Agencies rebrand as priorities shift

Direct marketing agencies are updating their names, logos and taglines to emphasize new capabilities in areas they are not traditionally known for, such as digital and social media. 

Northern Lights Direct Response Television rebranded to the simpler Northern Lights Direct last month to reflect that it has moved away from some of its bedrock capabilities. 

“The biggest impetus was the fact that the name no longer reflected our core offerings,” said Sandy French, CEO of Northern Lights Direct. The agency’s new core services include direct marketing through online channels, including social and mobile media, and using the Google Display Network, he says. 

 French added that Northern Lights had years of success using DRTV, but it now sees the medium as just one of many marketing tools. While clients expressed concern just a few years ago that a URL in an infomercial might cannibalize phone sales, they now expect marketers to offer customers many channels to connect with a brand. 

“Successful campaigns today are integrated — online, TV, and maybe direct mail — and customers are choosing how they want to respond,” he said.

Several other agencies have made similar decisions to change their names to a moniker they believe will be less limiting. For instance, E-mail Data Source became eDataSource, while KnowledgeBase Marketing recently rebranded to the more succinct KBM Group. 

Carter Nicholas, CEO of eDataSource, said his firm changed its name to reflect that it has fully embraced Twitter and Facebook marketing, and that the emphasis on “e-mail” was no longer accurate. 

“You can look at the way clients are changing how they manage their e-mail and social media,” he said. “They may have started in different silos, but now they’re so interrelated that they’re actually bringing it together.”

WhitmanHart enacted a more dramatic name change when it rebranded itself Band Digital. Its agency structure changed considerably after it sold an IT consultancy in 2008, resulting in what its president described as a nimble and cutting edge agency. 

“We didn’t want to sound like a white-shoe law firm; we wanted to feel like an agency,” said Chip Weinstein, president of Band Digital, emphasizing that the word “band” was chosen to imply a sense of connection. 

Other agencies have revamped their brand names to create consistency across a range of products and services. That was the goal for both Millward Brown, which changed its name to Firefly Millward Brown in September, and Infogroup, which rebranded across its companies in 2009 to project a united front among its units.

“When it comes to direct marketing, there’s a lot of demand for discipline around tracking and understanding results,” said Slade Kobran, CMO of Infogroup, likening the demand for data consistency to agency consistency. 

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