Designing A Business, Part 1

By Olivia Chandler

7 February 2018

The humans at To Eleven

Over the past few months, we have been building our company. To Eleven represents our values, our experience and an aspiration for a better way of working. We have taken our ideas and turned them into a real business with a structure and an proposition that allows us to help others.

Our company is still young, but getting to where we are now has been a brilliant creative challenge. This three-part series explains how we went about designing our business.

A Purpose

Sometimes, it’s really hard to get stuff done. Between us, we’ve worked with many different organisations and on many different projects. Despite having dedicated people with good ideas, innovation just doesn’t happen easily.

Without innovation, organisations suffer. So, with this in mind, we had our purpose. To Eleven would help ambitious leaders in complex organisations execute bold ideas. Our company would be an alternative to bureaucracy. We would offer a creative culture and a space away from organisational complexities where innovative ideas could be turned into real things.

A Brand That Zags

With our purpose defined, we needed a brand that would tell our story and help us stand out. We believe that business is about people. However, this often seems to be forgotten by many organisations looking to portray a ‘professional’ image. We were never going to get excited about a stock photo of smartly dressed business people smiling and pointing at a graph on a whiteboard. We needed a brand that would make business less corporate and more human.

Word Target Board - Finding the right words to describe To ElevenFinding the right words to describe the To Eleven brand.

To help us define our brand, we used methods such as those detailed in Marty Neumeier’s book Zag and the creation of brand personality word maps. Doing this gave us a structure and helped us to determine the things that were most important to our brand and to define how we would stand out.A core part of our offer is our ability to take ideas and turn them into something visual and tangible. Our visual identity needed to reflect our character and our beliefs. We created look boards to test different colour combinations. We designed different variations on our logo to make it more distinctive. As a result, neon colours were the clear winner.

Who Should We Help

Human needs will always be at the heart of any project we undertake. Therefore, we needed to make sure that our business idea and our approach would actually address the needs of the a potential customer group. We needed feedback.

Our target audience personas.Defining personas for potential target audiences.
Before we could find people to talk to, we had to determine our target market. We started by creating personas using insights from personal experience and intuition. The personas provide allowed us to challenge our preconceptions and define a target audience. Subsequently, we were able to organise interviews with people in our network who matched our target audience.

Strong Foundations

Early on, we set aspirational goals such as clients we wanted to work with and the ‘wicked’ problems we want to solve. These lists are still up on our wall and still remain relevant because we put the time in up front to define our brand, our purpose and who we wanted to work with. We are now at the point were we are starting to work through these lists and are starting to solve real problems faced by real people.

In part two, we will look talk through the interview process and start looking at how we built our value proposition. Check back next week!

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