Rebranding a 50 year old local icon into a national power brand has been intense, raw with emotion and bursting with excitement.
A brief Introduction
We are privileged to be reinventing one of Australia’s longest standing retail brands. A 50 year old local garden centre business, hand built by a passionate Australian family, approached us to rebuild their brand in preparation for national rollout. Watch this space for the full case study when Australia’s largest garden centre opens soon…
“Imagine a place where, as a Queenslander, you would feel comfortable talking about things that matter the most with someone you’ve just met...”
RACQ is Queensland’s largest insurance company. It’s also the first insurance company in Australia to buy a bank.
The acquisition of QTMB poses a significant challenge for the RACQ brand as it has strong associations with motor vehicles and little with financial services. At the core of this challenge lies the need for RACQ to transition from a trust built around a single, annual, low emotive insurance transaction, to a high value trust associated with everyday banking. Added to this is the challenge that all banks face with retail – they don’t sell tangible product.
We know the experience has to resonate with the outdoor life Queenslanders revere. It also needs a significant residential reference to build credibility in the category of home that lies at the core of banking.
Working alongside the awesome Brand Behaviour in designing a service experience that supports every likely transition from an insurance relationship to an everyday banking one whilst allowing two very disparate legacy service cultures to merge seamlessly.
This site is currently processing five times as many home loan applications as the previous QTMB bank in North Lakes Shopping centre.
This project represents a significant step for consumer banking in Australia by taking the retail brand experience to a whole new level.
Every aspect of the design adopts the same approach; replace traditional corporate banking design paradigms with ideas infused in humanity and community.
If we had a dollar for every time we’ve heard a bank say they are a community hub! It’s not good enough to say it any more, because people don’t believe you any more. Genuine community is about making it happen quietly and confidently in a way that is meaningful and fulfilling to that community and not simply another marketing stunt or tagline.
The biggest challenge for any financial services institution with community investment is that it’s invariably difficult to quantify the short term ROI. To do it properly takes a not so conservative organisation with an open minded board and a creative thinker at the helm.
Welcome to CUA Toowoomba, reinventing community banking.
With a dedicated internal project team of over thirty full-time CUA staff, the depth of commitment to this initiative gives us confidence that this is not another ‘talking’ financial services brand. Our approach to the site was to strip the environment back to its original structure, exposing the story of the site. This has created a sense of history and belonging for CUA, even though it was new to the high street.
Convincing the brand team at CUA to drop their primary corporate teal colour for the logo in the branch window, enabling us to turn it into a white glowing sculpture, immediately broadening it’s visual interpretation. Every aspect of the design adopts the same approach; replace traditional corporate banking design paradigms with ideas imbued with humanity and community relevance.
To date, this branch is sustaining an increase in high value transactions of 15% which proves there is a real appetite in regional Australia for financial services brands to be locally relevant.
Suffice as to say the branch is visited almost every week by other financial services institutions who have consistently given great feedback to CUA for having finally implemented what they have all been talking about for some time now.
Cars sell in a less pressured environment.
A common sense fact you’d think, but one that is changing an industry.
We have seen cars in shopping centres for years, it’s nothing new. Typically though they are seen in casual leasing spaces between the stores, adorned with competition rules and hired talent designed to distract you on your journey to Woolies. Subaru have recently uncovered a remarkable insight around selling cars in shops in shopping centres. We wish we could claim it as our idea but the brilliant brains at Subaru brought it to us. The insight is simple; people don’t expect to buy a car from the mall, they are therefore completely unprepared to deal with the mental challenge of doing so. Instead, they are delightfully surprised to see cars in shops – it’s a novelty – “Shall we just sit in one?”
The emerging trend of automotive mall stores (also see Volvo at Westfield Parramatta and JLR Westfield Bondi) presents a window of opportunity for car retailers in Australia. It’s only a window because as we know, as soon as the other car brands follow, the landlords will club them all together in one wing of the mall for a more ‘convenient’ shopper experience and over night the first mover advantage will disappear. The challenge therefore is to create an experience that is differentiated in a way that future proofs the brands approach to mall retailing.
We have deliberately moved as far away from the typical showroom experience as possible, blending retail lifestyle merchandising and photography with the cars in a way that allows shoppers to consider the broader context of why they would choose one model over another. We have interpreted the new Subaru ‘Do’ brand positioning for each model of car in the Subaru stable, creating a lifestyle story around the purpose of each model.
Overlayed with the model specific stories being told, we have introduced a 3D illuminated exhibition piece around the new Subaru Global Platform, showing off the world leading technology of the chassis now being used in all current models.
On the back of the success of the new Subaru Do store at Werribee, Inchcape have since engaged us to work alongside Centric architects on the JLR showroom at Westfield Bondi junction. As well as mall retailing, our work with Subaru is now entering its next phase with further new retail formats being developed in order to protect its category leading position as innovative retailers.
“Yes, we want to remove the digital screens from your shop front. Why? Because they are a barrier to what we are trying to achieve with this channel”.
BUPA is Australia’s largest private health insurance company. It is also the first PHI brand in Australia to rationalise its’ retail network as the result of a customer focused channel strategy. This is why its new branches now look very different to its competitors.
The PHI market has a handful of established players offering similar products and retail experiences. The main reason for this is that retail is seen primarily as a sales channel where a captive audience can be sold products while they wait for service resolution. Sounds like a great idea from a business perspective but look at it from a customers’ perspective and you’ll see that however you design the environment, without a customer focused strategy, the experience will always be diabolical. The challenge with projects of this nature, particularly with market leaders, is to have the vision to dramatically change direction, away from the safety of the world they know. Luckily for us, our client is visionary and understands that the business needs to evolve from the old world into one where it can create and sustain a more meaningful kind of leadership.
The most powerful sales tool in the new scenario is a BUPA consultant who has just resolved a significant service issue for a customer. With this in mind, rather than selling to customers while they wait, we set about calming them down and preparing them for their consultation.
The waiting experience has therefore been elevated from a few plastic chairs against a corporately illustrated wall, to a customer lounge full of interesting books and artefacts. The digital media budget was repurposed from shop front advertising into creating a peaceful, slowly changing view through a five meter long window.
We worked alongside The Brand Institute, one of Australia’s leading brand reputation agencies who’s quest for creating new opportunity in a saturated market was nothing short of inspiring. Our learning and guidance from them has undoubtedly deepened our understanding of human centred design thinking.
Customer and staff satisfaction are both measuring higher than ever before. Duration of complex transactions has not decreased but we hadn’t hoped it would. High value sales on the back of complex service resolution have increased consultation times, which was the strategy. We are now rolling out the new design across Australia with specialist store communications and planning principles for Chinese communities.