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Stories from Design Bridge: Re-branding the world’s largest car leasing company

At Design Bridge we work with all sorts of clients across a huge variety of sectors, and our philosophy of original thinking, brand storytelling and dedication to craft runs through every project we do.

We often share stories about our work with world famous FMCG brands (you can see some of them here), so today we thought we’d share a story from a very different sector. We sat down with Frank Nas (Managing Director), Claire Parker (Executive Creative Director) and Zayne Dagher (Creative Director) from our Amsterdam Studio to find out a little bit more about our recent work for LeasePlan…

For people who might be unfamiliar with LeasePlan, can you tell us a bit about who they are and what they do?
Frank: LeasePlan is the world’s leading fleet management and driver mobility company. Founded 50 years ago in The Netherlands, they now manage more than 1.7 million cars in over 30 countries, offering their customers any car, anytime, anywhere.

What was our brief?
Frank: In the last few years the automotive industry has been going through a huge amount of accelerated change – from the introduction of electric cars to the many urban car sharing and subscription services on offer – and LeasePlan made the decision to reinvent its business model, shifting to a more agile, digital and consumer service-led approach. Inspired by disrupters like Spotify and other mobility platforms like Uber, BlaBlacar and Lyft, LeasePlan realised that it’s not longer good enough to focus on operational excellence. They have to look at the future. A future where you want mobility anytime and anywhere.

It was a massive change for the business and, with our expertise in the world of consumer-led branding, we were brought in to create a new visual identity to help re-position LeasePlan for the future. Alongside the new CEO and marketing team, we rolled up our sleeves and got stuck in.

Where did the creative vision come from?
Claire: Our inspiration came from the new business positioning and the evolving automotive landscape. The car that you owned used to be a status symbol, but that is becoming less and less important. It’s all about autonomy and having the freedom to go where you want, when you want. So our creative idea was very much about embodying that feeling.

Our new identity is literally an expression of energy and moving forward. That’s exactly what LeasePlan allows you, as a consumer, to do no matter what your lifestyle, choice of vehicle or mode of transport. So it works for the evolving future of the business, too.

Frank: We were also very aware that, whilst the business would continue to operate in the B2B market managing large vehicle fleets, it was also moving into a more consumer-facing world. This is a much more personal and evocative territory than the traditional B2B world and, with the majority of LeasePlan’s communications delivered digitally, we began to think about it more like a FinTech (Financial Technology) brand. This approach really helped to shape the creative direction and the flexibility of the identity.

Claire: It was really interesting to learn about the people within the business, too. LeasePlan has been certified as one of ‘the UK’s “Top Employers” for several years and that tells you a lot about the business and the brand. Yes, they are providing excellent service, but that service is driven by the people who work there, so we also had to think carefully about how to represent that within the identity.

Tell us a bit about the new brand identity.
Zayne: For a brand with such a strong legacy, it was important for us to retain some of the key brand equities, redefining their role for a visual identity that felt more contemporary, more relevant to the new business direction, and also that one embodied that feeling of “autonomy”.

Claire: The orange we chose really brings energy and life to the identity now. You get the feeling that it’s going somewhere, and that is something that is also reflected in the journey lines of the new wordmark. It has a dimension and perspective to it. You’re not quite sure where it began, you’re not quite sure where it will end, but you know that you want to be part of it. And that all comes back to that idea of “autonomy”. It’s not about the type of vehicle or model of car, it’s all about the power to get you to where you want to be.

Zayne: We crafted the typography for the wordmark in-house. A new brand typeface was created in collaboration with expert typographer Alberto Romanos so that it became completely ownable to the LeasePlan brand.

The wordmark - old and new.

The wordmark – old and new.

Our photography style symbolises the momentum of a journey and real life in motion, telling stories about how LeasePlan can benefit both business and private customers in an engaging and ownable way. The natural reportage style represents this idea of motion and movement, whilst the use of natural light further reflects the positivity of the brand.

Sonic branding plays an important role for the brand, too. We worked with sound branding agency BLCKBRD to create a piece that could be used across a range of media, as well as throughout the launch activities. It needed to be memorable and flexible while reflecting the energy and positive outlook LeasePlan brings to the world of mobility. You can hear it in action in the film below:

Frank: What we’ve achieved is a dynamic visual identity that will work across all aspects of the LeasePlan business – leasing, financial services, used cars, and anything that may evolve and grow in the future.

How is the new identity being brought to life now?
Zayne: The identity has already started to roll out across a variety of global touchpoints. We’ve become the Brand Guardians for LeasePlan and we’re working closely with their other partners and agencies to help bring the brand to life through other channels in the new visual and tonal style, including advertising and online content.

The local markets have fully embraced the new visual identity so quickly and we’ve had some great feedback. The Dutch team, of course, have been using it brilliantly!

Leaseplan_Brand identity_7

What’s next for Design Bridge and LeasePlan?
Frank: Well, we’ve been working with the team on a new initiative of “experience stores”. These are physical retail spaces for people who are considering buying a used car from the LeasePlan fleet to visit, rather than just looking online and making a purchase decision without actually seeing the cars in real life. These stores will begin rolling out across Europe soon and it will be really exciting to see how our brand experience comes to life in a physical retail space. More on that soon…

Exciting times, watch this space! 

Want to join Frank, Claire, Zayne and the rest of the team in Amsterdam? Check our Careers page for the latest opportunities.


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