One company I worked for in the past, which was growing rapidly in monetary and headcount terms, decided to go for an IPO. To float such an entity to the market, a number of boxes needed to be ticked, one of which was ‘rebranding.
“Rebranding is the process of changing the corporate image of an organisation. It is a market strategy of giving a new name, symbol, or change in design for an already-established brand. The idea behind rebranding is to create a different identity for a brand, from its competitors, in the market.”
In larger companies such as Irish Water or the ESB, the cost of rebranding can be enormous. Logos and fonts get changed so all letterheads need to be reprinted. Vans and trucks need to sport the new livery as well and for big operations the cost can run to millions. But like everything else in business, rebranding is about increasing growth and profitability. The corporate rebranding of my old company enriched the owner beyond his wildest dreams though it needs to be borne in mind that rebranding is a risk and the opposite can just as easily happen.
The question today though is, why would anybody want or need to rebrand the Gardai? Their job is fundamentally to enforce the laws of the State and keep the peace. Would a change to the Garda logo or the paint scheme to the squad cars enable them to do it better? Does somebody somewhere really believe that their new summer uniforms will make them more attractive to the citizens? I mean, they’re hardly out to sell us more fines and grow the comp…..ah! organization are they? So why do the Gardai need to be rebranded? Is it just another empty PR spin exercise I wonder?
The Garda motorcycle is an essential tool for the force and I was shocked to learn they only had 104 of them nationwide. I was further amazed that this number has fallen to 92 recently and has prompted the need to buy some new ones. “Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has confirmed that An Garda Síochána will not buy motorbikes this year, despite the planned tender. None were bought last year, either.”
Apparently instead they are going to change the name ‘Traffic Corp’ to ‘Roads Policing,’ which leads me to wonder aloud, are they policing the traffic, as in the motors we drive, or has their job changed to maintaining the roads? Either way though, the old worn out battered bikes are going to get a fresh lick of paint and sign-writers will inscribe them with the legend ‘road policing’ meaning there is no money for any new motorbikes for the boys in blue.
In response, “The Garda Representative Association (GRA), which speaks for grassroots officers, has criticised the prioritisation of “window dressing” over “fit-for-purpose” vehicles to help them apprehend criminals. The GRA believes that the rebranding exercise has had more to with optics than real roads policing progress,” said spokesman John O’Keeffe. But the money for new bikes is to be used to spruce up the old ones.
Garda headquarters would not disclose the overall cost of rebranding. It said the bill up to February 1 was €29,806, but the process only started in mid-January and is ongoing. May I suggest that the thirty grand in question is most probably the fee for the graphic design house that pitched for the business. I believe the Garda logo remains the same so thirty grand buys us all a change of name and possibly a slight change in pantone colours for the bikes. But not a single paint brush has been dipped or any sign writers employed yet. The squad cars need to be repainted too and the letterhead across the force will have to reprinted. Incredible, isn’t it?
The waste in the public sector never ceases to amaze me but if sometime later in the year you begin to encounter abandoned Garda motorcycles hither and yon, you can at least stop to admire the artwork and design. Meanwhile of course, don’t expect to be seeing any of them showing up in an emergency.