Reflections on a rebrand

To Armstrong McGuire’s regular readers, hello and let me introduce myself! I’m Ann—Founder and Director of Brand at Powell. 

My team and I just had the distinct pleasure of working with this awesome group to refresh a power brand that’s been decades in the making. And what an adventure it’s been. We wanted to take a moment to pause, reflect, and really savor this thing that was an incredibly meaningful opportunity for us. 

So I’m dropping in to share a little behind the scenes sneak-peek at what went into this project (and why it stands out as a really special one).

Was Armstrong McGuire the right client for us?

A million times, “yes.”

Our first clue was a referral from a trusted partner and friend, which carries a ton of weight in our decision process. But we always put every opportunity through the same analysis when deciding whether or not it may be a fit.

While we always have an in-depth discovery conversation, we start with a high-level set of criteria:

  1. Do they appreciate the importance of brand and understand how critical it is to a successful culture and business?
  2. Is the organization open to change, from the top down? 
  3. Are they at a crossroads in their journey?
  4. Are they excited for what is to come?
  5. Are they good people doing good work?

When we assessed Armstrong McGuire, they didn’t check just one box—they checked them all. 


The stars—and our philosophies—aligned.

Of course, nothing is as simple as a handful of yes/no questions. It’s also a gut feeling—when you just know that a partnership was meant to be.

When we first spoke with the folks at Armstrong McGuire, we could tell that our collective ethos was aligned. They are genuinely happy people, doing great work. For Armstrong McGuire, that happens to mean equipping nonprofit and philanthropic organizations to maximize their impact in the community, which was icing on the cake for us.

We were excited to partner with a group of people who had already built a great brand and culture, and who walked in the core values and beliefs many companies just hang on the wall.

More than just a logo

Energized from our initial meetings, we got down to the business of branding, starting with identifying the team’s goals for growth. We knew our challenge was to capture 18 years of equity and turn it into momentum for the next 18+. No pressure.

Our approach included naming, research, strategy and positioning, branding, and finally, the brand rollout.


Naming

It’s no spoiler alert that we didn’t ultimately go there. However, when we are working with a legacy brand that is turning its focus toward the future, an objective analysis of the name has to be part of the conversation. 

For example: When a brand has 18 years of equity in the market and a company name shared by the late founder, do you change the name to embrace the future or do you honor their origin story? 

After careful consideration, we decided the equity and reputation the firm had built to date was too valuable to leave behind. We recommended the brand keep its name and use it as an opportunity to honor its late co-founder Tom McGuire.


Research

One of the most interesting insights we uncovered during our research phase was the level of misconception around Armstrong McGuire’s nonprofit status. This consulting firm lives, breathes, and occupies such a presence in the nonprofit space that people tend to group it together with the nonprofit and philanthropic organizations it serves. To alleviate this misconception, we put a heavy focus on the needs, expectations and perceptions of the firm's various audiences as we crafted our messaging.


Strategy & Positioning

The Armstrong McGuire team made it clear from the beginning that their clients were the real heroes (which, if we’re being honest, only makes us love them more). It’s also one of the factors that led us to position them squarely in the classic mentor/guide archetype. We prioritized honesty, human-ness, and joy for our brand tone of voice.


Branding

Finally, the part of the process the rest of the world would see. From color palette to font choices to logo design, we wanted the aesthetic of Armstrong McGuire to maintain the legacy of the past while expressing the momentum of a brand that is enthusiastically embracing the future.


From start to finish, and for the next 18 years.

From the initial discovery call through all-hands-on-deck brand launch sessions, working with this team has been a dream. Not only do they know who they are and where they want to go, they remain completely aligned as a team. 

As branding experts, this made our job easy. Does that mean we took it easy on them? Absolutely not. 

This team is curious, ready, and open to change. They were brave about doing things differently and ready to explore what’s possible for the future.

Now that we’ve introduced the new brand to the world, the real journey begins. 


We’re embarking on an ongoing marketing adventure with clients who feel more like friends and teammates. We can’t wait to see what the next 18 years holds for this incredible firm.

Ann Powell

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