FOCUS: CORPORATE IDENTITY - Creating the soul behind the face/Like a stick of rock, corporate identity should run clearly throughout an organisation and should genuinely reflect the quality of the service provided

’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.

’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

the message.

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

own way.’

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



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

new company.’

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.’


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

get there.’

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

consistency worldwide.’


Swiss premium writing instruments brand, Caran d’Ache, implemented a

complete overhaul of its range and identity after it began to lose

market share.

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.

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