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The Top Five Branding Sins for UK Small Businesses

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The Top Five Branding Sins for UK Small Businesses

Jake Amos, Head of UK Marketing, Vistaprint

 There are 5.7 million private businesses registered in the UK and 96% of them are classed as micro businesses employing nine people or less[1]. While small in number of employees, these small businesses are the backbone of the UK economy and their day to day contribution is vital to driving growth, opening new markets and creating wider employment opportunities.

When starting a new business, businesses owners are mainly focused on the products or services themselves so other factors like marketing and brand may come second or even further down in the priorities list.

However, the choices made regarding marketing when starting out on a business venture can really have an effect on how your business performs.

At Vistaprint, we recently conducted a study analysing the websites of 1000 small business in the UK. The findings published in the Small Business Uniqueness Report found that many small businesses were lacking in distinct branding. The report highlighted that many businesses used the same colours, fonts and words to describe themselves, leaving them at risk of fading into the background and merging into one.

Jake Amos

Jake Amos

With the Internet being the customer’s first port of call when making purchasing decisions, it is more important than ever for businesses to ensure they are not only searchable, but memorable.  Small business owners who work independently, such as a mobile hairdresser or a plumber may not even realise the positive effect a brand can have on their business.

The benefits of being able to communicate what makes a small business unique leads to improved brand awareness, recognition and recall which are all vital for long term success.

Here we look at the top five branding pitfalls, as identified by the Small Business Uniqueness Report, and what you can do to ensure your business doesn’t get lost in the crowd:

  1. Poor business descriptions

68% of small businesses are not adequately describing their business online, with some not even describing their offering at all. By failing to describe themselves they may be attracting fewer new customers and impacting on customer retention.

To avoid falling short and blending into the background, businesses should think of the best way of describing their business effectively, so they can differentiate themselves from their competitors.

How you describe your business can give you a greater advantage over someone selling a similar product or service for a similar price. This will also help your SEO ranking which today is so important for prospective customers searching on the Internet for the best solution for their problem.  A better SEO ranking will increase your chances of making it to the top of people’s searches and get in touch.

  1. Too much jargon and cliched adjectives

33% of small businesses in the UK use overused and cliched adjectives to describe themselves. Vistaprint’s research found friendly, independent, family-run and experiences were some of the most frequently used adjectives.

If too many businesses use the same language (which can sometimes be seen as jargon) they are at an automatic disadvantage due to sounding the same as other businesses.  While it’s difficult not to repeat cliched adjectives, one thing you can do is look at what your competitors are doing and ensure your language differs and is more engaging for your audience.

  1. Lack of attractive imagery

5% of small businesses had irrelevant imagery that’s unrelated to their brand or no imagery at all on their website. Many businesses opt for stock images, again leaving them lacking in individuality.

To ensure your website won’t get forgotten or confused with a competitor, make sure your website has relevant and visually attractive imagery.  It’s sometimes worth paying for a photographer or calling in favour to get some strong snaps that are unique to your business. It may also be worth having a bank of case study examples with imagery to share on social media and feature on the website. This will increase your credibility and help attract new customers who actively want to work with you as a result of viewing your established portfolio.

  1. Inconsistent fonts

The research also found that a huge 77% of UK small businesses use more than one font size on website copy and 51% use more than three!

When putting together content for your website, consistency is key. Well-chosen words, letters, font choice will greatly impact how the end-user views your business. You don’t need to have to have your own type font, but one that represents your businesses and is consistent across all of your customer touch points. It’s proven that having a distinctive font is better for brand recall, which in the long-term is most beneficial to a business’s success.

  1. Playing it safe with colour 

Our research showed that an astonishing 98% of small businesses only use one colour in their logo, with 46% of small businesses favouring the colour blue and using it in their branding.

When designing your brand’s logo and website, think about which colours are in line with your brand values. Do you have a brand colour? Colour plays a large part in evoking emotions for a potential customer and many companies use a consistent colour across their marketing collateral to be recognisable. With colour choice, it’s more important to choose colours through the lens of customers rather than a favourite or ‘safe’ colour.

Some businesses may be tempted to play it safe with fonts, descriptors and colour choice but it I so important for them to harness their individuality. With small businesses playing such a vital role in economic growth in the UK, it’s important we continue to empower them with knowledge which allows them to harness their unique qualities and be the best they can be.

Jake Amos is Head of UK Marketing at Vistaprint. Vistaprint is the leading provider of customisable printed and digital marketing materials, empowering millions of UK small businesses of any kind to market themselves professionally and affordably.

Business

Leumi UK appoints Guy Brocklehurst to property finance team as Relationship Manager 

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Leumi UK appoints Guy Brocklehurst to property finance team as Relationship Manager  1

Multi-specialist bank announces the appointment of Guy Brocklehurst to its property finance team

Guy Brocklehurst has joined London-based Leumi UK as a Relationship Manager in its growing Property Finance team.

Guy Brocklehurst

Guy Brocklehurst

With a wealth of experience in both healthcare and student accommodation financing, Guy will spearhead Leumi UK’s continued growth in these highly active sectors, contributing to the bank’s ambitious 2021 growth plans. Guy will report to Alasdair Houghton, Head of Property Finance.

Guy has spent the past 16 years in front-line banking roles across Bank of Scotland and Santander, where he held senior positions in Healthcare Finance with responsibility for origination and key relationships. Most recently, Guy was a Debt and Business Adviser with ADVSME Limited.

Commenting on the appointment, Alasdair Houghton, Head of Property Finance, says: “Guy is a proven property finance specialist – particularly in the healthcare and student accommodation sectors – and I’m delighted to bring him on board. I’m confident that his expertise and personal motivation will be a tremendous asset to the team as we ramp up our efforts in both of these areas and grow our portfolio as a whole. Guy will be well-placed to guarantee both speed and reliability to our customers, an approach that sits at the core of the bank’s long-lasting partnerships.”

Guy adds: “I am thrilled to be joining Leumi UK’s well-respected property finance team at such an exciting time. I very much look forward to leveraging my sector experience and supporting the bank’s expansion of its portfolio in 2021, while maintaining a reputation for lasting, productive relationships.”

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Young adults lean towards ‘on-the-job’ learning as 6 in 10 say pandemic has impacted educational plans  

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Young adults lean towards ‘on-the-job’ learning as 6 in 10 say pandemic has impacted educational plans   2
  • Six in 10 (61%) of 16-25s agree learning ‘on-the-job’ is the best way to get on the jobs ladder in the current environment
  • 59% would rather study a degree subject connected to a profession than one they are good at
  • 59% believe tech sector offers strong career opportunities and is voted most futureproof sector by 16-25s following the pandemic
  • QuickBooks launches free online programming course with Amigoscode to help young people kickstart their tech career

Nearly two thirds (63%) of 16-25s have seen their future educational plans impacted by the pandemic, new research from Intuit QuickBooks1 – the financial software provider – reveals, with the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 driving young people to look for faster and more secure ways to get jobs.

And with more than half a million young people now unemployed – a rise of 35,000 from the previous quarter2 – six in ten (61%) 16-25s agree that learning ‘on-the-job’ is the best way of getting on the careers ladder in the current environment.

With COVID-19 highlighting the importance of more ‘futureproof’ career options, the technology sector has been identified by 16-25s as offering particularly strong career opportunities (59%).

To help young people kickstart their tech career, QuickBooks – home to top UK tech talent – has launched a free online programming course with Amigoscode.

Careers-focused learning takes priority 

If they were to attend university or study for a degree, 59% of 16-25s would rather study a subject connected to a profession than one they’re good at, while nearly a third (31%) would only consider studying for a degree that would help them get a job in a sector that is likely to grow in future.

However, almost half (45%) of 16-25s are now reconsidering attending university at all. A quarter (26%) believe it is now more important to get on the job ladder than get a degree, while 19% don’t want to go to university because they are worried about their safety.

As remote learning becomes the new norm, more than a quarter (28%) of 16-25s now plan to carry out an online university degree (such as those offered by the Open University) instead of physically going to university.

Technology sector is voted most futureproof 

The research reveals 16-25s believe the technology sector is the most futureproof (40%), ranking significantly higher above the second most popular option (construction – 27%).

Almost a fifth (19%) of the 16-25s surveyed already have a career in the technology sector, while 34% are considering it – rising to 38% of those aged 16-19.

Of those who are interested in the sector but are not currently considering it, the biggest barrier is simply not knowing how to get a job in this area (32%), closely followed by having never received any information about the sector from careers advisors etc. (30%). A quarter (25%) don’t think they could afford to undertake the necessary training or qualifications to get a job in the sector.

Ben Brown, Head of Engineering at Intuit QuickBooks, comments: 

“With COVID-19 causing economic uncertainty and driving unemployment levels, young people are increasingly looking for ways to fast-track onto the careers ladder. And getting straight into the tech sector, which has proven to be resilient in the face of the pandemic, is particularly appealing. Technology, after all, is the fuel that has allowed many other sectors to continue operating.

“On-the-job learning is common in the tech sector, but to be a successful candidate, applicants need to demonstrate genuine interest and enthusiasm by having carried out their own independent learning. Employers can enable this by creating opportunities for young people to take part in free training courses and taster sessions, which helps them to gain valuable skills and decide if the sector is for them.

“QuickBooks engineers frequently host and coach participants through Code First Girls sessions – which are aimed at women looking to learn more about programming – and we are thrilled to be partnering with Amigoscode to offer a free programming course.”

Nelson Djalo, Founder of free coding resource Amigoscode and Software Engineer, comments:

“The perception of not having enough knowledge is the main barrier to young people getting into the technology sector. Skills can be built over time – passion, drive and a willingness to learn are the most important qualities to have. People from lots of different backgrounds and interests can get into the sector, and there are a whole host of roles aside from programming and software engineering.

“I offer programming courses and coding tutorials because I believe the sector should be accessible to anyone. I’m pleased to be partnering with QuickBooks to offer a tailormade course for anyone who is interested in getting into the industry and wants to learn more about programming.”

The Amigoscode x QuickBooks course is available here as a video, and here as a playlist. The 2.5 hour course and video playlist covers the basics of programming; the basics of Python and a project task (building a CV). Participants will also build a portfolio which could be the starting point of their tech journey/career.

Watch Nelson’s other tutorials on the Amigoscode YouTube channel here.

Case studies of young QuickBooks software engineers are available on request. 

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Five things to consider when organising a remote work Christmas party

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Five things to consider when organising a remote work Christmas party 3

By Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

Christmas is usually a time of cheer and celebration, and the perfect way for employers to incorporate this in the workplace is by organising a Christmas party for their staff. However, things will have to be a little different this year due to the ongoing disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. While the easiest, and cheapest, option for employers is to not go ahead with their annual festive plans, in the spirit of keeping Christmas alive some may choose to organise a remote party.

There are, however, some important things that employers should be aware of.

  1. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for employers to keep their employees’ wellbeing in mind, much more than ever before. This is why, even with something that can be considered a ‘treat’ for employees, people who are working carers, have been struggling with work-related stresses, may not want to partake in a Christmas party this year, however well-intentioned it may be on the employer’s part. It is therefore advisable that remote parties should be optional and not constrained to a certain timeframe in which staff must be in attendance.
  2. Employers should ensure that those in attendance do not feel excluded from any activities during the party. For example, if an employee does not drink alcohol and a virtual wine tasting activity makes up the bulk of the event, such a person would not be able to contribute to the fun and may therefore feel left out. Consequently, it may be better for employers to ensure that there is a wide range of activities available that cater to the individuals who are attending.
  3. When attendees and potential attendees, have been established and the activities have been finalised, it is in the best interest of the company to send out emails to them. It should detail what is expected of them at the event and highlight that the same conduct is expected of them at a remote party as it would be at an in-person event. It should also outline that the same disciplinary procedures would apply in a situation where an employee commits a form of misconduct during the event.
  4. Similarly, employees should be made aware that the same grievance produce applies – to ensure that if company rules are broken by an employee or a grievance with the company itself, the affected employee will be able to raise this with the company.
  5. Finally, while employees can use their social media accounts in their own personal time, including at work social gatherings, employers must ensure that the use of social media should be done in a manner that does not adversely affect the company’s reputation.

To conclude, remote parties are the perfect way to ensure that social distancing rules are adhered to and that employees are rewarded for their efforts, there should be a mutual sense of responsibility on the part of the company and its employees.

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