In 2007 I decided to start a recruitment business. I had no name for the business, no brand or identity, all I knew was that I needed to have a website, literature and stationary that would give me credibility when I approached businesses to offer recruitment services.
A year earlier I first met Paul Macinally, the founder of Hawaii Design. Paul and I had become friends and his experience was vital, even in naming the company. I recall Paul highlighting how many great brands were one word, Nike, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Adidas, Orange, the list went on. I came across the word Ronin in a book about Feudal Japan. It’s meaning, Masterless Warrior resonated with the liberation I would experience once I started working for myself, it also seemed very relevant to the interim professionals who I hoped to be helping secure assignments.
Once I had settled on the name and registered the company, I sat down with Paul and we ran through ideas for the look and feel of the brand. Logos, corporate colours, paper quality, site layout, all outside of my comfort zone but real areas of expertise for Hawaii. Paul designed a timeless crest as a logo. We wanted to avoid the cliché at the time of pictures of business men and women in boardrooms and instead go for block colours and impact. We worked on a comparatively low budget but it was appropriate for a start-up and the results left me feeling confident that I could call clients and be proud of the brand I represented.
Ronin could have saved money and taken an off the shelf site or worked with a smaller local company. Hawaii have an edge that just gave me so much confidence. Ronin was part of a client list that included Virgin Airways and MTV amongst others, these are brands that really stand out in their spaces and they chose Hawaii to support them, that is an accolade.
Wind forward 4 years and the start-up website wasn’t representative of where Ronin had moved to. As the business traded and started to understand the new portfolio of clients that we would appeal to, this had to be reflected. We embarked on a full rebrand, engaged an illustrator and worked hard to tell our story in a way that connected with clients and candidates. Once the site was launched our monthly number of hits increased ten-fold, we had seven consecutive winning bids and really kicked on to the next level.
2016, five years have passed. Andrew Collins is now a director and part owner of the company and we employ 12 people. Our service has advanced and become a unique proposition, the branding needed to evolve again and reflect our approach, our people and our vision. The one change that we wouldn’t make is our branding partners. Hawaii have also evolved, they too have their own new owner/director named Andrew. Andrew Jenkinson has given Hawaii an even broader offering. The rebrand project has taken 6 months but we could not be happier with the results.
Before setting up shop with Ronin in 2007, Mark spent seven years working for large, corporate recruitment agencies. And it was this that inspired him to create a new prototype for his industry, free to adapt to the changing world. “The industry was already changing at a rate of knots before Ronin came into being.”