Industry: Professional Services
Size: Start-up
Challenge: Create a brand tone of voice to overcome a sceptical market.

10 weeks to create the Value Proposition
4 weeks to develop the Brand Tone of Voice
1 delighted Founder


How do you launch a new executive coaching business when the market is full of sceptics?


In the professional coaching sector there are two different types of coaches:

  • Executive performance coaches – ultimately practical and offering tangible benefits, but sometimes seen as dry and serving ‘business as usual’.
  • Lifestyle coaches – dealing with the stresses and strains of life, often more colourful and attractive to clients, but sometimes seen as unproven.

Lucy Allen, Founder at theMakings saw the market need for people who to have the benefits of executive performance coaching with the humanistic approach of lifestyle coaching.

She wanted to launch a start-up with this fresh concept.

Additionally, Lucy saw that most coaching is trying to create executives in the mould of the people currently running businesses. As businesses have become increasingly accountable to communities, the idea of what leadership should look like has changed too.

Adding to the difficulty of setting up a start-up with an unheard of concept, there was the obstacle of the industry itself. It is no secret that among some people the coaching is treated with scepticism.

As if the challenge at hand wasn’t appearing formidable enough by now, Lucy wanted to launch in 2020 during Covid-19, when organisations were zeroing their spend on what they saw as discretionary purchases (such as training and coaching).

Lucy came to us asking if we could create a value proposition and a brand tone of voice for the business that balanced the culture and attraction of lifestyle coaching with the functionality of executive performance coaching – and addressed the emerging sense of business leadership.

Your USP might be different to the one you’re thinking of.

83% of organisations are planning to expand the scope of managers and leaders using coaching techniques over the next five years. (ICF, 2020).

Lucy had five coaches on-board, including Tom Daley’s Olympic diving partner. All five had had their own ups and downs in their business lives and all carried about them an authentic sense of humanity as coaches.

To start, we set to work by interviewing all of Lucy’s coaches extensively before moving onto Lucy herself.

Working closely with Lucy and the virtual team she’d put together, we saw that the key defining feature of the brand wasn’t the combination of two coaching styles; it was the bigger purpose that the business was trying to achieve with the people it was coaching. This became the central value proposition and created clear space for a competitive offering.

Corporations seen as having a high positive impact on people’s lives have seen brand value grow 2.5 times more than those with low perceived impact. Kantar, 2020

After seeing Lucy’s analysis of the market dynamics for the business, it was clear that we needed a hero statement to position the business. We went on to develop this hero statement centred around cultivating the leaders who will build a better society:

We build the leaders who’ll build a better society

From this insight, we were able to develop a comprehensive brand tone of voice, with brand language guidelines and create the written content for the launch website.


Better than we can say it


Lucy Allen, Founder at theMakings, said: “As a completely new brand, we wanted a verbal brand that effectively communicated our difference in a growing and competitive market. It was crucial to us that we launched with a strong narrative and the team at Verbal Identity have created something that not only fulfils that current brief, but will also allow language to underpin our future brand development.”

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