It’s often said that change is the only constant. The market, technology, competition and the requirements of our industry continue to evolve, and in 2019 we made the decision to change with them.
Designate is one of Australia’s longest established creative agencies, with a heritage spanning 28 years and an enviable client list, including many of the ASX’s largest listed organisations.
During that time, we had successfully carved out a reputation as a leading investor communications consultancy. However, our expertise and track record in this area meant that some had started to see us as specialists in investor communications only, and therefore our value was beginning to be seen as one-dimensional.
We knew that our clients would also benefit from our brand and digital expertise. From our ability to create end-to-end value from robust investor brands and engaging communications across all channels.
We spend a lot of time advising our clients on their communications strategy, but ironically we were not communicating our full value to them. We had a reputation problem, and it was time to address it.
After initial explorations, we decided to put everything on the table and implement an entirely new group structure. We started by integrating new partners and companies into the Designate Group: Investor Relations specialists Retorix and brand consultancy Sonnet. This helped us expand our capabilities in brand, strategy, reputation and engagement, overnight.
We then opted to signal these seismic shifts in capabilities, ownership and ambition, with a complete brand overhaul.
We began with a robust interrogation of our purpose; questioning and discussing our ambitions, strengths and collective beliefs, as an organisation and as a team. We left no stone unturned in a 12-month exploration that included our staff, clients and industry peers.
Ultimately, we came to the realisation that the demands of an ever-more-complex communication landscape meant wed moved beyond a solutions-based service supplier, to become far more consultative in our approach.
We employ more diverse people, specialists and collaborators than ever before to provide more holistic and effective outcomes. It is this multiplicity of perspectives, combined with the passion and expertise of our people, that enables us to inspire engagement for our clients, compelling their audiences to trust, listen, act and believe.
Arriving at this point gave us clarity around the value we offer as an agency and it gave us the direction we needed to start work on the new visual identity. The ambition was to create a system where every detail communicated the concept of ‘inspiring engagement’.
We decided that for a brand to represent us collectively, it needed to be made by all of us, and to do so we employed the principles of co-design, creating teams with multiple skill sets to collaboratively interrogate this brief in unique and interesting ways.
The final solution, unveiled in April of this year, has benefited from the diverse capabilities of our entire team, and by embracing technology we were able to push beyond the constraints of traditional outcomes.
We created a brand that is a reflection of our desire as a business to be seen as multi-dimensional, representing our commitment to be at the forefront of technology and constantly evolve in order to push the boundaries of what’s possible.
By placing trust in our branding process we demonstrated that it can both reflect and spark change. It can have a profound impact on the way that a business is perceived from the inside and out.
By going on this journey ourselves, we gained valuable insight into our clients’ experience of the process; particularly the weight of decision-making, knowing that they’re going to have to embrace the results for years to come.
And so will we.
And yet, this new brand isn’t the end of the journey. It’s the start of a new one.
We know that to deliver on the promise we’ve made to ourselves, and to our clients, we need to keep pushing beyond what’s comfortable.
There’s still much work to do, but this exercise has reminded us that change isn’t something to be scared of. We have learned that if we embrace change, and exploit its potential, we can achieve great things.