[EP 044] Insights into Brand Strategy and Rebranding for Business (Part 2)


CLICK HERE to download the transcript for this episode.

Episode Highlights:

  • Examples of Rebranding Done Right
  • Results of an Inclusive Process
  • Rebranding Done Wrong
  • Using People’s Names in Your Brand
  • Knowing When to Rebrand
  • How to Contact Sophie
  • Legal Wrap Up


Hi, it’s Joanna Oakey here and welcome back to Talking law – a podcast brought to you by our commercial legal practice, Aspect Legal.

Today’s episode is the final half hour of our two-part series on brand strategy and rebranding for businesses with Sophie Bartho, founder and managing director of Brandswell.

In part 1, we looked into why and when businesses ought to consider a rebrand and how it’s not a concept limited to large businesses alone – but that is equally applicable to the SME environment as well. Sophie also walked us through Brandswell’s unique approach in bringing the brand to life through rigorous stakeholder engagement. And of course, for all the cynics out there, we also drilled into some hard return on investment analysis in relation to how rebranding impacts your bottom line.

So if you missed part 1, you can check out that episode — which is episode 43 — after listening to this one. Simply visit our website www.talkinglaw.com.au or search Talking Law on your Podcasts app in your iPhones.

But for today, we have an insightful discussion lined up for you! Today, we run through some rebranding success stories and on the flip side, we also talk about what can go wrong when rebranding isn’t done right.

So, here we go!


Examples of Rebranding Done Right

Joanna: We’ve talked in the past about a number of examples of businesses that you’ve worked with. Maybe if you can share with our listeners some of those good news stories of the long lasting impacts that have been created by this process that you’ve just been speaking to us about.

Sophie: Would love to.

One that comes to mind is Prosperity Advisers. I love this story because it has stood the test of time.

So back in 2004, they were a small accounting firm called Sneddon McKeown and they had evolved. They had grown. They had some very big ambitions for becoming a national brand. They had also been through an acquisition.

So they came to us and we went through that process I’ve described of rigorous stakeholder engagement and they rebranded and became known as Prosperity Advisers. Now that’s 13 years on and the brand is still, as I said, standing the test of time and has taken them on that journey of growth that they set out on.

Another different example is the business that came together back in again it was actually 2004. They were five state-based courier businesses, but they recognised that to be able to compete with the large transport providers they needed to demonstrate a national offering. So five state-based courier company is coming together under a federated model and we rebranded them as Australian National Couriers.

But the marketplace evolved and things like technology came into play. So couriers were becoming less and less in demand. We recognised in 2012 that the business strategy needed to evolve and the focus was becoming off small items and paper-based movement of goods to bulky goods such as furniture and basically anything that the Internet couldn’t deliver.

We needed to remove the word courier from their brand but the acronym ANC had already taken hold within the business both internally and externally is what we found when we did the stakeholder review. So we retained the acronym ANC but we needed to position it accordingly with the right URL and also a statement. So they then evolved to ANC Delivers dot com dot au with the positioning tagline “Your integrated distribution partner.”

So that’s a long journey of three rebrands in the last 13 years. But also building consistency and building on the heritage and the history of the brand throughout that journey.

Sometimes it’s not a complete start again. It’s about respecting what has gone on before.

Joanna: It’s fascinating. Obviously your courier example shows as well the importance of being nimble in business and continuing to innovate. But I love that this then also requires the reflection of how do we reflect this in the brand. It’s not just innovative in innovating our services. It’s now then how do we continue to reflect this through perhaps a changing brand.

Sophie: Yes. And also then through all your communications.

Once the brand strategy has been crystallized and defined and you start bringing back to life in the brand identity, it needs to flow through in all your marketing channels and they’re constantly moving as well. Not all businesses need to be on all the digital channels, but it’s also critical to pause and make informed decisions about what is and isn’t worth investing in.


Results of an Inclusive Process

Sophie: Another part of our process that we haven’t touched on is we look at the marketplace but we also do a very rigorous SWOT. My recommendation is always you need external people to facilitate this process because you need that objectivity to really question and challenge and sometimes say what needs to be said but you don’t want to hear.

Joanna: It sounds like you’ve obviously got some examples in the back of your mind. I don’t know if there’s any you can talk about but where it has been a bit of a process to get people down this path where perhaps they wouldn’t go through the whole process on their own.

Sophie: Yes. A lovely example is a medical research institute we worked with. They were 20 years old, and when the chairman and CEO approached me they explained that they had been trying to rebrand for 20 years, but had consistently failed because they couldn’t get everybody on the same page. When we used our methodology of the various stakeholder engagement, we arrived at a board meeting where we presented one name for that future organisation and it was unanimously adopted.

Joanna: After 20 years!? That’s amazing! Well, there you go. The result of an inclusive process.

Sophie: Yes, we know it works. But that doesn’t mean it’s not challenging.

There were some people that were very uncomfortable because we were also setting the organisation up for the future and for some of them they felt we were being a little bit too bold and ambitious. But we were setting a brand up that they could grow into.

And the other thing we find Jo is that people are often really humble. So we bring a very objective perspective. Because it’s not only the internal stakeholders we look at, but we also look at the marketplace and sometimes we’re encouraging our clients that they need to be bold and brave and be very very proud of what they have achieved and that means adopting a much stronger presence in the marketplace.

Joanna: And so did you find in that example that you were talking about where you came up with the brand where some people felt a little bit uncomfortable because they didn’t know if they were living up to it at the moment. Was that the issue at base? That they felt they weren’t living that yet?

Sophie: I think, it was more about the personalities. They were more comfortable being shy and being the scientist in the laboratory and not wanting to be public facing. They didn’t need to be public facing but their brand needed to be.

So it was an interesting sort of emotional journey for everybody to recognise that this is your role and this is what you’re producing and delivering and contributing to the organisation and then this is the brand that can represent that organisation in the marketplace. And this was a very interesting one because they were also needed to be represented internationally because of course medical research is not just happening locally.

Joanna: And so I’m interested in the outcome then. Did you feel like the new brand then also helped embolden them personally as well? Was that any outcome of the process?

Sophie: Yes. It’s been lovely watching this client evolve.

They were the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute. That was the name that they adopted when they came into being purely because of their geographic location they were based next to the Prince of Wales Hospital. And yet they had a very specialised area of medical research and that was neuroscience. So their new name that they adopted back in 2008 was Neuroscience Research Australia.

Now being an Australian brand we knew it would be shortened and we wanted to avoid an acronym. So we preempted that and acquired the URL NeuRA dot org dot au, and that has actually become the acronym and the abbreviated reference point for Neuroscience Research Australia. So we were looking well and truly into the future and knowing the sort of behavioral patterns of naming within an organisation and setting them up for the short term and the long term.

Joanna: And so you said you ended up with NeuRA. Is that what you said it was settled in the end, Neura?

Sophie: Yes.

Joanna: I love it. What a great name.

Sophie: Well look, they’ve just grown and grown and grown and acquired significant investment. They’ve built fantastic purpose built facilities now next door to the Prince of Wales Hospital. And of course now have their own very well-defined brand and positioning in the marketplace.

Joanna: Well I can really see in that example what impact brand can have. Certainly, with the original brands you’re talking about and then the progression of the brand. What a great story. Thank you Sophie.



Rebranding Done Wrong  

Joanna: So, Sophie maybe you could paint a picture for us as well. Give us a bit of information about what people need to be aware of that can go wrong in in this process or thinking about brand as a whole.

Sophie: I think what can go wrong is it can be rushed and there can be inadequate investment.

It does take time. It takes money. It takes resources. So you will need to allocate people to nurture and guide the journey internally for the organisation and most importantly engagement is key.

You can’t task this to someone else in the organisation and not participate. You have to be very very present through the process and own it from the outset because when it is done well and it’s done methodically and it’s inclusive and you do take everyone on the journey, the investment can pay out tenfold well into the future.

Joanna: Okay. I think they’re really great points.

What can go wrong is it can be rushed and there can be inadequate investment. - Sophie Bartho #TalkingLawPodcast #rebranding Click To Tweet



Let’s Take A Break

Let’s take a short break. When we come back, we’ll talk about the common practice of using names of partners, founders and individuals in your brand — when it’s appropriate and when it isn’t. We also go through some key questions to consider to identify whether or not your business needs some rebranding. And finally, we close this episode with some tips from the legal perspective and with details on how to contact Sophie if you’re interested to know more about this area.

And that’s next. I’m Joanna Oakey and you’re listening to Talking Law. – a podcast brought to you by Aspect Legal.



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Welcome Back

Welcome back! Earlier, Sophie shared some successful rebranding stories of businesses who did it the right way, the results of an inclusive process through rigorous stakeholder engagement. We also identified some ways businesses can do this process wrong.

Let’s keep the conversation going and discuss the common practice of using names of partners, founders and individuals in your brand name.


Using People’s Names in Your Brand

Joanna: I’d like to just circle back a little bit. I was really interested when you were talking about your work with Prosperity and many of our listeners to this podcast are accountants and accounting practices. So it would be really interesting to drill into this a little bit more because many organisations or accounting practices are one of those types of industries that have an approach of using names. You know, the names of the partners in the branding of their practice and of course the practices then evolve over time.

Do you have anything to talk about in relation to the concept of branding with the name of partners or individuals involved in the business versus a more generic brand that can encompass lots of things other than just the names?

Sophie: I think Jo, it comes back to what are their ambitions and their vision for the future and that might be about retaining that rich heritage of where the brand started and it might be in the name of a founding partner. And other times it might be recognising that this brand actually stands for something more progressive, more modern, and hence they would like to move beyond some of that heritage.

This is why that stakeholder engagement process is so important. It’s also interesting to reflect you know, what does the brand communicate and by retaining let’s say the founding partners’ name, there’s pros and cons and it really comes back to, what do we want to communicate in the marketplace through our brand name?

Joanna: And maybe if you can talk about some of the cons perhaps of retaining individual names. One of the perspectives that I have is that I often wonder to what extent a brand that is built on an individual’s name allows staff within that organisation to feel included, that’s often an interesting thought that I have going on in the back of my mind.

I’m not sure how you see that play out or whether or not you see any particular impact on staff from moving from a brand that is focused all around one or a couple of particular people’s names.

Sophie: It comes back to the reputation of that individual and also what they may want to do with that business down the future.

If the whole business has been built around an individual’s reputation, it can be more difficult to extract that individual out of the organisation. As we know, when you use an individual in an ambassador role for a brand, it can be very very powerful. But it can also be very detrimental if that individual does something that tarnishes their reputation and there’s plenty going on in the media at the moment around well-known people who have behaved badly. So there’s an awful lot to consider about is an individual’s name relevant and worthy of representing your brand.

Joanna: And I guess also, if we’re future facing then we also need to think clearly about if we are building a business for sale in the future, to what extent does an individual’s inclusion in the brand maybe impact the impression of potential buyers. I guess it depends what business it is. But certainly I think maybe that also has an impact on potential buyers into the future.

Sophie: Yes it can. And I think I had an interesting one just recently where in this day and age of the ease to be critical of the brand and then publish your experiences online. One of our clients whose personal name is in the brand received some negative feedback on Facebook and of course they took it very very personally. We had to remind them they were actually talking about the product, not them as an individual. So they’re starting to experience some of the downsides of having their personal name representing their product.

Joanna: Oh look it’s very interesting particularly for the accounting industries, the legal industries as a whole where this is perhaps a little bit of a new movement, the movement to the lack of inclusion of personal brands in the name of the organisation itself but certainly good questions for organisations to be thinking about and considering.

If we're building a business for sale in the future, to what extent does an individual's inclusion in the brand impact the impression of potential buyers. - Joanna Oakey #TalkingLawPodcast #rebranding Click To Tweet



Knowing When to Rebrand

Joanna: So what action tips do you have then Sophie for businesses who might be considering a rebrand?

Sophie: It’s really a series of questions and the first one is do you feel proud of your brand and your culture and your business?

Some examples might be when you hand over your business card or refer people to your website. Do you have that inner cringe where perhaps you even say “Oh gosh! We need to refresh this.” Handing over your business card without that sense of pride.

Are you clear on your direction? Most importantly, are other people clear on your direction? That might be the shareholders, that might be your staff and also your customers. Does everyone understand your core values? And I mean, deeply understand them, why those core values represent the organisation.

Joanna: And I guess part of that then is, the senior management also understanding the core values because sometimes the owners of organisations, senior management, aren’t also clear on core values particularly in an SME context. I guess in that sense maybe it starts with identifying first, really identifying those core values and then, as you say, ensuring that they’re understood and reflected.

Sophie: Yes.

Part of our methodology the core values are actually the foundation of the brand and that is the starting point. Often we’ll go in and they will say “Here are our core values.” In talking to people and hearing stories about their experiences with the brand, sometimes those core values can evolve slightly and sometimes they can be completely revolutionised. But we need to be able to demonstrate those values in the stories and the experiences behind the brand.

Joanna: All right, and any other last action tips there that you have?

Sophie: I think the last one is, are you building a business or are you building a brand? And in that, I reference that you’re building a brand which has reputation, influence and value, that it’s not just a transactional institution but really resonates emotionally with your stakeholders.

The core values are actually the foundation of the brand and that is the starting point. - Sophie Bartho #TalkingLawPodcast #rebranding Click To Tweet



How to Contact Sophie

Joanna: Oh look, this is fascinating. I’m so glad you came on today. I think there’s clearly so much involved in this branding that many elements that I’d really not even thought about before. So you’ve really shone a light Sophie on this whole area for us and given us a lot to think about I think.

Sophie: It is a deeper topic and a much deeper experience than just creating a nice little logo and putting it on as many marketing and merchandising areas as possible. But the deep dive experience is really really fun and it creates a solid foundation for that ongoing success and longevity of the brand.

Joanna: All right. So Sophie, if people want more assistance in looking at their brand and potentially if they are considering a rebrand themselves or for their organisation, how can they find you?

Sophie: They can email me, [email protected] They can Google me of course and my phone number 0411-191-141. I’d love to talk to anyone that is curious and keen to learn more.

Joanna: And we’ll definitely have your contact details Sophie on our podcast page for Talking Law. All you need to do, is go to talkinglaw.com.au and find our episode today with Sophie and you’ll find details there of how you can contact Sophie directly.

Thank you Sophie! You have been so generous with your time today and all of your examples and information that you’ve given us. So thank you for coming along.

Sophie: My pleasure, Jo.


Legal Wrap-Up

Joanna: Well that’s it for our two part series all about brand strategy and rebranding for business with our special guest Sophie Bartho of Brandswell.

Now of course it would be absolutely remiss of us on Talking Law to talk about the whole concept of brand strategy and rebranding without also drilling into the relevant legal elements in this area.

We’ve talked about brand protection in a number of earlier podcasts way back in Episode 25 when we talked about common mistakes people make in the area of trade marks, Episode 7 where we answer common questions in relation to trade marks and Episode 5 where we look at the trade mark basics or the trade mark 101 as it were, for people to be across if they’re thinking about trademarks.

But in the next episode, we’re going to drill into the legal elements that are involved when you’re considering branding or rebranding because the time of developing a new brand whether or not it’s a rebrand or a brand for a brand new product or a business is one of the most vulnerable periods for a business in relation to brand.

You’re vulnerable from the perspective of attack from third parties arguing that you’re infringing their marks if you take on a brand that’s too similar to theirs. But you’re also vulnerable from the perspective of having difficulty potentially from stopping other traders from using a similar mark, if you don’t get in and protect your rights and your marketing spend in relation to that brand that you’re creating.

So there’s two elements here. It’s about making sure you’re choosing the right brand from a legal perspective in terms of protection for your organisation and in terms of being able to work out what is actually registerable and then it’s considering what to do after that fact.

So look if you’re interested in finding more out about how to protect your business and how to indeed choose a brand that is less likely to enter your business in trouble then listen to our next podcast where we talk about this in much further detail. So look out for Episode 45 where we look at the legal elements of brand strategy and rebranding.

But if you’d like more information right now about this topic simply head over to our website at talkinglaw.com.au. There you’ll be able to download a transcript of this episode if you’d like to read it in more detail. You’ll also be able to find details of how you can contact Sophie and Brandswell if you’d like to learn more about any of the items we covered today. And you’ll also of course be able to book a time with our lawyers that Aspect Legal if you’d like assistance with any of these areas that we talked about today from a legal perspective.

We have a free 15 minute consultation with our specialist IP and trade mark legal team. So head over to our website. Find the links and book yourself an appointment with one of our great legal team.

Well that’s it for this episode. Thanks again for listening to this two part series you’ve been listening to Talking Law and Joanna Oakey sponsored by Aspect Legal. See you next time.