How Willow & Blake rebranded themselves.
03.07.23 | By Jess Hatzis | branding
Rebranding the branding agency.
No small task, indeed.
We launched Willow & Blake in 2009 as a blog. It was a place where we could write about things and people we loved or found interesting. If no one was particularly interesting, we made up stories. It was an outlet to write and explore. Since then, a lot has changed.
We evolved into a content and copywriting agency in late 2010.
We launched our own brand - frank body - in 2013.
We expanded W&B into a full service brand and creative studio in 2015.
In 2019, we launched our creative campaign offering.
We grew again in 2022 to become a full service marketing agency.
As we grow and evolve, we ask ourselves the same questions we ask our clients.
Is our brand still relevant? Does it represent who we are now and what we do?
When we asked ourselves those questions, the answer was no. And thus the evolution of the Willow & Blake brand began.
Our founder Jess sat down with our Creative Director Bianca Georgiou, who was charged with the task of asking her all about how she approached it.
First, up - Rebranding your boss’ business is no small project to be handed within your first few months. Tell me what you thought when I first asked you to tackle this project?
No small task indeed! This was an agency with a great reputation, clients knocking on the door, and in some ways I questioned whether we even needed a website in the traditional sense! A landing page and showreel approach definitely crossed my mind… But what I really identified was that since 2015, Willow & Blake had been creating work for some of the most loved brands in Australia, and a few international clients (some of whom I still get excited thinking about), and yet, we weren’t showcasing our work in the most compelling way.
Sure, we were a team of copywriters first, but now we were a team of art directors, designers, strategists and writers, and our brand and website didn’t reflect this. As a studio that creates brands for others, we had neglected our own, and it was time for Willow & Blake to demonstrate who we are now, and button up a little.
How did you approach the strategic review of the W&B brand?
I sat back and observed for a while. I looked at how we do things here, the personalities of the team, what our strengths are, and where we could improve. But really, we approached it like we would any brand that works with us. We went strategy first—redefining our north star, and uncovering the space we can own in the market.
For me, what makes Willow & Blake unique is our symbiotic approach to visual and verbal brand identity. Neither is tacked on at the end after the strategic work, and our copywriters, art directors and designers are partnering every step of the way to make voice and visual identity cohesive and sticky.
So the way we approach each project is one thing, but it’s also the culture of the studio that makes us different.
When people choose Willow & Blake, they choose a very talented team of very nice people, who all bring a sense of optimism to the creative process. Do we think that sometimes our ideas can change the world? Or at the very least, an industry? We certainly do, and I think it’s that energy and joy that binds us too.
I know that when people select agencies, they choose people first and foremost, and I felt very proud to work in a team that supports each other to achieve great things. Our favourite saying here and one I know you love Jess, is “a rising tide lifts all boats,” and I’ve never felt that more than working at Willow.
With this in mind, I knew our refreshed identity had to inherit the equity the team had already built in the brand, but then encapsulate what makes us different today. And that’s really the energy, optimism and joy we bring to the work, and the coalescence of voice and visual identity.
Describe how and why you landed on the refreshed visual identity?
We landed on this identity because it felt fitting for Willow & Blake’s next ‘grown-up’ chapter, while still retaining little tongue pokes to convention, here and there.
It represents how we bring personality to processes, and also heroes our new offering in design and visual identity with larger format images and content blocks that really celebrate the work. Our original Willow & Blake green appears throughout the site, but more subtly now, so as to not compete with the many great projects we’re showcasing.
Our new serif typeface feels like a valid departure from the sea of san serifs in branding agencies, and harks back to our editorial beginnings. While once upon a time we were copy heavy, there’s more room to breathe in our new identity. Say less, communicate more. That’s how I think of it.
How did you evolve the voice and language of the agency?
Without losing the personality of the brand that people love, our new Willow & Blake voice is honest, clever and smart in a way that your older, cooler sister is.
It’s the voice of a brand that you actually look forward to catching up with—who listens, and breaks things down for you like no one else can. It doesn’t take itself too seriously (phew), because we don’t take ourselves too seriously. And while I do of course have great respect for SEO, our new voice does say less to get the point across. Ha!
How did this identity and voice roll out across all of our touchpoints?
Our new identity and voice now extends across our website, our eDMs, our reports, our presentations (that now look very schmick), and soon to be, our Course, which we will reveal later this year…
What do you love most about the evolved W&B brand/website?
I love that it’s more refined, it has more rules (sorry team), and that it stays true to who we are: the clever, small(ish), multi-talented, punch-above-our-weight agency you want to work with.