Reeves Green had been successful for 30 years. Sweet (at the time of writing) for 30 days. Change for change’s sake has never been defensible – but in marcomms, as the market, technology and client expectations change, it’s right to look critically at your brand attributes, and your competition, and decide whether to take the big step. The trick is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Client demands were leaning increasingly towards digital communications and marketing automation. If we had simply bought it in, and hired a few people, it would have looked more like adaptation than strategic expansion – “Now Reeves Green people are doing all this, too”.
To keep pace (maybe a few bounds ahead) of the market we needed to add on a skillset that was already proven, with a celebrated track record and an armoury of software. Such a big change, that we would need to double our workforce and turnover.
In our case, we were able to merge with a nearby agency of the same size, to whom we’d had a chat a few years ago. Both teams had complementary skills and, while each had its own client base, we agreed that the new agency had the breadth of skills and critical mass to meet new challenges and a more diverse client profile.
Thus Sweet was born with all of Reeves Green’ s old staff, skills and clients but additional skills in web development and marketing automation through new colleagues. The rebrand works partly because it’s not just a rebrand – it’s a true remodelling of the business with a more elevated professional proposition, and the Sweet brand accurately reflects that.
Rebrands and rebounds
So, years ago, when the successful Ford Cortina morphed into the Ford Sierra, which transformed into the Mondeo, in each case, the good reputation of the predecessor was embodied into the step-change in design and performance that the new model offered.
By contrast, while the updates of the Mini and VW Beetle were equally dramatic, both vehicles’ heritage was so important that the brands remained largely the same as before.
But when the Post Office changed briefly into ‘Consignia’ (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/2002480.stm), it made the fatal mistake of rebranding BEFORE the step change had been made (quite apart from replacing a trusted heritage name with one which a correspondent said reminded him of a male deodorant).
So, having been given a huge amount of thought, Sweet has plenty going for it;
- It reflects a real change in capability
- It’s a one-syllable word, in common usage
- Its connotations are all positive
- Through usage (and, we suggest, typography) we can nudge the word towards the adjective sweet! and away from the noun sweet (confectionary).
- Through the subtle use of apple green and black, definable traces of Reeves Green DNA live on in the new brand.
- Everyone (so far) likes it.
- It doesn’t just look different. It feels different.
What does experience teach us?
- Change your brand ONLY if your proposition and capability have really already changed
- If your brand has a loyal following, it’s ok to change the product but retain the brand – as long as the product can justify bearing the established name (i.e. it looks similar)
- DON’T change your brand just because your existing service is imperfect, and expect to fool your customer base. A new brand alone won’t change a culture.
- Encourage your team, as well as your customers, to engage positively with the new brand.