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The Rebrand Cliché                                  

Before joining Sutherland, I always felt that it was such a cliché for CMOs to redesign their logos as one of their first orders of business. In my head, I compared it to when someone opens the hood of a car and stands over the engine when the car breaks down; it sends the signal, “I know there’s a problem and I’m working on it!” Even though they actually have no idea what the problem is – or how to fix it.

So despite the obvious need to redesign the Sutherland logo (it hadn’t been touched in nearly 30 years), I resisted the rebranding effort, hoping to engage my brain on headier challenges –  org design, our technology stack – anything other than the logo. But after a day or two of resisting, it became clear that too much work would be delayed without a new logo and visual ID system.

Today, I’m happy to write that I’ve changed my mind about that CMO cliché. The work that Sutherland is doing today is innovative and forward-looking and the 30-year-old logo didn’t give the team proper credit for everything we’ve built, what we’re doing and where we’re going. Growing up on the advertising side, I used to think that a billboard or 30-second spot was the most succinct expression of one’s marketing strategy. Nope. Nothing will help refine your strategy more than designing a wordmark and logo. With very little real estate, no layout, no sound design, no famous Director of Photography, the logo stands alone.

Redesigning the logo and visual ID system also reminded me of how much creative teams benefit from new assets to play with. Teams that appeared bored and bruised from cranking out the same old work for years were now creatively re-engaged and prolific with new ideas.

Most importantly, after not having done a top-to-bottom rebrand in many years, I had forgotten how much a new logo reinvigorates the entire culture of a company. Across Sutherland, we began unpacking issues that hadn’t been unpacked in a long time and discussing competencies and advantages that were pushed aside to make room for new shiny objects. In the end, the amount of energy and engagement that a simple, new logo generated for us is immeasurable – and definitely disproportionate to the energy and time it took to create.

In the end, I’m now happily part of my own cliché. Sutherland’s culture is one that examines intricacies and transforms process. Our culture begins within our walls, but is woven into all of the resulting work we undertake for our clients. Redesigning our visual identity was a natural place to begin our own process transformation.

Special thanks to the team at Global Brand Works for their inspired work during this process.