An insider's guide to a successful rebrand

Helen Twose
An insider's guide to a successful rebrand

Keeping an organisation relevant, identifiable, and unique sometimes requires a brand reboot. Everything from a full facelift through to more subtle tweaks can be used to revitalise a brand that is drifting. 

Helen Twose talks to some NZ companies that have hit the reset button to find out why they did it and the effect it has had. 


Reigniting that certain spark

It’s 12 months on from the announcement of the most dramatic makeovers in New Zealand corporate history with Telecom dropping its long-standing moniker in favour of Spark.

This month Spark made it into the top 15 of New Zealand’s most influential brands, just a couple of places behind competitor Vodafone.

When it ditched the Telecom name, Chief Executive Simon Moutter said it was a visible sign to its customers that the business stood for something different to a past based around telephony.

While he admitted at the time that people may think the company could have come up with a better name, the Spark tag could work with an unknown set of future digital services.


Making a bold move

Steve Main of branding agency Principals, who worked for Spark a year prior to the rebrand, says it was a positive change.

“It’s a signal to the market that they are committed to the future and prepared to make bold changes and I think that’s positive,” Main says.

Work the firm did for engineering firm Harrison Grierson is another good example of a rebrand being the outward manifestation of a shift in the business. In the case of Harrison Grierson it was a restructure in the remuneration and ownership model, a new board, and a “startling young CEO”, says Main.

“They really started from the inside with wanting to rebrand.

“For almost 2 years the only work we did with them was on their internal purpose and mission and values and culture and essential behaviours – what they stand for as an organisation and all that unifying work around believing in being better together – before we picked up a crayon and started looking at their external brand, which we were quite relieved to get to in the end.”

The rebrand was driven by a desire to renew the business right from its foundations through to their brand expression to represent a firm that had grown beyond its market stronghold in surveying, says Main.


A page 1 rewrite isn't always the answer

It’s subtle evolutions rather than complete re-writes that have sustained the 100% Pure New Zealand slogan for nearly 16 years.

Dreamt up on a trans-Tasman flight by 3 advertising executives from M&C Saatchi, it’s become the longest running campaign globally in the national tourism space, says Andrew Fraser, Tourism New Zealand’s director of marketing.

“Over the years it’s proved its ability to flex and reflect our destination message,” says Fraser.

The latest iteration unveiled this month features a move away from the Middle Earth to imagery showing the close proximity of unique, distinctive locations and experiences across New Zealand.

It includes bespoke brand typography created using a hand-carved kauri woodblock print to represent the core values of being distinctive, real, and authentic, Fraser says.

“I think it’s a classic case of marketing that over time that meaning has been given a huge amount of richness.

“It’s far easier to reinvent and create something new than to keep something old and current.”

That’s not to say the slogan is untouchable.

“That’s the challenge; it’s not sacrosanct, it’s more before you throw away any asset how can you make them work for you to start with, and I think what this campaign continues to demonstrate is that it has a huge amount of ability to flex.

“It doesn’t mean it will last forever, but I think the key is to make it current for today.”


So how do you know you’ve got a rebrand right?

Main says it’s not whether the logo is popular or a positive shift in customer feedback but how well it works for your staff that counts.

While it may be surprising to find internal engagement drives rebranding success, positive staff engagement will ultimately be reflected in the customer experience, he says.


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