Kate Winter, ABE's Marketing Director, explains the rationale behind ABE's new branding
In my long marketing career, I have initiated re-branding projects and I’ve also been a team member who has had re-branding ‘forced’ on them. The latter is not a nice place to be. When you don’t understand why a brand is being changed, and you don’t like the new identity, it is impossible to support the project. I once had a new marketing director who breezed in to the company, changed all the branding, and breezed out again, leaving a lot of devastation in her wake.
I wanted to share this with you now that we have unveiled ABE’s new branding. The timing of the re-brand comes after ABE has made some significant changes internally. I am one member of a new senior management team appointed by Gareth Robinson, ABE’s CEO, who has been in situ since December 2014. Gareth has assembled his new team with the objective of introducing great energy and results in to the business. He wants to ensure that ABE provides worthwhile qualifications and great customer service, and he is passionate about delivering quality qualifications to our learners.
The new management team is overseeing the transformation of ABE. We have already seen a host of new qualifications being accepted onto the Ofqual framework. These qualifications have been created to reflect current thinking and best practice in business management. We are currently inviting our centres to pilot the new schemes and reaction so far has been extremely positive.
We have also invested in a new Learner Management System which will make it easier for our learners to interact with us and have clear visibility of their progress through our schemes. In tandem, we are developing new web sites which will use responsive technology, so that users will have a better experience on their mobile phones when accessing the site and members’ area.
As a backdrop to all of this, we have been undertaking extensive student surveys to find out what our learners think we do well, and what needs to be improved. It is heartening to hear from thousands of learners that ABE qualifications helped them get their first job or gain the promotion they wanted. Indeed, many of our learners go on to run their own successful enterprises or get responsible positions in government departments and large corporations.
When I came to ABE in March, my first impression with regards to the branding was that it was doing a good job. There was nothing really wrong at all, but I felt it lacked an element of inspiration. It was when I started reading the testimonials of students that I began to really understand their achievements and how ABE connects them to a world of opportunity. It just seemed right that we should somehow reflect this in our branding. Additionally we felt that ABE is a journey for our learners. They start out on a road with a vision of what they want to achieve. They study with dedication and they achieve their qualifications; many of them stay with us to keep on achieving and pushing themselves. This is now demonstrated in our logo with a pathway – we like to call it the road to success.
The new brand is being applied to exciting campaigns we are running to support our centres. We are currently sending out printed posters as well as digital banners to help prospective students gain awareness of ABE. We will be rolling out the branding on certificates in due course, but I would like to mention that the branding itself does not affect the certificate validity in any way. In fact it is the Ofqual recognition that is the real currency for our learners. This remains the same on all our certificates.
By and large, reaction so far has been hugely positive. I know all too well that change isn’t always easy, but together with the rest of the team here at ABE, I am very confident that all the change we are introducing will result in a better experience for our learners and our accredited centres. It is because of them that we exist, and they are at the heart of everything we do.
Kate Winter, July 2015