The rebranding of an Australian icon.

Author
Dan Godkin

 

When a company is 106 years old, it has every right to be proud of its traditions. But in a marketplace where relevance is the key to competitiveness, history can be just as much of a burden as a benefit. Here’s how we helped Grace, one of Australia’s most iconic companies, with a major rebranding project — and brought them blasting into 2017.

Grace. It’s a name that’s always carried sentimental resonance for Aussies. Many have relied on Grace Removals to help them move house. Others have shopped at Grace Bros. department stores. People might not be able to tell you the exact year in the 1800s that the first company store appeared in Sydney’s George Street, but you can guarantee they’ll have a sense of the brand’s iconic place on the Australian mantelpiece.

But after the department stores were rebranded as Myer in 2004, the Grace name seemed to fade. The Internet arrived, followed closely by smartphones, and attention spans declined in inverse proportion to the volume of cat videos on YouTube. The Australian collective memory of Grace became muddled and vague. Had it even been a real store, or was it just a dream? Hadn’t Donald Trump tweeted about it or something? Today, the most exposure the average person has to the Grace brand is an occasional glimpse of red letters on the side of a passing truck. And that’s if they happen to be looking up from Candy Crush at the time.

Behind the scenes, however, Grace has been doing anything but fading away. They’ve been growing, developing no less than nine separate corporate divisions, with 101 service lines in everything from records management to insurance, from business services to fine-art transport. No, my friends, the company that approached us for a rebranding project at the end of 2015 was hardly some faded flower. It was a confident commercial powerhouse striding boldly into the future — a future it wanted to face with a strong contemporary identity that paid homage to its 106-year history.

Such a tremendous rebranding project alone would have kept us plenty busy. But we had another challenge: Grace’s nine divisions all had different ideas about what their updated identity should look like. We realised the Grace rebranding project was going to be about more than just updating a treasured Australian icon. We were going to have to unite it as well.