Flying the Yorkshire flag

Flying the Yorkshire flag proudly to celebrate our tremendous brands.

As Yorkshire prepares to host one of the biggest sporting events in the UK this year, the UCI Road World Championships, all eyes will be on which competitors in Harrogate take home the coveted rainbow jerseys.

Just a few metres from the finish line, we held a Brand Masterclass at the town’s West Park hotel last week to explore how companies and organisations, sporting or otherwise, can create a strong and successful brand.

Our four excellent speakers came from very different organisations but what connected them all was that they have invested in a strong brand that sits at the heart of their business strategy. More than just a logo, these organisations have built an ethos that includes staff, customers and other stakeholders to drive growth and enhance their reputation as a business and employer.

We couldn’t miss the opportunity to hear from Andy Hindley of Yorkshire 2019, the company responsible for delivering the World Championships from 22-29 September.

Considerable work has gone on behind the scenes to ensure the event goes off without a hitch and leaves a lasting, positive brand legacy in the minds of residents and visiting fans, cementing Yorkshire’s reputation as a world-class cycling and tourist destination.

We also heard how investment in community and infrastructure is boosting the town’s football club, Harrogate Town. CEO Garry Plant has presided over a period of success that has seen a new pitch, stadium enhancements and a shift to full-time status leading up to the men’s team gaining promotion to the fifth tier of English football – the National League

By investing in the fan experience, the club has seen a return at the turnstiles with crowds swelling to an average of more than 1,500 in the 2018-19 season. Just a few years ago, only a few hundred hardy souls turned up for home games.

James Cain OBE of Harrogate Water Brands has overseen multi-million-pound investments in state-of-the-art production facilities and guided Harrogate Spring into new home and export markets. This week, he is hosting IoD chief economist Tej Parikh for an economic briefing.

James told guests that one of the simple yet effective ways of differentiating his product in a crowded market is its innovative and unique diamond-patterned bottle. So recognisable is the bottle that you can tell it is Harrogate Water even with the label removed!

Jacqui Hall of energy supplier CNG said her company’s brand had been built around making energy simple and delivering outstanding customer service. That strategy is clearly working with the company’s workforce now exceeding 200 people.<

James and Jacqui are among the business leaders who will represent Yorkshire at the IoD Director of the Year UK finals next month. Having won at our regional awards, James will be up against the country’s finest in the SME and CSR categories while Jacqui is shortlisted for the Large Business award.

Both are inspirational leaders who embody the values of their company, demonstrating that a visible and hard-working leader is an essential ingredient of a successful business brand. We wish them luck as they fly the White Rose in London on 18 October!

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The IoD supports directors and business leaders across the UK and beyond to learn, network and build successful, responsible businesses.
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