Business Champions Network

A business that helps other business needs to practice what it preaches at all levels -including its identity

 

Business Champions was established to help start-up enterprises by partnering them with suitable mentors. For such organisations, a substandard identity just isn’t an option.

Key IssuesResults
  • Requirement of professional design as part of funding criteria
  • Identity to appeal to both established business (Champions) and start-ups (Members)
  • Aneed to sit well, visually, with other regional business support organisations
  • Greater impact in the market place made sooner than would have otherwise been the case.
  • Provided added credence from peer group and partners
  • Established foundation for future, ambitious growth and development

 

Business: Business Champions Network
Design Company:
Fuse Marketing Communications
Business Type: Public Sector -
business support and mentoring
Employees: 1
Founded: 2002
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Business Background

Setting up a business is a challenging enough task but many face the added problem of who to ask for advice beyond the usual how?, who?, what? etc.

Organisations such as Business Link for Essex go a long way to provide a lot of crucial information and resources but most people who start out on their own often come from an environment where they had anetwork of people - colleagues, suppliers and clients - to bounce ideas off, turn to when things weren’t going right and generally interact with. Having this resource is a vital part of any business but when you are really on your own, access to it can often be very limited.

The Business Champions Network was established to fill the gap by providing a support and mentoring system to start up enterprises through a process of partnering “Champions” (owners of successful businesses) with “Members” (the new start-up businesses).

The brainchild of councillor and Essex Chamber of Commerce member Murray Foster and managed by Val Rozga, the organisation was originally funded through the European Social Fund and aims to underpin Essex’s reputation as a hot-bed of entrepreneurial talent and success.

Although their work is concentrated in south Essex, they have plans to move further into the county and ultimately take their business model across the whole of the UK.

Identifying the need for design

Part of the criteria for the funding was that the organisation adopts aprofessional approach to all that they do, including their marketing activities. Chief amongst this activity was the identity. Quite apart from the legislative requirement, it was also something that Val identified as crucial herself “A lot of support agencies exist and they all display a professional image. If we were to be taken seriously, we too needed the same approach. It was important that we attracted quality Champions and this also meant that a professional identity would be required”

The process

Although Val herself had limited previous experience in using design, her work with these businesses meant that she was fully aware ofthe importance of design as a management process rather than purely functional. Her previous work with Business Link for Essex provided her with a greater understanding of design and how to integrate it into the strategy of the organisation and it was they that helped Val through the process

“We have always had a clear idea of where we are going to take the Business Champions Network both geographically and in terms of what it can do. Its identity would therefore be a vital link in the chain to help ensure that these ambitions are realised”

Val wrote a detailed brief, inviting responses from a few design companies, ultimately choosing Westcliff based Fuse Marketing Communications. They themselves were fully signed up “Champions” so knew exactly what the organisation was about. This helped them to develop an identity that is appropriate as it is distinctive. They even came up with the strap-line “turning hindsight into foresight”. The organisation (and the identity) was launched to 130 people from local authorities, business and other support agencies at the Cliffs Pavilion in 2002.

The outcome

The organisation has continued to grow both in status and the number of businesses it helps. The identity also has become an integral part of the business landscape throughout the area, which has helped build trust and appreciation in what they do. Val’s naturally delighted

“The identity has given us added credence, it’s really helped put us on the map and will help keep us there. It’s also given us a firm foundation on which to build and attain our ambitions”

Design, once again, proving to be a “champion” idea!

They SayWe Say
Establish a clear idea of what your business is. Design is a management process and therefore, you need to be fully appreciative of exactly what your business does, how it does it and how you want it to be seen by the outside world. It is this that forms the backbone of your design brief.
Understand who your clients are and what they’re like. It’s no point using an identity that will appeal to 20 somethings if your target market are the over 50s. Sounds obvious but many companies fail to make the effort to fully grasp every aspect of who they sell to yet it’s vital if an identity is to be developed that’s both strategic and appropriate.
It pays to be professional. As part of the management process, design should be viewed as an investment – not a cost. Skimp on budgets and it will come back to bite! There’s a great many excellent designers out there so use them.
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