Omniva’s new visual identity caused a storm among the Estonian public. In many ways, this was due to the mistake of a media publication, as instead of the Omniva logo they featured an image with graphic elements which was just a fragment of the new visual identity. Omniva’s brand manager Mari-Liis Küppar explained to TULI why the company needed to change its look and what the creation of a brand strategy for a large company looks like.
Mari-Liis started working as Omniva’s brand manager in September. How did you get used to the new workplace?
The transition was fast and smooth. I have very helpful and friendly colleagues! I like that no day has been boring so far. Right from the beginning, we started with big and exciting projects, so the pace has always been fast.
Many noticed the change in visual identity, but what else big and exciting is going on?
In parallel with the visual identity change, we created a new brand strategy.
What period will this strategy cover?
The company’s strategy is for five years, and the brand strategy is a part of it.
Can you describe the process of developing the brand strategy? How big was the team working on it and how long did it take?
We did it in three months, which is rather quick for creating a brand strategy that goes hand in hand with a new visual identity.
We developed the strategy together with members of the management, including Omniva leaders from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. At a certain stage, we also involved the HR manager and national marketing managers. I led the process in close cooperation with our agency who, this time, was McCann Riga, in addition to the White Label and Overpriced agencies in the McCann Group.
The team was large with the addition of the agencies, as the pace was fast. In total, up to 20 people worked on creating the brand strategy.
Tell me, why did you cooperate with the Latvian agency specifically?
For larger purchases, we are subject to procurement. We sent a call for tenders to the agencies of the three countries and a total of five partners participated, two of whom were from Latvia and three from Estonia. This time, McCann Riga made the best offer.
It is said that hiring Latvian partners for work like this is becoming increasingly popular. Have you noticed this?
This isn’t my first time working in the three Baltic markets at the same time. Even if the head office is in one country, we look at all three markets when choosing an agency. I have noticed that cooperation is becoming more and more international here. For example, if you have a strategy for different markets, it is actually good for the team to be more international.
Why did the era of Omniva’s previous visual identity come to an end and why was a new one needed?
Our new visual identity is driven primarily by the company’s strategy, which has changed significantly. We feel that as the direction of a company changes, so must the symbols, as they carry important meanings.
The keywords of our visual language so far were things like strength, energy and innovative paths. Some of them still apply today, but we wanted to bring in more human warmth, joy and care. These keywords are based on our new mission and vision. In the case of the old logo, each element meant a different line of business, but we no longer have all of these lines of business.
Today, we feel that our strength lies in integrity and cooperation. The new era also requires new symbols that will inspire, among others, our employees, projects arising from the strategy and the implementation of positive changes.
Do I understand correctly that the new logo has four smiles?
It is an Estonian-like modest smile. At first glance you may not even realise that someone is smiling.
It is a minimalist and simplified geometric shape. We can clearly see the smile and joy behind this image. For us, it symbolises our care for the packages and letters that are entrusted to us.
Do you already know how long this logo will last and in how many years a new one might be needed?
We certainly do not know when a new one will be needed. That depends on the development of the company. If you look at the logo changes of different companies or the life cycle of a brand, the changes are usually related to the world changing or new strategies and business directions. No changes can be made without proper reasoning.
Do I understand correctly that the publication of the new logo did not go as planned in the press? The whole uproar came from thinking that your new logo was actually another logo.
Visual identity includes various graphic elements that we can use. The public thought that our graphic elements were our logo.
How did that happen?
Unfortunately, the file of the new logo we sent to a media publication did not open and so they unsuspectingly used our Facebook cover photo at the time, which we sent them with samples of all our other visual materials, as our new logo. Before we realised what had happened, the mistake had already spread to many other outlets.
It is rare for the largest daily newspaper in Estonia to make an editorial about a company’s logo change. How much, if at all, does it bother you to be criticised on an editorial level?
I think it is to be expected for change in such a large company to receive diverse feedback. The fact that the debate has spread so wide shows me that people care about what is happening in Omniva.
Despite the fact that not everyone likes the changes, we believe we have developed a very strong visual identity. It can take a while to get used to change. At present, too much attention has been paid to one graphic element, instead of the bigger picture.
Will the smiling faces on top of each other still be used in the future?
Absolutely. Initially, it was used as our Facebook cover image and on our PowerPoint templates, sales materials, smaller banners and so on.
The smiles can form different shapes, they do not always have to be stacked. We can interpret the location of the smiles quite freely.
It seems there is never a boring moment at Omniva. What will the future bring for the brand leader’s life?
We have many great projects in the works right now. We are working on our employer’s brand strategy. We are looking into our role in matters of responsibility. We are creating a new retail concept for our post offices and parcel machines. We are updating our digital channels… There are a lot of big projects in the works currently. To me, this shows how much we want to implement the new strategy and take our services to the next level.
You have also been the brand manager in the Carlsberg group, for example. In addition, you have a wealth of experience when it comes to a variety of marketing challenges. Comparing that to your experience at Omniva, is the job what you had expected it to be? Or is there anything completely new and different?
The sense of responsibility in Omniva is especially strong, because the work affects Estonian society so much. As well as the rest of the Baltics. When comparing to Carlsberg, people did not care as much about whether the new water was cranberry or blueberry flavoured. In the case of Omniva, your activities affect a very large group of people, which gives more importance to the work.
If I may ask, does this give you more stress or joy?
In my career, I have been involved in many projects related to the creation or development of something new. I started with the launch of Hansa property insurance, in Carlsberg my work was largely related to the introduction of new brands, in Baltika we developed the Veerenni concept.
I also accepted Omniva’s challenge with great excitement, as there is a lot to change here as well. Creating change and something new is what draws me to challenges.
The author of this article is Kaarel Täll from TULI.
Omniva is a member of TULI. TULI unites all marketing professionals who are interested in boosting their professional level and being among the most vigorous thinkers in the field. TULI currently has 89 members.