Reinventing AXI: from four different brands to a coherent one
AXI is a strategic all-round IT partner specialised in the health, retail, government, services and industry sector in Belgium and the Netherlands. Since 2018, they acquired three sister companies: Elegio (e-voting software), Ground lion (Adaptive Case Management software) and LoQutus (a digital consultancy agency). Four different brands with four different identities. Our task? To untie the branding knot: reorganising the brand architecture and rewriting the brand story. First, we sharpened the business strategy. Next, we translated that strategy into a rebranding and other new opportunities for the entire customer experience. And all of that in close collaboration with AXI of course!
As their request was twofold, different profiles within Duke & Grace were called to account and cooperated closely. The biggest chunk consisted of developing a strategy: AXI has a wide range of products and services, therefore we had to tinker with their brand architecture. Once we made great inroads into that, we could create a solid and substantive basis for their communication and marketing. We rolled up our sleeves and were eager to simplify things for their employees as well as customers and get their brand story straight. Ready to plunge in?
Within AXI, there was a lack of coherence: different identities, overlapping services and fragmented marketing efforts. So, the biggest challenge was to come forward, together, as a strong player. How did we tackle this problem?
We looked at it from a customer point of view and started exploring outside in: we held stakeholder interviews (with employees as well as customers) and made a competitive analysis based on the positioning of their brands. We mapped out where all four brands were located on the market landscape. As a group, it appeared they had a strong position as an end-to-end IT partner, hence their existing brand manifesto ‘Uw end-to-end IT expert’ (literally: ‘Your end-to-end IT expert’). They decided to reposition themselves by combining the best of all four worlds: the allround character of AXI and the innovative character of LoQutus, Ground lion and Elegio.
Next, we conducted a Google Analytics audit and keyword research to look for search intentions, which was going to facilitate the process of making a clear overview of their products and services. We also did a target group analysis through co-creation workshops to check who has the greatest impact on a decision. That’s how we created several personas, which we then could use in marketing.
Since we had to make tough choices in terms of brand architecture and there was no immediate consensus of opinion within the company, we wanted to underpin our proposal with thorough market research (conducted by iVox). We asked iVox to focus completely on IT people with decision-making rights in the health, retail, government, services and industry sector in Belgium and the Netherlands. First, they were asked some questions about brand awareness. What is the value of each brand (before we discard it)? Next, they were asked about what they expect from a collaboration with an IT partner. What are they looking for in an IT partner?
“We really needed a neutral third party who could guide us from four identities to one in a way that is beneficial for both our employees and customers.”
Joachim Vanden Brande
Director Marketing, Innovation & Technology at AXI
On the basis of all those results, we were able to start thinking in a solution-oriented way. Together with AXI, we subsequently mapped out the customer journeys of each target group: the different phases the target group goes through, what steps they take in each phase and what questions they have in each phase - very valuable for marketing.
Next, we composed the strategy in terms of revealing insights (What have we learned?), principles (What is our answer to the insight?) and different actions to be taken (How can we achieve this?). For example, we found out that customers attach great importance to one and the same IT partner that could offer both strategy and tactics. An important side-note was that this IT partner, of course, has to examine each problem objectively, and not push customers in the direction of their own products. Point taken!
A new look for … AXI
All of this resulted in a hands-on communication strategy. First, we tackled the brand architecture. Instead of dividing the brand by four, we started from trends, such as AI, to show their expertise and innovative character, which makes them eligible as a future-proof IT partner. Next, we restructured their offer in terms of what challenges their customers face on the one hand and specific services on the other hand. To flaunt their expertise in certain domains, we have made dedicated pages and solutions for each of their target groups.
In the meantime, they also reached a consensus on their new brand name: AXI, which would function as the corporate brand for all brands, services and products. Of course, the identity of AXI has been completely renewed and refocused, so that all employees can identify with the new brand and customers have a clear point of contact. Their sub-branded services and products are now named AXI Strategy and AXI Solutions (AXI + name product/service).
The research and resulting strategy now lead to new opportunities for the entire customer experience: brand story, UX design website, branding & brand architecture, marketing plan, communication plan, content strategy … As you can see, it was a great deal of brainwork behind the scenes to make their brand look like it does now: simple, intuitive and tailor-made for their customer.