KC White Partnership

Even in traditionally conservative markets, dynamics change requiring companies to present an identity that’s relevant.


Tradition and values are, sadly, no longer sufficientvirtues alone to guarantee success. Companiesneed to adapt and show they are relevant in themodern market place and their visual identity goesa long way to get this across.

Key IssuesResults
  • Company restructuring from partnership into limited company
  • Moving to offer a more service/company focused approach rather than relying upon individuals
  • Highly conservative market place, not noted for marketing exuberance
  • Energy and excitement amongst staff
  • Re-established the business within the market place
  • Able to compete more effectively
  • Greater definition of the key, unique aspects to the business


Business: KC White Partnership
Design Company: Barber Jackson
Business Type: Architecture
Employees: 8
Founded: 1963
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Turnover: £1m +

Business Background

It’s rare for a business today to operate within self imposed boundaries of decency, honesty, openness and sensitivity, approaching their day-to-day activities ethically, maintaining a vision of “setting forward God’s Kingdom” ….and still remain profitable! Yet, for 40 years, that’s just what architects K C White Partnership has achieved. Located within a chalice throw from Chelmsford Cathedral, the business was formed with a shared Christian commitment amongst its partners, which is reflected in its key markets; the church, education and social housing or, as Managing Director Richard Naylor puts it; “projects that involve buildings that help to improve people’s lives”.

Why design?

The original founding partner, Kenneth White, died several years ago and since then, the company had undergone a certain amount of change. They remained steadfastly loyal to their ethics, but the structure was changing, forced by the changing dynamics of their key markets which was becoming more competitive and more demanding so they needed tore-establish their position within it. Part of the change was the move from a partnership organisation to that of a limited company. And central to everything, was of course the need to increase business. Richard has long been an active member of the Business Link for Essex Club and it was during one of their regular business briefing events that he came to realise that the identity the practice was using was well past it’s sell by date;

“An adviser from Business Link for Essex talked to us about the use of design in business, showing before and after examples of cases where companies had used the process. I came away from the meeting secure in the knowledge that we had to go through the same process ourselves”

Design management

Business Link for Essex provided a design management adviser to assist K C White to undertake a successful design project.

Develop an outline design brief
The design management adviser helped Richard and his team to develop an effective design project, the initial outcome being the creation of an outline design brief although the thinking process used to produce it is an important part.

Strategic review
The business strategy was reviewed, particularly in relation to it objectives. For KCW, the objectives were identified as;

Re-establish themselves in the market place

Become recognised as a reliable and ethical practice who care for their client’s interests

Gain a reputation as one of the region’s leading community architects.

This was then used to develop adesign strategy, thinking through thepersonality of the company its targetmarket and how to differentiate itselffrom its competitors.

Identifying the competitive edge
Extensive discussions took place with a variety of members from the company to draw out distinctive differences that would enable a designer to develop an identity that truly represented the company, clearly demonstrating its competitive edge. This part of the process lead to a statement that describes succinctly the single significant differentiation for the company;

“business undertaken thoughtfully, gracefully and ethically, with people in mind”

The outline design brief brought all these elements together with the scope of the project, which identified the specific items to be designed.

Designer shortlist
Once this brief had been developed a short list of appropriate designers was identified. Each was given the brief prior to attending a credentials pitch, an appointment where the

designers present their portfolio of work, hear about the client’s business and discuss the project. The designers were then asked to put together a costed proposal, which described the approach they would take to the project. In this instance, Barber Jackson showed the greatest affinity to the company’s ethical approach and were duly appointed.

Commence the design project
The design project then began with a meeting with the designer to agree in detail the brief for the project, to discuss alternatives and options, budgets and timescales and clarify the roles and what would be expected from the client.

The results

“I admit to having been a bit worried when we started doing this” confesses Richard. “Having lived with the original name and identity for so long, I couldn’t help thinking that if it wasn’t broken, why fix it? But the end result has been well worth it and the feedback we’ve received – even from non-customers – has quelled any fears I may have had”

"We’re better placed to raise our headabove the parapet with a lot moreconviction than before.” Explains Richard.

“It’s energised the staff and everyone’s focused on the future with a great deal more excitement. We need to grow and develop. This process will help usachieve this with greater efficiency and clarity”

A case then, of “design” intervention?

They SayWe Say
The end product will be better than you expected More a statement of fact than a tip but one worthy of making nonetheless. As long as you select the right designer, brief them correctly, then you can fully expect your expectations to be well and truly exceeded.
Don’t under value the effect of good design If you’ve read through any of these case studies, you will see just what a positive, tangible benefit design brings to businesses.
Enjoy the process Design is something different. The process requires you to take a different approach to things and can be hugely enjoyable – fun even! As with all things, the more you enjoy it, the greater the outcome.