With the addition of Nelson Distribution and Steve Porter Transport to the Knights of Old portfolio, the larger brand was becoming increasingly diluted. Combining the three fleets meant more than 60 trailer-tractor livery combinations were possible.

Through acquisition and mergers, Knights of Old, based in Kettering, has expanded significantly in the past five years. Nelson Distribution merged into the group in 2016, doubling the size of the group fleet to 300 vehicles and 400 trailers. Steve Porter Transport, which had a fleet of 50 trucks and 80 trailers and depots in Portsmouth, Southampton, the Isle of Wight and Channel Islands, joined the Knights of Old Group in August 2019.

While other smaller acquisitions had been absorbed into the Knights brand, Nelson and Steve Porter continued to trade under their own identities within the group structure. But, by 2019, the organisation decided to move the entire artic fleet to a new three-letter name – KNP – to offer a more international appeal, while maintaining each individual brand’s distribution identity. With a strategically located network of 10 distribution hubs, the focus of KNP Logistics is agility and commitment to quality.

Moving with the times

The group realised it needed to move with the times, but with 275 years of combined experience among the three group members, the new KNP brand needed to feel familiar, as if it had evolved from Knights of Old. It also needed to stand strong among the other three-letter logistics brands, own its colours, and reflect KNP’s personality and target customer traits. The new look also had to emphasise the cleanliness demonstrated by KNP’s warehouses being BRC-accredited for global food grade storage and distribution.

The aim was to introduce a simple design, which was bold and easily identifiable with a timeless mark. The new livery is therefore slanted in the same way as the existing Knights of Old logo and uses the same colours. But the increased size of the logo was recognised as a way to uniquely position the new KNP brand among its three-letter competitors.

Logistics for life

It was also decided that the existing strapline – ‘Service with honour’ – was restricting Knights of Old and reinforcing its traditional perception, particularly within the EU, where the group was operating daily services. Instead, a descriptive and aspirational strapline was needed to reflect the new KNP brand and services.

The thinking process went as follows:

  • Everything we eat requires logistics;
  • Everything we drink requires logistics;
  • Everything we wear requires logistics;
  • Life requires logistics.

The result? A new KNP strapline: ‘Logistics for life’.

The whole rebranding exercise was conducted in-house to maintain full control and agility of the process and many variants of the new brand were trialled.

Ultimately KNP – signifying Knights/Nelsons/Porters – won out and KNP Logistics Group was registered as the name for the holding company.

Knights of Old and Nelson Distribution

With branding further confused with the introduction of Steve Porter Transport into the group in August 2019, the deadline to complete the rebranding was set for March 2020, coinciding with the arrival of 10 SDC trailers – the first of 100 new SDC trailers joining the fleet. The new livery would also be used on additional curtainsided trailers being built by Krone.

Reflecting on the successful rollout of the new livery, the group admitted that through acquisition and mergers the core brand was being watered down. However, rebranding has united the entire portfolio, bringing internal and external brand clarity.

The group said it had previously proved difficult to explain to potential contract logistics customers that Knights of Old, Nelson Distribution and Steve Porter Transport worked together as one brand with shared directors. But the new livery has succeeded in positioning the brand beyond local, to reach UK and EU audiences, and creates a portfolio that will not be perceived as traditional.

Simple and effective

The MT judges were impressed with the clarity of thinking behind the livery, which they say fits perfectly with the wider rebranding exercise. “The livery is simple, yet effective. I’m sure these vehicles will be easily recognised on the road,” said one judge. “I like the transition and evolution from old to new, which will make it easier for customers to assimilate and recognise. The livery is clean, crisp and distinctive – giving valuable visibility to the brand.”

RearView KNP

Another judge said: “The consistent strapline allows each business to have individuality. The submission gives a good understanding of the thought process, and the livery execution works well, moving the artic fleet from the much-recognised Knights of Old livery, which was complex and dated. The new livery has cleverly incorporated the three businesses within the group, maintaining elements from all in a new design.”

On winning the award, Nelson Distribution MD Simon Nelson said: “It’s perfect timing in terms of the creation of KNP Logistics Group. To form the new group and win the award at the same time is absolutely fantastic – it’s excellent.”

The deadline to enter the 2021 MT Awards is 9 April. Go to the website for full details on how to enter.