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.

What's in a name?

“What’s in a name? quite a lot when you’re trying to establish a brand. For the amateur there is a danger of overthinking it and trying to be too clever, but some occasionally create a whole brand of their own through their authenticity and the ‘name’ becomes the brand.

I found this wonderful gallery/studio that does just that. The Blue Pig is the dream of artist Jane Harlington and her partner Peter who came to the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides several years ago. Where did the name come from – put simply, when they decided to open the gallery, blue was the most daring colour they thought they could get away with painting it, and well, they kept pigs?!

Every visit to the gallery/studio (and in such a genuine mixing of the definitions it stands truly alone) is an absolute delight. Wonderful watercolours and glass work, delicate jewellery, silk-embroidered bookmarks, hand-tied buttons, soaps etc etc beautiful art, exquisite crafts and great creativity abound. But what makes it special is the warmth of the welcome every time, the large table in the middle of the room where everything from decorating gingerbreadmen to felting takes place, where there is always the offer of a fresh ground coffee or a rock bun just out of the oven cooling on the side; and if you’re lucky enough to shift the cat, a seat in the comfy armchair at the heart of it all. So what does the moniker Blue Pig stand for – quality, creativity, warmth, welcome and above all, a very deep authenticity. Brand envy all around!!!!”

Creating an Eco Friendly Brand Name

The long term motive of most businesses is to become much more than just a product. What they want is to be known as a brand that is synonymous with the product that they’re selling and ingrain themselves into the memories of their customers. The race to become a brand has become much more heated when it comes to eco friendly companies.

As people become more and more aware concerning the environment, they are looking for green alternatives to the products that they are currently using. Eco friendly firms are currently striving to make sure that when their customers visit their store, it is their product that customers opt for.

Bring an element of fun

The harm that has been done to the environment is an extremely heavy topic which inspires fear into people regarding the way that the earth has been treated. While some customers may be people passionate about the environment, the majority do not regard it with the same amount of enthusiasm.

If you want to break through to those people, you will need to show your fun side to the public.

While you may still want to convey the message of sustainable products to the public, a change in approach will be refreshing.

Target the niche

The unaware public is extremely important to eco friendly branding, but what you need to target most are those individuals that really care about your product. At this point, you will have to prove to them that you are making efforts to improve the environment. Keep projecting your efforts towards your niche audience in order to convey the message that they support. If you are an organic food brand, you will want to target health conscious shoppers. The reason for marketing to a niche is to increase the loyalty of the brand which translates to customer retention. The more loyal customer base you have, the more chances you have of becoming a brand.

Be positive

No matter how bad the environmental situation is, you don’t need to be hovering with the darker clouds all the time. Customers don’t like being sent on guilt trips about the harm that has been done to the environment. While it is extremely important that your customers know about the current environmental situation, alter your strategy to incorporate more positive things. Talk about the efforts that you or other groups are making to improve the environment. Stop trying to defame others and showcase their faults. This will only lead to customers having a negative image of your company. Focus on the efforts being made and the potential for more improvement.

Talk to us

If you'd like to chat to Mark Tinnion or Mike Owen about how Violet Bick can help your business with branding please call us on 0191 27 666 21 or you can email or