Marketing & Branding for Startups – Learning from Leanne Bonner-Cooke

Keywords – Branding for Startups – Leanne Bonner-Cooke

Branding and sales are core functions of any business destined to grow.

But, branding, as a concept, does not come naturally with business understanding. (Therefore, startups are drawn by branding agencies).

At the most basic level, we understand that branding is not just about visuals. Visuals can draw attention for your business, but won’t maintain the attention. You need to dig deeper and connect at the level of personalities.

Leanne Bonner-Cooke MBE shares a similar opinion with us.

Leanne Bonner-Cooke

We had the pleasure of meeting Leanne Bonner Cooke MBE who discussed her successful entrepreneurial journey and marketing tips with us.

Leanne’s father served in the British Army and was based out in Germany. This is where Leanne spent most of her childhood.

At the professional level, her first qualification was as an accountant. Initially, she took her accounting skills in the textile industry. But, after the industrial decline in general, she went into construction and more specifically project management and data analytics.

Her professional experience has tailored her abilities into well-defined expertise. And, sensibly, she was ready to do more with her skills.

Leanne has an eye for identifying problems and decided to take the application of her abilities a step forward – into business.

Evolve Consultants

Leanne founded a consulting firm to help medium sized SaaS businesses – Evolve based in Leicestershire. And, she had success straight away.

Her first contract within a few months led to a deal worth £550,000.

You must be asking at this point – What marketing and sales strategy was implemented?

Leanne believes that nothing can replace the traditional form of marketing – building a personal network. Put simply, people buy from people they trust. And, the people close to you are the ones that you have built trust with.

Therefore, it is important that you turn to people you already know, when starting a business. But, that should not be the end of it.

Later, once your personal list is exhausted, marketing becomes the next logical step, treating it as another level of relationships and trust building.

The Role of the Team

We also asked Leanne about her views on business teams.

Leanne describes her team as the most important factor in her business success. Especially, she is fond of the people who have been there from the very beginning.

It is important to add here that Evolve was founded in 2007 – just before the recession.

Instead of accepting defeat at the time, Leanne dug deeper.

Leanne did everything in her power to advocate the importance of retaining staff. She understood that financial difficulties should not be the defining factor in maintaining organisational skills and experience. This level of commitment helped the business sustain and grow in the long term.

Still, the business had to make cuts to stay afloat. But, Leanne applied the cuts elsewhere in the business.

The Connection Between Marketing and the Team

Leanne goes a step forward and connects the team with marketing too.

She reckons that word of mouth is the greatest medium of marketing and staff members, happy or angry will talk about you. This is one of the forms of marketing that cannot be faked.

(From a writing perspective, she made our life easier and connected the talking points herself. And, if you think that my statement on branding and startups in the first paragraph was a dig, you were right).

Marketing is just another step in the way. At the next level, Leanne has strong views on branding too.

Branding for Businesses

During the early stages, Evolve used guidance from design agencies for branding. This experience led to mixed results.

And, the reason for this is simple.

There is always a separation between a business and the externalities, especially at the starting point.

Therefore, Leanne advices business leaders to take a grip of the situation and at least, be part of the branding process. Even further, Leanne emphasises that, where possible, startups should lead the branding journey and not leave it in the hands of self-proclaimed branding experts, who are simply designers.

All you will end up getting is pretty graphics. And, branding is far more than that.

The Future

Leanne is in the process of exiting Evolve and focusing further on E-Bate, her second business.

E-Bate is a revenue management software provider for businesses.

In other words, E-Bate helps businesses keep track of business figures, making the process more user-friendly and simplified. You can follow her journey by connecting with her on LinkedIn, here.

If you would like to read further interviews with industry leaders, check 3 of them here:

  1. First Hand Learning – An Interview with Tony Lune of Click Lettings
  2. Three Entrepreneurial Tips from Indi Deol – The DesiBlitz Story
  3. Regional Homes – How to Face Challenges through Branding and Team Culture

And, to learn more, get in touch with us today.

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