SESSION 8). A Lesson in Branding
With our business now “committed” to the class board, the team look to my strengths in design to help them get that ‘right look’, starting with the main point of contact for a business – its logo. The marketing team and our MD have brainstormed an idea with Richard, my fellow advisor. They have instilled that the best logos are simple in design. I have to agree with Richard and prior to our next scheduled meeting, sketches, along with suggested fonts and colours, are mailed to me. It’s such a top idea, guys – this allows me to embark on the final stages of logo design. Can’t wait to start and get the idea over, as I already envisage it really representing what Ignite stands for.
Prior to our next meeting, I suggest to Miss Hancock that we give the guys “a lesson in branding”. Funny play on words I know, as I’m definitely not the ‘mortar board and sir’ type. But I feel sharing a presentation we deliver regularly to prospective clients and customers will give the team a much better idea of how and why branding works for many businesses – hopefully helping Ignite grow even more in different areas. The idea to share the workshop is a hit with Miss and our MD. So, off I go to brush up my presentation skills.
The meeting day arrives, and having presented this workshop to a group of trustees earlier, I feel fairly comfortable I can do it again. But I know too that talking to a team of maybe not so interested young people, rather than the note taking, all ears trustees, will be an interesting challenge… but after all, it’s me talking about what I love. I need not have worried though, as the team (well most of them) really take it in and the presentation goes down well. So well, Miss asks for the slides for her own classes. Result – love that we are all on the ‘brand wagon’.
SESSION 9). It’s All About The Colouring In
We are now getting close to the team’s final fund raiser and first proper launch; to judges and customers alike. ‘Wow’, I think, just three weeks to go and loads of marketing and design to sort – or as I have always called it since my junior days – colouring in. And with our to do list growing, it’s heartening to see the team are keen to get lots done. The mouse will be getting an even harder workout than normal back at B51 HQ. Starting with the logo and the work we’ve done together, I’m hoping my interpretation of their top idea is a hit. And – ta da! – yes, it sure is. We are off into my land of colouring in.
The logo, its colours, and what I can do to help, now gets everyone thinking, talking and wanting things done. Brilliant, as the team is now really bonding and keen to raise the profile of their fab business. Ideas fire around, admin are taking lots of notes and constructing action plans, and the MD is providing vision, too. We settle on pull-up banners for their instant graphical presence, promo leaflets for prospective customers on the launch day, plus an instruction leaflet to accompany the candles in their wrapped packaging. Oh yes, and don’t forget the sales sheets, to tally our transactions, along with graphics for the back boards which sit behind the table where the candles will be displayed. And did I mention name badges? Love this, as no end of ideas are flowing.
Final action plan in place? Tick. Marketing and design? Tick. Promotions? Tick.
SESSION 10). Getting Social
All promotional work and colouring in is going really well, with lots of mails to-ing and fro-ing on suggestions for content. All looks good for our agreed design projects. I notice, though, that our social media is suffering. Not much happening here at all and as social media now plays a big part in branding, and could be a factor in judges’ decisions, too, I decide to bring in some help. That means engaging the expertise of our own social media guru – Amit. He readily agrees and after clearance from the school, he will join me at the meeting to advice our digital team. I’m a really happy advisor, as I know Amit will be a smash.
Meeting day arrives - we sign in and are off to class. We enter to the standard excited buzz and chatter, which Amit loves. He feels right at home. Definitely made the right decision bringing my friend in. The room settles and the MD outlines the agenda, starting with things to be done in readiness for next week’s very important fund raiser at the Mall – Bristol. There’s stock to be ordered, candles to decorate and wrapping and bags to choose, too, for people purchasing candles on the day.
Next up it’s me – ta da! – and I show the guys the design projects we’ve worked on – in all their A3 print out proof glory. Everyone loves it and so everything’s off to the printers, yes! Nice sense of achievement for all, as the team sees their ideas in professionally designed splendour. Top marks, everyone!
I then introduce Amit and he gives a quick overview of his role within our company and how he can help the social media team to up their game. He hammers the point home on the importance of regular posts, so the guys go off to another part of the classroom and make a start. I can see by the looks on their faces that it’s help they really needed.
The rest of us now discuss the remaining items on the agenda. The uniform is agreed as black trousers / skirts, white shirts / blouses and corporate orange ties – great idea. Along with branded name badges, the team will be looking every part a company ready for business! We also agree a sales pricing structure for the day and roles, too – sales, promotion and marketing - with each team member alternating throughout the event. We are very much on our way to what should be a successful launch, and hopefully, a profitable day. As the meeting closes and Amit shares his last bit of advice – our feelings can be summed up as ‘Go Team Ignite!’ – bring on the fund raising launch day!
SESSION 11). Setting Out Our Stall
The day of the team’s first product launch and fund raiser arrives. Strangely, I feel very excited by the thought of the day ahead, almost like Christmases of my childhood. Just shows the love and passion the team and I have for what we've done so far. It won't mean much to the guys, though, if the day does not bring the success which the team has worked so hard for.
I arrange to meet my now great friend, colleague and top business advisor, Richard, outside the Mall in Bristol at around 9.30am. The team has been hard at it here for over two hours already, getting their pitch sorted and the stand set up, along with the other 15 or so teams. Can imagine the frantic melee to get it all done, but in Miss, their YE teacher, the guys are in steady and experienced hands.
Like a pair of anxious but excited parents, Richard and I make our way up the large staircase, to the upper level of the Mall. We walk through the food hall to where all the stands are situated, at the Mall's centre. It's an absolute hive of activity and we are unsure of what to expect. But we needn’t have worried, as the team have nailed it. The stand looks so good, with our banners, backdrops, balloons and leaflets framing our top Ignite team, who look resplendent in their uniform for the day, including orange ties in our corporate colours. On point, guys, and top branding! To provide the icing on the cake, Richard takes his overcoat off to reveal a white shirt, just like the team and yes, ta da! An orange tie. Brilliant.
Soon 10.00am approaches and the first shoppers start milling around. With this, Richard decides to show off his sales prowess, demonstrating to the team the technique of approaching possible customers and drawing them to the stand to hopefully purchase a candle. “Well, say madam, can I bring a little light into your life?” doesn't quite work, but has us all laughing, including the lady he'd spoken too. So good. The team, though, observe how you can approach people without being salesy and practise amongst themselves before facing the hopefully, paying public. The marketing team, too, are getting posts out there on social media. Yes - the day has really started.
As the morning progresses, each team member becomes more confident in their allocated roles, be it selling or promoting. Sales are steady. Faith, a colleague from work, joins us and is suitably wowed by what everyone has achieved (thank you colleague). We decide to visit the other trade stands. 1) to of course, check out the competition and 2) to see what everyone is up to and maybe lend a hand. The stands vary in design, build and quality but there are some fab and unique ideas. It takes a while to get around, ensuring we talk to everyone and hand business cards out, but we make sure we talk to everyone. It feels great, as we are very much involved in this, too.
We get back to the buzz of activity at our stand. Sales are being made, the team is engaging with potential customers and candles are being decorated too. Excellent. I find out that the first of three judges has visited the stand, too. Fingers crossed all questions were answered well. Also find out that there is a secret shopper. Oh-oh, no pressure then!
With the day moving into the afternoon, roles are changed and judge number 2 walks off smiling (result). Richard and I decide on a break. We chat for a good while, laughing, joking and loving being involved with Ignite and becoming good mates, too. We even see kids running about with Ignite balloons - so good! Upon our return, judge number 3 has been and gone (again, apparently happy - get in!). Plus the guys think that secret shopper has been. Unsure how they sussed that out – but well done guys.
The event draws to a close with everyone pushing for sales (all in a good cause, of course, as it is a fund raiser J). Then suddenly, time is called. The latest of our great experiences ends. The whole team swarm around, carefully packing everything away, and navigating their way around customers in Boots to get to Miss’s car and load up. Can't help notice, though all exhausted, their smiles are still there, beaming. It sums up the day nicely - and we await the judges’ results.
As all stands are now packed away, teams, advisors and judges gather. Chatter abounds, and nearly all of team Ignite are present, apart from one or two who had to go, so it feels brilliant - we are a top team. As the judges sum up and congratulate everyone on their efforts, we look at one another as prizes are announced and wow, the judges agree, we are a top team. They have awarded us two of the four prizes. Loads of cheers go out, high fives, and then photos. What a day. I walk off a tired, but very happy and proud business advisor, and more importantly - a very happy team member. Fist pump - get in!!