, all its food is made on location each morning (with no sell by dates) and any left over at the end of the day is given to homeless charities and shelters. In this way the company has laid out a value and has followed it through with the way it runs its service. First Direct First Direct was formed with high levels of customer service as an underpinning value. To deliver this, the business hired people with customer service training first and foremost, rather than those with banking experience. Innocent Drinks Innocent Drinks decided that one of its key values is openness. So its packaging invites customers to \'call the banana phone\' with their views, or to drop in to the company’s headquarters, at any time. The Innocent website also allows visitors to join a ‘family’ of people who drink the company’s drinks. While this conversational approach may not be appropriate to every business, for Innocent it is a method of demonstrating how the company values openness and dialogue with its customers. Personality Once you have established your ‘big idea’, vision and values, they can be communicated to consumers through a range of channels. The way you decide to present this communication – the tone, language and design, for example – can be said to be the personality of your company. Personality traits could be ‘efficient and businesslike’, ‘friendly and chatty’, or perhaps ‘humorous and irreverent’, although they would obviously have to be appropriate to the type of product or service you are selling. It need not have anything at all to do with the personalities of the people running the company; although it could, if you want to create a personality-driven company in the way that Richard Branson is very much the figurehead for Virgin. And for smaller companies, the culture and style of the business can often reflect the founder, so its values and personality may be the same. Here are a few examples of how you can start to control the elements of your company’s personality, conveying certain aspects to customers in different ways: Graphic design the visual identity – hard corporate identity or soft, friendly caricature? Tone of voice is the language you use (both spoken and written) formal or relaxed? Dialogue can your users or customers contribute ideas and get involved in the organisation, or is it a one-way communication? Customer service how are staff trained to communicate with customers? What level of customer service do you provide? As companies grow, their personality and values are reflected more in internal culture and behaviour than through the characteristics of the founders. This personality then defines how the companies express their offer in the market. John Smith’s John Smith’s Bitter has recently built its brand almost entirely out of personality: in this case the traits of a bluff, no nonsense straight-talking Yorkshireman. This ‘no nonsense’ strapline and sentiment carries through all the company’s communications with customers. Putting it all together Using the ‘key ingredients’ that we’ve outlined here – and bringing in consultants to help you define and implement them – will give you a solid understanding of your organisation’s brand, as well as strategies on how to present it to people. Starting with the ‘big idea’, you can then go on to refine and set out your company’s vision, values and personality. And once these are all in place, you can think about hiring designers to turn your brand blueprint into tangible communications. In more depth If you haven’t worked with designers before and would like some help in this area, you might like to read our free guide to Finding and working with a designer.

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