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Ten Questions about branding with Creation Station

Ten Questions about branding with Creation Station

The bfa recently spoke with Creation Station to discuss their prominent branding, and why they believe this helps their franchise.

Creation Station have been in business for over 15 years now, at what stage did you realise Creation Station had become a brand in your sector?

It was when we started getting calls from brands I greatly admired to work with them. We have been fortunate to work with Lego, Hasbro and other great daily friendly brands.

When developing your brand, did you have a marketing and brand strategy in place? And if so, at what stage did you implement it?

I ran my own Creation station for five year before franchising. During this time I wrote the brand values, which underpin our purpose. This has helped navigate our business journey, helped us grow and also helped us say no to opportunities that’s aren’t right for our brand.

How has operating a franchised brand benefited your franchisees in the short and long term?

Our brand is about inspiring imaginations and nurturing creativity.

Our identity is quite recognisable. But with any brand it so much more than a logo – it’s about the culture. Our values and how we operate has helped us select and award our Franchise to people who share our passion and purpose.

We have a good national reach now and people have heard of us or seen us in- offline or online.

The benefit of clarity of purpose has enabled us to make a difference in new markets.  We are now working with older people in care homes and living at home initiatives. This means we can stay true to what we believe in and make a difference to a wider audience.

Is brand training incorporated into new franchisees training programme and do you have brand guidelines in place?

Absolutely.  Our brand values are on our training room wall, along with a photo of each of our franchise owners.  It’s integrated throughout the training.

It’s quite simple really. It’s not what we make but how we make people feel. Taking the time to make eye contact, to smile, to be interested in other people – the little things are the big thing.

We recruit our creative hub head office team based on our values and live by these values. It means we care for each other and our franchise owners. It is always commented on at training how people feel recognised and valued by everyone in the team.

So we walk the talk and demonstrate how to give care and respect. From how we speak to a caretaker of a venue to how we conduct a client meeting and do course hoe we deliver fun, engaging creative experience.

Yes, we do have brand guidelines.

We do lead a team of pipe who quite like being creative so we are mindful of providing guidelines and a framework for them to flex their creativity. We need to ensure we all stay in brand so we have recently introduced some technology to Support this. We work with Besley and Copp and have a great brand demand system for adverts, which means franchisees can edit and create branded adverts and assets within a wide range of templates.

We have created a new marketing portal with the help of Full Story Marketing. We now provide a monthly toolkit of resources. We run regular photos shoots to capture the experiences so our franchise owners have what they need to tell a story.

How do you monitor franchisees and ensure they adhere to brand guidelines in their on- and off-line marketing?

One of the benefits of social media and certain tools is you can see a lot of what’s happening online.

We also have our franchise support managers who visit, and run regional meetings. We monitor and follow up our Trustpilot reviews from customers and survey our customers.

As the franchisor, you set the tone and voice of the brand, how do you ensure franchisees meet/match these in their service delivery?

We award our franchise to people who share our values and purpose. We only award to 2 percent of enquirers. We run a profile to help identify training areas.

Helping franchise owners feel part of the big picture and brand is really important.

Regular communication, local level, regional and national- and that’s across the whole business.

Videos from the delivering happiness team- that’s the warehouse team. With great product offers. These are fun and always include great deals. Monthly video   FaceTime live from me and some of the team. Our Facebook group is very active and the team comment on here. Where we see things not going well, we pick up the phone or go and visit.

When selling a franchise, how important is it for franchisees to share some of the core values and principles that lay at the heart of your brand?

Absolutely critical. See above

We have been able to inspire over 650,000 Children families and adults because of our great family to franchise owners.

Has your brand stayed the same since its inception or has it evolved?

The core values I wrote down have actually strengthened. I often say if you cut through our business, they run right through like the words in a piece of rock. Like any rope the more string threads you have joining up the stronger the rope. I believe we are better together and there is great value in being part of something bigger than yourself.

We rebranded our look last year and now have a more modern, bright and warm image. We have carried our rebranding right through our sub brands and imagery. From the look of our Facebook profile pictures to style of images shared on Social. We now look more like the family we are.

Our income streams have increased significantly.

As well as baby and toddler classes, parties and after school clubs, we now provide New born tiny treasure keepsakes, crafts club creative day in schools, creative crafter events for adults and Creative well-being workshops for older people.

To maintain standards and supply chain management we have 2 warehouses and over 13,000 products on our online store. These are available to our franchise owners at a reduced price and to the public.

Do you think brands need refreshing? And if so, how often do you re-fresh your brand?

Yes I do. Things change and you have to adapt and respond to changing and emerging markets.

We have been fortunate not to have had to change our purpose. That is something that I recommend all business owners to spend time working on. When you know your purpose and the values linked with this, its helps with everything.

Finally, if I asked 10 different people what their definition of a brand is, I’d probably get 10 different answers, what’s your own definition of a brand?

As you say there are lots of descriptions around how you look feel and operate. So perhaps the best description of a brand is what your customer says about you. Because for that one customer that’s all the matters.

The Creation Station was established in 2002 by mum-of-three and multi-award-winning entrepreneur Sarah Cressall. They now have a network of 104 franchisees across the UK and in Ireland and have been privileged to help inspire over 6550,000 children, families and adults. For more information, please visit their Members Directory on our website: https://www.thebfa.org/members/creation-station/

Claire Darnley

 “I swapped the suit, desk and briefcase for glitter, glue and clay!”

I wanted a business which could grow and adapt alongside my family life. Having really enjoyed event management, I wanted my family and I to benefit from my hard work and I wanted to use my skills to build a successful business that I could grow and call my own.

I came across the Creation Station and got really excited about the potential. With 7 all year round income streams and with the backing of a tried and tested franchise model I could see this really working for me.

I knew first hand there is a huge squeeze on creativity in schools and there are not many creative arts and crafts activities for children to enjoy. The cross selling opportunities between the classes, parties and events to local families provide a good referral system for me to be able to grow and scale a successful business.

After I received the information pack and attended a free and informative discovery event, I made the decision to pursue my goal of running my own successful business with a company I trusted. So after my initial training, which was really informative and inspiring, I started 2015 with 6 sessions and an average of 50 customers. I have employed staff and have our award winning art and craft classes running in the morning and after school clubs in the afternoon, from here we get lots of party bookings, as well as retail opportunities. By the end of the year I had 12 sessions running and an average of 100 customers. I had doubled my Creation Station business within 6 months and I feel there is so much more potential

I was over the moon with my success. It gave me the drive and self-belief to expand my business by running afterschool clubs and managing a small team who would take over and deliver the sessions for me. I am excited that my business has grown with me and my family at a pace which suits us. I finally feel like I am in charge of my own future with the exciting prospect of many revenue streams and avenues which I have yet to explore.

Creation Station

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