Look closer

Much thought was put into Brokaw Inc.’s new logo.

According to the Cleveland firm’s press materials, the logo’s unfinished letterforms are futuristic, suggesting what is to come. The rounded corners and gray color of the type make the logo feel personable. Its crisp, clean look suggests a clear vision. And the green ”O” represents oneness, the color a tribute to the firm’s heritage.

But on April 1, when Bill Brokaw Advertising became Brokaw Inc., it was much more than a new name and a sleek logo. It was a signal to the industry that founder, president and CEO Bill Brokaw expects his firm to become nationally recognized for its award-winning brand development skills, not just for its clever ads.

”The idea was not to say, ‘Our look is getting old, it’s time to change it,”’ says Tim Wild, Brokaw’s vice president and director of brand planning. ”It’s really a strategic planning exercise. It’s taking a look at where we are and taking a look at what we do and what we do for our clients. It’s about the vision. It’s really a matter of saying to yourself, ‘Well, you either grow or die.”’

Brokaw knew his company did much more than advertising and it was time for its look and mission to reflect its place in the industry.

”It’s not just about great ads anymore,” Brokaw admits. ”What we’re talking about is alignment. Internal audiences, external markets, investors and employees all need to share a common vision of the brand if a business is to optimize its success.”

Wild suggests the following steps for company owners looking to reposition their companies with a new identity and direction in the industry.

Soul searching

Brokaw’s new look and philosophy materialized after a score of meetings with its top executive team and personal analysis by its founder. Planning needs to start internally with an investigation of what your values are, creating a sense of purpose and the perceptions of the outside world.

Determine what’s important,” Wild says. ”The identity itself becomes a result of that. It’s funny because we actually do that sort of work for clients. We don’t believe it’s ever about just creating a new logo. We would challenge our clients to look at where their company is going.”

Get help

There are many resources for owners considering a new direction for their company. Wild recommends ”Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies,” by James Collins and Jerry Porras. While he didn’t follow the book to the letter, it gave Brokaw and his team ideas to consider during their planning.

Of course, nobody knows your company better than you do, so if you don’t think you need outside help, you’re probably right.

”If you’re a strategic-minded individual, you should be perfectly comfortable doing it,” Wild says. ”But let’s say you’re running a manufacturing firm and you’re really just worried about getting the orders out the door. You might need some help.”

Set goals

A new identity and a refined mission are nice, but you need to partner specific, ambitious goals with the aesthetic changes. Brokaw set the mark to increase his firm’s annual billings over the next three years to $60 million from the current $38 million.

He also intends to increase his share of national and international clients to 75 percent of his company’s roster. About 40 percent of Brokaw’s clients are currently outside Northeast Ohio.

”You’re dealing with the perceptions of the outside world,” Wild says. ”Bill Brokaw Advertising, people in the area knew it as a creative hotshot. We were confident in that perception, but we were more than that and we were actually doing more than that.

”For any company, it would be establishing where you want to be, what services you really provide and how you’re currently perceived.”

How to reach: Brokaw Inc., (216) 241-8003