A new dawn for Apollo Blinds

With help from Olympian and TV personality Kriss Akabusi, Apollo Blinds has unveiled its new image, heralding a new dawn for Britain's biggest blind store chain. Paul Kirby interviews General Manager Patrick Harrison about how its new identity will impact future prosperity

'Unveiling the new look Apollo Blinds to franchisees at our annual conference late last year, was a euphoric experience,' says Patrick Harrison. 'Their response was fantastic and everyone saw in that instance that Apollo Blinds could live up to its full potential.

'We have delivered something that not only makes our network of existing franchisees even stronger, but also creates an instant desire for others to become part of Apollo Blinds.' They may be bold and inspiring words, but a closer look at Apollo Blinds' new identity reveals what has prompted Patrick's enthusiasm.

Apollo Blinds' new logo is modern, clean and inspiring. It exudes style and there is an innate but integral suggestion of quality and sophistication. While the new brand screams contemporary chic, it retains strong elements of accessibility so it has easy appeal for different consumer groups. The use of elongated letters goes some way to explaining what Apollo Blinds is and what it stands for. They imply the upwards and downwards movement that most people associate with the function of a window blind.

'Encapsulating all our brand values into something as singularly defining as our new logo has taken a lot of time, effort, energy and expense,' says Patrick. 'We undertook extensive consumer and franchisee research to assess the way Apollo Blinds is perceived externally and internally. We already knew that we provided the best quality window blind products in the market. However, the research was also resounding in its praise of the service and expertise which Apollo Blinds delivers to customers through the entire process of enquiring about, choosing, purchasing and fitting window blinds.

'The problem we had was that our old image didn't reflect that,' explains Patrick. 'Because we had the old image for so long, it had become very dated. A lot of the feedback we got said that it positioned Apollo Blinds at the wrong end of the market.

'We were seen as competing at the bulk discount end of the market. With the backing of Hunter Douglas - which is the world's largest manufacturer of window blinds - we can easily compete in that sector, but that's not where Apollo Blinds' core strengths are.

'We offer top quality products with a service level to match. Customers come and talk to us to get advice and consultation about the right dressings for the windows in their homes. We provide a consultative interior design service as well as quality window blinds and this is something homeowners are prepared to pay a premium for. Finally, we have the image that now reflects all those things.'

A new force on the high street

At a stroke, Apollo Blinds can now confidently compete with all the household names that the public instantly associates with inspiring consumers and leading the way in home décor trends.

The picture of how its new generation of showrooms will look further confirms Apollo Blinds' resolution that it has pitched itself at just the right level. Stores are inviting without being aloof. They are stylish without being prohibitively exclusive.

'Our look of our new showrooms is intriguing,' said Patrick. 'They force people to do a double take and make people curious enough to step inside and take a look.

'They don't look like what most people would think of as a window blind showroom. An Apollo Blinds showroom looks like a place to be seen going into, or come out of...and this is not us saying that - this is the reaction of consumers that have already seen the new look Apollo Blinds.'

So what does this mean for existing and potential franchisees?

The company has completely changed its image, repositioned itself in the marketplace and created a brand that reflects the quality of its products and service. Patrick believes that these are three compelling reasons to become an Apollo Blinds franchisee.

'Our new brand opens up a whole new world of opportunities for anyone who wants to build their own businesses as part of the Apollo Blinds network,' says Patrick. 'We already know our franchisees can provide the widest range of products, which are of the highest quality and at very competitive prices for their customers. Our pricing structure means there is always plenty of margin for our franchisees to build a healthy business because of the generous profits that can be generated.

'We can offer people with the vision to come and join us an exciting new brand under which they can act as home interior consultants, providing expert advice for products people will pay a premium for.'

Summing up the work ahead for Apollo Blinds, Patrick concludes: 'We have created a brand that we now have to build on. On top of the initial investment to get us to where we are now, we are committed to supporting the building of the Apollo Blinds brand with substantial extra investment for each of the next five years.

'That is our commitment to helping our franchisees create their own prosperous businesses.'