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A new website

July 22, 2013

So, the new Furner Communications website is with us!

Given the old site had been around for about 5 years, it’s felt for a while that it was time for an update. It needed some tweaking of content and of course times move on, so it’s good to have the project done and dusted.

It also got me thinking about the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of re-branding, the importance of identity and image and the potential impact on reputation.

I look at the new site by Habinteg and am really impressed – it’s very straightforward to navigate, has plenty of information and is a pleasure to look at. And was done because the previous site wasn’t meeting the organisation’s needs any more.

But there are dangers with re-branding, if it’s not done carefully and stakeholder’s needs and views aren’t taken into account. The Pullman St Pancras in Euston is a case in point. Owned by Accor, Pullman is one of several chains of hotels which belong to the group, which include Novotel, Mecure and Ibis.

Make sure, when you re-brand, you take people with you.

I spent many years staying at this hotel, using it as a base for my frequent London trips. The benefits were many (if you ignore the outrageous rack rate and mediocre food).  The location was good, staff unfailingly helpful and courteous, and crucially, it had blue badge parking for disabled guests.

Not any more. A re-brand from Novatel to Pullman (basically from ‘posh’ to ‘posher’) has included a revamp of the huge forecourt area and the scrapping of the blue badge bays. The hotel confirmed they did no measuring of how much the bays were used, or canvassing views of disabled guests on scrapping the bays, and suggested I park at a sister hotel 1/3 of a mile away. When I pointed out I couldn’t walk that far, and that there may be legal implications to scrapping the bays, the hotel management (and staff at Accor) started ignoring my letters and emails.

So, no more staying in Accor hotels for me.  In truth, this is unlikely to bring the company to its knees. But my review has been seen by over 500 people, and I’ve made my position known to friends, acquaintances and clients. The hotel’s actions have lost them my custom and goodwill. Overall, not a good outcome for them.

The moral of the story? Make sure, when you re-brand, you take people with you. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with the fall out.

If you like the new website, do let us know. And if you don’t, really do let us know.

Ben Furner

Ben is director of Furner Communications