Rebranding Fort Street Cycle

20 Jul Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 7.32.49 PM
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Even their Google Street View was unlucky

It has been a rough first year for the new owners of Fort Street Cycle.

Bad energy left over from an unpopular ownership transition was sucking the life – and at one point, nearly every staff member – out of the shop. The new owners, from Beijing, were in crisis management from the get-go and wondering how they could survive. They decided they needed to start fresh. Well, fresher.

Brand Intervention.pngThis is where the Brand Intervention happens. (This is the icon that says that’s happening.)

I started with some online surveys to existing customers and non-customers to determine attitudes towards the store, and its perceived strengths and weaknesses. This was the key starting point for the rebrand because it told us that there was indeed some bad juju out there about the store – but no respondents had a clear sense why they felt that way.

It also told us that the brand really wasn’t on anyone’s radar and was considered past its day.

So there was no damage here.  But there was a lack of clarity about the store. The lack of clarity came from a lack of a vision, and a lack of  noise in the market. But we could fix those.

ROLLING UP SLEEVES, FINDING A VISION

An analysis of the business, it’s core service and product offerings, and the opportunities in the market, indicated that we could chase the negative spirit away with a big, positive step forward. The store itself was in excellent shape: a good service reputation, a well-known location on Fort, and fantastic bikes: Cannondale, Cervelo and Giant, all high-end machines.

It just needed a focused brand strategy, and a look to pull it off.

The shop’s focus on placing service and proper fitting before bike sales pointed in the right direction, but we needed something bigger.

As luck would have it, the main competitive stores (Oak Bay Bicycles, Russ Hay’s, Trek and Broad Street Cycles) all referred to themselves as “bike shops” in their positioning lines. This created the opportunity.

WHERE CYCLING LIVES

Fort Street Cycle would no longer be just a bike shop. It would be about cycling: where the rider and the bike come together to create the magic. The store would be all about that. A place for cyclists to gather, to read cycle mags and drink coffee, to be professionally fitted, to watch live races on the TV, to post messages about stolen bikes, to find the latest gear to wear, to test ride new models, to talk cycling. Not a hardware store for machines, but  a place for people, something their “service-first” way of working already beautifully supported.

Hence the new tagline: Where Cycling Lives.

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As the brand strategy and visual look were being created, the store went on a serious hiring spree. Using both online ads and networking, there were soon ten passionate cyclists on the store’s staff roster. A mix of road and mountain cyclists, elite competitors and everyday grinders, they embraced the new brand direction and shouldered the tasks involved in bringing it to life.

DON’T KILL THE OLD LOGO. JUST REMAKE IT.

Even though the store’s reputation had suffered in recent years, it was still an established brand with a history. We wanted to respect that by evolving the business, both the name and the logo. Enter long-time collaborator Michael Tension, who delivered a modern and impactful updating of the previous logo, along with an inspired palette of supporting colours to carry it. The name was shortened to Fort St Cycle, because it felt friendlier, and doing so created the space that allowed the name to be on one line in the logo, rather than stacked.

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The old….and the new. Urban Sign behind the new one.

The store had been quiet in Victoria for years and was poorly connected to both the cycling community and the businesses along Fort St.

To help improve that, we gave the staff tools to build new relationships, from branded work gear to highly personalized business cards (the photo is of the staff member, and they chose their own quote and colour) – neither of which the store had ever provided. Then we crafted marketing and social media strategies to slowly build back their audience.

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Service Manager, Russ Parks in his new gear

BUSINESS CARDS

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Michael Tension cards: folded and white on the inside for notes

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Once all the branded pieces were ready, Derek Ford did his usual exceptional job capturing the team spirit in photos. And then it was on to a welcoming Open House to let the market know Fort St Cycle was alive and kicking!

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Megan Munro poster

To promote the event and get rid of some pesky old branded water bottles, the staff rolled up invitations into the old bottles and left them in bikes with empty water bottle holders all over downtown.

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Message in a bottle campaign

The Open House saw a good crowd, and the positive buzz energized everyone and helped to exorcise the ghosts of the old brand.

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Open House July 12

A new website from Leap is on the way, jerseys are being printed and a store renovation is planned for late fall. The store also has plans to lead a cycling tour to the Great Wall in China this year. More details on that coming up soon!  Until then, drop by the store and talk cycling: these guys know their stuff.

And ask for one of those cool new business cards!

 

 

 

Branding a Victoria mortgage brokerage

11 Jun

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THE BRIEF

A well-regarded young mortgage broker wants to launch his own brokerage in a crowded Victoria market. How do we make his business stand out?

THE BRAND STRATEGY

Build the business around an important and under-serviced sub-audience the brokerage can legitimately specialize in:

Victoria’s mortgage specialist for First Time Home Buyers.

THE IMPACT ON THE BUSINESS

Research showed us that First Time Buyers, generally 20 – 29, are the fastest growing segment in the real estate market and the most likely to concede they could have gotten a better mortgage. They are on the go, rate shop on their mobile phones, and often take mortgages based on the lowest rate, which rarely serves their long-term interests.

This convinced us of some major business directions:

> The brokerage should be mobile like its audience, and do without a fixed office, meeting wherever is convenient.

> It should be about more than mortgages, but should also support and educate buyers about all aspects of the first time home purchase process.

The name flowed from there, as did the logo and responsive website (both designed by Victoria graphic designer Megan Munro.)

blog-post-mobile2.jpgScreen Shot 2016-06-11 at 10.32.11 AM.png The website offers resources and information about the first home purchase process. MobileFirst will continue to pile on the content as the business matures.

NICE FEATURE

The owner realized that most first time buyers are entering a foreign world of notaries, accountants, contractors, insurance agents, lawyers and so on. So he decided to create a network of respected and like-minded professionals in these fields so his clients wouldn’t have to venture into unknown territory to find trustworthy people.

Victoria photographer Derek Ford did some ace photography of the MobileFirst team.

Jake 2.png

To help the business get some traction among rate shoppers and site visitors, a 15 page guide for First Time Buyers was created and offered by email to site visitors.

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The branding work wrapped up with business cards designed to mimic the smartphone format.

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“I chose to work with Doug as he came highly recommended from colleagues, and he did not disappoint,” commented Jake after the brand launch. “I truly grateful for his expertise.”

Buying your first home in Victoria? You now know who to ping!

 

 

 

 

Abeego battles for $100,000 prize

4 Jun BDC Toni Desroisiers

BDC Toni Desroisiers

Toni Desrosiers, founder of innovative Victoria BC-based Abeego,  is a finalist in the BDC’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Abeego (also a Brand Intervention client) is the maker of the original beeswax food wrap.

One finalist was selected from each province. The winner of a public vote, which is on now until June 12, will be awarded $100,000 towards the business!

Check out the finalists and cast your vote for Toni here.

That kind of money would seriously influence her goal to wean humans off plastic cling. You can vote once a day until June 12th and follow her progress on Facebook.

Good luck Toni! And thanks for helping her.

 

Introducing blended

28 May website for blended agency inc

blended is a new Victoria-based BC company that comprises me, my partner Russ Mounsey, and a cast of strategic and creative superstars.

We’ve come together as a team to work with BC wineries; to help them with operations, distribution, sales and marketing.

Our website went live today – click on the image and check it out!

website for blended agency inc

So does this mean the end of Brand Intervention? No! It means I go from being busy to being really busy.

Some quick facts about blended:

> The name. We got lucky. Seemed like the right name, given the way our distinct skills come together…in the manner of a blended wine.

> The office. We don’t have one. We have a beautiful boardroom in Vic Quay where we meet in Victoria.

> The salaried staff. There aren’t any. We will eat (and drink) what we grow. Our team members have their own healthy businesses and come into play when their brains and heart are needed.

Russ and I do the upfront strategic planning and outline growth strategies in 3 key areas: profitability, audience and brand awareness. Then we bring in the team to work with us as we flesh out the strategies and execute the tactics. We committed early on to holding out for the best people to work with, both in terms of talent and spirit. Hence the extended blended team:

  • Sara Park – social media strategy
  • Neil Tran of Leap Web Solutions – packaging and web design/development. (Leap did our gorgeous logo and website.)
  • Derek Ford – photography
  • Treve Ring of Cru Consultancy – sommelier, wine listings, tasting notes.
  • Jodie Carlisle – marketing strategy
  • Steve Hutchison of Treehouse Media – media strategy
  • Trisha Lees of Rep Lab – media training, reputation strategy
  • Rod Philips – retail strategy
  • Christine Gleed of Circle Communications – public and media relations
  • Adem Tepedelen – copywriting
  • Gord Carson of Planet Pictures – film and video director

This is a team of rock stars! We can’t wait to unleash their talents to the benefit of BC wineries.

I understand we may have to participate in regular product evaluation along the way, but we’ll work with that.

Cheers from the team at blended!

champagne glasses clinking

Duracell warms up ice cold Canadians

10 Mar

It’s not really hard to get people to like your advertising and, by extension, your brand.

You just have to be useful.

Duracell figured this one out in spades during our Winter of Discontent.

Problem? Freezing cold, grumbling Canadians.

Solution? Check this beauty out:

 

It’s only a major drag if you’re at the stop by yourself!

 

 

 

A good brand specialist is part snoop, part janitor

19 Feb

silhouette window cleaner

Your brand is not a logo or a look that you toss out into the market with fingers crossed. It’s your company’s promise.  It tells the world what it can expect from you on a consistent basis.

Your brand promise might be experiential. You might promise “innovation” or “simplicity” or “to treat your customers like family”. (Hopefully that doesn’t mean shouting matches at the table!)

It could be functional. You might promise to “save time” or “use less energy”.

Whatever your brand promise might be, it has to be authentic to your business offering and relevant to your customers.

Even more importantly, it has to be achievable.

Part snoop. Part janitor.

Because of that last requirement, the first place I look, when helping a business uncover its brand promise, is not at the product or service itself, but within the company. That’s where the promise lies.

It’s there in the messy desk drawers. It’s hiding under the unpaid invoices and in the smell that greets visitors to your premises. It’s in the sound of your voice when you pick up the phone and the turnaround time for managing a customer’s complaint. It’s in the clarity of your sales pitch, and in the structure and frequency of your staff meetings.

All those things tell a story about the business’s ability to deliver against its promise to the world.

There is a closet detective in every good branding specialist. And a cleaner!

In order to ensure you live up to your promise, your company needs to have its house in order, and that usually means some things have to improve.

To figure that part out, I use a process I call the Brand Evaluation, where I analyze a business against the promise it should be making to its customers. This involves asking a cross section of staff a variety of questions that challenge them to think about their business and their brand in new ways.

I ask the tough questions during these sessions and dig hard for the dirt.

I learn what sorts of promises a company can support currently, what it’s getting hung up on, and what needs to change in order to offer a different level of promise to the customer.

The DNA for the look of your brand

Once the workshop is complete, I have the groundwork for an achievable brand promise – and the DNA for the physical look and feel of your brand.

But your brand promise is not just for your customers. It should also drive internal behaviour and give a company something to measure their operations against: their internal processes and communications, their customer touch-points and the business culture.

Then you’ve got yourself an authentic, consistent and achievable brand to unleash on the world.

Christmas card wars: Bell versus Dominos

12 Dec

corporate Christmas cards

Last Christmas Bell sent me an e-card to say Seasons Greetings. This year they put one in the post instead. (That’s a strange reversal of environmental culture from an industry that pushes hard for electronic billing, but that’s another story.)

The Bell card arrived the same time as a card from Dominos Pizza.

Guess which one I liked better?

Christmas card from BellDominos Pizza Christmas card and couponMy average monthly business to Dominos is about $25, so $300 a year. It’s easy to be disloyal and use another pizza delivery service, so the $5 gift card is smart. It will ensure my next order anyway.

I use Bell to the tune of about $150 a month. I have contracts so I don’t have much discretionary choice. If I want to switch to another telecom, it will cost me a bundle.

Bell knows this and didn’t reward my $1,800 a year business with anything beyond a “Thanks”.

Now in your mind, “Thanks” might be enough. But an unsigned card isn’t doing anything to earn my gratitude or keep my business. It’s just a corporate card, a cost to the company that goes straight into recycling. It has no value-add, nor even a rewarding idea. It wasted resources, and my time to open it and recycle it.

Don’t say it. Show it.

The Dominos card, while not going on my mantle, delivered something in the way of a message. “We are eager to keep your business”. They didn’t say it – they showed it with the coupon, which will hang around, an ongoing branding reminder, long after the recycled card has made its way back into paper mulch.

Of course you can argue there is a significantly greater cost to Dominos for the gesture for considerably less business potential. But my guess is it will pay off.

You must get corporate Christmas cards. Do you think they have value?

Amy C. Amy Do.

Amy fall down.

Son of the Morning Light

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