This time last year we made the decision to rebrand our creative company. After ten years of working as a successful, but sometimes anarchic art and design agency, we felt changes needed to be made. Our arts programme and graphic design work no longer supported each other and we were pulling in two different directions. We needed focus and for some of us, the room to concentrate on doing what we love, design.
The decision to rebrand, and the process itself has changed us for the better. But for the first time ever, we stood truly in our client’s shoes. We experienced their excitement and fear and finally understood what it is to take such a giant leap into the unknown.
Each stage of the rebrand process taught us something new about our company and our team. It highlighted real issues in the way we promoted and portrayed ourselves while also emphasising those areas that we genuinely feel we’re a success in.
I hope we don’t have to go through something like this ever again, but I’m glad that we did. I’d like to share that process with you.
We thought long and hard about splitting our agency, Mercy into its two constituent parts. It is a decision that’s been over 12 months in the making.
Mercy has been an enormous part of our lives for ten years. We launched it as a way of maintaining the close relationships we’d formed through university and it’s been an integral part of how we identify ourselves in our city, Liverpool, and our professional network. The self employed and business owners amongst you will know how much time and emotion is invested into realising your vision, and the thought of cutting loose and starting over is a scary one.
But as Mercy the design studio, the arts organisation, and the creative agency has grown in profile it has become increasingly harder to hold our identity together.
Mercy as an arts organisation has got it spot on. Under Nathan Jones’ guidance it has grown in ambition and scope – from an outlet for our arty parties and ravey exhibitions into something much more niche, mature and intelligent. Nathan’s focus is what kept Mercy on it’s current trajectory and it felt obvious for Mercy to continue as an arts organisation.
As designers, the past couple of years have been revelatory for us. We’ve been at it for a long time, with the past three being a steep steep learning curve. This summer we sat down and took stock…
- We looked at who we used to work for and who we work for now, and who we’ve always worked for.
- We looked at where our money was coming from.
- We looked at the jobs we’d been most happy with, and the work we’d been most frustrated with.
- We looked long and hard at ourselves and what we are really good at, and what we are just ok at.
We’d shifted from lots of small to medium clients with small budgets to a few big clients. We worked for these clients in a very different way. We were more strategically engaged with them on a day-to-day basis, and in return had our opinions and ideas trusted to a greater extent.
In business terms, we’d hit puberty and failed to notice.
Being honest, this shift in who and how we work really threw me, as I’d not kept on top of what we were saying as an organisation. An enormous percentage of our work comes from recommendations – which is great, but extremely hard to measure. It’s hard to plan for the future if you know work will come in, but not when and from where.
By the end of the summer we had a much clearer idea of what kind of studio we were and it was time to give ourselves an identity.