Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 27th 2014 Contents SBG8 NEWS
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JULY 27 • 2014
Why do companies decide to change
their name, logo or public perception?
Chief Inspirer at Pepper Advertising, Dennis Ramdeen, said
that the most common reason is that they believe the current
brand architecture is not working for them to optimise per-
formance mainly in terms of sales and profits.
Ramdeen, who once headed McCann Erickson s Caribbean
operation and held senior marketing positions at Coca Cola,
Carib Brewery and Prestige Holdings, to name a few, and is
now the man in charge at Pepper, spoke to the Sunday BG
about this process that can either hurt or heal a company s
Apart from the current brand architecture not working to
the liking of executives, Ramdeen said that companies rebrand
for a number of other reasons. He said they also rebrand,
"when there is a merger or an acquisition; when the brand
is perceived as confusing to the public; when there is a major
crisis that may have sullied the name of the owner whose
name is the same as the company s; or like Massy, where they
perceive that they are better off with a monolithic brand archi-
Where Massy chose a strategy that would see their sub-
sidiaries operate under one name and logo, Ramdeen said the
decision as to which branding architecture should be adopted,
poses a challenge for companies.
He said, "Companies can chose a diversified structure, like
Nestle, which has several brands like Orchard, Milo, Vibe and
Purina; a hybrid structure, like Toyota, which manufactures
Lexus; or a unitary structure, like IBM or Massy where every-
thing comes under one name."
In T&T s business community, historically, Massy has not
been the only local operation to rebrand their portfolio. Readers
may remember when companies like Sagicor and Caribbean
Airlines also engaged in their own rebrand exercises in 2002
and 2007, respectively. Guardian Holdings was also rebranded
as the Guardian Group, inclusive of a new logo, in August,
Arthur Lok Jack, who was Guardian s chairman at the time
of the rebranding, spoke to the Sunday BG about the three
main reasons for the move. One of those, was to create better
synergies among its subsidiaries and a greater sense of cohesion
"We had a very strong brand in Guardian Life, but we grew
over the years by acquisition. We bought companies that
already had their own brand. We bought Nemwil, Caribbean
Homes and others. When you acquire a company, you acquire
a company and its brands, but unless you can incorporate that
company into one, you will always have different cultures,"
said Lok Jack.
He said the employees of companies that have been acquired
tend to feel "subordinated" in comparison to the employees
of the acquirer.
A second reason was the Guardian name.
"Guardian had a very good name. What does a brand mean:
predictable quality. When you buy a brand you buy predictable
quality. If your wife or mother goes to buy detergent, she will
buy the detergent she is accustomed to because she knows
that will work. She will not take a chance to buy a new one
because she doesn t know how it will work."
He said that a brand is like a good housekeeping seal of
approval. Meaning, that people want to know that the product
they are buying is a quality product and will deliver the cus-
The third reason, he said, is "it is less expensive to advertise
one brand than all of the brands they have. So we put the
Guardian name in front of everybody so that people know
that it is a quality company. What we used to do is have a
lot of advertising for Guardian Life, another set for Nemwil,
then another set for Caribbean Homes. Now we just advertise
He believes that the rebranding has made people feel they
"belong" to the overall company, especially in the overseas
The Guardian Group has operations in Jamaica, Barbados
and parts of the north, east and Dutch Caribbean.
"Until we rebranded, they never felt like part of the overall
Guardian. Employees felt they were part of the old company
they had for years," he said.
In simplifying the branding process in foreign territories
Lok Jack said, "if we buy another company in a foreign market
and that company has a very strong brand, we will not change
that brand right away. People will not know the new brand,
they will only know the old one. That will be done over time.
For instance, if I have to change a product on a supermarket
shelf, that product is brand X, my product is brand Y.
"Over the years I will make brand Y bigger and brand X
smaller. So over time I will change over the product from one
The rebranding at Neal and Massy was for the same reason.
Lok Jack, who recently resigned as chairman of the Massy,
said, "Neal and Massy grew over the years by acquisitions. We
acquired brands and we kept those brands. Now we need to
consolidate those brands so that everything can be Massy, Massy
Making similar reference to Nestle, he said that even though
Nestle has several brands, they put the Nestle stamp on every-
"You see Nescafe, you see the Nestle stamp on it. You see
Milo, you see the Nestle stamp on it. You will always see the
Nestle stamp on it. Some times companies can have two or
three brands, but in our neck of the woods, it s easier, better
and more manageable to have one brand to represent your com-
pany across the board."
Big name changes like these can cost a company.
"These things are not cheap. It costs money. We had to change
all the signage, all the stationary, basically everything," Lok Jack
According to Ramdeen, "the larger the company, the larger
Massy has yet to publish the cost of their investment, but
companies like BP have reported a cost of US$211 million when
it changed its logo in 2001.
Why would a company spend so much on its brand?
A brand is one of a company s most valuable assets. So
valuable are they, that the top three on Brandz 2014 list of the
world s most valuable brands: Google, Apple and IBM have a
reported worth of US$158.8 billion, US$147.9 billion and US$107.5
In explaining what makes a brand so valuable, Ramdeen said:
"Before brands, everything was a commodity, cow s milk
came in plain bottles delivered by a milkman. Now there is
Nestle and Moo. A brand makes a promise and sets an expectation
with customers. Because of that promise, companies can charge
more for brands because they have invested much to take a
commodity and make it a brand. That s why Uncle Ben s Rice
costs so much more than rice in a plain plastic bag or even other
brands. Brands create value on both sides of the divide; companies
can charge more for brands and consumers trust certain brands
more than alternatives."
However, this trusting relationship can be affected when a
strong brand is changed. Ramdeen said, some consumer fall out
may be expected, especially in the short run.
"People wonder if the brand they are accustomed to (the
promise) will be the same, if they will get the same treatment,
prices, relationships as they had in the past. People feel comfortable
with the status quo so changes cause some nervousness. In the
case of Hi-Lo, given the neighbourhood strength of that brand---
it is close to where people live and work---more than likely, people
will come to be comfortable with the new name."
"Over time the icon will be able to mean something. If I were
to ask you what the Nike or the Mercedes sign is, you know
what it is. Eventually, once you see the hammock, you will know
that it is---Guardian. When you see the emblem for Massy, you
will know that it is Massy.
"It takes time for that to be embedded into people s minds,
but over time it happens. Just like all you have to see is an apple
with a bite and you know that it is Apple, you will know what
the Guardian and Massy symbols mean," Lok Jack said.
He closed off this point by saying, "people don t like change
they like the status quo, especially the older folk, and that is
fine. But they come around eventually. If you have a good quality
product and people know what it is, they are not going to go
away and not buy your product because you have changed the
name. People are not going to stop going to Hi-Lo because we
changed the name.
They will still go to Hi-Lo and they will use the Hi-Lo name
all the time, but that will change in time because there will be
no Hi-Lo to be seen by the young people growing up. They
wouldn t know Hi-Lo, they will know Massy stores."
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
T&T's experience of rebranding
ARTHUR LOK JACK
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