Smart-up x female founders luncheon – branding & positioning

On april 29, 2021, another Smart-up x female founders luncheon took place. The event focused on the topics “branding & positioning”. Jennifer Bänziger, founder and partner of hurrah design studio, spoke about her journey to self-employment and what she learned along the way. She outlined the steps a startup should take to position itself, as well as how a business can be turned into a brand. After all, the “hip hip hurrah” will certainly live on in the minds of those who took part in the event.

When did Jennifer’s journey into self-employment begin, or rather, what was her plan building up her own business?

“At first, I intended to finish my studies, and in the next step I had plans to acquire even more knowledge through a permanent position. Only afterwards I assumed to be ready for starting my own business. But you gotta take chances when they are upfront you! I had the opportunity to work on a big project, so I did it, even if I had intended to start my own business at a later time.” Jennifer Bänziger, founder and partner of hurrah design studio, stated. 

Her statement can be taken as a guiding principle that self-employment is sometimes not a fixed plan. You have to stay flexible and take on chances when they occur. Her role model exemplifies how the road to self-employment may begin unexpectedly. You might have the chances when they are at least anticipated and fitted into your life.

But as Jennifer did, you have to take on opportunities when they call for your, because there probably won’t be a second one! And when you are always focused on your goals and know your next steps well, starting your own business is feasible. Even though in circumstances with double workload like in Jennifer’s case – studying and working at the same time. You just have to really want it and define your North Star, which will give you the boost of energy you need along your journey!

Jennifer and her coworker Ramona had their specific goal very much in mind. But how did the two of them become conscious of the potential of self-employment in the first place and how did they manage to get their first orders?

Jennifer and Ramona discovered during their studies that they are intrigued by the subject of self-employment and want to start their own interior design company. The two ladies began taking small orders during their studies and were able to attend modules from other departments through the Smart-up program of Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, thus they gained the requisite skills for self-employment. Jennifer was very impressed by the number of topics they were exposed to. “You don’t even think about what it means to be self-employed beforehand”. But the constant, tremendous learning process made it even more interesting to her to eventually take her path to self-employment. And when Jennifer and Ramona won their first orders from Smart Apartments, the well-known snowball effect was activated: this led to other project acquisitions, like the Vulcano project in Zurich Altstetten, with Credit Suisse as their client. This even took place in their final semester of studies. 

See! If you are really driven and aware of your ambition and experience, you will be able to convince clients and great opportunities can come your way quickly!

The theme of the second luncheon was branding: In May 2018 the two girls founded the GmbH “atelier zweigestalten” in order to execute the project with Credit Suisse. This founding had to happen very suddenly, and in the midst of it all, the questions arose:

How do we find our brand? And when it comes to our brand, what is most important to us?

Jennifer and Ramona realized at this point that they want to build a brand that represents their young, innovative team and with which they could convey a fun pun to the client. But what kind of pun? They had the idea while sipping coffee in Lucerne. Ramona referred to “zwei gestalten”, representing them both designing in their profession. Jennifer, however, took the term “zwei Gestalten” at that moment and in a flash, they had created a fun pun and thus the name of their first company “atelier zweigestalten”. On the construction site, too, it was then said: “Oh look, the “zwei Gestalten” are coming”. The unique recognizable brand was generated.

But how do you create such a brand?

“The strategy finding is the most essential part of building up a company”, according to Jennifer. At “atelier zweigestalten”; Ramona and Jennifer had a plan, but a not well conceived strategy, as the one at the current company hurrah design studio. For this reason, when they were about to found the second company, Jennifer and her co-owners (Ramona, Rahel and Ron) took off to Arosa for a week to define the whole strategy (values and goals) of the company. Strategy week ahoy!

So, before you start thinking about branding and positioning, make sure your company’s strategy is in place.

Strategy ️, what’s next?

Yay! Now you can start with positioning and branding! The hurrah design studio works with personas in these two areas. For each company, fictitious persons who correspond to the target group are created. For example, the following personas were created for a kebab restaurant:

👩 Henriette Hipster, the Zurich hipster girl who attaches great importance to the appearance of restaurants, since, she wants to post the food spot on Instagram.

👨 Adi from the canton of Aargau. He goes clubbing in Zurich and just wants to eat an awesome kebab afterwards.

👨‍💼 Oli Office, who goes for a kebab at lunchtime. He wants the food to be prepared well and quickly.

👨‍🎓 Samuel the student, attaches great importance to the price-performance ratio.

Through working with personas, the company manages to ask itself, “What would Samuel the student say?” and thus make decisions objectively.

Personas are also very beneficial for defining the company’s communication channels. Because the only question you have to ask yourself is: “Which channels is Henriette Hipster using, for example?” and poof, you’ve identified the core channels for your company. 

💡Here’s a little tip from Jennifer: it’s important that you stay open minded when it comes to trying new things, like newsletter, flyer or using Facebook instead of Instagram, even after defining your communication channels.

Based on the values of your company, which you’ve defined during your strategy week, you should deal with the visual communication after defining your communication channels. This includes the design of your logo, website and business cards and the definition of the fonts, colors and shapes you will use in your communication with the customer. Make sure that the branding is always consistent with your company’s values. The playful logo of the dental practice should reflect the playful vibe in the practice. 

And remember: Don’t put the branding topic on the side until you can no longer hold back the “hip hip hurrah”. Because you won’t find much time to adjust your branding as you move forward into self-employment.

In conclusion, Jennifer would like to recommend the following three things to you:

#1: Have a positive mindset and believe that everything will work out!

#2: Give the rest of the world an idea of what you and your company stand for.

#3: Have the courage! The journey to self-employment is hard, but they are only hurdles that you can overcome if you want to!

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