The Age of Brand Transformation

The Age of Brand Transformation

At Harrison, we are transforming ourselves. Beyond mere graphics and interiors, we are constantly finding new ways to get inside our clients home and be a part of their life as branded content, branded entertainment and branded space.

But clients are transforming themselves, too. New cultural modes of performance are emerging from new network-based social behaviours and conversations. With millions of people able to share ideas, opinions and experiences in a single online space – and generate billions of web page impressions every month – these behaviours and conversations are creating a seismic shift in the traditional balance of power that once existed between customers and companies.

As content is increasingly delivered via personalised and self-scheduled social webs, viewers – not broadcasters – this will decide when, how, why and what is experienced. And they will dictate who they share those experiences with.

Our Strategy and Brand document provides a snapshot of our recent brand transformation work click on this link to access.

Harrison can help you in this age of transformation do drop us a line to find out more.

Stadia Industry Falling Short of Customer Food and Drink Expectations

A new study commissioned by multi-discipline brand and interior design consultancy, Harrison, and data experts, CGA, has revealed that UK sports arenas and stadiums are falling short of customer expectations, failing to keep up with changing consumer habits and when it comes to food and drink, over 50% of consumers rate the food and drink on offer as either ‘okay’, ‘poor’ or ‘awful’.

The research – which pairs CGA’s knowledge of Britain’s out of home eating and drinking market with Harrison’s expertise in hospitality architecture, design and branding – provides a much-needed analysis of the current food and drink provision in stadia across the UK in relation to changing consumer demands.

The in-depth study also reveals that of the 12.1 million British adults who have visited a major sports arena in the last 12 months, as many as 70% are male and nearly 60% are white-collar workers. Their average monthly eating and drinking outspend is £113.48 – 27% more than the national average – and half of them (51%) drink out weekly, compared to a third (33%) of the wider adult population.

Over 54% consider themselves to be foodies, against a national average of 49%, and more than two in three (71%) say they take a keen interest in food and drink.

What’s more, 68% of stadia consumers say they proactively try to lead a healthy lifestyle and 69% attempt to live in an environmentally-friendly way.

Despite having more disposable income, 42% of consumers cited expensive food and drink as their biggest frustration when visiting stadia, with 38% citing lengthy queues as a common annoyance, and one in five (18%) saying poor Wi-Fi service is a big irritation.

Commenting on the results, Philip Harrison, founder and marketing director at Harrison, said: “The findings from this report indicate three very clear demands from stadia consumers: better quality of food and drink, better value and better service.

“Some stadia – for example, Wembley or Carrow Road, in Norwich – are leading the way when it comes to expanding and diversifying their F&B offerings, but many venues have not kept pace with the evolution in out-of-home eating and drinking, and are falling well short of their customers’ expectations. The US is ahead of the curve, their stadia events can be an all-day affair and clearly there are best practices that need to be reflected in the UK.

“Stadia operators, retailers and designers must meet these changing consumer demands and expectations if they are to improve customer satisfaction and ultimately increase their sales in the years ahead.”

Karl Chessell, business unit director for food and retail at CGA, said: “This report highlights the huge potential for stadia to increase their food and drink sales. CGA’s data shows that consumers have money in their pockets to spend on snacks, meals and drinks as part of their day or evening out—but it is all too often a time-consuming, expensive and poor quality experience. With more than two-thirds of stadia-goers considering themselves knowledgeable about food and drink, it is clear that menus, service and value in many venues are simply not good enough yet.

“But our research also shows that things are changing. Forward-thinking stadia in the UK and US, as well as dynamic casual dining and bar brands, show how it is possible to make eating and drinking out compelling and memorable, and technology is adding exciting new ways to improve engagement and efficiency even further. By understanding the key trends and learning from others, all stadia operators can make food and drink a bigger part of their revenues.”

A Full white paper available on request via

Why brand plays a key role in marketing effectiveness

Branding plays a key role in the effectiveness of marketing

Brands that want to improve marketing effectiveness need to balance long- and short-term effects and ensure they don’t forget about the importance of creativity, according to a number of marketing effectiveness experts.

“It comes down to having one, maybe two objectives that are about delivering the kind of dollar return next year that will keep everyone happy. [And then] we normally add in maybe one more objective, which is longer-term brand building, less immediate return, as well.

“As long as I can get my budget to cover the short-term return and the longer-term impact that will set things up for future years, we are in good shape.”

Matthew Chappell, a partner at Gain Theory, warns that the proportion of brands doing a “good job” of measuring long-term value is nowhere near as high as those measuring short-term impacts. That leads to short-term behaviour that can damage a brand in the long run.

Annabel Venner, global brand director at Hiscox, the brand is a “very key element” in driving profitable growth. “You need to be very cognisant in terms of what consumers think of your brand and what do you need to change about your messaging and what behaviour you want to drive. You need to start with that.”

For marketers looking to boost effectiveness, Thomas Barta has a simple solution – plan an effectiveness day every six months where marketing and finance come together and look at all the areas of marketing to see where they could do better.

“Go through the effectiveness of funnel – segmentation, messages, media mix, execution, consistency – and have a look at what you could do better. It’s simple things like this that will raise the bar of effectiveness in companies.”

And don’t forget about creativity. “Creativity, ideas, all the magic of marketing becomes just as important in the future. We can’t say that now we’ve got this [marketing effectiveness] system creativity doesn’t matter anymore. Actually, it matters even more than it did before,” concludes Andrew Geoghegan, Diageo’s global head of consumer planning and customer marketing.

Source: Marketing Week – November 2018

Survive or Die – the do’s and don’ts of rebranding hospitality businesses

By Richard Samarasinghe, Head of Brand and Business Development.

The world moves rapidly, particularly in the hospitality sector. For example, in 2015, the appetite for burgers was growing with restaurants clamouring for a bite of the Artisan bun, today it appears that the burger bubble could soon burst as chains, such as Byron, scale back.  As trends and consumer needs evolve, we believe that restaurants, bars, and hotels constantly need to assess their brand and whether it meets market needs. Businesses should make changes, however small, to remain relevant and compelling, for example by updating products and services.

Businesses operating in the hospitality sector need to be constantly alert to shifts in the market and respond quickly. The industry is extremely competitive – the hospitality sector contributes over £140bn to the UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while British households spend approximately £45.10 on restaurants and hotels per week. To compete restaurants, bars, and hotels need strong branding that has the stamina, flexibility, and creative flair to stand out, remain relevant, build loyalty and take advantage of growth in the hospitality sector – this is going to become more challenging as change accelerates.

Rebranding vs brand evolution

Rebranding is a marketing strategy usually used in response to long-term substantial changes in consumer habits to create a fresh identity in consumers’ minds and key business stakeholders, including investors, suppliers, and employees.

Brand evolution is usually more about smaller changes through incremental innovations that reflect evolving market conditions, and changing customer needs – for example, updating your menu so it is line with food and drink trends.

Having recently rebranded Harrison to reflect its new direction and business strategy, we’ve provided our top tips on the dos and don’ts of rebranding and brand evolution:

Do build a strong foundation – You should always remain true to what your business stands for, and update your branding around these core values. However, company codes should not be buzzwords, but principles you follow and reminders about why your business was born, what it offers, and what makes it stand out. Starbucks, for example, is a global phenomenon yet remains anchored to creating a warm culture where everyone is welcome. Your core values should be constant but flexible within certain brand guardrails, so your business can grow and adapt to market conditions whist staying true to its essence.

Do look at customer aspirations – When refreshing your business, look at how your consumers see the world and how can you best meet these visions, creating something just for them. For example, more people are eating out as they want experiences and to socialise with friends and family, equally more people than ever are eating out for fuel – as a hospitality enterprise, your brand should reflect these aspirations, so you can continue attracting customers and remain relevant.

Do consider all customer touchpoints – Branding should seep through all areas of a business that a consumer encounters. For example, offering a quality menu means nothing if your customers are sat on chairs that are too low, in a dark room with mismatched or disconnected interiors, being served by unfriendly staff. Examine the consumer’s whole journey – from the moment they open the door, walk to their table, and even visit the toilets, and ensure your branding carries through – from the design, the menu, customer service, and even recruitment and training.

Do mature with your customers – Consumers don’t always remain loyal to one brand and can be unpredictable. Growing with your current customer base can add to your business’ competitive edge and help it to endure. A good example of this, is the changing demand of millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1997. This demographic has experienced a more sophisticated range of food service concepts, with emphasis on authenticity, quality, healthier choices, and greater food credibility, and will likely continue to demand these values as they grow into a family market. If your business doesn’t meet their changing needs, you’re in danger of appearing unattractive to the next generation of young families.

Don’t use unnecessary technology – While the digital revolution has evolved business’ relationships with consumers, customer service front of house remains critical. For some hospitality businesses the interaction between the server and guest is part of the whole experience, and for these brands, technology can have its limitations and could in fact alienate your customers.

Don’t forget about your employees – The key to any brand surviving is employing talented individuals, who can provide a fresh outlook and inject innovation. When rebranding you should also appeal to current and future employees, emphasising who you are, the direction the business is heading in and its future prospects.

Don’t rebrand for the sake of it – When reviewing your brand, ask yourself whether it is still relevant and fits the market and consumer’s needs. Don’t follow your competition and copy what they are doing, this can confuse consumers and create a brand identity crisis.

Eating, drinking out, short break hotel visits are increasingly becoming part of everyday life, not just for special occasions, which is fuelling growth across the hospitality sector. To navigate changing consumer mindsets, your business’ branding needs to be evolve with them, while remaining loyal to its core values so it endures. By evaluating your brand every year and making incremental changes every two years, it signals to customers and stakeholders that your business is moving forward as well as communicating both visually and verbally the right information to stand out from its competitors.

Painting the world red, white and blue: Delivering British creative design services in overseas markets

British design is famed around the world. Our quirkiness, quality and originality appeals to a range of consumers who desire unique and interesting concepts – from fashion, architecture, cars, furniture to interiors.

Without a doubt, the design sector is one of the UK’s success stories and is a key area for economic growth. We have the largest design industry in Europe and rank fourth in the world for design exports. While there is a world of opportunity for British design companies, taking UK designs internationally is not as simple as exporting your physical services – in fact it is a philosophy of working that is delivered and adapted locally to ensure it targets the relevant market. Every country has its own quirks, therefore having on the ground local experience and expertise is essential to understand the country and consumer needs – as is conducting thorough research and getting clued up on the full process from initial idea to implementation. Once you have this knowledge, you can begin creating a design solution that appeals to the target market.

To help your business go global, we have provided our guidance on taking British design to three core markets.

Sailing across the pond

With a notorious reputation, the United States is perhaps one of the hardest countries to crack. Despite strict regulations, there are a vast array of opportunities for the UK design sector and can be a fruitful market for businesses. Similar to the UK, US consumers have a growing appetite for experiences – therefore design concepts that incorporate entertainment and offer something different can go a long way to attract customers and appeal to multiple demographics.

Unlike some countries, businesses should not solely focus on their British credentials. Instead designs need to be confident and efficient, while slotting effortlessly into consumer culture and drawing out their inner child. In addition, creative design solutions should not compromise on their approach to create otherworldly experiences.

We opened an office in the United States over five years ago, and have become more savvy and streetwise on the American culture of doing business. One mistake British businesses often make, is seeing the country as one market. The United States is made up of over 50 states and four time zones, therefore its recommended to start small, focusing on one demographic or State, building up your expertise and knowledge. Once you have established a foothold in the market, then you can look to grow.

Having a good partner when expanding in the US can be a much-needed lifeline. Develop partnerships with companies already established in the country and speak “American” – therefore, have a firm understanding of the market and what is needed in order to succeed. For example, if you’re a British restaurant looking to open a chain in the US, partner with a business that’s already working with the hospitality sector and has the knowledge and know-how of opening new sites.

Cracking Europe

While uncertainty surrounding the vote to leave the EU hangs in the air, the market continues to remain substantial and offers a wealth of opportunities. In fact, nearly 60% of creative service exports are to Europe, including EU and non-EU countries.

While there are similarities between European and UK design, including stylish and bespoke concepts that ooze character, there are key differences. Individuality and craftsmanship are essential traits of European design – therefore, offering variations on designs can go a long way, as does quality and personalisation. National identity is another key concept across Europe – each city and country has its own personality and this should be reflected in design concepts.

Often Europe is seen as a valuable testbed for businesses looking to take their design concepts international, due to its proximity to the UK, similar time zone and relative ease of access. However, mistakes businesses can make is assuming cultures and traditions are similar if not the same as the UK. Therefore, getting clued up on business etiquette in each country is important, for example, learning key phrases in your target market’s language can help bridge relationships and emphasises your commitment.

 Establishing a gateway to the East

The Middle East is expanding and has a growing appetite for quality design, particularly British design concepts and style. The area is well known for being extravagant and has its own opulent style – therefore unique design and creativity is essential to tap into the Middle East’s insatiable appetite for luxury. While businesses should respond to consumer needs in the region, they should ensure it has a British twist providing something different that cannot easily be replicated.

The Middle East can offer your business riches if you go about it in the right way. Each country has its own challenges and opportunities. Culture, traditions, and languages vary from country to country, as do business operations, therefore conducting thorough research is crucial before looking to this market as well as building strong relationships with influencers.

Establishing and maintaining relationships is another important aspect of doing business in the Middle East. Face-to-face meetings are preferred to virtual contact, for example phone calls and email, which are seen as impersonal. Putting in the effort to create relationships can be extremely fruitful, if you successfully conduct business in one country it could open doors to others.

Taking your business global

British design is world-renowned and companies should take advantage of this strong reputation to find new markets and customers. If conducted in the right way, taking your design concepts global can open new doors from providing your business with fresh ideas, allowing you to constantly innovate and remain creative, to sharing knowledge and making new contacts. It’s always worth to take your business global, and regardless of current political and economic conditions, numerous opportunities still remain and it’s up to you to grab these with both hands.

Did you see The Apprentice?

Did you watch last week’s episode of BBC’s The Apprentice – the candidates made over two hotel rooms in 5* star Stoke Park, before pitching the design to the hotel manager and an industry expert. Our associate Director Jackie Mingo, who heads up our hotel division, provided her thoughts on the episode and explains why creating a hotel room is not as easy as it first seems…

“Episode two of The Apprentice beautifully highlighted that creating a hotel room is not that straightforward. The candidates’ rooms lacked a clear vision or strategy, design quality and appeared random, emphasising the challenges of balancing good design and meeting the needs of both the client and customer.”

“Hotel rooms should not just be stylish and sophisticated but must function well. Considering the customer’s journey is critical to meet their growing demands and to create a home away from home, from the lighting scheme, technology, to the location of the plugs and kettle.  Another important aspect is bringing the outside in and subtly incorporating aspects of the local area or history into the designs to act as reminders to the customer about where they are. We recently worked with a hotel in Weybridge, which was located near a nature reserve. When we created the concept, we incorporated different aspects from the reserve in each room – offering a quirky twist. For example, one room centred around birds, while another focused-on insects – these themes carried through to every detail, including the doorknobs.”  Every room told a story!

“Designing hotel concepts is all about the details and going above and beyond customer expectations. Rather than just looking pretty, rooms need to work and offer something different to attract customers as well as encourage them to rebook.”  In today’s very competitive hotel market, where new boutique brands offer customers a wide and diverse range of designs, in recent research, it’s the functional elements, such as being able to charge their phone next to their bed, that remain essential.

Visit our website, or why not give a call for more information about how we can help you design beautiful and functional hotel concepts,