For over 30 years, the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) was the home for the professional trade in the wind energy sector in the UK. With the rise of other technologies, especially marine energy, the mere focus on wind energy felt too narrow in scope. And alas, BWEA became RenewableUK in March 2010, now covering all technologies. The reason for change seemed convincing. But is this really a case study in successful re-branding?
Here are some observations (as of 28/07/2010):
- Web Confusion: Even after five months the old domain (www.bwea.com) is still in tact. A link takes customers to an about- page on the new domain (www.renewable-uk.com/about-renewableuk). The main landing page of the new site, however (www.renewable-uk.com) is re-directed to bwea.com with the hint that a new site is under construction. The organisation has also registered the www.renewable-manifesto.com – domain, though despite its name, we could not find a manifesto. Confused? You are not alone!
- Domain Confusion: Adding to the confusion above, RenewableUK has both a .co.uk and a .com domain for its new site. These are different pages! Is one intended for UK customers only and one for international customers?
- Logo: The website still carries the old BWEA logo prefixed “formerly named” alongside the new logo. Curiously: While the old logo featured a few waves, the new logo could be associated with half a wind mill.
- The Slogan: Following the mantra that every self-respecting brand must have a strap line, RenewableUK is “The voice of wind & marine energy”. This seems at odds with both their new name and their vision to be the voice of all renewable.
- Focus: In absence of a manifesto (see above), we can only infer RenewableUK’s focus from its publications and the events it hosts. There is scant evidence of interest in anything other than wind, wave and tidal energy.
After five months into the new brand, the old website should have gone and the mention of BWEA confined to the history section. Why wait? Why the hesitation? Is it maybe because of a lack of confidence in the new name?
The name of course is one of the most important brand elements and also the most difficult to change. Often, brand names are shortened to their initials (e.g. Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation became HSBC), giving the company flexibility in extending its scope while building on the strengths of an established brand. In contrast, BWEA decided to assume an entirely new, unfamiliar and very generic name.
It is understandable that BWEA wants to cover more than just wind, especially since its members have interests in other technologies too. So far, however, it is still the association of “wind and selected friends” rather than all renewables. The new brand suggests a much wider scope than the organisation offers at present.
To move from BWEA to RenewableUK was bold. However, after 5 months, the re-branding appears to be patchy and the new brand does not live up to its promise. Now the new brand must drive the organisation!