Hebron becomes Double First

Double First school information management new logo
Double First's new logo

Busy few days moving the whole company from its previous brand identity of 21 years, Hebron UK Ltd, to Double First Ltd.

Intensive sales efforts in the Middle East over the past few weeks are adding to the list of schools that are using our management information system Engage. But sharing our company identity with the name of the largest city in the West Bank has created some concerns that we might be misunderstood in some way, a reaction that was never foreseen when Hebron was founded.

So we’re moving the corporate brand to Double First, a name that originally featured on a successful suite of software written by the company a decade or more back.

Thought has been given to continuity: the butterfly symbol of the old logo has been adopted on the new identity and typography and colourways have been retained. Most of the brand treatment work is being handled by our marketing manager, Simon Jones.

I was able to fiddle around the edges by dusting off some old skills and suggest kerning tweaks on the type elements. The guy who taught me about typography and showed me the big difference small changes can make was Motor Boats Monthly’s original art editor, Patrick Kelley. He is sadly no longer in this world but I felt his keen eye nevertheless.

Judging from previous experience of brand changes I suspect some might not notice at all that the logo has acquired an additional syllable and is somewhat longer.

The brand switch operation within the team has been pretty slick and a good many of the changes are already in hand; everything from the legal side through to the smallest printed element that carries a logo. Much burning of midnight and weekend oil.

It’s also been an opportunity to refresh web skills in terms of transiting old site to new. The last time I read Matt Cutts on site migrations he seemed to admit the business of taking an existing site with Page Rank to a new one without any history is a bit of a lottery, even if you follow the script, which adds a certain salt and pepper as to how we will do.

Here are my summary actions thus far:

  1. new site set up, initially with a ban bot instruction on robots.txt and then with a block on all IP addresses except our own to prevent spidering of the site and potential duplicate content penalties;
  2. inward link research on old site so we know who to contact to request a URL rename;
  3. keyword performance reports created on old site so we can tailor content to rank for key phrases and benchmark performance of new site;
  4. pre live tests on new site include broken links crawl to minimise search engine index issues;
  5. analysis of new site versus old, matching equivalent URLs and creating 301 redirects to match like-for-likes;
  6. creation of new xml sitemap;
  7. removal of IP filter and change robots.txt;
  8. make live 301 permanent redirects;
  9. validation site and of xml sitemap with Google and Yahoo;
  10. monitoring of analytics to ensure traffic dead on old site and that no unexplained behaviour seen on new;
  11. monitoring of Google Webmaster to spot any early errors and correct.

And the mistakes thus far:

  1. In the haste to do all tasks on Wednesday I didn’t follow my own script and validated the site on Google Webmaster prior to changing robots.txt from
    User-Agent: *
    Disallow: /

    to Allow – Google promptly cached the robots.txt for 24 hours and I suspect we’re being held back a little as a result.

We did the switch on Wednesday and so far Google has yet to index the site. The Hebron pages are still in the index and redirecting traffic through. Given that we have a relatively modest number of site pages that are simple in make up it will prove fascinating to see how fast we will be able to get www.doublefirst.com fully established on Google. I might well update the list above on a subsequent blog, to reflect any subsequent action, feedback and hindsight thinking.

Now pass me the drill…it’s time to switch from virtual to physical to put the new sign on the wall.

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