Rebrands - What’s the Point?

How same-day courier service Gophr reinvented its logo
Seb Robert

Brands love to shake things up occasionally. The people at the top start getting itchy feet. Business is slowing maybe. There’s been a big shift in the market, a huge event such as Covid leading to them having a rethink. Or maybe they see a competitor doing something new and get a case of FOMO. “We need to do something”, they say. The need for some sort of action is overwhelming. “How about a rebrand?” someone suggests. “Yeah, that will work.”  After all who doesn’t love a new shiny logo?

Maybe I’m being flippant here. There are plenty of legitimate reasons why a rebrand is needed. It could be a shift in offering that is not reflected in the original brand identity. It might be because the old brand is tarnished in some way. It could just be as simple that times have changed, and your business is now looking dated. 

I don’t profess to be a branding expert, but my business Gophr has gone through its own rebranding. During this process, I learned it was more than just about the logo and look and feel, but a whole change in tone of voice, the messaging and how we conducted ourselves.

Causing a scene

When we first launched in 2015, we were kinda punk. We were the upstarts, the rabble-rousers, the mad bastards that had come into the courier world to shake shit up. The providers in the courier world were boring and sanitised. And yet the people who worked for them, the cycle couriers were some of the coolest people on London streets. 

This was when bike fanzines were still going. There was this whole sub-culture happening on that we wanted to reflect, so we wanted our visual language to capture that. That meant rough and ready - hand-drawn almost. It was as if we had got one of the artists from the fanzines to paint it for us.

We wanted to come across as different, to be seen as an ally to those who were actually on the road. I’d been on the bike myself when doing my homework before setting up. I knew how tough it was out there but I also knew how little the big boys actually cared about the people delivering the parcels. We wanted to be someone that they wanted to work for.

That meant speaking their language and talking to them in a way that they understood. 

Our original branding and messaging also reflected who we were working with - small businesses. That was, and still is (see our partnership with Evermile which goes a long way to support SMEs) a key market for us. And as a start-up ourselves, there was already a connection between them and us. If we had gone in and started to act in a way that did not resonate with our key client base then we would have been in trouble. Instead, the language, the messaging and the tone made them feel like they could trust us.

Times - they are a’changing

But times change. As the courier and rapid delivery space grew, propelled by the hot food delivery market hype, the punk aesthetic fell by the wayside. It was suddenly a grown-up industry that was getting some serious funding. While the guys on the bikes were still pretty hardcore, vans, cars and other modes of transport were becoming more prominent on our platform. And sadly a lot of the fanzines and street race culture died away.

We were also growing up. We had hit net profitability and we were about to go into our first round of funding. We needed a logo, a look that reflected that maturity, as well as mirroring the market that we were now operating in. 

It wasn’t a huge change, but it “cleaned” our image up. The box remained of course. There is a real urge in businesses going through a rebrand to rip it all up and start again. Too many people wanting to make their mark, but if it is already good, then what you actually need to do is make what you have got, work better.

And that was why we eventually changed to the above logo a couple of years ago. The previous one was good - it was what was needed at the time as we looked to grow up, but it needed tightening up. So we worked on the typeface and went for a font that had a much clearer G - which sounds trivial, but it's on the sides of vans now. And if there is even a small chance of it being misread then you need to change it. Again, it is about working with what you got, to make it work harder.

The new look also reflected the digital nature of our business, the roads we operate on and the consignments we carry. The whole industry is app-based now so you need to have assets that work in a digital environment. Also, the graphics we use in marketing, on the website and on social are “digital” in feel - reflecting where we are now - a tech-driven business.

There was also a slight shift in how we conducted ourselves. We work with some pretty big names, such as Screwfix and Co-Op, so the language we use is slightly more professional across the board, from answering customer questions to the copy on our website. It’s all part of the brand.

There always needs to be a reason for a brand refresh. If there isn’t a good reason, then what’s the point?  Take Zoopla and its change of logo in 2021 which is a mixture of uppercase and lowercase. The supposed reason? To reflect the ups and downs of finding a new home. Come on now, that’s marketing guff.

On the flipside take Nationwide’s new look - the first time in 36 years in which it has changed. They say they are looking to position the business as a “modern and confident challenger to the big banks”. It's saying that there are old banks with their branches, and then the modern challenger banks with new 'cool' features the old fogies with their 'branches' don't have. Nationwide are saying with their rebrand that you can in fact be both. That’s a rebrand with clear messaging and reason behind it. Nationwide, I applaud you.

And then there is 4od, All 4? Channel 4? They’ve had more rebrands than anyone, and I’m still calling it 4od like most of the world, demonstrating that sometimes your original brand is actually the best one, so why bother changing it?

So always ask yourselves before a rebrand…”what’s the point”?

Written by
Seb Robert
Written by
November 28, 2023