Using brand to rebound after COVID-19

Pivoting during COVID-19 spinning top

Will your ‘pivoting’ leave you aimlessly spinning or do you have solid ground to enter a more competitive time? Discover how brand can help you rebound after COVID-19.

The Covid-19 restrictions have left many businesses reeling rather than pivoting. Medium-sized businesses have been especially vulnerable to the sudden loss of customers as tourism has dried up, hospitality spaces are pared back and anything to do with flying or events has slumped – and most of the overheads haven’t gone away.

While everyone’s been looking forward to restrictions easing, now what? More competition for a returning dollar and fewer people with the cash to spend casually are going to make it tempting for businesses to slash prices to get their share but there has to be a better way.

I believe people are going to favour trusted brands more than ever as they come out of an unsettled and disturbing time. They will want to have the iconic experiences they haven’t had, buy things that have real value and avoid any risky surprises – we’ve had enough uncertainty for a while.

That doesn’t mean new brands won’t flourish but they will need to inspire confidence with their values, distinctive voice and professionalism.

Whether new or old, brands will need to evoke the right feelings and speak the right language for their market and for the time.

An opportunity to differentiate

Over the next few years, it will be survival of the fittest. While it’s tempting for businesses to spend nothing, or as little as possible, this is a time when you particularly need to invest in ensuring you’re ahead of the crowd.

If your ‘brand’ has been no more than a logo and a colour palette, now is the time to think about who you really are, where your strengths lie, what you value and how you can use those things to carve out a distinctive niche.

Perhaps your whole look and feel needs a makeover to signal something new and to add perceived value to the experience of your service or product.

It may be your messages, your packaging, your photography, your story or your website that needs to connect with people in a more effective way.

There are going to be huge opportunities to tempt people to experience the things they’ve missed or never experienced but how will they choose between your offering and 101 other claims on their discretionary expenditure?

Value is more than skin deep

Real branding isn’t about a superficial makeover. It’s about what you live by everyday and how you deal with every interaction. Ultimately it’s what your customers come to say about you.

What would your customers currently say? What would you like them to say? How will you get there?

Lloyd Grey looks at branding from the inside out and helps you build the framework for a resilient and compelling brand. New designs and ideas are not random but deeply rooted in your brand DNA. That gives them longevity and makes them a foundation for the future.

If you’re determined to ride out the next few years and emerge a leader of your sector, now is the time for a brand health-check.

Don’t take short-cuts. You need someone who will work with you with honesty and effective strategies, sharing knowledge and skills to take you to the next level.

As a small Queensland business ourselves, we’re keen to support those Australian businesses that have the passion to create something outstanding and help the economy rebuild.

Get in touch to find an inspiring path beyond COVID. Contact us

Updating a brand for new generations

BBC Brisbane Boys College Centenary Book Gentlemen of Honour 1902-2002 updating a brand for new generations

Over time, a brand develops recognition and ‘brand equity’. If it is loved and respected, this is something you don’t want to lose with a random rebrand. It’s important to know what to change, and when, to keep your brand relevant and to retain continuity with the best of its past.

Lloyd Grey has nurtured a number of traditional brands through a reimagination. The solutions and levels of change have been different for each.

When evolution calls

Business author Alan Deutschman popularised the aphorism, ‘Change or die’. In this, he echoed Charles Darwin who said, ‘It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change’.

In the branding world, even the best-known brands need to keep on their toes as their environment changes and new generations bring new tastes and perspectives.

Often, with a traditional or well-established brand, a branding consultant is treading on sacred ground, and major change may be seen as almost sacrilegious by some of the brand’s guardians.

Two Lloyd Grey clients demonstrate how the change may be subtle or may be much more transformative, depending on circumstances. In both cases, change was necessary to stay relevant.

100 years of education

Brisbane Boys’ College had been educating young men for a century when it contacted Lloyd Grey, realising it needed to reposition itself to survive. Its prospectus and promotional materials looked badly out of date and didn’t reflect a forward-thinking and contemporary education. The history and tradition of the school were an integral part of its appeal but they needed to be presented in a more appropriate way.

Inevitably there were those who thought the school crest shouldn’t be touched. As part of its rebranding rationale, Lloyd Grey demonstrated how it could be simplified for clearer reproduction, at the same time retaining its meaningful elements and looking more contemporary for 21st century parents and students. In this case, an obvious visual continuity was the right solution.

BBC Brisbane Boys College historical versions of the school crest
BBC Brisbane Boys College modern version of the school crest brand mark by Lloyd Grey

The heritage was also beautifully represented by embossing elements of the architecture on important publications – in other words, the architecture became part of the brand. 

The new brand touched everything from photography style (goodbye 1970s!) to stationery. A signature centennial book with the new brand and design won a commendation from Design Institute of Australia.

A transformation for a traditional charity

In contrast, the charity of the Queensland Freemasons’, which also had a long established brand (originating in the 1920s), needed to take a courageous leap forward from a name and logo that were no longer relevant to the scope of their work or the contemporary community.

‘The Board of Benevolence and of Aged Masons, Widows and Orphans’ Fund’ needed to rethink its approach to continue to raise funds and support many good causes in the community. The original logo of a dependent mother and children spoke of another time and a very different society.

When recommending a new brand with a completely new name and logo, Lloyd Grey was very keen to find roots in the Freemasons’ philanthropic traditions to retain the goodwill of the brethren around the state – but it also needed to be something that made sense to the wider community when it appeared at events like Bunnings sausage sizzles or on sponsored vehicles.

The new name Hand, Heart, Pocket reflects a Freemasons’ ritual of touching hand to heart and pocket to pledge help to those in need. It also symbolises to the public the practical help, empathy and financial support that the Freemasons give to Queensland communities.

The interpretation and colour of the new brandmark help it stand out in a competitive fund-raising field.

From there, Lloyd Grey created the look, feel and story to introduce the new brand to the brethren. A new manifesto, new website and new fundraising tools consolidated the change. In total, the brand transformation achieved a new identity that would boost fundraising and empower the organisation’s future.

Hand Heart Pocket brand ambassadors

If you need help to refresh or reimagine a traditional brand, Lloyd Grey can find you a pathway that both retains valuable brand equity and also invigorates the brand with new energy for changing times. Contact us

Rebranding – be prepared for deep change

Lloyd Grey a leopard cannot change its spots illustration

When organisations invest in a rebrand, we often find they are unprepared for the impact this has on their business.

A rebrand is much more than a new logo and colour palette. Businesses are often surprised by how the rebrand process touches everything they do and the way that they do it.

This article explores some of the changes to prepare for, in order to make the most of a rebrand.


Branding is a key part of business strategy. While a rebrand might be instigated to resolve business challenges, it quickly highlights other inconsistencies in the business that are not ‘on brand’. Most importantly, it opens up new opportunities, clarifies direction, and makes business decisions clearer for the future.

Embraced by company leaders, a rebrand with clear purpose is a North Star to guide competitive differentiation.

Customer experience

It is only worth investing in a rebrand if an organisation is prepared to reassess the customer experience to match the brand promise. With a design-thinking approach, we highlight ways to enhance the customers experience. It needn’t mean huge investment in new systems but just simple changes in attitude and realignments that help claim your brand territory.


Staff culture is a huge part of making sure your employees ‘walk the talk’ of the new brand so every touchpoint gives the right brand experience.

A new brand should never slip in under the radar without involving employees and firing their enthusiasm for being part of the change.

Nor can it be ‘set and forget’. Leaders need to reinforce the brand values and culture in every example they set year in and year out. Employees need to be empowered to express the brand in their work (within clear guidelines, of course). They need to understand exactly what the values mean for their behaviour. There has to be a clear line of sight between the brand promise, brand values and what is expected of each person.

This can’t be just a single training course but has to be integrated into the way you do business, the things you measure and the things you acknowledge.

Lloyd Grey Business Creativity staff culture card close-up
Illustration from one of our Business Creativity inspiration cards on staff culture

Human resources

Do you have the right employees and structure to meet the brand promise? Does your recruitment process need to emphasise different qualities? How do you reward the right attitudes and secure the loyalty of your most precious human resources? Do employees feel responsible for the brand and are you giving them enough responsibility to take the initiative?

How will you communicate strategy and change so it is an ongoing part of the brand story that employees can relate to? How will you involve them in suggesting change and improvements to keep the brand vibrant?

Marketing communication

A brand has an ongoing story that unfolds over many years, through many different channels and tools. While times change, the brand fundamentals should last a lifetime. The story just needs to be expressed a little differently to resonate with different times, places and audiences.

Expressing the brand goes to the heart of every message you send out, and not just the obvious big-picture marketing pieces. It has to be considered whether it’s a social media post, a formal contract letter, a media release, a questionnaire or your answering machine message. This may mean changing your language, changing the tone, changing the emphasis. Communication is too important to be left to chance!

Social responsibility

Increasingly organisations need to consider their social responsibility as part of their brand. The emerging generations are particularly hot on any inconsistency between brand claims and the way a company operates. By the early 2020s, nearly half the workforce and many of your customers will be Millenials. If your brand embraces social responsibility and integrates it into all decisions, you will have a huge advantage.

Do you need to rethink your supply chain? Your sponsorships? Your environmental guidelines?

That often means some big decisions internally. While each company will decide how far it can take its social responsibility and where it can best contribute, be prepared to consider this as part of your brand for the coming decades.

It should be clear from this brief overview that all your leaders and departments need to be involved in understanding a rebrand so it can be made an authentic reality throughout the organisation. It’s not easy for a brand to change its spots, but it can be done when leaders are ready to put their weight behind it.

If you would like to find out more about brand integration, please contact us now.

Six signs your brand language is missing the mark

Six signs your brand language is missing the mark

To build a believable and trustworthy brand, customers and employees need to receive a relevant and consistent impression from both your visual and written language. Here are six danger signs that your brand communication is much less effective than it could be. Take the brand health check…

1    No definite personality

A large proportion of websites and promotional materials are quite bland. It’s hard for customers to get a real sense of the company they’re dealing with. Stock library photos, predictable words and ‘me too’ colours make you indistinguishable from all the others in your sector.

You can’t really start changing these things until you know who you are and what sort of brand personality reflects that. It’s not just about what you do but why you do it and what you genuinely care about. It’s about who you want to attract as your brand ‘tribe’ and what resonates for them at a deep and lasting level. Personality is not something a brand can, or should, change with every passing trend.

Quick test: Ask someone who doesn’t know your company to give you five personality words that come across strongly from your home page or printed material. Is that the personality you intend to convey?

2    Mismatch between what you say and how you look

It’s probably the most obvious one but still something many companies do not pay enough attention to. It’s no good saying you’re an innovative company if your logo, brand colours and design language look as if you’re a solicitor from the 1950s! It’s no good saying you believe in quality if all your branded material is inconsistent, riddled with style mistakes and shouts its offers with more banners and flashes than a mardi gras!

It’s no good saying you’re ‘friendly’ if your language sounds more like a corporate report than a conversation. It’s no good saying you make things simple for clients if it’s impossible for them to find their way through a complex web of information to what they need.

Quick test: Find the five descriptive words that are most repeated in your website and promotional material e.g. helpful, reliable, knowledgeable. Do the images and style tell the same story?

3    You’re not engaging both head and heart

For customers and employees to connect with you, you need to engage both their logical reasoning and their emotions. Yes, even scientists and engineers have emotions, values and higher objectives they want to achieve!

Depending on the product or service, the proportion of logic and emotion will vary but communicating effectively isn’t just about giving information it’s about making people feel something.

Quick test: How do your website, communication, packaging and other brand tools make people feel? Capture the first two words that come to mind. Bored? Confused? Neutral? Daunted? Or perhaps something positive? Confident? Inspired? Motivated? Delighted? Understood?

4    Your story is missing

Your story isn’t just your history on the ‘About Us’ page. It’s the context for everything you do that puts all your decisions and your look and feel in perspective. Marketing and communication without a clear story comes across as impersonal ‘sell’. No-one understands your motivations beyond making a quick buck.

It’s more than saying ‘We’re passionate about xyz’. It’s helping people get to know you, what you’re trying to achieve and how they can be part of it. It’s the foundation for building relationships, not just a sale.

Quick test: Do you know what motivates you? What really gives you satisfaction in your business (besides making money)? What would you like your business to be known for? Do you share that story?

5    You’re trying to tell all things to all people

One of the biggest mistakes people make with their branding and brand messages is trying to hit every possible pain or gain spot for every possible market. In trying to give more and more reasons why you’re the best choice, you end up with undifferentiated and confusing communication. Readers will have switched off long before you’ve pushed your last point home.

It’s better (and easier operationally) to build a reputation in your market for being the absolute go-to brand or one or two compelling reasons rather than being a company that does ‘a bit of this and a bit of that’ and doesn’t stand out for any of it.

Quick test: Do you and your staff know your key differentiating brand messages and do these sing out from every brand communication you produce? The way you express them may be different in different contexts and for different markets but your brand theme should never be overshadowed by describing every widget and lever.

6    The words keep your reader at arm’s length

Most of us start our business career thinking it’s important to use very formal corporate language – and the more business or sector jargon we can incorporate the better. We want to sound credible so we speak in the third person about ourselves and our customers – avoiding saying ‘we’ and ‘you’.

Our written language needs to find the right tone. Simpler is usually better. Speaking directly to the reader with ‘you’ and ‘your’ makes a connection. Discover the subtle changes in language that create a major change of impression.

Quick test: Run some of your communication through a readability tester, such as a Flesch-Kincaid tool. Alternatively look for telltale corporate jargon like ‘Items will be prioritised and impacts considered going forwards’. That sort of language is a brand-free zone or creates a zone-out brand!

If you think you could do better with your brand language, Lloyd Grey is here to help. We can put the pieces together to create a memorable and distinctive brand that resonates through everything you do. It’s the difference between companies that are just ‘another player’ in their space and brands people really want to interact with.

To find out about revitalising your brand language with genuine brand personality, please get in touch. Contact us