Usually I preface remarks about name changes with a true confession: I hate my first name.
To me, Marian is a boring, old school kind of name. It is perfect for someone who loved physics (I hated it) or wanted to be a librarian (couldn't resist that one). If I had a dollar for every time someone said, "Marian the librarian," I'd bag this industry and be a philanthropist and really do good work. I'm just not any of the things I normally associate with the name. So changing names is something I have pondered for decades.
When I arrived at Euro RSCG Worldwide in 2001 my colleagues were already lamenting our name with the same kind of "if onlys" I always felt. Two years later after another merger, imagine an agency called Euro RSCG Middleberg Magnet out in the marketplace trying to scare up clients. Two good brand names, Middleberg and Magnet, get diluted by the alphabet soup of blah-blah-blah.
These days, when first impressions are often the only chance we get to wow potential clients, future employees, or business partners, having such an unwieldy name was daunting. Fast-forward to September 2012, we relaunched with a normal name, Havas PR.
How did we ensure a smooth transition for such a true rebranding? Three words: Lots of preparation. If anything, we oversaturated employees with details about the upcoming change. We over-communicated our primary message, what the name change really signified, which was this: Oneness with our network in this age of collaboration.
We provided templated letters to clients, sent out an email newsletter to our client lists and thousands of marketing contacts, used our global internal newsletter to address employees' concerns and the role they would play in this important repositioning and were absolutely consistent in our messaging. Consistency and over-communication can soothe even the tensest situations.
The positive momentum has been overwhelming - both external and internal. And with such a massive global organization, it's the internal bit that's the real heavy lifting. And now, baggage-free, we became the teenage girl who shed 40 pounds, moved to a new high school for tenth grade and found herself the hit of the hallways, versus the observer sitting with a book, hidden from the teen scene. Hello world, Havas PR is here.
Marian Salzman is CEO of Havas PR, North America.