Louise Agran: Spotlight rebrand moves Racing Post beyond its legacy barriers

Entering a new decade, Racing Post Group made the decision to rebrand its corporate identity to ‘Spotlight Sports Group’ in a bid to better reflect its enlarged enterprise and new business services.

Leading the realignment of five distinct business units into one core brand, SBC spoke to Spotlight Chief Marketing Officer Louise Agran about delivering a key project for all Spotlight stakeholders and customer. Furthermore, Agran detailed the importance of challenging the company’s established norms and values when undertaking the ‘dreaded corporate rebrand’…

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SBC: Hi Louise, thanks for this interview. Corporate rebrands are never easy, so why has the Racing Post Group rebranded to Spotlight Sports Group?

Louise Agran (Spotlight Sports CMO): No problem, delighted to talk about this. Clearly, this is not a decision we took lightly but the business has changed a lot. We are no longer a print business which just covers horseracing in Britain and Ireland. We are a digital business which is diversifying internationally and into sport, data and trading. We are also not just the Racing Post, the Group is made up of four businesses – Racing Post; Apsley (My Racing, Free Super Tips and Pickswise); ICS (Independent Content Services) and ANZ Bloodstock – and we wanted a name which reflects that.

I should say that Spotlight Sports Group is an umbrella brand for the Group but it is not one which consumers will be seeing a lot, it has been designed primarily to support our business-to-business services.

SBC: As an executive team, what unique corporate intricacies did you have to consider when rebranding Racing Post’s business identity?

LA: There were a few things to navigate, as you’d expect! Firstly, the name had to be right and that can be very subjective. We tried to make the process as neutral as we could be setting up a ‘Group Branding Team’, auditing where we were versus our competitors and then running a naming workshop generating more than 500 potential names.

Secondly, we wanted a name which shows our expertise within sports in general, but references to sports are quite popular so finding a name which hadn’t already been taken was a challenge. Thirdly, we had to make sure the name could be trademarked and then change the name for all of the relevant corporate assets – payslips, invoices; letterhead etc. Finally, and most importantly, we had to make sure that whichever name we selected, it was going to be popular with everyone who works within the Group. This can never be guaranteed but we involved enough stakeholders in the process to give ourselves the best possible chance it would be well received.

SBC: Operating since 1986, Racing Post is an established and defined brand within betting, a hard dynamic to achieve…so why challenge it?

LA: I don’t think we are really challenging this. Racing Post is and will remain a key brand in betting and horseracing. Spotlight Sports Group is an umbrella identity for all of the brands and services within the group. It won’t be seen much by consumers. We recognise the power of strong brands like Racing Post, My Racing and Free Super Tips and will continue to push those brands every day. Our aim is not to diminish the power of those brands and erode their own brand equity, on the contrary, they are the most important reference points for consumers.

SBC:  As CMO how do you feel your corporate rebrand challenged internal values and the culture of the Racing Post?

LA: That is a Good question! At Racing Post, we have done a lot of work on our values and culture since we moved office in October 2017 to the Southbank, London. We have a People & Culture team made up of employees from every department whose focus is to make sure Racing Post is a place where people enjoy working and can thrive. As such, we have developed our own values called Postmarks which is basically how we like to do things around here. Our Postmarks are Ambitious; United; Supportive; Agile; Innovative and Passionate. Now, the challenge is to develop values for the Spotlight Sports Group, ensuring we can align these with everybody in all four businesses. I will be leading the project looking at group values this year, which is really exciting.

SBC: Competing within a saturated marketplace, how do you feel Spotlight Sports will showcase its new products and services?

LA: Well, we hope the marketplace isn’t too saturated! I think we are uniquely positioned to offer the right services and products to sports betting brands to make them shine in the ultra-competitive world of bookmaking. First of all, we understand our customers’ customers. We are able to offer services which can help our partners find, reach, acquire, engage, stimulate and retain customers across the globe. We have been running successful brands in betting for 34 years and we can provide services which range from media, content and retail to trading, agency and translation. I would say we are uniquely able to combine a depth of understanding of sports betting with a breadth of ways to deliver value to our customers.

SBC: Finally and most importantly why the name Spotlight Sports Group?

LA: We wanted a new identity which had a connection with our flagship brand, Racing Post, so it needed a link but not be too racing focused. Spotlight does this as we have been using this name (to reflect each horse’s chance within a race) within Racing Post products since the paper was launched in 1986. Then, of course, we wanted to show we were not just racing focused and ‘sports’ is a shortcut to doing that, and then Group is a reminder that we are not just one brand or business.

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Louise Agran – Spotlight Sports Group – CMO

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