Q&A with The Cut Director Ben De Jonge

Q&A with The Cut Director Ben De Jonge
30Sep2020

Most business owners feel pressure to get their brand right at the start, and when they rebrand. Specialists can help turn your ideas into a strong brand. Ben De Jonge is Director of Perth ecommerce and branding agency, The Cut, and he shares their top tips with us.

Having worked with the same branding since launching in 2014, Carbon decided it was time to re-evaluate our branding and give it a makeover – something that most companies should do after being around for a while. A brand refresh helps to align the branding with the business’ current trajectory, and it’s a pretty exciting process to go through.

Carbon and The Cut recently teamed up to take a look at the Carbon brand, and you’ll see our changes rolling out from October 1. As we wrapped up the project with The Cut, we sat down to pick Ben’s brain to help fellow business owners who were looking closely at their brand.
 
What inspired you to start The Cut?
 
A need for food. 

Seriously though, after 3 years in the UK, I wanted to run my own business, rather than be an employee, and having returned to Perth, the timing was right. I met my business partner Scott Sanders, he had also just returned from almost a decade in London. We clicked, we wanted similar things, and we each brought different and complementary skill sets. 

So, after 6 to 8 months of planning and work, we launched The Cut in 2009. Now, in 2020, we consider ourselves to be super lucky that we are still in business together, we still get on very well, and we’ve worked together to evolve the business over time. To the point where we have become WA’s most experienced Shopify ecommerce specialists. That’s rare and cool, and we’re proud of The Cut and the people who make it.

Carbon has recently worked with The Cut on a brand realignment, what’s the benefit of a re-brand or brand realignment for companies?

Yes, and it was great to work with the Carbon team to redefine the brand, both in terms of design, and culture and language. I knew Jamie and Nathan when they met, and have followed Carbon’s trajectory with great interest, it’s an awesome Perth business success story.

While we now specialise in Shopify and ecommerce at The Cut, we are always working with businesses in other sectors, like Carbon, to help them create brands, re-brand, or hit refresh to re-inject excitement into a business, both internally, and for the market.

The benefits of rebranding, or refreshing a brand should be that it gets everyone within the business on the same page, and talking about the business in the same way. Branding work nowadays almost always involves culture, language, values and so on. It’s no longer only about ‘logo design’.

Graphic design plays an important part, of course, and that can be about regaining control of visual marketing, repositioning the brand, making a statement about evolution, or a change in direction. Sometimes the main agenda with a rebrand is to show the market that the business is still alive, healthy and moving forward.

At the end of the day, ‘Branding’ includes everything to do with the way the company communicates to, and engages with, their clients and the community. Rebranding helps define and control the way that happens, as well as making sure that the brand is aligned with the staff, and the people they want to attract as clients.
(Apologies!) This is a very hard question to answer without going on and on...

When business owners have so many options when they create their brands, what are your three top tips to help get them started and on a good path?

It’s interesting, because since we specialised in Shopify, we have never had so many conversations about branding. And by ‘branding’ we mean relevance, communication, engagement, conversions, plus clear key messages, compelling images and consistent visual branding.

When a business is selling online, or has particular actions they want website visitors to take, the importance of relevant communication (Branding!) is critical, and very measurable.

So, to answer the question and give 3 top tips, we’ll dip into the knowledge bank we’ve accumulated over 11 years, and through interviews for The Cut’s podcast, with Shopify merchants and ecommerce experts all over the world.

• Tip 1 - Define your niche. Choose a specialisation that you can be known for, and use to drive your brand messaging. For The Cut, our niche is Shopify.
• Tip 2 - Understand your customers. They are human beings, and they need your help, so understand their needs and challenges, and use your marketing to show how you help.
• Tip 3 - Cut through. Do whatever it takes to stand out. Maybe not from every business on the planet, but at least from your major competitors and others in your sector. Look different, speak different, have a different focus. Always be different strategically, but make sure you stand out from your crowd.

What’s the most common mistake you see companies make with their branding and communication strategies?

It’s difficult to narrow it down to a single common mistake, but if we have to, that mistake would be not considering and understanding the people they want to reach ie. their (potential) customers.

So many businesses build companies, logos, branding, websites, social media accounts etc. from their own perspective. They talk about themselves, they talk about what they do, they talk about who they are.

What they should be doing, is showing that they understand the people who are most likely to be their ideal clients and customers, and talking to those people. A business becomes a brand when it shows that it understands the needs of their customers, and that it can help to make their lives better by solving their challenges.

When any business shifts focus from themselves to their customers, they become empathetic, relevant, relatable, and worthy of engagement. When you are achieving that, your clients will come to you, and boom! Your brand and marketing are working.

As specialists in designing ecommerce websites to help businesses sell online, what’s your top tip for business owners looking to open online stores to reach new markets and opportunities.

Two things:

1. Make sure there is a market for what you want to sell online.
2. Understand your customers, and what they want from your brand and products.

And please, prepare yourself for some hard work. Ecommerce success stories are everywhere, the opportunities are endless and the potential is huge. But there are no magic bullets and every ‘overnight success’ story we hear comes after 4, 6, 8 years of hard work.

You can build an online store, or even a standard website, but the people will not come to your site just because you have built it. You have to build your brand, and your website, so that it is relevant, engaging and attractive to the right sort of person for your business, brand and products.

Want to get in touch with Ben and The Cut team?

 

Visit their website.


 
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