What’s in a name?

Jim Bowes
CEO of Manifesto

I’ve been part of The Panoply’s journey since before our IPO. As the CEO of Manifesto, one of the founding four companies of The Panoply, I joined Neal and Olly in pitching to investors to raise the money for the IPO that helped kickstart the journey to where we are today.

Throughout that journey, people have found it hard to say ‘The Panoply’ and quite hard to understand what we do. I’ve been involved in plenty of conversations about changing our name, but The Panoply worked, investors liked it and its meaning of ‘an impressive collection’ felt right for who we were. But now, our vision is growing…

Representing our vision

Ultimately, a brand is the perception that people hold about you in their mind. The work you do to build a brand is a representation of your vision, values, personality and the promise your organisation makes in the work it does (and the reality after you’ve done it!). We now have an opportunity to name the organisation, describe what we do and work over time to make that perception one that represents the new vision for the organisation – impactful work, responsibly delivered, at scale.

When it was announced we would come together as a single organisation under a single brand it was clear that building a new brand with a new name would be a big challenge. Lots of companies have joined the group, all with their own way of talking about what they do, their own outlook, marketing and heritage. 

As part of the change programme, I agreed to play a role in helping facilitate that transition by taking us through the creation and launch of a new brand, working closely with people from every company.

Here is an outline of the steps involved in this work.

1) Creating a brand

Firstly, we need to be called something, so the focus of our work so far has been finding a name. A brand is much more than a name, but a name is important. 

Often before you develop a name you’d do more work on your brand promise and customer value proposition, but our launch date means we’ve done this work in parallel. We’ve fed insight from who we are and what we want to be into the naming process. Crucially, we also need a name we can protect. Lots of names are already taken and this has a big impact on the process we’re using, which includes directly involving an IP Lawyer as we shortlist options and research if we could trademark the name we choose.

So far we’ve run creative workshops internally and used stakeholder interviews and feedback from a wide selection of people inside the organisation to help with the development of the brand. We’ll also be bringing customer insight into this, working closely with the customer value proposition workstream. 

From here we’ll develop a visual identity, a brand personality and tone of voice and brand guidelines.

At the moment we’ve been through several rounds of shortlisting names with many we’ve liked being ruled out for various reasons (this might include sounding too like a competitor, under-representing part of what we offer, not being easy enough to say, or existing trademark registrations). 

We’re hoping to have a clear way forward imminently at which point we’ll start the registration process. From here people can challenge our trademark application for up to 3 months – this window expands past our launch date meaning we need to select a name we’re confident of being able to protect. 

2) Launching a brand 

The work to launch our new brand starts with identifying who we want to talk to. 

We have a wide range of people to speak to whether that’s in specific sectors (health, government, not for profit, commercial) where we want to demonstrate our true understanding of their situation; investors where we want to show ourselves as a cohesive purpose-driven business with a clear vision; or potential employees where we want to show why they should join us and the impact our work has.

Ultimately this part of the work is about selecting the right mix of marketing, the right campaigns, and the right actions to drive the maximum benefit we can within the budget we have. That might be through an influencing campaign that means a small collection of CEOs know who we are or through a much larger campaign that drives broader awareness.

Our current plan is to test and learn with our new messaging through the autumn and accelerate our marketing during the first few months of 2022. 

3) Transitioning from our existing brands

We plan to have moved away from all of the existing brands in the group by the end of March 2022. This means working out how to move existing clients, networks and prospects over to the new brand. It also means thinking carefully about the marketing activity we do under existing brands.

At the moment as we haven’t launched the new brand we need to keep existing marketing activity going – whilst considering the overall benefit of what we’re doing. 

It’s likely as part of the transition we’ll update existing externally facing profiles from the point of the new brand launch, we’ll then ramp up activity under the new brand and reduce marketing under the existing brands.

This is a critical part of our move to a single organisation – because we want to transfer as much of the value built in the existing brands to the new one as we can. 

4) Building our new brand

Once we’ve launched the new brand the real work over weeks, months and years begin to build a brand and a company that’s trusted, does what it says it’s going to do and that represents all of us and makes clients proud to work with us.

As we develop a clearer view of our organisational structure we’ll know more about the team that will take on the ownership of the brand and the marketing of the organisation moving forward.

It’s the work this team and the whole organisation will do over an extended period that will really help us build an enduring brand that encapsulates who we are and what we do.

Jim Bowes
CEO of Manifesto