Bristol Pound Managing Director Diana Finch explains the thoughts and reasons for the refresh of the companies branding.
If you’re anything like me, you probably look at rebranding with some scepticism. So I thought I’d better explain why Bristol Pound has been given a new look.
First let me reassure you, the overall aim of the Bristol Pound is not changing. We are still working to create a more resilient, more inclusive and more sustainable economy for Bristol, by encouraging people (including people in businesses) to support local independent businesses through their spending. The only thing that is changing is how we go about that, in the light of all the experience we’ve built up to date.
The main reason that we are having to change how we work is that our financial situation is very challenging. Up to this point, Bristol Pound has been reliant on grant funding, which is not a long term solution. The original expectation was that we would fund ourselves through transaction charges. But the reality is that we make a loss on those charges, and in a world where we see a plethora of ever cheaper electronic payment options, we need a new business model to survive.
We have been listening to our business members and what we have taken on board is that the currency itself is not generally seen as a benefit to businesses. Indeed, using the £B can add to administration, making it seem costly despite the free membership. Meanwhile, we have noticed that the currency is not circulating as fluidly as we would like. Many businesses receive payments in £B, but find it difficult to spend, largely because they don’t have the time to build new business relationships.
So, we need a business model that doesn’t focus solely on the currency, and that encourages businesses to build strong relationships with each other. Most importantly, we need to offer commercial services that create real business value.
We enlisted the help of Professor Martin Parker’s department at the University of Bristol, and thanks to this, Dr Thomas Sealy has completed a significant piece of research into the needs of small businesses in Bristol. The resulting research can be found here. This research has given us a great steer on how to create services that businesses will find cost effective, focusing on marketing, networking, brokerage and business support.
And so here we are, with a new approach and a new story to tell. But how best to get that news out? The marketing advice was that if we changed our story without changing our look, we would fail to communicate the changes effectively. In other words, a rebrand was needed. But rebranding is not something to mess with lightly! We already have a strong brand with high recognition and a clear association with our values – and we don’t want to undermine that. So we brought in Intercity Studio to work with as brand experts to update our design. I hope you’ll agree that the new branding still instantly says ‘£B’, whilst creating a fresh image that will help us engage with people and businesses in a new way.
A final thought. This rebranding, along with the renewed focus on building relationships with and providing support to local SMEs, creates a significant sponsorship opportunity. If you feel your organisation shares our values and would benefit from publicly aligning yourselves with our brand, and if you feel you can help us provide real value for SMEs in Bristol, please do get in touch.