SDL Rebrand | Brand Agency Derby

Rebranding one of the UK’s fastest-growing independent property groups

Following a successful pitch, WDA were appointed to help one of the UK’s fastest-growing independent property groups to rebrand and reposition themselves to accommodate major expansion plans over the next five years.

Founded in 1989 as Direct Valuations and known as Shepherd Direct Ltd, the group comprises a comprehensive range of property related services including Estate Agency, Surveying, Risk Management, Lettings, Mortgages and Finance; each with its own brand identity all operating as independent trading divisions from Shepherd Direct’s Nottingham HQ.

The rebrand was part of a group strategy to create awareness for and to cross-sell these complementary divisions to customers by creating a common brand platform and a level of brand recognition to reflect the scale of the organisation which employs over 400 staff and has an annual turnover of £60m.

Referred to internally for many years as SDL, the choice to adopt the SDL prefix to unify the businesses was made strategically to simplify the complex group structure that existed within Shepherd Direct.  This simple prefix has also allowed acquisitions to quickly adopt the new group identity whilst retaining historic recognition and brand equity.

Whilst moving away from Shepherd Direct Ltd to the SDL acronym supported the desired new brand architecture, we wanted to retain a link to the decades of history, heritage, and core brand values of the original businesses.


SDL Website Design | Branding Derby | WDA


“During initial discussions it became clear that creating lasting partnerships was at the heart of what Shepherd was all about. Words like trust, honesty, loyalty and commitment kept cropping up time and again when talking to senior members of the team and the board.”

Said WDA’s Lee Waterhouse

“These words are not ones you might automatically associate with this sector, but are certainly highly desired by our audience, and were qualities which we felt should definitely be a part of our new brand story.”

That brand story came to life with the birth of ‘Shep!’, our trusty Border Collie which now sits at the heart of the new brand and has been adopted as the SDL mascot, creating a visual link to the previous name.

The traditional companion of the Shepherd; Border Collies are considered highly intelligent, hard working, and very loyal animals, famous for  herding and protecting their flocks. In just the same way, SDL businesses direct (advise) their valued customers whilst helping them protect their financial interests and investments. In addition the breed has a very characterful personality and is incredibly expressive, enabling us to convey lots of emotion within the brand and its marketing communications.

Apart from giving marketing a broad canvas and lots to work with, Shep and the new branding gives SDL a strong platform for growth and a unique brand differentiator within its market. Since the rebrand expansion is happening at a rapid pace. SDL has already gone on to acquire CP Bigwood, Graham Penny and most recently Humphreys of Chester, the new brand structure allowing these businesses to ‘hit the ground running’ under the new SDL name.

You can hear group Commercial Director, Rob Clifford discussing the brand here.

To find out more about how WDA’s unique brand marketing approach can help your business grow please get in touch with our Business Development Manager Anna on 01332 372 728 or e-mail directly on anna@wda-marketing.com



SDL - Shepherd Direct ReBrand - WDA

SDL - Shepherd Direct ReBrand - WDA