The story of the SEP2 rebrand
SEP2 is a Cyber Security Specialist based in Leeds and London. SEP2 has built a successful business representing some of the best cyber security vendors on the market. It employs a specialist team of technicians and account managers to ensure that its customers are fully protected from the growing number of cyber threats. Customers are from a wide range of sectors, including sport, finance, healthcare and logistics.
SEP2 was established in 2016 by three directors who had a vision for a new kind of cyber specialist; one that put customers before profit, boasted technical excellence and who would look after its employees in exemplary fashion.
Whilst the business had experienced success and growth, the directors felt that it lacked an identity. It wasn’t successfully communicating its brilliance to the market, and there was a lack of brand and marketing strategy.
SEP2 embarked on a complete brand rethink in December 2020; this article tells the story of this journey.
However, there were several issues of ‘identity’. The business, its employees and customers were unsure what it stood for. The website was dated and marketing communications were limited. The business was concerned about losing what made it so special – its ‘essence’ – as it continued to grow.
SEP2 engaged with brand strategists ‘Fettle’ to carry out a root-to-branch review of their current state and direct the company towards a new identity.
What words should be used to describe the business? What was its story? Did it need a new logo? How could it accurately position itself in the market?
In short, SEP2 needed to understand how to optimise its brand. This was the ultimate goal.
The first thing was to have a set of open and honest discussions with stakeholders to discover how the business was being perceived. These stakeholders included directors, employees, customers and suppliers. This unearthed a disparate set of views, which suggested that the directors were right in thinking that the company’s identity was not clear.
“sep2? I don’t know what it means. I doubt our customers do either”
“The ‘2’ means squared, as in everything again. But maybe not”
Customers said that:
“We don’t know what the sep2 brand stands for”
“sep2 stands for security (I think), embedded processes (guess)”
Supplier vendors described how:
“Our sales team lack insight into what makes sep2 who they are”
“The sep2 brand is not very sophisticated”
However, there were some amazing insights that could form an essential part of a new brand.
Employees described how SEP2 made ‘customers into partners’ and how they felt ‘looked after and valued’.
Customers recognised that SEP2 are “Technically great” and are a “Great…and friendly team”.
The challenge was to synthesise what it was that made SEP2 so brilliant at what they do and communicate it effectively.
A successful brand needs to be optimised, which means having the following six properties:
It was clear from the Discovery part of the journey that the current brand was a long way from being optimised. However, this discovery phase allows Fettle to start understanding a lot about the authentic SEP2 story, which will help the brand to be memorable and honest.
The next step was to carry out competitor research. This is key to understanding how to differentiate the brand. Cyber Security is an increasingly competitive space, where having great technical knowledge, superb vendors and outstanding customer service is merely ‘permission to play’: how can SEP2 stand out from the crowd in a provable manner?
This work resulted in a large amount of data and opinions; the key to an optimised brand is to whittle this down into a manageable, clear and succinct set of rules: The Brand Model.
A brand model will summarise exactly what the brand should stand for. A brand model helps to ensure the brand is coherent, and if adhered to in all marketing communications, that it is being communicated consistently.
A brand model consists of the following:
Brand Values What do we stand for? What is the SEP2 culture?
Brand Promise What is it that we deliver without fail, every time?
Personality How do we want to express what we stand for?
Core Message What is the single most important message that we want to communicate?
The solution that was agreed combined the authentically brilliant group of people who work at SEP2, and their unwavering pursuit of technical excellence.
Here is the new SEP2 brand model:
The new SEP2 brand model, crucially, is scalable. All of its elements will apply now and in the future. It provides an anchor to ground the brand in authenticity as it continues to grow.
The rebranding process also meant changing some hitherto core brand elements: Firstly, sep2 would become SEP2. Next, SEP2 would dispense with their strapline ‘Security Excellence Partner’. Their ‘always connected, always secure, always sep2’ promise would be replaced. Finally, the logo and entire creative look and feel would need a complete redesign.
SEP2 engaged with a design agency to take a brief which included the brand model, and design a new logo, and look and feel. The new logo was a unanimous decision across the board of directors: It stood for momentum and a forward-thinking approach whilst keeping some of the colours of the outgoing logo.
Agreeing on a new direction is a difficult step, but in many ways, it is just the start. Rebranding needs a disciplined approach, where the brand model is communicated clearly to all stakeholders: employees, agencies, customers and vendors. Only then can the goal of brand optimisation be achieved.
Thankfully, the directors of SEP2 are completely open to challenge and change. Once the brand model and creative treatment had been signed off (after garnering feedback from employees) the company was ready to embark on a new marketing strategy that would encompass the process of rebranding. This involved, amongst other elements, the following:
- Agreeing on a brand guide to ensure consistent application of the new assets
- A language guide to help inform all written content
- Communications to all staff, suppliers, vendors, stakeholders and media
- A brand-new website, launched in August 2021
- Social Media campaigns to promote the brand, and exactly what SEP2 stand for
- A customer survey, repeatable every year
- A content strategy to ensure that all communications would be relatable and valuable
This process mustn’t be rushed. Each step needs careful consideration and C-Suite involvement.
Reflections on the SEP2 rebrand
What is a brand? It isn’t just a logo, advert or website.
It is the experience that employees and customers alike have when engaging with a company.
A brand will set expectations and govern what the company delivers.
It provides an authentic story and ensures that an audience is engaged.
It informs the company’s values and culture, inside and out.
The new SEP2 brand has been received with a hugely positive response and genuinely feels like the catalyst to a new era at the company. Owners and employees have expressed a huge sense of pride in the brand, and sales staff are delighted with the new website.
SEP2 as a business is already established but is now well on its way to being able to communicate itself clearly, passionately and with authenticity. In other words, with a brand that is optimised for now and the future.
Tech Driven. People Powered.