The most challenging part of my job has and always will be the agency rebrand. You hear the phrase batted around by agencies that 'we are our own worst client’ and people will ask why?
We rebrand clients, create engaging websites, build cohesive social packages and generally ensure our clients look professional every day but we don’t lavish our own brands with the same love, care and time we afford our clients. In a fast paced industry we rarely have the time away from client work to give our brands the spring clean they regularly need and full rebrands are often shoehorned in and around client work resulting in internal projects taking many days, months and even years, yes years longer!
So, in order to launch our 25th Anniversary celebrations with a fresh new rebrand we decided to go back to basics and rebrand ourselves as if we were a client. That meant being disciplined in our approach, following our tried and tested steps and not making the assumptions about our own business that are all too easy to make. It was time to do it properly!
Our brand has evolved steadily since we dropped our ‘HHC’ pre-nominal in 2001 and only green remains from our original colour palette. Our last major rebrand in 2010 stood up well and answered the brief given at the time but we still brought in some evolutions, saying goodbye to the purple and the retaining box which housed our wordmark and bringing in a plus sign to replace the ampersand. But this is 2023, so say hello to a fresher and more purposeful brand.
Having been with Chalk & Ward for 24 years, I have already been through two major rebrands, countless brand evolutions and six websites, so I am well aware of the challenges posed by an internal rebrand. However, undeterred, Imogen (our design guru who likes to remind me she was only one year old when I joined Chalk & Ward) and I had been looking forward to breathing fresh life into our brand and creating a suite of materials befitting an agency who specialise in branding. A package to take us forward and one that will ensure we remain current, relevant and which portrays our brand in a creative but professional light.
Step by step we followed our well versed processes we go through with every client, starting with a Core Values session which we held with our entire team to review our brand positioning. The last time we did this was 2017 so it was a great exercise to go through, one which reinforced the brand for our new team. The values we all chose which best embody Chalk & Ward were ‘Dynamic’, ‘Collaborative’ and ‘Genuine’ – all powerful and emotive words to help focus our creative process for the next stage, brand creation.
We explored the brand from many different approaches, always ensuring that we had the Core Values at the heart of everything we did. As we do with clients, we proposed a number of options to the board as we understand that design is subjective and it’s important that everyone is on board with the final logo. We eventually chose a modernised wordmark which retained the stacked appearance and therefore retained brand equity. We went back to an ampersand as this reflected collaboration but created a unique, dynamic design that would be a strong icon upon which to build the rest of the brand.
We then took it to the next stage, creating our design style which brings the logo to life across the whole brand. We explored fonts, graphics and colours and for the first time ever, we have veered away from our corporate green in favour of a fresher, more contemporary and more vibrant lime green. We also introduced a layer of conceptual imagery as another ingredient for our branding which has worked really well as we moved Into the final stage of brand implementation, designing our new website, signage, proposals, template documents, email signatures and social graphic suite.
It’s a mammoth task to undertake whilst still running the business but after 6 months our efforts have finally come to fruition. We have discussed, pontificated and on occasion disagreed but finally, we have evolved our brand to something to be proud of. No longer will we accept Calibre font being used in presentations. No longer will we allow inconsistent social posts. There’s a new sheriff in town, and her name is Imogen! Every rebrand starts with a fresh slate but this one has also given us a new lease of life. This is the new dynamic, collaborative and always genuine, Chalk & Ward. We hope you like it as much as we do.