Written by Chelsie

What Brand Labs means to me… Meet the Brand Labs 2021 panel

23.07.21
Reading Time 4 MINUTES

Brand Labs is back and better than ever. For the fifth year running, we are offering startups in Wales the opportunity to win a complete brand package worth £15,000. But it means so much more to us than a prize — here’s why. Meet the Brand Labs panel.

What Brand Labs means to Joe, Managing Director

“Starting a business means massive highs and gut wrenching lows, but it’s also the most fulfilling thing.”

Small business is the backbone of the Welsh economy. Thousands of business owners, just like me, work massively hard every day trying to progress and make a difference. We all begin somewhere, generally with a fleeting ‘I could do this better myself’ and it grows from there, but starting a business is a hugely difficult, stressful and emotional time. You feel like you’re competing in a largely one sided game where the people who have more money will be more successful. Whilst we know that this isn’t necessarily true, in order to level the playing feel a bit I thought it would be an ace idea to give back and help one lucky company to supercharge their chances of surviving and thriving from a very early point in their business journey. I love working with like minded people who really care about what they do. People who trust us. People who feel like they have more to offer. People who are willing to put it all on the line and just go for it. Starting a business means massive highs and gut wrenching lows, but it’s also the most fulfilling thing. I just want to help people where I can to follow their path and get amongst it!

What Brand Labs means to Abi, Studio Manager

“It’s given me (not to mention everyone else in the studio) a really big creative boost.”

I like to think we’re a pretty diverse agency — we have a vast range of clients that span from varying industries: food, ecology, PR, venues, child development, not-for-profits and even hundred year old institutions to name a few. It keeps us on our toes. But What I’ve always loved about Brand Labs is that it’s allowed us to break out of our ‘bubble’ and has, without fail, shown us what’s new, upcoming and fresh in terms of business and innovation. Our past applicants, not to mention our winners, have all had fiercely inventive, driven, passionate and original business ideas and I’ve found each and every one of their entrepreneurial spirits truly inspiring. It’s given me (not to mention everyone else in the studio) a really big creative boost too, being able to grow alongside someone else’s vision and absolutely facilitate it becoming a success.

What Brand Labs means to Emily, Brand & Campaign Manager

“Wales is full of insightful, creative, and ambitious people champing at the bit to start something new.”

Jumping into the world of branding three years ago has been my biggest chuck in the deep end to date. Career wise, anyway. I almost didn’t go for this job — I convinced myself that the move from corporate marketing to design agency was too big. Turns out it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. It flipped a switch in my head that I didn’t realise needed to be flipped. Some of my past work suddenly seemed hollow. There was no real feeling of purpose or fulfilment. Even successful campaigns fell a bit flat on me (it’s not you — it’s me). I realise now, the thing I was missing was a sense of connection. Whilst I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some big names at designdough, the opportunity to work with inspiring Welsh startups has satisfied my soul endlessly. Meeting people with immense determination. Taking their cause on as my own. Sharing their vision and marrying it with our knowledge and know-how. Yes, it gives us the opportunity to flex our creative muscles in a different way. But building a considered brand from the ground up and witnessing its fast-track to success because of the work we’ve done together — that’s where it’s at. I found my sense of connection and Brand Labs is our opportunity to help others achieve theirs. Wales is full of insightful, creative, and ambitious people champing at the bit to start something new. That’s so exciting to me.

What Brand Labs means to James, Creative Director

“When you start a business you’re expected to know it all. To be a designer, a strategist, a marketeer, a BDM and wear all of those hats. But that’s just not possible.”

Besides this being about as close as I’m going to get to being a Dragon’s Den judge (I’ve always fancied myself as a Peter Jones) the best part of my role in Brand Labs is creating a brand for a small business where I know it can have a massive impact on the potential success of the business or organisation. Working in a brand agency, we’ve seen a lot of really exciting startups packed with passion, excitement and drive but who don’t always have the toolkit or the roadmap to take their idea to market. We know this feeling pretty well. We were a startup once and we know how hard it can be. But we’ve learnt a lot along the way and feel a sense of duty to give back to other Welsh businesses who are starting out just like we were all those years ago. Giving them the best possible beginning as their businesses start to grow.

During lockdown last year I started my own side-hustle tigercubprints.com and was reminded all over again just how mammoth the task of launching your own business is. Analysing the market and figuring out how best to approach them is always tough. Then creating a unique and impactful logo and visual identity — what colours will resonate with our market the most? How do you build symbolism, messaging and tone of voice? Which are the best social media platforms for us? How do we launch? What is the best web platform to use? When you start a business you’re expected to know it all. To be a designer, a strategist, a marketeer, a BDM and wear all of those hats. But that’s just not possible and it’s always an uphill battle. Enter Brand Labs. Brand Labs is a massive opportunity, not only for the winner to get a killer kick-start to their startup but also for us to keep our finger on the pulse of the newest and most exciting emerging businesses in Wales and be a part of their journey.