We’re Rebranding our Branding Agency

Because we’re sick of feeling this way about Parisleaf.

“Wait, after 2020 – do we really need more change?” was the question we asked ourselves when we floated the idea of rebranding Parisleaf. 

Right now might seem like an insane time to “experiment” with a new brand identity after the old one has kept the lights on for so long. Especially when virtually every agency on the planet spent most of this year staring into the abyss and should really be dedicating all their hours to paying client work. 

There’s a sinking sense of shame about rebranding a branding agency. It’s a classic case of the cobbler’s kids having no shoes. We nail branding for our clients all day long, so it’s embarrassing not to have our own brand in order. Even though we understand that companies evolve and branding is a process of refinement, the perfectionist in us wants it ticked off the to-do list forever. 

So why put ourselves through it? Because in our hearts, we knew our brand could be better. More real. More us. We’ve rebranded 2 other times in 10 years. Each time we outgrew our brand, we refined our positioning. And each iteration helped us become clearer on our direction and our Purpose. 

We finally decided that we couldn’t put it off any longer. Parisleaf was due a spring clean – for these reasons. 

People kept saying, “We don’t get it.” 

Our website was a barrier, not a gateway. Even our team had a hard time explaining our process or what makes us different from the slew of other agencies. 

New clients would often say that our work was beautiful or that they loved our latest article, but very few fell in love with our brand. They believed in our reputation, our people, and our process – but in spite of our brand position, not because of it. 

Most of our work comes from having a strong reputation and me putting consistent effort into building relationships. It should be the other way around. Our message just wasn’t landing hard enough. 

Our brand should be working ten times harder than me. I want our new website to literally sweat from the calories it burns finding new inquiries. 

Feeling shame in meetings.

I’m proud of our client work. But at the end of presentations, I was often left wondering: Why isn’t our branding better than anything in our portfolio? Why isn’t our positioning giving people goosebumps instead of triggering a polarizing reaction? 

Everyone wants to be happy and have a sense of Purpose, so our message should resonate with the masses, not the few. But instead, people were misunderstanding and jumping to conclusions about who we are. 

People either assumed that Purpose was “liberal, hippy BS” or they would ask, “Remind me, what do you all do again?” It was taking them months of working with us to understand our service offering.

Answering the question “What are you?”.

I remember going to a conference a couple of years ago. There were 40 agency owners in the room, and we all had to introduce ourselves in one sentence. 

39 people failed to leave a lasting impression… but this one guy stood up and delivered the perfect sentence to introduce his agency. I was jealous.

I’m not going to give it away here. But email me if you’re curious and I’ll reply with the exact elevator pitch that this guy used along with my take on why it works. 

We’ve been in search of that one sentence that describes Parisleaf for our entire existence. We’re not even consistent in how we define our firm. Are we a digital agency, branding agency, creative agency, brand strategy & design company, or what? 

It’s so difficult because a great Profile Statement can’t just describe what we do. It also has to contain a flavor of what we do *for other people* and a sense of Purpose. 

Scared about creating more confusion.

As leaders, it felt embarrassing to change our branding again. Rationally, I know that nobody is waiting for Parisleaf to launch a new website. But worrying about what clients will think can be paralyzing.

There’s also a nagging fear that the end result might create even more confusion. As Michelangelo once said when somebody asked him how he made the statue of David so beautiful: “I just got rid of everything that was ugly.” I knew we just had to get rid of everything superfluous, confusing, or irrelevant in our brand. 

It will always take time and money. 

One of the reasons we haven’t nailed our previous rebrands is because we always bootstrapped it. We always viewed our time as unbillable hours and therefore “wasted.” This mistake probably cost us six figures; the only difference is that we didn’t pay it all at once. 

We also lack the objectivity that we can offer clients. It’s like a dentist trying to give themselves a filling or a hairdresser trimming their own hair – it’s technically possible for a branding agency to rebrand themselves, but takes ten times longer because it’s hard to see what you’re doing. And if you’re going to commit, you definitely can’t stop halfway through.

Moment of honesty: We briefly considered collaborating with another branding agency our last time around, just so we could benefit from their objectivity and hold ourselves accountable.

“Tell me about the owl”.

Ah, Percy. One of the few things we got right. Our owl deserves an honest explanation. As a team, we know in our bones what Percy means to us. 

When we decided to go ahead with Parisleaf’s 3.0 rebrand, Ali and I knew that we owed it to ourselves to create a brand that reflects us as Principals. A brand that has enough of our voice that we can stand behind it 100%. 

We also owed it to our current and future clients. We owed it to our kind, loving, strategic, brilliant team of creatives. And, most of all, we owed it to our owl. 

We’re excited to announce that we’re now well underway with our rebrand. Join our newsletter to be notified when Parisleaf’s new branding goes live.

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