CASE STUDIES: 3 brand refresh stories from SJP, Arbuthnot Latham and T. Rowe Price

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum

This week the Forum brought together experts from three firms to speak about their recent brand refreshes. The session, chaired by brand consultant Lucian Camp, explored what worked and what they could have changed.


Arbuthnot Latham


Virginie Dafforn-Gorgemans, Head of Marketing and Proposition at private bank Arbuthnot Latham, discussed the importance of identifying goals and desired outcomes. She argued that the function of a brand is to help customers choose products and services and add value to the owner.

She noted that the status quo had the firm’s brand stating that they had been “private bankers since 1833”, which not only wasn’t strictly true but also didn’t put sufficient emphasis on the increasingly important commercial banking and wealth management aspects of the firm’s offering.

The branding approach had also been constrained by a marketing services-type structure, where the department was essentially there as a support function. As a result, existing branding was undifferentiated, or a “bank in a box”, and there was little coordination in use across the organisation.

The brand ended up focusing on emphasising real human interaction supported by technology. The refresh included a redesigned peacock emblem and the introduction of the recurring motif of colourful plumage across different channels.

A large part of the project focused on achieving internal buy-in, initially from the chairman of the organisation.

However, as the organisation doesn’t do above the line advertising, there was a big focus on getting buy-in from individual members of staff as well.

The results were successful in driving NPS from 42% to 64%, with a 204% increase in new website users.

One area of the process which Virginie believes could have been improved upon was the choice of agency. While the agency were good at devising an initial concept for the rebrand, they were not really big enough to execute it, and this meant the internal Arbuthnot Latham team ended up doing a lot of work.


St. James’s Place

St James’s Place used a different approach, taking it from what was seen as a rarified wealth management brand to something designed to a broad range of consumers.

Paul Martin, Divisional Director for Marketing Services at St James’s Place, argued that while the old brand identity of the firm had succeeded in building equity since it was created in the 1990s, the heritage was no longer resonating with modern culture.

As a large network of advisors, there was also fragmentation in brand usage across the organisation.

The challenge in updating this was that many people were invested in the brand as it stood, and the brand had to be respected in some ways.

“We had to respect where we came from but be relevant to future clients.”

Through discussions with focus groups and a branding agency, the decision was made to drop the mention of “wealth management” and the Venetian lion and introduce a new, more contemporary look and colour palette.

Due to a vast range of different sizes of company, the individual businesses and advisors within SJP were also given flexibility over how they used the brand.

In hindsight, Paul notes that the web journey may have been somewhat rushed, meaning that corners were cut on coding to meet deadlines. However, one positive learning was around how much agencies could help in persuading the internal audience, such as directors.


T. Rowe Price

Michel van Oorshot, Head of EMEA Marketing at T. Rowe Price, had a different challenge. T. Rowe Price is a top three or five brand in the US and is aimed at consumers, whereas in the UK it is less recognised and through intermediaries only.

“[In the US] we’d gone from challenger to established, with a deep brand equity to think about. Here we’re a challenger.”

These factors meant that when a decision was taken to refresh the brand two years ago, the problem statement in Europe was very different to the US.

“How do you take a brand refresh with a very different driver and make it work here?”

Some aspects of the refresh were cosmetic, such as sharpening the brand symbol of the ram and changing the colour palette from the industry’s favourite dark blue to a brighter and lighter set of colours.

What required a bit more tailoring was the TV spot. Michel says his first reaction to seeing the advert was that it would resonate for the US but not in Europe.

T. Rowe Price doesn’t do any TV advertising in Europe, but it decided to take a different route for its above the line digital advertising.

This used the same brand concept of curiosity but designed it to focus more on investment expertise and to appeal more to investment professionals.

Like the other two panellists, T. Rowe Price also worked hard to ensure internal audiences were on board, running a bespoke charity rowing event to introduce the branding to employees.

Michel said he was pleased with the outcome, but thinks more could have been done to bring the audience along on the journey and keep stakeholders informed.

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