In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?
Undergoing an integrated brand refresh at TravelEdge has not only helped the company better reflect the relationship and strength of its five brands to customers, it’s also lifting staff engagement.
Fifteen years ago, Sue Hollis and her business partner and joint MD, Grant Wilson, launched TravelEdge, a corporate travel management company in Australia. Like most small businesses, the former senior Qantas executives started with one brand and a set of values, and things grew from there.
Today, the company has 120 staff and operates five brands: TravelEdge Corporate covering corporate travel management; Absolute Edge, and events, marketing and conference group; Granted Worldwide, which works with ad agencies on travel promotions and competitions; TravelEdge Holidays, which delivers high-end leisure trips to corporate companies; and Communico, which provides travel management services to very large clients including Leighton and GHD.
Having reached such a size and scope, the company was facing fragmented brand equity and some internal and external confusion about its offerings. Hollis said it was time to give the look and feel of the business a refresh, showcase its strength and reach, and improve cohesiveness across its portfolio of services in order to better articulate its vision for the future.
“We’ve become a significant player over an evolutionary period and have a vision, purpose and mission for the group for the next 15 years,” she told CMO. “It was about asserting our next stage of development – we have had 15 years of building and growing, now we wanted clarity on what the next 15 years will be about.”
TravelEdge initially looked at updating its websites and after a tender process, started working with branding agency, Uberbrand.
“The process evolved from looking just at the website; the questions that they [Uberbrand team] put to us made us realise this was a lot bigger than just a website,” Hollis said. “It was an opportunity to bring the entire brand portfolio together as one group and correlate that.
“There was a bit of overlap in some brands and the company, so we went through a process for each, looking at who are customers are, messages, who to market to and how that message should be delivered, plus relations with each of the client bases.” Thanks to its work with Uberbrand, each brand now has a fresh logo, retaining its original colour and some differentiation but better aligning with the overarching TravelEdge visual identity, Hollis said.
“We tried very much to keep with original values of the brand but bring these in-line with the other brands,” she said. “Each had a very different look and feel and didn’t look related to the rest of the group. We had to see the affinity of each of the brands and have a look and feel that was consistent.”
The rebranding process also gave the company a new lease on life on marketing strategy, and the way the team looks at how to tackle SEM, social media, and target EDMs to different target audiences, she continued.
Arguably most importantly, however, is the impact on staff and culture.
“It’s just as important to communicate the rebrand to our people and the new opportunities to reinvigorate the business, as well as speak to our customers,” Hollis said. “It gave us a shake up and challenged a few things, but it also gives people a sense of pride. Created a burning platform to do this so we have set the vision for the next 15 years.”
As part of the rebrand process, Uberbrand helped TravelEdge created a brand book for existing and new employees, which it is using to talk about the brand values and what it means to be part of the business, as well as how staff deliver on that.
The rebrand was launched 18 months ago and while the process was chaotic, Hollis said she wouldn’t have done it any other way. The transformation was recognised in the Enterprise Rebrand category at the 2014 Rebrand 100 Global Awards.
“It also gave us the opportunity to talk to our clients and there’s been no backlash, it highlights all these brands as working together,” she said.
TravelEdge is now working to expand each of its brands in Australia, but Hollis said there are no current plans to expand abroad. But thanks to the move from travel management provider to provider of travel-related services, there are further opportunities for each of the brands and particularly its Communico business.
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