Finding an authentic voice for your brand and chasing your goals despite life’s challenges were two of the main themes explored in the latest edition of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce Leadership Live series, which heard from three fascinating business leaders.
Ailbhe and Izzy Keane, the young entrepreneurs and founders of Izzy Wheels, and Stephen Roycroft, Managing Director of advertising and design company Krow Ireland, had valuable insights for the business leaders who had gathered for the event sponsored by Electric Ireland.
Hosted in the Grand Opera House in Belfast, the session was led by TV presenter Claire McCollum with the relaxed format helping to present key ideas and learnings in an engaging and entertaining manner.
First up was Stephen Roycroft who drew on his extensive experience in the branding arena to explore how some of Northern Ireland’s most recognisable companies have nurtured their brand personality by understanding how emotions drive consumer sentiment.
Stephen gave numerous examples, both personal and professional across his 30-year career, of how brands took advantage of their own unique ‘brand personality’ to nurture a relationship with their customers and service users. For those in attendance the need to regularly examine your business brand and brand personality was clear.
Ailbhe and Izzy were then interviewed by Claire McCollum and they gave an inspiring insight into their business journey. They detailed how, as sisters from Galway, they had grown their start-up into a company with sales in 60 countries and partnered with some of the world’s most recognisable brands including Barbie and Disney.
Izzy, who was born with spina bifida, explained that a positive and innovative mindsight can help people embrace and overcome the challenges that life may present. Their story about building a brand that breaks down the stigma of disability and gives wheelchair users their own individualism and identity was a powerful one and showed how embracing challenge can lead to opportunity.
These topics were then explored in greater depth during the Q&A session with those in attendance keen to learn more about how brand could be managed and shaped to maximise recognition and sales. Both Stephen and the Keane sisters agreed that finding your company’s authentic voice was critical to building a lasting and successful brand for businesses.
Stephen had earlier introduced the concept of brand personalities and he elaborated on this noting that what brands did and what the representatives said was crucial to establishing an authentic and believable brand. Ailbhe too, stressed the need for an authentic voice for your brand and explained that she is very protective of taking full artistic control of all of Izzy Wheels campaigns.
She also recounted how, having graduated from University with the idea of Izzy Wheels firmly established in her mind, she was told by a business expert that she’d need a huge marketing budget to get the company off the ground. The following week, armed with an old camera belonging to her mother, she and Izzy made their first video that went viral allowing the sisters to launch their company and brand to the world. This, she said, demonstrated that with the right attitude and mindset any business setback could be overcome. The sisters had set themselves a goal to work with Disney, something they achieved before they were 30!
Time dictated that Claire McCollum brought the event to a close although with a fully engaged audience and lively discussion, it could easily have gone on for much longer.
Electric Ireland is delighted to continue to support the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce in delivering these Leadership Live events and we look forward to having more exciting guests provide leadership insights in the months ahead.