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September 27, 2022

Mission Multiplier – When is it Time to Rebrand? Part 2

Jane Pfeiffer

Hello. I’m Jane Pfeiffer, founder and president of Fieldtrip. Today, I’m going to continue the story of rebranding the agency and how the lessons I learned might apply to you in your nonprofit or purpose-driven organization. Having a strong brand makes everything easier. And a strong brand is much more than just that visual marker logo. It’s the organization’s face, it’s the personality, it’s the values, it’s how you deliver your mission, how you reach out and ask for help. It’s the promises that you have to the people that you serve internally and externally, and it brings along intangible feelings and sentiment with it. So it’s important to get it right.

When I started the agency that’s now known as Fieldtrip, I had what I thought were big dreams, but in retrospect may have been a little too modest. I picked a name very quickly and broke most branding rules. I just simply didn’t know it at the time. The name of the agency was “strADegy.” So rule number one, don’t use a word for your brand name that is used commonly in the industry that you work in. So we create strADegy. We build strategies in our name with strADegy. Number two, don’t use a misspelling because you think it’s cute or quirky, or makes media buying appear to be a little more interesting and fun and don’t create a brand that only makes sense or can be understood when you see it in one form of media. You could get the name and read it when you saw it in print. But when you heard it on the phone, people didn’t get it. They didn’t understand why it would be spelled that way. You had to explain it. It just didn’t work in every equally and every application. So there are many more rules that I broke, my fault. I’ll own it, but we’ll just stop with those three today.

The reason that we changed is that we added new talent and they taught me things and exposed me to different opportunities to do work. And I fell in love with it. It’s just so exciting. And still, to this day, I love branding and everything that comes along with it. I was naive enough when the team recommended that we change the agency’s name and brand that I just thought since it didn’t seem to be hurting us, we were growing. Why change it really? If it was wrong or broken, there should be pain. And I didn’t feel any pain until one day I did. We had completed at the time what was one of our biggest branding projects: we rebranded 90 plus year old organization called Ale-8. It’s a soft drink beverage made here in Kentucky and distributed as a craft soft drink across the country. We had a great, incredible experience. The client was great to work for, and she was actually presenting at a local conference and telling the story of how she rebranded the organization with our help. So we worked with her to create the presentation deck. She had incredible sales stats to show that not only was the brand beautiful and inspirational, but that the rebrand was working and it was working better than anybody expected. So the presentation was a perfect opportunity for us to sit in the room and enjoy the glow from her accolades and get to talk to new people and win new opportunities until we sat at a table. And she explained that she did this with strADegy. “Oh, I worked with strADegy here and strADegy was a part of helping us redesign our tasting experience.” Everybody in the room thought that the word “strategy” was important to her. They didn’t recognize that she was talking about a company, a business partner, an entity that helped her get the perspective she needed to lift the entire organization. They just simply dismissed it as, hey, she really values strategic thinking and planning. And in that moment, I realized any opportunity we had for accolades or business growth was not going to be realized. Because people didn’t even know we were in the room. People didn’t even know we were connected to that project or that there was any advertising agency that helped her accomplish the goals came back from that launch, and I told the team, “You’ve been right all along, let’s go do it.”

So the team could see it because they they weren’t as emotionally close and tied to it as I was. You know, they were constantly exploring every angle for our clients and realized that the same needed to be done for us. And I thought, well, why do I need to explore every angle? I mean, I’ve been living it every day. Who could know it better than I? So I often refer to the rebrand as the best business decision I never made because the team made it for me. They were able to put that emotion aside and guide us down this path. I became the client and took a backseat. Pushing it off as long as I did made it more costly. Not because checks I had to write, but because of opportunities I lost. And those opportunities actually are more expensive than what it would have been if I could have just written a check to fix the mistake. So it takes tenacity. It’s daunting, and it’s nearly impossible to do it from the inside. You have to have fresh outside perspective that’s looking at it from every angle. And like our name today suggests Fieldtrip. We firmly believe that it’s that outside perspective and the going out and learning and seeing things with new eyes and a new appreciation that only then can we come back and inform decisions and strategy and branding. That’s our promise to everyone that we work with. So we believe in challenging expectations and creating work that works.

And as branding experts, we work with organizations just like yours who are eager to rebrand or who might have heard a few subtle hints along the way that maybe the brand is no longer working as it should. And you have questions. We’d love to have that conversation. Thanks for watching and feel free to visit to sign up for our weekly videos.