In 2016 two of Wales’ most well known social landlords, Seren Group and Gwalia announced a merger to become—by a large margin Wales’ largest organisation of its type. The new group is made up of 2,500 staff, manages 15,000 homes and will invest over £100m in new homes over the next 5 years.
Following a credentials pitch we were chosen to help the group create its new brand. Time was short—we had just six weeks to undertake research, choose a name and develop the brand ready for launch.
The new group has numerous audiences from investors, local authorities, commissioners and commercial partners, to customers and staff.
Whilst the companies within their respective organisations serve specific markets, both Seren and Gwalia predominately serve their employees. They are 'people' companies. The new group needed a name and brand that employees could engage with.
We started by running a series of brand workshops, with staff members from all areas of the business taking part in interactive sessions. Together, we picked apart the current brands and explored their thoughts and ideas of what their new brand could be.
Using the brilliant insights we gained from these sessions we devised short online questionnaires that were sent to everyone in the group. This not only made everyone feel involved in the process, but also gave us a hugely valuable set of results to use in the next phase.
We always say it… naming is hard. Naming an organisation of this size, in a few weeks, is extremely hard. One of the requirements was that the group needed a Welsh name, and given that one of its audiences is city based investors it needed to work across both languages.
As a team we researched and brainstormed all sorts of words with all kinds of meanings. We put words all over the studio to remind us who we were representing. Words that summed up the group. And there, staring us right in the face was the obvious answer. The name of course, is Pobl (Welsh for 'people'). It’s the perfect mix of short, quirky, intriguing and readable.
Sometimes, the needle is actually an elephant sat on top of the haystack.
As with many Welsh words, the word for people can be spelled two ways—Pobl or Pobol. We love the quirkiness and slight awkwardness of Pobl. Because of its unusual spelling we feel it will be adopted by the group as part of their identity, eventually becoming synonymous with the company—instead of simply the meaning of the word.
“Let’s be brave”
The beauty of having a short, understandable, but distinctly Welsh name is that we didn’t need to rely on any clichéd visual cues to communicate the group's heritage. Dragons, daffodils, leeks, red and green were off the table. In their place was the opportunity to be brave and bold enough to create an identity that is unique and memorable. One that works across sectors, departments and borders.
We developed a range of wordmarks and graphic styles using bold, bright colours. Over the course of a week or so these were whittled down to a small number of final concepts. Together with the Seren and Gwalia communications teams we decided on a visual direction and developed it into a full brand.
The final identity is made up of a simple, custom drawn wordmark using concentric lines, representing the concept of a single group made up of lots of parts. The colours depict diversity without being obvious.
The core identity gave us the building blocks for a brand style, based on the simple but recognisable shapes. Even in these early applications, the brand can be applied in many different ways whilst remaining distinctly ‘Pobl’.
To help the marketing team take the brand forward we developed a number of guides, for dealing with photography through to online style guides.
Now we’ve established the name and overall brand we’re handing over our work to the internal communications team for the new group. Working closely with them throughout the project means they have fully bought into the whole process—and most importantly, the result, giving them the ability to roll out the brand internally. We’re looking forward to supporting the team over the next few months with regular consultation.
Group Marketing & Comms director Neil Ingham said;
It’s been fantastic to work with the Bluegg team, a true collaboration resulting in a bold, vibrant, Welsh name and brand that our staff are already proud of.
The feedback from staff and partners has been overwhelmingly positive and we can’t wait to see how the brand develops.