Everyone has got one but not everyone knows how to find it or what to do with it!

Discovering your ‘essence’ is like a going on a creative pilgrimage – it will open your eyes to knowing exactly ‘who you are’ as a company and, equally importantly, how you should portray yourselves to your customers and encapsulate all your brand values. Sounds quite intriguing doesn’t it? Even more so when you could be losing business for no reason other than you seem ‘confused’ or ‘inconsistent’ in your service offering!

The process used to ultimately find your ‘essence’ requires direct questions and honest answers. On a basic level, it’s not unlike a trip to the dentist – slightly uncomfortable to begin with but clearly beneficial in the long run. But, cheat the system and you’ll cheat yourself and like a boomerang shaped dog, it will return to bite you on the corporate backside!

So what do you get when you’ve gently coaxed your best bits out into the open? Well, your new found ‘personality’ can then be molded, streamlined and perfectly matched to who you are ultimately targeting in the business world. Your essence becomes a linchpin for your company. The potential to become a business magnet is there for the taking. Tapping into your essence can differentiate your brand from your competitors and align business objectives with brand strategy. It is also vital that your essence is succinct, inspirational and memorable.

Clients (present and potential) can then be reassured of who you are and that you are the best business for the job. Employees, too, can be confident they are all singing from the same song sheet. Some say that in business it’s all about ‘who you know’. Well, if you are confident of who you are, isn’t it more likely people will want to know you?

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It’s true to say that for some the last few years have been somewhat challenging but who said business was easy anyway? As the world economy battles on, the world of marketing is once again given another challenge to face. But is it all doom and gloom or is this the ideal time to embrace your brand, stride past your cowardly competitors who tightened their belts so much they can’t move and get ahead of the race?

Reducing your marketing activity may help you hit financial targets short-term, but it will definitely leave your company in a less competitive position when the economy picks up again. Certainly the natural instinct is to sit tight and ride out the storm but, from a design (and business) point of view, could this economic blip and potential quiet period be the perfect opportunity to analyse, plan and implement the way forward? Indeed, the ‘storm’ will always clear and, inevitably, the smarter businesses will hit the ground running. So, how can design help with this? Branding is one of the strongest ways of telling your customers who you are and reinforcing why they should use you. Many companies are now refining their brand and messaging to align with their customers and the economic climate, making themselves more relevant – clearly and effectively.

The Design Council research shows that design is an important tool that can help businesses survive a recession. Their research shows that more than half of the UK’s businesses:
Over half (54%) of the firms in their survey thought design would contribute to a large or great extent in helping maintain their competitive edge in the current economic climate.
Similarly, 53% thought that design had become more important in helping the firm to achieve its business objectives over the last three years.
The same number strongly agreed that design is integral to the country’s future economic performance and if you’re one of the lucky businesses that’s having a storming time of it, then imagine what you can achieve with some great marketing.

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It seems a bit strange to us that ‘design’ can be seen as such a step into the unknown when we are all surrounded by it daily. We all constantly make purchasing choices around our favourite brands. So, when it comes to the crunch, why do some people feel that commissioning ‘design’ is so daunting and something they feel they can do without?

Lets kick off by suggesting there could be a lack of understanding towards the benefits of embracing design. Let’s also admit that energy and cold hard cash need to be invested to make sure it’s done properly. Quite a combination of reasons but let’s also entertain the notion that ‘nothing lasts forever’! Sounds over dramatic but because the modern business world is constantly forging ahead, it won’t let anyone relax and keep their feet tucked under the desk. The risk of being left behind by your competitors is surely far more of a scary prospect than being intimidated by a rebrand! People change too, with ‘age’, ‘experience’, ‘trends’, ‘morals’, ‘finances’ and ‘technology’ all adding to the mixing pot, which can regularly churn out a slightly different answer. That means ‘design’ needs to reflect the constantly moving goalposts, making sure it satisfies the demand and quenches the thirst.

Getting jittery yet?
Of course, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is a valid argument but, ‘there is always room for improvement’ is an equally appropriate retort! Change isn’t always embraced but, if design is implemented correctly and confidently, it creates a buzz. People start talking about you and your products again. Just think back to the last time you had a new hair style or bought a new suit – a different, revitalised individual emerges ready to take on the world. In essence, an investment has been made and a rebrand has just taken place! ‘Never rest on your laurels’ because you can bet your shiniest pound that your competitors won’t be either. And, maybe that is why ‘design’ doesn’t have to feel like such a ‘leap of faith’ but, should be viewed more as a ‘stepping stone for success’.

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