25/09/2020

10 tips on how to work from home (effectively)

So, you’ve recently found out you’re working remotely?  

Well, us too. As of tomorrow, 22 Group will be working from home. Luckily for us, this is something we’re pretty used to. Part of our company culture involves flexible hours, including the option of working from home once a week.

Of course, this scale of remote working is pretty unprecedented, so we’re still trying to get our heads around how exactly it will work! The pros of home-working are the flexibility, but we are all a bit fearful of the dreaded cabin fever setting in.  

The sudden intrusion of work into your home life can be daunting if you’ve never worked from home before. The change to your routine combined with the uncertainty of the times we are facing could lead to a real dip in productivity.  It seems like the perfect (or not so perfect) time to compile all our tips and tricks from around our team of how best to work from home...

  1. Find your optimum productivity hours

I feel like this might be the most important tip of all. It’s time for a bit of introspection - ask yourself, when are you truly the most productive? Are you a classic early bird? Is the hour after lunch time a write-off? 

When you’ve established your optimum hours, make sure you work your day around them. For example, I tend to assign myself writing jobs in the morning when my brain is at its quickest. By the end of the day, more mechanical work is preferable, as my energy levels tend to deplete as the day goes on.

Ensuring you’re available in the company’s normal operating hours is important, but establishing your optimum times will give you guidance on how to prioritise tasks. 

2. Get fresh air early (lockdown permitting...)

Our founder, Eddy, recommends getting some fresh air early on in the day. Clearing the head, establishing focus - this can be a great way to introduce a ready-to-work mindset. 

The initial movement and fresh air could also mimic the act of commuting, thereby psychologically putting you in the mindset of leaving home behind and entering the work day. 

Of course, in these unpredictable times, it makes sense to say observe due caution when out and about and ensure you are practising social distancing. 

3. Get dressed rather than just lounging in pjs. 

Quite a few of us here at the office suggested this one. Maybe there’s something that intrinsically connects the work mindset with putting together an outfit that isn’t an old pajama top and joggers.

Feeling presentable and office-ready will help make that transition to home-working smoother. Working in a dressing gown from bed may sound appealing, but the reality is your body is hardwired to relax in such a situation, making productivity more of an uphill battle.

Of course, these situations are highly personal and balance is always needed. Our founder, Robin, recommends wearing a shirt up top with jogging bottoms, so at least half of you is always presentable for conference calls. 

4. Establishing a clear workstation

Many of us noted the importance of assigning a certain space from which to work. This could be a desk, dining room table, or even a sofa. Where you work isn’t the important consideration here, what matters is how you approach this space. This space should be kept as separate as possible from homely distractions, such as the TV, bed, or other members of the household, and the sole purpose of this area should be for work. Creating that boundary, both physically and mentally, will give you that much-needed focus.

Your home set-up may benefit from a few adjustments. Do you have everything at home you need to do all aspects of your job? It will be important to contact your employers about what exactly you need to work remotely. Additionally, consider your set-up. Consider moving around - or even investing in - certain pieces that will make your time at home easier, such as ergonomically supportive chairs and desks. 

5. Decide upon your working hours

Working from home means that your work-life balance is no more. It is now, well and truly, a work-life blend. Try as you might to mentally separate your work from your home, it will be near impossible to leave work behind if you’re living in the same space you’re working in. This doesn’t mean you have to resign to burnout, however.

Establishing clear boundaries and accessible hours is very important. Just because you're working from home doesn’t mean you should be bombarded in out of work hours by work emails. Be clear and firm when it comes to your working hours. 

In order to maintain good working relations with your colleagues, it is important to be available during the company’s observed working hours. However, if you are not going to be available after 5pm, because you’ve been working since 7am, then it could be worth communicating these with the rest of the team. Again, this comes back to finding out your optimum working hours and treating them as gospel. Don’t schedule a meeting for 9am if you know you won’t have properly woken up by that time. 

6. Stay connected - phone calls, conference calls

To avoid the feelings of isolation and cabin fever, it is really vital to keep up communications with your colleagues. For us, a few GIFs here and there on Slack keep that team spirit going (at the moment it’s mostly coronavirus-related memes, let’s be honest). 

A daily check-in with the team is really useful and easily achievable via webinar services, such as Zoom. It may also be worth substituting a Slack message for a phone call now and again, so we don’t all feel like we’re working from an isolated bubble.

7. Take clear breaks

If you are new to working from home, the sudden luxury of relative freedom can be overwhelming. I can work in my dressing gown? From bed? Eating pizza? This luxury will soon wear off however and you’ll find your productivity will have taken a substantial hit. 

Try and be as strict with your work schedule at home as you would be in the office. Give yourself time for a lunch break, and regular breaks as you would do in the office, but try not to go overboard. Don’t fall into a Youtube wormhole. Don’t see how many loads of laundry you can squeeze into one workday. The lure of procrastination may seem more alluring at home, with no-one around to judge, but try and frame it to yourself as a good opportunity for self-management!

8. Keep a to-do list

As an avid visual thinker, I need those clear indications of schedule to keep focused. Now seems like a perfect opportunity to cover my living room wall in post-its. Of course, keep reminders in any medium that suits your working style - this could be done via organisational apps or an old-school calendar or planner. 

Keeping that accountability going at home, via a to-do list or organisational tool, will give you a visual of the work you’ve achieved in the day. This is massively important as working from home doesn’t give you the finality of a done-and-dusted day in the office. It’s hard to walk out of the doors feeling accomplished when you’re stuck inside. A simple act of checking off a to-do list a day will remind you of what you’ve achieved and give you an opportunity to mentally check-out for the day.

9. Exercise 

Exercise, as we all know, is an instant mood-booster. Now, more than ever, it is important to keep endorphins high as we try and stave off feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. As an active bunch, 22 Group have been discussing the various ways we can keep fit in a lockdown situation.

Our developer Olly is a fan of regular stretches throughout the day and our senior creative, Alex, is hoping to keep running and biking regularly. 

Home workouts via Youtube are popular, easy and, most importantly, free. Yoga and pilates are particularly beneficial for relaxation - something I’m sure many of us are seeking at the moment. 

10. Try to avoid sitting on social media and the news. 

At the moment, opening up a social media or new app in the middle of a work day can be like stepping into quicksand. The regularity of news updates, the constant stream of information, misinformation and anxiety can be overwhelming and a major cause of distraction. 

Setting aside a certain time in the day to check the news has been a suggestion I’ve seen circulating. This limits the amount of time you’re exposed to information-overload and keeps distractions low. The balance between staying informed and not descending into distraction is a balance we all have to tread.

19/06/2020

The disruptive power of simplicity.

There is power in simplicity. 

In the world of design, this is common knowledge. ‘Keep it simple’ is the mantra of many a graphic designer. Clean lines, minimalist shapes, stripped back visual identities - none of these concepts are new or groundbreaking.  

But recently the approach of ‘keeping it simple’ has moved well beyond the logo. 

Simplicity has become the key characteristic of disruptive brands. 

Branding experts Siegel+Gale are so fascinated by the concept of simplicity that they research brands every year for their World's Simplest brand report. This report surveys more than 15,000 people across 9 countries and ranks 800 brands. It’s a definitive understanding of the success of the simple brand.

‘Keeping it simple’ appears to be the one factor all big industry disruptors have in common.

Simplicity not just in design, but approach - at every level. The most successful brands were those that prioritised easy-to-use experiences or fulfilled certain functions that simply made life easier.

Siegel+Gale found...

  • 64% of consumers are willing to pay more for simpler experiences
  • 55% of consumers claim they’ll pay more for a brand that delivers a simpler experience
  • A stock portfolio of the simplest global brands outperforms the major indexes by 330 percent.

The top 10 world’s simplest brands were found to be:

  1. Netflix
  2. ALDI
  3. Google
  4. Lidl
  5. Carrefour
  6. McDonald’s
  7. trivago
  8. Spotify
  9. Uniqlo
  10. Subway

“The top performers in our study operate in crowded, highly competitive marketplaces. That said, their ability to consistently deliver their brands with simple, compelling experiences sets them apart,” said David Srere, co-CEO and Chief Strategy Officer at Siegel+Gale.

“Companies will benefit greatly by keeping it simple for customers…or suffer the consequences.”

We can see the effectiveness of the simple approach in our day-to-day lives. The ‘one swipe’ purchase bar on my Amazon app can testify to that! The simplicity of Amazon’s buying process prioritises a lightning-quick customer experience - making it all too easy to contribute to Jeff Bezos’ sprawling empire.

We see a similar user experience with Netflix - ranked the no1 most simple and successful brand. Their original tagline ‘movie enjoyment made easy’ still stands true today.

Netflix’s automation recommendations are designed intuitively so the next big thing is quick and easy for us to find. How many of us had to scroll endlessly to find ‘Tiger King’? None of us. It was one day simply there. We didn't have to think twice about it.

Netflix - as do the other most successful brands - remain committed to smooth, easy user experiences, instant accessibility and global brand recognition.

It’s simplicity done perfectly.

As Manchester businesses, what can we learn from these disruptors?

Key takeaways:

Empathise with your customer. I mean, really empathise. Getting on exactly the right wave-length as your customer allows you to anticipate their pain-points and experience their user journey. What road bumps stand between them and a seamless experience?

Embrace tech. People love easy-to-use tech. Think McDonald's self-service screen. A few taps and you're done! Without having to scream your order at a spaced-out server.

Streamline your services. Netflix offers one thing, done well. Amazon offers many different services, but keeps things simple with intuitive e-commerce tech that doesn't overwhelm their customers.

We'd love to help you out with a rebrand. If you're after something timeless, simple and disruptive - let's discuss! 

You can give us a call on 0161 672 7822, or drop me an email at jess@22group.co.uk

12/06/2020

The 10 steps that will establish your brand identity

Brand identity.

It all starts with a strong brand.

A strong brand needs to be more than just a flashy logo, or a well-chosen colour palette.

A strong brand is a brand whose values, culture and objectives are all aligned.

Branding is all about public perception - the knee-jerk reaction someone thinks when they see your name.

Brand identity is closely related to your visual identity. How do you present yourself?

If you haven’t updated your logo in years and it is beginning to age, you might want to consider how it showcases your brand.

If we think about your visual identity as clothing, then a sloppy logo and a tacky slogan are the equivalents of dressing your brand in nothing more than some faded hand-me-downs.

Not exactly likely to make a good first impression.

Your brand identity needs to go hand-in-hand with your values, your story and your culture. When everything is consistent, the strength of a brand really comes through.

The 10 steps that will establish your brand identity...

1. Know your values

Your brand values are your foundations. They should be guiding principles that will help define your brand to the rest of your team and to future clients. Your values are like your DNA, or your blueprint: they will determine every other decision you make.

A value could be ‘clear communication’ if your brand prides itself on the straightforward and direct way it shares information. The values you choose can be a combination of realistic and aspirational. Some values will be things you already pride yourself on. Others will be values to aim towards.

2. Create a customer persona 

Knowing your customer inside and out is almost as important as establishing brand values. A customer persona is a profile of a typical customer of yours. This should be as detailed as you can possibly make it!

Think about the age and gender of your ‘average’ customer, their hobbies and family life. Think about their income, their pain points, what motivates them. By understanding your customer, you can understand how to best market to them.

3. Set ambitious but achievable goals

An aspect of establishing a clear brand identity is thinking about where you see your brand going. Your brand should have a trajectory. Everyone should be working toward the same goals.

Setting these goals will help you make important decisions, such as how to approach a marketing campaign, or what new logo to choose. Your goals should inform your brand personality and identity.

4. Consistency across all touchpoints, both on and offline

Part of a quality brand is strength. There is a reason Apple is such a juggernaut of a brand. Their brand identity is very firmly established. Their aesthetic doesn’t budge. Their marketing and messaging are consistent across the board.

Another good example is Lush. Lush is a global brand with a fiercely loyal customer base. Their brand identity is absolutely consistent, with a recognisably friendly company culture, cruelty-free values and a consistent ‘look’ in every single one of their stores across the globe.

5. Make sure your content marketing is ‘on brand’

Your content marketing is the voice of your brand. It is every email you send, every piece of social media you post and every piece of text on your website.

The content your brand distributes should have the same tone of voice and core message. This should always reflect your values. If one of your values is ‘warmth’ but your emails are consistently formal, your content marketing could be weakening your brand identity.

6. Establish a visual identity and colour palette

A large part of your brand identity is the visuals people associate with you. McDonalds instantly brings to mind that red and yellow, and those golden arches. Nike’s ‘swoosh’ is instantly recognisable.

Your visual identity is like the clothes of your company. You have to make sure you choose something that is a perfect fit and ‘on brand’ - after all, it will determine the first impression people have of you. 

7. Develop brand guidelines

Brand guidelines are style guides that determine the aesthetic visual identity of your brand. They ensure consistency across the board. Brand guidelines are a huge part of cementing your brand identity.

Once you have official guidelines set in stone you can begin to distribute them across your entire team. This ensures everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet and everyone is familiar with the essence of your brand.

8. Address and remarket the company culture

Your company culture is something that few businesses consciously think about. The culture of a company is all about how the team operates. For a strong brand identity, it is worth taking a long look at the culture of a company. Redefining the ‘essentials’ of how you work can help with your consistency across the board. 

9. Get the team onboard

Your brand identity is all about your team and the individual personalities that make it up. It goes without saying that you have to have the right people.

If you have a clear brand identity you're more likely to get noticed by like-minded individuals. Include your brand guidelines in any job advertisement you send out to ensure you’re attracting the right people. 

10. Work on a brand strategy to be used across the board

A strong brand is nothing without a strong strategy. Your strategy should cover how to boost your engagement, how to connect more with your target audience and how to nurture those leads and enquiries that you get.

Your brand strategy should focus on two core things: your brand and your customers. Working out how to get a connection, a relationship, between your brand and your customers is vital to your success. 

Here at 22 Group, we're brand specialists. We can study your target audience, research your market and develop a bespoke strategy for your brand. Our designers are experts at crafting unique and impactful visual identities. We can write a compelling brand story for you and help you define your core values.

Give us a call on 0161 672 7822 to find out more!

29/05/2020

What makes a successful brand?

A brand is a number of elements rolled into one.

Image, symbol, language, name, design. All of these jigsaw pieces help make something recognisable and unique.

A brand is an identity, first and foremost.

Just like ranchers who branded cattle with their own recognisable mark to distinguish them from other herds, your brand is yours and yours alone - a unique trademark.

So, what makes a brand a brand?

Because there are brands, and then there are brands. The brands so huge they are recognised by young and old alike across all corners of the globe.

Their power moves beyond just a striking logo, or a well-chosen colour palette. Their power lies within their brand story, the associations of their brand - that unspoken public perception. 

A successful brand, then, is one that is considered as a whole.

Here at 22, we don’t just want to create brands, we want to create identities and experiences.

The products we create move beyond just logos and designs. We believe a whole is greater than the sum of its parts, which is why we take a holistic approach to our branding.

Our designers, developers, marketers and copywriters all work collaboratively at every stage of our process, resulting in a cohesive end-product that is consistent across the board. 

Investing in your brand is investing in your future.

A quality brand won’t have to be rebranded for years to come. A timeless visual identity will find relevance across a span of audiences and contexts.

A true branding success is marked by something that lives beyond the person who created it. An immortal creation. Just as the name ‘Disney’ has moved well beyond the individual, so too does a successful brand.

It generates a life and identity of its own.

26/04/2020

The dangers of buying a cheap budget website

Nowadays it's easy to think of a website as a product that can be created for a budget price.

Template website builders are everywhere. At the end of a quick Google search are millions of budget websites - you're a few taps away from getting yourself a website at a bargain price. What could be easier?

And surely, it makes good business sense?

A cheaper website is a shrewd investment, right? It saves a huge amount of money. It does the job. It at least gives you an online presence.

Unfortunately, the dangers of budget websites can be so far-reaching that they undermine any benefits from their initial low-cost.

At best, you'll have a cheap-looking, basic website that will do little in the way of generating leads or revenue.

At worst you could have a website that will actively drive users away from your brand, lower your Google rankings, and damage your reputation.

The pitfalls of budget websites are not always immediately obvious. The allure of the bargain price will appear to outweigh every other factor.

But some serious problems can occur with these cheap sites that can have sinister and extensive effects.

Here are some of the dangers of cost-cutting, budget websites…

You won't own your website or any of the content

With a template website builder, you'll often find that the company will own your site and all the data on it.

This means when it comes to making changes or updates to your site, you will have little creative freedom. Moreover, transferring your site's data can be a huge headache. Your data could be locked down, leaving you unable to access it, transfer it, or update it.

Template websites can be shut-down at any moment

A lot of budget website builders make their money from selling customers' personal details on to advertising companies. Due to this, these companies have a habit of shutting themselves down rapidly when they need to.

These faceless companies are under no legal obligation to inform users who have a website with them that they are shutting down. Your site could literally disappear at the drop of a hat, leaving you with an error notice instead of a homepage.

You could be locking down your data with an unknown company that can legally shut down their servers without acknowledging you, leaving you high and dry without a site or the data to transfer elsewhere.

You won't get support

If your template website has issues, who will be on hand to help you sort them out?

Often, companies who create cheap websites won’t offer on-going support, meaning when issues inevitably occur, you will get burned for it. This is how they are able to make their money. 

Basic necessary services such as email accounts, image hosting and website transfer could cost you - and companies will often charge through the roof for them.

You'll get a slow site and low rankings

If you're using a budget template builder, chances are you'll be sharing a server with many others.

Additionally, your template website could have malignant or unnecessary code. These factors can really slow down a site and cause loading issues.

A slow loading site will cause huge issues for your Google rankings. If users bounce from your site, frustrated with their slow experience, Google will penalise you accordingly. In today’s age, users are ruthless. They are used to experiencing a good online experience and can tell instantly when their needs are not being met.

If you're not ranking well on Google, you're missing out on new inquiries, plain and simple. It can take extensive time and money to get your SEO back on the right track.

Cheap websites are hackable

Cheap template designs are often poorly coded, leading to security issues.

Owning a cheap website is the online version of leaving your shop door open all night.

Nowadays users are savvy enough to spot a cheap site and won't feel as secure leaving their details with you. if your website is hacked and goes offline, your credibility is seriously damaged.


In web development, it is really a case of you get what you put into it. If you want a better performing website, with a greater return on investment, it is worth spending more on it. When it comes to websites, you do get what you pay for. 

Essentially, buying a cheap website could not only be a waste of time and money, but a poor business move. The damage that a bad website can bring about can take a substantial amount more money and time to put right.

Treating a website like an online brochure or a flyer can be a catastrophic oversight and one that is really outdated. The idea that a website should just ‘look the part’ is backward, to say the least.

A website can be your business' most significant commercial tool if created properly.

We can set up a website that won’t just sit dead in the water, but will actually begin working itself. Our optimised websites are designed to capture lead information for you and grow organically. Check out more here.

02/04/2020

Does your website have everything it needs to pull you through COVID-19?

With the high-street an absolute no-go at the moment, your online presence is more important than ever before.

But it's easy to let issues pile up on your site that, over time, become harder to spot with an untrained eye.

Here at 22 Group, we're website experts and we can pinpoint the key areas where your website is falling short.

So, what things should I be looking for when optimizing my website? We’ve done the hard work for you...


Too many calls to action

A messy homepage, with too many calls to action, will confuse the eye. They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression and this is very true when it comes to your homepage. Too many options will be overwhelming, leading to a disappointing user experience that won't convert.

Not mobile-friendly

A responsive site - how important is it really? To put it simply - very. With mobile internet browsers surpassing desktop users, ensuring your site works just as smoothly on mobile is essential. If the content is reduced when you access the site via mobile, or if images don't align, or links don't work - face it, you're driving users away. 

Lacks clear communication

In this new normal we're living in under COVID-19, it's really important to communicate transparently with the visitors to your site. Your current clients and customers need information about if you're still operating, your prospects need to know how to contact you and your employees need to have clear, upfront information. Displaying direct communication about how your business has adapted to the COVID-19 circumstances will present as confident and straight-talking.


We can help you with all of these issues.

Our savvy developers would be happy to give you advice on how to make your website work harder and smarter for you. Remember, if it's not converting, if it's not earning you leads, then it's not fulfilling the basic function of a site! Call 0161 672 7822 or email robin@22group.co.uk for expert advice.

Need some clear and sensitive content? We are currently offering free content marketing to get you through these bizarre times! Email me at jess@22group.co.uk if I can help out in any way.

Stay home, stay safe.

Jess

Copywriting & Marketing

0161 672 7822

jess@22group.co.uk

27/03/2020

Weathering the storm of COVID-19.

Within the space of a week, a week that has seemed to span a year, it's already become a cliché to call these times 'unprecedented.'

COVID-19 has changed the landscape, politically, socially and economically, so dramatically that normal things like commuting to the office now seem like relics of the past.

I don’t think it’s alarmist to say real structural change is occurring during this period. Uncertainty is the new normal and change is the only constant.

What then, does this mean for business, for day-to-day survival? And, most importantly, what can we do to weather the storm?


Content and communication

If you haven't already, consider your content marketing strategy.

It may seem like a low priority task, but communication, now more than ever, will oil the wheels of commerce - or, at least, nurture those important leads for when the time is right.

Customers, prospects, leads, employees - all need clear channels of communication.

With the majority of the country now working from behind a screen, it is important to remain connected. Content marketing is a cheap, quick way to directly engage with your audience.

Communication during turbulent times is hugely important, but it may be overwhelming when you feel swamped. Maybe we can help. As our resident copywriter, I would be more than happy to create bespoke content for you (for emails, website, banners, social media) absolutely free. Email jess@22group.co.uk for more details.

Consider reinvention

It may be wise to throw away the rule-book. If your traditional ways of working are suddenly rendered meaningless, consider doing a 180.

The companies quickest off the mark have been those who recognised the necessity of changing direction, and did so swiftly.

Examples of this are LVMH, the French luxury goods company behind Louis Vuitton, making hand sanitiser free of charge for the use of French hospitals and public services.

More practical pivots include restaurants who have closed their doors, but who are still offering food via delivery.

Be mindful of your reputation

In unprecedented times, consumers will remember how companies acted. We’ve seen examples of this already.
CEO of Topshop, Philip Green, made the decision to let his workers go without pay. This provoked a social media backlash, with many calling for a boycott of all Green’s stores.

Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct, also faced criticism for refusing to close his stores, claiming they offer ‘essential services.’ His sudden, and already infamous, U-turn looks likely to tarnish his reputation – for how long is yet to be seen.

Reputational risk may not seem high on the list of short-term concerns, but its impacts will be long-lasting and potentially ruinous. Brand reputation can be nurtured through transparent communication and actions that are in line with company values.

For example, Marks and Spencer, the quintessentially British brand, have widespread customer loyalty spanning generations and a solid reputation. The M&S brand survived recessions and two world wars, always prioritizing their values above everything else. During World War Two they helped to patent the design for utility clothing and raise funds for the RAF. For more on the importance of brand values, read here.

Customer loyalty isn't a solution to every problem, but it can act as a reassuring life-jacket when the storm hits – and in the aftermath that follows.

Stay safe!

Jess


Jess Cawdron

Copywriting & Marketing

0161 672 7822

jess@22group.co.uk

16/03/2020

Our company culture.

‘Culture.’

One of the stylish, corporate buzzwords that roam around, and, when overused, can be as irritating as a wasp at a picnic.

Yet, this is jargon that we can’t keep batting away, as it directly impacts our day-to-day.

Company culture is essentially the personality and character of an organisation. 

It’s the environment of a workplace - how it functions, how employees communicate and how staff are managed.

Company culture can have a significant impact on your job satisfaction and productivity. It is one of the most important factors to consider when hunting for work.

Working out what sort of company culture works for you is very personal and directly relates to your habits as a worker. Are you an intrinsic team player? Do you work far more efficiently when left independently? Do you need clear targets to stay focused?

These elements are so important to establish, but can be tricky to figure out before getting stuck into a job. And, you may find out, too late, that a company's culture doesn’t align with your personal working style.

That’s why we’ve decided to be as transparent as possible!

We’re laying our cards out on the table and giving a thorough overview of our company culture so that we can attract like-minded people.

Our company culture is intrinsically linked to our values. We believe that working in a friendly environment - one of authenticity, integrity and mutual respect - is conducive to productivity and job satisfaction.

As a team, we’re a committed bunch. We’re dedicated to our work, but also to one another and we’re proud of our upbeat and supportive working environment.

We’re proud of our retention of staff and how the atmosphere we’ve created feels more like working with friends than colleagues. 


Here are 8 aspects of our company culture...

     1. We can wear what we want to the office. The relaxed and informal nature of our office environment means we don’t assign to the corporate world of suits and ties. We think being comfy is far more important.

     2. We have quarterly activities as a team. In the past we have been Go Karting and for a night out at Flight Club. Each member of the team gets their own turn to pick an activity of their choice.

     3. We have an Office Mum. Marcia, our officer manager, is the company’s unofficial, but kinda official, office mum. She looks after us superbly and brightens up our office with her sense of humour. She enjoys rating the cups of tea we make her out of 10 and offering us sage advice. We even got her a mother’s day gift last year!

    4. We have flexible hours. As a company we believe that we are all far more productive when we can work at our optimum hours. We have a combination of night owls and early birds in the office and our flexibility suits both.

    5. We can easily work remotely! Our jobs are usually done from behind a computer screen, allowing us that flexibility of work. We have the option of working from home a few times a week, whenever suits us. 

    6.  Our project manager Stephen regularly keeps the office well-stocked with all manner of sweet treats. Doughnuts, biscuits, cakes - you name it.

7. We sometimes like to indulge in Fat Fridays - a day where we explore the culinary delights of the Northern Quarter. This is a day completely free from calorie-counting.

   8. We have 25 days of holiday!


If you like the sound of our company culture, check out our recent PHP developer role.

10/03/2020

10 quotes that prove brand storytelling is the future of marketing.

Have you ever wondered what skyrockets certain companies into the stratosphere and not others?

Let’s focus on the big dogs, like Apple or Virgin.

What factors contributed to their meteoric success?

Luck, of course. A healthy dose of luck never harmed anyone’s chances.

But another factor to consider would be their single-minded, rock-solid marketing strategies.

These two brands are prime examples of establishing long-term loyalty. Loyalty that surpasses technological change. Loyalty that turns someone into an Apple customer for life, who scoffs at the idea of buying their tech from somewhere else.

richard-branson

‘We would be nothing without our story.’ – Richard Branson

How did they manage it?

In short, they told stories.

Richard Branson describes entrepreneurs as ‘professional storytellers.’ He says that Virgin’s story is what attracts people to their products and services, and also to work for them.

Business storytelling, or story-first marketing, gives your customer a compelling reason to work with you or buy from you. It humanises you.

And we all know, people buy from people. Moreover, people remain loyal to people they trust.


I’ve compiled my favourite quotes that connect business and storytelling:

1. ‘A great salesperson knows how to tell a story in which the product is the hero.’ – Peter Guber, Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment.

2. ‘And do you know what is the most-often missing ingredient in a sales message?  It’s the sales message that doesn’t tell an interesting story.  Storytelling . . . good storytelling . . . is a vital component of a marketing campaign.’ – Gary Halbert, marketing guru.

3. ‘Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make but about the stories you tell.’ – Seth Godin, author, entrepreneur. 

4. ‘People think in stories, not statistics, and marketers need to be master storytellers.’ – Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post.

5. ‘Successful organisations and companies share the stage with their best storytellers. Brands are a collection of narratives. Unleash your best stories.’ – Carmine Gallo, author and keynote speaker.

6. ‘You can’t sell anything if you can’t tell anything.’ – Beth Comstock, business executive.

7. ‘If your stories are all about your products and services, that’s not storytelling. It’s a brochure. Give yourself permission to make the story bigger.’ – Jay Baer, content marketing strategist and keynote speaker.

steve-jobs

8. ‘The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.’ – Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple.

9. ‘Storytelling is by far the most underrated skill when it comes to business.’ – Gary Vaynerchuk, entrepreneur. 

10. ‘Logic makes you think. Emotion makes you act.’ – Alan Weiss, author and public speaker.


If the idea of storytelling in marketing is new to you, it could be the one approach that breathes life back into your brand.

For more ideas, or to discuss a story-based rebrand, contact me at jess@22group.co.uk

Jess Cawdron
Copywriting & Marketing
0161 672 7822

signature-jess

06/03/2020

5 incredible brand stories from Manchester businesses.

I can hear you sighing already.

‘More marketing buzzwords? Really?’

Of course, the idea of the ‘brand story’ isn’t new. It’s as old as marketing itself.

But never before have we been so submerged in misinformation, waffle and a daily drone of stuff.

In this landscape, authentic brands with a clean, clear message and honesty at their cores will stand out like a fresh breeze cutting through a sweaty summer day.

Storytelling connects. Always has, always will.

Here are 5 examples of Manchester businesses that harness the power of story-telling in their brands...


1. SpareRoom

Launched in Manchester in 2004, SpareRoom is the busiest flatshare website in the UK.

The founder of SpareRoom, Rupert Hunt, is a self-described ‘unlikely entrepreneur.’ He tells the story of moving to London to be in a band after completing a ‘Mickey Mouse’ degree called ‘Pop Music.’ In his spare time, he would make websites.

When he moved back to Manchester, he launched SpareRoom from a spider-ridden shed in his parents’ back garden. He funded it on his credit card and worried about it later.

Told with perfect self-deprecation, Rupert’s origin story humanised SpareRoom and made me see the business with different eyes. It’s a story of humble origins and unexpected meteoric success. More importantly, it's funny.

Check out Rupert’s brand story here: https://www.spareroom.co.uk/content/about-us/how-we-started/


2. Sweet Mandarin

When I was researching various brands and businesses, the story of Sweet Mandarin, Manchester's well-known Chinese restaurant and cookery school, really stood out to me.

It’s a classic tale of rags to riches.

The origins of this family-run business start with the CEO's grandmother, Lily Kwok, who worked as a maid for an affluent English family, the Woodmans.

She travelled with the Woodmans from Hong Kong to the UK. On this 30-day voyage, she began to practise and craft recipes in the kitchen of the ship.

The Woodmans treated Lily like part of the family. When Mrs Woodman died, it was revealed that she had left Lily a sum of money in her will. This became the seed capital Lily needed to kick-start her own restaurant.

Lily’s business grew in popularity. She served the likes of Cliff Richard, The Shadows and even The Beatles. Her legacy is now carried on by her grand-daughter, who runs Sweet Mandarin today.

Read Sweet Mandarin’s brand story here: http://sweetmandarin.com/our-story/


3. Cat Café

The brand story of Cat Café revolves around two sisters, Ellie and Sarah Close, who were inspired to start their business by the ubiquitous cat cafés of Japan. 

They stress the importance of spending time with animals for our physical, mental and emotional health.

The concept of their café is offered as a solution: ‘Cat Café can give you a new perspective, it can make you present, and it can refresh and heal an urban soul.’

Their brand story gains its strength from the powerful conviction of its mission. The sisters envision opening a Cat Café in every UK city. They just want all us urban folk to ‘be more cat’! 

Despite being a dog person, the strength of this brand and their commitment to their feline friends won me over. I’ll be paying it a visit.

Read their mission statement here: https://catcafe.co.uk/mission-statement


4. Northern Soul Grilled Cheese

Northern Soul Grilled Cheese, the UK's first grilled cheese business, has become something of a Mancunian institution.

Founded by Dan Place in 2015, the successful franchise started as a pop-up and has now expanded to a Northern Quarter site with a 70-cover unit and a smaller site in Piccadilly.

Dan's story is built on the adage 'do something you love and you won't go far wrong.' As a champion of Mancunian businesses, Dan was driven by the personal desire to give people secure, independent jobs in a vibrant area.

Location was certainly Dan's number one concern in the early days of his business. His original pop-up was a small site with basic electric, no running water, drainage and had no windows or doors.

But, what it did have was a lively location, right in the heart of the Northern Quarter.

From humble beginnings to local success, check out Dan meeting Man vs. Food's Adam Richman at Northern Soul Grilled Cheese here: https://www.northernsoulmcr.com/


5. Stockport Gin

Stockport Gin is a family-run business, launched by husband and wife Cheryl and Paul Sharrock and run from their home distillery in the village of Compstall.

Their brand origins begin simply with their love of gin.

The couple's passion for gin led them to sample local gins from everywhere they visit. When they realised Stockport didn't have its own gin, they leapt on the chance to create something unique.

Almost by chance, they made a deal with Selfridges. They managed to find the right person to speak to, sparking a chain of events which, Cheryl admitted, 'sounded almost too easy.'

Since then, their business has rapidly expanded, leading to a real juggle of the work-life balance as their distillery happens to also be their family home!

Read more about the story of Stockport Gin here: https://www.stockport-gin.com/pages/our-story


How does your brand story compare?

Here at 22 Group, we can curate your bespoke brand story for you.

To find out how we can transform your brand, drop me an email at jess@22group.co.uk

Or give me a call on 0161 672 7822

We'd love to hear from you.

Manchester

+44 (0) 161 672 7822
enquiries@22group.co.uk

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