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The methodology behind our brand

The agency feels fresh, alive, ambitious and energized. I attribute much of this to the new brand we recently launched, or more accurately, the reworking of our existing brand into something more representative of who we are.

As a young company it took us time to figure out who we are and what we are here to do, we've landed on it. As with any coming of age, we hit some proverbial bumps that were manifested in clients we should never have worked with, work that we wish we hadn't done, people that we absorbed the promises of when forging our own path was what we always knew would be our success path. All of that, though, is basic business stuff.

We have a few more scout badges to collect in the tribulation trail of agency growth and we are prepared and ready and eager to add another scar on our path to the agency we are destined to be. Can you tell we've been feeling introspective? That we've had long conversations around our well-known creative table and have gotten honest and raw with what we want, where we are going and who we want to go with? All of this came to light during the reimagining of H&C Inc., formerly Hughes & Co., or, the little agency that could.

Why we did it

When we assessed what made us feel inadequate, it was often the visual representation of the agency. We are not a flashy firm that boasts the biggest and best narrative as our primary value proposition (even if we have some opinions on where we stand). We are a hard working team, led by intelligent women, that will work harder, smarter, and with the necessary data, research, and skillset to inform every move. It is our identity, our clients often joke with us about how much heavy lifting we are doing for them, how many areas of their business our efforts touch, and how we have become indispensable to them. That was always the plan.

It was this visual representation that really got the ball rolling. What did we want to be? Who are we? What are we trying to achieve? What are we known for? Who knows us? Who do we wish knew us? Who is calling? Who is referring? What work stands out as our signature?

As we underwent this self-assessment, we invited other brains to the table and asked them the same questions. In some instances, we were delighted by what they detailed, in others we were horrified. These discussions only made our rebranding efforts more prudent. We needed to make change.

In the interest of transparency, here is a good anecdote from one such conversation: "Your agency is known for delivering results, but your website looks like it is for someone else." Pretty tough to swallow, though we agreed. Or the ever painful, "The team is strong and professional and your headshots make you look like kids." Ouch.

The process

We underwent eight months of thinking and regrouping, and then thinking some more. Our efforts were catalogued in the same process document we use for all of our clients and working through that process ourselves encouraged a lot of critical thought. What I want to make clear is that as the CEO, I didn't spend a great deal of time invading those conversations with my ideas and opinions. I did a lot of listening and learning about what H&C means to each member of our team. I also did not design this website, or write the content. I did not select the client imagery, or even which clients to feature. I left it up to the team. I reaped the same benefit of this brain trust that our clients do, and the result has been incredible.

After asking difficult questions, getting honest answers and assessing what we really want from our roles here at the agency, the team got to work and created what you see today. With our ample preparation, the design and edit phase was relatively quick. We knew what we wanted to accomplish and we were uncompromising on getting there. We knew what we wanted to include and we included only those things, opting for a simplicity is a beautiful thing mindset as we undertook this work.

The result

We are incredibly proud of this website, of this agency look and feel and of the message it is delivering to our prospective clients. We are boldly proclaiming components of our mission statement and vision statement on our website in call outs:

Strategic growth-driven marketing elegantly applied to beautiful design.

Our clients are rapidly growing companies with big ideas and bigger plans.

We are standing proud as a leadership team for this agency, proud of the work we do, the way we do it, the workplace that we have built, the team mentality that exists here, and the identity of our firm. We are owning our service portfolio, laying it out there with the knowledge that the itemization of our services delivers the message that what we offer is comprehensive.

The website is only one part of our work to reimagine the agency, our workspace is perhaps where this transition is most noticeable, or in the proposal methods we have changed to ensure that our team is actively embodying the H&C identity at every touch point with our clients. We have branded our work in every document, have standardized social posting, brand standard language conventions and more. We took the standard of branding that we apply to our clients and brought it in-house for a seamless experience from start to finish.

What it has done

The most noticeable difference is in the quality of inquiry arriving to the agency, and the dramatic reduction in early stage questions about who we are and what we do. We are being contacted by incredible companies, if you're reading this, hey, we're so excited to work with you. We are also getting questions that have depth, about strong strategy components, the methodology in practice and about measurement of ROI (return on investment). These are the kinds of questions we want to answer.

Why it is working

H&C went from being a playful run of the mill small market agency to a sophisticated professional brand that commands quality overnight. We lost big bids on compelling work at the hands of a brand that did not deliver what we needed it to. A second chance has already cropped up out of this rebrand and relaunch, telling us that we are moving quickly in the right direction. 

We have a new confidence about who we are and what we are doing. The brand has given our team firmer footing in their capacity as professional marketers that are making big swings and generating great results. We have given them the parameters and license to talk about that, not that they were ever unable, but our formalizing of that has resulted in a more consistent voice and less guess work with what they should and should not share or say or do. 

Our team is eager to be in the community doing good work. This is, perhaps, the most rewarding part. 

All of this to say, we rebranded because we wanted our brand to look like how it feels to work here. We think we've nailed it.
Allie Hughes

AUTHOR: Allie Hughes

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