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The challenges of rebranding a PR agency

Rebranding a PR or Comms agency is a big decision and shouldn’t be taken impulsively. After years spent building a name it shouldn’t be abandoned lightly. But if you feel your name and wider brand no longer accurately represent your values then rebranding may be the right option.

Getting the branding right is as important in communications as it is in any other area of business. Agency owners and heads should ask themselves if their brand accurately communicates their values and what they stand for, or if there’s a disconnect between how the agency is perceived externally and the values of those within the team.

If your brand name, website, social media channels and other touchpoints aren’t accurately reflecting your culture and values then they could be repelling the exact clients you would really like to attract.

After much consideration, we recently rebranded, changing the agency name from London PR to Motive. I have outlined the thinking behind the decision in a blog post on our new site but to give a quick summary, we wanted a brand name which was more distinctive and less generic than London PR, which had always been a keyword domain.

There have been thousands of books dedicated to branding but one of the best has to be The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al and Laura Ries. In it the father and daughter team warn firmly against generic brand names and urge business owners to instead choose any proper noun applied out of context and make it their own.

Making such a big change requires the input of everyone involved starting with the team. It was essential that everyone inside our agency understood the reasons for the rebrand and had input into the process. If the team don’t feel a part of the decision it could create confusion and disconnection within the ranks.

We called in an external branding agency to help us manage the transition and they worked with the entire agency team to workshop our brand and help us move towards a new identity, with everyone having input.

Once we had decided on our new name and were happy with the look and design of the brand and new website the next challenge was communicating it to our existing clients and future prospects.

Wherever possible it’s best to make time for a face to face talk with existing clients. They need to understand the reasons for the rebrand first hand. It’s a big change and you don’t want them to get spooked or to begin to doubt the solidity of the business. I found all our current clients were supportive of the move, although some expressed sorrow to see the back of our London PR brand. But when I explained the thinking behind the rebrand they all ‘got it’ and were keen to continue to support us.

These face to face meetings were also a useful opportunity for me to stress that while the brand was changing the service would remain the same. For us that means a sharp focus on results and measurement with a new brand which we feel better conveys this to clients. Our new strapline PR With Purpose is an attempt to better communicate this focus.

With the team and current clients onside with the new brand it only remains to present it to future prospects. A well designed credentials deck is, of course, an invaluable tool. After that it’s time to do what we do best and PR our new brand, treating Motive like a client. It’s a new decade and we feel motivated to succeed.