Startup Diaries: Top Ten Branding Tips for Entrepreneurs

Adele Woodthorpe explains how she came up with the branding for her PR Company and shares the lessons she learned along the way.

My father has been my business mentor since day dot. I have run almost all of my thoughts, silly and serious, by him. It’s great to have someone who has had several businesses, and who cares, to discuss ‘business’ with. So when my father asked me on my 25th birthday what my plans were, I replied: “climb up the PR ladder, get married and have children”. He said “why don’t you set up your own PR agency?

Needless to say, I barely slept that night thinking about how I would do it. My thinking at the time was “why not? I am good at PR, have great contacts and understand it inside out.

And so the idea for Woodthorpe Comms began.

When setting up Woodthorpe Comms, I was so preoccupied with the name that I hadn't even thought about the branding. It was such a task finding a name that it meant I had to hold off registering the company name and web domain. So my advice would be to anyone thinking of starting their own business; if you have a business name, grab it now or you will be sorely disappointed!

After being forced to settle on a name, (it had taken 6 months) what name did I end up with? My family name!!! I set about registering Woodthorpe Comms with Companies House and thinking about branding.  Well to be honest I didn't - a friend of mine who works in branding told me I had to, so I did. He very kindly said he would help me. Branding your company is so very important I can't even begin to tell you.

This is your brand, this is your one shot at creating that first impression to the world. It determines your tone, your social positioning, what you do as a business, everything.

Whilst brainstorming, we came up with a few key points of what I wanted my brand to stand for and what was important to me. These came down to the following words; heritage, British, timeless and luxury. We discussed what these words meant to me and how we could communicate them through a logo.

It took a while but we got there eventually, between emails, cutting and pasting, doodles, and badly drawn sketches. We now use our branded logo everywhere, in everything we do. Obviously on our business cards, but also on address labels and compliment slips. We even had our own branded thank you cards made to send to journalists. Wherever I go I always get complimented on my logo; people remember it and take notice. It’s so much more than 'quick we need a logo, get one done'. 

Your logo represents all you have worked for and are working towards. It should encompass your brand, your story, and how you want to be perceived.

And one final tip regarding logos: always make sure you have both high res and low res versions, in all formats; jpeg, Pdf and EPS. And another helpful tip - when you are getting your business cards designed, always keep the artwork, or you find yourself paying out time and time again for new artwork on top of the print cost.

Here is a list of my top 10 branding tips: 

  • Choose a name people will remember
  • Make sure you have an impactful and clear logo
  • Use your logo / branding everywhere you can - never miss an opportunity to get your brand seen
  • Always have a high resolution and low resolution logo
  • Remember you and your team are your brand too - make sure you reflect your brand in the way you dress, look and sound
  • Consider your brand name and its universal meaning
  • Think about how your branding will work in different formats and sizes
  • It’s useful to use branding that directly relates to your business
  • Make sure your brand name is unique
  • Keep it simple: your brand name should be easy to spell and not include variations on the expected. This helps with online searching and introducing your company over the phone.

When constructing the team, it was vital that it was made of like-minded people. I want to know that everyone in the team will support each other, back each other up and work well together. It’s also very important that everyone can attack a project from every angle, not just the standard PR approach. Woodthorpe Comms is different from other PR agencies as we are very personal in our approach to PR and always manage our clients’ expectations.

We never over-promise and our USP is ‘be honest, be realistic and achieve results’.

In building our client base, word of mouth and recommendations has by far been our best source of new business. We often get existing clients recommending us to friends and peers, which is always brilliant as you can’t really beat that kind of lead! Press recommendations introduce new clients to us too, and dabbling with Google Adwords has definitely increased visitors to our site.

The future is very promising for us and we have just launched a ‘guided’ service, which is aimed at start-ups as an affordable PR solution.

It is an introduction to PR and mentors those who want to try PR for themselves. Having worked with and supported many up-and-coming brands over the years, Woodthorpe Comms recognised the demand for a service that addresses the conflict between the need for brand building activity and the budget constraints that many fledging brands face.

There are many lessons to be learnt from successes and failures. The main thing is don’t give up and keep at it!

Do your research; know who you are working with before you get started. Always be nice – it costs nothing and people remember it. My advice for women who are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs is to prepare to have your life taken over. Your business is your baby - you have to teach it to walk and hold it's hand until its strong enough to stand. Make sure you surround yourself with strong, positive and supportive people. Find a mentor or just someone to bounce ideas off - you’ll go loopy if you don’t!

Adele Woodthorpe is the MD and founder of Woodthorpe Comms, the London-based luxury and lifestyle PR agency with an offering of targeted and strategic PR campaigns, social and digital media consulting and brand ambassador engagement. Adele graduated from The Surrey institute or Art and Design with a BA Hons in Fashion Promotion and Illustration. Passionate about brands and PR, nine years on she is running her own agency, with a team of five, based in central London.

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