The Brand Story
Barry Aldridge MCIM discusses what it is to be a brand.
Here, Barry Aldridge MCIM - Head of Marketing for Derby-based pneumatics and hydraulics manufacturer Tidyco; discusses a collaborative journey to grow brand awareness.

I grew up with violence!

POW!

Hopefully, the opening headline of this discussion caught your attention?

I grew up with violence. But fear not, the violence that I grew up with was of a diluted nature via such media as comic books and science fiction films!

From an early age, I trained myself in the art of telling stories. I practiced drawing and writing so as to design enticing fictional comic book characters entwined with engaging plots of my own imagined creation.

In 2003, I developed Zero 16 and was able to maximise the digital explosion by making my publications available to the World Wide Web as downloadable PDFs. Of course, the internet was a different place back then so; I took off to night school and skilled up so as to become competent in scripting and coding personally crafted websites.

The online landscape has changed dramatically since 2003 whereby web creators currently posses the luxury of choosing from a multitude of content managed systems as well as digital publishing platforms.

Comic book heroes (and villains)

People tell wonderful stories. As a child, comic books captured my imagination due substantially to the characters depicted within the pages; all with an eclectic mix of differing issues, challenges and personal circumstances. Quite often, the protagonist hero also displayed signs of villainy, which would need to be overcome so as to triumph in the fight for justice.

When thinking about branding, I typically find myself nurturing the desire to tell stories about characters and events. Similar to comic book capers (ideally, minus the villainy), corporate organisations are rich with adventure, challenges and successes. Company history is a graphic novel filled with intriguing content and excitement.

So you see, the opening statement regarding violence was an attention grabber (I didn’t really grow up with violence and had an idyllic upbringing), my ultimate focus is to raise brand awareness via stakeholder engagement, communication and partnership. The brand is all about our people and the good things that we do.

2017 has witnessed me doing a fair bit of public speaking on behalf of Tidyco! I asked a friend and colleague why he thought there was such a high demand for my words, to which he simply replied; “People want to listen to you, Barry.”

The stories I tell via multiple channels are carefully composed so as to grow brand awareness in a positive manner. I like people, too. This is why so much attention is given to individuals throughout the organisation as well as wider stakeholders. People are intrinsic to brand identity.

The snowflake gently falls

The Tidyco logo has a compelling story to tell. Lovingly referred to as the ‘Tidyco Snowflake’ the corporate identity was designed by Bob Wood of Mediatide in the early 80’s. At the time, the business was called Tidy Hire and provided a local tool hire service. Careful inspection of the corporate snowflake reveals that the directional arrows represent products leaving and being returned to the warehouse.

Almost timeless in nature, the concept remains valid, especially considering Tidyco’s current engagement within the rail industry. Nowadays, the arrows beautifully depict the movement of rolling stock assets.

Corporate Identity (including graphic design of a logo) acts as a physical stamp of recognition for an organisation. The Tidyco icon is quite literally the face of the company.

The graphical element is recognisable as a standalone emblem as well as in situ next to the typographic business name. Typesetting is constructed using the Transport font, comparatively used for road signs and throughout the London Underground signage.

Empathetic towards the necessity of brand protection, a project was recently implemented with local firm, Swindell & Pearson to Trade Mark the ‘snowflake’ icon as well as wider typographic company name decal.

Very much an on-going project, Tidyco will continue to Trade Mark its identity as it grows significant presence within international markets. Swindell & Pearson have been instrumental in protecting the brand via an introduction of the WIPO Madrid system.

But of course, there is much more to a brand than its logo…

Academics will tell you about a plethora of trusted marketing models to be used within branding and corporate culture exercises. You may wish to analyse the cultural web, agitate a VRIN analysis or possibly combine the McKinsey’s 7 s model with supporting strategic planning. Social listening and customer voice endeavours also perform incredibly well.

Tracking news announcements made by external organisations serve as realistic indicators regarding overall brand perception. 

iFunction

Tidyco is very much a functional brand. There is a great deal of theory regarding functional and symbolic brands but in its simplest context, Tidyco products are purchased out of necessity.

For example, the procurement of rolling stock braking hoses is highly unlikely to be an emotional purchase based upon feel good factors or enjoyment of product usage.

Being a functional brand is perfectly acceptable when considering the wider supply chain within which the company operates.

Quality is a major consideration within rail procurement procedures and Tidyco is recognised for delivering an increase in rolling stock running time through the supply of high quality, British engineered products.

When analysing such long term cost savings and efficiency gains, it becomes apparent exactly how important it is for the Tidyco brand to be of a functional nature.

However, function does not dilute personality and the company communicates personality impressively well.

Becoming ethical

Ethical transparency is incredibly poignant especially when working within the wider rail industry. My Thinking down the line publication is a good example of written content promoting Tidyco brand ethics.

Transcending beyond graphical representation

Tidyco supplies products conforming to EN 45545-2 standards, tangibly demonstrating that the brand is considerate towards end user safety and overall passenger experience.

Important too, is an ability to communicate Corporate Social Responsibility. My initial marketing strategy was to lay down three marketing foundations, consisting of:
1. Brand
2. CSR
3. Digital Application

A great deal of work has been done to compose as well as communicate a comprehensive CSR Statement of Intent to both external and internal audiences.

Accreditation also forms part of overall brand perception. The digital foundation involved a project to obtain the Government fuelled Cyber Essentials accreditation. Tidyco is trusted, safe and secure.

I am a Brand and I want to communicate

It is essential to communicate overall brand identity via multiple channels. Digital platforms, social media, trade and local press are all excellent methods of brand communication but networking also serves a valuable purpose.

I was recently invited to deliver a speech at D2N2 Growth Hubs third Birthday celebration. I was effectively representing the brand and was able to communicate the Tidyco identity to a diverse mix of attendees all keen to hear how the business had benefited from support available via the Growth Hub.

The event represented a wonderful opportunity to officially communicate recently developed corporate core values, consisting of:
1. Delivering Results
2. Customer Focus
3. Insisting Upon the Highest of Standards
4. Ownership and Accountability
5. Teamwork
6. Celebrating Diversity

Furthermore, I represent the brand at Director Level with the Midlands Rail Forum. I feel it is important to be an ambassador for SMEs within the wider rail industry. Engaging with key stakeholders delivers substantial brand awareness benefits.

A frequently used emotive statement encourages advocates to participate within ‘our journey.’

Celebrating diversity

Celebrating Diversity forms the sixth Tidyco Core Value. A diverse work force encourages creativity whilst increasing productivity.

Additionally, all six core values form part of the wider Tidyco personality. Employees throughout the business believe in our shared core values and strive to adhere to them at all times.

Such visible passion and commitment towards corporate values resonates within a macro environment, instilling external confidence regarding teamwork, ethics and commitment.

Culture

Combining all the discussed components builds a crescendo of positive infusion which ultimately leads to what I personally describe as brand culture. Tidyco brand culture is colourful, engaging, imaginative and supportive.

There is enthusiasm for the work produced and industries served. External stakeholders also play a pivotal role regarding brand representation. For example, the recent site visit from Paul Plummer and Gordon Wakeford highlights a much wider industry interest in the Tidyco story.

Couple this with a Parliamentary Award nomination for CSR initiatives and it becomes abundantly clear as to the high level of external corporate engagement.

Celebrating diversity and creating a positive culture can only be done by the people that work within an organisation.

Siemens recently awarded Paul Jacks with an official supplier Award for working together as one team. Check out David McLean in the industry trade press sharing best practices and solutions based ideas. Mark Newman retaining a variety of contracts through superior customer service and product supply. David Hithersay continuously nurtures supplier relationships so as to offer a diverse product portfolio to his clients.

Sounil has re-designed the head office account management team. Phil Mason has enjoyed significant public profile kudos regarding corporate environmental initiatives. Liga Aldermane is improving equality statistics within the wider manufacturing sector by building a management career within the field of engineering.

Paul Quinn continues to drive the value of quality control throughout the business. Jay Bhundia has put financial control measures in place so as to allow the organisation to grow comfortably. James Tidy leads the brand with a clear vision regarding ethics, corporate culture and profitable growth.

David Tidy is the company founder who instils a family-centric ethos throughout the group.

Arguably, without the field-based engineers, centrally located manufacturing and head office support team; the brand would cease to exist.

People make a brand truly successful. We are a diverse team here at Tidyco and are very proud of our diversity.

What are you saying about me?

A cautionary tale for the digitally connected age…

It’s not what we say, it’s what YOU say! Brand management has changed dramatically within recent year’s thanks mainly to the rapid explosion of social media.

Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff explains this concept perfectly. It is all too easy for customers to leave incredibly public and negative reviews which need to be managed appropriately.

A failure to respond communicates consumer apathy whilst replying inappropriately has equally damaging consequences.

Tidyco is fortunate in many ways that it is not as exposed to such perils as many other organisations but; the risk is always there. I sometimes think about this and conclude that there is no one singular brand manager; believing instead that a brand is actually owned by the entirety of its stakeholders.

Treating all stakeholders in a respectful, dignified manner can only be a good thing.

Our core values
1. Delivering Results
2. Customer Focus
3. Insisting Upon the Highest of Standards
4. Ownership and Accountability
5. Teamwork
6. Celebrating Diversity


As a Manager, it is my responsibility to communicate the core values to my assistant. Interestingly, my primary focus is to provide Jake with a sense of job satisfaction, career progression as well as successful near-future employment prospects.

Furthermore, a meaningful aspect of my job role sees me engaging and communicating to all stakeholders (both internal and external), which I find to be completely rewarding and enjoyable.

I interpret our shared core values by complying with three simplified functional marketing objectives:
1. Grow Brand Awareness
2. Engage with all Stakeholders
3. Encourage Supply Chain Excellence

Operationally and day-to-day, this is what I do. This is why I get out of bed.

A great place to check out overall Tidyco brand culture is on the company blog pages.

About the author

Barry Aldridge MCIM

Head of Marketing at Tidyco Limited and member of the Board of Directors for Midlands Rail Forum.