The five branding lessons from one of Australia’s most beloved organisations

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a media release on Tuesday urging outlets nationwide to update their style guides and no longer use the popular acronym “BoM”. Instead, the organisation wanted to be referred to by its full name or “The Bureau“.

After a barrage of criticism by federal ministers, the media and online, the Bureau of Meteorology has issued a statement outlining the reasons behind the visual identity refresh, the importance of using the executive agency of the government’s full name, and referenced the feedback from customers, partners, stakeholders and staff that the variability of references to the bureau can sometimes impact negatively on the effectiveness of the organisation’s messaging.

Whether or not you agree with the Bureau of Meteorology’s rebrand, there are a number of lessons to be learned for all organisations when deciding if, when and how to undertake a brand refresh.

  1. Think about existing brand affinity
  2. The ‘BoM’ has been in the vernacular for a long time and is used affectionately by many. While some overseas audiences may not know what the acronym means, most Australians have a penchant for shortening names.

    Many well-known brands are known by other names – Woolies, Hungries and even Maccas varies by region. This doesn’t mean people don’t take these brands seriously.

    Don’t throw your brand equity out with the bath water. Your brand is only as strong as the place it holds in people’s minds and sometimes this is an important part of your brand story.

  3. Understand your audience
  4. No doubt the Bureau of Meteorology would have completed extensive research to make the decision to rebrand. Understanding the current brand equity, and the gap between perception and your desired future place is critical in this process.

    As a key input to the brand strategy, we always recommend understanding the current perceptions of a brand. Being data led with the research will ensure you have the full picture, which is why we always suggest sentiment analysis. But marrying this with qualitative research from not only your key stakeholders, but ‘people on the street’ will give you a full picture.

    Before you launch a new brand, always test the brand strategy and brand identity with a subset of your target audiences and key stakeholders to ensure it resonates.

  5. Have a brand strategy
  6. Before you even change a brand name or visual identity, a brand strategy that is linked to organisational strategy is critical to ensuring you articulate and  answer the following questions: Why are we doing this? What will a rebrand achieve? Is a full rebrand necessary? Or is it about a repositioning or a new brand story?

    As part of the brand strategy, have a well thought through launch plan which outlines who you’re going to engage and how you’re going to embed the brand internally. Telling your new brand story with internal and external audiences and explaining ‘the why’ is critical to the success of a rebrand.

  7. Consider the timing and channels.
  8. Do you need to make a lot of noise or is it a more subtle, longer-term approach? Is emailing journalists about your rebrand, just as a severe weather event unfolds across parts of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria the right approach? Possibly not. Perhaps changing the brand and story on your owned channels is a better place to start.

    Before you launch a new brand, make sure you claim the social media handles of the new name, and while you’re at it, all potential brand references so you have ownership.

  9. Be prepared for criticism

When anyone puts work out there in today’s online and media environment, no matter how good, there will be those who criticise it.

The nature of creative work is that it is always subjective. If you do face criticism, hold strong, as the BoM has done. Have a strong rationale based on the brand strategy. And be prepared to justify the cost.