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Josephine Fairley skills development session for businesses

On Wednesday 23 April Vicky Johnston and I had the pleasure of attending a thought provoking presentation by co-founder of Green & Black’s, Josephine Fairley.

Green & Black's is one of the best-known brands in the food world, known both for its quality and for its ethical credentials.  Launched in 1991 by organic food pioneer Craig Sams and his journalist wife Josephine Fairley, it is now an internationally renowned, award-winning brand and multi-million pound business.

Josephine began her presentation by telling us how the Green & Black’s business name was derived, this not being from any of the founders' surnames or from an eco-catchy name such as ‘Eco Choc’ (which was highly in fashion at the time), but from a wordplay.  ‘Green’ standing for the environmental, ethical concerns of the founders and ‘Black’ for the high cocoa solids chocolate they wished to provide. 

Josephine went on to share with us her business story and the key areas she believed were fundamental to their success including branding and design, effective PR, customer service and the importance of ethics underpinning a brand.

Throughout the presentation Josephine made reference to the power of a brand and how the use of colour and design in the right context can play an important part in establishing yourself making you instantly recognisable.  In a design conscious environment where consumers regularly purchase based on ‘looks’ this is ever increasingly important.  While it is key to constantly assess your position and reinvent, Josephine talked about the difference between evolution of your brand rather than revolution, which could result in significant changes being made and a recognised brand being instantly lost.

Advertising was something Green & Black’s did very little of in the early years.  Instead they focused on effective PR, gaining endorsements from recognised people to promote their product.  They established their brand and then went on to advertise and promote this further to the masses before selling the business to Cadbury plc in 2005.

The presentation concluded with Josephine sharing her summarised best advice with us as well as the best practice she had learned from others along her journey which included two fundamental tools – the ability to look at your business from two angles.  The ‘microscope’ allows you to look at a business closely to ensure that you have got the detail right while the ‘telescope’ allows you to stand back, take perspective and look at your business from a distance and gain perspective.

The event was hosted by the University of Cumbria in conjunction with the Cumbria Growth Hub and we would like to thank them for hosting such an entertaining and stimulating session.  Josephine certainly provided new angles to consider when developing a business.

At David Allen we are always looking to ensure we expand our existing expertise with new, fresh and exciting ideas which in turn helps us to provide practical advice to help our clients succeed in business. 

Kerrie Allison

Posted: April 24th, 2014

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