Housing association branding: the story so far

Housing association branding may not be a hot topic for every UK marketing agency, but it’s a subject that’s very close to our hearts at Creative Bridge.

So close, in fact, that our consultant Ian Hembrow spent time researching how housing brands evolved following the transfer of homes from local authorities over the last 20 years.

Using Department of Communities and Local Government data, Ian looked at name and brand identity changes among the 164 full-stock transfers in England between 1988 and 2008. It makes for interesting reading… as the table at the foot of this post shows.

Branding facts and figures

What does this information tell us about the way that housing association branding has evolved over the years? Well, it’s interesting to note that only one-third of transfer associations have kept their original names.

Of those that have changed their names, 88 per cent switched to something that’s not connected to their original location or geography (such as Synergy, Isos, Acis and Saffron). In some cases, this is because the associations involved have formed or joined larger group structures.

Only 12 have changed their names but kept a reference to geography or location; for example, Erewash Housing became Three Valleys Housing, and Carlisle Housing Association became Two Castles.

Follow-up survey

Following the original research, our team conducted an online survey of 50 housing providers, to dig deeper and explore reasons for brand evolution. From this work, the following findings emerged.

Of the organisations that have changed their names, the three most common reasons for change were:

  • To distinguish themselves more from the local council (73 per cent)
  • To communicate brand values or essence more effectively (55 per cent)
  • To open up new opportunities (36 per cent).

For organisations that have retained their original names, the most common reasons for this were:

  • Perceived strength of the current brand (80 per cent)
  • Lack of any compelling need to change (60 per cent)
  • Doubts about the benefits or payback of switching to a new name (40 per cent).

These results show the need for a clear, quantifiable business case to justify the investment in moving to a new name or brand. That’s probably unsurprising to those of us involved in sector reputation for many years… or do you think otherwise?

Answers on a post below please…

Housing association branding 1992 – 2012

Name at transfer Name at 2012
Chiltern Hundreds Paradigm Housing
Spelthorne A2Dominion Housing Group
Dales Housing Ltd Acclaim Housing Group
West Links Housing Ltd Acis Group
Broomleigh Affinity Sutton
Mid Sussex Affinity Sutton
North Somerset Housing Ltd Alliance Homes
1066 Housing Association Amicus Horizon
Rother Homes Amicus Horizon
Swale Housing Association Amicus Horizon
Mid Beds Housing Association Aragon Housing Association
Newcastle Under Lyme Housing Aspire Housing
Sarsen Housing Aster Group
Mendip Housing Ltd Aster Group
Testway Housing Aster Group
Broxbourne Housing Association B3 Living
Wansbeck Homes Ltd Bernicia Group
Boston Mayflower Ltd Boston Mayflower Ltd
Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association bpha
Bracknell Forest Homes Bracknell Forest Homes
Broadacres Broadacres
Fosseway Housing Association Bromford Group
Lichfield District Housing Association Bromford Group
Bromsgrove District Housing Trust Ltd Bromsgrove District Housing Trust Ltd
Burnley And Padiham Community Housing Calico Homes
Cestria Community Housing Cestria Community Housing
Chester And District Housing Trust Chester And District Housing Trust
Chorley Community Housing Chorley Community Housing
Chelmer Housing Partnership CHP
Wherry Housing Association Wherry Housing Association (Circle)
Roddons Housing Association (Circle Anglia) Roddons Housing Association (Circle)
Mole Valley Housing Association Mole Valley Housing Association (Circle)
City West Housing Trust Limited City West Housing Trust Limited
Coast & Country Housing Coast & Country Housing
Kerrier Homes Lhc Coastline Housing
Wyre Forest Community Housing Community Housing Group
Community Gateway Association Community Gateway Association
Hyndburn Homes Contour Homes (Symphony Group)
West Oxfordshire Housing Cottsway Housing Association
Cross Keys Homes Cross Keys Homes
Somer Community Housing Trust Curo Group
Derwentside Homes Derwentside Homes
Penwith Devon and Cornwall Housing
South Hams Housing Devon and Cornwall Housing
Eden Housing Association Eden Housing Association
Erimus Housing Ltd Erimus Housing Ltd
Elgar Festival Group
Eastleigh Housing Association First Wessex Housing Group
Rushmoor Housing Association First Wessex Housing Group
Peddars Way Flagship Peddars Way
Suffolk Heritage Flagship Suffolk Heritage
Freebridge Community Housing Freebridge Community Housing
Amber Valley Housing Ltd Futures Housing Group
Daventry And District Housing Futures Housing Group
Sunderland Housing Group Gentoo Group
Maidstone Housing Trust Golding Homes
North Wiltshire GreenSquare Group
Green Vale Homes Green Vale Homes
Greenfields Community Housing Greenfields Community Housing
East Lindsey Partnership Housing Lhc Guinness Northern Counties
Hermitage Housing Guinness Hermitage
Halton Housing Trust Halton Housing Trust
Moorlands Housing Harvest Housing Group
Havebury Housing Partnership Havebury Housing Partnership
Helena Housing Helena Homes
Herefordshire Housing Ltd Herefordshire Housing Ltd
Home Group Ltd Home Group
South Staffordshire Housing Association South Staffordshire Housing Association (Housing Plus Group)
Housing Pendle Housing Pendle
Bradford Community Housing Trust Group Incommunities
Castle Morpeth Housing Ltd Isos Housing
Tynedale Housing Ltd Isos Housing
Leominster Marches Jephson Housing Association Group
Knowsley Housing Trust Knowsley Housing Trust
Beacon L&Q
Huntingdon Housing Partnership Luminus Group
Magna Housing Magna Housing Group
Magna West Somerset Ha Magna Housing Group
Merlin Housing Merlin Housing
Rushcliffe Homes Ltd Metropolitan
Medway Housing Society MHS Homes
Chichester District Community Housing Moat
Plume Moat
New Charter Housing (South)Ltd New Charter
New Charter Housing (North) Ltd New Charter
North Devon Homes Ltd North Devon Homes Ltd
North Hertfordshire Homes Ltd North Hertfordshire Homes Ltd
North Lincolnshire Homes North Lincolnshire Homes
Teesdale Housing Association North Star Housing Group
Restormel Housing Trust Ocean Housing
One Vision Housing One Vision Housing
South Warwickshire Housing Association Orbit Group
Elmbridge Housing Trust Paragon Community Housing Group
Cheshire Peaks & Plains Housing Trust Ltd Peaks and Plains Housing Trust
Pennine Housing 2000 Pennine Housing 2000
Dane Housing Plus Dane Group
New Fylde Housing Progress Housing Group
New Progress Progress Housing Group
Reigate & Banstead Housing Trust Raven Housing Trust
Wyre Regenda Group
Richmond Housing Partnership RHP
Rosebery Housing Association Rosebery Housing Association
Tonbridge & Malling Russet Homes
South Norfolk Housing Partnership Saffron Housing Trust
Charter Community Housing Sanctuary Housing
Hereward Housing Sanctuary Housing
Rochford Housing Association Sanctuary Housing
Riviera Housing Trust Ltd Sanctuary Housing
Saxon Weald Homes Ltd Saxon Weald Homes Ltd
West Wiltshire Housing Society Selwood Housing
East Hampshire Sentinel Housing Association
Hart Sentinel Housing Association
Surrey Heath Sentinel Housing Association
Seven Locks Housing Seven Locks Housing
Severn Vale Housing Society Severn Vale Housing
Severnside Housing Ltd Severnside Housing Ltd
Shoreline Housing Partnership Shoreline Housing Partnership
Meres And Mosses Housing Association Ltd Shropshire Housing Group
South Shropshire Housing Association Shropshire Housing Group
North Dorset Housing Spectrum Signpost
South Oxfordshire Housing Association Soha Housing
South Northants Homes Ltd South Northants Homes Ltd (Grand Union Housing Group)
South Wight Housing Association Southern Housing Group
Twynham Housing Association Sovereign
Sovereign Housing Sovereign
Vale Housing Sovereign
Medina Housing Association Spectrum Medina
East Northamptonshire Housing Ltd Spire Homes (Longhurst Group)
Stafford And Rural Homes Stafford And Rural Homes
Ribble Valley Homes Ribble Valley Homes (Symphony Group)
East Dorset Housing Synergy Housing (Aster Group)
Kings Forest Housing Ltd Synergy
Purbeck Housing Trust Ltd Synergy
Weymouth And Portland Housing Synergy
Tarka Housing Tarka Housing
Teign Housing Teign Housing
Erewash Housing Ltd Three Valleys Housing
Thrive Homes Thrive Homes
High Weald Town & Country
Trafford Housing Trust Ltt Trafford Housing Trust
Trent And Dove Housing Trent And Dove Housing
Twin Valley Homes Twin Valley Homes
Carlisle Housing Association Two Castles
Forest Of Dean Housing Ltd Two Rivers
Vale Of Aylesbury Housing Trust Ltd Vale Of Aylesbury Housing Trust Ltd
Housing Hartlepool Ltd Vela Group
North Norfolk Housing Trust Victory Housing Trust
Wakefield And District Housing Wakefield And District Housing
Watford Community Housing Trust Watford Community Housing Trust
Weaver Vale Housing Trust Weaver Vale Housing Trust
Wellingborough Homes Wellingborough Homes
West Devon Homes West Devon Homes
West Kent Housing Association West Kent Housing Association
Wirral Partnership Homes/Beechwood & Ballantyne Wirral Partnership Homes
Whitefriars Homes North & Whitefriars Homes South WM Group
Worcester Community Housing Worcester Community Housing
Worthing Homes Worthing Homes
Wrekin Housing Trust Limited Wrekin Housing Trust Limited
Wulvern Housing Ltd Wulvern Housing Ltd
South Somerset Homes Yarlington
Yorkshire Coast Homes Yorkshire Coast Homes
Craven Housing Ltd Yorkshire Housing
Ryedale Yorkshire Housing
Ian Hembrow

About Ian Hembrow

Our housing and engagement consultancy lead. Ian is a former housing association director, and board member. He is also a qualified features journalist and works as an associate with Plain Language Commission.
Ian’s passion: dreams.