5 months ago

How Brand iQ was born

Stuart Cripps-Schnoor

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A short history of Brand iQ…

Although not officially launched as “Brand iQ” until 2016, the concept of Brand iQ had been born much earlier in 2010. 
The truth is - we never set out to build what Brand iQ is today. 
Brand iQ is the product of years of evolution, testing and learning through our own vision and our client’s business needs. The Brand iQ journey really started back in 2005, when a print business (founded in 1974) decided that it was time to diversify into digital technology and start to develop websites and online solutions for its clients.                  
This, coupled with their existing heritage in print, became what they described as “visual communications” and they began selling integrated marketing solutions to help business market across the ever-changing landscape of traditional and new channels.

At this stage, our current CEO Stuart Cripps-Schnoor was a developer helping to bring these strategies to life. After successfully launching a digital arm specialising in building bespoke applications later known as N2 Digital Media in 2013, the journey continued and one of the key focuses was about how we could bring technology to our clients to help digitise the integrated marketing solutions we were providing.
Driven largely by one of our key clients, we had the requirement to deploy a web2print solution which would allow our client to create, manage and order their print.
At this stage these systems were still in their infancy and many of todays’ standard features weren’t available without a large amount of bespoke development and customisation. The first platform was basic and allowed the customer to place orders for stock print directly into our systems, but at the time this was a huge step forward and already we could feel the efficiency and cost savings.

Our initial decision was to use an existing “off-the-shelf” system to prove the concept and give us the ability to deploy the solution quickly. Once this was up and running, we started reviewing our options.
This is when we realised, we needed to provide our clients with a more comprehensive solution. More features, slicker interfaces, and an overall better user experience.
After substantial review we had found our next solution, which again was another “off the shelf” platform that provided a vastly improved solution. This would be something we would go on to sell for 5 years and created ongoing revenue streams and a standalone business.
The conversations had already begun about continuing to develop our offering and we had already begun to hit the ceiling for the product we were selling and stretching it further to accommodate the needs of our clients was becoming problematic. 
This was the time we decided to embark on building the first version of what is today known as Brand iQ.
Again, it was basic and really a proof of concept. It provided users with a simple dashboard to access several services including our existing web2print solution.
We began development on a crude digital asset management system which would allow users to access their files online through a password protected area and we even created the foundational concept for tiered access enabling personalisation of services and content via the login.
At this stage the commercial models were still based on build costs and treated as bespoke projects, however the project landed well, and we rolled this out to several clients.
In the background, we were now beginning to understand the industries needs and could see the opportunity for developing the platform to help our clients, but also to help drive the efficiencies and automation in the print business, which was something we felt was lacking in any of the other platforms we had deployed.
With this understanding and learnings, we had now seen the gradual shift to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models and felt it was time to really invest and start to develop our own proprietary platform that would encompass this charging model.
In 2013, we started work on the first “true” version of the Brand iQ platform. Using all of the knowledge we had gained over the years we had one goal in mind - to create a complete brand management solution that would provide our clients a simple yet powerful interface to solve their brand challenges, but also to provide our internal print operations a system for managing their workflows.
After 3 years of solid development work, we were ready and we had the first version of Brand iQ, using modern technology and a multi-tenancy setup we had built what we believed would give us scalability and the ideal foundations.

After an initial successful launch to one key client in 2016, we then went on to deploy a further 40 end brand platforms. During this process we refined the scoping, delivery, and support process to ensure that we could offer the professional services to support clients and help them get the best from the software.
In 2019, we started to look at where we could go next with the platform and we decided that the focus would be on “productising” the entire platform to sell it to other printers and agencies.
Initially, the COVID pandemic forced us to focus on the UK market where we rolled out our first “partner” solution with one of the UK’s leading retail and point of sale printers.

Following a successful rollout and launch, we decided to continue our progression and incorporate Brand iQ Inc, the Canadian arm of our partner business to expand and grow our offering into the US and Canada.
Through 2021, we have been refining the software and creating an entire onboarding process to train and support out new partners around the globe.
2022 should see this come to fruition after signing a contract with Manroland (a world leading press manufacturer) who will now bundle Brand iQ with all press sales to printers both in the US and UK.
From an idea to help service one client, through hard work, dedication, and some creative thinking - we have built a global software business.

Want to find out more about the Brand iQ software? Get in touch with our team: hello@brand-iq.co.uk
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