Insights: Rebranding a $2bn, global organisation in less than a year
At the Transform Awards Europe 2018, the best in rebranding and brand development was celebrated. NEX is one of this year's winners
There we were, preparing 30th anniversary celebrations for the largest company of its type in the world. After three decades, we’d built a financial services company that thrived on the relationships built with its customers under a brand synonymous with personally brokering deals between banks and financial institutions. Then our CEO called us, the marketing team, into his office for one of his famously short, no-nonsense briefings.
“Remember I said that technology is our future? Now’s the time to fully commit to it. We’re selling the part of our business that doesn’t fit that vision and with it, the brand. We need a new brand to relaunch ourselves as the exciting financial technology company we are to become and less than a year to do it. Okay?” he said.
The challenge was substantial. With a 30 year heritage and experience base, we are not a ‘fintech’ from the typically small, disruptive, startup mould. However, we do challenge convention and we make sure our clients can depend on us to get them ready for whatever is around the corner in highly volatile financial markets.
Second, we committed to building one brand, worldwide. This meant moving away from the many brands that we had acquired, developed regionally or simply evolved. It now made sense to show a joined-up business with an integrated set of people and technologies thus enabling our customers to better understand our full portfolio.
Third, we needed staff to understand the changes, the business strategy and their part in delivering it. An internal engagement programme was essential.
Finally, we needed to launch the new business across our global markets with an exciting, bold, differentiating name, identity, campaign and messages to engage all our stakeholders and frame our propositions.
It’s hard to single out any one aspect of the project into brand architecture, identity or implementation. The challenge required a closely coupled set of projects to meet the challenge in a tight timescale. In the process, we learned a lot about implementing a new brand across an international organisation. Some of our lessons learned are:
- The development and implementation of the brand must be shown how it supports every aspect of the business strategy so it has clear purpose.
- Tell everybody throughout the company why the change is taking place and where they fit. It’s crucial that everybody knows the rationale for change.
- Involve senior management throughout the process, set clear decision milestones and share progress with staff to prepare them for implementation.
- It is imperative to differentiate between existing organisational structure and brand architecture in the transition to a new, singular brand strategy.
- People are emotionally connected to the past and believe the value they place in former brands and entities is shared by the marketplace. Seek external views.
- When the schedule is aggressive, identify where delays might occur and allow for them. For example, trademark searches and registration can take months after a name and identity has been agreed. Even buying a good internet domain name can take time if the one you want is preowned.
- The launch of the new brand needs to be ruthlessly simple, attention grabbing and communicate a core benefit. To be abstract or too clever at launch makes it harder for the audiences to get what you are all about.
- Address questions and feedback post-launch to improve communications and messaging.
- Celebrate success – the Transform Awards, positive customer feedback, results and press coverage. Continuing to build confidence internally is crucial to make your employees your prime ambassadors but also externally, to help establish the new brand.
- It’s never over. Building a brand is as continuous as changes in the market and its need for new products and services. Internally, you must continue engaging employees across the business to ensure understanding of the vision, build buy-in and embed cultural values that support brand delivery through your people. Externally, once the initial launch of the name and positioning is done, the hard work to establish the company as a subject matter expert with the right content and value propositions begins.
With ruthless focus on the outcome, strong business leadership and incisive decision-making, we delivered successfully on time, to a great reception. Perhaps the most satisfying moment was seeing the emotion and excitement with which our CEO presented NEX at an all staff meeting. We went bold, we went big and we are growing bigger.
Nathalie Burdet is head of brand and marketing manager at NEX and Victoria Mellor is group head of marketing and communications at NEX