Owls Hall Environmental
Professional design can help a business expand beyond its perceived geographical boundaries!
A change of name provided a good opportunity to upgrade Owls Hall’s image with a new, more professional approach to the market.
Business: Owls Hall Environmental
Design Company: Barber Jackson
Business Type: Waste water and
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There are few businesses where the term “going down the drain” can be classed as successful yet it remains the case for Owls Hall Environmental. Well, almost!
The company provides specialist drainage systems and other related products and services to both the domestic and commercial markets.
It was founded in 2002 by Craig and Tony Finbow off the back of an extensive and successful portfolio of farm businesses and proved to be a natural progression from these existing enterprises. Much of their previous work related to drainage and they both spotted the opportunity of additional revenue streams by branching out into this market themselves.
Within 2 years, they have grown it into a substantial business, employing 10 people from their base in the heart of the Essex countryside.
Identifying the need for design
The market in which the company operates is highly competitive, almost to the point of saturation. It became clear to them early on that if their initial success was to be maintained, they needed to look beyond their previous target area of East Anglia. They were also keen to allow room in their business strategy for diversification, something that had lead them to start the business in the first place.
They were being advised by Business Link for Essex and their adviser realised that their promotional material was not supporting their business strategy and introduced a adviser to Craig. They reviewed the existing identity and promotional material. There was a clear divergence between how they wished to be perceive: the premier company, providing very high standards of service to customers who often have expensive homes and well kept gardens. The existing image could be mistaken for an owl sanctuary and the literature was unclear and did not reflect the clean, smart style of their service.
Part of their development was employing marketing graduate Adam Taylor and he takes up the story;
“It was clear that we needed to enhance how we were seen in the market place and where. When I joined, the marketing materials were all being done in-house or through the local copy-shop. It was obvious that this needed addressing if we were to be taken as a serious contender. When we submitted quotations to potential customers, the pack often contained literature supplied by the manufacturers of the products we would be installing. All too often,their brochures would look professional where as ours just looked, well, amateur really. It made us look far less of an organisation than we were”.
Having already chosen to enter into a highly competitive environment, it became all too apparent that their identity needed at the very least to appear professional but ultimately, to stand out.
Working with Craig and Adam, the design management adviser helped take them through a process to develop an effective design project. The outcome of the initial process was an outline design brief although the process itself was an important part.
Initially, the method was to explore, and develop a design strategy, thinking through the personality ofthe company, the target market and how it will differentiate itself from its competitors.
Identifying the competitive edge
The distinctive differences that would enable a designer to develop animage or material that truly represented the company and demonstrate its competitive edge. The outline design brief brought these together with the scope of the project, which identified the specific items to be designed. For Owls Hall Environmental, these included not only the identity change but also new ways to reach the target customers, through the use of signage and postcard distribution around the area in which they were working.
Once an outline design brief had been developed a short list of appropriate designers were 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 Owls Hall’s business and discuss the project. The designers were then asked to put together acosted proposal which described the approach they would take to the project but not any creative work at this point. In this instance, Barber Jackson, a highly creative design company, impressed the most.
Commence the design project
The design project then began with a meeting with Barber Jackson to agree in detail the brief for the project.
“One of the first things we did was to undertake some research, looking at the customers, competitors, seeing what they were doing and identifying the sort of approach that would get the greatest response” notes Adam.
As the design was developed, members of staff got involved too, providing their input as to the direction it would all take. As Adam points out; “they are part of what the design would communicate so it was important they be part of tha tprocess”
Part of the long-term business strategy is diversification so it was important that the design provided scope for this. They started the work thinking it would be a two-month project. 2 years on, it’s still developing and evolving – as all design should.
Adam gushes with enthusiasm for the new identity, not just because he and his colleagues are delighted with what it looks like, but because of the results it has given;
“We look much better than our competitors”, he notes. “we have the added confidence needed to venture out beyond East Anglia and are winning new orders as a result. The new website alone has seen enquiries increase by 60% since its launch and we’re now providing double the number of quotations than before we introduced the new identity”
With orders matching the increase in enquiries, the future looks bright for the company.
|They Say||We Say|
|Don’t rush the process||Your identity needs to be a long term element, something that will live with the business as it grows and develops. Spending time at the outset will pay dividends in the long term. Work with your designer to develop a sensible schedule.|
|Research the market||Well worth doing! You need to identify what it is that will stimulate them to do business with you. Get the designers involved too, look at your competitors and see how you can improve on what they are doing. You should avoid introducing a new identity based upon what you “assume” the market will like.|