How NEX transformed from inter-dealer broker to agile fintech in under a year
Discover how NEX metamorphosed from an established business to an energetic new kid on the block
When the owner of ICAP decided to sell the brand and its voice-booking service, the company's marketing team had to mould an entirely new campaign around what was left. From the ashes rose NEX, a new company with a long heritage and a new brand, that needed to connect with its new and old customers.
Once aware of the overhaul, head of marketing and brand strategy Nathalie Burdet and group head of marketing and communications Victoria Mellor worked to four key objectives:
- Position NEX as a financial technology company, rather than the interdealer broker it was recognised as under its former brand, ICAP.
- Create and establish a fast and agile brand.
- Inform its 1800 employees of what the new brand means and build anticipation off the back of it.
- Spread awareness to clients and highlight NEX’s lengthy heritage that was previously under the ICAP brand.
With its solid reputation imprisoned under the old brand, the marketing team had to raise awareness of NEX and its 20 years’ of expertise – they needed to convince its global employee and client base that the rebrand was a progressive move.
NEX’s marketing team faced the challenge of delivering a clear, engaging message to its staff, who could then relay that to its customers.
Umbrella brand to united company
Previously, the companies held under the ICAP umbrella brand had worked in an autonomous style with each division holding its own logo and name – something Nathalie describes as boutique-like. This would have to change.
“NEX had to comply and operate as one brand and present itself as unified. We were asking our divisional CEO’s to bin the logos they’d designed, it was a bit like getting rid of their baby. We all found it a challenge,” admits Nathalie.
It wasn’t only divisional CEO’s who felt reluctant. Michael Spencer, CEO of NEX, had to disregard his emotional attachment to ICAP – a business he had founded and built. “For him to sell the ICAP brand was a very big decision and initially it was hard for him to buy into the idea of a new name. But today, he talks publicly about the pride he has for NEX and that he can’t imagine ever keeping the ICAP brand,” says Victoria.
A successful rebrand was the only result NEX could afford. The new name had to encapsulate the company’s dynamic technology-based ethos, but it also had galvanise its stakeholders’ interests.
Brainstorming took place across the company including internal competitions. “We had thousands of names,” Victoria recalls. “Naming something is not easy. Luckily we also led a process with our agency to look at the competitor landscape and what others were doing in the market.”
Thanks to customer research, which was conducted 18 months prior to the rebrand, the marketing team had a few guidelines on their blank canvas. “We had a really good understanding of what customers felt and believed about the existing brand, and therefore what we needed to do to move their perception on from it.” This gave the marketing team some scope when choosing the contrasting direction of the brand.
The end result was NEX. A name that encapsulates the brand’s direction and is a simple play on the word ‘next’.
Internal and external engagement
The team decided to take a top-down approach to staff engagement by focusing on leadership. Fifty leaders across the global organisation were involved in the internal engagement plan to outline their role and create a leadership community. “They’re an advantage in promoting the brand strategy, what we needed to achieve and its value from a commercial perspective,” Victoria explains.
Explaining how the rebrand was launched globally on day one, Victoria says: “Everyone came back to the office to a full rebrand, new signage, new business cards, new everything. Plus there was an advertising and PR campaign. It was a huge amount of heavy lifting, a lot of planning and you don’t have the luxury of trying out different things.”
“We ran an advertising and outdoor campaign in our key financial markets for the first six months and there was a lot of press, we attended a lot of thought-leadership conferences and were very present at the key market milestones,” says Victoria. “We continue to train the sales guys to ensure they’re speaking to customers and the market in the right way.”
For NEX, there’s a heavy emphasis on client and employee opinion. “Our plan is to do employee and customer surveys once the brand has been fully established for a year. By that point we feel we would have done enough to meet the targets we’ve set ourselves in terms of employee engagement and client perceptions,” Victoria discloses.
So far, the markets are showing positive feedback. “The share price has been doing very well. What customers tell us as well, the fact that as a brand we understand the full offering, we haven’t lost customers as a result of the rebrand.”
Reflecting on NEX’s rebrand, Victoria says: “It’s like a different company now, we’ve rebranded and moved offices. Internally it feels very different because we’ve launched new values and communities into the organisation”.
A new brand identity has been a catalyst for change; going against the grain has brought results that were never there under ICAP. “We have a strategy that’s helped push items on the agenda such as the way we communicate and helping clients understand our offering. Our brand’s personality has been straightforward and we’ve been true to that.”
The rebrand also elevated the marketing team to the heart of the company and built confidence and support from those around the board table. “We’ve been at the centre, helping to reposition the business for the past 12 months,” Victoria says.
“Something like this creates huge opportunities for a marketing and communications team; you don’t get many projects in a career where you’re basically running the whole thing,” she affirms.
Ten months on the campaign has so far seen impressive results:
- 10 million advertising impressions across all continents
- 33% traffic to the website
- 18,000 sessions and 40,000 page views in Nex.com’s first launch
- Open rates – Abide (division of NEX): 24.73% and TriOptima (division of NEX): 22%
- Click-through rates – Abide: 13.33% and TriOptima: 15%.
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