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BRANDING NEWS: Rebrand of the month - Cision

In early April, reputation management and media intelligence firm Observer Group, integrated all 10 of its subsidiary companies under the name Cision in order to build a unified global brand and offer a consistent international service to its clients.

Romeike, its UK subsidiary – part of the Observer Group since 1998 – works to manage the organisation's reputation and its media communications through media research, media monitoring and evaluation services.

Headquartered in London, Romeike (now Cision UK) forms part of a leading global player in the media intelligence market. Cision has a total base of 40 offices containing approximately 2700 employees and an annual turnover of £138 million.

However, despite Cision UK's prominent status in the market, prior to its rebrand, clients were understood to be dissatisfied at its level of innovation and customer service.

Bruce Mcgill, head of marketing at Cision UK says, “Before rebranding, Cision operated under 10 different brand names in 13 countries. This approach was confusing for our clients and for the market. The parent brand, Observer, could not be used in all regions because of legal reasons, so the only realistic option was to rebrand under a name that could be used in all our markets. Operating under one common name will support our globalisation efforts, satisfying the strong demand for integrated international solutions. A lot of our clients are focused on the requirements of reputation management and brand management, which in the 21st century has to be managed on a global basis,” states Mcgill.

To support its plans, Cision tasked global brand consulting firm Landor Associates, which has worked on the rebranding of companies such as FedEx, Accenture and BP Amoco to create a new identity for the company, its logo and brand guidelines.

In addition, it produced a new website and all corporate stationary collateral.

Landor Associates conducted research into the make up of the Cision customer base and the competition in the marketplace.

Its clients are predominately made up of communication and PR professionals, responsible for managing their organisation's reputation and PR campaigns. They range in a cross-sector of industry, from financial services, retail, IT to telecoms.

The research indicated that Cision had a distinctive position within the competitive landscape in terms of the depth and breadth of its offering. The problem was that this offering was not understood by its customer base or the wider industry.

It was decided therefore that the rebrand would address this lack of awareness by creating a single brand identity that carried a consistent message.

A rose by any other name

Following this research, Landor Associates began the process of creating a new identity. The agency considered three key criteria including whether it was strategic, whether it was legally viable and if it would work linguistically?

Six hundred potential names were filtered to 60 that fitted the selection criteria. After carrying out trademark checks, legal searches and detailed reviews of each candidate, the name Cision was chosen.

“The main attraction to the chosen name Cision was its clear association with the word 'decision' and that Cision delivers media intelligence that helps its clients make better informed business decisions,” states Mcgill.

He adds that by choosing a totally new name it worked as “an empty vessel”, enabling a clean break from the past and the opportunity to clearly define what the global brand stands for. The risk with this approach he points out, is the, “possibility of losing a clear sense of identity and clients becoming confused about what the new brand stands for. It is important to address this risk with very clear and consistent communication both internally and externally”.

Ten become one

To create the corporate identity, Landor Associates focused on two conceptual directions that were representative of the brand. These centred on the themes of dialogue and guidance.

“Dialogue represented the exchange of ideas and information between clients and Cision. Guidance was a reference to the advisory nature of the relationship that Cision has with some clients,” claims Mcgill.

The logo was designed to look clean and simple using a “strong dark blue for the word Cision to convey trust and confidence.”

An arrow icon was then utilised to symbolise “direction, momentum and innovation.”

According to Mcgill, the brand strap line 'Media intelligence. Communication insights' aimed to clearly identify where the organisation has come from and where it is heading in the future.

Mcgill says, “Media intelligence is descriptive of the core service provided by the company in all its main markets and will be a familiar description for existing clients.

'Communication insights' describes the more strategic services provided by the company, which may be less familiar to the majority of existing clients. It was important that the strap line retained a link with the present, while clearly indicating the future direction of the company.”

Looking inside-out

To cement the new brand and its ethos into the minds of clients and staff, internal staff briefings took place prior to the launch day to inform and update them on the changes.

On 2 April 2007, the official launch day, all staff received a launch pack that included detailed information on functional tasks such as changing their voicemail messages, email signatures and answering the phone. Additionally, there were presentations as well as a short video, which explained the rebrand rationale in each office.

Mcgill says, “Ensuring good internal understanding and acceptance of the new brand was a critical part of the project. If there was no internal buy-in then external understanding and acceptance would be badly compromised.”

In addition, all clients received either a letter or an email on the launch day, broadcasting the change and providing a call-to-action to the corporate website to seek out further information.

Moving on to the next stage of activity, Cision plans to run an ad campaign in relevant trade publications, as well as banner ads on industry portals.

Mcgill concludes, “Over the next twelve months, our new name and brand identity amplifies the power of our integrated solutions and sets us apart from our competitors.

“Using it consistently builds recognition for our company and enhances the value of our global brand. For our clients it simplifies our brand and delivers a solution from one global provider.”


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