I love my job. And how many of us can really say that? I love the people; I love the variety; I love the flexibility and freedom I'm given to set aside what no longer works and figure out fresh approaches; and I especially love that it's a job that requires constant learning and growth. What I haven't loved so much is my company's name.
Whenever I meet people who work for businesses with instantly recognizable names, I experience a twinge of jealousy. You work at Google or Apple? How cool. I'm not envious of these people's jobs -- though I wouldn't mind some of those famous Googleplex perks; what I envy is the ease with which they convey their employer name and their confidence that of course everyone knows all about the business. I have the same reaction even when I meet someone from the B2B world who works for Capgemini or Novartis or some other well-known brand. These are the sorts of names our brains seem equipped to recognize and remember easily.
We don't have things so easy in marketing communications. Look through a directory of our industry, and you'll find bewildering strings of letters and surnames. Insiders know how to decode most of them because they're familiar with the family tree and the circuitous journey the agency has been on since its birth. Most of these names show who started the agency, whom it teamed up with along the way, and what sort of specialties it offers. If you're flummoxed, you can consult one of the many handy guides.
And therein lies the embarrassing paradox: We represent an industry that is all about building memorable brands and creating clear, compelling communication for clients. Yet so many agency names are difficult to remember and exhausting to explain. Newcomers to the industry have had the welcome option of adopting short, quirky names (Taxi, StrawberryFrog, Razorfish), but the established agencies have struggled to work out how best to meet the needs of heritage and identity, while also remaining malleable enough to reflect growth. We were one of those agencies, and then we found our solution.
Rebranding our agency
Over the years, I've gotten used to saying "Euro RSCG Worldwide" and seeing reactions running the gamut from a welcome nod of recognition to blank incomprehension or even the occasional "Yikes!" More than one person has commiserated with me, sharing the equally unfortunate name of a current or former employer. Repeating my company's name a few times when I met people was a small price to pay for working at a vibrant, top global agency. Now, since Sept. 24, I've been getting used to saying a name that people find a lot more manageable: Havas Worldwide.
The "Havas" part is the name of our parent company, plain and simple. "Worldwide" speaks for itself. It reflects the fact that our network is made up of 11,000+ employees in 120 cities and 75 countries.
It's still early days, but I've already found that Havas Worldwide is a lot easier and quicker to say than Euro RSCG Worldwide -- after all, we cut the number of syllables in half. With our streamlined name and updated branding and visual identity, we all feel the lightness of being that anyone who has ever gone from long hair to a bob has experienced. We're relieved to be rid of the excess weight.
The name change isn't all that's recharging us, though. In fact, that change pales next to everything else that's been happening within the agency. We've been through an extraordinary evolution over the past decade. We've gone from pioneering creative business ideas (still our creative underpinning) to also championing social business ideas. (These are ideas that combine profits with purpose, helping to address serious social or environmental challenges while also driving profitable growth for our clients.) We were the first global holding company within our industry to be fully digitally integrated. And so far, we're the only one. Our network has grown a lot bigger and the world in which our clients operate has become a lot more complicated, so we've worked hard and smart to unify our culture and integrate our operations. We're even bringing media and creative teams back into shared spaces in key markets to aid and abet in collaboration. In our new name, the network and the agencies within it now have a brand that reflects our true nature: integrated, agile, collaborative, and future focused.
Just the beginning
So we are now Havas Worldwide, and I can say without hesitation that re-branding is not for the faint of heart. And our work isn't over yet.
Search engine indexes are full of links to Euro RSCG, thanks to thousands of webpages and blogs the agency has generated, tens of thousands of references in editorial media online, and many hundreds of thousands of mentions in social media. Every one of these needs to be redirected. My coworkers have painstakingly looked through our own live material online to make sure our new website and the websites of all our agencies around the world are up-to-date.
The tougher part will be updating people's brand associations. Ask them which was the first agency to be named Global Agency of the Year by both Advertising Age and Campaign in the same year; which agency won TED awards in 2012 and 2011 for the best global "Ads worth spreading"; which agency created the Most Interesting Man in the World; which agency conceived and organized the One Young World global forum; which agency is in the Guinness World Records book for the most viral ad ever. They're likely to cite our old name, but we'll be busy putting them straight: It's Havas Worldwide.