Our Rebrand #3: Agree Direction

This blog is part of a series on our recent agency rebrand. But let me summarise the story so far:

  1. We felt it was time to rebrand Fifty Five and Five. It was long overdue.
  2. We put the groundwork into figuring out our current brand positioning. With a lot of collaboration across our teams.

And here we are. Step 3: agreeing a direction for the brand and putting together a visual identity. Within this, the first part of the process was to construct the right framework.



From our research and groundwork, we were able to create a framework and start the creative process for our new visual identity.

This framework set us up to design something that:

  • Matched our company ambition
  • Needed to feel consistent and translate complexity
  • Needed to have a direct correlation between our behaviours, the story and the visual look
  • Created a statement that we could always refer to keep us on track

“A visual identity that reflects the ambitious, complex and dynamic nature of the company”


Competitor analysis & axis

We researched our market and competitors heavily, delving deep into their brands:

  • Discovering their Brand Heart's – What are these companies’ purpose, vision, mission, values?
  • Understanding their Strengths & Weaknesses
  • The similarities to Fifty Five and Five
  • The differences to Fifty Five and Five
  • Learning their business threats
  • Deciphering their Value Propositions
  • Breaking down their visual brand elements

Based on this competitor research we were able to place where we thought Fifty Five and Five were on a competitor axis based on our framework.

This allowed us to see where we were and where we wanted to be, and the challenges that we faced to get there.


Colour wheel

Based on our competitor research, we then looked at potential opportunities we could exploit that would give us a distinctive look when matched up alongside companies that occupy a similar space. For our colour wheel above, we delved into their palettes to pull out the most prominent colours that defined them.


Visual inspiration

To start building a visual identity organically, we knew we needed to be open to as many different styles as possible.

By sourcing different types of creative styles (from typography and illustration to digital and print executions) and placing them on the same axis we used for our competitors, we could see the styles we thought might help us get to where we wanted to be.

This collation would also provide us with the inspiration we needed to move into the next phase: brand routes.

You can find out more about our brand routes and the work that went into creating them in our next instalment of the Fifty Five and Five Rebrand Project. Don’t forget to check back for more content on our journey from where we started to where we’re going – why not sign up for our newsletter? And, as always, if you want to drop us a line to talk about your marketing journey, we’re just a click away.

Our Rebrand #2: A digital marketing rebrand for our next phase of growth

We’ve been around for almost a decade, and we hadn’t taken a close look at our brand since the first iteration of the company. Depending on who you ask, we either felt we didn’t need to or we desperately did. We’ve been pretty successful over the years and the work we do for clients continues to go from strength to strength.

In fact, it’s our client work that has caused us to outgrow the former iteration of our brand. The work we do today is more comprehensive, more challenging, and it’s for bigger brands. And we realised we needed to overhaul how we look and how we express ourselves to fit with the type of company we are today. But there’s something else at play here too. We’re marketing experts. And we love nothing more than digging into a new client and really discovering who they are and what they need and the best way of getting it for them. And it was about time we gave that sort of focus to the place that brings us all together and that we’re so proud of.

We tailor every proposal to the needs of the client’s brief. This tailoring has meant we’ve naturally refined how we look and sound. We’ve also evolved how we devise and execute our internal marketing year on year. But without decent guidelines, the brand is open to interpretation and, honestly, has been diluted over the years.

But our experts haven’t had the chance to get their mitts on the Fifty Five and Five brand in its entirety.

The evolution of us

As mentioned, our growth has meant the type of work we do has changed. The number of people who do that work has expanded. In fact, when we really get down to it, we’ve changed a lot since our fledgling first years. Save for the founder and a couple of diehard employees who’re part of the furniture, we’re a completely new cohort of people than when the first version of the company was devised.

Getting high on our own supply

What was our first step? Well, we treated ourselves like we would any of our clients. And that meant working hard to understand:

  • What our current brand represented
  • Did our current brand fit with who we are now?
  • What brands do we feel most connected to?
  • What makes us unique?
  • Did the current brand match our ambitions?

We’re a great marketing agency (if we do say so) and the work we do for our clients delivers excellence. We’re excellent at building long-lasting relationships with our clients thanks to the time and effort we put in to really understand them. So, we wanted to instil that belief into the fibres of our brand.

One of the aspects that makes us a great place to work (and work with) is our melting pot of experts with different backgrounds and perspectives. It was important that we brought in the thoughts, opinions and perceptions of everyone who works here.

A survey for your thoughts?

We wanted to take a critical look at our brand, and who better to ask than the people, the voices that make up our very existence as a company? The goal here was to find insights from as much data as possible. So, understanding how our people viewed us was a great starting point.

Our rebrand needed to be based on two specific elements:

  1. The Big Growth Plan
  2. The People

Our questionnaire focused on what did or didn't make our people connect with the current brand. We wanted to find out what personal connections they have with other brands both in the world of B2B technology and the wider world outside our industry. This was important for our redesign, but also helped us understand our colleagues better and make sure that the new brand clicked with the group. Brand loyalty is not only a concept for customers. If your employees don’t believe in what you’re doing, it’s hard to bring them along on the journey.

The idea was to gather people’s honest and unchallenged thoughts through a set of designed questions and begin to pull quotes and patterns from the answers. From there we could pick stand-out information and begin to create foundational statements and form a framework that could eventually be brought to life.

“The brand needs to be…”

Our framework provided us with the foundation for building our brand as well as being a guide to consistently come back to make sure we were staying on track.

Colours and competitors

An important part of any brand or company examination is to understand what your competitors are doing. From the data we had begun to collect we were able to conduct several exercises drawing certain insights around:

  • Competitor research – looking at our competitors from a variety of touchpoints, including tone of voice, visual style and brand values
  • Current brand positioning – comparing our current brand to our competitors, finding where we sit and where we want to be
  • Colour wheel – the potential visual areas to exploit to make us stand out from the crowd
  • Visual inspiration – using our framework, plotting visual styles on an axis to find elements that fit with our needs

From here we developed the beginnings of a colour wheel and the first steps towards visual inspiration. Which then laid the foundation for our tentative first routes of the new brand. Things were getting exciting.

Half the battle is in your head

There’s the balance of pushing your preconceptions to the side (especially as our designers and other teams work here and know the place as a very specific thing) and concentrating on hitting the brief.  You have to have the ability to detach and be cold in your judgements while letting your imagination off the leash. To be able to step away from the company you work for and put yourself in the customers’ or prospects’ shoes.

That’s what we’ve done, and we’re excited to see what you think.

The new Fifty Five and Five brand is hurtling towards completion. Look out for more content on our journey from where we started to where we’re going. And, as always, if you want to drop us a line to talk about your marketing journey, we’re just a click away.

Our Rebrand #1: “Can we rebrand the agency, please?”

Barnaby Ellis, Head of Creative:

If you work for, or follow, any company long enough you will almost certainly experience some sort of rebranding exercise. From small tweaks that some people might not even notice to total overhauls, these can be contentious projects for everyone involved - customers and employees alike.

The new branding for the UK’s national broadcaster, the BBC, is a great example of the fuss that can ensue. In October 2021, the corporation made a subtle tweak to the main logo. It also overhauled the individual identities of its sub-brands - its TV channels and its online apps (news, sport, iPlayer, Sounds, etc.). The changes may have gone unnoticed by the casual viewer, but they had some people up in arms. So why the controversy?

First, when it comes to visual design, everyone has an opinion. Ask multiple groups of people their opinion and you will get multiple, often conflicting, answers. "I love it", "I hate it", "It’s nice".

Second, people don’t like change. This is certainly true for a major broadcaster that interacts with millions of people every day. But it is also true for smaller brands and companies. And it definitely affects employees of those companies. What was wrong with what we had?

And thirdly, rebrands cost money and take time. For an organisation like the BBC, which is funded by the British taxpayer, both of these factors can become a national debate. But the same debates are often had by any brand or company that is devoting efforts to this sort of project. Haven’t they got more important things to do? What a distraction. What’s the ROI?

So, what has that got to do with me and the company I work for? Because we’re going through a rebrand right now, and it was instigated by me.

Confession time. I’ve never liked our branding. I love the name and the story and how it is relevant to everything we do. But it is really really long when spelt out. I have never understood the kerning between the f-t-y of fifty. And the colour is a bit meh.

But more fundamentally the brand doesn’t reflect the company we are today, let alone our ambitions for the next 5+ years. Eight years ago our client base was mainly small to medium-sized Microsoft Partners. Alongside those companies we now create campaigns, build tools, develop websites and run social media for some of the biggest tech brands in the world - Google, NTT, WWT, Dell and even Microsoft themselves.

We also do a lot of brand and web work for our clients. And in the back of my head, I am always a bit nervous that these companies will look at our branding and website and judge us. If they do then they won’t see the company we are, feel the passion we put into our work, get a flavour of the experience of working with us, or have confidence in the results we can deliver.

So I decided to bite the bullet and suggest we overhaul the brand. The first step was to pitch the idea to Chris, Fifty Five and Five’s owner/founder.

Chris is incredibly open to suggestions and changes to the way that we work. I think it is one of the reasons everyone loves working here. We are always looking inwards and thinking about how we can improve how we do things. Nothing is sacred (except the name!)

But there is something personal about creating a business and a brand and then having someone else come in and criticise it. The business is Chris’ baby. He even designed the current logo (maybe he can answer the kerning question?!).

As with the BBC example, I knew such a project would face questions.

So (almost) everyone at Fifty Five and Five does have an opinion. After all, this is the industry we all work in. This is why we have involved everyone in the process - from surveying their thoughts at the start to sharing the work and getting feedback during - the input of the team has been invaluable.

This broad involvement has also helped deal with any internal resistance to change. Though I have to say, one of the great things about this project is the broad understanding that it’s long overdue!

So, after the faux horror of criticising his baby, Chris had questions, especially around cost and timelines. And the answers were: "it is going to be more expensive and take longer than you think". Why? Because for the first time in the company’s history we’re going to do it properly, from the ground up.

Chris is open and reasonable, but we don’t have bottomless pockets or a team sitting around twiddling their thumbs. He does understand the importance of doing this work well. He appreciates the thoroughness of our approach (the 55!), has engaged with the process throughout and is excited with the results. Not only is he itching to launch but every day he is pitching in a new idea for how we do this.

There is another benefit I haven’t touched on yet. A rebrand can not only impact the industry you work in but it can also have a profound effect inside the business. It can reinvigorate and inspire the team. If we can all have even a fraction of the excitement that Chris has about our new brand then this will spark great things. Hopefully this fawning end will cover my earlier confessions about the current brand...

Chris Wright, Founder:

When Barnaby first suggested we needed a rebrand my immediate reaction was - haven’t we just done that? I was referring to the new website we built a year ago. We updated some colours and the imagery on the website. Everything else stayed the same. Including the logo.

His answer was no. And then he proceeded to tell me that not only was the brand dated, but it also didn’t reflect who we were today, and it could even be holding us back. You’ve read these comments above, I assume, so I won’t elaborate further.

As he was speaking a number of thoughts went through my head:

  • The brand isn’t dated.
  • We have changed a lot over the last few years.
  • We don’t have time to do something like this.
  • We can manage as we are for now. Let’s focus on leads.
  • Is the brand dated?
  • This is the sort of project agencies spend months and months on, with very little results.
  • Hmm, the brand is dated, isn’t it?
  • We don’t have time.
  • Do we have time?
  • Ahh... we should really consider this, shouldn’t we?
  • I designed that logo! It’s my baby.

The thoughts above flashed by in about 20 seconds. By the time Barnaby finished his pitch I knew he was right. Then he surprised me and showed me a concept one of our Senior Designers had created. It wasn’t perfect. But it was great. It was awesome. It was exciting. It sealed the deal as far as I was concerned.

I did ‘design’ most of the current brand. I definitely designed the logo (and to answer the above question, I have no idea why the kerning is like that!). The air quotes around the word ‘design’ there are very deliberate. Like most people who found a company, a lot of the stuff we did in the early days was quick and dirty. To get going, to build momentum. When you build a business, an awful lot of the work is almost willing things into life so you can progress and improve (more crudely: "fake it till you make it"). That is basically where our current brand came from.

So I agree, the brand is dated. And I have absolutely no problem with people, experts in their field, looking at what I did eight years ago and ripping it up. One of the things I love about the growth of Fifty Five and Five is hiring a whole range of subject matter experts and seeing them do their thing. As Barnaby says above - "for the first time in the company’s history we are going to do it properly, from the ground up". That’s fantastic, that’s what we do for our clients, so why not for us?

This blog is the first real piece of content we have put out there discussing the project. We will be doing a lot more, and being open on the process and our progress.

I want to finish on this point. Fifty Five and Five has been through a lot in the last few years. Just before COVID hit we knew we needed to evolve the type of clients we worked with. We knew we wanted to expand and enhance the services we offered. We started as a content agency and quickly came to offer a whole bunch of complimentary services. But like any company, we needed to tweak and improve what we did to ensure we were offering the right value. We also wanted to push our ambitions, and work on different projects with more varied briefs.

Then COVID hit and everything got turned upside down. A huge positive from this period was it made us look really hard at the company and question everything. We looked even harder at the work we did, and who we did it for. But we also looked at how and why we did it. We came out of this period so much stronger than we were going into it.

We have just finished our financial year (March 21), and it was our best ever. Which is awesome. But the next 12 months are going to be even more transformational. More growth, exciting plans for the business and new clients. And our re-brand is not only going to be front and centre this year, but it’s going to drive a lot of our growth. I can’t wait for you all to see it.