Most service businesses start by offering the skills of anindividual and grow to providethe experience of many.
When this occurs, having a professionally designed identity can help to communicate the transformation, maintaining confidence amongst clients and helping to attract new ones.
Business: Alan Wright Consulting Engineers
Design Company: Barber Jackson
Business Type: Consulting Engineering
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Prior to design process: £250,000
After design process: £600,000
Alan Wright began trading in 1996 as a Consulting Engineer with a difference. Unlike many other similar businesses, Alan’s was based around designing rather than the conventional process, which is centred on calculations.
Their key markets at first appear quite separate. In one, they provide structural engineering for the refurbishment of property particularly where there is a conservation issue such as with historic buildings. In the other, they provide project management for the telecommunications industry. Occasionally, the two markets converge such as with a recent project to put a mobile antenna on Guildford Cathedral within an angel statue, which was also refurbished as part of the work.
Because of their unusual approach (and of course their skills), they have won many loyal clients who enjoy working with them. Such is the respect and quality they have attained, numerous awards decorate Alan’s office.
Identifying the need for design
The business moved away from being centred purely upon Alan, consolidating their reputation within the market place and employing the skills of several other structural engineers. Additionally, as with any business, growth was vital but with structural engineering, achieving this is hampered by the barrier of perceptions within much of the market place. Many see it as a dull necessity, “fire-fighters” called upon to deal with problems.
With a background in retail, Alan knew the importance of image in business life - particularly in marketing and realised that this needed addressing. Alan takes up the story;
“I was keen to develop the business away from it being seen as simply me. Although this had benefits in the past, the contracts we were now starting to pursue required a far more corporate approach and this of course had to start with the company identity. We needed to create an image that made us look like we were able to handle the projects rather than simply relyupon previous experience or people’s knowledge of me ”
Alan was keen not just to grow the business but ultimately, become one of the leading companies of its kind in the UK.
Previously, they produced most of their design work in house but Alan knew their skills in this respect, were limited.
A chance call from Business Link for Essex set the creative ball rolling!
“I wanted something differentand selected a designer thathadn’t worked in my industrybefore”
Business Link for Essex adviser suggested that the current identity and literature should be reviewed. A specialist design management adviser was brought in to assist.
Alan received feedback on whether his identity accurately reflected how he wished the company, and its services to be perceived, it was apparent that an improvement was required
The business strategy was reviewed, particularly in relation to its objectives and this was used to develop a design strategy, thinking through the personality of the company or products, the target market and how it will differentiate itself from its competitors.
Develop an outline design brief
The design management adviser helped Alan and his team to develop an effective design project, the initial outcome being the creation of an outline design brief although the process itself was the most important part.
Identifying the competitive edge
Extensive discussions took place with a variety of members from the company to draw out distinctive differences that would enable a designer to develop an identity that truly represented the company, clearly demonstrating its competitive edge. The outline design brief brought these together with the scope of the project, which identified the specific items to be designed.
Once this brief had been developed Alan was introduced to a number of designers. He and the staff reviewed their portfolios and considered each of their responses on how they would approach the brief. Barber Jackson displayed some ingenious thinking which won favour with Alan and the staff and it was they who were handed the task to take the project forward.
Commence the design project
The design project then began with a meeting with the chosen designer to agree in detail the brief for the project.
The consulting engineering sector is not one noted for its marketing prowess, particularly when it comes to company identities. So when Alan Wright launched theirs, they instantly made an impact, opening up new opportunities by engendering greater acceptance within their key markets.
Alan’s objective of creating a company that is no longer perceived as being a sole trader appears to have been met. As for the key objective of growth, in the year before they launched the new identity, the business turned over £250,000. The year after? £600,000!
The new identity (and the “new”company it communicated) attracted the attention of Cameron Taylor Bedford, themselves a firm of structural engineers of some note. Infact, they are one of the largest companies of its kind in the UK!
They approached Alan with a view to make his business part of theirs, setting up the Cameron Taylor Bedford “Cambridge office” It proved to be an opportunity not to be missed and delivered Alan one of his key objectives of becoming one ofthe premier companies of its kind.
The identity that Barber Jackson created was an important element in making this happen. It communicated a company whose virtues and ethos matched that of Cameron Taylor Bedford. Although such business deals require a soundness beyond what the identity looks like, it remains a vital force in establishing a company in the market place and if executed correctly, as was the case here, becomes a business asset.
For Alan Wright the coalescence of all the creative and management processes involved with the new identity delivered on every objective,and then some.
|They Say||We Say|
|Don’t skimp on design||Professional design is not a cost but an investment. As with all investments, the greater the input, the higher the returns.|
|Have faith in the designer||You’ve commissioned them to do something that you can’t. They’re skilled professionals so trust them to do what they’re good at.|
|Take the time to choose the right designer||It’s well worth it. Consider what you want from them, challenge them and make sure they understand your business and what you are trying to achieve. It will pay higher dividends.|