Aruma: How to merge and relaunch two well-known brands

CEO of the new-look brand for the former House with No Steps and The Tipping Foundation shares the important people and culture journey behind the branding strategy

How do you go about rebranding and merging already well-branded organisations? This is the question recently launched brand, Aruma, had to ponder seriously over the last year. 

Aruma is the result of a merger of the House with No Steps and The Tipping Foundation in March last year. With names that stood for so much, considering the future brand of the merged group was a big task.  

Both House with No Steps and The Tipping Foundation had strong legacies and stakeholder engagement was key, Aruma’s CEO, Andrew Richardson, told CMO. So before the rebrand, stakeholders were asked an important question: Do these names represent the merged organisation? The opinion canvassing involved hundreds of its people and a cross-section of customers and their families to understand their views.  

“It was really important for us to talk to the people who mattered most – our customers, their families and our staff," Richardson said. “We did a lot of research. And ultimately, it was our staff who came up with our new beliefs, values and purpose. These are now the foundation of Aruma." 

The research made clear the organisation needed to explore a new name to help unite it internally, and to make sure it stayed ahead of the curve in the ever-changing NDIS environment. These two things essentially became the aim of our rebrand.

“Some results from our research were surprising," Richardson continued. "For example, we knew there was appetite to explore a new name, but we were surprised with how strong this appetite was. Both staff and families encouraged us to be bold and go down the path of a rebrand.” 

From start to end, it took a little over a year to develop the new brand strategy. The resulting brand name, 'Aruma', has its roots in languages and cultures from all over the world. It means a happy place, to plough the land, being real and true, as well as the calm time between sunset and sunrise - when the body and soul renews for a new day.  

“But we’re not so focused on literal explanations. Aruma is a trailblazer," Richardson said. "Aruma puts customers first and never entertains a one-size-fits all approach. Aruma raises the bar higher. 

“Aruma is our bold, new chapter and we’re incredibly excited, and humbled, to be writing this together with our staff and our customers."  

In advance of going public with the brand, staff got a ‘sneak peek’. To do this, the company put together an entire internal communications campaign. Richardson described feedback and uptake of Aruma internally as "great" . 

“Externally, our customers and their families also got a ‘sneak peek’ at Aruma," he said. “As for the broader public, our new website and digital channels are now all live. And we have quite a thorough brand awareness campaign we’re working to.” 

As with any campaign, Aruma is measuring success against a few metrics. Internally, it’s all about staff engagement, measured a few times a year via an internal survey. There are also upcoming marketing activities later in the year, which are secret for now. 

“With our customers, we also have customer satisfaction metrics. We will also be running ongoing brand tracking to assess awareness and brand salience,” Richardson said. “Then there’s also traffic to our new website, calls to our customer service team, and much more.  

“The focus for us is to really get our brand – Aruma - out there. We’re so much more than a disability service provider and we’re excited to shake up the industry. 

“We’ve grown so much in recent years. In addition to House with No Steps and The Tipping Foundation joining forces, we’ve welcomed customers and staff from other providers, including Summerland, Ballina and Horizon Early Intervention Services, Interchange Northern Region, and the New South Wales and Victorian Governments.”

Check out more of CMO's rebranding case study stories:

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