We’ve asked Cathy Debenham, the founder of award winning Devon based social enterprise YouGen, to talk about what it is like working with us.
Who is YouGen?
YouGen is a social enterprise that aims to make it easy for people to get the information they need to invest in renewable energy. “The need for YouGen hit me in 2005, when I was doing up my house,” says Cathy. “There was lots of information about renewable energy on the internet, but none of it answered my questions. But there was nothing online to help me. That’s where the idea came from. And when it wouldn’t go away it eventually became a business plan. Then, in April 2009, YouGen.” The website (www.yougen.co.uk) acts as a matchmaking service for homeowners who not only want some information about renewable energy, but are also looking for a reliable installer.
Why choose Alder and Alder?
We began working with YouGen in 2008, to develop the brand in preparation for the launch. “I had worked with you before (through Hospiscare), so I knew you did good stuff,” says Cathy. ‘I also knew we had a similar view on brand communication. I knew you saw the ‘big picture’, beyond the visual identity. It’s good to find someone who shares that vision. And we wanted someone who shared our view on sustainability,” Cathy adds. “We wanted a green supply chain, and we knew we’d get that with you. We wouldn’t have to do any extra work.”
Cathy continues, “We keep working with you because you think each brief through and add value. You have ideas on how to make things better. You give us something that’s way beyond our expectations.”
What did you need?
“The look and feel of the website is really important in achieving our goal of making renewables easy,’ says Cathy. “Our target market is the average homeowner. We want to give them the information they need to make choices about renewable energy. So to do that we needed to look professional. We needed to look trustworthy. We needed to give people confidence. That was the brief. To build a brand that could do that.”
What did we do?
As YouGen was a new business we wanted to create a logo that was easy to recognise and easy to remember. But building the brand was more than just designing a good-looking logo. We needed to create a visual identity that would work just as well on print as it would online. And online it would need to work really hard. It had to be easy to understand, it had to help make ‘renewables easy’, so developing the set of navigational icons was key to fulfilling that need. Cathy had commissioned Optix Solutions to build the website. We worked closely with them to manage the translation of the brand on to the website.
Cathy says, “We get comments on how good the website looks, and how easy it is to use. It’s the icons and the colour coding that do that. The design of the site is fundamental to us ‘making renewables easy’. But it works in print too. People notice stuff that’s well designed. We know that our first connection with someone is really important. Quality communication is key to us looking professional.”
Does it work?
“I’ve got no proof,” says Cathy, “nothing I can measure. It’s only speculation. But the brand makes us look authoritative. It helps to back up what I say. It makes us look professional and trustworthy.” This is reflected in the profile YouGen has achieved in their first three years, winning a Green Web Award in 2009 for Best Green Living Advice site, finalist in The Observer Ethical Awards in 2011 and being regularly cited in the national press as a recommended source of advice on renewable energy. “The brand is only one part of it,” says Cathy, “but we wouldn’t be as successful as we are, including traffic to the site, if it wasn’t for the brand. Have we got return on our investment in our brand? Definitely.”