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How Capita’s rebrand is designed to shape perceptions and galvanise pride

The launch of a new visual identity is the first step of a major refresh of the professional services company’s brand. Paul Snell spoke to CMO Antonia Wade and group head of brand and content Sarah Ford about the challenges it presented, and they provide seven top tips to make your own rebrand a success

Capita is a complex business. It does everything – well, almost – from IT services to outsourced recruitment to property management and much in between, working across multiple all over the world.

In fact, shortly after CEO Jon Lewis joined in December 2017, he described the business as “too complex”. The consequence has been the implementation of a multi-year strategic transformation of the business, of which a rebrand – the first for 13 years, which launched last Thursday – is the latest manifestation.

Overhauling the company’s visual identity is an opportunity for Capita to start a conversation with the market, as well as better harness the pride its employees have working for the business, according to the marketing leaders responsible for the project, CMO Antonia Wade and head of brand and content Sarah Ford.

“Brand is the sum of perceptions of the market, your clients and your people,” says Antonia. “By shaping perceptions you can change behaviours. We’re part of a transformation journey, so by being able to galvanise people and change behaviours internally in how we engage with clients and the market is something we’re really keen to do.”

A strong appetite for change

The proposal to refresh the brand didn’t require a great deal of selling to senior stakeholders, Antonia says. There was a strong appetite for change given how long it had been since the last rebrand, so the focus was more on bringing these stakeholders on the journey. This involved explaining how it would be done, and supporting that up with robust analysis and insight. There was also a need to make sure its purpose was understood, what the metrics behind it were and how a refresh could help achieve a number of objectives.

Sarah adds: “Our executive committee and board colleagues saw that refreshing our brand would be an enabler for us grow, do business differently, and shine a light on different parts of the business that haven’t had that previously. It’s an exciting opportunity to have when the brand hasn’t had that for a long time.”

Among the primary objectives of the overhaul is greater differentiation for Capita in the multiple crowded markets in which it operates.

“Differentiation has a more direct link to unweighted pipeline growth than some other areas of brand recognition, and we’re a highly differentiated company, so being able to tell that story about the breadth of what we do is a real differentiator for us,” says Antonia. “Using brand as a lever to tell a more differentiated story achieves a number of things such as business growth. We also want to build employee pride and make this a place where people want to build their careers, and we want our clients to feel confident in the decision they’ve made to contract with us.”

Launching a rebrand from the inside-out

The starting point, and crux, of the refresh has been the research undertaken among clients and prospects, and wider influencers such as the media and general public, into what they thought of the Capita brand, where the opportunities existed and how could the brand signify where it wants to go.

Sarah says: “My view has always been when you launch a brand, you launch it from the inside-out, because it’s important you bring your colleagues with you. For a brand like Capita that touches many markets and clients, it’s important we understand what their needs are first. It was important to know where we were seen today, where we sat among our competitors and the rest of the market. And how our brand needed to evolve to take us to a position that was right for us our future and the clients we serve today.”

The findings from the research determined that while the existing brand was strong in markets where the business was known, there was a need to raise awareness and reposition the brand in others.

Capita’s new visual identity

Capita brand guide image

Following the research a number of different brand platforms – the core of the idea the brand brings to life – were developed, and the business settled on the one dubbed ‘obsessed by better’.

“For us, that means having an organisation that’s constantly searching for new insights, never settling for where we are today or good enough and trying to do better for our clients colleagues and the wider world,” Sarah explains “That’s authentic for us as the type of business we are, in multiple markets and sectors. It felt like a good place for us to land.”

It highlights the attributes of resoluteness, restlessness, passion and constantly striving for more. But Capita has chosen not to use any of this as a strapline. “We didn’t want it to feel as if it wasn’t part of the core of it. Sometimes with a strapline, you’re left feeling as if it’s something that could go away, but for us, it’s absolutely at the centre of the brand.”

Navy was selected as the colour because it tested well around attributed Capita’s clients associate with the brand such as authority, reliability and being dependable. The blue also is a nod to the firm’s previous colour palette. The three lines above the logo represents this desire for better, which is echoed in the verbal identity, which reinforces the concept of not accepting the status quo.

Recruiting internal brand champions

Bringing colleagues on the journey is a theme both Sarah and Antonia return to multiple times during the interview to emphasise its importance.

Antonia says: “You find internally people have a huge amount of pride in what they do for our clients, and we haven’t told that story in a complete way and that’s a huge opportunity to build more meaning into who Capita is and what we do.”

Sarah adds: “We want to make sure employees also have pride in being part of Capita, and that’s about making them feel that collective pride and feel like they belong somewhere and the refresh is something they could get behind.”

The team asked employees to nominate themselves as brand champions and recruited 200 of these volunteers to come on board. These staff were used as the conduits out for communication, and as “the word on the street” for the marketing team to understand what people’s thoughts were, and answer those questions people come up with whenever a new brand rolls out.

Removing the emotion from a rebrand

Capita brand book image

Work on the refresh kicked-off in earnest in January, and it has taken around seven months to launch the first phase of the rebrand.

Capita worked with agency Landor to develop the new identity, who was chosen because of the analytical rigour it brought to the process.

“Brand has an emotional, subjective element to it, and we felt Landor were the right people to help to mitigate that as far as possible, by giving us sensible frameworks and a robust approach,” says Antonia.

“One of the things they’ve helped with is stakeholder management, and giving us frameworks and ways of assessing decisions to try to take that emotion out of it and stay laser-focused on the outcomes around knowledge, differentiation relevance. That really helped us make good decisions.”

In addition to a launch event held on Thursday to share the new identity with clients and colleagues, Capita held a global webcast for its 63,000 employees, as well as encouraging employees to share photos on internal social network Yammer. On site, it was left up to the brand champions to decide how to activate it. Antonia says “Our work is extremely varied and what the sites do is extremely varied, so we thought it appropriate to make their own decisions about that. We had everything from cake sales for Macmillan Cancer Support to balloons and festivities.”

A campaign site featuring the new identity has been launched, a brand film has been produced, and a brand book published, and there is a slew of content marketing planned to reinforce the new verbal identity.

The brand also intends to leverage its partnership with TED to underline the focus on new ideas and thought leadership.

“We’re using a partner like TED, who are in the ideas and thinking space, to signal you can expect more ideas and thinking from Capita,” Antonia adds. “You can expect us to share the expertise we have across the business with you and help you. That’s more important to us than just sticking a new logo on everything.”

7 tips to make your rebrand a success

  1. Do your research and get the insight. It’s difficult to make the process anything other than subjective unless it has a foundation in factual feedback.
  2. Pick the right team. You need a good team and support network to launch a rebrand of this scale.
  3. Listen. You might make decisions that not everyone agrees with, but listening to the reactions and concerns of your audience can help inform how to roll it out.
  4. Pick the right agency partner. There needs to be a partnership approach. An agency should not be held at a distance, you need to be alongside each other in the trenches.
  5. Be authentic to your current position. It’s fine to have a future aspiration but if you aren’t true to where the brand is today, you won’t have authenticity, will lose people on the journey and won’t appeal to the market.
  6. Take the time to collaborate. Without collaboration across the business, you won’t get the level of engagement needed or the result you want.
  7. Enjoy it. Marketers don’t get the opportunity often to do a rebrand, so embrace it, get fully involved and enjoy the success. This is where marketing stands up, shapes the business and what it stands for.

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