Stagecoach Performing Arts, a performing arts school which is celebrating its 30th birthday this year and welcoming 1 million part-time students through its doors over the that time, has been announced as the winner of the Brand Awareness Award category at the prestigious annual bfa HSBC Franchise Awards 2018.
Run by the British Franchise Association (bfa), these widely-respected awards recognise both franchisors and franchisees who have demonstrated outstanding business acumen, innovation and achievement. Franchising is a simple relationship between two parties, the franchisor who owns the brand and business system, and the franchisee who contracts to run a copy of that business in a local area.
The bfa HSBC Franchise Award winners were announced last night, 28thJune 2018, at the ICC in Birmingham at an exclusive black-tie ceremony held between day one and two of the bfa Annual Conference. The Brand Awareness Award recognises franchisors who demonstrate a commitment to better understanding their consumer market and effectively engaging with it through the implementation of a PR and marketing strategy. The judges were particularly impressed by Stagecoach Performing Arts’ detailed research conducted with all key stakeholders, to identify a new proposition ‘Creative Courage for Life’ to help develop their brand.
In 2014, the company began to look more closely at how its business was perceived and conducted detailed research with all of its stakeholders – current customers, franchisees, teachers, head office staff and potential customers. In response to this research, 2015/16 saw a rebrand of the entire business, investing in new marketing collateral, new websites and new uniforms for students. Franchisees, who were initially concerned about how the Stagecoach rebrand could affect their business, wholeheartedly embraced the change, and within six months, the entire UK network had adopted the new brand identity.
As Stagecoach enters its 30th anniversary year, the network does so with a buoyant feeling of excitement and anticipation. 2018 began with a renewed focus on PR and increased social media activities. When the company rebranded, the strategy was to become a credible source of thought-leadership pieces for the children’s performing arts sector. This has evolved, and this year Stagecoach will be commissioning more articles about the extended skills and well-being required to sustain a love of the arts. This will also be supported by a range of anniversary events for teachers and franchisees from a Global Franchisee Conference and TeacherFest, to a Guinness World Record attempt to achieve the most simultaneous live performances of a stage show – Disney’s Beauty and The Beast Junior. Their 30th anniversary year will then culminate with the inaugural ‘Creative Courage For Life’ Awards, a special initiative for the birthday year, which celebrates the students and teachers in its network.
On winning the Brand Awareness Award, Jo Scalpello, Head of Global Marketing for Stagecoach Performing Arts said, “We are absolutely delighted to have won the Brand Awareness Award. This award is the cherry on the cake after a period of a lot of hard work and determination to turn the brand around. It has been an incredible and enjoyable journey for all involved and to have that work recognised with such a prestigious award is another great boost of energy to continue our plans. We would like to thank our network of passionate franchisees without whom this wouldn’t have been possible. We have really felt the benefit of working with the bfa throughout the whole process and would like to thank all involved for their support.”
Pip Wilkins, CEO of the bfa, said, “It’s over forty years since the bfa was launched specifically to develop ethical franchising in the UK, and I am proud of the way the sector has grown in that time, with the industry’s turnover exceeding £15bn – that’s 1% of the UK’s GDP! If you are running a successful business or want to be your own boss, then franchising is a valid and important option for accelerating your business growth or starting your own commercial venture.”
“The bfa HSBC Franchise Awards 2018 are a celebration of the broad church that is franchising in the UK, from a large multi-national to a lifestyle business, as franchisors come in all shapes and sizes. Every year it’s really great to see the excellent work our members demonstrate through their entries and the quality has never been higher. I would like to thank all our finalists in this year’s awards and congratulate our winners, it was an extremely hard job for the judges to separate them. It great to see such a wide range of businesses represented as it really does illustrate the depth and breadth of franchising opportunities in the UK.
“Stagecoach Performing Arts are a very worthy winner of our Award for Brand Awareness. They have shown how important it is to put in the time and detailed research which included identifying a whole new brand proposition – ‘Creative Courage for Life’. Their full rebrand was extremely successful and shows how important it is to get your positioning right, their success is very impressive. Congratulations to everyone involved and all the best for the future.”
Andrew Brattesani, UK Head of Franchising for the Awards’ sponsor HSBC, said, “HSBC is delighted to be once again supporting these industry leading franchise awards. Franchise businesses are often the hidden engine of business growth in the UK and it is essential to highlight the important contribution both large and small businesses make to our economy. It is also important to showcase to people that they can run their own businesses and if you don’t want to go it alone, or haven’t got a strong business idea, you can still be successful and become your own boss, as together we thrive.”