Taking a Look in the Mirror
As an agency that has spent the past 58 years creating or enhancing the brands of some of the most recognizable companies not only in Central Florida and across the state, but around the country, you’d think that ensuring your own brand’s effectiveness would be a no-brainer, right? Well, like many professional services organizations that work tirelessly to meet the needs of those they work for, we had become our own worst client. Through the years, the Fry Hammond Barr brand had gained a tremendous amount of respect, but as the years rolled on and our industry’s landscape changed, we realized that the brand that Chuck Fry, Bob Hammond and my father, Pete Barr, Sr., had created so long ago, didn’t best represent what we’d become. It was time to take a look in the mirror.
A year ago, we began the process of evaluating our brand. Our approach was simple – treat ourselves as we would a client going through this process. We’d take the expertise that we’d offered so many clients and apply it to ourselves. We’d have to be open to everything that we learned along the way, positive and negative, and be committed to change if necessary.
Initiating Brand Discovery
Our first step was to conduct what we call “brand discovery.” This involves evaluating the brand to get a true sense of where it currently stands. Through this process, we learned that our rich history had become a double-edge sword of sorts. While it had many elements that we definitely wanted to hold on to, it had also begun to position us as very traditional; something that didn’t reflect the contemporary company we’d become. This was very eye opening for us, to say the least.
It wasn’t enough to simply look at things for ourselves though. We needed an outside perspective. So, as part of the discovery process, we sought out feedback from our clients, partners, vendors, prospects and friends to share their perceptions. We asked them to pull no punches. This confirmed things that we’d already learned and provided valuable new insight as well.
After sifting through all of the feedback, we knew what we needed to do – create a brand for ourselves that holds onto the positive pillars that have defined us for nearly six decades, while better positioning the new expertise and capabilities that we offer and providing a platform for future evolution.
From the onset, some simple truths existed that needed to be addressed. First, Chuck Fry and Bob Hammond had long not been part of the business and had in fact each passed away some time ago. While it has been great to honor their legacies as founders over the years, we weren’t sure what role, if any, this played in our current brand. In fact, it raised more questions than anything.
Second, this company was originally founded as an “advertising agency.” As our industry’s landscape has dramatically changed over the years, we’ve grown to become much more than that. In addition to our core advertising capabilities, we’ve added other services such as public relations and a variety of digital solutions to better service our clients’ needs. The new brand needed to communicate this somehow.
Developing a Platform
With this knowledge, we began the process of developing a brand platform that would represent us in 2015 and beyond. Throughout our exploration, one word continued to pop up – “partnership.” It was a word that we heard often throughout the discovery process. Our firm has been built upon strong partnerships with the many people, companies and organizations that we have been fortunate to work with. Our goal is to always become a trusted partner in the success of those we work alongside. This philosophy provided us the perfect bridge from our past to our present and future.
After multiple brainstorm sessions, many late nights and a few tense moments, &Barr was created. This new brand perpetuates partnership while also giving us a broader platform to talk about capabilities and continue to evolve.
We’ve since launched the brand with an integrated approach of owned, earned and paid media, like we would for a client. We’ve created a new logo, launched a new website, changed our social media strategy, bought advertising, personally shared the news with current partners and asked media outlets to help us spread the word. So far, so good, but the journey doesn’t end with the launch. We have to continue to find new ways to bring the brand to life, monitor how it’s resonating and most importantly, not be afraid to take a long, hard look at ourselves and adjust again if need be. In order for any business to succeed, it must be its best client.
Pete Barr, Jr. is President/CEO of &Barr (formerly Fry Hammond Barr), an integrated marketing and communications agency with offices in Orlando and Tampa. He can be reached at Pete.Barr@andbarr.co
or (407) 849-0100.