From Visibilis to Wolfenden: Developing our New Brand
Going through a rebrand is really quite a cathartic process; over the years as your business grows and adapts you create all of these ‘add-ons’ which, when you step back, aren’t at all grounded in your overall vision and have led to a distorted version of who you are.
When I came to Visibilis last year, it was immediately clear to me that this was a unique agency.
This was an agency that wasn’t solely focused on expanding quick and fast so they could shout about their growth, nor did they have tunnel vision on the “whale clients” (how many of us agency folk have heard that before?!) – rather, they just genuinely liked working with businesses they enjoyed working with and could see the potential in to grow.
Their focus on building client relationships meant it was no surprise to learn the agency had grown solely through word of mouth.
Internally, the team was really close and incredibly down-to-earth. Close in a sense that they were supportive of each other, helping each other out regardless of ‘whose job it was’, taking collective ownership of client results without the unnecessary politics or hierarchy.
Yes, this was definitely a unique agency – but none of this was clear before I met the team. Visibilis needed a brand refresh; an identity to match the rare culture managing director Daisy and founder Ben had developed and the client approach they had built.
Defining who we are
The first step in approaching the rebrand was defining who we are. Sitting with Ben and Daisy, we started building out the story of where Visibilis started and how we’d got to where we are now.
Every good brand has a story; its reason for being, its purpose. Ours felt like one we should tell. Our story started with Ben working as a digital marketing freelancer, working predominantly on search marketing strategies for clients around his challenging health schedule.
Anyone who’s met Ben will know that he loves meeting new people, with his own clients he quickly built strong relationships and delivered clear-cut, honest advice and strategies, ultimately helping them to grow their businesses.
With client referrals growing, Ben started to build out the internal team, carefully hiring team members that could help to evolve the agency and bring a skill or approach that complemented what he’d already built.
Because of his own need for a flexible work schedule and the balance between home and office working, this became something that was offered to all team members from the start. At the time, this was an approach many other traditional agencies simply didn’t offer (some workplaces still don’t). Later this was further realised with the introduction of a 4.5 day working week to help team members find a healthy work life balance.
Fast-forward nine years later, and after gathering insight from each team member, it became clear that Ben and Daisy’s influence and their philosophy to work – and indeed, to life – was still driving how the team works today.
After the staff research, it was important to gather client feedback and qualitative research on they saw our identity and our approach. What values would they attribute to us?
“Clarity” “Helpful” “Supportive” “Friendly” “Honest”
The best thing about this stage was watching the feedback coming in one by one and seeing it align completely with our own staff research. Everything we said we thought we were, every value we thought our team possessed – our clients thought it too.
This made everything so much easier – there’d be no “fake it ‘till you make it” with our values, we already had a very clear identity and solid idea of who we were.
The next stage was grouping all of the feedback into themes, for example, terms like “clarity” “honest” and “transparency” came up a lot, as well as “helpful” “supportive” “guidance” which we could then use to turn into our core values.
These were designed to almost be a set of guiding principles for the team and indeed our brand moving forwards, not something we would just include in slide decks or new starter handbooks and ignore in the day-to-day, but something we genuinely used to guide how we speak to clients, how we market ourselves, how we approach our work and how we communicate with each other.
This was nothing new for the team or our clients, this wasn’t a case of trying to change who we were or how we behave – this was just about articulating the identity we had already created.
Working out what we offer
The next step was to look at our positioning in the market and what we’re offering to clients. We all know the industry changes fast and we have to be adaptive to what challenges our clients are having, so did what we were serving clients match up to what we said we were offering?
Whilst the fundamentals of what we were offering hadn’t changed from the beginning – how we packaged it up wasn’t reflective of the scope of what we do and how we approach it.
We do work in a very agile and flexible way, that’s the nature of working with small to medium sized businesses and brands that are growing fast, you can’t only work in silo on one channel or one part of the business, nor would we want to.
Our team were ingrained with clients’ businesses; helping them expand their teams, training and upskilling them on what we were doing, helping with board-level reporting and presentations. But we only talked about client help in terms of services.
There’s a reason why clients stay with us for so long in an industry that typically sees very high client churn rates – it’s about our approach, not just the services themselves. So, we came to the age-old question, what sets us apart?
This is where we could really start distilling down what our team and client research was telling us, what were the business and personal challenges we were helping our clients with? And what was it about how we help that works for them?
From this, we saw 3 core themes which would set the foundation for our USPs:
- We only want to drive business value – we don’t waste budget or time on things that don’t, and we’re honest and upfront with clients about what will work and what won’t.
- We’ve carefully built a team of individual experts in their own areas who are all hands on with their own clients, with a team structure that allows for complete agility and flexibility in strategy so we can adapt quickly.
- We build strong client relationships – we choose who we partner with carefully to make sure that the team and the client enjoy working together and we can help them realise their growth potential. We become an integral part of their business.
Once we’d defined what sets us apart, this then sets the groundwork for our marketing strategy – building out the stamps of authority and trust against these core USPs.
What’s our purpose?
Every company needs a direction of travel. Team members need to know that they’re a part of something bigger, they need to know what they’re helping to work towards as a business. Without it, staff can become despondent and unmotivated.
Defining our vision and purpose was a case of building on the story of why Ben set up the agency, it became:
To redefine the value of an agency partner by empowering our people, our clients & our peers to focus on what matters.
“Redefine” – reflective of us setting the precedent with our unique approach to client relationships.
“Agency partner” – we partner with our clients, we’re a part of their team, we’re in it together.
“Empowering” – we give staff and clients the tools and knowledge they need to be the best they can be.
“focus on what matters” – whether it’s focusing on revenue growth rather than fluffy marketing metrics, or encouraging staff to focus on their work life balance, we always get to the core of what really matters.
As well as using this to set our business and marketing strategy, we could distil this down into a simple strapline which makes it instantly clear what we’re here to do: “Marketing That Matters”.
I won’t lie, I was never a huge fan of the name Visibilis (sorry, Ben!) in truth, I found it quite hard to say when answering the phone.
But it worked at the right time for the agency, and now, on the cusp of a new phase of growth and definition for the company, it was time to review it.
Wolfenden felt right from the off. A lot of brand work can often come down to gut feel and given the discovery process we’d been through so far and the realisation that we embodied everything Ben had started the agency with, there was never another option for the name for me.
Such a huge part of our culture, our approach and the strength of our client relationships is down to Daisy Wolfenden, our managing director. So the connection of the agency to Ben and Daisy through their last name seemed more than fitting.
The actual name itself – Wolfenden – was representative of who we were as a team. The “wolf” as a spirit animal connotes instincts of sharp intelligence, strong and mighty in the sense of adversity. And that’s the story of our agency, creating something great against the odds.
The final stage was bringing everything to life, working out how to visually represent who we are and what we offer. This is where we turned to our friend and experienced brand marketer Gaz Battersby, who did an incredible job at creatively articulating our positioning and who we are.
Gaz developed a striking and unique looking visual identity to present us as a sharp and focused agency but with a warm culture at its heart.
Our logo mark is based on a wolf claw mark, easily recognisable and designed with accurate and sharp lines and a form filled with energy and passion. Our clean and modern new font and impactful colours strike the balance between a classic agency style and a warmer and friendlier tone.
We now had an identity that represented who we are, our journey, and where we’re going.
A new brand always gives everyone in the team a motivation boost – it’s a renewed sense of pride in what they do and where they work, so for now, we’re enjoying the new name, look and feel being out there.
There’s undoubtedly always activity you put on hold when you’re going through a rebrand, countless times we’ve heard ourselves say “wait until the new brand is live” – so we’ve got lots of content and agency updates to share over the coming months.
The core focus has always been to do our team justice, hopefully we’ve done that and now we have a new platform to share what we do with the wider industry and beyond.
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