• emilyowen847

The Big Rebrand: How Handlebars Became Fettle

Needing no excuse to devour a Victoria sponge, over here in fettle land we’ve been celebrating our big rebrand. Like any proud parent, we’re going to revel in each milestone, so with fettle’s 2 month anniversary coming up (yes, we’re making it a thing), we figured it was time to crack open the bubbly and reflect on how it all went.

Our biggest project to date required all hands on deck to push it over the finish line, and because sharing is caring, we’re going to tell you all about it!

Let’s go back in time

But before we dive into the epic of fettle’s rebrand, let’s rewind to a cold dewy day in November 2019. We’ve just opened our first workshop by London Bridge. Handlebars (as we were called back then) has entered the world, the year or so of planning leading up to this moment is behind us.

*Dramatic pause*.

In all honesty though, whilst we knew there was a market out there for app-based bicycle repairs, we were fairly bowled over by just how large that market was. We’re aware that we harp on about it a lot (so please bear with us), but we created Handlebars after noticing a problem; purchasing a bicycle was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, but getting it serviced was difficult-difficult-lemon-difficult. Bike shops were often deemed untrustworthy, jargon-filled places, whilst national chains weren’t offering the same old school expertise.

As it turns out, the idea of a network of repair workshops was something Londoners jumped on board for. Within our first year, we’d opened 4 workshops, developed an app and were fully booked each day.

In the spirit of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, you might be wondering why we decided in November 2020 that we needed a rebrand. Well, there are a few answers to that question, but the main reason was that our offering differentiated us from competitors, but we weren’t making this clear enough.

The idea of being able to book a service through an app, live chat with a mechanic and receive notifications as work progresses is extremely novel for the cycling industry. Our research indicated that this was what our customers valued the most, but we weren’t as loud and proud about this as we should’ve been. We needed a name that represented our modern, appy personality and a strap line that made our offering much clearer.

And, on a side note for any budding entrepreneurs, never name yourself something as generic as Handlebars, unless want to compete on Google with everyone in the UK selling Handlebars. Like we said, we’re not perfect and that was definitely one of our bigger fails!

With that being said, let’s continue story time.

The plan of action

It was time to hit the drawing board, and give our old faithful friend Handlebars a makeover.

With our new marketing advisor on board, we let those creative juices flow.

Although a few options were thrown into the mix, there was one clear winner from the get go; fettle. The old English verb to mend or fix, fettle is a well known word in the bike world. It represented us perfectly; tech-led innovation with old school expertise. After getting feedback from our customers and other members of the team, it was clear that fettle was the direction to go in.

We had our name, we had our tagline; it was time to decide on a fresh new colour palette and logo. The fun part was about to begin. In fact, this marked an exciting new chapter for us as it was the first time we’d worked with a designer. An external designer created our fabulous new logo and brand guidelines, whilst we employed an internal creative designer to take on our signage and shiny new website.

Show time

We had a date - April 12th - for everything to go live. The pressure was on. Armed with an intimidatingly long list of everything that needed to get sorted we got cracking. Press releases were written, marketing emails sent out, the app got an overhaul, new headers were designed for all our social pages....

On fettle eve, the night before, several of us were sat around our laptops, fingers hovering over big red buttons ready to go live.

It’s always a little nerve-wracking unveiling something you’ve poured yourself into for the last few months. You don’t know how it will be received by your customer base, and you want the backing of those who have supported you.

On April 12th it was all hands on deck. New signs went up, the website went live and the brilliant Matt from Mummbles Art put the finishing touches on Hyde Park’s exterior. If you haven’t checked out his instagram, have a look here. It was official; we were now fettle.

The verdict

It’s been 2 months since we rebranded (and it’s taken about the same amount of time for us to stop accidentally referring to ourselves as Handlebars!). Luckily our pre-rebrand jitters were soon put to rest and we’re very grateful for the response we’ve had from our customers.

At the time it was a mammoth project, but looking back it just seems like another stepping stone as we move forwards. How strange it will be for us to look back in years to come and think about our first name, and the mish mash of blue and orange Handlebars branding we once had!

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