brand matters article

by | Oct 30, 2019 | embracent news

Mark Lockton-Goddard contributes to Luminous Brand Matters Publication

The brand design company Luminous, have just published their Brand Matters Publication and Mark Lockton-Goddard, embracent CEO, contributed with an article reflecting on how asking Luminous to articulate our values has helped us compete with the Big Four. Read the article below – you can also obtain a full copy of the publication from Luminous.

Can you tell us what embracent does? And why was building a brand platform important to you?

Our USP is that rather than watch businesses be disrupted by technology and then offer to help sort themselves out afterwards, we help companies positively embrace change in the first place. We help our clients to think about how they use digital technologies in a pragmatic way; a way that makes them more agile and really delivers business improvement through better customer experiences. When you look at many companies, they still tend to run on spreadsheets and emails – I’m not saying that it’s steam age, but we help businesses move beyond that to become more automated, more effective and more efficient. We help our clients to get ready to embrace the challenges of the future.

We’ve been doing this for two-and-a-half years, and have just over 40 employees and associates. We are increasingly feeling more like an established business but we still operate like a start-up – the enthusiasm and freshness is all there and we felt it was time we sat down and ‘bottled’ all that before we lost sight of it. We wanted to capture the essence of the business now so that we remain true to our values in our actions to come.

As a relatively new player in the technology consulting space, what are your biggest communication challenges?

In short, we want our clients to acknowledge that size is not everything and that quality beats quantity. Even though our top leadership team have incredible reputations individually, as a brand and as a business we are still new and therefore not that widely known and are often up against the ‘Big Four’. A lot of why we are different is about how we are different; how we operate rather than what we do. All consultancies talk about digital transformation and so on; they talk about a lot of the same things. What’s different about us is how we put change into effect and how we work alongside our clients. It’s about our behaviour and much of that is a nuance thing. The challenge is actually getting that nuanced conversation out there so that our passion and commitment is what prospective clients embrace about us from the start.

Part of our work with you was the articulation of your brand’s purpose, personality, values and proposition. Do you think that helped with that nuanced conversation?

Luminous did an excellent job of helping us get to the nub of our values – I feel like we have really nailed it. In fact, I’ve become a bit obsessive about checking them with customers and potential customers, and they love them! It all resonates, and so now we have very values-centric conversations with people. To reinforce that, we have even put together an advisory group of top CEOs and CFOs to constantly review our work and focus on making sure we
stick to our values. An example of how defining our brand components has helped our messaging is the winning of a client who recently chose us over KPMG. Throughout the conversation, we focused on the ‘embrace’ component of our purpose; we told the story of where the name embracent came from and, actually, the client ended up repeating our purpose back to me. They kept saying, “We really need your help to embrace this, we need your help to embrace that.” I sat there with a big smile on my face which got bigger when they said they chose us over KPMG because of our
values. For this client, it was about the fact that we did not give a typical Big Four response, which is often not very commercial and requires lots of time and money before anything is delivered! Whereas we really demonstrated our ‘cut to the chase’ value: we said, “We’re going to put you first; we’re going to work out what you need; we’ll get there quickly; and we’ll be hands-on working with you.” All these things, the client absolutely loved. That shows how the values really resonate.

And is the new brand platform resonating with your employees as well?

Yes, very much so. It both drives what we do and acts as a sounding board against which we can gauge our behaviour. The platform’s values have been fully embedded in our hiring and induction process to tell people that we care about them. We do not hire anybody that does not live the values. If someone looking for a new career does not believe in our values, they should not apply, because we are totally committed to them.

You have a new visual identity, too. How do you think that reflects your values and your brand ethos, ‘embracing change’?

It’s spot on. For example, just the simplicity of the {e} motif reflects our ‘cut to the chase’ value. It looks more modern and more innovative than how you might picture a technology consultancy company, too. It not only makes us look that little bit different, it shows that we have embraced change ourselves in stepping outside of the conventional staid look of some of our peers. It also serves to remind us all to cut to the chase in our reports and proposals – to be equally clear and straightforward. At our recent strategy meeting of the board and our major
shareholders, everyone loved it and the wider team are very proud of how the design reflects our clarity. As a grown-up start-up, the Luminous design team have given us a visual identity that presents us in a highly professional
way and tells people that we know what we are doing.

Do you have you any plans to ‘push’ the brand further?
And how would you go about that?

Well, now we have a complete brand platform, we have a foundation to stand on and something to work off at the same time. One area we want to focus on is how our brand impacts our marketing, particularly our content
marketing. This is especially important for us because as a consultancy business you have to have something to say, you have to evidence thought leadership. Referring back to our values means we want to say this in a slightly different way. There are loads of companies that will bore you to tears with interminably dull thought leadership articles about how 70% of projects fail. Instead of doing that, we’ve developed a project success predictor using an analytic tool based on AI. And we communicate that not in a dull way but with video and animation so it’s all
more engaging, especially for time-poor senior managers. That way we avoid looking like grey people in grey suits. We will use the brand in everything we do, but I actually think it’s the brand platform that pushes, or directs, us in what we do rather than us pushing it – it’s both a compass and a barometer.

What advice would you give to other organisations looking to articulate their brand? What’s the most important thing that you learnt?

It’s important to be clear about how you do what you do, and why. The more concise and explicit you can make your purpose, the better. I’m glad we spent so much time on this area at embracent, because we got something that is true to us. The six of us that run the business each believe every word of the values. So, I would say spend a lot of time getting to the real heart of what you’re about, concentrate and fine tune as much as you possibly can. And make sure that your values are authentic because you’ve got to live them every day. And if you don’t believe them as the top team, the rest of the business is never going to take them on board. Consultancy is a relationship sell and your values have to align with your clients’. We are now winning work from the Big Four, which is crazy if you think about it. And we recently hired two people who came to us in preference to offers from Deloitte. It’s all down to our values; people have really bought into them because Luminous helped uncover our authentic selves – and that’s what we aim to stay true to.

The Luminous View

It’s extremely gratifying to work with a client like embracent. True to their name and collaborative approach, they took on board everything the Luminous brand team suggested to them in
order to tease out their values and build their brand platform – and did not shirk at getting to grips with our brand experts’ concepts and terminology. This included undertaking all the key insight work vital to arriving at something authentic and true to their business that would resonate in the same way with their clients – you can read about the dangers of not doing this in our ‘Mind the (authenticity) gap’ article on p26. If there’s a good example of getting an approach to brand right when you are not a brand expert, embracent are it. They placed themselves in the hands of our team, worked with us all the way through and now have a brand platform and visual identity that they are confident will see them well through their next phase of growth.

Mark Davis

Mark Davis

CEO

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