This month our business in the Spotlight is The Printworks. We were overjoyed to feature them considering they are called ‘The Printworks’ and we love all things about printing. However, they don’t do any actual printing but do provide luxury student accommodation. We spoke to their General Manager – Sarah Turner (she’s a lovely lady) who told us about the name, the brand, their uniforms and she shares her tips on increasing brand awareness among students.
How did the name Printworks come about?
The Printworks was named in tribute to old James Townsend & Sons Ltd label printers who occupied the site from 1866.
How did the brand develop over time and become popular among students?
The original idea was to create an independent brand which would stand out from our competitors locally and nationally.
What defines the Printworks brand and consequently informs the property design, the development of the customer proposition and the way in which we serve our customers is a deep understanding of the needs of each of our target student customers and the ways to address these needs. What the brand offers the Exeter student population is different to any other purpose built student accommodation options in the city, but only different because we have listened and understood students and what they want, not different for the sake of it. Above all we acknowledge that Printworks is a home, not a hall, campus or student flat, but a home that offers independence and can be uniquely experienced by each and every customer. As such, the brand of Printworks is largely hidden in the DNA of the property rather than through signage, colours or logos.
The architectural design of Printworks contrasts with the neat boxes that usually form the bedroom space in purpose built student accommodation. We understand a range of different room types, shapes and sizes, each adding individuality to a student’s living experience. This design flows through to the look and feel of the wider property. The colours and decor reflect the styles and trends that resonate with our customer base, rooms are neutral allowing students to apply their own stamp just as they would at home, and communal areas mirror the relaxed independent feel that they would seek out in the coffee shops and bars they spend time in. It’s stylistic, aspirational and a far cry from the clean sanitized look that typifies student halls; we understand it’s our customer’s home.
The design and tone of the property flows through to the way in which we service our customers. Our team members are recruited to be similar in character and outlook on life to our customer base. They are genuine and authentic and blend informality with efficiency.
Since opening our doors in 2013 the brand has developed via word of mouth a positive reputation, within a very small University city such as Exeter this is crucial to our success and maintaining the competitive edge.
How did you come up with staff uniforms?
The concept behind staff uniforms was to maintain continuity without restricting the personalities of our staff. For this reason they have been kept informal with the branded logo on a colour coordinated polo shirt for comfort and approachability. Each job role has a different colour shirt (red for Reception/Customer Services, Blue for Maintenance and Black for Security)
Why were they important?
These makes the staff and their position easily identifiable while the casual shirt means they are approachable and comfortable when working.
What the importance of creating a strong image in your business?
In a competitive market like ours a strong brand and a good reputation is essential to fill all our rooms. Our brand as explained above is embedded in everything we do from the design of the building down to the people that work here, this in turn creates our reputation among students and encourages them to book with us over a competitor.
Any tips for increasing brand awareness
Brand ambassadors are fantastic for a business’s reputation and brand awareness. We employ a handful of our residents who then act as brand ambassadors and share their experiences of our accommodation with their friends and peers.