The making of ‘We Are Boutique’

April 30th, 2015 by Simon Bollon


We Are Boutique Logo

The making of ‘We Are Boutique’

This week we launched our new branding and brand positioning, designed to give us a solid base on which to continue our rapid growth over the next few years.

Below I’ve provided a snapshot and top line overview of how we reached the end result.

The brief.

After four years of significant growth and development, we needed a positioning; a tone, look and feel that could assist us in another four years of growth.

Our business has developed from the inception of the Boutique brand and, whilst the name remains relevant, we recognised that it was a little too bespoke, too ‘fluffy’ and lacking impact.

Essentially, the brief was to create a brand look that was more ‘grown up’.

Why Boutique?

The name is fair representation of our business; it represents a passionate, personal, bespoke, exceptional service with high standards – everything you would (hopefully) associate with the term Boutique.

We have no desire to be a £100m+ turnover business and, whilst £25m is a lofty turnover ambition, it remains a drop in ocean compared to our network rivals, meaning the relevance of the word Boutique remains valid even with that growth.

We Are Boutique.

We made the decision that the separate trading elements we had in Boutique Media and Boutique Digital were redundant. We had previously felt nervous that clients wouldn’t see us as experts if we had one holistic agency offering, but the reality is the proof is in the pudding. We are one big happy family, delivering astonishing results across every channel. We therefore needed to be one brand:
One brand, one business, one family of champions.

Furthermore, we don’t feel there is a need for either ‘media’ or ‘communications’ in our name. People know who we are and what we do. The name needs to be a statement of positioning, not of operation.

The process.

We started with a workshop with Fist of Fury that took us through three stages of disseminating the brand. This enabled us to more precisely and succinctly identify who we are, what we do, how we engage and what the core messages of our proposition are.

The process was refreshing, challenging and full of debate but, ultimately, got us to a point of clarity and raised some key points (we realised we use far too many words when explaining who we are and what we do)

Beyond that, we had a team away day to engage all employees and ask them to go through the same process. It was a litmus test to check that we as directors perceived the business in the same way. Thankfully, the results were in line with our own findings!

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The brand.

Whilst it would be remiss of us to detail the exact outcomes, you will of course see some of the results in our website and communication. Suffice to say the key areas we are focused on are strategy, our strength as an independent, alternative agency and our promise to be better. They all sound pretty standard but are brought to life in our daily work, communication and internal activities. In essence, our ways or working.

The look.

We wanted a look that was more grown up but still personal. We wanted to avoid imagery and focus on the name that we have worked hard to make known. Boutique is not necessarily usable as a standalone word, and therefore we wanted to include the broader ‘We Are’ which we will be able to trademark.

As we went through various connotations, we identified that we wanted a font focused position that was bold and somewhat clashed with the word Boutique. Representing our position as an agency which is Boutique in service but big in scale, resource, knowledge and experience.

The stages below show we developed the initial concepts to create the final result:

 

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The end result is (we hope you agree) a strong development of the concepts and a fair representation of our positioning…

 

 

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We Are Boutique Collateral

April 30th, 2015 by Sarah Gough


WeAreBoutique in situ

No re-brand would be complete without some eye-catching collateral! As such, we enlisted the help of one of our collaborative designers to create something simple but effective. Above is a selection of the results.

 

We’re not everybody’s cup of tea…

April 24th, 2015 by Simon Bollon


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After a recent pitch I got sight of the scoring system that the client was using to rate us. They shared the results after, and whilst some of the criteria was surprising, I realised in hindsight that whatever they had put on the sheet we would have scored highly. That might sound arrogant, but the reason I say it is because we knew we had every chance. We had carefully selected the client as a good fit for us, and us for them. On that basis, we knew that we would tick most, if not all, the boxes.

My point being, whilst clients select agencies, agencies should also be selective in their process. We have a refined list of potential clients with whom we want to work because we know we’d add value to their communications strategies. We use a 6 point tick-off when assessing whether a prospect should hit our ‘we want to work with’ list. That means we have absolutely conviction when telling them we’ll do a better job.

So, whether it’s an agency picking prospects or clients selecting an agency, I think there’s key criteria that stand out. With that being said, here are my 6 killer criteria for selecting an agency…

Culture – Does it match, is their synergy and will relationships build? Generally, similar sized clients and smaller agencies will find that synergy whereas bigger operationally driven agencies will find a good match in process focused clients. Don’t appoint a beast of a corporation and then complain when the 5th account exec in 12 months isn’t ‘feeling it’.

Hierarchy – How big an account are you to the agency? The client wants to be important but not the account the agency relies on. They don’t want to get lost in the agency but they need to understand the agency has a track record of delivery. A level of reliance and therefore collaboration is healthy but make sure the love goes both ways!

Management – Essentially, clients need to consider who will work on the account. Team A for the pitch and Team B for running the account is no bad thing for some clients. The question is whether the agency is delivering the right resources and skill set for the account. A marketing team of 25 working with an agency of 5 is going to get underserviced and pissed off pretty quickly. On the other side, a business owner that has a graduate running their account shouldn’t be comfortable with the arrangement.

Experience – Can the agency demonstrate a knowledge of the client’s marketplace and a case study of a similar sized account? In some sectors this is critical, in others maybe not so much. As a media agency we would argue that it’s an experience in the pertinent media avenues as much as the experience of the sector. Perhaps sector experience in broader marketing and creative is more important? Either way, a track record should provide some comfort that they know what they are doing.

Resources – If the client needs it, does the agency have the resource in-house? What tools does the agency have access to? What solution is right for the client and can the agency deliver? Equally smaller clients with limited requirements need not finance the capacity of an agency to deliver to the biggest clients. Be clear from the outset and ensure the agency can show you what’s on offer.

Price – A proposition relevant to the client and their requirements is obviously a key consideration (and let’s be honest, probably still the most important element?). The very biggest spending clients will appreciate the scale of the account and will expect agencies to resource the account appropriately. They will also understand the cost of running their account and look to structure deals accordingly. Equally, and something we see far too often, is the smaller spending accounts expecting the rates of the biggest spenders. It ain’t going to happen so be realistic!

I always find myself talking about size when I debate the agency/client relationship, but I think it really matters. Big agency, small client or small agency, big client are two combinations that experience tells me do not work. Ensuring you select an agency that feels like the right kind of size will ultimately be a good starting point.

 

Legendary Lego

April 21st, 2015 by Sarah Gough


Lego 20.04.15

I’ve been prompted to reminisce about my childhood by a visit to an old school friend’s house where I was greeted by a plethora of Lego characters. It just so happens this also provoked my penchant for brand longevity.

I’m a 90s child. My childhood was about Furbys, Polly Pockets, Tamagotchis… and Lego. The overriding attribute that differentiates the latter from the others is that it isn’t a 90s product – it began manufacturing toy bricks in 1949.

Now 25, I’m playing (Lego’s) Duplo with my cousin’s two and four year old children, seeing them getting as much enjoyment out of it as I did when I was their age. It’s simple, innocent, timeless fun and, probably more importantly for modern parents, it doesn’t involve screens.

Nobody can have missed the regeneration that Lego has enjoyed in the last couple of years. Imaginative displays (even the world’s largest Lego advent calendar right here in Trinity Leeds in 2013) have been popping up left, right and centre, and its first ever movie was a 2014 box office hit. Ultimately, last year it overtook Barbie doll-maker Mattel to become the world’s best-selling toy firm.

So what’s their secret? Exceptional marketing and PR, of course, combined with a number of clever decisions that have ensured Lego’s presence on today’s shop shelves and Christmas wish lists. As a company they’ve weathered a few storms, but timely amends to the company’s offering like securing key licenses (including Star Wars and Harry Potter – two of the biggest franchises of our generation) have built them back up.

It takes something special to ensure a childhood toy doesn’t as good as die out with its initial generation (as was the case with the other 90s toys). Although there are more intricate, larger designs available these days, they’ve maintained brand values and are recognisable for the same attributes now as they were two decades ago. There have been no drastic product revamps – at its core, it remains a simple brick-based product with endless options requiring nothing but imagination and coordination.

Lego is a great example of the ability to adopt a strong brand and stick to it. Yes we must adapt to the times, but it would have been easy to presume that they would become reliant on apps to succeed. They’ve also broadened their audience by developing products that appeal to an older generation with the introduction of the larger, more complex designs.

I look forward to seeing what the team at Lego have up their sleeves for the next few years!

 

p.s. whether you were a Lego fan as a child or not, I’m sure you’ll love this video of Nathan Sawaya creating a simple but mind blowing character out of Lego as part of his recent (incredible) exhibition, The Art of the Brick. www.artofthebrick.co.uk

Should employers push to build relationships with schools?

April 14th, 2015 by Charley Downey


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I recently attended a conference, hosted by the Yorkshire Post, where several successful business leaders discussed various hot topics and took part in debates. A question that stood out to me personally was that of ‘should employers push to build relationships with schools?’

It’s unsurprising that the younger generation of today is sometimes a little lost when it comes to making life-long career decisions. Understandably, it’s not very easy to leave school at 16 and say ‘Hey, I want to be a Social Media Manager and Client Services Director for the rest of my life’- given that most teenagers, including myself at that age, won’t have the foggiest as to what one of those is or does.

When I left school a few years ago was completely unaware of the careers that surrounded me. Other than the obvious (vets, lawyers, doctors to name a few), the working world was a completely different universe- and I mean completely. I had the grades, the right attitude, but to pinpoint my future career based purely on my own research- well it was simply impossible. Without the resources, without meeting potential employers, without having exposure to what careers are out there and what I would able to achieve- how is it possible?

For no second would I look to blame schools, nor employers- however, I do feel that there is a huge gap that we, as a community, need to fill. As Andy Clarke (Asda’s CEO) stated – ‘’ There’s no doubt…how little they really understand about the world of work just coming towards them in a very short space of time… It’s hard for education to get close to business. If you think about, it we’re going to be the recipient of that unskilled workforce, so I think it’s down to us; we have to be able to take the lead, and get closer to schools, and have it as part of our business plans.”

It’s very inspiring to hear such a successful businessman speak so passionately about a topic relating to a generation who are often given advice such as ‘just go to university’ or ‘a job’s a job’ when, in actual fact, a degree is all fine and well and four years’ experience in a job is great, but if you don’t love what you do, or know what you love, it’s difficult to find the right path. Of course, this isn’t always the case – some people know exactly what they want to do, they go for it, and they succeed in a job they love. Although there is support from schools in the form of open days and advice from family and friends, there is still so much more that can be done.

As a business, it is vital to take an interest in the grads, the school leavers and the 25 year olds that have had a two year job in a career they dislike – these guys are your company’s future. Reach out, take the time to visit a school, take the time to make schools and colleges aware of your fantastic apprentice schemes, don’t just sit back and wait for them to come to you. You don’t know which of those establishments might be housing your future CEO…

Similarly, as a job seeker or school leaver, do what you can to seek a job you’ll succeed in. Write to companies requesting unpaid work experience, pick up the phone and speak to employers, meet with people who are at university, sixth form, college, or in apprenticeship schemes to help understand what could work best for you. Above all else, do what you want to do, not just what everybody else is doing.

Let’s work together to fill the gap and help give the ambitious of the younger generation the kick-start they deserve.

Currently, I’m working as an Account Executive at Boutique, whilst also completing a marketing course at college. I was taken on as an apprentice, a way to apply classroom knowledge to a hands-on job, and I can honestly say I’m extremely happy with the career path I’ve chosen. It’s taken me a while- I’ve gone from wanting to be a dancer, to a lawyer, to a forensic scientist, to a pharmacist and finally an accountant (to name a few!). From first-hand experience it’s hard to make to right choices, but through research, experience and trial and error I was able to end up in a career that I love.

Google Is Coming – Is Your Site Mobile Friendly?

April 9th, 2015 by Jamie Richards


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Google recently announced that on April 21st its algorithm is changing to make mobile friendliness a greater factor in search results. This is intended to increase the quality of search results for mobile users.

What’s changing?

Essentially, if your site isn’t friendly for mobile users then your rankings in mobile search will drop. Google has already confirmed that the update will be significant, bigger even than Penguin and Panda which both wreaked havoc on thousands of websites whilst equally cleaning up results for users.

How does this affect me?

The first thing to do is identify if your website is mobile-friendly. Head over to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ and insert your website’s URL. Google will tell you if your site is friendly or not friendly for mobile users. Some of the questions Google will ask when testing your website are:

  • Are the fonts too small?
  • Are clickable links/buttons too close to each other?
  • Do you have viewport tags configured?
  • Is your content sized to the viewport (do users have to scroll left and right)?

Essentially, what Google wants to know is can a person access your website on their mobile phone without having to zoom in or scroll left and right, whilst being able to easily press links and buttons with their fingers? If the answers to these questions are all yes, you’ll probably be OK.

What can I do?

The simplest way to identify which specific changes to make, and how to make them, is to access Webmaster Tools and navigate to Search Traffic > Mobile Usability where Google will tell you which pages have issues and how to fix these issues.

Fortunately, Google’s algorithm is on a page-by-page basis meaning if your homepage is responsive but contact page isn’t, it’s only the contact page that will slip in mobile rankings. This is good news for those with limited time and resources to meet the deadline as you can prioritise the most important pages.

However, it’s still crucial that your site is responsive as soon as possible, with your most important pages being responsive by April 21st (the update will be rolling out across the week so you may have a few days before Google crawls your site).

Need any help?

If you have any questions or would like any help from the team, please get in touch at Info@WeAreBoutique.co.uk