Giant Singapore surprised consumers recently when it refreshed its brand logo to feature a fresh green colour and a new font. The new design came about as the company felt it did not have a consistent colour scheme.
"If you go into a Giant store, the baskets are orange and you will find orange decals too. But when you look up at the sign, you will see that it is yellow in colour. Likewise, the green is also a darker shade of green [compared to the previous logo]," Lee Yik Hun (pictured), marketing director of Southeast Asia Food at Dairy Farm Group, told Marketing in an interview. He added that over the years, various individuals were in charge of the branding and as a result, things have evolved but it came to a point where the brand was unclear on what its core identity colours were.
"If you look at the Singapore landscape in terms of retail colours, NTUC FairPrice is blue, Sheng Siong is a mix of blue and green, while RedMart is red. Our core is green as it represents freshness and that is where we want to stand. When we rebranded, we wanted to be green and not orange or any other colour. We did not want to give up the elements which worked for us before," he explained. Giant also had expectations for the green colour to be used in its new logo. The team wanted it to come across as fresh instead of looking too fluorescent or artificial and as such, Lee said it took quite a bit of time to search for the appropriate shade of green.
As for the font, the cursive style was trendy when the company entered the market in 2000 and placed Giant at the forefront. "A giant can mean many things. One of it is being stronger and more authentic in our range and pricing. We chose a font which is much more suitable for the digital age we are in. The cursive font is iconic and when undertaking the rebranding exercise, the key thing we took note of was the essence which we wanted to retain and could bring that over," he said.
Amidst the brand refresh, Giant wants to stay true to the essence of the brand, which is to provide value. Lee explained that often times, companies might listen to customer feedback but not act on it. However, Giant strives to constantly listen and improve its brand offerings. The main focus for Giant here is not the brand refresh but rather its plan to offer lower prices to consumers.
We are focusing our rebranding efforts on lower prices. Reason being we believe that at the heart of the Giant brand is value. The logo is the skin and while consumers appreciate and understand it, it is not the only thing that will drive them to the store or an online platform.
"It is the heart of where we stand and it is a conscious effort to deprioritise talking about the rebrand. This is not just a campaign but a long-term initiative. Our price reductions are not promotions and are not short-term in nature. They are meant to go on for months, and if not years," he added. The brand worked with Ogilvy Singapore and Hong Kong for its lower prices campaign.
Alongside the rebrand, Giant recently invested up to SG$17 million in price reductions for hundreds of everyday essentials. The company also stressed in a press statement previously that these are not promotions but rather long-term price reductions on products that matter most to customers. The investment follows the result of Giant’s research on what matters most to customers, which is fresh and quality products at great value, as well as a positive shopping experience.
A year and a half in the making
Although Lee declined to comment on the specific monetary investment for the rebranding, he said it was "in the millions" and that the company had to change all its signs across 53 stores in Singapore. "Rebranding is such an expensive exercise, almost akin to launching again in all your markets immediately. While it has a long-term impact, it is a very strategic decision that needs to be taken from the top," he said.
The plan to rebrand came about one and a half years ago and Giant kicked this off in phases, first by refreshing the store and redoing the paint work late last year, followed by the new logo and a strong customer facing campaign which involved lower prices. The logo was designed by a UK-based boutique agency named Tickety Boo Creative, which Lee said had a strong design sense. Also, the agency being based in UK also helped keep the rebranding under wraps. Meanwhile, TAG helped in the coordination of the point of sales materials and new store branding.
The initial launch date for the rebranding was set for between early April to July, but due to the circuit breaker in Singapore, it was impossible for work to be completed on time. While Giant considered pushing the launch from September to October, Lee said the team decided to go ahead with it as it wants more consumers to benefit. "We would rather go out and be imperfect than perfect because the help that it will bring to consumers is going to be far greater," he said.
In addition to Singapore, Giant also operates in Malaysia and Indonesia and Lee said the company is currently evaluating how the brand refresh is performing in Singapore before expanding it into other markets. "We do take considerations of each market's dynamic before we make decisions," he said, adding that he is unable to comment further about when the refresh will be extend to Malaysia and Indonesia.
When asked why Singapore was chosen to undergo the brand refresh, Lee explained that it is the Southeast Asia hub for Giant and given the travel restrictions, Singapore was the practical place to execute the refresh. "The brand itself has been neglected for the past couple of years from an investment standpoint. Hence, it is time for us to invigorate it and give it a new lease of life," he said.
For a rebranding to work, it cannot be a skin. Many companies do that and fail to realise that they have not addressed the fundamentals of the brand.
Lee once again stressed that the fundamentals for Giant are value, prices, quality and service. "If we do not have any of these key pillars, the skin will not mean anything," he added.
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Pivoting towards digital
By now, it is a well-known fact that the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital. Although Giant's focus has always been on traditional media such as print, Lee told Marketing that it is pivoting to digital.
Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are the top three channels Giant uses to drive mass awareness, with their main focus being video. Just last week, Giant rolled out a YouTube video which is also currently screening on Channels 5, 8 and U, as well as on radio. Lee explained that the new spot has a catchy tune to it and the team wanted to turn it into an earworm among consumers. Having it on radio also ties in with Giant's core audience who are families with children, he added. Additionally, with more consumers spending time at home, Giant also adapted its marketing strategy by partnering with start-ups to produce recipes that consumers can recreate at home.
While it did consider jumping on the TikTok trend, Lee said the team dropped the idea at the last minute because it is skewed towards 16 to 25 year olds who do not purchase enough groceries to form Giant's main target audience. "They can spread the message for sure, they can influence their parents or grandparents but they are not key decision makers. However, with the way these things are changing, we are keeping a close eye on the trends," he added.
On the traditional media front, despite OOH taking a hit during the circuit breaker, Lee said with traffic returning to normal, interactions with the touchpoints are gradually coming back. "When we did our rebranding, we invested in OOH such as bus stops. There will be several OOH [activations] coming up to help us get the messages out there to the minds of customers," he added but declined to reveal more about the OOH activations.
Although Giant has its eCommerce platform like many other grocery chains in Singapore, Lee said that offline stores still form majority of its business. During the pandemic, business on both the offline and online space grew and while its online base grew faster, Lee explained that this was because it had an initial smaller base compared to offline. Hence, the numbers are not comparable.
"Online will continue to grow in the future and I believe that multi-omnichannel is here to stay. COVID-19 has shown us that when you add too much stress to the online system, it cannot cope. Online does help complement a big part of our business and we will continue to strengthen it," he added.
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Personal takeaways from the pandemic
While many individuals have tried to look at issues through a COVID-19 lens, Lee is still a firm believer of brand fundamentals. According to him, if companies stick to brand fundamentals and build on them, it will continue to grow during and post-pandemic.
"You need to reach your customers, they need to resonate with your message and be able to try your products. Once you do that, everything else will kick in successfully. Always have a strong product or offering which they will tell their friends about. Sometimes brands might fix trends but they do not fix their fundamentals," he explained.
That said, it is still crucial for brands to pay attention to trends and be in the know of what consumers are thinking and feeling at the moment. If consumers are afraid, they want to be reassured that they are safe. "Do not sell them products which do not address their needs. For example, if people are worried about catching COVID-19, the first thing on their minds would be sanitisers and masks. Do not sell them random items of indulgence which do not help," he said.
If anything, COVID-19 has taught us that norms are there to be broken and adapted and we have to find ways to live with it and change.
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