Jerome Associates Ltd
“My business is too small to benefit from professional design!”
It’s a common belief amongst the small business community that a company needs to attain a certain size before it can consider investing in such a perceived extravagance. In fact, it’s when a business is at its smallest that the benefits of professional design really start to pay dividends.
“It has enabled me to regain confidence in dealing with clients”
Business: Jerome Associates Ltd
Design Company: M Tyler
Business Type: Accountancy
Employees: Sole Trader
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Adam Barker is a living, dictionary definition of the “one-man-band”. Working alone from his remote farmhouse in deepest Essex, he provides accounting and tax advisory services to a small but loyal client base. It’s these clients he relies upon to meet his ambitions that remain no loftier (although no less honourable) than to simply provide for his young family and their future.
Not then, your typical candidate for a graphic identity overhaul! Indeed, you may ask what he could possibly achieve from such a process. It’s certainly something he asked himself more than once since he started out on his own.
“I guess being an accountant, I live in a world of black and white. If I couldn’t account for something or see a tangible outcome, I considered it as superfluous. Sure I’d been aware of graphic design, corporate identities, branding and the like but I was always sceptical of its effect on business – especially mine. After all, my clients want lower tax bills, not fancy artwork turning up through their letterbox!”
Adam’s main goal in qualifying as an accountant was to enable him to practice professionally as quickly as possible.
It was a decision that would serve him well – still does in fact.
Soon after he started trading in June 2003, he began to sense that something was somehow lacking. It wasn’t that business was bad, in fact it was doing rather well and building largely through recommendations, but he was beginning to doubt his decision to set up in practice so soon after qualifying, concerned that lacking a large support team around him would put off potential clients, and was even beginning to doubt his own ability.
To say that he had developed an inferiority complex is wide of the mark…but only just.
“I started to feel that I wasn’t as professional as I had to be in order to attract quality clients. I knew I had the technical ability, but was becoming concerned that this wasn’t getting through to potential new clients.”
Identifying the need for design
Adam attended a workshop run by Business Link for Essex on business image for small businesses and it was as a result of attending this event that he suddenly realised what the problem was.
“I’d been using stationery that I had put together myself using Word. I hadn’t even had anything printed. I would buy some nice paper and feed it through the laser printer and that was the sum total of my corporate identity.
Listening to what other companies had done and seeing the results made me realise that in order to portray myself as credible, I needed something more tactile and more visual than a few letters after my name”
Adam worked with Business Link for Essex’s design management adviser, to develop a design brief. This alone he found very therapeutic; “It made me stand back and consider not just what I was but what I wanted to be. The process was quite liberating”
What they identified in doing this was the “feeling” he wanted to portray to clients about him and his services. The term “comfortable” emerged as the defining edge of his business. Accountancy is often seen as a stuffy, stand-offish profession, which Adam was keen to avoid. It also carries another subtle benefit to what he does in relation to ensuring he provides his clients the opportunity to remain financially “comfortable”.
Adam decided to use a freelance designer upon the recommendation of one of his clients. Despite being based in Birmingham, the quality of the brief allowed the designer to develop just the identity Adam was looking for.
Developing the rationale
“Understated professionalism – with a twist” is the underlying theme of the design. The logo is a silhouette of a chair – emphasising a “comfortable” aspect to the identity whilst the typeface retains a serious edge that the accountancy profession demands but at the same time keeping the overall appearance modern and relevant.
Everything is held together with “professional” colours and the restrained, orderly layout again reflects the nature of the industry.
The final touch featuring along the tail edge on all the stationery is a bold and clear bottom line…after all, that’s what accounting is all about!
Over to Adam: “Since I started using the design, I have been able to attract quality clients to the practice. It has enabled me to regain confidence in dealing with clients and given me added vigour so when new opportunities arise, I can seize them with greater conviction than I ever could before. I suppose you could say that I feel like a proper business at last”
Proof then, that when it comes to design, size doesn’t matter