A Mitie makeover Article icon

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When your business is an outsourcing company whose name is an acronym of a mouthful like Management Incentive Through Investment Equity, it might be assumed that the corporate brand and logo is pretty important.

However, Mitie Group, which began life as a cleaning and engineering services firm 27 years ago, has only just changed the original logo it started out with.

‘The design had not been changed since we started in 1987,’ says head of corporate affairs Erica Lockhart. ‘There has been pretty significant change in the business over the past few years. The group has gone from a single-service outsourcing firm in engineering contracting to one of the biggest outsourcing facilities management players in the UK and is now exiting engineering to become a much more services-based group.’

Indeed, Mitie now has annual revenues of more than £2 billion and employs 75,000 staff. It claims to be one of only two companies in Britain’s mid-tier FTSE250 index to have grown its earnings per share for more than 25 consecutive years.

Mitie was founded by the late David Telling and Ian Stewart as MESL and renamed two years later after it merged with a firm called Highgate & Job.

In its early years, Lockhart says much of its growth came from its unusual business model, which saw the company offer employees and others the chance to form partnerships with it in chosen areas.

Partnership founders would own up to 49 per cent of their creation, while Mitie would inject cash for a 51 per cent share and, if the venture proved successful, buy the remainder after a number of years, with payment in a mixture of cash and Mitie shares.

Mitie has run more than 100 such partnerships over the past 27 years, with a 95 per cent success rate, and still starts a handful each year.

However, it is now a much more broadly focused facilities management group bidding for large, long-term regional and national outsourcing contracts, often on a basis of enjoying synergies and economies of scale through offering multiple services.

Styling itself as a national strategic outsourcing and energy services business, it works for customers including Rolls-Royce, Cable & Wireless and Marks & Spencer as well as high-profile attractions such as The Tower of London and the Royal Opera House.

It has also expanded into the home care market and is now the fourth biggest provider of home care services in the UK.

With 8,000 vans and uniforms for most of its employees, the corporate logo and brand is now much more visible and so chief executive Ruby McGregor-Smith decided it was time for a revamp.

‘The old logo was very 1980s,’ Lockhart says of the company’s former insignia, which comprised two sloping blue stripes sandwiching with a red line to the left of the group name in black capitals. ‘It was dated. We wanted something much fresher and more dynamic.’

While the previous logo is chunky, angular, blocky, comprising of rigid blocks and likened by some observers to that of the German car group BMW, its replacement, developed by agency Luminous and launched in February, aims to offer something quite different.

The Mitie name is set in lower case lettering beneath pink, purple and orange spheres and is said by the company to be part of a ‘fresh modern brand designed to reflect the company’s vision to inspire change in the way people live and work’.

A press release announcing the new look stated that it represents ‘Mitie’s ethos that everything it does is about partnerships with customers, suppliers, the community and the Mitie people who work together to deliver innovative solutions’.

Announcing the new look, which will be rolled out across vans and uniforms gradually as they are replaced, so as to minimise the cost of the rebranding, which has not been disclosed, McGregor-Smith said: ‘I am really excited that we have reinvigorated the Mitie brand to better reflect who we are as a business, both visually and culturally, for our people and our clients.

‘Now is the perfect time for us to re-visit our image as we continue to grow significantly in some really exciting new areas. The way we communicate and behave as a business is really important and I’m confident that our new brand will encourage all of our people to excel, challenge and inspire in everything they do.’

Lockhart says that the new logo and brand identity is a softer and more vibrant look that is more in keeping with the shift in Mitie’s labour force from a largely blue collar manual workforce to a modern services employee base.

Asked if the design was also intended to be more feminine, she says: ‘The percentage of women has increased in our business and we have a female chief executive and group finance director but that’s not something we took into consideration for the logo. We don’t think of it like that.’

She says McGregor-Smith initiated the rebranding, asking Luminous to come up with a range of designs. Of these, between six and eight were chosen by the board to be worked up fully.

The chief executive then chose the successful design with its internal design arm Mitie Total Document Management helping with some of the support work.

Mitie’s brand strapline remains The Strategic Outsourcing Company, which the group has used for the past five years.

Mitie is the biggest design client of Luminous, which was set up by managing partner Alan Hines and creative partner Jon Towell in 2002.

The agency has carried out corporate reporting work for clients including Debenhams, National Express, Betfair and electronics group Halma, while the BBC, Guardian Media Group, ARM Holdings, Pennon Group and United Business Media are among the companies who have used it to produce their annual reports. Its annual reports for Debenhams, Halma and The City Bridge Trust have received trophies at the CorpComms Awards.

‘From a brand perspective, the challenge was to create a compelling and coherent master brand, as opposed to being seen visually as a diverse number of business/divisional brands,’ says Towell.

‘The constant acquiring of new businesses, with new propositions, had resulted an incoherent and confusing brand hierarchy, with customer brand relationships more often at divisional level rather than group level. The key challenge was therefore to create a stand-out group brand in the sector, consistently implemented across every Mitie business, resulting in clear customer relationships with Mitie Group.

‘The new logo is a visual representation of Mitie’s ethos that everything it does is about partnerships, with the graphic spheres reflecting the dynamic relationships of customers, suppliers, communities and colleagues.’

Luminous has helped update Mitie’s website and Facebook page around the new corporate identity and the brand extension has continued in the interior of the company’s new head office in Bristol, with its new colours being adopted in office furniture, interior decoration and signage.

Responding to Mitie’s stated desire to ‘see its brand at the heart of every employee and client experience’, Luminous’s designs have also been used on company merchandise, badges, cuff-links, stickers and water bottles.

Towell believes it has been a highly successful rebranding exercise. ‘The brand solution met all key client objectives,’ he says, ‘and we believe it pushes the boundaries for corporate brands within the facilities management sector.’