Can a rebrand really transform the public perception of a company? Parcel delivery company Hermes, one of Britain’s largest and best-known couriers, certainly seems to think so.
A name that most UK shoppers will instantly recognise, Hermes recently announced it will be rebranding to Evri. But why was this decision made?
“The decision to rebrand is based on years of poor service and the growing concerns of the handling of customer’s parcels within the networks operational journey,” 25/8 Retail Solutions founder Faz Boolaky told Charged.
“Something had to change. A line in the sand, a new brand to signify change and to try and leave the Hermes brand behind.”
Fifty2M managing director Lee Petts also believes the move is a bid to reframe Hermes’ questionable customer service record, but remains sceptical about its long-term effectiveness.
“Businesses that find their brands have become toxic will often try to break from the past with a rebrand in the hope that doing so will enable them to somehow launder their reputation, but history tells us it rarely works,” he says.
“For a start, people have longer memories than you might think, and then there are social media and the internet which never forget.”
The revamp will include a new logo and brand identity that will be rolled out across all its locations, vehicles and ParcelShops. The new brand is also due to launch with a national TV campaign next week.
It’s fair to say that Hermes has been rocked by numerous service failures and scandals in recent years.
The company was recently named the ‘worst performing company’ of its kind in research conducted by Citizens Advice. It received a 2-star rating for ‘trust’ and a 1-star rating for handling customer problems.
Ofcom, which regulates postal services, has also rated Hermes lowest out of the delivery companies for customer satisfaction. It proposed new rules to protect consumers, including improving handling of complaints.
In addition, The Times conducted an undercover operation last year with a reporter posing as a member of staff, exposing a string of concerning incidents via secret video recordings.
Hermes employees were filmed throwing parcels against a depot wall and routinely failed to deliver next-day orders on time. A manager also told the reporter, posing as a new recruit, to “act stupid” if customers complained and one driver was caught on film describing customers as “c***s.”
Hermes have stressed that the rebrand is not merely an image overhaul but the company will see a “significant investment in its customer service as part of its commitment to ensuring that its customer service remains responsive, knowledgeable and helpful”.
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This will include opening a UK-based customer service team, as well as adding 200 ‘experts’ who will be based in local depots, closer to where potential issues are. Hermes will also be upgrading its chatbot feature and releasing more phone lines for customers who prefer to speak directly to someone.
Other improvements include continuing to grow its use of alternative fuels as the company continues its journey to net zero target for direct and indirect emissions for 2025.
The courier also announced that it will be auto-enrolling all of its self-employed plus (SE+) couriers into a pension by the end of this year. The move will be a first for the logistics industry, representing a £7m plus investment each year in the earnings security of its couriers.
If executed well, these are certainly tangible improvements.
However, Faz Boolaky says he would have given the courier more kudos if it had kept the name and invested the rebranding money into improving its operations, showing customers it recognises the challenges and issues.
“If they are investing a significant amount into UK based service centres and upgrading their chatbot systems then how much more could they achieve by just keeping the Hermes brand name and injecting that cash into other areas like staff engagement and pay,” he asks.
Admittedly, it is too early to say whether the rebrand will fix the cultural issues and operating model that caused Hermes to be the focus of so many complaints.
“On their own, a new logo and a lick of paint aren’t enough to fix a damaged reputation,” agrees Lee Petts.
“A brand is about more than just a visual identity, it’s a projection of your values as an organisation. For Evri to cast off the shadow of its Hermes past, it needs to show consumers that it’s changed culturally and can be trusted to be better, not just tell them.”
Judging by the response on social media, customers are not hugely optimistic, with many indulging in jokes about the new name.
Because Evri parcel goes missing? Because Evri day they’re reputation somehow manages to get worse? Because Evri time I see they’re delivering my parcel, my heart sinks? https://t.co/q1Uuckegjz
— Shaughna Phillips (@Shaughna_P) March 11, 2022
Evri the new name for Hermes is something you would expect a branding team on The Apprentice to come up with.
Evri parcel lost, Evri parcel left in the bush, Evri parcel damaged.
Didn't think that one through as they look to leave their past reputation behind.
— Day (@dayhi_) March 11, 2022
Rebranding alone is not the answer to poor customer service and must coincide with structural, operational and cultural change within the company.
While Faz Boolaky remains less than enthusiastic about the rebranding, he says he would love to be proven wrong.
“If this investment keeps the value but dramatically improves the internal processes and consumer service, then absolutely I will applaud the change,” he says.
When asked if he feels optimistic about the rebrand, Lee Petts believes that for it to work there needs to be an internal rebranding effort, selling the change to those that can influence it the most, the depot workers and drivers.
He concludes; “Without that, it’s just words.”