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The fourth state of re-branding – consolidation by Max du Bois of Spencer du Bois

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Pinpointing the strategic drive of a rebrand is essential if you are going to get the most out of the time and money invested. Yet often rebrands have a long wish list of tactical things they must achieve without really boiling done that overriding strategic goal.

If you have been following our monthly series on the topic you will know we are now about to take a closer look at the fourth state of re-branding. This occurs when your portfolio of products and services has proliferated to create incoherence and confusion. At best this leads to silos and lost opportunities. At worse it starves the core brand of its salience and relevance. We call this fourth state the consolidation state and it relates to your brand structure – its very architecture if you like.

Brand architecture may sound like a fancy term, but it is based on the value of creating and maintaining a solid yet dynamic brand structure, and one that is all to easy to get wrong. This is key particularly when charities seek new opportunities and develop new services and to branch out into new areas

If portfolios are allowed to grow unchecked there is a risk the overall charity brand becomes either barren or a tangled mess.

This is something the National Union of Students (NUS) found to their detriment. Back in 2013 they had a portfolio of services that had become a tangled mess. Their brand was ill-defined, incoherent, invisible and ineffective. The result; they were seen only as a political movement, one that most students had no empathy with.

They needed to mesh their multiple services and their wide range of audiences, and to do so they needed an entirely new kind of brand, one that acted as creative and intellectual glue.

It is not unusual to find brands that focus so deeply on each service or product they create silos that hide the collective breadth and depth of what they do. As a result they squander a valuable assets that could help establish the credibility of new services and encourage cross usage and visability.

Yet the solution is relatively simple. Organisations need to define what they have got that really appeals, both on an emotional and a rational level, to their audiences. They need to ask ‘how can we make what we do relevant and appealing to all our audiences’? 

Sometimes the core brand has all you need. In which case, throw away the pile of misguided individual logos that puts up barriers to sharing value and simply signpost each product.

At the heart of the NUS brand lies its role to ensure students thrive. And for the majority of NUS activates, they fit front and centre in this. All they need is a clear signposting system to help people get round the bafflingly huge range of activities, products and services.

Where it’s a risky venture, of a sub brand that has built up awareness or the core brand that doesn’t have the exact salience, then some help is needed to augment and supplement the deficit. Here, the much beloved discount Extra Card needs its own vibe to succeed and NUS sits as an endorsement.

The new architecture not only helped the NUS get the kudos for all its activities, profoundly moving the way they were viewed, but also lead to increase cross usage activity and boost the numbers of Extra Cards sold.

Likewise, Humanists UK is another good example of the fourth state of rebrand.

While people, in increasing numbers in these times of uncertainty, were eager to sign up to campaigns and use non religious services and ceremonies, many didn’t identify themselves as Humanists. A disparate and fragmented sub brand structure obscured the parent organisation, re-inforcing rather than challenging these negative perceptions.

The British Humanist Association, as was, wanted a new brand to help explain their philosophy and to stand alongside the causes that people keenly saw as representing their views of the world. This required a brand that could stretch across all their activities in a coherent and appealing way.

Champion of ideas for the one life we have became a distillation of what they represent, an arrow tip reflecting Humanists UK’s work advancing free thinking and freedom of choice so everyone can live in a fair and equal society. This  simple statement of belief linked a diverse portfolio with the brand’s audiences.

The new visual brand also had to tread this tightrope. By radically reimagining the ‘happy human’, who had defined global humanism for decades, we created a new figure for the future, without losing our current friends.

We felt that humanism should look open ended. Curiosity, individuality, and inclusivity sit at the centre of humanism, and are now literally embodied in the new logo.

This open ended journey line lives throughout the visual brand, and combines with a bold colour palette and a typeface that can both campaign and comfort, Humanists UK can credibly stretch across all their different audiences’ needs and products in a coherent and appealing way.

As with the NUS, Humanists UK’s rebrand centered around consolidation, and it was this emphasis that gave us the vision to drill straight to the heart of the brand to define exactly how the new brand should be positioned and light its internal spark. Consolidation may sound like simple house-cleaning but it is in effect about rebuilding the house’s very foundations.