Adam Botha and Steve Bakker had been talking about starting their own business for years. While they were both in very different places (Botha worked for a large corporate agency and Bakker was a freelancer) they had a common dream: To own their own business, work with the clients they chose and hopefully make a difference to other SMEs and start-ups in the process.
Forming a partnership
Botha brings big-agency experience to the business, is well-versed in creating corporate IDs, and in how overall brand values and business strategies should inform branding, marketing and advertising decisions.
His biggest goal: To find a healthy balance between a strong, dedicated work pace and loving what he does.
Bakker has a strong online background, with design and marketing experience. His biggest goal: To move away from freelance work where each and every potential client is taken on to ensure work flow, and create a sustainable business built on a strong brand and clear vision.
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“We recognised a big gap in the market amongst start-ups and SMEs. On the one hand, we both wanted to be able to help new business owners, or more established businesses that hadn’t really focused on their branding and marketing efforts before, and on the other hand we wanted to create a clear target market for what we have to offer,” says Botha.
The partners approached incubators like Property Point and The Business Place in Johannesburg. “We’ve identified incubators because the start-ups and SMEs at incubators are who we have designed our service offerings around, and the close-knit community is an excellent way to receive referrals,” says Botha. “In many cases we’ve also been asked to give a branding or marketing tutorial to incubators‘ members.”
The big idea
“We have a very flexible offering that works well for start-ups and SMEs,” explains Bakker. “We don’t set our price point too low – we’re reasonably priced but not cheap, in line with our brand identity, but we can tailor our offering to really suit our clients.”
For example, no fixed price points means Bakker and Botha can work with clients to create what they need, and can even spread payment over a few months in certain cases. “We’re not trying to get clients dependent on us for all their marketing and advertising material,” says Botha.
“We want repeat customers because of the experience and expertise we offer, not because they’ve been pigeonholed into using us.”
For Botha and Bakker, everything begins with the right foundation, and so their first point of call is working with their clients on their values and vision for the business.
“We then design logos, corporate identities, websites and marketing material to expand on the foundation, and we give our clients everything they need to add to this design without us in the future,” says Botha.
”They have the colours, design and framework to be able to not use us in future work. We believe it‘s important for clients to be able to choose whether or not to use you again. It keeps you on your toes and offering good service, and it keeps things professional. I’ve always been bothered by inconsistent branding, and I know it’s often the result of SMEs not having access to their own corporate identity information,” he adds.
“Right now we’re focusing on helping SMEs to build strong brands that will allow them to compete with corporates, but in the future we’d love to set up a design hub for businesses like ours, where we can share knowledge, assist each other to extend our services, and help other start-ups to find their feet in this industry,” Bakker concludes.
- The business: Smile Brand Creation
- Visit: www.smilebrandcreation.com