Once Upon A Time Shelley Theatre

LLPR loves a good story – especially one that is relevant to business. We recently went along to a Once Upon A Time storytelling event at The Shelley Theatre, hosted by content marketing consultancy The ID Group. We watched and listened to representatives from Salt Rock, River Cottage, Piddle Brewery and Ted Baker tell their tales.

Sharing their knowledge of business strategy via ruminating conversation rather than presentation, the speakers all told their stories with passion and honesty, making for a captivating and inspiring afternoon.

Sitting on stage in a comfy armchair, Steven Lamb, head of brand at River Cottage told Mark Masters, foun
der of The ID Group, that River Cottage operates a ‘real life’ approach and practises what it preaches. It is consistent in its mission statement (sustainability) and has therefore become a champion platform for what it believes in.

The brand maintains that it belongs to the people, outsourcing most of its produce from local farmers (despite having the land to grow everything on site). It also advocates is that it’s transparent in its mistakes – which in turn demonstrates integrity and creates trust and engagement. Steven warned against companies claiming they are ‘experts’. He prefers to share the River Cottage team’s learning process on its blog.

In conclusion he advised that businesses and brands should not try to be everything to everyone, as rather than limiting a company, this is an example of brand confidence. This belief system was echoed by the other guest speakers. While diversification is important and often necessary for the survival of a business – it’s something Richie Jones, head of digital and marketing at surfing clothing brand SaltRock argued has been a necessary development for the brand – this mustn’t be at the expense of brand truth and integrity.

Craig Smith, brand communication director at Ted Baker demonstrated this simply, reminding the audience that the fashion brand is about: ‘lovely nuanced elements of British culture, not Union Jack prints’. It’s never going to sell out and become commodified. Its message is clear and unswerving, focussing on quality and attention to detail.

However, this needn’t stop a brand developing. Ted Baker is about to launch a new Shoreditch store that will have a strong lifestyle approach, featuring a lot of accessories, gifts and footwear rather than the mainstream apparel. It will also have a bike store and coffee shop – demonstrating the ethos of the brand, beyond the fashion.

Just don’t bank on it stocking any Union Jack cushions.

By Beth Kendall