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Bamford: The FCA’s new logo is value for money

Towards the end of 2014, we faced a dilemma. A huge amount had changed in financial services since the business was formed in the mid-90s. During that time, we had changed a great deal too, evolving as any organisation must in order to survive.

One big question we needed to answer was whether our brand remained fit for purpose. Inspired by a talk from consultant Lucian Camp at the Institute of Financial Planning conference, I took the concept of the brand pyramid back to the team. It was enlightening, helping us to agree upon the tangible and emotional benefits of our proposition and how our brand manifests itself in human characteristics.

I am aware some argue that clients buy individuals, not brands. And there is an element of truth in that. However, the things we do (and fail to do) all make up our personal brands too. With this in mind, it is better to approach branding as an intentional act, rather than allow an accidental brand to develop.

Branding is represented in a logo. Prior to our rebranding exercise, our logo was the name of our business typed in blue font in MS Word. To get inspiration ahead of our new design, we pulled together the logos of every “competitor” within a 20-mile radius. IFA firms, wealth managers, stockbrokers, private banks, solicitors and accountants: anybody a prospective client might choose to speak with ahead of us. Putting all of these on a single page was a real eye-opener. The similarities were striking – a sea of blue.

So we carried out some research into the psychology of colour and selected a palate to represent us. We picked green because it constitutes health and tranquillity, as well as money, and grey because it is a cool and neutral colour, considered to be formal and sophisticated. With the brand pyramid in the background, the colour choices were easy to make.

The exercise required us to invest some money. We paid for a marketing consultant to help us with our proposition and communications plan. We hired a graphic designer who, armed with our brief, developed a number of logo options, then refined our preferred one. We also paid for new stationery, signage and paint for the office walls.

With all this in mind, I was not surprised to see the FCA spending £66,400 on its new logo. It strikes me as excellent value for money. Of course, critics will mock the expense in return for the removal of some background waves and use of a new font. But there is much more involved and a huge amount more at stake.

Despite the FCA having a very different remit to commercial organisations like those it regulates, it needs a considered brand and logo to represent this. Because the FCA plays such an important role in ensuring consumer confidence, a small invoice from an agency like Saatchi & Saatchi is money well spent. We spent around £14,000 on our own brand refresh, which is far higher on a relative basis than the FCA did with its much larger annual budget.

What matters is the result: not the cosmetic appearance of a new logo but the deeper understanding the regulator will have gained by completing the exercise.

Unlike us, where we measured an increase in turnover, profit and client satisfaction following our brand refresh, the FCA will have other metrics to measure. Whether or not readers of Money Marketing approve of it will not be one of these.

Martin Bamford is managing director of Informed Choice

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Comments

There are 28 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. That’s almost as many words wasted as pounds…

  2. “….it needs a considered brand and logo to represent this. Because the FCA plays such an important role in ensuring consumer confidence” …….”deeper understanding” Ha ha Ha ha ha You really couldn’t make this up.

  3. Totally disagree. They are a monopoly so why do they need to worry about branding. How much in additional costs to change letterheads, their website and everything else under the sun that carries their logo and for what purpose. They are not trying to generate more business and get more people to buy into their brand. Spend our money on something that is worthwhile rather than frittering it away. Its only 4 years since they developed the last logo after all. If they constantly change the logo it defeats the purpose of having one as no one logo will stick in peoples minds and be associate it with them.

    Fair enough Martin Bamford is trying to win business from competitors so can justify the expense for his business.

    In some ways the FCA should operate like a business, ie making sure they are working efficiently and concentrating on the important matters of regulation effectively, but since the logo has no impact on regulation they should not be wasting money on this type of thing.

  4. Stuart Gregory 18th May 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Good article Martin, I’d hazard a guess though that your company won’t be passing on the cost of the rebrand to your clients! I’m sure all of us paying regulatory fees will see a fraction of the Saatchi bill next year. I’d be more satisfied with the regulator, and less critical of their rebrand spend, if they stopped innocent financial intermediaries footing the bill for others’ mistakes.

    • Martin Bamford 18th May 2017 at 8:29 pm

      Thanks Stuart. Of course we will. Everything we spend within our business is ultimately paid for by our clients, including any regulatory fees.

  5. I have never heard such a load of clap trap in all my life.

    • I very much agree. By all accounts Martin, Nick and crew are well repected IFAs. However with this nonsense Martin is in danger of disappearing up his own backside. This is the sort of thing that employees large organisations do to justify their jobs. I had a client who runs a very successful consultanvy, both in Europe and the US advising them on colour. He laughs all the way to the bank.
      If I may Martin, stick to what you do best and stop trying to pretend you are a multi £billion corporation.
      My logo cost me £25 over 25 yrs ago and seemed to do the job for me.

  6. The new FCA logo is objectively worse. The old one with its diagonal band of white highlighting the middle letter, suggesting a spotlight, is actually quite clever and encapsulates the organisation’s purpose. The colours have now been reversed (maroon stripe on a white background), for no apparent reason other than to justify the brand consultant’s fee, so it’s now just some generic letters on a generic background. The classic waste-of-money redesign.

    The price is not really here or there – for a Government organisation I’m surprised it wasn’t six figures. It is more about why they felt the need to make something worse just because somebody was bored and wanted to feel like he’d had an impact.

    Incidentally, for an organisation that spent such a lot of time on their logo Informed Choice hasn’t paid much attention to their website. (I had a quick look at it to see what their logo actually looked like.) Every page contains a hyperlinked picture of the directors but if you click on it, instead of taking you to the “Who we are” section as you’d expect, it takes you to a page with no content other than “Andrea Bamford, Founder, Informed Choice” and if you click on the picture again it takes you to the baffling text “Oak sapling in hands. The leaves of rays of sunlight.” What? Every page has an unnecessary Disqus comments section, which supports the impression that it was slapped together in WordPress.

    • Martin Bamford 18th May 2017 at 8:30 pm

      Thanks for your feedback on our website, Sascha. It is indeed built on WordPress, the leading open source content management system in the world. Certainly not slapped together though! We’ve got a brand new, updated website coming very soon.

  7. Writing MBs article was a waste of time. Reading it was too. So by the same token I shouldn’t bother to write a comment. Which I haven’t.

    (Beware this is the same trap MB has laid)

  8. The Equaliser 18th May 2017 at 4:11 pm

    I understand the need for a business to rebrand from time to time. I don’t understand WHY the FCA has to rebrand as this version is only 4 years old.

    At a time when the FCA are saying that advisers need to justify their costs and make it clear to clients exactly what they are paying for, as clients of the FCA, shouldn’t advisers get the same respect?

    Its time that the FCA became a little more transparent in their own costs and expenditure and practice what they preach.

    As an advisory firm, could you afford to spend £66000 on a logo? That is without the website, stationary, brochures, underpants etc etc. Is it not time that IFA’s had representation on the Board of the FCA in sufficient numbers to veto this kind of expenditure?

    The client ultimately pays, whether from last years fees or next years fees.

  9. Christine Brightwell 18th May 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Talk about dancing on the head of a pin – another person could have had a job for a year at FCA for the cost of the logo

  10. Richard Silverwood 18th May 2017 at 5:08 pm

    I will never read another article written by Martin Bamford….shame.

  11. Martin makes a valid comment well. I happen to agree. But to those who disagree, does he really deserve the degree of opprobrium served up above ? He made those points as a reasonable business person – why are they not worthy of valid criticism – not just sledging ?

  12. Julian Stevens 19th May 2017 at 8:58 am

    The FCA could have used the same marketing consultant and graphic designer that your firm did, Martin, and spent £52,400 less. What was its justification for using Saatchi & Saatchi? It’s hardly as if this new logo is mind-blowingly fantastic, is it? It doesn’t look to me like value for money at all.

  13. What is your logo Martin? Is it just the words that spell ‘Informed Choice’ or is it that little house in the bottom left of the website?

    Also – the 66k didnt cover stationery etc as yours did. The 66k covered literally the bit where you sat in the room with your colleagues, looked at the others and drew another logo.

  14. Nicholas Pleasure 19th May 2017 at 10:10 am

    I understand the comments on here. Most IFA businesses make a comfortable living servicing existing clients and don’t really need to attract new business. For them to spend a lot of money on a brand would be an utter waste of time.

    Those of us that have smaller, newer businesses, or those that work with more transnational business, need a brand that works and is attractive.

    The problem for the FCA is that it only re-branded 4 years ago and doing so again indicates that someone doesn’t or didn’t really know what they were doing.

    Interestingly some of the worlds most famous and highly regarded brands have never rebranded. Think of Ford, Apple (to an extent), Mercedes, Rolls Royce etc.

  15. Martin, was the £14k the total cost of your rebranding? This £64k is just for the design of the logo. Also, as pointed out above, your branding was designed to make you stand out from competitors, did the FCA get together all the logos of the other FCAs and compare them?

  16. IF the FCA were a “brand” i would agree
    If the FCA were a business and spent its “own” profit (not the hard earn cash of my clients) on a re-brand, I again would agree
    If the FCA had created an industry that purred like an Aston Martin (not the clowns car we have at present), then once more I would agree

    HOWEVER ………….

    One only has to ask the question, (you may indeed ask your own clients this very same question)……. how much is too much ?

    In the case of the FCA if they feel they can waste the money forwarded by us (not just, yours and my clients, but the whole industries) from the great British public (which we serve) with wanton abandonment then clearly…… they must struggle on what the **** to spend the money on so, “vanity” “cosmetic surgery” (if you will) seems a good choice ?

    You are on your own with this one, soak up the flak !

  17. Good article Martin. I’ve just gone through a very similar exercise with our 30+ year old family firm. Really worthwhile exercise, unlike reading the sea of negative comments on here.

  18. Perhaps the FCA is trying to attract all those naughty unregulated firms and bring them into the fold. Even if they only manage to sign up a small number of firms the whole exercise will have paid for itself.

    In addition, the general public may find the new logo more approachable and so engage more with the FCA’s website, educating themselves about investments and other financial servicy things and learning how to avoid those nasty unregulated advisers and toxic products. Think, if only a small fraction of the public avoid getting ripped off and losing money the FSCS (and therefore advisers) will save a fortune, in which case the cost of the logo pales into insignificance.

    Come on people, let’s think laterally and acknowledge the value rather than just focussing on the money. Just like adviser fees, the FCA is interested in quality and value. No, wait…

    MEDIC!

  19. robert milligan 19th May 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Whoever authorised the payment of the costs involved with changing the FCA Logo should be SACKED, clearly they should be removed from their position for irresponsible neglect of accountability. The FCA management should be made to sit in front of a Select Committee to account for this scurrilous abuse of resources.

    • Julian Stevens 22nd May 2017 at 12:34 pm

      The TSC has no authority over anyone, least of all the FCA. In fact, were the FCA so minded, it could decline even to send anyone to appear before it and it (the TSC) would be powerless to do anything. But let us, for a moment, imagine that the TSC were to call the FCA before it and that the FCA deigns to send someone along.

      Wearing his usual earnest and pained expression, as if his underpants are uncomfortably tight, Andrew Tyrie might say something along the lines of: Could you please explain to the Committee why, barely 4½ years after its rebadging from the FSA, the FCA considers it necessary to rebrand itself, starting with spending £66,000 just on what appears to be a pretty minor redesign of its logo? Was any Cost:Benefits Analysis undertaken? Was the industry which will have to pay for it, or any of its representative trade bodies, consulted? On what basis was one of if not THE most expensive advertising agencies in the land chosen for the job? Were competitive tenders sought? Was the NAO (which supposedly oversees the FCA’s management and allocation of its resources) consulted in this expenditure?

      To which the probable retort would be: Yeah, well, it’s done now and we’ve signed the contract with S&S, so it’ll be going ahead regardless of what anybody else may think (least of all an impotent poseur like you).

      And that will be the end of that.

  20. I just visited their website to check out the new logo… wondered why they hadn’t updated it… googled ‘FCA new logo’ and found they HAD changed it – I just didn’t notice the difference. One slightly nasty purple logo is much the same as another…Yup, value for money all day long….

  21. Derek Bradley 24th May 2017 at 7:42 am

    In 2013, a Panacea FOI request exposed the rebrand cost for the FSA’s change to the FCA.

    It was £1,061,423 including VAT.

    The FOI request went on to confirm the cost of the logo design saying:

    “We have spent £48,000 on designing the FCA brand identity, £91,500 on developing the FCA brand guidelines, £57,000 on registering the new logo and on legal fees to resolve registration issues”.

    So when we heard that the FCA had decided, after a shelf life of barely three years, to change it’s logo, we though it would be an idea to find out how much?

    In their reply, an unnamed individual from the “Information Disclosure Team / Cyber and Information Resilience Department” said “We undertook a refresh of the FCA brand to make sure our brand is accessible, open and transparent so that all our audiences understand our role. In particular, we need to ensure our brand works well for digital use and takes into account accessibility considerations. This is particularly important as we are planning to launch our first national TV and outdoor advertising campaign on PPI later this year. Consumer research in particular has helped inform our evolution of the FCA logo to ensure ‘Financial Conduct Authority’ is clearly legible and accessible”.

    Given that in 2013 so much was spent on rebrand one might ask, purely from a business owner perspective, why the lifespan of a ‘global’ brand is just 3 years? That would suggest that either the brand brief or interpretation was incorrect in 2013.

    The reply to our request was answered as follows.

    “Brand refresh

    · The design cost:

    £5,340

    · Legal costs:

    £1,440

    · Implementation cost;

    £66,410 – we have interpreted this to be the total cost (including the items above) – agency work to audit FCA brand and update logo and design approach, design templates for new brand, effra fonts and logo trademark registration.

    · Stationery cost”

    There are currently no stationery costs. As stated above, the existing logo will be phased out over the next year and we will not change signage in our printed material such as letterheads or business cards until either they run out or we change address.

    Over the last 10 years the Panacea brand logo is unchanged, as is the Ford Motor Company’s, Apple and Coca Cola. In 2014, the Coca-Cola brand name alone was worth $67million, accounting for more than 54% of the company’s stock market value at that time.

    It is said, “a strong, consistent brand will allow the customer to know exactly what to expect each time they encounter your business”

    Steve Jobs said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works”.

    In this case, the jury on the ‘how the FCA’s works’ is still out.

    The cost of this exercise is quite small in regulatory terms. I am not sure what the effect is on consumers but I am sure that those it regulates will see this as another example of spending other peoples money without being responsible for how or if it works or in this case if you can notice the difference at all.

    On this occasion, viewed as whole rather than the sum of the rebrand, Martin is wrong

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