Brands aren’t invented, they’re revealed



May 1st 2013 marks a watershed moment in FleishmanHillard history as we unveil the next generation of the FleishmanHillard brand.

For many, the concept of branding goes largely unnoticed. It merely exists to distinguish competing products or organisations in an ever more clustered marketplace. “There’s the logo – that’s the yoghurt I buy.” The term itself derives from the method by which farmers used to literally ‘brand’ or mark their cattle in an effort to keep track of them and distinguish them from those of another farmer.

But we’ve come to realise that a brand is more than just a mark on the rear end of a cow or a stamp on a yoghurt pot – whether we like it or not.

Branding results from a set of associations, perceptions or attachments that a person (or group of people) makes with a company, product, service, individual or organisation – often subliminally. Such associations may be actively promoted by an organisation or equally they may be unintended. Put at its simplest, branding is understanding these perceptions.

So when you’re crafting your own brand, with meticulous attention to detail and a consideration as to how it might be perceived across cultures and continents, this is what you have to keep in mind. While branding can’t give your company complete control over how it is perceived, the basic principle of being clear about what you are and what you stand for will always apply.

So why refresh?

That’s what today’s FleishmanHillard brand refresh is all about. The new image of our firm doesn’t really change who we are as a company day to day – it is simply an outward reflection of a transformation that has been taking place for a number of years at FleishmanHillard – a brand isn’t invented, it’s revealed.

And it’s about time too. Our brand was last refreshed more than two decades ago in 1990, when the world was a very different place: the planet was locked in a sustained state of Cold War political and military tension; only 0.25% of the global population owned a mobile phone; the Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody topped the charts (back when you had to leave your house to buy a record!); and Mark Zuckerberg was learning to tie his shoe laces.

And after the last two decades the world of communications is largely unrecognisable too. The invention of the internet has given rise to an information age where the constant threat of obsolescence has become a driver for businesses and economies alike (Whatever happened to MySpace?!). An unrelenting digital revolution has redefined the very nature of communications, radically changing the way both individuals and companies interact and gather their information – I genuinely do not how people got anything done before Google was conjured up.

That’s all well and good but what’s this got to do with Brussels? Within a Public Affairs context, branding has never been more important as a means of signalling clearly that we have the strategic vision, capabilities and talent to best serve our clients. With the effects of the global financial crisis omnipresent, our brand now expresses that we’re moving closer towards our goal of becoming the world’s most complete communications company, happy to transcend the ‘safe’, stable and traditional communications boundaries.

The power of true…

You may also have noticed that our logo post-face lift is now accompanied by a revised tagline: the power of true. As far as abstract corporate mottos go, it succinctly typifies what FleishmanHillard is all about: transparency, authenticity, and ethical standards, both in terms of our legacy of service to our clients, and the way we’re structured and operate internally. And, for us here in Brussels, the power of true could not be a more fitting guiding principle – a magnet for both our employees and our clients, particularly amidst the ‘added value of public affairs’ debate and the strive for transparent and ethically sound advocacy.

So this brand refresh is more than just look and feel and letterheads (although, admittedly, we are all relishing the prospect of a fresh batch of branded pens, mugs and umbrellas). For a select group of FleishmanHillard branding experts, today marks the culmination of a lot of hard work, and for all FleishmanHillard employees throughout more than 80 offices in 29 countries, today brings to an end months of speculation and anticipation.

We’re pretty happy with it – be sure to keep a look out for it in and around Brussels and let us know what you think. Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll introduce you to the more nuanced aspects of the brand’s overhaul and offer you an insight into how the changes could impact you.



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May 13, 2013 | 6:45 PM

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Mark Johnston
May 11, 2013 | 12:35 PM

In Brussels, branded umbrellas are always good investment!