Reflections on some of my favourite Bwlb projects...
Alex, Founder of FinCo Coffee was Bwlb's first ever client, so has a special place in my heart. This guy is just so passionate about coffee and it comes through from the first second you meet him. I was doing a business course in Cardiff city centre, buying a coffee from him each day (it was great coffee) and when the challenge was issued to find a client, and, crucially, make it someone you'd love to work with, Alex popped in to my head. To his great credit, he took a chance on me, we did a creative session together and he paid me in coffee, which I was more than happy with.
FinCo is a small business, a one-man coffee shop located in a bit-hard-to-find-but-a-hidden-gem kind of place called the Castle Emporium right in the heart of Cardiff City Centre. He was making great coffee (because he knew his stuff, was passionate about it and didn't cut corners) but he was having a hard time getting the numbers of sales he wanted and deserved.
I did a basic creative session with him where we came up with small, easy, quick, obvious ideas he could implement straight away to improve footfall and sales. Things like working more with the nearby Cardiff Blues Rugby team, coming up with little share-able time specific deals such as on A-Level results day, and 'one free coffee' cards his regular customers could hand out to their mates. With some practical 'easy-win' ideas in the bag we started to think deeper.
I knew Alex was a big Liverpool FC fan, so I designed a creative exercise around a hero of his, Jurgen Klopp - "What Would Klopp Do?" We spent some time listing Mr Klopp's qualities, things like resilience, positivity, playing to strengths, respecting club history and culture and totally backing his team. Then we tried to work out some ideas that would be FinCo's versions of these values. I challenged Alex to come up with an idea in each area. What's an idea that plays to FinCo's strengths? What's something that Alex could do which would be totally backing his and the brand's strengths? What would reflect Finco's culture and history?
The bit about culture and history struck a chord with Alex and led us to discussing the classic Citroen van which he first started serving coffee out of. It had issues and was out of action. He had been resigned to losing it, but perhaps would reconsider after the discussion we had. I always pop in on Alex when I'm in Cardiff city centre and I was so happy to see him still going, still passionate, and with plans for the future of the van (and a cool little model van now part of his premises design).
I believe creativity is so important to every business, person, project or organisation at every part of their journey. Thinking creatively can deliver instant practical wins but it can also make you think in a different way about the bigger picture and, in my experience, always has a positive influence even if that is in an unpredictable way. I can't claim to have increased FinCo's sales massively from that one creative session, but I do know I've made a good mate in Alex, he feels he got a lot out of our session and he is still there, still making a go of what he loves doing, still making great coffee (and he's still got the van, and big plans for it).