Getting to the heart of the Thomas Cook rebrand

Today is the relaunch of the Thomas Cook Group plc brand in the UK. Thomas Cook has been a staple holiday provider on the British High Street for 170 years and it has now ‘unified’ its brand and market activity under one common symbol, the ‘Sunny Heart’ and the phrase ‘Let’s go!’.

Thomas Cook UK & Ireland is the second largest leisure travel group in the UK with around 15,500 employees. The company has a number of leading websites and some of the world’s favourite travel brands including Airtours, Club 18-30, Cresta, Cruise Thomas Cook, Direct Holidays, Elegant Resorts,, Flexibletrips, and many more.

Thomas Cook Airlines operates a fleet of 35 aircraft from 21 regional airports to destinations worldwide and has a publishing division offering a comprehensive portfolio of over 300 independently authored travel guidebooks to more than 150 destinations across the world.

The new brand is being rolled out from today and replacing the current ‘Globe’ image in the companies websites, international stores, airline fleet, headquarters and overseas offices. No small task!

I thought I’d highlight what they are doing and would love to hear from their comms team to share the inside view of this project – feel free to get in touch.

TClogoAbout Thomas Cook
The Group has many leading brands including Neckermann in Europe, Ving in Sweden, Condor in Germany and Airtours in the UK that will all carry the ‘Sunny Heart’.  The intention isn’t to rebrand all with the Sunny Heart, but they form part of the Group architecture and will, in most cases, carry the Heart as some part of their logo.

Who was Thomas Cook? On 9 June 1841, 32 year old Thomas Cook changed the way Britain and the world thought about travel.

At a council meeting in Leicester, Thomas proposed a trip by train from Leicester to Loughborough, taking 500 passengers the enormous distance of 12 miles and back for a shilling.

The journey, which took place on 5 July 1841, was essentially the very first ‘package holiday’. For the next 25 years, Thomas Cook was a one man operation trading as Thomas Cook but with ‘Cooks Tours’ as its brand name.

In 1871, Thomas Cook’s son John Mason Cook became a partner and the name of the company changed to Thomas Cook & Son. Over the years, the company changed its name several times, eventually merging with My Travel Group plc in 2007 and finally becoming Thomas Cook Group plc.

You can see the history of their logo via an infographic that was released today. I’ve pulled out some of the elements and included them on this page so you can see the history.

Their heritage is a long one, with the first logo released in 1880. The globe symbol appeared on a handful of brochure covers in the late 19th century. Its use became more widespread after 1900 and it also featured on the cover of ‘The Traveller’s Gazette’. Thomas Cook’s monthly travel magazine, from 1902.

The company has strong digital credentials – it was the first major High Street travel agency in the UK to offer online booking and last year it had 310m visits to its websites.

It has also made the most of mobile web and been using prototype tablet applications to communicate, plus been exploring gamification on social media. You can read much more about what it is planning to do via this document.

Transforming Thomas Cook

Thomas cook logoIn a media briefing, it states: The Sunny Heart is a very clear, visible signal that we are back, that we are different and that we are shaping our future, building on the power of our heritage and creating the company we want to be. It conveys a timeless message of warmth, commitment and the sunny emotions and happy memories that holidays bring.

We have also introduced a new brand essence, which aims to clearly communicate our values of Trust, Innovation and Personalisation: Inspiring Personal Journeys By the Trusted Pioneer in Global Travel.

Complementing the Sunny Heart, ‘Let’s Go’ simplifies the new brand essence in just two, memorable words, representing the excitement, energy and values of Thomas Cook in 2013.

This brand unification is a vehicle for our transformation, linking our visual identity directly to our core strategic values. The revitalised look and feel of Thomas Cook defines us – a statement that means something across all cultures, countries and languages.

A spokesman from the company said: “The essence of the new brand captures who Thomas Cook is, and what it promises – a high tech, high touch experience across all customer touch points with an omni-channel approach.”

“It’s a major milestone in our high tech, high touch transformation,” says Harriet Green, Group CEO of Thomas Cook Group plc (who is pictured in the photo montage on this page that I’ve created).

“This isn’t just a rollout of a new logo, it’s about a promise.  What we’re announcing today is a renewed promise to our customers, our people and suppliers.  A promise that we’re putting them at the heart of our transformation it’s the essence of who we are.

“The unification of our brands under the Sunny Heart is three fold; it will make it easier for our customers to understand the full strength and end-to-end value of the entire Thomas Cook Group coupled with our full innovative offering of our services and products; it will show more clearly what differentiates us and how we provide a total experience along every touch point – from research, to booking, to anticipation, to the holiday itself; and importantly, it will clarify our customer promise– a complete range of inspirational experiences for our customers.”

I always find it fascinating to see companies transforming and reading through their comms material.

Highlights from what I’ve read today give a glimpse into a changing culture:

  • Continuing to strengthen management team through promotions and new hires
  • Driving transformation together with almost 300 people across the business
  • Eliminating silos and spreading best practices across the Group
  • Moving business forward through new approach with relentless focus on performance

It looks like this has been a six month project so far and information I’ve read demonstrates it has resulted in a ‘radical’ overhaul:

  • Streamlined and radically restructured UK organisation to deliver savings and better decision-making
  • Executing on a new Group-wide airline segment to deliver an improved customer experience and savings
  • Introduced full omni-channel accountability in the segments by restructuring our web business into an E-commerce Centre of Excellence and setting up a Digital Advisory Board to drive innovation
  • Transformed hotel purchasing approach by piloting a new, cross-Group purchasing model that maximises benefits from scale while offering real benefits to hotel partners

I’d be interested in knowing more about the E-commerce Centre of Excellence and Digital Advisory Board – I wonder how that is working so far and what employees think?


In terms of restructures, that’s no small task either – and has included reducing the number of Directors from 21 to 10, three boards to one and costs cut by 55%. The company has also tried to reduce the layers between CEO and customers.

Thomas Cook has been in the news repeatedly in recent months, including announcing cutting 2500 jobs in March and the closure of an additional 200 stores on top of the 149 it had already shut. For the last financial year to September, the firm reported pre-tax losses of £485.3m.

So change clearly had to happen.(You can read about change communication in this article I wrote recently and a look at change at the BBC).

cakeIt’s interesting to note the language used in this statement from their Chief Financial Officer, Michael Healy in this statement. The changes I’ve just referred to are known internally as ‘new profitable growth strategy’:

“This brand unification is part our new profitable growth strategy announced in March this year. Having already piloted this approach in our North European businesses, we know first-hand that it increases both early bookings and online bookings with the added benefit of heightened brand awareness. The brand unification has been developed internally, and we are rolling it out appropriately for this stage of our transformation in a way that complements the normal, planned refresh of materials including our planned brochure runs, maintenance and store refreshes.”

Michael is pictured cutting a cake in a Thomas Cook office today (pic courtesy of @ThomasCookgrp).

Great to see it was developed internally. I wonder what role employees played?

What do employees think?

tcookMike Hoban, Sales, Marketing and E-Commerce Director says: “The new visual identity symbolises our promise to customers. But, a brand promise is about so much more than having a new logo or tagline. The real value will come from how we bring our revitalised identity to life for our customers and for our colleagues. Indeed, it doesn’t matter how much time we spend telling people how great the Heart is, how great we are… If they don’t feel it at every touch point, every time, they won’t believe it. And if they don’t believe it, they won’t come back.”

How has today’s news been communicated internally? How do employees feel about the transformation? Well, thanks to the wonder of the web, we can find out.

I’ve seen lots of pictures online and have collated them here – all via Twitter – and one in particular highlights what looks like the values and behaviours for the workforce: Succeed as one team, Deliver for our customers, Engage each other, Drive for results and act with integrity. (Note they are different to the ones mentioned above).

Some employees have been tweeting today about the rebrand and their thoughts about it. They appear to be using #sunnyheart. There are a number of photos of employees wearing orange heart glasses – from the internal comms team? Sounds like heart-shaped goodies are the order of the day, I’ve seen cakes, sweets and even heard that the menus internally have turned heart shaped today:











How has the company communicated their rebrand?
There is a lot of material around to read and watch and their external channels include:
Facebook page
Twitter @ThomasCookUK and @Thomascookgrp
Google Plus

They are also using the hashtag #letsgoTC across Twitter. A few months ago they revealed their Social Media Listening Lab – full info here. I imagine it’s a tad busy today!

What do you think of the work to date? Do you like the new look? Feel free to comment below with your thoughts.

I’m sure that in months to come we will see this campaign entered into award schemes. If the Thomas Cook team would like to share their side of the story, particularly how you have communicated the changes internally, you’re welcome to get in touch via my contact form or tweet me @AllthingsIC.

Best of luck to everyone involved today, I hope it goes well.


Post author: Rachel Miller


  1. Thank you very much Kevin, I’ve included it into the article, Rachel

  2. […] re-branding has definitely polarised opinion. On one hand you have the obvious enthusiasm of the in-house communications department . On the other hand you have some cynicism from a number of apparently less-than-enthusiastic- […]

  3. […] Thomas Cook logo changed over the […]

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