Management consultancies are typically not created out of the blue. Consultants often provide businesses with specialized information and knowledge, more economically than client firms can do themselves, which means that the consultants need experience, and lots of it. As a result, very often a consultancy is only as good as its consultants. Many consulting firms are organized in a structured matrix, a cross between a business function or type of consulting, and an industry focus. When you launch a new consultancy, it is therefore critical to address the question of who is behind it.
In this instance, Johan Steenkamp, Director of CoLAB PS (Project Success), had more than 20 years’ experience in Change Management consulting, in the Financial, Engineering and Mining Industries in particular. However, when he wanted to establish CoLAB PS as a business in Canada, the fact that much of his previous experience had been in South Africa, albeit at a very senior level for multi-national organizations, was a problem. Not only did his experience need to be presented as relevant in terms of time, location and context, but he had to quickly acquire new Canadian clients. Without relevant experience, his business, and himself, would not be perceived to have the right credentials. It simply would not be compelling. Ultimately, a story is rated by the quality of its source.
Method and Scope of Work
Red Pennant Communications provided Johan Steenkamp of CoLAB PS with Branding, Marketing, and project communication services, as well as project communication services to CoLAB PS clients, as a sub-contractor.
The Scope of Work to CoLAB PS consisted of the following:
- Strategic advice on forming a subordinate brand to CoLAB PI (South Africa)
- Selection of an ISP for a blog/website
- Proofreading and editing of agreements and proposals
- Development of the brand including differentiation, logo design (reiteration), tagline, imagery, palette and font
- Application of the brand to design of website, company collateral (project descriptions / case studies) and sales support documents
- Development of entry-level Marketing materials and platforms, including Prezi
- Handover of all developed IP
- Skills transfer for WordPress as well as obtaining and using client recommendations
The CoLAB PS story started with the question: What is it really like for you to management a project? The answer was – It’s long and complicated, like a long road, with lots of diversions and obstacles. As a result, photos taken by Johan Steenkamp of the Camino de Santiago in Spain (that he and his family had completed) showing roads, people walking alone, in pairs or in teams, and road signs, were used throughout the website, and on all the marketing materials. The tagline of the company became: The Road to Project Success.
CoLAB PS had to be differentiated from CoLAB PI (Project Implementation), a South African company. The South African company, with its focus on socio-political issues such as Black Empowerment, has different markets and services from the Canadian firm. The logo design went though numerous iterations to differentiate it from that of CoLAB PI. Ultimately, the Canadian brand was differentiated mainly by the associated colours and imagery.
It was particularly important to prove, in all the company collateral, the benefits that came from using CoLAB’s services, and the extensive track records of both Johan Steenkamp and his fellow director and associates. Each project description therefore resembled more of a case study than a description, with the problem, solution, benefits and features spelled out and often quantified.
CoLAB PS obtained the following benefits from Red Pennant’s services:
- A differentiated brand
- Tailor-made and exclusive designs of marketing materials
- CoLAB PS business concept defined in a website
Johan Steenkamp rated Red Pennant an average of 4.37 out of a possible 5 on a scale of 1-5: 1 = Unacceptable/very poor – 5 = Highly recommended/excellent, for delivery of expected outcomes, timeliness, understanding of the problem or situation, quality of the solution or deliverable, technical expertise, cost of services, ease of collaboration and professionalism.
“Marthe has an uncanny ability to put my thoughts and ideas to words. It truly is a skill that is extremely useful in ensuring that the right message is articulated, which is a critical requirement for any Change Management intervention.” (Johan Steenkamp, February 2015)