Observations on a Digital Agency Rebranding

So we changed our name recently from Delphic Sage to Delphic Digital. This is about the third time that I have undertaken this type of effort at a company. I am continually amazed at how much harder it is than it seems on the surface.

For context, this post is not a comprehensive how to on rebranding a digital agency. I find the “7 steps to” type posts personally so overhyped these days thanks to SEO and other underlying motivations. Rather this post is simply meant to reflect on a few high level observations from going through the process.

Why we did it

When I originally named the company Delphic Sage, I chose a vague name on purpose. I did this first and foremost out of an abhorrence of  names that lack any creativity – techweb, web 2000, that kind of thing. The second reason is that this business changes very quickly. I wanted a name that could evolve with changes to the business model. I declare success on these two points.

What didn’t turn out so well was the name rolling off the tongue clearly. Introducing the name at a cocktail party or over the phone typically elicited a response of “delphic what?”.

So, my new partner (along with some other less than subtle cajoling) strong armed me into a subtle change over to Delphic Digital (or just Delphic for short). The advantage with this name is at least the digital part gives context to the business immediately. And Delphic is short and snappy.

So that settled, off we went revising the brand itself.

The Rebranding Process

From start, be sure to understand and reinforce with your team the difference between a brand positioning and brand identity. I am a firm believer that you need to take the time to hash out the former prior to undergoing any sort of design work. Without it, design efforts are simply pretty images with no underlying context to stir both the emotional and rational portions of the brain.

Deciding on the team is another critical piece. Take some time and choose wisely. It’s easy for people to derail the process through disagreement – intentionally or unintentionally. Take in feedback, but realize that you may not be able to get all the way home through consensus. In fact, you probably won’t get consensus so be sure to make clear how the decision making process will work.

Rolling your rebranding effort out

If you have not rebranded a product or company before, one of the first things you will note when you start to take stock of rolling it out is the sheer volume of places your name and/or logo exists. Even if you are a small company – it’s everywhere: contracts, banking, signage, web sites, documents, email signatures. Don’t underestimate the time needed to track down and revise these assets, as well as the the cost.

At Delphic, we continually suffer from cobbler’s children syndrome. For that reason, we decided on a rolling rollout. Key items like the domain name change, website, invoices, etc were tackled first. In fact, we are still rolling out items a couple months later. Not ideal, but you make do.

Do you have some perspective on your efforts? I’d love to hear them.

Digital Agency Metrics

I’ll probably write about this topic on many occasions. I’ve owned a digital agency for eight (8) years now. I’ve been in the interactive industry for close to twenty (20) (eeek). Being a bit of a data wonk, you would think by now that I would have the right metrics down cold to measure the agency’s performance. I do and I don’t.

Let’s start with what I consider the key elements to even try to measure in some way, shape or form:

  • Financial performance – you got to make money 
  • Client satisfaction – happy clients make great advocates
  • Employee satisfaction – happy employees produce great work
  • Delivery performance – the work we actually produce, how long it takes, how good it is, etc.
  • Sales & Marketing effectiveness – you must feed the beast

What I have learned over time is that you cannot provide too much data or it is overwhelming to people who are not knee deep in it. So, I have tried to boil it down to the one’s I find pack the most punch. These metrics and perhaps more importantly, their cross section can help you to rather quickly assess the health of an interactive agency. They are:

  • Revenue – actual and forecast 
  • Gross Margin 
  • EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxes)
  • Employee Satisfaction
  • Client Satisfaction 
  • Utilization Rate 
  • Cash on Hand (and Debt) 

I’d love to have or see good industry benchmarks for this stuff. I’ve searched repeatedly, and have found some, but generally you need to look really hard for digital agency specific stuff. Certainly you can get some data from SoDA4 A‘s and the like.

I’ll pick up my thoughts on actual benchmarking in another post. Anybody else found a good source of this stuff?