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Winning by making things better for all  

The context

With first-mover advantage in Manchester, Northcoders had been providing a coding bootcamp for 12 months and was looking to scale-up, quickly, and to create clear space between itself and would-be competitors. Central to the strategy for growth would be clarity on what Northcoders uniquely is and does, to motivate both internal and external audiences and stakeholders and to underpin future strategy.

The approach

Kick off & immersion ​> Leadership interviews and strategy download ​> External stakeholder research ​> Desk research ​> Insights and opportunities ​> Co-creation workshop ​> Draft vision, purpose, positioning ​> Crafted and agreed brand strategy and messaging ​>

Co-created ideas for implementation and amplification



The strategic shift


Profit from purpose 


As a young business with a ‘tech start up’ mentality and ambition for rapid growth, Northcoders was committed to ‘doing good’ and opening up opportunity whilst also returning ever-improving numbers. At the same time, it was clear that the skills gap they were hoping to help narrow is a political and societal issue, with the public sector looking for effective ways to help create opportunity.

It is not Northcoders alone who would benefit from a successful, expanding Manchester-grown trainer of coders. So, both to protect market position and unlock the greatest opportunity, Northcoders needed to be a genuinely scaleable solution and we needed to create a model and a positioning that looks to create a win/win/win/win; for the region’s businesses, economy, students and for Northcoders.

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The best provider can be greatest force for good

There is no disparity between profit and purpose in Northcoders' case and, whilst the ‘paying customer’ would continue to be the primary focus, the greatest long-term opportunity as a training provider would clearly come from ethos, intent and ‘how’, as much as from tangible employability outcomes. In addition, a ‘force for good’ can attract partnerships and funding now, creating further blue water between the business and new entrant competitors.

Community, not the tech community


‘Community’ is at the heart of Northcoder’s approach. As is the belief that their purpose is to put opportunity into the heart of every kind of community. So, whilst reputation and awareness among technology hirers and networks will always be crucial, helping to break down barriers between tech and ‘the real world’ for the people of the North is of longer-term value and central to successful positioning.



Northcoders, not just coders

The business believes that it can help ‘make anyone a coder’, provided they have certain attributes and traits. Employer feedback was bearing out the quality – and qualities – of the coders that they were training. Being able to promise and deliver training that transforms lives and helps create the best kind of coders is intrinsic to the proposition; it reinforces the long-term value that Northcoders helps to create and is a key pillar to support growth.



Long term good that multiplies

‘World famous positive usefulness’ encapsulates the Northcoders proposition; a provider of premium training, inclusive and generous. Northcoders’ purpose is to change lives & build careers, teaching both code and values, thereby training future visionaries to help continuously improve the tech sector itself.

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One saying that I know Martin is very fond of is ‘sacrifice is the essence of strategy’.

With so many fronts on which to fight and such a range of future opportunities for Northcoders, Boardroom helped us to make real sense of both where we were going and how to get there; helping us to fix what would lie at the heart of our proposition, so helping us to plan and prioritise for the future. 


Chris Hill

Chief Executive


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