Black Horse Agencies was acquired by the Bradford and Bingley Group
on 1 April 1998. It was previously owned by Lloyds TSB, and the Black
Horse name belongs to them. Therefore it was a legal requirement that
the estate agency change its name and logo within a specified time
period of the deal being signed.
To align the new business with its long-standing values of mutuality,
the financial services group chose to rebrand the company as Bradford
and Bingley Estate Agents (B&BEA). This meant a change of look, logo and
name - except in Scotland, where the company elected to retain the
goodwill of its Slater Hogg and Howison banner.
To roll out a rebranding programme to staff, the media and the
property-buying public and relaunch all 370 estate agency offices
between 1 April and 31 May 1999.
Strategy and Plan
As the estate agency is the fourth largest in the UK, it was crucial to
ensure that market share was maintained during and after the
From January, changes were explained to the 3,500 staff via literature
which included a series of postcard mailers and a desk calendar. Several
issues of the staff magazine Frontline were dedicated to the rebranding,
outlining the processes, key players and the timescale.
Activities also needed to address any potential confusion which might be
felt by customers, as all external literature assured that the same high
levels of service would remain. In addition, Icas wrote a branch PR
’toolkit’, which included three template press releases for each office
to use with the local media.
The Black Horse Agencies had traditionally produced a quarterly ’Home
Report’ - which tracks trends in the housing market. It was essential
that journalists understood it was business as usual, and accepted the
rebranded reports. To promote the changes, the PR team set up 15
face-to-face and telephone briefings between B&BEA directors and the
national and trade press.
Measurement and evaluation
The rebranding received positive coverage in the regional press, with
the changes in name, look and logo well explained. Most importantly,
there were also plenty of visuals showing the new Bradford and Bingley
bowler hat logo, alongside the retention of the local trading name.
The ’Home Report’ issued after the rebrand in June generated 25 national
pieces of coverage, and to date has generated over 250 pieces of
coverage in the regional media.
The internal and external communications exercise ensured consistency of
message to all audiences.
Janet Young, assistant manager communications at B&BEA says: ’We only
had one chance to get it right and I think we did.’ Informal research by
B&BEA since the rebranding indicates that business is on the up,
although this could be part of a general up-swing in the housing
Client: Bradford and Bingley Estate Agents (formerly Black Horse
PR team: In-house and Icas Public Relations
Campaign: Rebranding of Black Horse Agencies
Timescale: January to June 1999