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Getting your (brand) voice heard

Written by David Graham on Friday, 25 October 2019. Posted in Franchise Diaries

A brand is more than a stylish logo, a catchy jingle or a celebrity spokesperson.

Getting your (brand) voice heard

Following a successful UK launch, David Graham and the Code Ninjas team are working hard to establish themselves as the kids coding programme of choice nationwide. Whilst the brand already occupies this position in the US, the UK is unfamiliar territory. To raise its profile in a new market, Code Ninjas has adopted a comprehensive strategy which is making waves in the UK tech, franchise and business media.

A brand is more than a stylish logo, a catchy jingle or a celebrity spokesperson. Branding is about making people believe something about your company. And, let’s not beat around the bush, good branding also makes people part with their hard-earned cash – assuming your products and services live up to the brand. According to a recent Nielson survey, 59% of consumers prefer to buy new products from brands familiar to them*. So, when the brand is new, how do you establish yourself as credible and trustworthy?

In the UK, Code Ninjas is the new kid on the block. Our programme is a well-known, respected and in-demand commodity stateside but, when we touched down in Heathrow, we were starting from square one. Any good business owner will tell you that getting your brand seen and heard isn’t as simple as paying for a billboard in Piccadilly Circus and hoping for the best. And if you’re attempting to establish yourself in a new market, then you’ve got an even bigger task ahead of you. But it’s definitely doable, if you’re willing to put in the effort.

We’d had interest from prospects in the UK long before we planned our first Discovery Day back in May, due to our rapid growth and popularity in the states. To capitalise on these enquiries, we implemented targeted Facebook and Google ads, as well as PR campaigns announcing our entry into the UK franchising space. All of this got prospects talking about us, excited to put faces to names and find out about the franchise opportunity in more detail. In short, it created a buzz. This activity alone saw our first UK Discovery Day full to capacity. Within a matter of weeks, we’d signed our first franchisees – without the need for pricey traditional advertising.  

But success stories alone aren’t enough – they may raise your brand profile and get your name into the media but the key to becoming a familiar, respected brand, is keeping it there. In my experience, when it comes to building trust and credibility, particularly for a children’s service franchise, you have to add value and be willing to share your knowledge as an expert. Having partnered with a UK-based PR firm, we embarked on a long-term mix of profile-raising activity across franchise, consumer and trade outlets, getting the brand seen and heard by our target audiences and their influencers. All of this, despite having not opened our first centre yet. Of course, landing in a new market warrants a ‘we’re here!’ fanfare style news story but, once the dust has settled, you’ll need new ways to engage with the press. Meaning you have to get creative.

For instance, I’ve been featured offering expert commentary to the tech press about the lack of women in the industry. Crucially, a significant proportion of Code Ninjas students are girls, which placed us well to comment on the gender imbalance once graduates reach working age. I’ve also contributed to parenting titles through an informative guide for managing kid’s screen time – a current topic which continues to gain exposure in the national press. Our current project is a potential collaboration with female tech influencers, asking for their opinion on our programme and how it will benefit the landscape of kid’s coding education in the UK. That’s a whole lot of valuable and engaging activity for a brand without a UK centre.

Raising the profile of a brand is about striking before the iron is hot. There’s no use in waiting until something obviously newsworthy happens – it’s about making the news for yourself and being proactive. It’s said that a person needs to see or hear about a brand a minimum of seven times before they actively enquire. How many times are your prospects or potential customers likely see you this week?

*https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/article/2015/understanding-the-power-of-a-brand-name/

About the Author

David Graham

David Graham

David Graham is the founder and CEO of kids coding franchise, Code Ninjas – launched in Houston, Texas, in 2016. Four years on and the former programmer and entrepreneur has taken the business to incredible heights, with an international franchise network of 340 franchisees in the US, Canada and the UK.

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