Why NZ Post is dropping $15m on a major rebrand

There was a chance that the NZ Post brand could be discontinued and replaced by something entirely new.

Discussions behind the scenes questioned whether the company had evolved so much that it might have been time to introduce a new master brand that better captured what the organisation represented today.

“One thing that we discussed a lot was what that would look like,” says NZ Post general manager of consumer marketing and brand Sarah Sandoval.

“Do we do a Spark? What is it going to take to fix this.”

Ultimately, the marketing team decided against such an extreme approach given the legacy that had become enshrined into the NZ Post brand over 182 years.

NZ Post also isn’t as divisive an entity as the old Telecom brand was, which meant that there was still enough value in the name to retain it.

“We decided to lean into our history and people,” Sandoval says.

The aim of the rebrand is essentially to bring unity to the business across its divisions, while also ensuring that NZ Post stands out from its competitors.

The company has set a budget of around $15 million to bring together its Courier Post, Pace and Rural Post courier services under a single banner.

This will include a revamp of the organisation’s vans that motor between suburbs dropping off parcels.

This comes at a period of enormous transition for NZ Post as it straddles the past and the future simultaneously.

This perhaps best captured by the enormous shift seen in what the organisation now delivers.

Ten years ago the company delivered over a billion mail items a year, these days it only delivers about 250 million a year – and that figure continues to decrease.

At the same time, there has been a massive increase in the delivery of courier parcels as New Zealanders embrace online shopping.

Last year, NZ Post delivered over 85 million parcels, about 10 million more than in 2019.

Courier services now account for around two-thirds of NZ Post revenue, earning approximately $500m to the $250m earned in mail.

Navigating through that transition is already a tough challenge, but NZ Post also faces the added complexity of fierce competition on the courier side of the business, with established organisations vying against each other for a cut of the growing market.

Sandoval says that until now there has been very little separating any of the courier companies making their rounds across the country.

“There was just this sea of sameness,” says Sandoval.

“We’ve joked about this in our marketing department. If you’re having a courier deliver your parcel, it’s either in a yellow van, a red van or a yellow and red van.

“People would end up going: ‘I’m not sure who delivered that.’

“We were Courier Post. We’d show up in our yellow van and people wouldn’t know it was us. It was also showing up in other ways, where people would think that our competitor was us.

“We’d sometimes even have customers contacting the call centre to complain about our competitors’ service.”

For a company trying to attract customer loyalty and brand recognition, this created a number of major headaches that was starting to be reflected in its consumer research.

The lines had become so blurred between the organisations that when NZ Post ran advertising trumpeting its courier service, its research showed the brand metrics of competitors rising off the back of that advertising.

“There was so much confusion in the marketplace. There was also confusion in that people didn’t fully understand what it is that we did. Many still believed that all we did was deliver mail,” Sandoval says.

She says the rebrand will play a role in rectifying that confusion and connecting the dots so that consumers understand everything the organisation now does. The revamp of the branding will also play a significant role in separating NZ Post from the sea of sameness that currently exists.

The company is moving on from the red vans and adopting a dark blue tone that clearly displays NZ Post in white.

This new look is already being rolled out around the country and also features in a new ad campaign for the organisation.

While some critics might focus on the $15m price tag of the rebrand, Sandoval stresses that these changes serve an actual purpose for the organisation.

“Some might see it as a cost, but I see this as an investment in growing the business in the future. The benefits that can about from that investment are enormous.”

Sandoval says that creating a clear brand identity that’s obviously separated from the competition will allow NZ Post to give customers a reason to pick it over competitors.

“The more trust we have, the more customers are prepared to choose us and the more willing they are to pay for our services rather than a competitor. We will also be more likely to attract talent. There are many benefits that we can get back from this investment.”

Another point Sandoval makes is that the NZ Post courier vans serve as a moving billboard, running throughout the week. With a well-established brand that stands out from the competition, NZ Post will also have the benefit of the added awareness that comes from this.

“This isn’t just a design on a piece of paper. These are physical assets. There are 2000 vans. It’s not a temporary campaign. It’s permanent.”

With the courier industry set to grow every year, the competition in this industry will only become more intense. The question now is whether the NZ Post brand is strong enough to endure for another 100 years.

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