It’s all in a name. But when all the good names are gone, how do you rebrand a marketing agency?

October last year. That was when we began the rebranding process. 9 months later, on the 4th of July Bernie was born. We had asked one of the hardest questions; and found an answer.
‘How the heck do you rebrand a marketing agency?’
Branding is difficult. Branding a marketing agency… nigh bloody impossible! Firstly, you have the harshest of critics… people think marketing is branding and expect you to absolutely nail every facet of your brand. Big ask!
 
Secondly, if you are foolish enough to want to rename your agency, all these smart marketing types have spent 100 years taking all the good names. Every single last one. Lastly, you have to keep the world spinning while you do the most time sucking thing of your year.
 
Start at the beginning… and work backwards
Before the process started, we had come up with some ideas, but none seemed to fit.
We did ‘animal + colour’; but did we need another Purple Wombat?
I liked Eudemedia, from the Aristotelian concept of eudemonia; human flourishing. Some sense checking later and;
a) no one got it (not everyone is a philosopher)
b) It sounded great on paper (ish), but not when you said it. ‘New Day Media?’ … who?
c) Also when you said it… ‘Is that an noxious gas? Is it like ammonia?’
 
If you have to explain too hard… well don’t.

We loved Web & Url (pronounce it Erle), but knew this was better suited for a website company (and Bernie don’t do websites).
 
So we hired a branding agency.
After reviewing 4 or 5 branding agencies we decided to go with Design Dough, they were local, had a cool vibe and seemed to get what we were after.
The first therapy session was extremely eye opening. We sat in a room, did the ‘what makes you tick?’ convo, talked through our journey and asked ourselves ‘why are we here?’ ‘what are our values?’ and ‘Why is this so hard?!‘
 
Values are like tattoos… its great that you have one (ya rebel you!), but if it’s the same as everyone else’s… who cares? Getting to a set of values that is truly unique is like tattooing your eyelids, it is scary and makes you uncomfortable at first, everyone notices and talks about it (especially when you are not looking) and you have to suck it up, be brave and give zero fucks… let the haters hate!
 
Working through our values gave us a load more ammo for a name.
• Bound2 (like we are bound 2 our customers, or Bound 2 succeed)
• Fifth (it is our fifth year)
• Watson (IBM beat us to that…
• Alfred (like Batman’s man cave dwelling man servant)
All were good, but all were taken… Bastards.
 
At the end of a long road…
Just before Christmas, we had decided we hate branding. Like truly hated it. Especially naming stuff. It was shit and people that do it were twisted. We had even considered sticking with Traffic Jam Media. Blah!
It was 11pm and I was driving back late from Cardiff via Bristol and an Agency Collective event when I remembered an email, I had sent out 6 months prior. By this time, Bernard had become a bit of an office legend. After said person forgot to add their holiday… Bernard paid a visit.

The idea wasn’t to have a dog in the branding but portray all the qualities that a St. Bernard brings. A St. Bernard is a loyal, brave and bring brandy. It also guides people through treacherous passes to get to safety.
There was some other cool stuff too; it would allow us to speak with ‘the voice of Bernard’, create a personality and ask questions like ‘have you met Bernard’ or ‘Did you see what Bernard did at the after party?’
As with any great idea, there are always naysayers and detractors… enter Dav. He was (probably) right, Bernard was a bit stuffy, probably smelt a bit like an old peoples home and did have the pizazz or vibrancy that we knew the industry needed. (Sorry Bernards of the world, I still love ya and ya funny smell)
 
Bernard is dead. Long live Bernie.
 
Enter Bernie.
Unbeknown to us, Bernard had (as dog lovers will no doubt have noticed from the pictures) always been a Bernese mountain dog. Bernese are also known for being helpful, hardworking and strong.
 
We could quite happily shoehorn all the good stuff about Bernard into Bernie… plus get a load more fun and shouty stuff (thanks Mr Sanders) in as well.
We did some testing…
• We sent it to Design Dough: lukewarm reception
• We talked it through with a few clients: ‘that’s awful! Stick with your name!’ … nice one Todd
• Mum’s response: ‘I am not sure I really understand it’
 
But we knew we had something…
• Design dough came back after the weekend and said it was growing on them
• Mum started to understand. Tick tock Mum.
• Todd still hates it… nice one Todd.
It was great, the values started to (re)write themselves and better still had personality. In spades.
 
Bernie really started to lead us in directions we had not thought of before. Suddenly we loved branding, it all seemed so easy, there was energy back in the project and we went into Christmas with loads of excitement!
 
Part 2 of this is coming up!

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