Kindervreugd: to rebrand or not to rebrand, that was the question

klanten gekkoo logo

In 2016, the Antwerp youth work organisation Kindervreugd decided to carry out a thorough audit of both its content and its marketing and communication strategy. Kindervreugd had been active in Antwerp as an organiser of children’s and youth activities for almost 80 years. The organization had grown out of the bosom of the Stedelijk Onderwijs Antwerpen and in the past had a large following of volunteers and participants from that school network.

Due to many changes in the urban context, the natural link with the school network had diminished. In addition, other providers of camps, after-school activities, playground activities, etc. had come onto the market, which meant that the success of Kindervreugd was not as great as it used to be. This was particularly noticeable in the multi-day camps, which were declining year after year. The bond with their participants was no longer strong enough to bind them to Kindervreugd for many years. The success Kindervreugd had at some schools or with certain groups was often due to the many efforts of individual volunteers who put a lot of time and energy into recruiting their own supporters. However, this was unsustainable for the scale on which Kindervreugd wished to continue working.

Kindervreugd was very critical of itself. The downward spiral caused a great deal of self-reflection and put the operation at risk. Everything was questioned, even a name change was on the table. The organization gave itself up to two years – until the celebration of 80 years of Childhood Youth at the end of 2017 – to make a choice. At that time, the entire process had to be completed and the organisation had to be prepared for the future.

In the two years that were available, a series of preparatory market studies were first carried out. A satisfaction survey among current customers, an internal value survey and an external perception survey gave a clear picture of what DNA the organisation had at its disposal and which lines of force had to be maintained in the new operation. The customers and stakeholders were divided into seven target groups with corresponding buyer personas, to which the existing offer was linked in a matching matrix.

For the optimisation of the product portfolio, a list of criteria was drawn up with which activities had to comply as a minimum. Subsequently, based on a Kelly Grid exercise, the entire offer of Kindervreugd was screened: which activities no longer fit into the picture? Where are there gaps in the offer? Which activities prey on each other? On the basis of this critical review, the existing offer could be purified and supplemented with new initiatives.

At the same time, a new brand plan was worked out for the organisation. Over the years there had been a proliferation of brands that could in no explicable way be linked to Kindervreugd or each other. An inventory made it clear that the more than 50 ‘brands’ of Kindervreugd urgently needed to be scaled down and fitted into a logical brand architecture. The offer was divided into 7 thematic clusters, each of which appealed to a specific target group. Based on this, we opted for a ‘Branded House’ or umbrella strategy (see chapter ‘How do you structure your brand?’), in which the parent brand connects the sub-brands. At that moment, the key question arose: do we retain the brand name ‘Kindervreugd’, or do we go for a rebranding? The previous studies had shown that apart from the older supporters of the organisation, no one had been won over to keep the brand name. For most, the name sounded outdated and didn’t cover the load: teenagers didn’t feel attracted to it at all. That’s why they decided to go for a new brand name. Fortunately, it was not far away. It was decided to elevate the symbol of the organisation – a gecko – to the brand name ‘Gekkoo‘: a short, powerful and playful name that was easy to pronounce and remember by children and adults and with which there was also a link to the past.

In November 2018 – exactly 80 years after the birth of Kindervreugd – the rebranding was a fact. But while other organisations often stopped at creating a new façade, this new brand name also meant the start of a renewed operation of the organisation.