Addison Lee goes premium to drive global expansion

Private car hire service Addison Lee is hoping its first rebrand in 40 years will assist global expansion plans and set it apart from Uber.

Addison Lee has committed to a multi-million pound budget to promote its new brand identity, the private hire car firm’s first refresh since it was established in 1975.

The new look is part of a wider expansion strategy following its £30m acquisition of executive car service Tristar International in June. The aim is to use this partnership to grow Addison Lee’s reach in the US, Europe and Asia Pacific, coinciding with expansion across key UK cities.

READ MORE: How Addison Lee is using personalisation to drive expansion and take on Uber

Designed to reflect a premium brand positioning that will set it apart from rival Uber, the rebrand swaps Addison Lee’s characteristic monochrome palette for a yellow, black and slate colour scheme that is being rolled out across its 5,000-strong fleet of cars, courier vans and motorcycles. As half of trade now goes through its app, the digital-friendly redesign is intended to help drive in app traffic too.

Here chief commercial officer Peter Boucher, one of Marketing Week’s 2016 Vision 100 inductees, explains the rationale behind the move.

Why was now the right time to rebrand?

We’ve spent the past two years investing in the business to reinforce the high service proposition. We talk about engagement with the customer and we needed to have our CRM and loyalty schemes ready, which is why this felt like the right time. A brand is what a brand does, and we’ve got to make sure there is some substance behind it.

We have always stood for service and felt the design needed to come up a notch, as well as being something that was flexible enough to service both our couriers and cars.

What role has digital played in the redesign?

Our design had not changed for 40 years and it was hard to handle digitally. Historically the design was black and white, quite dark and not particularly feminine. We wanted a lighter, more modern design that would show up well on the app where there isn’t much real estate to play with, so its better not to use strong, dark colours.

READ MORE: What does it take to get a rebrand right?

Addison Lee is hoping its first rebrand for 40 years will help drive global expansion
Addison Lee is hoping its first rebrand for 40 years will help drive global expansion

Is the new campaign intended to focus more on consumers and less on business?

Whereas historically we were seen as a B2B brand, the redesign is not about being focused on business versus consumer. Rather we want to focus on the passenger and open up more at a customer level. We have high awareness, but there has often been a misperception that we are just for banks and brands, whereas we are much more customer and passenger centric.

How does the rebrand feed into your global growth strategy?

In markets outside the UK there is little awareness, in some cases starting from zero, so we wanted to begin with an identity and get the basics right from day one. We have now launched the app to 10 cities including New York, Paris, Manchester and Leeds, and we’re looking to grow this to 25 by the end of the year.

There have been a host of redesigns among on-demand players like Just Eat and Deliveroo recently – what do you make of them?

I understand the choice of the bright, fluorescent designs as they have to differentiate themselves physically around the streets. These are new brands appealing to a certain customer, whereas we are more established and service orientated.

Just Eat, for example, has a younger demographic and a different brief. It is interesting to see the new advertising from Deliveroo, which has been in the fight of its life in a very competitive market. It wants to give itself the best shot, although I’m slightly surprised by the choice of the new logo.

READ MORE: Is Deliveroo rebrand about gaining global appeal or reducing controversy?

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