Reflections on an internal rebrand
How should you approach rebranding your not for profit or charitable organisation when it has been in existence for nearly 40 years and whose branding is well known with stakeholders? This was the challenge that faced skysdesign when we undertook the rebrand of our parent charity, St Kilda Community Housing (SCH).
In late 2018, the CEO asked us to undertake a rebrand of the organisation to make the organisations identity more modern and to help support promoting the organisation to a new audience within the local community. There were some particular challenges that we knew we’d experience:
- Long term staff with an embedded sense of the organisation;
- Resistance to the notion of rebranding;
- Perceptions of a ‘top-down’ approach which would overwrite the views of staff.
As internal staff members managing the engagement and design process it was also important that we didn’t let our own views influence the process more than the feedback we received from colleagues.
To manage these challenges and concerns we approached this project in the same way that we approach all branding projects.
Answer 2 specific questions:
- Why were we considering rebranding?
- What did we hope the rebrand would achieve?
Why were we considering rebranding
The answer to the first question was quite straightforward, our visual identity was old and it portrayed an organisation that hadn’t evolved in many years. Some of the specifics of this identity challenge were:
- The logo was a white line drawing of one of our properties on a purple backdrop;
- The colour palette was tyrian purple and white;
- There was no secondary colour palette to choose from;
- The logo didn’t reflect anything other than a property, which if you didn’t know the organisation could have been anywhere;
- There was no recognition of the scope of the organisations services;
- The logo looked tired and the colour palette reinforced a stale persona;
- There was no sense of the dynamic nature of the staff and the organisation reflected in any of our visual identity.
What did we hope to achieve?
It was our ambition that the rebrand process would:
- Provide us with a vehicle for understanding how we were perceived internally and externally;
- Help reset our relationship with the local community;
- Provide staff with a sense that the organisation was keen to present a new face to the local community;
- Raise our profile within the local community;
- Reset conversations with stakeholders about our approach to service delivery;
- Help us to attract new staff who could support our ambitions for the future.
Like all change projects there were challenges that we needed to overcome. To quote Donald Rumsfeld “there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know”
Our challenge during this process was to be able to work with what we knew and with issues that we knew would come up but didn’t know how they would manifest.
To manage this we needed an approach that allowed for participation and engagement of staff and stakeholders. Our process included:
- Defining an overarching personality for the brand. This needed to be informed by staff and stakeholders so that it could support the attraction and retention of new staff and external partners who may become loyal advocates of the organisation. It also needed to inform the creation of marketing collateral and consistent messaging;
- Reviewing the values which underpin staff attitudes to the work that they do and the beneficiaries that they support. From a brand communication perspective values must be at the forefront of our public persona as they influence the engagement with a target audience
- Identifying the value proposition for the organisation with a particular focus on external stakeholders including funders, tenants and local community groups;
- Reviewing the single-minded proposition or tagline for the organisation by asking some simple questions:
- what do our stakeholders want from us?
- what do we do?
- How do we do it?
- What is the future potential for stakeholders to be involved with us?
After working with all staff in small groups to provide answers to the questions above we decided that the existing tagline ‘Building housing communities in St Kilda’ conveyed the answers to tagline questions extremely well and so we left it untouched.
Using all of the information gathered above we commenced the design of the visual identity for the organisation. Our approach was to use the identified personality as a guide to the style of the logo, the colour and the fonts and when the logo concept was signed off we translated this to stationery, marketing collateral and the website. We also created a style guide to inform the future use of the identity.
If you’re undertaking a rebrand then your goal should be to have:
- Strategy that helps to clearly explain how we differ from other housing organisations, how we work with our clients and stakeholders and what can be expected of us;
- Visual Identity incorporating our logo, colour palette, fonts, shapes and a style guide setting out how these should be used. The goal was to have a visual identity that caused an emotional reaction with staff and stakeholders to raise awareness;
- Engaged Staff feeling that there was something happening within the organisation and that they had been involved in the creation of this identity. This could then help us to attract new staff who could feel invested in our mission.