Crafting Brands With Meaning
The business of brand.
It’s long been observed that by the time a brand refresh is fully executed, it’s time to rebrand. Capital expenditure barriers, the sheer scale of the roll-out, change of leadership – all can present very real challenges to a company looking to deliver a consistent brand footprint. These are potential hurdles for any business, irrespective of industry, heritage and scale – take our national airline carrier for example. Next time you’re at an airport, look closely and you could see up to 3 versions of the flying roo livery, signalling 3 very distinct chapters in the brand’s history.
So why rebrand? How does one of Australia’s most valued brands decide that the immense project is one that’s worth undertaking? The difficulty in refreshing every. last. touchpoint. It’s a daunting task, but one that is undertaken for one simple reason – well-managed brands drive business value. A brand that isn’t aligned to its business strategy will hinder a company’s future profitability, and indeed its long-term viability.
‘Brand’ might be considered an emotional thing for many people – simply a set of associations driving deeper subconscious decisions. However, it’s these very decisions that often dictate the future success of a business.
Aligned shareholders. Motivated staff. Loyal customer behaviour. A well-crafted brand has the power to deliver on these behaviours, and more.
Mobilising a business around brand transformation
In large organisations, there’s rarely a single, unifying moment when the decision to transform a brand is swiftly agreed upon. Often, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. A seemingly unrelated event can be the cause of a business first deciding to take a step back to consider the overall state of its brand. For example, the costs associated with moving headquarters presents an opportune time to evaluate existing brand assets. Or a subsidiary is acquired and there’s no clear brand architecture to objectively decide where it sits within a portfolio. Or a new entrant disrupts a once level playing field, leaving a business open to the threat of a declining profit margin or customer numbers. Worse still, both.
This is the situation that A2B (who, at the time, were still operating as Cabcharge) was faced with, and was the catalyst that saw them seek out and utilise Toast’s capabilities to together undertake a process of holistic transformation of the Cabcharge brand.
As a heritage brand and ASX500 listed company, the decision to rebrand from the ground up wasn’t an easy one for Cabcharge to make. However, the fact that the company had evolved enormously in the 40 years since its inception, and the fact that the personal transport industry itself had undergone a drastic change in recent years, meant that the decision was fully justified.
Sometimes the reasons seem more gut-led. The brand simply feels ‘dated’- most brands refresh every 7-15 years. Or the brand doesn’t seem to reflect the spirit of its people.
The case for transformation can arise from a range of avenues – the difficulty lies in accomplishing stakeholder alignment around a very subjective topic with very real financial implications.
When there’s a crystal-clear case to rebrand, and all stakeholders agree, great. Business leadership can mobilise simultaneously, allowing for efficient and effective transformation. But this is rare. Recognising the ‘right time’ to act is challenging. And aligning a raft of key decision-makers – often with varying agendas – is even more challenging.
Toast’s work with A2B reflects the complexities of this process perfectly. Within the first weeks of the project, Toast was integrally involved in presenting the case for change to A2B’s CEO, a case that balanced the need to respect Cabcharge’s rich heritage with the equally pressing need to evolve, refresh, and strengthen the brand in order to meet the rapidly changing business landscape head-on.
Gaining the approval of senior leadership was just the start of the process as the next, and most crucial, a step was to convince A2B’s shareholders that a rebrand was the course of action most capable of putting the company in a position to achieve strong, sustainable growth long into the future. Once again, Toast was instrumental in articulating and presenting this proposal and, once again, a near-unanimous agreement was reached, paving the way for Cabcharge to officially begin its transition to A2B.
Toast is often engaged by businesses requiring an evaluation of their brand’s health and future market potential. We’re highly valued in our role as an impartial expert – a consultant ready to become an immediate and powerful extension of your team, driving the implementation of positive change within your business.
A problem well-stated is a problem half solved. Simply clarifying a business’ needs can unlock enormous opportunity. From assessing the market equity of existing brand assets to uncovering missing components in a brand strategy, a rational critique can provide the clarity a business needs to decide where the most effective ROI will come from.
Toast is a boutique consultancy with a nimble, hands-on leadership approach. We understand that no two jobs are the same, and while certain approaches are applicable to all brand transformation jobs, the manner in which we execute is adapted to suit each individual client. Our work on transforming ASX listed Cabcharge to A2B was the perfect demonstration of this. From putting a case forward to the board around renaming the brand to managing stakeholder input across multiple business functions, Toast was seamlessly equipped to deliver a successful outcome for this iconic Australian brand.
The key to effective collaboration
As touched on, a lot of our value lies in being an external expert. As the adage goes, it’s easier to work on a business than in a business. ‘Brand’ is subjective, and stakeholders are often passionate about the topic. Part of our job involves facilitating and mediating tough conversations around the future direction of a business. Internal resources are simply not equipped to do this. It isn’t fair and viable to place these demands on individuals with roles and responsibilities beyond the enormity of a transformation job.
Where these resources should be leveraged, however, is throughout the process of crafting a brand. We believe in combing all available resources for rich insights. And, from our years of experience in facilitating workshops, we’ve found that the most dynamic and fruitful sessions involve a range of participants who hold drastically varying roles and relationships with a business, and together bring a valuable combination of different experiences and opinions.
The other benefit of effective collaboration lies in addressing the issue raised previously – stakeholder alignment.
Brands are only as good as the people who live and breathe them. Building a brand from the inside out – uncovering the true purpose of a brand and bringing it to life in a relevant and meaningful way – is only possible when people believe in what’s being said. That’s why we build brands from truth – creating powerful promises that energise and excite businesses, that motivate people to get out of bed in the morning. We work in a way that brings the right people on the journey, arming them with the tools they need to effectively cascade positive change throughout complex organisational structures.
For Toast, our purpose is simple. To craft brands with meaning. We do it every day and we’re passionate about it. Our clientele includes some of Australia’s most loved brands and is comprised both of brands that we’ve helped to guide from their very origins to heritage brands that saw the need to retool and rebrand in the face of evolving business landscapes.
Toast is an independent brand consultancy that specialises in large scale business transformation projects. Our capabilities include:
- Brand audits
- Brand architecture
- Brand positioning
- Tone of voice
- Visual Identity
- Internal and external communications
About the Authors:
Nicholas Sammut is the founder and Managing Director of Toast Creative. With over 15 years of experience in digital and brand design, he combines strategic brand thinking with creativity to ultimately deliver strategically lead creative projects that create impact both online and offline.
At Toast, Nick has been responsible for managing the strategic direction of major brand programmes across the residential property development sector, government, lifestyle, professional services and hospitality. He offers expert knowledge in the provision of digital/user experience and property branding.
Toast Creative is an ideas agency. The team strives for briefs that inspire storytelling. The work has the hallmarks of collaboration, engagement and innovation in every campaign. Toast’s awards and recognitions are a testimony to Nick’s leadership abilities and his exemplary skills in building and navigating the right team to deliver every time.
Nick holds a Bachelor of Design from Swinburne University of Technology.
Emile Rastoll is Business Partner and General Manager of Toast Creative. With over 20 year’s of international (Europe and APAC) digital and brand design experience within both the B2B and B2C sectors, Emile combines strategic brand thinking with creativity to ultimately deliver strategically lead creative projects that create impact both online and offline.
Emile’s strong background in brand engagement, business transformation as well as digital and social media strategy has led to him becoming General Manager and Strategist for Toast. This success is an attribute of his vision and passion for marketing, communications, digital consumer engagement.
At Toast, Emile is responsible for managing the strategic direction of major brand programmes across the residential property development sector, government, lifestyle, professional services and hospitality. He offers expert knowledge in the provision of digital/user experience and property branding.