’Nice logo, shame about the service’, is a frequent consumer
response following the roll-out of a bright, new, multi-million pound
corporate makeover. Consumers are becoming distinctly cynical of the
usual launch jargon which claims that a new logo symbolises a new
beginning and commitment to service.
Failing to deliver on basic services and leaving customers hanging on
automated ’help’ lines, can return to haunt organisations when they
launch bright new images and promises.
For a new corporate identity to stick it needs to permeate an
organisation, rather than being imposed from above. This requires
consulting employees at all levels. Michael Slater, creative director of
Fishburn Hedges, explains: ’Some organisations just want a badge job,
but it has to be more than that. To ensure it’s not just a cosmetic
exercise, you have to understand the personality of the organisation -
employees need to be consulted so that you end up with something they
feel good about,’ he says.
While a logo is essentially just a piece of art-work, used wisely it can
capture the values of an organisation. ’The logo is the most tangible
visual representation. But it’s just one component,’ Slater says
’There’s nothing in the Mercedes three pointed star that itself says
anything about automotive excellence. But it personifies the essence of
the company behind it and it takes a long time to build these things up.
However, it is possible to capture the essence of a company as it is
going to be, if you get the research and planning right.’
In the field of behavioural psychology, clients are often advised to
’act as if,’ on the basis that acting out the way you want to behave can
gradually bring about lasting change. Similarly, when an organisation
does not have its new service and ethos in place, acting according to a
new set of corporate guidelines can be used as a motor for change.
Chris Ludlow, director of identity consultants, Henrion, Ludlow and
Schmidt (HLS) says: ’While a new logo is just the tip of the iceberg, it
can have a catalytic effect in bringing people around. A new corporate
identity can be a signal to change and differentiate positioning
according to changed market circumstances, as well as providing a form
of corporate vision and communications strategy.’
But in order for this vision to be translated into reality, staff need
to be made aware of the practical implications in dealing with
HLS recently worked with London Underground on a set of customer contact
standards as part of its corporate identity programme. Ludlow explains:
’London Underground realises the importance its staff attach to its
We consulted with management and a working group containing a broad
church of employees. They are the converted and will go out and spread
A line has been drawn in the sand to act as a standard - it is up to
individual managers and station groups to implement the changes in their
Robert Jones, senior consultant at brand and identity consultancy, Wolff
Olins, agrees the prime reason for implementing a corporate identity
programme is to change both external and internal image. He says the
latter involves focusing on how staff perform.
’Organisations are now more about service than products and they must
realise that it is how their people perform, that most affects
customers,’ says Jones. He adds that a company which attempts to deal
with a bad customer reputation through the external means of an ad
campaign or change in corporate identity, will be unsuccessful if there
is continuing poor service. It is more important to build up an internal
culture of service.
Building that culture and providing ’the vision’ can come from within
the organisation itself, although sometimes senior managers do not feel
they are ready for fundamental change.
However, David Phelps, client services director of integrated
communications consultancy, Oasis Communications, believes that
management just needs encouraging to let it all hang out.
’We take senior managers into workshops in order to fully understand how
their organisations work, and try and decouple their rational from their
emotional self,’ he explains. ’Then they tend to come up with varying
ideas and images - it can be a real road to Damascus conversion. For
example, they might begin by just wanting to change some of their
corporate literature, but then realise their logo - which they had
regarded as sacrosanct - needs changing too.’
These days fluctuating market conditions are proving the biggest motive
for organisations to change their identity. Gareth Williams, client
services partner with identity and brand designers, The Partners, is
often involved in helping companies adapt their logo and culture to
changes in the market.
For instance, The Partners introduced a new worldwide brand identity
last year for classic ceramics manufacturer, Wedgwood. With consumer
trends moving towards a more relaxed home entertainment culture,
Wedgwood wanted a new identity which would help it evolve towards a
modern prestigious, lifestyle brand.
’Wedgwood was losing out in the youth market,’ says Williams. ’It is now
undergoing new product development and its fresh, modern logo reflects
this. You can use a visual identity either to show what has happened or
as statement of intent, reflecting changed market circumstances, but you
must always also have an internal change process at work within the
A second market adaptation involved Williams’ client, the insurer Eagle
Star. The company is undergoing a fundamental reorientation towards a
more customer-focused business. Its new logo, consisting of a blue star
with its top point flipped over to represent the head of an eagle, was
judged more customer-friendly and is serving as a signal for change
towards this philosophy throughout the group.
Williams says: ’The old logo was beautiful but wrong. Research indicated
that people wanted an organisation which ’came to them’. They considered
the old eagle logo as aggressive and predatory.’
Charities and voluntary agencies are also brands. In some cases, their
identities are having to evolve to retain contact with their core
donation base. Against a background of Government cutbacks in welfare
support, more work is being carried out by these organisations with a
limited pool of financial support.
Bamber Forsyth, a design consultancy specialising in identity mangement,
has carried out work to redevelop the four brands of The Prince’s
Bamber Forsyth principal, Nigel Forsyth says: ’Passions run deep in
charities and cosmetic changes will not suffice, especially as charities
usually work within a limited budget. It made a lot more sense for us to
create a single umbrella name and visual identity for the whole family
of brands within The Prince’s Trust - it gives the brand more presence.’
Forsyth adds that the new corporate identity has coincided with a move
to centralise the operation of the four brands in one building.
While it is clear that logos and identities which are changed like
fashion accessories do not have a future, it is difficult to devise a
lasting image. Williams says: ’It can be dangerous not to change and
it’s always difficult to judge what is going to prove timeless.
Everything is in fact of its time and even the oldest logos are
constantly being modified.’
Slater of Fishburn Hedges agrees: ’The world changes, we change and
everything moves on. Even established logos, like Shell, change over the
years. Organisations are more aware now that presentation is more about
capturing an ethos, a personality, rather than dressing something
CONNEX: TIMETABLING A NEW LOOK SERVICE
The deregulation and privatisation of the UK transportation industry has
led to a number of corporate identity programmes, aimed at establishing
the newly created companies and developing an internal service-led
The public has needed some convincing that the new operators mean to get
trains running on time.
One of the largest identity programmes has been for Connex South Eastern
and Connex South Central, which serve 17 per cent of the UK market.
Corporate Graphics International (CGI) was brought in to develop the
Connex name as a pan-European identity to convey the idea of
The plan was to create a name that could be applied to operating
companies throughout Europe as the company increased its franchises.
CGI also designed the new logo, identity, livery and uniforms, which
feature yellow and blue, aiming to convey a fast, clean and effective
image which rail has often lacked in the past.
Marketing director of CGI, Sheila Lalani, says: ’The cosmetic branding
has to be understood to be working as a part of the wider communications
function. It must support improvement in facilities and services. The
branding itself is being enhanced by increasing levels of customer
communication.’ The new identity was seen as central in improving
quality of service, working on the philosophy that by signalling change,
the new corporate identity could help expedite change. The name and
livery were implemented selectively - only when improvements in service
were perceived as making a tangible difference to customers. CGI is also
working with Connex on employee communications, producing newsletters,
leaflets, posters and staff magazines.
Lalani says: ’With the original launch of the new corporate identity and
train livery for Connex South Central we worked alongside the client in
preparing a ’training train’ which was liveried internally and
externally in the new corporate identity and was used as a focus for
introducing employees to the corporate brand, vision and spirit of the
While the company has managed to establish a distinctive new look
working against a tight timetable, trains have not always run to
schedule and there have been criticisms of the level of customer service
achieved so far in some areas.
But Lalani says: ’Rebranding and service have to work in tandem with
each other and rebranding can be a stimulus to trigger change throughout
the company and to show passengers that change is happening. There is a
short time span for change with these franchises and livery is something
that is immediately visible to passengers.’
MERGERS: MAINTAINING INDIVIDUALITY WHEN TWO BECOME ONE
The merging of imprints has been endemic throughout the publishing
industry and all too often the resulting companies have failed to
establish a lasting identity. The Pearson group merged its US scientific
publisher, Addison-Wesley with its UK based educational publisher,
Longman in 1995 and is continuing to add to its corporate identity
programme to ensure that the new company retains a strong image.
The relaunched company - Addison Wesley Longman - formed one of the
world’s largest educational publishers and required a new corporate
identity to explain the new organisation, project its values and most
importantly, take staff with it.
Bamber Forsyth, a design consultancy specialising in corporate identity,
was brought in for the corporate identity programme which began in 1996
and is ongoing. As well as designing the logo for the new company and
updating the logo for the Longman imprint, the consultancy was
determined that internal communications should be used to back up these
Bamber Forsyth’s director of consultancy, Clare Fuller explains: ’Our
objective was to help make the merger a success by creating and
establishing the right identities to support the company and its brands
in the future.
But there is a limit to what a new visual identity can achieve on its
own, its real importance lies in what it symbolises.
’Internal communications can help build a bridge between what a company
wants to achieve and the tools, including identity tools, it can use to
The consultancy initiated a communications process to reach staff
An important aspect included bringing in managers from overseas
operations into the loop. Open forums were arranged to deal with staff
questions and internal newsletters were used to prepare the ground.
The new look has been kept in people’s minds by continuing
communications activities supported by promotional items, such as mouse
mats, in the workplace to act as a daily reminder.
A decision was recently made to use an intranet as a core medium to
communicate the identity and provide product guidelines to offices all
around the world.
Bamber Forsyth’s business development manager, Vicki Jones, explains:
’The intranet offers instant access to staff wherever the group
It can be updated quickly and cheaply and it is an interactive and
exciting medium so people use it more regularly and enthusiastically.
The intranet is also speeding up the design process as templates can now
be downloaded and used as the basis for new designs ensuring brand
CARAN D’ACHE: THE WRITING WAS ON THE WALL FOR A NEW LOOK
Swiss premium writing instruments brand, Caran d’Ache, implemented a
complete overhaul of its range and identity after it began to lose
Apart from in Switzerland, Caran d’Ache did not have a major presence in
Europe, so awareness of its brand needed to be built up as its product
range was revamped.
The ultimate aim was to make Caran d’Ache one of the top five companies
in the global writing instruments market.
Lars Frandsen joined Caran d’Ache as managing director from Swatch last
year with a mission to relaunch the brand and introduce an internal
culture change programme in support of the new identity.
Frandsen issued a bold challenge to the board: ’Judge me after 100
days.’ He instructed product design and communications consultancy, PSD
Associates to come up with a new identity that could be implemented
within 10 months.
PSD began by redesigning the premium-priced writing instruments range,
providing brand guidelines that would permeate throughout the whole
PSD’s director of product design, Steve Hughes explains: ’The company
had been sleepy over the last 10 years and there was a need for both
corporate realignment and product investment. It was not a case of
downsizing the organisation but of realigning its products - becoming
more proactive and innovative in the market place, and regaining
It was crucial that the process of change also took place from within,
so workshops were held with staff in order to gain their views on how
they felt the relaunched range should move forward.
Hughes says: ’Lars Frandsen’s determination to revitalise the brand has
led to a vigorous internal culture change programme. In this instance,
change in design has affected the organisation both inside and out.’
While working on the project, PSD found that some product ranges needed
to move towards a classic modern positioning, while retaining premium
brand associations. The logo was restyled as a monogram on pens to
highlight this change.
There was also a new advertising campaign, gift wrapping kit, POS
material and promotional literature. The new look played up the
aspirational quality of the range, placing it as a challenger against
leading brands in the luxury writing instruments market, such as Mont
The range was launched in one of its principle markets, Asia, in March
and has gradually been introduced into other markets with current
sell-in figures reported to be well up on previous launches.