Wednesday, 18 June 2014

New Phone Number

Hello there.

Please note that our NEW telephone number is now 0191 27 66 904 or 07960 117077.

Thank you.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Violet Bick MD Mike Owen is Guest Speaker at the BPMA North Regional Event

Violet Bick MD Mike Owen will be speaking this Wednesday to a business audience at The BPMA North Regional Event.

Mike will be speaking on:

‘Why STOPPING Using Promotional Gifts As Marketing Tools - Today - Will Make More Money (For You and Your Customers) Tomorrow’

It’ll be challenging, odd, unusual and weird.

But then that’s the world of proper branding

Find out more here.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Why Brand is important for Social Enterprises

Social enterprises typically aim to help or aid some aspect of global or personal well-being – rather than focusing on earning the all mighty dollar (or Euro. Or pound) for commercial purposes. That said, brand is important for every organisation – it is, afterward, the identity of that organisation... yet it is particularly important for the social enterprise.

Why, you ask?

Think about it – at the heart of it, social enterprises tend to aim for a, well, heart-worthy cause. Whether it is a passion for eco-friendly, green living to save our planet and keep the air clean. Protecting animals from puppy mills, abuse, or other sub-standard living situations. Feeding children in developing nations. The list goes on, but they all have one thing in common: A worthy cause that requires an investment from every day people in order to succeed. Which begs the question… what motivates people to take action?

Many social enterprises have received traction after celebrity stunts, viral videos, or other attention-grabbing devices. This isn’t to say that every video you produce or that every disruptive activity you launch is going to catch on like wildfire – but the good, original ones take off like wildfire and contribute to the social enterprise’s brand.

The brand defines any organisation – it determines how the public views that enterprise. From warm fuzzies to funky, energetic, and daring, it sets the tone and the way that people feel about your enterprise when they see it.

Brand is more than a logo or a tagline (though those are also very important). Brand is the unspoken feeling or perception. Every company has one – the trick is to define it before it defines you.

For social enterprises, this is particularly important because the brand and the image needs to tie directly back into their purpose. Given the consistent fundraising efforts, your brand often reaches your consumer before you do, speaking for you when you may not get a chance to. Developing a brand allows you to differentiate yourself – not only in your outbound activities, but often times in the conversations with the consumer that you do not get to actively initiate or participate in.

For social enterprises in particular, the brand speaks for the organisation itself. It announces its purpose to the world. It promotes the cause beyond their enterprise name to gain recognition and attention. The brand of a social enterprise carries perhaps more weight than the brand of any other type of organisation due to the implications and associations that come with it along with everything the organisation itself stands for.

That said, while the brand strategy must be unique for each organisation, here are some do’s and don’ts that social enterprises in particular should consider:
  • Do make your organisation’s focus clear through the logo, tagline, and beyond.
  • Don’t be afraid to try unique, out-of-the-box ideas – big ideas can bring big results.
  • If you decide to affiliate your organisation with a celebrity or other public person, DO thoroughly research them to qualify their current affiliations along with past transgressions to ensure that they are a proper and appropriate fit for your brand.
  • Do make sure your activities tie back to your social enterprise’s mission.
  • Do have fun with it.

Talk to us

If you'd like to chat to Mike Owen about how Violet Bick can help your business with brand please call us on 0191 27 666 27 or email

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Violet Bick's Christmas opening hours

Violet Bick are taking a few days off in the upcoming weeks:

  • Monday 23rd December: we'll be open 8am - 6pm.
  • Tuesday 24th December: we'll be open 8am - 4pm.
  • Wednesday 25th December - Wednesday January 1st: the office will be closed.
  • Thursday 2nd January: we'll return to our normal opening times of 8am - 6pm. 

In case of emergency or if you must speak to someone, you can call Mike Owen's mobile - 07960 117077.

From all of the team here at Violet Bick, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, 16 December 2013

How to Differentiate Your Brand

Have you tried watching the latest singing competitions on TV lately? Have you heard of The Voice? When I first heard about the show and its mechanics, I was smiling like a 10-year old who just got visited by Santa Claus on Christmas. Want to know why?

Because I have always wanted to personify brand differentiation for a long time now and The Voice is the best way to present it.

You see, during the blind auditions of the show, the contestants are the brands/companies while the judges are the ultimate consumers. They have to listen to hundreds of different voices and they have to decide who they will work with throughout the show. It’s just like that time last week when you were staring at a shelf full of various brands of deodorant, toothpaste, and shower gel. You simply can’t make a choice right away.

But the thing is, the ones that get chosen in The Voice and the items we buy for our weekly groceries both have one thing in common. They stand out – they are the differentiated ones.

Think about it. It makes perfect sense. Being different from the rest makes something more outstanding and more memorable and personal to a certain extent. This makes it easy to compare it with the other options given to you.

So how can you possibly differentiate your product from the rest? Maybe you should give these approaches used by the contestants from The Voice.

1 - Break out of the mould

A good 80%-90% of the contenders in The Voice cover current hits or classic hits. Sometimes, a contestant goes on to the next round by trying something new. When a contestant breaks away from the mould by singing something rare, like an opera piece, it shows his/her creativity and courage. This should be the same for brands worldwide. They should not shy away from challenging the accepted norms of their categories. Don’t be afraid to do something different or unexpected if you think it will clearly showcase your strengths as a brand.

2 - Specialise

Many people think that contestants who are well-rounded have better chances in winning. Thing is, you have to be well-rounded and good at it in order to make it count. That is why a lot of the contenders who reach the top focus only on one genre. In marketing, brands are sometimes differentiated by market specialisations. There are companies that want to appeal to a broader market so they won’t limit their business. But you have to remember that positioning your brand to appeal to a specific group in the market gives people the impression that you are an expert, therefore helping you stand out from the rest.

3 - Have an attitude

In the world of music, people sometimes run out of ways to differentiate themselves. These people forget that by simply embracing an attitude, one can differentiate himself/herself from the competition. This holds true for various brands. By embracing a certain attitude or stance, you can differentiate your product from the rest by leaving an indelible impression to your target market. Just remember the Lynx commercials and you will get what I mean.

4 - Own a symbol

Sometimes, it’s the little things that differentiate one from the other. For some contenders, it can be the rare musical instrument they use during a performance like a harmonica. To some extent, it becomes the symbol of that person and the performance. It distinguishes them from the rest. In business, it always pays to 'own a symbol'. It can be in a form of a logo, a creative packaging, or a unique ad. It captures the attention of your market and creates an indiscernible but relevant difference. It may not be as obvious as the other tips above, but symbols, logos, and cues give you that extra push you might need when the competition is tight.

What next?

Get in touch with us to find out how Violet Bick can help differentiate your brand from those around you. Call 0191 27 666 21 and ask for Mark Tinnion or Mike Owen. Alternatively you can email or

Thank you.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Thomas Cook Rebranding - Does it make you want them more?

The comments below are by Mike Owen in relation to this story about the rebranding of Thomas Cook.

“This is an interesting little snippet about Thomas Cook.

And the ad agency (yet to be appointed) has a tricky old job on their hands based upon the brand position and new identity that lies, today freshly revealed, before us.

I’m personally looking for the ‘essence’ of the brand from the new work. So what’s Thomas Cook all about, then?

I’m looking for something unique, compelling and motivating about this all new Thomas Cook.

What is it that they are now doing to knock my socks off?

I’m looking for the point of difference - something that only Thomas Cook do and that they own as theirs alone.

I’m looking for something compelling; something that makes me go - ‘wow!’ - I didn’t know that about Thomas Cook; do they really do that, like that?!

And I’m looking for something motivating; something that will change my behaviour. After all, that’s what they want me to do. They want me to feel motivated to buy Thomas Cook.

We have:
  • A heart.
  • The words ‘let’s go’.
  • Messaging designed to remind Thomas Cook’s own people how to behave.
So, Thomas Cook is saying that when I want a holiday they will ‘go’ get me a holiday.


Ad agencies do better work when the brand position is desirable, clear, simple and distinct. They have something to work with then.

The fact that aspects of this work has to be explained by Chief Exec Harriet (“grey text = digital and mobile”) is worrying to say the least.

Lynx standing for ‘seduction’ has spawned dozens of great ads since it arrived in the UK in 1984. And when did Lynx ever have to explain their brand position? Teenage boys and young men all over the place know what Lynx stands for.

And the original innocent (not how it is today) was beautiful too. The Innocent Smoothies slogan used to be “nothing but nothing but nothing but fruit” - repetition, naive honesty and it’s almost - well - ‘cute’. Amazing.

 Their new one, ‘little tasty drinks’ is soulless. And it could be anyone.

The same happened with KFC’s amazing ‘finger lickin’ good’ which as replaced with ‘so good’. Again - this could be anyone. What a shame!

Find out why you’re amazing - and stick to it.

Some brands don’t know that, most of the time, what made them great will keep them great. They get bored and they change.

And what a shame Thomas Cook has not identified and decided to home in something truly ownable - ownable by them alone.

That’s one of the very first rules of branding.

I fear yet more advertising for Thomas Cook that says, well, pretty much the same as everyone else in the market. Let’s have a guess:

“Action! It’s February 2014. Smiley lady talks to camera about wanting to make your holiday special. She will say that Thomas Cook try really hard and that they know how important your holiday is to you. Show a beach. Show a happy family. Show the lady again (she’s blonde) and she will say ‘let’s go’ and she and other Thomas Cook people will run around a bit”

Or something like that. Let’s wait and see.

Merry Christmas.


Monday, 9 December 2013

Violet Bick’s Teesside University Event Will Be Delivered to Almost Treble the Expected Audience

Violet Bick Senior Brand Consultant Les Stern is addressing a business audience at Teesside University this coming Thursday afternoon.

Usually, 30 to 50 people book. So far, 110 are registered.

I don’t think we’ll tell him; it might go to his head.

Wish us luck.

More information here.