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CAMPAIGN NEWS: Rebrand of the month: Real World Group

Not content with a simple tweaking of its company logo, Real World Group decided on a brand overhaul so radical that its identity is now unrecognisable. Formerly known as the not-so-catchy Leadership Research & Development Ltd (LRDL), it felt a new look was required to communicate its changing culture and objectives.

LRDL was founded as a spin-off division of Leeds University, designed to conduct research into leadership, culture change, equality, diversity and governance, and employed to improve leadership in local authorities, NHS trusts and public sector organisations. However as it has grown it has attracted attention from not only the public sector, but from multinational private sector organisations looking to empower their employees.

Decision makers at LRDL therefore increasingly felt that the name, and the brand, lacked imagination and gave the organisation an identity that was increasingly at odds with what it wanted to communicate itself as; as an expert agent of change.

Liz Bradbury, LRDL's managing director, led the project to update the company's image, commissioning Manchester B2B agency Native to carry out the creative work. “We didn't just want a design agency to come up with updates of our logo. We wanted to work with a company who could understand us, the market place, our differentiation – then translate analysis of these into a step-change in our image that would make the market sit up and take notice,” she explains.


Fending off the competition

Native was tasked with devising an identity that would gear Real World Group towards large organisations as a different and credible choice in leadership training and development. Native's senior designer Paul Wilson led the transformation. “Whilst they recognised that it was a significantly big departure from the existing identity, they could see the strong rationale and the power of the new identity and how that could take them to a new level in the market place,” he says.

And so far, although the company's new identity is still young, it has already produced measurable results by helping to attract business from two major private sector companies; Northern Rail and Shell, which is clearly a win for the company considering one of the major aims of the rebrand was to grow private sector business. As Bradbury explains, it currently has a target split of around 75 per cent public sector and 25 per cent private, and wants to fend off the competition to win more business from the latter category. “We needed to make ourselves stand out from others with a strong corporate brand. I felt that our brand before was too biased towards our original offering, which was just the research.” Real World Group offers an evolving range of consultancy and diagnostics services to complement its research tools.

The most drastic change by far for LRDL was in ditching its name and relaunching itself as the Real World Group. The new name was picked to reflect the fact that the company was applying research and strategies to organisations in the 'real world' and with 'real effect'. “The name Leadership Research & Development Limited doesn't exactly roll off the tongue,” points out Bradbury. “We needed a name that better reflected what we were selling.”


In with the new

With a name agreed, work could begin on designing a new logo, the most striking feature of which is the way the lettering is positioned. “The words are placed in an unusual upright position to put across the concept of a forward thinking and progressive organisation,” says Wilson. The new logo couldn't have been further removed from LRDL's, which was flat and looked dated. “It didn't really seem to say anything about what they did and who they were. The brand experience is now much more colourful, meaningful and modern,” he adds.

Real World Group was keen to theme its new image around what it terms a 'personality centred' approach. This manifests itself in quirky artwork for its brochures, business cards and presentation graphics. Keen to exploit itself as a an organisation to help others enhance their own workforces, it incorporates lots of imagery centred around people interacting with one another; a far cry from the staid, word heavy format it had previously employed to promote itself. Business cards, for example, now feature the head of the card's owner.

Native also worked on designing a new website, which went live at the same time as a national press launch held at the London Energy Clinic, and a launch to Real World Group's existing customers held at an event in the company's hometown of Leeds. In addition, a below-the-line element took the form of a direct mail campaign and a number of conferences to which key targets were invited.

Looking forward, Real World Group has plenty of opportunity to further promote its new identity. It regularly holds workshops; at the moment holding a senior leadership development programme and an accreditation workshop on various dates between now and November, and Bradbury regularly speaks at conferences. “I never thought exchanging business cards could be such a positive brand moment until we rebranded. Now all we get is complimentary feedback, and clients and prospects forming instant positive impressions upon which we can build to demonstrate how our delivery lives up to both our reputation and our brand presentation,” she says.