Lockdown Launches – Distinctly Aware

In 2020 Leanne Ware launched Distinctly Aware and it’s already making waves.

This is the first in a series of articles we’ll be publishing looking at people in our industry who have used the Covid pandemic and ensuing lockdown to launch a new company/brand. Launching anything new in 2020 was a brave move and we think those that succeeded should be celebrated.

Hey look, it’s Leanne

This week we focus on Leanne Ware, a name many of you will be familiar with. Leanne has been a fixture of the UK bar scene for over 20 years firstly as an award winning bartender before moving into the world of marketing for an impressive array of brands including Whitley Neill, Bacardi, Grey Goose, Dewars and many more.

Like many Leanne found her world turned on its head in 2020 and decided it was time to start something new. We caught up with Leanne to have a chat about her decision to launch Distinctly Aware:

BarLifeUK: How did the coronavirus pandemic/lockdown effect you job wise?

Leanne Ware: Like so many others, I found myself looking for a job at the start of the pandemic. It was deflating, exasperating and depressing as no one was looking to hire whilst there was such uncertainty as to what lay ahead.

BLUK: So you decided to launch your own company, Distinctly Aware. Tell us about it.

LW: Distinctly Aware is a brand propeller agency. We accelerate brands further, regardless of what stage of the journey they are at.
We are able to assist on all elements of the brand journey from NPD refinement and procurement through to brand, commercial and marketing strategy and implementation.
We have the capability to scale depending on the brief. For example, we can offer PR and Social support only, or be an ongoing marketing manager resource. We also have the beauty of having our own studio, so we can offer photography and videography too.

BLUK: What led you to decide on launching a Marketing/PR/NPD company?

LW: There were a few reasons for launching this type of company.
Marketing covers a whole spectrum of facets and I didn’t want to just limit the capabilities of a service, particularly as a client’s requirements can vary significantly. Throughout my various roles, I also haven’t just done one type of marketing on just one size of brand or budget and availability, so it also felt remiss if I just stuck to one area.

BLUK: Was this an idea you had before Covid started or did it come to you during lockdown?

LW: This was very much an idea that came during lockdown. I had been told to try going solo before, but I just didn’t have the confidence to do so, and was nervous about not having a reliable salary. However, this got completely turned on its head when I just took the plunge to see if anyone needed some marketing assistance. I took the approach that whilst so many marketeers had been made redundant from their full-time roles, that there might be some brands looking for some part-time support. Plus, there were still so many brands that were needing help to shift stock and #pivot. When I saw how many people got in touch, coupled with surrounding myself with people who told me I should just forge ahead… I did so.

BLUK: Did you have a ‘yes, this is going to work’ moment? If so, describe it, and what led up to it. 

LW: Well this is an interesting question, as whilst I definitely had that moment as referenced above, I’m also about to launch what I am hoping is going to be quite a groundbreaking new platform (more on this at the end of the article – Ed). This was a lockdown idea that came about before Distinctly Aware but kept working on it in the background to see if it had legs. The “yes, this is going to work” moment has just dropped…and we are going to launch on March 17th, 2021! Watch this space!
For Distinctly Aware, we had a pretty mental moment a couple of weeks ago, whereby we had a  “WOW, THIS IS DEFINITELY WORKING’ moment , as we found out we had been nominated for AND WON, “PR Agency of the Year” in the Icons of Gin Awards! I can’t tell you how taken aback and proud I was…coupled with the fact that we weren’t even 6 months old!

BLUK: Describe the most important lesson you learned – the one thing someone launching their own business / project needs to know before they get started…

LW: For me, there have been two areas:
1)  Understand, recognise and reconcile your own strengths and weaknesses in the work environment so that you know where you may need guidance and assistance.
2)  Stand tall. This is your chance to act upon your own ideas, take full ownership of them and run with them.

BLUK: Did you discover any must-have resources / tools / mentors along the way? 

LW: I have been fortunate that in the various roles I had, I came across people whose opinion I really valued, and whilst I am not going to mention them here, they know who they are and how thankful I am for their support.

BLUK: What changes would you like to see the bar industry make as it rebuilds in the coming months? 

LW: It might seem like an oxymoron, but I’d like to see bars embrace and continue the immense initiatives that they created due to lockdown.
Knowing that you can get a great cocktail delivered from your favourite bar is fab for example!

As for what Leanne has in store for 2021 well, as hinted at earlier, there is a big announcement coming. Unfortunately we can’t reveal what it is to you just yet as it’s launching on Wednesday (March 17th) but fear not we will be bringing you all the news then and if you speak to Leanne that day expect a very excited person on the other end of the phone or a lot of CAPITALS in any messages.

For now thanks to Leanne for chatting to us and you will all no doubt be hearing a lot from Distinctly Aware in the coming months and years, you can check them out on their website here. We’ll be back with another Lockdown Launches story in a few days, if you have launched a hospitality industry company or brand in lockdown and would like to be featured on BarLifeUK drop us an email to simon@barlifeuk.com