Contemporary culture has seen a normalisation of comparison.
Compare The Market (another of our branding clients) has redefined the insurance sector, and dozens of others have followed in their wake.
Society is moving from a public that used to revere brands, to a world where a reverential mindset is being replaced by a referential approach to choosing products, organisations and services… the latest sector to see progress in this regard is Funerals.
Which is where the new brand, Beyond comes in…
Beyond started in 2015 — originally named Funeralbooker — born from the realisation that people who had suffered bereavement couldn’t search online and find accurate prices for a funeral.
Every funeral director had different pricing schemes and the language of the funeral industry was olde-worlde. There was also no easy way to find out whether a funeral director had a reputation for providing a good service or not.
While undoubtably a sensitive subject and sector, there is no reason why people should not have the opportunity to compare the considerable costs associated with the organisation of a funeral.
Research showed that while the public is quick to look for comparisons on cost for everything from cars to the weekly shop… when it comes to anything surrounding funerals, people tend to turn to their local Funeral Director without considering other options.
The team at Beyond believe there is a better way and has been on a mission to bring transparency to the funeral business.
Working out of a single London HQ, they have been signing up hundreds of independent funeral directors to the Beyond platform to provide accurate pricing and reviews by real customers.
Beyond is a digital brand. But it’s not only designed to appear on screens. There is a raft of print and large scale applications that need servicing by the brand operating system. so we created a smart suite of icons that auto-change based on the size of application. use small and they appear simple — use big and they take on more detail and shading to aid comprehension and add interest.
‘We are developing the Beyond platform to bring people helpful products such as funeral finance or pre-paid funeral plans, as well as expanding our help centre to ensure that people have access to the advice and support they might need.’
An entirely new strategic brand world has been created by SomeOne for the business.
New naming better connects to a wider set of products and services, and the progressive new visual and verbal branding sings out against a sea of sameness in the sector.
No cliché sunsets, flowers, or doves… but a radical new design approach. One that supports, guides and reassures customers through the steps needed to make the right decisions. There are no tricks, just a smart guide ready to offer help when you need it.
The new visual and verbal branding, written and created at SomeOne, consists of a full operating system to support today’s services and tomorrow’s products.
And as you may have noticed, everything is led by a new mascot. A charming, respectful and friendly way to get across sensitive information from Beyond.
All brand assets are hosted on the CloudLines platform, enabling those deploying the brand nationwide to have seamless and always-up-to-date access to the full operating system.
Traditional brand communications in this sector are trapped in an echo chamber of faux respectability and tradition. Beyond is a contemporary brand for today and so we’ve designed a radical visual and verbal approach to open a new conversation around choice, services and price.
From a business perspective. there are two large obstacles to price transparency in this market, namely Dignity PLC and Coop Funeralcare. They represent 34% of the market and are desperate to avoid price transparency, despite occasional claims otherwise.
Ian Strang, CEO of Beyond explains further:
Why such shyness with prices? It’s because they are significantly more expensive than the rest of the market – Dignity by 83% compared to prices on our site. If they were to put transparent, easily comparable prices online, consumers might realise this price differential and take their business elsewhere.
Dignity are, in my view, the worst offenders — because not only do they hide their prices, they also hide their name.
When they buy up independent funeral directors, they don’t rebrand them as Dignity. Instead they keep the old family name above the door, so that consumers don’t realise that the branch has become part of a corporate. They simply swap out the staff, put the prices up and no-one’s the wiser.
Here at Beyond, we believe that Dignity’s business practice and model are unsustainable. We think it has been propping up its share price with unearned price increases and self-defeating acquisitions for years. That it is a house built on sand, with a tsunami on the horizon.
Now, I hear you say, it’s easy to make a few disparaging comments about a £1.3bn market cap company. Especially a company who could be seen as a competitor. So, to that end, I offer you two tokens of our conviction.
Firstly, we published a 13,000-word analysis of Dignity PLC entitled “The Reaper Calls For Dignity” written by my co-founder James Dunn. Within the report he examines Dignity’s business in detail, using both publicly available information and our market expertise to make a clear case that they are grossly overvalued.
Secondly, we are so confident of their failings that we have taken a short position on Dignity stock to the tune of £50,000. To clarify, we have placed Beyond’s money (and some of our own) on the belief that Dignity’s share price will fall. I’m not sure this is traditional business practice or expenditure for a start-up. Then again, I’m not sure there has been another such market where a large incumbent has escaped even the lightest of scrutiny.
We’ve been in the funeral industry for a couple of years now and one of the key things that has stood out to me is that, notwithstanding the many genuine people trying their hardest to serve the consumer, there is an entrenched fear of rocking the boat; of calling out the elephants in the room. Despite the constant public consternation at funeral price cost rises, there is little desire from the industry associations or the media to call out the big guys and their opaque practices, which drive up prices and bring the overall industry into disrepute.’
With so many bland brands in operation the need for a strong brand was clear. Beyond are bringing smart digital comparisons to a sorely neglected sector. Unusually, they have literally put their money alongside their convictions — and have made a winning start. The new strategy, name and branding we’ve developed together aims to help continue to forge a new path for those needing smart after-life advice and services.