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Reflections on a rebrand
Yesterday, I announced that we’d be rebranding our agency to Ballpoint.
I had a few people ask afterwards how the process was and what we went through.
Rebranding is a lot of things. It’s exciting. It’s time-consuming. It’s scary. For all of the worries of ‘getting it wrong’, I had to remind myself – as I would to any client – no-one else cares. No-one is wandering around all day waiting for your rebrand, everyone is thinking about themselves, and their own problems. That is liberating.
When I came up with the original agency name of Amphora, it was when the agency was a one-man band. I went through the same process we used for the rebrand, but as a team of one, it makes for hard brainstorming. The Amphora name was a cool word, but ultimately didn’t have any story behind it. Except that I liked wine. It also, it turns out, has pronunciation problems.
Rebranding, we had now a small but dedicated team of people brought into that project.
How to Name a Company in 8 Hours
We followed the Jake Knapp process of ‘How to Name a Company in 8 Hours’.
The tl;dr on that process is:
Intro and prime with vision, mission, and 20 year road map
Discuss brand values, positioning, competitor opposites, etc
Identify absolute requirements and nice-to-haves
Brainstorm initial themes
This was overall a good process. Things we did badly: we gave ourselves less time than many of the sessions suggested. ‘We’re a tiny team, surely that won’t take 90 minutes’ I thought. Turns out it does. So certain elements felt quite rushed on the day.
Aside from that the process worked well.
Off the back of advice from Leslie & May, I spent some time ahead of the session thinking about themes that would be important.
The 20 year road map was a fun exercise. It feels perhaps premature to think about this, but the two definite things I’d want us to be in 20 years is:
(1) (a network of) agencies that support business grow, from traditional advertising through to app development, and
(2) a business media company (like this newsletter) which could include a sort of Harvard Business Review but focused on startups, and business radio.
A third optional extra would be a family of brands: in the vain of recent Amazon aggregators.
The agencies would produce learnings which can become content for the media company. The media company attracts business into the agencies and a growth loop exists.
This was a good backdrop to the conversation because it meant that whatever the name would be, it couldn’t be “Growth Inc” or “Scaling Fast” or similar. It had to be enough of an empty slate it could be applied to multiple things.
While the 20 year roadmap was fun, it also had to make a lot of sense for today.
There were a few key themes for us that were important. Many themes centred around overcoming challenges, blank slates, tomorrowness, and inventiveness. Why?
Something radically shifted over the last few years. Many put it down purely to iOS14.5 being released, but we’ve actually had a huge number of changes simultaneously. And there is no waiting for things to go back to how they were. This is the new normal. The playbooks we all developed 5 years ago just don’t work today. Hence the importance of our core themes.
When everything around you is changing, what are you left with?
A blank piece of paper and Ballpoint.
Making time for things like this can feel like a luxury or a waste of time when you’re an early-stage business. There are always an infinite number of things you should be doing. It almost feels self-indulgent to do this work. But it’s made us clearer in focus as an agency, with a stronger sense of who we are, and our ambition in the world.
If you ever want to discuss a rebrand – I’d strongly recommend you reach out to some of the people I gained advice from – but I am also always available for a chat.