You may not be aware, but recently there's been a bit of a rebranding scandal in the world of domestic heating.
Since 1970 there has been an organisation in the UK called CORGI or the Council for Registered Gas Installers. Very quickly, for our overseas readers, this organisation operates the registration scheme for gas installers in the UK. If you're getting a gas boiler fitted or serviced you must only use CORGI registered engineers.
So you can check the validity of your local gas engineer Corgi have a neat little orange shield logo. Obviously the logo has undergone several face lifts over the years, but basically it looks like this.
You see it on ID cards, on letterheads, on vans and on uniforms. In fact, it's reputed to have a recognition rate of 93%. That seems a bit steep to me, but I'm sure it's still a very high number.
Last year the Government decided to put the contract for gas installer registrations out to tender. Presumably to save money, as Governments do. And Corgi didn't win. Capita won, the people who run the Congestion Charge.
After the celebrations were over and all the champagne corks had been popped, someone from Capita rang someone at Corgi and asked if they could have the logo. You can imagine how that conversation went, but to save you the trouble I've mocked up a version. Like the tabloids do.
Capita "Good morning, Capita here. We're just won that gas safety contract from you. I'm just ringing to ask if we can have a copy of the logo. One of the designers told me to ask for an Eepeess, but I've no idea what that means, so a jpeg will do. Needs to be in colour. Something like a word file would be better though, as we're going to print it."
Corgi "Sorry. We own that little shield, it's called branding and it's our intellectual property. You can't have it."
Capita "Oh. Can't we just have the one off your website?"
Corgi "I'm calling the lawyers..."
Anyway. You get the picture. Corgi won't let Capita or the Government use their logo. The one that has been going for 39 years and has a 93% recognition rate. They own that you see, even though it's always been a scheme associated with the Government. When the Government put the contract out to pitch, you'd have thought they would have considered that, wouldn't you?
So Capita have had to create their own brand. It's called the 'Gas Safety Register' and it looks like this.
Looks like everyone has learned something as the new "Gas Safe Register" brand is owned by the Health and Safety Executive, but is on loan to Capita for the duration of its contract.
Ann Robinson, director of public awareness at Gas Safe Register has said "This is not like Marathon changing to Snickers, because ours is a campaigning brand. Our aim is to support registered engineers throughout the changeover and beyond. We will make sure your customers know CORGI gas registration is gone and Gas Safe Register is the official stamp for gas safety".
To make sure that happens the Government has set Capita a target to achieve "an 'unprompted' public awareness percentage rate of 40% by October 2009." Ahhh, our old friend 'unprompted' public awareness. Watch out for people spontaneously shouting, "Gas Safety Register! It's a bloomin' yellow triangle!" over the next few months.
40% by October this year. Feels pretty small compared to that 93% doesn't it?
This whole episode raises several issues.
1. That yellow triangle thing is fucking horrible. It almost looks like a spoof logo. I presume it's been designed to fit on the corner of a boiler or something, but it represents a huge opportunity missed. That yellow looks like a web safe yellow not a brand colour and the type relationships are very odd. I know which logo I'd rather sew onto my overalls.
2. To me this debacle demonstrates the value of branding far better than any Interbrand ranking. As UK White Goods say, "The total cost of the HSE's rebranding exercise was not disclosed." but what's the value of that little orange shield to the Government? What's the value if there's an accident? The whole Corgi thing started after the explosions in Ronan Point in 1968.
3. Welcome to Intellectual Property 2009. Corgi may well have been better off selling the shield to Capita. Maybe they tried. The Government would have been better off owning the shield in the first place. Probably no one cared in 1970. Intellectual Property is a minefield and no agency has a decent grip on it. Certainly no design agency.
A cautionary tale in many ways.
Hat tip to Charles The Plumber who first alerted me to this.