Consignia a small sacrifice in Royal Mail masterplan

Michael Peters’ letter on Consignia’s rebranding (DW 20 June) struck me as naive coming from an elder statesman of the industry. The simple fact about the Consignia identity is that it has become the victim of Allan Leighton’s turnaround strategy.

The business strategy for the Consignia name was sound, and it was a name for the holding company, not the brand as suggested by Peters.

People may question the name itself and the design, but that is hardly the point. A name needs big spend, good PR and time to become successful (Peters’ letter acknowledges this). In my opinion, Consignia isn’t any worse than Diageo and probably less trite than Monday.

The Consignia name and identity just came up against two irresistible forces before it could become established.

The first is the unionised and public-sector mentality of the staff levels of the Post Office. It could be argued that more should have been done to convince staff of the benefits of the change, but this is impossible to say without inside knowledge. But we can safely assume the overall mentality was less than commercial.

The second irresistible force was Leighton’s masterplan. As soon as he was introduced to the organisation with a turnaround brief, the staff’s dislike of the name Consignia became a key pawn in a bigger battle.

Leighton has employed a classic turnaround/crisis PR strategy. The key: to announce as much bad news as possible under the old name and suggest the name itself was part of the problem.

Leighton has to make deep, painful changes in the organisation. He needed a quick win to get on the side of the employees. How better to achieve it than to announce that the name they hadn’t really liked is being ditched and that Leighton is here to save the day – oh, but by the way, the bad news is that 30 000 of you are being made redundant.

Leighton is a smart, battle-hardened player. The rather gentle and unassuming, yet strategically sound Consignia is a minor sacrifice on the altar of his plan to be hailed as the saviour of Royal Mail.

It’s easy to be critical of the Consignia name. We should all defend our industry and what we believe in. But in this instance we have to accept branding is often a pawn in a bigger management game.

It will be ironic that once they see what Leighton really has in store for Royal Mail, the employees may have preferred a not-too-radical name change.

I’m surprised Peters can’t see through what is really happening at Consignia/Royal Mail.

Nigel Salter


London WC1N

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