How do you bring consistency to a complex brand portfolio?

Sometimes success brings unexpected challenges. That was certainly the case for V.Group, one of the world’s largest marine services companies. Ambitious, well funded and with a clear strategic plan, V.Group had grown almost too rapidly since its creation in 1984, acquiring company after company in order to extend its geographical reach and range of service.

As a result V.Group was a group in name only; the reality was a collection of companies and brand identities with little in common – all of which meant they struggled to articulate their offer to investors and customers. What V.Group needed was a positioning idea, a visual and verbal identity and a brand architecture that were fit for purpose and would enable the Group’s directors to manage their portfolio of companies in a way that supported rather than hindered their strategy for growth and would enable them to become world market leader.

ClientV.GroupServicesBranding, strategy, brochure, brand guidelines, merchandising, branding workshopYear2014Link

What’s happening:

We created a consistent brand architecture, naming system, brand positioning and suite of key messages, as well as a highly flexible wordmark identity system that addressed this problem. We began by organising a series of workshops and scoping sessions with key V.Group people to understand the exact problem we were trying to solve. Out of these we created a suite of discussion papers outlining different approaches, opportunities and solutions. At the same time we undertook a detailed brand audit and conducted interviews with V.Group directors, key clients and influencers from across the maritime sector to understand what would work best. Our aim, as with all our work, was to get the thinking right before doing anything else.

Having analysed the problem we set to work turning our findings into a practical solution. We knew we needed an adaptable open-ended approach that was consistent yet could stretch to accommodate future V.Group acquisitions. Our solution was a flexible wordmark identity system made up of a stylised flag device, redrawn icons for each V.Group company, and a bold new typeface featuring a distinctive (and distinctly ownable) uppercase V that formed the basis of the new Group marque.

Building an identity system

In parallel we conducted a thorough overhaul of V.Group’s brand architecture and naming conventions, again with the aim of introducing some much-needed consistency, and created a clear new positioning statement. We also developed a consistent tone of voice for written communications and a suite of key messages designed to act as raw material for V.Group’s international sales force.

The result is a true identity system, in which a variety of elements can be combined in any number of ways to works in any number of situations. This system’s flexibility means V.Group can quickly and easily assimilate any new companies they acquired. To future-proof our work we also created rules and guidelines that describe exactly what V.Group should do when they buy a company and how their wordmark and other brand elements should be used.

As well as changing how V.Group looked and sounded we also helped evolve their sense of themselves. Before our involvement V.Group weren’t getting the maximum value from their values. To address this we created an inspirational internal video that explained the importance of V.Groups’ new positioning and how it would both contribute to their success and create a genuine company-wide culture.

Throughout the process we acted as guides and mentors to the senior directors at V.Group, advising them on best practice and making sure they avoided any pitfalls. Our ability to talk in clear commercial terms instead of resorting to brand waffle undoubtedly strengthened the relationship and showed we understood this was above all a business challenge.

The result is a huge leap forward for V.Group

Bold without being reckless, it moves them on in a way that will stand the test of time and still look great a decade or more from now. Importantly it makes the Group look like a group and not a collection of recently acquired businesses. That’s more than mere window-dressing; a unified brand is a potent strategic asset, helping V.Group reach their goals and fulfil their ambitions, not least by enabling different component companies within the Group cross-sell their services to existing customers.

Currently we’re busy rolling out the refreshed identity across V.Group’s 20+ companies and 70+ locations worldwide – a huge and complex operation as their new identity touches everything from ship livery to signage and websites to work wear. To make this easier we’re working with V.Group to set up a centralised team who will oversee implementation and so avoid the piecemeal approach of the past.

Having made a significant investment in their refreshed identity V.Group are quite rightly determined to get the maximum value from it, and we’re equally determined to make it a success, going above and beyond the brief to add value and ensure success at every stage.

The impact:

While it’s still early days the immediate impact of our work is twofold: externally our work has helped V.Group become far more consistent so people understand them, trust them and are more likely to do business with them. Internally our work has helped create a genuine group culture that gives staff a far stronger sense of their common purpose and shared direction. It’s fair to say our work inspired V.Group people internally just as much as it represented them externally.

V.Group Promotional Video

What they say

“Miura have helped us to take control of our group of brands and present a clear and consistent portfolio to the market. The new visual identity system is both modern and distinctive, while our clear brand position of ‘performance assured’ perfectly encapsulates our core offer and values. The impact of the new brand will be felt right across the business – staff will feel more connected and as a group we will be better placed to deliver greater value to our customers and continue to lead the market.

Miura are smart, creative and a pleasure to do business with. I would recommend them to anyone looking to exploit the power of branding to achieve commercial advantage.”

Clive Richardson
President & Group CEO, V.Group