Rebrand more than cosmetic

23/07/2009 - 00:00

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THE decision to rebrand an organisation is often a difficult one to make, due to the challenging, costly and time-consuming nature of the process.

Rebrand more than cosmetic

THE decision to rebrand an organisation is often a difficult one to make, due to the challenging, costly and time-consuming nature of the process.

It can also be very risky in terms of its potential to jeopardise an organisation's current position in the marketplace.

However, the positive outcomes from a successful rebranding campaign often outweigh any potential negatives.

Just ask Murdoch University director brand marketing and public relations, Lianne Cretney-Barnes.

Ms Cretney-Barnes was delighted to hear her organisation topped the 'best rebranding campaign' category in this year's branding survey after a long journey of self-discovery for the institution.

Having joined Murdoch two years ago - at which time the university was already at the starting blocks of its rebranding campaign under the tutelage of Meerkats director Ronnie Duncan - Ms Cretney-Barnes has helped nurture and grow the university into its clearly defined brand vision.

"A lot of work was done in trying to find out about what it was about Murdoch, and being here as a staff member there is something about Murdoch, about its culture, about its sense of wanting to make a difference in the world in particular," Ms Cretney-Barnes said.

"As a marketing director coming in, you often look at previous work and reassess, but in this case the uptake had been astounding, in particular, internally the take-up of the concept was amazing.

"Having walked into a number of organisations, it's the best take-up I've seen of a brand."

Having spent seven years at ECU, which included overseeing that university's rebranding in 2000, Ms Cretney-Barnes is well aware of the challenges educational, and in particular, tertiary institutions face in terms of successful branding and rebranding.

"Finding that point of difference, really, is about finding out what is unique about the organisation because education can be seen as quite similar across organisations; so you have to get under the skin of the organisation and find out culturally what it is offering that's different and why it would appeal to some segments over others," she said.

Citing the leadership of vice-chancellor John Yovich and the strategic approach of Meerkats as the vital ingredients in this successful rebranding, Ms Cretney-Barnes is adamant Murdoch has lifted its profile despite spending far less than its competitors.

Meerkats creative director Mike Edmonds suggested that, if a brand understood its unique position and could effectively communicate that uniqueness, then no competing organisation was untouchable.

"And if you do that right and you express it creatively, then you do punch above your weight and you do actually show up as if you're spending a lot more money, because it seems you're more noticeable," Mr Edmonds said.

"To be honest, that's why Ronnie [Duncan] and I started Meerkats; what we did for Murdoch you can't really do at an advertising agency."

Marketforce chairman and chief executive John Driscoll successfully rebranded SGIO with the nationally rolled-out 'Unworry' campaign overseen by his agency (2nd), as well as HBF's rebranding, which was voted fifth-best campaign.

Red Rooster and RAC filled positions three and four.

"Murdoch (in first place), that probably surprises me. I think their strategy is a little bit off the back wall, but it is differentiating as a university strategy," Mr Driscoll said.

"I think the timing of Unworry, you couldn't have timed it better in terms of the environment we moved into.

"And having 'worry' lockers going to beach and things like that brought the campaign to life."

Outside the top five were some interesting rebrands involving some of the nation's largest organisations.

Oil and gas giant Woodside Petroleum suggested its recent rebranding, which involved changing the capital letters in 'Woodside' to lower case letter and a new logo to convey a clean, modern image has been very successful.

However, Block Branding creative director Mark Braddock said rebranding has to be about more than window dressing and the move to soften the shapes on everything was just the latest trend.

"NAB rebranding as 'nab' and putting everything in lower case, it's kind of the trend," he said

"BHP Billiton did the exact same thing to try and soften their image.

"It becomes a trend, (and) much like any other trend I think it'll probably swing back at some point."

Other professional outfits to rebrand in recent months include: legal firm Bruce Havilah & Associates, which rebadged as Havilah Legal in May; and financial planners Keysbrook Financial Services and Gannon Growden Schonell, which rebranded as Shadforth Financial Group, a group of 12 adviser firms, on July 1.

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