Apricot Nannies

When trust and confidence are critical – design delivers!

All businesses need to build trust and confidencein what they do, but for some this requirement is of absolute importance. The effective use ofgraphic design can help to achieve this with fargreater effect than without it.

Key IssuesResults
  • Identity for new business
  • Requirement to portray quality and build trust from the outset
  • Aneed to display uniqueness and professionalism
  • Increased confidence
  • Faster route to achieving short-term targets
  • Greater acceptance within the market place

Business: Apricot Nannies
Design Company: Icicle Graphic Design
Business Type: Childcare
Employees: 2
Founded: 2004
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Business Background

Demand for quality childcare is increasing. Provision of it though,falls some what short of this requirement.

Launched in September 2004 by Paula Stock, herself an experienced Nanny and Kate Pedler, a Solicitor and long-time user of various childcare professionals, Apricot Nannies aims to bridge that demand gap.

“The traditional perception about nannies being for 'posh, rich households' is fast subsiding”

The business is essentially a recruitment agency for Nannies but to consider it simply so, is to do much in justice to their vision. They deal with all manner of childcare professionals and rather than simply place suitable people with families,they take time to consult with them,identifying their needs to make sure that the right person is partnered with the right family.

Although it’s early days for the business, Kate has a very clear focus on where they are going. Apricot Nannies could well become the saviour to working parents throughout the land.

Identifying the need for design

The traditional perception about nannies being for “posh, rich households” is fast subsiding with childcare now being a major issue for families from all walks of life and all levels of income.

This new, middle-class, affluent market is one that responds well to effective marketing. And marketing works best when it is supported by an excellent identity.

Kate looked at the competition and quickly realised that they could steal a march over them by using professional design.

Most of what they saw lacked any professionalism with letterheads and promotional material displaying, in Kate’s words; “that high street copy-cum-print-shop feel”.

Apricot Nannies was going to offer something different, something better. This had to be obvious from the very moment a potential customer came across them. Something that would be impossible to achieve by using a substandard identity.

Every parent’s priority is the security and welfare of their children. With horror stories featuring regularly in the news, it is becoming increasingly challenging for companies like Apricot Nannies to portray a level ofcare and commitment that engenders confidence from their target market.

Although of absolute importance in the childcare market, this is of course a challenge that faces every business and it’s through the effective management of the marketing and design processes that helps to build this confidence and trust.

Kate realised that to use a poor identity would simply “increase the steepness and height of the hill we were about to climb”

Kate has a clear idea of where they are taking Apricot Nannies. With such ambitions, it was seen as critical to set their identity in stone very early on. “This is a market in which it takes time to build reputations and trust” notes Kate. “To get to a point where we have developed a good reputation and then move forward only to find then that the identity is not right and thus have to change it, could slow down the growth process and add to the cost. We both felt ith ad to be right from the start”.

Design Management

Kate attended a workshop for start-ups, being run by Business Link for Essex, aimed at showing businesses such as Apricot Nannies how they can manage design to help achieve their aims, going through the basic issues that a start up company faces in developing an identity and communicating it.

Using the following processes, Kate was able to move towards obtaining an appropriate identity.

Develop an outline design brief

They were asked to write out a brief for a designer, explaining the business strategy and how this would be expressed in the design.

One-to-one with a Design Management Adviser

The brief was developed with the Adviser challenging Kate to consider the wider issues of the business identifying those elements that would help to inspire the designer.

Meet the designers

Kate took the opportunity to meet with selected designers, reviewing their portfolios and assessing their suitability for the work. From this part of the process, they were able to identify Icicle Design as the company to develop Apricot’s identity.

Developing the identity

With the strategy established and the brief written, Icicle were set to start the process of developing the identity. Their designer, Julie Curtis describes the approach they took;

“We reviewed material from a variety of their competitors and exchanged ideas on what did and didn’t work. Kate and Paula were keen to portray a young, enthusiastic business that demonstrated a fresh approach to the childcare sector and the challenge was to combine these requirements whilst retaining an underlying tone of professional care – avoiding any possibility of the business not being seen as suitable.

They were also keen to come across as an approachable company, avoiding the identified perceptions that the industry can be quite stuffy.

We developed a clean and simple logo around the word “apricot”, pulling out the word “cot” by means of a stylised image of what many would recognise as a traditional baby’s cot. We combined this with colours that reflected the profession’s heritage but with added zest to match Kate and Paula’s vision”

The results

It’s early days for both the business and the identity but already, both Kate and Paula have experienced a sense that they have raised their game, allowing them to approach the market with a heightened sense of confidence in that they will be accepted as serious contenders.

There was talk in the planning processes that the company would start by advertising in newsagent’s windows and village halls. The identity has meant they can by-pass this step and approach their marketing with a great deal more professionalism.

For Kate and Paula, the future’s bright– the future’s “Apricot”!

They SayWe Say
Money spent on professional design is money well spent. When you consider all the other business start up costs, design is likely to account for a relatively small percentage yet the benefits out perform many other “investments”. If you get it right from the outset, it will live with you as the business develops and help it grow!
Accept other input for your business from your designer. Most design companies work for a wide variety of clients across many business sectors so they are perfectly placed to absorb information that can be dispensed in the form of additional input for you.
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