‘We want to be braver’: Sanlam Marketing Head on rebranding to atomos

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum

The rebrand of Sanlam Wealth as atomos is an opportunity for the company to reinvent itself in a sector that sometimes looks “homogeneous”, says Head of Marketing Christopher Dean.

As with abrdn’s rebrand last year, the decision to change the brand had a commercial genesis, Chris tells FSF. The completion of the acquisition by Oaktree Capital Management in May set a time limit on the firm’s use of the Sanlam brand.

“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity because we’re not just updating our colours or pictures or changing our fonts. This is a completely blank sheet of paper: new name, new positioning, new look and feel and actually a new proposition to our clients.”

While the move originated from external circumstances, internally it was viewed as the chance to define the company as something different.

“The wealth management industry is often seen as fairly homogeneous. A lot of brands look the same, sound the same and appear in the same way to the outside world. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but we had an opportunity to do something different and start afresh.”

Last year, the firm onboarded a global strategic brand agency, MadeBrave.

“The aim for our business is in their name. We want to be a much braver brand, essentially, and they were the right kind of agency to do that for us.”

A key part  of the brief was to create a name that felt different and was forward-looking, alluding to the company’s digital proposition.

The announcement of the name comes ahead of a full release of supporting assets such as brand imagery, new materials and an updated website in September. Chris says this was in order to get on the front foot and be able to manage messaging with clients and prospects.

To create the new brand, MadeBrave spent a “huge” amount of time with the business, including the executive committee, senior leadership team and a brand steering group comprising members of both Sanlam Wealth and Oaktree.

The work also drew extensively on a mixture of newly conducted staff surveys, as well as client surveys from across the years. All of this was cross-referenced with analysis of the market from a brand perspective.

One of MadeBrave’s observations was the polarisation within the market.

“You’ve either got the  more  traditional wealth management firm which prides itself on that personal high touch service. You’ve got other brands that are much more digitally focused, such as WealthSimple or Nutmeg. The atomos positioning is somewhere in the middle.”

The brand is designed to be more akin to a consumer brand, bringing together the “best of both worlds” of a highly personalised approach supported by digital accessibility and convenience.

Chris says that the naming process was “tricky”.

“People say it’s like naming a child – it’s ten times harder.”

A long list of 140 names was gradually whittled down, with a trademarking lawyer extending the list to ever more extensive scrutiny at each stage. There were lots of popular names that didn’t make it through, although Chris says that atomos was one of the favourites throughout the whole process.

Chris doesn’t plan to do a huge amount of advertising this year, as the priority is to make sure staff and then clients understand the new brand, with client launch events taking place in September and October.

“We think that’ll take us towards the end of the year.”

Next year will see more external promotion of the new name.

“We’re not out to waste money or be frivolous. We want to make sure the brand lands with our key audiences in a way which feels proportionate and sensible. We’ve got some great work to share with clients, fantastic brand videos and a really great updated website on the way. All our materials will look and feel really great.”

The firm is also looking for a new brand partner who can reflect the new brand.

The promotion will come alongside the launch of a new website and the growing use of data to connect with clients. Of particular interest is the work with Invest Cloud to develop a new app and platform for clients.

This will not only generate more engagement from clients but also a huge amount more data in terms of user habits and what they are searching for.

“We’ll go from a brand where they perhaps see or hear from us two or three times a month to potentially engaging with us every day because we’ll be on their mobile phone or tablet.”

This data will also feed into the content strategy. Chris says the team is looking carefully at its current offering.

“Everyone produces masses of content – do clients really need another investor update?”

“We’re thinking through what kind of content we want to be providing our clients with, how often and in what format.”

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