After winning a major industry award for their City Taxis marketing campaign, Ola Tambor and Gemma Curry from digital agency Fishtank share the secrets of success when it comes to re-branding – and tell unLTD’s Jill Theobald why now could actually be the best time for other companies to raise their profile

“If we’re saying anything to the businesses out there it’s – embrace everything you’re doing, shout about it!”

A great quote to open any feature on marketing and re-branding, from Fishtank’s head of digital Ola Tambor, and not a bad motto for businesses as a general rule, either.

And as my chat with Ola and her colleague head of client services Gemma Curry continues, it turns out it could be worth bearing in mind during and despite the current pandemic, too.

But first we talk about how it turned out to be an award-winning theme for their recent campaign with City Taxis.

In fact, a big re-brand wasn’t initially on the cards – but the complete overhaul of the company’s visual identity and digital presence won them ‘B2C Campaign of the Year (under £50k)’ award at the Prolific North Awards, with judges commenting: “Not only did Fishtank deliver it (the campaign) beautifully with numbers to back it up, they did so by not settling with the old and going the extra mile of creating a new brand and other sub brands.”

“From the moment we came for the first meeting we felt inspired by City Taxis,” says Ola. “It was supposed to be an introductory meeting, but we went in with a full brand proposition as we believed in it so strongly.”

“It was definitely something unusual for us,” agrees Gemma, “as we wouldn’t normally do that in that type of scenario, but we just felt it was the right thing for them.”

“They are basically like a family,” says Ola. “They work well together and like to spend a lot of time together – which is very similar to the Fishtank culture – and it was very much a partnership between us, never a superior/inferior relationship dynamic when we worked together. It was a great experience as you could see they trusted in us, our skills and ideas.”

Described by Fishtank MD Damien Fisher as a ‘crown jewel of our work portfolio’, Gemma says the project was all about ‘reintroducing the renowned South Yorkshire brand, City Taxis, and breathing life into their marketing with a new, vibrant identity. After learning about the wide scope of their activities, we knew we had to be very strategic.’

Among several objectives in that strategy were the re-brand and new website, a marketing strategy and roll out for City Taxi’s food delivery sub-brand City Grab and assisting with strategy, roll-out and publicity of the Electric Vehicles initiative – successfully launched at last year’s Sheffield Business Awards.

“Being able to represent the versatility of the company by promoting innovative campaigns like their revolutionary Electric Vehicle project and highlighting their engagement in the local community helped us unearth the culture of Team City,” says Gemma.

Adds Ola: “Helping them develop exciting brands like food and retail delivery app City Grab – which has raised over £58k for key workers and the NHS during COVID-19 – was amazing. That name came up in the very first meeting as they wanted to call it something separate to their brand entirely, but we explained it didn’t fit their identity. The City name was already there and Grab was about reaching out – you can grab anything! And they really bought into that idea.

“That’s one of the great things about City – you can see that one of their goals is to make Sheffield better which is awesome.”

Multiple elements had to come together for the strategy, ensuring there was no confusion for the loyal customer base, while Fishtank and City worked together to promote the new initiatives with campaign activities such as the guerrilla Electric Hub launch event in the city centre.

“The level of integrated strategy and depth we created for this campaign was rewarded with such successful results and fantastic feedback from City’s community,” says Ola.

And, of course, the award win.

Says Gemma: “The award is amazing in itself, but it also reinforces what we do, why we do it and our expertise and success.

This campaign has gone above and beyond and that is our focus going forward – our integrated and succinct approach enables us to provide tailored solutions for our clients creating long-standing partnerships. We’re working on other creative marketing collateral for City and I can see us working together long into the future.

“They are going from strength to strength and they have great objectives they want to achieve over the years and we are more than happy to support them on that journey – that is something we’re really proud of.”

Amy Tingle, HR and business manager at City Taxis, said: “Working with Ola, Damien and the team at Fishtank has been an absolute breath of fresh air for us all.

“We first started our conversations around social media, and they have taken what was initially a small project to a whole new level which has been an amazing journey for City Taxis and City Grab.

“We are so proud of what we have created together and so pleased we decided to work with Fishtank. They have now become part of the team and they continue to help support us to build, grow and fulfil all the ideas and make them come to life exactly how we had envisioned them.”

Re-branding – the time is now

Is a global pandemic the right time for a re-brand? Many business owners might have it pretty far down their To Do list, for sure.

“Nobody ever imagined we would be where we are now, and obviously for some businesses it has been really hard and they have taken financial hits and are continuing to,” explains Gemma. “It depends on the industry – some are thriving at the moment and others are struggling so businesses might be thinking the last thing we want is a rebrand or a website. “But if businesses are looking at their goals then the longer-term gain of investment could mean that now actually IS the time.

“We have clients doing exactly that, looking at where they are now and where they want to be – they want to come out of the pandemic a step ahead from their competitors whatever market they are in, whether its retail or B2B, so now is an opportune time. It is difficult, we appreciate, and it’s an expense as a business, but it’s also an investment in your future.”

Ola agrees.

“I think it is the perfect time from a client’s perspective for three reasons. They know that businesses can be more flexible with payment terms and with solutions – we can suggest available grants so that puts a bit more power on their side.

“You do have to keep branding awareness out there and if businesses are not as busy as they would perhaps ordinarily be, the most crucial people have that availability to get together and hone in on what their brand is all about.

“And thirdly user behaviour has changed through the pandemic – we see that in our e-commerce clients and how people are browsing websites and interacting with content. The market has changed, and the way people use products and content has, too.”