One way or another, in business, some sort of crisis always seems to be just around the corner.
It just does.
And it frequently takes the form of the dreaded rebrand.
2007 certainly felt like more than just your run-of-the-mill crisis.
At the time we were breaking new ground in the asset management sector, with a big, bold campaign for Resolution featuring a team of superheroes. But after a management reshuffle, the name ‘Resolution’ was re-assigned to a legacy part of the business and so the asset management arm were asked to rebrand.
The brand name ‘Ignis’ was conceived and would well have worked perfectly well as the title of a new caped crusader.
But in the middle of the Credit Crunch the client deemed the superhero idea to be out of kilter for the tone of the times.
What was needed was an interim campaign, something that could run while the battered financial sector climbed groggily back to its feet.
And so the ‘sparks’ campaign was born. Though heavily branded, it consciously avoided the personality and visual drama of the superheroes work.
But then, as planned, after approximately eighteen months, it was replaced with a new, much more ambitious campaign.
Ignis believed in allowing their fund managers the freedom to follow their own instincts, rather than obey the orders of an investment committee. They were given ‘licence to perform’ and so this became the endline for a campaign that deliberately borrowed from James Bond’s licence-to-kill iconography to bring much needed panache and drama to a reviving investment sector.
In the space of a couple of years Resolution had, almost seamlessly, become Ignis, with a new character but its old confidence.
Economic crises are only one headache.
Sometimes the problem can come from within. Or rather, more often than not, from an office far, far away.
With a merger or acquisition that looks great to the accountants. But in reality is the joining together of two very different business cultures.
We’ve seen our fair share of those.
And we’ve learned the hard way that there’s more than one way to skin that particular cat.
One tactic is to turn the problem on its head, to accentuate the positives; as we did when two very different corporate cultures came together in the merger of Henderson and New Star. Our creative solution was to present unlikely duos – each an individual genius in their own right- and ask the viewer to imagine what they might have achieved if they’d collaborated, with the endline “The possibilities are endless.”
In many ways it was a campaign designed to salve the bruised egos in the new merged workforce as it was for the outside world.
Another way to tackle a forced corporate marriage like this is to make a virtue of change in itself. As in the case of the merger of Skandia and Old Mutual.
To demonstrate the fact that the two were now inextricably interlinked – and rapidly evolving into a completely fresh entity – we used their two signature brand colours in pieces of the child’s toy Geomag to create shapes and models to tell a new story of adaption and reinvention.
In the end then Geomag brand property proved to be so successful (and of course adaptable) it was retained when Old Mutual Global Investors was bought out from the parent group and in turn rebranded as Merian.
The lesson of all this is simple. Brands are often a crisis waiting to happen. But that’s no reason to panic or throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. It doesn’t have to be The End; rather, with a bit of courage and creativity, a crisis can simply prove to be the culmination of one chapter and the start of another. At a time when financial service companies seem to be merging, acquiring or rebadging
themselves at an unprecedented rate, that’s a reassuring thought.