At nearly forty-years young, it’s hard to imagine the humble beginnings of the Merit Group when you visit their 300,000 square foot facility in Rochester, Kent. Merit has come a long way since CEO Roy Ashford first started out in his garden shed.
Having built up the multi-division company as a market leading one-of-a-kind business services group with a formidable reputation, the next logical step for Merit Group was to develop an umbrella brand that pulled the complementary services together.
Our mission was to provide clients with a single-entry point without losing any of the separate divisions’ identities and branding which reflects Merit’s true quality and professionalism, realigning their brand with their market position.
The discovery process was fascinating. The Merit Group has eight divisions headed by sector specialists and ranging from office installation to recruitment services. They all have distinct priorities, personalities and positions within their own marketplaces. It is extremely unusual to bring all division heads into one room, which is what we did for the brand workshop and, using the BISON BRANDING BLUEPRINT to guide a productive discussion.
The ‘family’ environment was clearly apparent as CEO Roy valued input from all division heads. The session gave us a clear picture of how each division saw itself and wanted to be perceived by its clients. Some division heads felt uncertain about updating the brand as they had concerns about alienating clients, for example, with a different brand name and service, Dash Couriers was understandably cautious. Happily, by the end of the workshop everyone was clear about the vision and excited by how the group could move forward as one. In their own words they were “the best kept secret – we need to communicate all our services.”
All agreed that every division needed to retain its own identity whilst also reflecting the service excellence and one-family culture provided by the Merit Group infrastructure and CEO. The solution needed to be adaptable.
We inhabited the minds of the Merit Group’s wide and varied client base to design customer centric concepts. We proposed featuring the Merit brand name on the HQ signage and generic items such as business cards and folders. This allows for cost-effective print runs and a cohesive umbrella brand identity, while still customising division-specific elements, such as letterheads and promotional items.
We presented different options, including a subtle evolution and modernisation, which stripped the logo back and removed bevels and shadows to make it cleaner. The chosen brand allows the Merit M icon to be a recognisable strong identity that can be easily paired with each division.
To roll out a strong, recognisable identity to Merit’s forty vehicle fleet with minimal disruption we have updated the vehicles in batches suitable to the client. We produced signage to deliver a positive user experience. The impact of an overhead illuminated sign, a welcoming monolith and clear wayfinding signage, create a strong first impression and help visitors to orientate themselves. Partnered with visually stimulating indoor graphics continues the client journey.
So Merit could maintain a high-end feel to their business cards, but make a cost saving, we proposed a ‘call off’ solution. We printed generic artwork for the reverse of the cards and hold them in stock for Merit to customise with the team member’s name and division, as required.
We also created a website skin to be hosted on one URL with one central telephone number. The design acts as a client funnel and cross-selling storefront.
The roll-out of the new brand has affected how the company now presents and perceives itself. Tangibly, Merit now has an improved look and feel that can be used and recognised on a range of different media, with the added intangible benefits of the divisions coming closer together as a joined up entity that thinks and moves as one. The brand has been well received by Merit’s clients with a positive reaction, propelling Merit and its evolving business model into the future, even stronger, even better.
“We now have a brand that has strong recall that also retains the identity of each division, enhancing the reputation of the Merit Group.
After 30 plus years of the same branding it was understandable that this project was met with some hesitancy from multiple personalities, who are all extremely proud of the Merit heritage. We couldn’t be more impressed with how BISON worked with our team, empowering each member, responding to challenges sensitively with compelling rationale.
BISON came up with a solution to help our clients reach their required division through a central contact point, creating client awareness of all Merit divisions.
BISON continues to provide Merit with fresh and creative solutions to reinforce our unified brand presence. We look forward to working with the team for many years to come.”