Creating Your Interior Design Brand
How to Build a Successful Business in an Ever-Changing Market
The world of interior design and the marketplace is ever changing; clients don’t need interior designers in the same way they used to. Previously, they benefitted from trade accounts, the interior designer’s knowledge of what was new, on-trend, the latest brands, and they used print media, e.g. magazines for inspiration and vision.
With the explosion of the internet, the traditional role of the interior designer has changed. With fantastic companies like Dering Hall and LuxDeco, consumers can source online. Increasingly, potential clients are sourcing their own products and suppliers are offering discounted prices to their clients. Take Pinterest, for example, where you can now create your own mood boards online – potential clients are much more educated in what they want to achieve than the old school clientele.
With amazing schools like KLC School of Design, many alumni graduate with the knowledge to launch their own interior design business. Whilst they are trained in the practicalities of what it takes to be a creative interior designer, they don’t necessarily understand how to make a business work.
It is widely believed that the majority of new businesses fail for two reasons - lack of demand and cash flow. It is so important to keep this in mind when creating your brand and to implement business and marketing strategies, which steer your company during its first year, so you continually build your presence in the market place. Securing clients is all about strategy; if your potential clients cannot share the design vision you have for them, then converting them into your clients will be impossible.
How Can You Create a Luxury Brand?
I firmly believe in using a 360-degree framework. Building a business is very much like building and designing a home. Designers create floor plans and dimensions before starting to design a home; as a consulting firm we look at the floor plan and dimensions before we build a business. A house can’t be built with three bathrooms, one kitchen and no bedrooms, in the same way a business should not be built without a clear business strategy.
At Camberyard, we use this analogy to construct a bespoke business strategy for your needs. If you take the analogy of house building, we look at what kind of house you want to build, how it needs to adapt to your life and what your budget is. The first stage is putting in the plumbing and electrics, to ensure everything is in place for building your walls. Finally, we decorate. Each stage of the business and marketing plan is tailored to exactly those requirements.
For creative professionals who are launching their business straight from graduation, or who want to streamline their operations, we need to go back to the initial design. We work out the key elements that will make your dream ‘house’ – how your business can fulfil all your needs and provide stable foundations to grow that business in today’s markets.
Why Should a Potential Client Choose You?
Let’s begin with your USP - your Unique Selling Point. As an example, one of our clients has decided to target city gentlemen, aged 25-40 with considerable income, who want a turnkey solution from design to build to interior design. He has focussed on what he can do and how he can sell his unique skill set. What would your elevator pitch be – how can you sum up your USP in one line?
You need to develop your USP for many purposes: marketing materials, business cards, website, brochures, press releases etc. - but also for small talk and networking, which may well lead to your next big project.
Remember too, if you are hiring staff, they must be ‘on brand’, so you need a clear company identity for them to convey whilst dealing with your potential clients. A clear company identity helps you identify where you position yourself in the market, and which projects and future clients you pitch to. Just because you are offered a certain project, does not mean you should accept it, if it does not sit within your business and marketing strategy.
Whilst developing your USP, highlight any particular skillsets, training or experience you have. Note your professional qualifications and any relevant work experience. Remember – you must stand out from the crowd and showcase why you are better than anyone else in that design arena. Focus on what you enjoy most, because if you do what you enjoy, then you are more than likely to succeed.
Look at who your present clients are and which projects are your favourite. Which clients do you prefer and why? Next, visualise your ideal client and note down those elements that make them your favourite client. Study demographics of your clients – their average age, income and education, marital status and disposable income. What are the demographics of the people you are targeting and why do you want to work with them?
What’s in a Name?
When looking at your branding, ‘Think Globally and Act Locally’ – remember, you want to be recognised for your design, but you also want to act locally to build a reputation in your home environment. Start with the name of your company. Do you want to name the company after yourself and add a service such as ‘Interior Design’ to clarify what you do? If you want to establish a brand, do you need a creative name, which has the potential to grow as you diversify into other areas?
Logo and Materials
It’s advisable to work with a trained professional for areas outside your field, which is where Camberyard can also advise. We often work with a graphic designer to develop the branding and image for our interior designers. When building your brand, it’s important to subcontract to experts in their field, who really know what they are doing, from branding agencies to graphic designers, freelance photographers, web and SEO companies and copywriters. Find an expert in graphics, let them treat you like a client and provide your business with the full service you deserve.
Ask yourself first – what is the name of my company and do I want a logo? A logo is nice to have though not essential, as it is more aesthetic than practical. However, if they design you something you like then of course you should use it, but we recommend not getting hung up on having one!
Across all your marketing materials – business cards, stationery, brochures, website, blogs etc. – all graphics should be consistent and create an integrated, overall look. Think about whom you are and what type of work you want to do. Then ensure the graphics, identity and feel of your marketing materials reflect this. Once you have your identity, you can use it across all your promotional materials and electronic communications.
This may be someone’s first impression of your company, so it’s important to covey your key core values. Think about whether you need printed materials – business cards and brochures are a great idea, but think carefully about printed letterheads and materials too. Perhaps you are traditional and prefer sending printed materials, or maybe you are contemporary and want to send all communications via the internet.
Creating a Brand
Make sure you consider what your brand will be known for. What unique characteristics do you bring to your business, your life and your clients? These are important aspects, which we help our clients finesse.
My role here at Camberyard is to advise – and then celebrate my clients when their design dream ‘house’ becomes their reality. As I mentioned before, the interior design and soft furnishings market is ever expanding. Camberyard will focus on you, your talent and your USP to make your business stand out and succeed.
The Designers' Advisor
Camberyard is an advisory firm, offering bespoke marketing and business solutions to interior designers, furniture and lighting companies, fabric and flooring providers and bathroom and kitchen specialists.