Towards the end of last year, I started to reflect on my business and question whether I was presenting it in the best way possible.
A few months earlier I’d encountered a couple of opportunities to team up with fellow copywriters and marketers and unite under a shared brand to effectively build an agency. For various reasons, the opportunities weren’t right, but it did leave me pondering what more Alice Hollis Ltd. could be.
As with every new business idea, it all started with a strategy. Taking the time to evaluate all that I had achieved over the last 12 months made me ask some interesting questions of my business.
- Which clients are in my ‘sweetspot’?
- What work do I want to be doing?
- What opportunities should I immediately turn down or pass onto other copywriters?
- Where should I invest my efforts to ensure I continue to be the best copywriter I can be to the benefit of my clients?
The ‘trouble’ with racking up a wealth of experience over the years is that I have written across most channels – but that doesn’t mean I SHOULD be writing for most channels.
I fully acknowledge that there are some crazy talented people out there who are far better suited to particular channels than me – afterall, we all specialise for a reason, right? And where these opportunities arise, I have a network of freelancers I trust to make introductions to those clients because I want them to have the best.
Where I believe I excel, and the areas I put most of my efforts into refining my skill set, are blogging and thought leadership content, such as white papers, guides, reports and case studies.
Together, these types of content sit at the top of the sales funnel, working together to attract leads and convert them into opportunities in the sales pipeline – for small businesses focused on growth, building a healthy pipeline is always the top priority.
Therefore, I designed 3 distinct packages to achieve this, offering agency-grade work, but without the hefty price tag:
- Package A: blogging retainer (delivering weekly blogs)
- Package K: bolt-ons (a one-off meaty asset to accompany your blogging efforts)
- Package H: block-booking (defining and delivering a specific campaign)
Why packages and not a rate-card or traditional retainers?
Because content in isolation doesn’t deliver the same return as it can when delivered as part of a wider campaign…
And because everyone wants to know what deliverables they’re getting in return for their hard-earned cash, rather than simply ticking off hours.
Why ‘A, K and H’ and not some ‘bronze, silver, gold’ packages?
Because I have no intention of forcing you down a particular route – I want you to choose what’s right for your business…
And because those are my initials: Alice Kate Hollis.
When I first entered the wonderful world of freelancing 6 years ago, I traded under the brand ‘Copy & Cupcakes’ because I was a copywriter and I promised to take freshly baked cupcakes to every meeting.
But returning from maternity leave a couple of years later I dropped the brand and decided it was better to just be me – afterall, there was only me in the business so if a client was buying from me, they were essentially just buying me.
And now I found myself wondering about the future. My business has always been a lifestyle business, affording me the freedom to work around caring for my boys. But when Jacob started school, I started to think what the next 5 years would look like…
And then the 5 years after that…
And another 5 years after that…
I can’t be certain what the future holds, or even what I want it to hold, but I decided I needed to give myself room to grow and Alice Hollis Ltd didn’t necessarily give me scope for that growth.
I thought about reverting my company name back to Copy & Cupcakes, but after consulting the Being Freelance community decided against it. Instead, I decided on a new option…
To keep my company name, but trade under a new brand name.
Throughout my degree and on various business courses since, I’ve been told that deciding on a name is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, so I went into the process ready to struggle. But rather than try to think of something clever or witty, I spent a January evening thinking about the value I offer to my clients – what is the thing I offer them that someone else doesn’t.
And I made a list…
- B2B marketing background
- IT and tech sector specialist
- In-house and agency experience
- A fascination with small businesses
- An obsession about learning
- Quick turnaround times
Granted, all of these things can be copied, which is why I’d never claim any of them to be a USP. But together, they make me more than just a copywriter…
Together, they allow me to deliver: More than words®
My new name encapsulates my entire value proposition and is the centre piece of my brand. Appreciating how important it is I decided to protect it with a trademark.
Having never been through this process before, yes, it was a little daunting. But thankfully the IPO website provides a lot of simple, clear information that helped to make the application process relatively pain-free – the worst bit was the waiting!
Having applied in January, you have to wait to have your application assessed. If accepted it’s placed onto the public register for 2 months – similar to when you have to give notice of your wish to get married. During this time, anybody has the opportunity to raise an objection…
And yes, I received that letter.
Another company, which was based in the US, was concerned that my application could affect their own trademark. Speaking with their lawyers I was keen to reach an amicable conclusion that avoided any legal proceedings.
I knew there was no potential damage my trademark would have because upon receiving the letter I’d taken the time to investigate the company and understand what they did – but they didn’t know anything about me. So I took the time to talk to the lawyers and help them understand more about who I was, what I did, who my clients are and why I was applying for the trademark. Together we were able to negotiate a friendly outcome.
Then a few weeks later, I received confirmation that I had finally been awarded the trademark!
But a brand is more than a name, and it’s more than a trademark – it’s everything a person thinks or feels about you.
I read A LOT of articles on how to create a strong brand, and took some incredible lessons from:
- Ideas that Stick
- The Power of Moments
- Fortune Cookie Principle
- The Right Story
Creating a messaging framework, I started to lay down the core messaging that would underpin every single word I write.
In simply creating this document it helped me to refine my value proposition and be able to clearly articulate it throughout everything I do.
The visual identity
I then got to thinking about the way my brand looks, but I didn’t want change anything drastically.
The overarching idea behind my brand is that it’s me – because being me is really the only ‘unique’ thing I can offer.
Since purple is my favourite colour that stayed. But I decided to add a mint accent.
Because ever since I was a little girl I have been obsessed with Ariel from The Little Mermaid and so the inspiration for this accent colour is lifted directly from her fin.
I also decided to keep the fonts I’d chosen previously. I am a copywriter and I love the quirkiness of a typewriter font, but without the cheesiness of the accompanying typewriter photo (because realistically, the only keys I’m tapping away on are those on my Lenovo ThinkPad!).
The biggest addition to my visual identity is the new logo:
I’ve never indulged in a logo before, but in the interests of establishing a brand with the potential for future growth, I wanted a symbol that was recognisable, and encapsulated what I had to offer.
The pen is symbolic firstly of my copywriting skills, but also represents my love of a classic fountain pen – Cross and Waterman are my favourite brands. Then the addition of the ‘lily of the valley’ flowers represent the month I was born. Together, they present why I’m able to produce copy that’s ‘more than words’ to my clients.
To create my gorgeous logo, there was only ever one woman who was up to the job – the woman I trust to brand my body with the most beautiful of illustrations…
As my tattoo artist, I have spent many hours in Amie’s chair. My favourite, and largest piece, sits on the inside of my left arm – 2 flowers to represent the months my children were born.
Continuing this symbolism, it seemed only right that she would incorporate my birth month flower into her designs.
In addition, I also commissioned Amie to create illustrations for each of my new packages – A, K and H – to retain that all important brand consistency.
Beyond the brand
Finally, I got to the really indulgent part of my brand – the bit that has absolutely nothing to do with my business, my work or my clients and everything to do with my community.
Before my son started school, like most parents we went out to visit all the local schools before making our choices. One of the main reasons we loved the school he secured a place at was because of its dedication to reading.
Reading is one of the most important skills any person can possess because it sets you up for life – if you can read, you can do anything.
One of the school’s many initiatives to enrich their student’s learning experience is The Reading Cafe – an after school gathering filled with biscuits, juice and stories. It is the highlight of my boys’ week, and hugely popular with the other children and parents, so I offered to sponsor it…
By donating regularly to The Reading Cafe, I hope that it will grow and be able to inspire more children – to show them how wonderful reading is beyond the Oxford Learning Tree, and how much it has to offer their futures, their mental health and wellbeing.
If you’ve read this far, I can only say ‘thank you’. This particular post is a completely self-indulgent story that documents the creation of a brand that I hope will stand the test of time. I wanted to create something that helps my clients achieve their ambitions, something that my boys can be proud of, and something that plays the tiniest of parts in inspiring the next generation of copywriters.
As a little token of appreciation for sticking with me, please help yourself to the following: