Case Study by Kathleen Scott RGD, Bruce Power
To address communication challenges, the in-house design team at Bruce Power took a proactive approach to creating and implementing new brand standards, improving consistency and overall effectiveness for the organization's messaging.
Situated on the shore of Lake Huron, Bruce Power provides nuclear power to one in three homes, hospitals, schools and businesses in Ontario at 30 per cent less than the average cost to generate residential power. Our people are the foundation of our accomplishments and are proud of the role they play in delivering clean, reliable, low-cost electricity across the province and life-saving medical isotopes across the globe. Bruce Power has worked hard to build strong roots in Ontario and is committed to protecting the environment and supporting the communities in which we live.
Our in-house design team had talked about redesigning the Bruce Power logo for years. We found the logo was hard to work with as it had many small pieces, odd shapes and dated colours. Whenever we brought up the idea of a logo redesign it was met with opposition for concerns that it would cost too much money and the change would be a strain on resources.
In 2018, the Corporate Affairs Division at Bruce Power decided to step back and look at our overall messaging for a couple of reasons. As our business grows and changes, we have new areas of focus that require specific messaging. With new communications staff coming on board, it's also important for everyone to be aligned on the company's messaging and how the Bruce Power story is being told. The biggest reason for looking at our messaging (both the writing and the visuals) was the feeling that our materials did not have a consistent, distinctly 'Bruce Power' feel.
The designers in our Creative Strategy team decided to do a branding audit to help break down what we were doing well and what we needed to do better. We looked at all of our touch points including signage, vehicles, advertising, merchandise and so on and presented our findings for each category at a workshop with the bigger Corporate Affairs team, showing examples of how inconsistencies were playing out. We identified many sub-brands that did not require their own look and feel, and found that the company was using many different directions for font, colour and image selection, with no clear guiding strategy. The list of inconsistencies we were able to identify in this presentation made it easy to gain support to invest time in updating our branding.
After we had a clearer picture of the problem, our team decided the best solution would be to refresh the logo and brand standards.
Our old brand standards only had two primary colours (purple and copper) and one secondary colour (cyan). We had two corporate fonts that we really didn’t love and our logo was not user-friendly. The foundation of our brand did not provide enough tools to work with and left too much open to interpretation; each designer was taking it in different directions. We were designing 'around' our brand standards instead of designing with them.
One of the goals of the brand refresh was to align the Bruce Power logo and branding with the many modern and innovative things that are happening within the company. The original logo from 2001 felt dated and was originally based on British Energy’s logo (a company that no longer exists). We also wanted to ensure that the new logo felt like a natural progression and not a jarring change. It was important that the logo felt familiar to staff and external stakeholders, but modernized. A new, more robust brand standards document was sorely needed. We felt that with a new and improved brand standards document, the design of our material could have more consistency and our design team could move in the same direction.
We did the work and presented a logo, colour palette and fonts that we felt better told the Bruce Power story. When our Executive Team saw how it all worked together, they loved it and gave us the permission to move forward with implementation.
Our target audience was our 4,200 employees, local community members, visitors, investors and government stakeholders.
As an in-house team, we were very proud to be doing the brand refresh work ourselves instead of having it outsourced to an agency. We have earned the trust of our bigger communications team over the years by producing consistently good work. We work on Bruce Power branded material every day, so it only made sense that we, the experts, would be the best people to refresh the brand.
For us, an effective brand standards document is one that gives us lots unified tools to work with, provides a clear direction on messaging and allows for flexibility as we create a variety of pieces. It also helps to know your business and the kind of work you produce. For example, if you do a lot of advertising with photography, it’s worth building in a section that discusses the do’s and don’ts of photography for your company.
The bulk of the work occurred in an intense eight-month period that included a design audit and research, design exploration, presentations and the beginning of implementation. We decided that implementation of the brand refresh would happen in a phased approach to reduce cost and lessen the workload for staff. We asked employees to use up any material with the old logo, like stationery, before ordering new material. As things like uniforms wore out and needed to be replaced, we would replace them with the new logo.
- Aug 2018: Brand audit and research
- Sept-Dec 2018: Design work (logo, colour palette, font exploration)
- Dec 2018: Presented brand refresh to Communications team
- Jan 2019: Presented brand refresh to Executive team
- Feb 2019: Approval to go ahead with brand refresh
- Feb 2019: Began phased implementation of new branding
- Mar 2019: Meetings with internal stakeholders
- Mar 2019: Communication to employees about the brand refresh
- Apr 2019: External communication to stakeholders about brand refresh
The rebrand received very little resistance from staff and received positive feedback from all levels. It successfully resulted in more consistent branded material, better alignment and communication with vendors and a happier design team.
As we produce new materials, we are starting to see more cohesiveness within our brand taking shape. Internal campaigns still look unique but have unifying elements. Our external publications and displays look like they all go together. It will take time to transform all our touch points but it’s very gratifying to see our brand strategy being put to work with great results. Staff are excited to be moving in a more modern, innovative direction visually. It aligns with where we have been going as a company for many years now.
Tips for tackling a company rebrand project:
For the Creative Team:
- Have a solid rationale for changing the brand and make sure you know your business inside and out. Do as much research as you can before you start the design phase (both within your company and look at what other companies are doing).
- Securing support from the entire team is essential. Rebranding is a lot of work and you need to have every level of your communications team on board for it to be successful. We had casually pitched the idea of rebranding a couple of times over the years, but it wasn’t until we took the extra steps of actually showing what a rebrand could look like that we were successful in taking it to the next level. Staff needed to see it, to get it.
- Explain what isn't working and why. When you can clearly show what isn’t working with your branding system, it’s easier for people to understand why the company should invest in it. The brand audit that we did earlier on was key to getting everyone on board and identifying the key issues that needed to be addressed.
- Emphasize the value. We emphasized that by us doing the rebrand work in-house and slowly phasing it in over time, we would be minimizing costs associated with it.
- Don’t be afraid to take the initiative to change your brand…even if no one is asking you to do it!
For the Organization:
- Consider your in-house team first. They know your brand the best and work with it every day. They will be thinking of practical applications that come up in their day-to-day work that agencies may not.
- Set your in-house creative team up for success. Help them find the time to approach the project properly. See if there are any major projects that can be pushed off that can free up more time for them.