Renfrewshire Leisure looks after many of the sports centres, swimming pools, museums and libraries in Paisley and the surrounding Renfrewshire area.
In years gone by, these facilities were owned and operated by the local authority, Renfrewshire Council. But, at some point, someone realise that money could be saved by splitting these organisations off from the local authority, and registering them as charities. They’re known as ‘arms length’ organisations and there are loads of them up and down the country.
‘Glasgow Life’ is the equivalent in Glasgow.
These are good organisations, full of hard working, committed staff and they operate many of the facilities local people and their families enjoy. Like any organisation of that nature, they face difficult decisions about repairs, the services they offer, and balancing their books. And the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown has made life even more difficult.
Renfrewshire Leisure always struck me as a decent name for the organisation. It kind of did what it said on the tin. But how would you feel if you worked for Paisley Museum, when Renfrewshire Leisure had ‘culture services’ added to its remit. Museums aren’t really leisure, are they?
I think there’s an argument that they are, but we tend to think of ‘leisure’ as more associated with ‘sport’ so I can understand why some might feel it wasn’t such a good fit.
At some point, clearly, the powers that be at Renfrewshire Leisure decided a rebrand was in order. And for reasons I cannot fathom, they’ve opted for ‘OneRen’ as their new name.
Reading the quotes from the chair of the organisation, it does seem there’s a positive motivation behind the change. I get what they’re trying to do. ‘OneRen’ strikes me as possibly a good internal mission statement. Something a leader might put on all the walls to motivate a team, to keep an internal focus to pull staff from different areas of the organisation together and to have them all working as one. I get it. But I think it’s a mistake to change the organisation’s name to this and to go public with it.
It doesn’t say anything. It doesn’t explain what they do. It smacks of ‘we’ve had some consultants in, brainstormed, spent a wad of money and this is what we’ve come up with’. That may or may not be true but there’s already some evidence from the response to this on social media that residents are cynical and believe that’s what happened.
If consultants weren’t used and the leadership came up with this themselves, I think that worries me even more but in a different way!
And while I do think corporate identity is important, I do wonder about the timing. How does an organisation like this find the time, during all the upheaval we’ve had over the last 2 years, to prioritise this kind of exercise?
I think it’s a mistake. I think they’ll regret it, they’ll be ridiculed, it won’t work and it won’t last.
I give it no more than two years until they change it again. And I’d love to know how much it cost. I feel an FOI coming on.
What should they have done instead? Leave it as it is for now and when we’re back to something closer to normality and kids aren’t sitting in schools wearing masks, just copy Glasgow and go with ‘Renfrewshire Life.’ I reckon they will eventually anyway.
Let me know what you think! And if you are a branding/corporate identity consultant what would you have advised?