• Transform magazine
  • December 15, 2018

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Transform Awards: Simply Business

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A winner at the 2018 Transform Awards Europe, Simply Business and Start Design recount the rebrand journey and the ways in which the former’s internal culture and app platform influenced its new approach to branding

When online broker of business insurance Simply Business approached brand consultancy Start Design the objective was to create a new identity that would strengthen the brand’s association with the insurance market, allowing it to differentiate itself from competitors.

The rebrand was not a decision Simply Business made spontaneously. As Mike Garvey, head of brand and communications at Simply Business, says, “Our hypothesis that a refreshed brand would be beneficial for Simply Business, and that the time to do so was now, formed in the process of me joining early in 2017.”

Start Design was tasked to realign the brand’s purpose and positioning, refresh its visual identity and grow its customer base. To do that, Simply Business provided Start Design with a detailed brief that included clear drivers, inputs and desired outcomes.
For Simply Business to make educated decisions regarding the rebrand, a quantitative study was conducted before the initial conversations. The study’s findings confirmed that the public’s perceptions of Simply Business did not reflect the feelings of its employees and customers. “This insight gave us confidence to prioritise improving our image – and was enormously helpful getting the buy in internally to go for it,” says Garvey.

Garvey adds, “We scheduled qualitative focus groups at the midway point, nationwide with customers, and internal focus groups, partly to bring them all on the journey with us. Practically, the Simply Business brand is as much our customers’ and employees’ as it is mine.”

Despite the research, the rebrand didn’t lack for challenges. With an outdated visual identity and an industry that is both competitive and saturated, Simply Business was lost among a sea of options. Additionally, the switch to the digital age demanded changes regarding the on-screen translation of the brand. “We had to keep in mind all of our real estate, the need to stand out within small screen sizes. The new branding needed to work for screen, as well as motion,” Darren Whittingham, co-founder and group chief creative officer at Start Design, says.

There were plenty of messages for Simply Business to communicate, but those messages needed to address the right audience. Whittingham says, “Small businesses and the self-employed, the backbone of the economy yet poorly served in terms of insurance.” Garvey agrees, “These
people do need insurance and we help them find it simply and quickly. Choice and convenience are at the heart of our proposition.”

The consultancy focused on packaging and unleashing the company’s internal culture, while maintaining the brand’s name to avoid confusion among its audience. Start created a new modernised brand identity around the SB monogram, that is more memorable and easier to find on Google searches. It is simple yet practical, reflecting what the brand itself is all about.

Each letter was designed to represent a different part of the brand’s core values. The S reflects the brand’s dedication to simplicity. The B is open and spacious, that can be filled with imagery showcasing the huge variety of organisations Simply Business works for.

The identity focuses on the elements of flexibility and adaptability, which ensure that the brand translates well across all digital platforms. The flexibility of the new identity is further highlighted with the colour palette choice that varies from a warm fuchsia pink to a cold blue.

Garvey says Simply Business ventured into the rebrand hoping that it was going to allow the company to be “more memorable, more impressive and more authentic.” He adds, “It will also help us improve our connection with our audience, let it be known there is someone out there specifically for them, be easier to find and connect with. All of this is about applying insight from the start.”

The desires of Simply Business were fulfilled by the new brand. Garvey says there was “double digit growth in brand awareness within our brand advertising channels plus promising commercial outcomes in terms of incremental new business growth and record retention levels.”
Since the launch of the evolved brand, the company has added 20,000 new customers, a 5% increase. It’s also seen the biggest ever day for renewals and new business sales in October. Web traffic has increased significantly. In the first quarter post-launch, the number of monthly web visitors grew from 360,000 to 680,000 between August and November 2017.

The new brand has not only found its position in the marketplace, but it is quickly evolving into a leading figure of the industry. “What we’ve created, a convenient way to find and buy the right insurance for your business, is positively distinct in insurance, for now. Our positioning, our visual identity, use of colour, opening up our personality all set us apart,” Garvey says. In October 2017, the Simply Business brand advert, which featured the new visual identity, was placed on Youtube’s leaderboard next to companies such as Google and Apple.

Highlighting the rebrand’s success, Simply Business and Start Design won ‘Best rebrand of a digital property’ at the 2018 Transform Awards Europe. On that win, Garvey says, “It feels great. The Transform Awards is a great vindication for the team in a job well done, plus the awards event was thoroughly enjoyable, perhaps a bit too enjoyable. I keep expecting the team to ask if we can refresh the brand again just so we can attend next year!”