Tuesday, 29 January 2008

The Loveliest Realisation

I have just stumbled upon the loveliest realisation. Having my own business means having my own brand onto which I can unleash all my brand thinking.

Of course, I’ve always known this would be the case, but it’s only in the past couple of days that I’ve started to enjoy it. This is mainly because I’ve been sending the Unchained brand overview out to people.
I know what people are expecting when they ask for information about a brand. They’re after some information on pantone colours and language guidelines.

Instead, they’re receiving our Unchained brand manifesto.

We’re not trying to be controversial, we honestly believe that the way a company approaches its brand can have a dramatic effect on the way the business shapes. We wanted to make sure that we realised from the outset that our brand doesn’t belong to us. Companies make this mistake all the time. They create their ‘guidelines for use’ and colour palettes as if a brand is a tangible, ‘ownable’ property. This is not only foolish, it’s dangerous – especially online.

We acknowledge the fact that our brand is shaped and developed by all our stakeholders. And we know that brands are way more about perception than pantone.
And perception may be beyond our control, but not beyond our influence.

By acknowledging this, we can focus on things that will make a difference to the way people think, feel and (hopefully) talk about us.
So, when we reflect on our brand, the way we behave and interact with our users is a massive part of it.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Zarcus has landed

Unchained is only a few weeks old but it already feels like a great little community of like-minded businesses and people - which is rather delicious.

Yesterday I enjoyed a cup of a coffee with Catherine Smith of Zarcus.

Zarcus is a company that (in the most basic terms) makes all your gadgets work efficiently and talk to each other. They offer a variety of Technology Support for home, SME and Business Customers, Web Development and Online Website Marketing, networking and cabling.

Catherine believes in offering services that her clients need, so if there’s something they’re after that isn’t on the long list of Zarcus services, her team will find a way of making it happen.

I’m very pleased to welcome Zarcus as a partner to Unchained, I’m very confident that the company will have a lot to offer all our Unchained shops.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Expocentric joins as a parter

I had a wonderful meeting on Friday with Steve Laker from Expocentric in Covent Garden.

One of the things the big multi-national, chain stores have over small, independent shops is buying power. It’s this huge buying power that allows them to negotiate special rates with suppliers, undercutting the little guys that simply can’t compete.

(Often, they screw their suppliers in the process. Steve recommended Joanna Blythman’s book Shopped, where evidence of the shoddy treatment suppliers receive at the hands of the nation’s supermarkets is well documented.)

As a community of independent shops, we are in a unique position – we’re independent with the buying power of our community. It’s with this in mind that we’re in the process of securing preferential rates from a range of suppliers for all of our Unchained shops.

And I’m delighted to welcome Steve and Expocentric aboard – right at the top of that list.

Expocentric will soon be listed on our ‘partners’ page and on your personal homepage if you’re already an independent shop member.

If you’d like to get involved or be added as a partner, offering our members a preferential rate, we’d love to hear from you.

It’s a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Our most popular day yet

A big (and very overdue) message of thanks to the lovely Asi Sharabi for saying kind things and adding a link to our site on his blog, giving the site its most popular day yet.

Asi, you're a dude.

An office and everything

Yesterday was a big day for us. We signed a contract for office space just off Hoxton Square.

It's all starting to feel quite real and I'm absolutely loving it.

The offices are lovely. It's a shared workspace of small businesses. And unlike a lot of the other spaces we had a look at before, you don't have to climb stairs into someone's attic to get to it and there's no rotting carpet either - all good things. This space is clean, white and bright.

It's the brainchild of Christopher Hill who was having the same issues when he was looking for office space for his company Linedota Architects.

We move in at the end of the month. So if you come across an amazing Unchained store that you just have to share with us immediately, face-to-face you can find us at 115b Drysdale Rd.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

What a start to the new year!

It seems a bit late to be wishing everyone a happy new year. But nonetheless, Happy New Year to you!

Normally over the festive period - like everyone else - we'd be looking forward to another year pretty much like the last one. But not this time! Already 2008 has brought big changes to all of our lives here at Unchained. And we know that there's plenty more changes of seismic proportions to come.

At the start of February we'll hopefully be moving into our new office in the East End. And we hope to launch the second Unchained city before the spring flowers start breaking the dirt. In the meantime, Lea is spending every waking minute emailing, phoning and meeting people face-to-face. And the feedback from everyone is so positive it's just making us all the more excited.

Here's to 2008! Cheers!