- Published: Saturday, 14 January 2017 11:47
With the global economy entering potentially rocky times, and a post-Brexit focus on the future of exports, the final results have yet to be fully realised, but as the Prime Minister prepares us for what many believe will be a hard Brexit, we can begin to address the potential impact this will have on the brand that is Independent Britain.
It has been more than six months since Britain voted to leave the EU. Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – the legal mechanism that will start the two-year divorce process from Europe – will not be triggered until the end of March 2017. For the UK's SMEs, it's a state of limbo. So how are they coping and how confident are they?
Effects so far
Apart from the initial plummet in the pound and persistent uncertainty, it seems that Brexit has yet to affect the majority of businesses. Of 1,300 national companies surveyed by Company Check in late 2016, more than 50% said that Brexit had had no effect on them so far whilst 30% reported a negative impact, unsurprising given the unsettled atmosphere. 15% of businesses said that Brexit had actually resulted in a positive effect.1
29% percent of the 500 SME decision makers interviewed in July 2016 felt
more confident about their business than they did before the EU referendum, compared to the 22% who said that they felt a lot less so.
However, a survey of 300 SME owners in August 2016 by Bizdaq found the opposite. 20% were more confident about the future, but 36% were less so. Both studies show the amount of uncertainty among small to medium sized businesses.2
I was recently asked the question, “is now the right time to appoint a re-branding consultant?” The short answer is “yes”. There’s plenty of evidence that points to businesses stepping up their marketing activity during a downturn and reaping the benefits.
What we can do for you
A branding programme gives you the opportunity to stand back and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your existing brand, particularly in the context of a shifting political and economic landscape. Sometimes, all it needs is some fine-tuning. Your brand may be telling people what you do, but is it telling them why you do it? People connect and emphasise with brands that engage on this level provided that it’s genuine. If you’re looking at charity branding, it’s everything. Successful corporate businesses build their brands around their why.
I’d encourage you to take this opportunity to look at your brand and its components. Is your brand still telling a story? Have you created a continuum staked tone of voice that is distinct but speaks less clearly to your audience? Could your visual identity be working harder? How about your marketing materials and web presence? Are they still feeling relevant and up to date?
More importantly, are you, the company owner, director or board members’ personal views on Brexit emotionally changed to the point that your feelings are impacting upon your brand? Do you need to take a step back and redefine yourself, realigning your values with a post Brexit strategy that works?
These are just a few of the things you could be thinking about as part of a broader re-branding exercise.
Brexit is going to affect business over the coming years, with positive and negative effects, as it would in any period of uncertainty. But one thing you can be certain of is making sure your that brand is working hard for you and carving you out as a forward looking enterprise who can not only embrace change, but actively reap the benefits that a post Brexit Britain will bring.
- Published: Sunday, 20 November 2016 18:14
There is no doubt that our prisons are in crisis. With year upon year of cutbacks, far too few prison officers to cope and increases in violent assaults, deaths and suicides, Liz Truss' promise of more staff can't come soon enough.
However, increasing prison officers isn't the only answer. Surely, long term, reducing our prison population is the only way to tackle our over populated and crumbling Victorian jails.
Look at Norway who have a recidivism rate of just 20% against the UK's 46% (60% for those who have sentences of less than one year).1 Their philosophy is make sure that prison life mirrors real life as much as possible. 2
For some, this is the soft option, too easy and comfortable. If you're a victim of crime, you may well think so, after all, who wants to think that the perpetrator of a crime is having an easy time of it? But on the other hand, surely knowing that somebody has a lesser chance of re-offending means ultimately reducing not only the crime rate, but the victim rate.
Perhaps if the Government started talking in these terms rather than focusing upon what awful places UK prisons are, perhaps if they started to really look at what has the best possible chance of reducing re-offending to both save money for the tax payer and make the UK a safer and better place to be, then the public would get behind it.
So how do we cut re-offending rates and make society a safer place?
Not by forcing people that are frightened of failure and dropped out of school at an early age into classrooms where we tell them they can achieve everything they want, put the student of the month up on the wall because Ofsted like it, give them a bunch of certificates and then release them and hope for the best.
Or by completing a tick box questionnaire, 'yes, I have a job with a mate when I get out', 'that'll do nicely thanks', or lining up a job or further training scheme without tackling the very behaviours that led to the offence in the first place - violence, substance misuse, peer pressure, money issues, relationship problems...
Real life for many offenders upon release includes struggling to secure adequate housing, rejection after rejection when applying for jobs, relationship strain, temptation to fall off the wagon and an unrealistic expectation that someone, somewhere can help.
Only by giving each individual a tool box of life skills that includes social, emotional and mental resilience in order to cope with the problems and concerns that life throws at them can we really start to focus upon rehabilitation.
Let's do as Norway does and emulate real life, not in a 'fluffy' way, but by being realistic about what lies ahead, breaking destructive patterns of behaviour, teaching individuals to resist peer pressure and make informed decisions and learn to view setbacks, adversity and change as challenges.
Maybe then we can start to see a real change, and Britain will be a better place for all of us.
- Published: Sunday, 13 November 2016 12:16
How to deal with rational human beings
Using the neuroscience and the realisation that human beings are not always logical can drastically transform the way that you deal with others in the workplace, leading to improved communication and performance.
Applied thinking, in other words, understanding how people learn and absorb information, can drastically affect outcomes.
Changing processes and systems won't necessary affect change within the workplace. You can keep doing this and still keep getting the same results.
This is because people are human beings, not robots. Getting to the heart of the matter, so to speak, is the key to untapping individual potential amongst your employees.
Through self-awareness coaching and training, FIGSOL can give your employees an insight into how and why they think and feel the way they do, and examine and challenge their workplace behaviour in order to be able to modify it.
By behaving and thinking in a way that aligns with your company culture and values, you will fast improvements in performance, productivity and ultimately sales.