So...carrying on from the idea of "there's never been such a good time to create a brand", we thought we'd have a go ourselves.
Whilst brand strategy is all very intellectually rewarding (and still our proper job!) both Jonathan and I have (a not very well hidden) artistic streak. Both having been trained as designers we have over the years maintained a strong interest and practice in drawing, painting and illustration and have a deep love of letterpress printing, pattern paper and book design. We decided to dust off the printing press and create a brand offer combining the best of today's empowering technology with our love for the smell of ink, texture of paper and satisfaction of pattern. And bring to bear our branding expertise.
Starch Green is something we love doing and gets back to our roots as artist/designers - and is an excellent exercise in developing an authentic brand and seeing if we can grow it organically with a community of customers - we like the idea of 'viral' word-of-mouth growth, responding to what our customers like best and hoping they'll become advocates. A few key drivers that we have learned from developing brands are:
- authenticity is king
- real brands take time
- believe in what you do
- listen to customers
- reward advocates
Our aim is to develop a brand that is charming and delightful. We have an offer of handmade design that stretches the not very great distance from wood engraving and pattern paper, through what is these days known as graphic design but we might prefer to call commercial art, to artefacts decorated with our pattern papers. Our inspirations are Ravilious, Picture Puffins, Curwen endpapers and the growing band of artist/retailers inhabiting Artisania including St Judes, Harrington & Squires, Labour & Wait and Rennies.
While Brand Guardians consultancy carries on from strength to strength, there's a thrilling excitement about creating a new brand that is all about doing things because we like them. Listening to Start the Week on Radio 4 this morning Katie Mitchell, opera director, asked Sir Peter Hall on what basis he put his repertoire in Bath together. His answer, "The basis is entirely egocentric based on the plays I want to do and the actors I can get." Which leads me nicely to the other ingredients of branding that we hope to exploit:
- a vision that we are passionate about (what we want to do)
- that we are able to do (available 'actors').