INDIE OXFORD INTERVIEW: RIDGEFIELD CONSULTING’S REBRAND
We first met Simon from Ridgefield Consulting back in May 2018, but since the beginning of January 2019 his company has undergone a whole new re-brand. We speak to him about the ins and outs of what’s entailed in the process, and why it’s important to refresh your brand.
Why did you decide to re-brand Ridgefield Consulting?
I started Ridgefield Consulting from my own home, like many other business owners do. So I named the company after the name of our family house. When you’re a new business just setting up, you’re juggling and spinning plates and putting out fires and managing whatever other circus act that comes around the corner; that just having a company name is enough. You don’t necessarily think about “your brand”.
At first, I grew Ridgefield Consulting through a series of three strategic acquisitions – the third being the largest and most well-established. We kept that brand on for the sake of consistency for the existing clients, alongside Ridgefield Consulting. Over time however, we had to face the fact that we were duplicating work, confusing new and existing clients, and working with a brand that didn’t truly represent what I wanted. I eventually chose to merge the two to sit solely under Ridgefield Consulting.
Since then, the company quickly picked up pace. We were growing and being recognised amongst more and more business networks, as well as being recommended to individuals through word of mouth. That’s when I noticed that we could do something that other accountancy firms weren’t doing – we could build a brand.
How did you start to re-brand?
We started off with just looking at other well-known brands in other industries such as Kodak, Guinness, Jaguar, Microsoft etc. We were trying to figure out how some logos stood out in our memories, those which we could picture instantly without having to see it, and how other logos took us time to recognise without the wording. We wanted to be unique, instantly memorable, and recognisable.
We then acknowledged we needed to outsource to experts. We invited several branding agencies to pitch to us. A majority of them offered us a new logo and new website but there seemed to be a disconnect or something missing. We finally met with Luna Branding and we instantly knew they were the right people to do the job. The first meeting had no mention of new logo or new website. It was all about what we hoped a new brand would achieve and whether they thought a re-branding process was truly the right solution for that. In a sense, Luna Branding are a bit like ourselves as a business. The focus is on your overall business objectives.
What was the aim of your re-brand?
We had several aims so it was quite a tall order. One of our main priorities for the re-brand was to distinguish ourselves as different from any other accountancy firm. We feel very strongly that we have our own unique culture here and we wanted clients to realise that we would be doing things differently to how they may be used to. We also wanted to promote specific service offerings, which are only suitable for niche client segments, so we wanted our new brand to be able to shout about how we’re experts in certain areas of specialty accounting. Our old brand was much more traditional and we were worried about alienating some clients. However, I feel our new brand allows us to speak about our expertise, whilst still remaining approachable to other clients who only require the standard accountancy services.
Why is having a brand important?
A brand is much more than just a logo or your website as I have now come to realise. It’s your company’s identity. A customer or client will always have to interpret your brand through their own experience, but having a strong brand will guide them into understanding what it is you’re all about and why it is you add value that they can’t get elsewhere.
Branding is not only important for those external to the business, but also internal. We’re undergoing a significant change as we enter into a phase of maturing as a business, and it does leave some of the team unsure as to what that means with the added pressure and demands. Our new brand has helped reinstall focus and direction for them. It’s also made me mindful of my leadership and how I communicate what it is I want us all building towards.
When would you advise people to consider a re-brand?
Two instances spring to mind. The first is where you’re like us, and you’ve outgrown your current status. If you’re an ambitious business seeking growth, then there will hopefully come a moment where your hard work is paying off and you realise how far you’ve come. At that point, to continue growing and building momentum, you’ll likely have to do things differently. That may be hiring more staff (or indeed, your first employee!), opening new premises, or using different (perhaps more sophisticated) technology. I think re-branding at this point is where you tell the world: “hey my business is to be noticed and I’m going to take it all the way so keep watching”.
Or, the second instance may be where you want to change direction. Not all businesses go to plan, but that’s not failure, it’s just an indication that you need to be flexible, adjust and persevere. Just look at Netflix. This is one example where a brand is not just about a logo. They moved from being a postal version of Blockbusters to an online streaming giant. I would say that was a pretty successful re-brand.
The beauty of running a small independent business is that you have the flexibility to change direction, build on your success and react to customer feedback quickly. As Simon says, having a clear focus for your business is not only vital for communicating to your customer, but also gives you and your team the motivation and direction to continue offering excellent customer service, superb product knowledge and the unique qualities that make your independent business special.
If you’re looking into re-branding and building a content strategy for your business, get in touch with us to find out about our business services, tailored to help independent businesses flourish.