Catherine Piddington, Owner and Founder of Piddington Jam, reveals exclusively to Business Grapevine why vintage branding is essential to a modern strategy and explains how you can learn from the obstacles she was forced to overcome.
What is the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?
“The biggest challenge when I first started was structure and organisation. Having never worked for myself before I found the sudden ‘free’ time with a long to-do list overwhelming. Eventually I handed someone my notebook and asked them to draw me up a plan, which completely saved me. After a couple of months, I had settled and was able to structure my own time.
“An ongoing challenge, I find, is motivation. Not because I’m lazy or lose interest, but because I work alone at home. Motivation naturally rises and falls and when you don’t have colleagues to bounce ideas off or share disappointments with it can be even harder to maintain. But I find being active and getting outside of my work environment briefly really refreshes me.”
What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to launch their own brand?
“The best pieces of advice I would like to offer are based on my own experiences.
“Have confidence in yourself as well as the product and never lose sight of the original impetus behind the project. It’s important to follow your instincts and do what you feel is right, even though you are learning, as that is what gives you the passion and motivation behind the brand. If you do what you think you ‘should’ be doing, it won’t work as you will cease to believe in your product and you won’t be able to sell it. There is no direct, correct path to take - get feedback and ascertain the facts because it is an important part of development, but use it wisely to decide your own way forward. You can't please everyone and you shouldn't try to - just don't take it personally, because this is business.
“Regulations and legalities may seem boring, but they are essential and you must understand them yourself even if you hire an outside company to do the work for you.
“Budget carefully, even if you have a large lump sum to begin with. There are ways you can cut costs without compromising your brand. One of my biggest savings was building my own website – after I registered my domain with 123.reg, I built my site on a template based platform. It did take a little longer than it would a professional, but I easily saved £10,000.”
How important is branding to a business strategy?
“Branding is essential. It isn’t solely about logo recognition; it’s your company’s personality. It’s the world and lifestyle you create that supports your product and makes you stand out from your competition: website; design; commentary; social media; advertising etc. are all individual ways to reach your customers and each must tell a consistent story with the same beliefs and ethos. All together they create your one strong voice and personality, which in turn engages the public and hopefully turns them into customers.”