Corporate communications

Why LSEG needed a brand campaign

LSEG has been through a huge transformation in recent years but people still mistake it for its London Stock Exchange origins

Here are two interesting facts about the London Stock Exchange Group, or LSEG as it is now known. It is the second largest financial brand listed on the FTSE 100 index, only lagging HSBC, while the world-renowned London Stock Exchange today comprises just three per cent of its revenues.

In fact, since it acquired two-year old financial software company Refinitiv for $27 billion three years ago, LSEG has transformed into a global markets and information powerhouse, that John Castaing could scarcely have imagined when he first started publishing currency, stock and commodity prices back in 1698.

For Brigitte Trafford, who joined as chief corporate affairs & marketing officer [and Executive committee member] three months before the deal completed, it was imperative that the acquisition was marked with a new master brand that tipped a nod to the group’s 300 years of heritage, which remains a huge advantage in overseas markets, while also reflecting its future direction and potential.

‘I had a three-month window to devise a new brand for LSEG,’ she explains. She first approached the College of Arms, that had been responsible for creating the exchange’s first coat of arms with its Latin motto Dictum Meum Pactum – My word is my bond – back in 1923, to help simplify and modernise its look, while the old funereal colour scheme of black and gold was ditched in favour of Refinitiv’s blue colouring, which jumped out in a Eureka moment.

Trafford explains: ‘We were looking at various colours – green was in contention at one point to represent sustainability – when we had an ‘Ah ha’ moment, where we realised that we’ve got this brilliant, distinctive blue that we were inheriting through Refinitiv.

‘Blue is the most popular colour for financial services logos because it is strong, neutral and non-emotive, but ours really pops. It was also a nice nod to Refinitiv – to make them part of the future. We knew we’d only be able to do the parent brand for day one, which could be seen everywhere, but we also changed the ticker symbol, so it became LSEG on day one,’ she adds. ‘That was neat. And what was interesting was the speed with which people changed their LinkedIn profiles.’

But Trafford was aware that creating a master brand was only the first step. The rapid expansion of LSEG, which has made three further acquisitions since Refinitiv, means it now offers customers a wide range of products and services stretching across the trade cycle, but has also made it hard for colleagues and customers to fully appreciate all that is available.

Blue is the most popular colour for financial services logos because it is strong, neutral and non-emotive, but ours really pops

‘We had to find a brand architecture which made it easy for our customers to navigate and get the hang of what we could do. But we couldn’t just move [everything] to the master brand because when you’ve got powerful sub brands like London Stock Exchange and FTSE Russell, you’re not going to change them in a hurry,’ she explains.

The solution was to create five sub brands underneath the parent, bringing together the various solutions within each sphere. Each had their own identities, fonts and colour schemes which meant they did not look linked, let alone part of the same family.

The first sub brand, LSEG FX, was created in May and brings together three foreign exchange solutions under one umbrella while a new post-trade sub brand, will incorporate clearing house LCH and recent acquisitions Quantile and Arcadia. Refinitiv has been rebranded LSEG Data & Analytics after research revealed that, as a relatively new name, it had yet to firmly establish its brand credentials. By retaining the distinctive blue and the coat of arms within each sub brand, Trafford hopes customers will instinctively recognise them to be an LSEG business.

‘If you’re a customer of LSEG, and you want to know what we do in foreign exchange, for example, you can now just click on LSEG FX and see everything that we offer, be it at the pre-trade, at trade or post-trade,’ explains Trafford. ‘That’s been a radical change. The customer doesn’t care how we manage it, or which division it sits within, they just want to see what we do in the foreign exchange space. It makes it easy to navigate.’

Once the brand architecture was agreed, Trafford and her team had to go through a brand transformation programme. ‘Most people think you change the logo, job done. But there was a tremendous programme going through thousands of documents that touch the customer,’ she explains. Each division conducted a digital audit. ‘Most of our digital estate was – how can I put this politely? – end of cycle. So, we knew we had to upgrade our digital estate, which would also then enable e-commerce, for example, which the old system would never have allowed.’

Trafford’s team also streamlined the intranet and corporate website, whittling the latter down from 6,000 pages to just 153. ‘We took the opportunity to relook at things. For example, our website; people just kept adding more and more stuff. It needed a good editor. But we asked: what do people really need on the corporate website?’

Trafford’s team also streamlined the intranet and corporate website, whittling the latter down from 6,000 pages to just 153

With the brand transformation work – which touched every part of the organisation –ongoing, Trafford also realised LSEG suffered from an identity crisis. It was viewed as synonymous with the London Stock Exchange. People also assumed it was London-centric, without realising the group operates in 190 countries and employs more than 25,000 people, of whom more than half are based in Asia and fewer than 2,000 at its headquarters.

‘When your name is London Stock Exchange Group, you can hardly moan that people think you’re in London and a stock exchange, which is why I want to increasingly refer to LSEG,’ she adds. Trafford started to explore how to build the brand and found inspiration in the example of Amex and American Express. ‘The credit card is more famous that the parent, but they found a way to promote Amex,’ she explains. ‘We’re going to do the same with LSEG, whilst obviously promoting London Stock Exchange.’

LSEG (and the London Stock Exchange) had never previously embarked on a brand campaign, instead concentrating marketing efforts on business-as-usual, but Trafford got the Board on board. ‘Phase one needed to be an educational campaign. Before we can extol the merits of everything we offer, people need to know who we are and what we do, and why they think we’re just in London and just a stock exchange,’ she says. ‘But I was also aware that the world was not waiting for an educational campaign from LSEG.’

When your name is London Stock Exchange Group, you can hardly moan that people think you’re in London and a stock exchange, which is why I want to increasingly refer to LSEG

Trafford’s list of demands of her advertising agency was long. The campaign needed to stand out. To be memorable. To be modern. To be bold. To be fresh. To have humour, without being silly. It was also not to be benchmarked against other B2B financial services advertising but against B2C.

‘I also said that I want to bring real personality and warmth to this campaign and humour. We are serious people. We do serious work. We are systematically important to the whole financial system,’ she says. ‘But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a bit of fun and personality. I wanted warmth because we know that with successful advertising that there needs to be an emotional connection. You have to care.’

Excitement had been building within LSEG about its first ever brand campaign. The day before it went live, LSEG’s people were ‘encouraged to stop work for an hour’ to join a global super stream event to view the film’s premiere. Chief executive David Schwimmer flew to LSEG’s technology centre Bucharest while Trafford went to Bengaluru, home to 6,000 employees, for the live broadcast. Other executive directors joined colleagues at the London headquarters in Paternoster Square, in the shadow of St Paul’s.

‘We wanted to show it to our people first, but we also unveiled our new values at the same time. It’s two sides of the same coin,’ explains Trafford. The values – integrity, excellence, partnership and change – are the culmination of thousands of questionnaires and workshops, Exco discussions and further workshops.

‘Obviously, it’s a huge transformation. The company is going from integration to transformation.’ A partnership with Microsoft, signed last December, will ultimately integrate its tools into the LSEG trading platforms, making it a one-stop shop for users, while another initiative will allow private companies to go public for a day to raise money on public markets.

‘We’ve always been an innovative company, and we continue to be,’ says Trafford. ‘We are very good at thinking what do our customers want or need. What is missing across the trade life cycle, or asset classes, that would really add value. If you look at some of the companies we’ve acquired, they were sort of filling the gaps.’

Two months later, and Trafford is happy. The campaign has launched to great acclaim. LSEG has executed outdoor brand activations across London, Hong Kong, New York, Paris and Tokyo. Its advertising adorns the billboards at Bank Station and the livery of several iconic black cabs. It’s in the Air France lounge in Paris and on Hong Kong trams.

The brand video has been played more than 66 million times, and on the day of launch – 6 September – there was a 600 per cent increase in LSEG brand keyword searches, compared to the day before. There have been 624 million campaign impressions (estimated times the campaign has been visible across billboards and advertising globally. [More than five million people have also seen its digital advertising campaigns]

Once the dust has settled on phase one, the next phase will be to create complementary campaigns for each sub brand, which all ladder up to a bigger LSEG. But phase one also marks Trafford’s swansong. She is departing to pursue a plural career. From completing the acquisition of Refinitiv – one of the biggest in the past decade – during lockdown to the first ever corporate brand campaign for LSEG, it’s been quite the ride.