7 things we learnt at the Transform Conference Europe 2017

Rufus Staff Writer

Rebranding a British classic

Since Tata Steel decided to sell their specialty steel business in early 2017, the process of creating a brand from scratch began. Their methodology was clear; as Ruth Henstock, Head of Communications stated, it was all about “involving all levels of the organisation”. By identifying and encouraging Brand Champions across the business who could drive support for a new brand story with all employees. Tata Steel created an “engaged and enthusiastic” workforce that was keen to be a part of the branding process from day one.


The power of the Circular Economy

The circular economy is based on the concept of keeping all materials within the consumption process at the highest amount of value as possible. The topic was explored by Director of Consulting at The Clearing, Nick Liddell. He discussed how using the Circular Economy could have a vast impact on sustainability, as well as businesses. Nick used the business, Splosh as an example: they’ve designed out waste, by only providing a reusable bottle and sachet refills, which, when mixed with water, create your detergent – eliminating waste and unneeded materials. He went on to explore how the Circular Economy could impact the shoe industry. By designing modular shoes, where each part is separate, shoes can be repaired easily, with only the faulty parts being replaced. Reducing the 1.5 million tonnes of landfill waste caused by the shoe market. 


Action for Children take action

Facing a large loss in income, due to restructuring in the sector, bad press and a decrease in UK giving to £9.7 billion from £10.6 billion, Action for Children needed to change. According to Sheona Michie, Head of Brand Marketing for Action for Children, they set out to “become a different kind of charity”. It started with their people, from volunteers to senior teams, involving them from the beginning in creating a new communications strategy. The result was a new brand hub, new brand values and a new approach to interacting and sharing stories with the public 

Action for chidren

Heritage vs challenger brands

Former Rufus strategist Sara Gordon, now Brand and Creative Director at Bloom and Wild, took to the stage to represent the challenger point of view. While Simon Manchipp, founder of SomeOne, spoke on behalf of heritage brands. The discussion centred on debunking preconceptions about the two types of brands. Particuarly heritage brands – Simon challenged the idea that heritage brands weren’t capable of being ambitious, radical and progressive, He argued they can still thrive, innovate and that creativity doesn’t slump with size. Sara instead focused on the way things are done at Wild & Bloom, talking about their challenger culture, consisting of: understanding and solving anxieties, creating a customer serving culture and empowering employees with data. The main conclusion: heritage is here to stay. While the number of challenger brands will continue to increase, heritage brands must be progressive and ambitious to stay ahead.


The power of language

Andy Biernacki Head of Brand for Vauxhall Motors and Al Hussain, from Verbal Identity discussed the importance of brand language. Al began with an interesting comparison – the average brand owner, is responsible for more language, than the Editor-in-chief at the Guardian. Next, Andy discussed how language helped to revitalise Vauxhall when they started to stagnate. Through tone of voice, attitude was injected into the brand, helping them to reposition themselves. As Al explained, this was done through the agency’s 3-level approach to language. 10,000 feet is the language that represents what the brand stands for and who you are, 1,000 feet consists of tone of voice, message structure and creating templates for use across multiple channels and finally, ground level; words to include, words to avoid, syntax are a part of this level. This level of detail shows the power of language in branding and how the right words can make a brand unforgettable. 

This girl can

Is retail dead?

One of the biggest topics in business is the state of retail business. James Gold, founder of Skinnydip London – a rapidly growing fashion and lifestyle brand. And Sylvia Lago, strategy director at FITCH, both gave convincing and informative talks. The role of retail is changing and physical stores are becoming more about showing brand personality, instead of trying to make money, according to James. Retail is everything to do with the experience for the shopper. Sylvia highlighted Mall of America as an example, the diverse and huge range of experiences available in one place couldn’t be matched online. So instead of ‘bricks vs clicks’, it’s time to start investing in ‘bricks and clicks’ – because retail is definitely not dead.


This Girl Can

Finally, Kate Dale spoke on behalf of This Girl Can and Sport England, sharing the story behind the successful empowerment campaign. The key for the campaign was being relatable and trying to help relieve the psychological barriers to exercise that many women faced. The main one being fear of judgement. So, the campaign put women, all women, at its core and reached out to them like a friend using social media. Since the launch, the participation gender gap in physical activity has reduced. As Kate explained, barriers don’t just disappear, but this campaign is a huge step forward and is a great example, of the possibilities, that can be achieved, by purpose-led branding.


The main takeaway from this year’s conference? Change is coming and fast. Branding must adapt and lead the way. 


Click here for more information on this year's Transform Conference

Rufus Staff Writer

We’re designers, coders, strategists and more. Whether it’s the latest #brandfail, a new tech trend or changes in our industry – we’ve got an opinion on it.