From A to Z - The rebranding story of one of our iconic companies

‘Get really clear on what you stand for and live it!’ These are the words of Z Energy’s CEO, Mike Bennetts, who presented at our Deloitte Private Club in Wellington this month to tell the story behind the birth of Z Energy. Starting out as Shell Oil, the brand now known as Z Energy has gone through a transformation, not only of their brand, but of their company values.

Where it all began

The Shell brand came to our shores in 1911 where their first exploration in New Zealand was in the Kotuku Oilfields on the West Coast of the South Island.

Fast forward over a century and since buying out the network of Shell petrol stations in the 2010s, the company has transformed into an iconic Kiwi brand now known as ‘Z Energy’.

Led by CEO Mike Bennetts and General Manager of Marketing, Jane Anthony, the rebrand from Shell to Z Energy began by exploring how customers saw the current brand, and from there, working out how they could reach their new brand goals; primarily through ensuring staff live the Z Energy values.

How do people see our service station?

The process began by asking what Kiwis wanted from a service station. The team wanted to know what customers responded to and why they chose Z Energy over another service station.

It turns out that Kiwis saw Shell Oil as a utility a company with the old 'Number 8. fencing wire' mentality.

It was then Mike and Jane knew they had their work cut out for them. The team wanted the new Z Energy brand to be seen as a company that were aware of their place in the word, creating the best with less and supporting a growing creative economy.

But how does a company bring a new identity into their everyday business and into their core values?

Brand principals and company values

Once a clear vision was established around how the Z Energy brand was to be seen in the market, it was time to establish how best to go about pushing this out.

This was to be done by creating a strong set of brand principals focussing on how to best serve customers while creating a set of company values around what it means to be part of Z Energy.

Mike made it very clear that establishing brand principals and company values should be done autonomously from one another. Neither one was allowed to affect the other in the early stages. This was done to ensure that the brand principals and company values didn’t influence each other. Mike wanted to know what worked best in each arena and uncover any inconsistencies. 

Running the two processes separately was a gamble, and one that paid off, according to Mike.  The brand principals that emerged are well served by the behaviours described in the company values.

Z Energy’s brand principals are:

·      Live neighbourhood e.g. Good in the Hood

·      Lead the way. We don’t just talk about what can be done, we get on and do it.

·      Be nimble. We don’t just talk about what can be done, we get on and do it.

·      Outside in. We’re a small company and we know that solutions and good ideas can come from     anywhere.

·      Freedom in a framework. We have the freedom to try new ideas and take some risks.

Z Energy’s company values are:

·      Straight up

·      Have the passion

·      Back people

·      Share everything

·      Be bold

How did Z Energy put the two together?

On comparing both the brand principals and the company values, the team were pleased to see that each set were complimentary. 

On the whole, their staff were behind the brand, so they set out to make sure that they were all living the brand.

And they did this through training.

Contrary to what you may think, Z Energy didn’t put their staff through a training on how to adopt the company values - they actually helped each person discover their own personal values. 

They asked each person what drove them and inspired them.

As Mike commented, “You need to get really clear on what you stand for and live it.”

He also cited research that has shown that if an employee’s personal values align with a company’s then productivity is expected to increase by 19%. So getting the two to line up is a sweet spot for any business.

Know what your why is

Mike concluded by saying that “While this may all sound like the department of puppies and kittens, it’s actually core corporate business. High performance teams have a clear culture and know what acceptable behaviour looks like. They know what their 'why' is.

“I receive a weekly report from Jane detailing market perceptions. We want to have metrics that help us have tough, challenging conversations such as, ‘If 30% of the market are raving fans, why don’t we have 30% market share?'

“It all sounds like simple stuff, but if you do it right, you get an engaging brand, a workforce of engaged people, and your business will be highly successful.”

 


Emily is a Senior Advisor in the Deloitte marketing team who knows that behind every great business lies a great story. She loves talking to inspiring people who are thinking outside the box to create a thriving SME sector in New Zealand.