Rebranding cSeeker Part II: a bold move from direct bookings to agency work
In business, as in all things, risk-taking is essential to continued survival. One of the greatest risks I have ever taken was to shift the Deaf communication support agency I set up with my brother Guy, cSeeker Ltd, from a direct booking to an agency model.
Initially, we liked our original concept as a way for Deaf people to deal with us and make their bookings for British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters and other Communication Professionals (CPs.) We thought this would give our end users full control of the reservations process.
We made the decision to pivot to an agency concept in July 2015, around a year after the company was formed, and around three years ago.
The system had been created, and everything was working properly, and we had invested money in the business. Equally, a huge number of our interpreters had registered via the system for direct freelance work – which was what we’d hoped for, and another reason we’d set up the model.
But the Deaf were not using the system that we’d created as expected, and we realised we needed something better suited to a market that was smaller than we’d realised.
At the time, we were in office space in central Birmingham, with a space on the ESpark entrepreneurship programme. Our advisers even recommended shutting the business down completely, but we refused.
The business was haemorrhaging money, so we knew radical change was needed. And, instead of closing down, we decided to become agency focusing on education, which would focus on a different client pain point.
Previously, we’d noticed that a number of people in education were asking us for help because they thought we were an agency already. Initially, while still working on the direct booking model, we’d seen this pain point but ignored it – until we decided to focus our shift on to it.
So, actually, our previous efforts hadn’t all been in vain. Sometimes, you work on something apparently pointlessly, but then you get an ‘Aha!’ moment. Often the changes needed are just small, but in this case a fairly major shift in direction was required.
Essentially, once we’d made the decision, things moved pretty quickly as we began to promote education. The change meant that we decided to have a booking officer and to process the bookings manually, enabling personal contact with a live person – we realised that the Deaf and our customers still preferred this to an automated system.
When pivoting, rebranding should make changes as clear and as visible as possible. Our rebranding efforts focused on education, starting with a fresh logo in purple rather than green because purple is a clearly separate shade but is a similarly relaxed colour.
We also had to rewrite all our content, creating a vision of helping provide quality communication support in education.
And there were so many lessons we learned. If it is broken, fix it! Take risks, and believe in what you do and your band – even when the whole world seems to be saying otherwise.