creative integrated marketing

We are a creative integrated marketing consultancy specialising in 4 business areas: Business Services, Financial Services, Automotive Aftermarket and Recruitment Advertising. These blogs tell of some of our experiences working in these business areas.

5 October 2013

Rebrand is an easy exercise to get wrong

This week Thomas Cook unveiled its new corporate identity. Gone was the familiar global icon and well known tag "Don't just book it, Thomas Cook it". In came a "sunny heart" and the slogan "Let's go".

Good job? I don't think so. Visually the icon is weak and lacks typographical polish. The end result is uninspiring. And I can't get excited about "Let's go" as part of the Group identity. It reminds me of a former airline, a student travel guide and Ryanair's in-house magazine both of which share the same slogan. Can you tell this was mostly handled in-house?

Credit where it's due though. Thomas Cook did their research and found their corporate identity didn't transfer well across new media and their slogan didn't translate outside English. Two sound reasons for change. Sadly, poorly execution and light on strategic due diligence, makes this rebrand a missed opportunity.

The rebrand of Yahoo after 18 years was also unveiled recently and it too was done in-house. The end result was criticised for failing to live up to the hype and expectations internally and externally. Ironically both these firms are facing transformation challenges, both are struggling with legacy issues and determining how to bolster their brands - especially online.

Companies in need of radical change are often most keen to embrace bolder rebrand strategies. But many are famous for getting it wrong. British Airways and their move away from the Union Jack in favour of a myriad of colours and global images. The US clothes business Gap - also quickly reversed their washed-out sans-serif redesign. Both were brave implementation decisions and smart withdrawal decisions.

ITV is an example of a successful rebrand where management has adopted a colourful wavy visual language. Simple. Eloquent. Stylish. Modern. It's in-keeping with what the media company is about. It is fresh and conveys confidence in every sense.

Rebranding is about more than visual identity. It is just as much about brand values, hearts and minds, sub-brands, the direction senior management are taking the company and projecting confidence through design, colour, typography and visual language.

The collapse of Royal Bank of Scotland forced management to catapult Nat West to the fore. An example where maintaining separate Group brand strategies and identities is sensible and prudent. And good brand management has never been more important now that social media influences so much about how we see, engage and interact with companies.

This week, Apple overtook Coca-Cola to become the world's most valuable brand (worth c£61 billion apparently). Do I like their logo? Yes. Do I like their products? Yes. Do I buy Apple? Yes. Do my clients list Apple as a brand they admire and aspire to in their rebrand or repositioning briefs? Yes.

Paradoxically the value of a brand is hard to determine - despite the plethora if US leagues. However, private equity firms routinely calculate and factor in brand value when they establish bids and capital structures for new investments. And instinctively, we all know when a brand works.

Sound rebrand advice:

  • Resist execution in-house. External opinion can be more objective and a more appropriate litmus test
  • Separate visual identity, visual language, translation across communication platforms, hearts and minds and the direction senior management is taking the business
  • Do your discovery analysis well and verify key conclusions externally
  • Focus attention on peers, market commentators and 'centres of influence' first and foremost - ahead of existing clients (good tactical and strategic decisions exist here for this)
  • Keep the steering committee tight

Happy to share the last five advice tips on a one-to-one.

Chris Abraham heads AEP Advertising - an integrated creative communications agency working internationally across four sectors.


AEP Advertising We are a b2b and b2c agency providing integrated branding, strategic and lead generation marketing communications. We have deep specialist knowledge in the business services, financial services, automotive and recruitment advertising sectors spanning over 40 years.

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