In the post last week, I received a copy of the Parliamentary Review on Early Years Education. To start with, I wondered why I had received this, but once I turned to the first page it became clear.
My client Castlegate Nursery featured within the review as an example of best practice. For an independent children’s nursery in the Scottish Borders to feature in a UK-wide Parliamentary Review, just one of eight nurseries in the UK to feature, is some achievement.
I’d like to think I had something to do with that. A couple of years ago, Castlegate Nursery went through Brand Satellite’s Brand Workshop process.
It was one of the bigger workshops I have conducted. All seventeen members of staff attended, as well as two parents whose children attend the nursery. I like to include customers, and/or suppliers, within the workshop wherever possible as their input often brings a very different perspective to the discussions.
The brand workshop report centred around a clear positioning for Castlegate, that would differentiate them from their local rivals. Their focus going forward was to communicate the nursery as specialists in outdoor learning.
This wasn’t something that Brand Satellite imposed on Castlegate. This was something that was in their DNA. They clearly understood the benefits of outdoor learning, loose parts play and child-led learning. They were already putting these theories into practice, using their outdoor space to great effect. And they were already taking weekly trips to the nearby woods.
But what they weren’t doing was clearly communicating this to anyone. What the brand workshop did was bring all of this together into their ‘why’. Their brand.
Within the report was also our proposal for their endline, that encapsulated that brand: Creating the most natural environment for your child to grow. Every word was hand-picked for a reason.
Next came the rebrand. Well, I say rebrand, the nursery didn’t actually have a logo. It had survived 25 years without one, so did it really need one? Of course, it did. Your brand does one thing – connects you with your customers. Your logo (or your branding as I like to call it) does a different job – recognition. Consistent use of a logo and brand colours helps your customers recognise you.
Recognition breeds familiarity. Familiarity breeds trust. Trust breeds confidence. And confidence breeds advocacy. That’s why they needed a logo.
We wanted to create a brand identity the complemented the brand. The font and colours used accentuated the outsideness (if that’s a word) of the nursery.
Having a logo also meant that branded clothing could be introduced for staff. This has extended to branded jute bags and woolly hats (in collaboration with Scottish Borders-based Wonky Woolies).
A website followed. Again, Castlegate had survived this long without a website. But, an online presence was needed for new parents to find them and as a form of communication for existing customers/parents.
Armed with a defined brand, a new logo and a new website, Castlegate Nursery had the focus and confidence to move forward. As Christine Hamilton, Managing Director of Castlegate Nursery, explains
“We were in a much better place to share information and interact with our families, while promoting ourselves as a setting of high quality, specialising in outdoor play. These positive changes increased our confidence and led us to apply for recognition of what we achieve together.”
As a brand consultant, it is often difficult to measure the confidence having a brand gives a business. But in this case, it is clear. As well as national recognition of ‘Best Practice’ through the Parliamentary Review, Castlegate has also won the Nursery Management Today Award for Best Outdoor Learning Environment. They were also Finalists for Best Individual Nursery and one of their team was a Finalist in the Scottish Nursery Room Leader category.
If all that wasn’t enough, next they were nominated for the Rural Family Business (Small/Medium) category at The Herald Scottish Family Business Awards.
If that is what creating a brand can do for Castlegate Nursery, imagine what it can achieve for your business.
I will leave it to Christine to finish off this article.
“My company came to use Giles and Brand Satellite via a recommendation, which was really important to us – I needed to know that we were working with someone who was not only really clued up and had a good reputation, but also someone who appreciated and would work with what I saw as our very lowly starting point in marketing and promoting our business by anything other than word of mouth, despite our existence as a business for 25 years. We love that we have a now have a strong image based on our strong brand, all of which we have Giles to thank for.”