Branding expert Tracy Hastain talks business

She helped to turn Liz Earle beauty into a multi-million pound empire and is now a mentor alongside running her own consultancy business. This morning, Tracy Hastain discusses the importance of branding…

Tracy, 52, lives with her husband Simon on the Isle of Wight. They have one son: Charles, who is 28. 

What time do you wake up, and what wakes you up?
Oh gosh these days it’s between 1.30am and 3.30am and I am not sure why but probably hormonal or because my mind is racing with 1000 things. Then it is a struggle to sleep again so sometimes I go into the office or pick up my iPad.

That is why I love the concept of The Early Hour – I suddenly don’t feel alone or anxious that I’m not asleep knowing and understanding that so many others are in the same situation but for different reasons. Mind you, the challenge is that by 6am I want to sleep again but I make myself get up by 8.30am.

How do you feel?
Buzzing; with my brain going into overdrive. That is the problem… well, most of the time!

First thing in the morning I…

Drink hot water with fresh lemon, occasionally adding ginger or honey – it’s a great kickstart for digestion and helps eliminate toxins – a perfect ‘good morning’ drink. This is followed by a glass of coconut water and supplements (for which I am a bit of a junky but I have been advised by a nutritionist so all have a purpose). I don’t drink anything with caffeine and haven’t done for over 20 years, as I find my brain and body are buzzing enough without any extra help!

I cover off emails and social media then any domestic jobs and I try two to three times a week to go for a morning jog – I find it’s a really good way to set me up for the day; particularly if it I’m spending it in the office.

Tea or coffee?
Tea but it has to be Rooisbosh – the naturally decaffeinated tea from South Africa. I love it and always have some teabags in my handbag because not everywhere sells it or not in its natural form, anyway – it usually has added flavourings, which I hate.

What’s for breakfast?
I am really bad at eating breakfast – I just don’t feel hungry so my first meal is usually between 11am and 12pm when I have what really is a light lunch: maybe avocado or tuna or soup, depending on how I feel.

Mornings, in three words

In three words, describe mornings in your house?
Routine, generally calm.

How might the rest of your day pan out?
If I’m at home/office it will be made up of work, exercise, meeting a friend, more work before cooking dinner (which I love). If I’m away there is no set routine though I will always try and get some walking in at the very least.

You work in brand and business development, what led you down this career path?
Working for the two inspirational women who founded Liz Earle Beauty – when I joined there were literally about 20 of us and that included the call centre. So all the decisions and doing were done by a very small team which included the founders. They were/are incredible role models. The whole experience brought out my creative side and taught me about how to build a business – when the business was sold there were over 750 members of staff and it had become a global company.

Before launching your own consultancy practice, you helped turn Liz Earle into a multi-million pound empire. How does a small business become global?
– Having a great product/service
– Strong branding and messaging
– Know your audience
– Do your homework and get expert advice
– Test the water

Branding: what matters?

What are the three most important things to consider when it comes to branding?
1. Branding is more than just a logo, it’s the personality and culture of your business and has to come across in everything you do.
2. Branding is what generates associations and links that will be held in the mind by a potential customer long after they have purchased your product or service.
3. Investing in and establishing a strong brand will add value to your business.

You’re also a mother. How did you juggle childcare and work, did you have full time help or flexi working?
Work and having children I believe is a juggling act regardless if you have help or not. For me it was working in the hours I had available when my son was small but as he got older it was the support of friends and family that enabled me to work full-time. I was also very lucky when working for Liz Earle as between her and her co-founder they had eight children so they fully understood the challenges of being a working mother.

Why did you decide to launch your own business?
After Liz Earle Beauty was sold to Avon, as always in these situations big changes happen, and I found myself unemployed. But thankfully not for long, as I got a call from an ex-colleague and friend who asked me to help with the marketing of her business. This was followed by another call and then another and it gave me the confidence to think I can do this on my own and I want to do this, also – I do like a challenge.

Who might your typical client be, and what can you offer them?
A typical client is someone who is either starting up or has been running a company for a number of years but needs to re-inject some energy and vitality to their business. They generally want to increase market share, grow the business and add value. To do this they need fresh ideas, to build a strong brand identity, establish a business strategy and develop a plan of how it’s going to happen. I do all this as well as support them in making the changes happen but in a way that’s not scary. Most of the companies I work with have energetic smart entrepreneurs at the helm who want to make it work, have a vision and can see the future and will work hard to make it happen. They also believe in people and building something for the long-term.

As a Prince’s Trust mentor, you help young people to turn an idea into a viable business. What do you get out of mentoring?
Oh so many things – inspiration, energy, a real buzz from meeting amazing people (like yourself), making friends, feeling part of a community, pride but not for myself; for those I work with that are helping shape their own future or the future of others. And learning something new everyday.

If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow morning, where would it be?
South of France, or Nice to be precise – I love it and have great friends there, it is beautiful and has both beaches and mountains, the climate is great and you can be there in 1.5 hours.

Wentworth Consultancy