• Transform magazine
  • July 18, 2024


Brand evolution tells the story of us

Rooster PR Portraits 10 09 19 0047

James Brooke, managing director at Rooster, discusses the brand evolution of the UK-based comms agency, and why its latest identity draws on the company's past.

Across the creative industries, but particularly PR, we’re all facing some sticky times. No matter what the IPA Bellwether says, comms budgets are under pressure, and belts are still tightly cinched. Agency rankings put PR budget growth for 2023 at just 3% globally, after 15% and 19% in previous years. So why then did we choose to rebrand the agency, just as many others in the industry are keeping the hatches well battened down?

To understand that decision, you have to understand both Rooster itself and our history. Founded by a former travel journalist, we’re now in our 25th year. Our brand evolution tells the story of our business. Hatching out from an egg – literally, when it comes to our brand identity – Rooster launched back in 1999, leaning into the ‘new life’ associations of fresh starts and the bold intention to ‘wake up the market’. We were young, we were hungry, we were keen to make an impact – and ahead of the new millennium it was a very different time for agency brand design. Notably, about one in fifty of our prospects pointed out that hens lay eggs, not Roosters. We knew they were ones who would stick with us in the years to come.

After we had established ourselves as the go-to experts in travel comms, it was time to grow – and that demanded a new brand identity. We’d managed to find a great design connection, Jon Wallhouse from mayk, who just immediately understood us as a business and our trajectory. At the time, we were looking to break out beyond travel and expand into other sectors. It demanded a more mature, edgy and intentional brand so in came the punchy pink and black, well before seemingly everyone in comms jumped on that particular ‘brandwagon’. Enter also a strapline capable of taking on the world – literally – ‘global brand communicators’. This proved such a success as we stretched our wings out into new sectors, it was even emulated – in both colour palette and strapline – by another PR agency. It led us from pure play travel PR into integrated comms.  

As the business grew again, we outgrew the black and pink. By the time we moved on to our penultimate identity to date, it seemed everyone in comms was using that palette, and it had also dated in its design. As we entered another era with the additions of property comms as a skillset and a dedicated B2B division, we needed another bold, fresh statement. Cue Jon again, a statement and eye-catching yellow and black redesign and a trademarked strapline. This was introduced in late 2019, just before the pandemic shook up almost every industry. The trademarked ownership of ‘We are pr®’ in particular saw us through the lockdown disruption which rocked so many others, along with our broader client base and the work of our talented team.

Which brings us bang up to date with the new, more grown-up approach to the Rooster story. So, why now? It’s not just that our services have matured. The markets we work with have also changed. It’s not only the world of comms which is standing on shifting sands at the moment, but our clients facing very different headwinds in their industries too. Dialing down the colour palette shows not only have we reached a confidence and wisdom with our practice areas, but also that many clients aren’t looking for brash and bold. They need practiced and talented advisers, who understand nuance, and the fact that the times call for a proficient and experienced skill set. So, while others in the industry might be focused on maintaining their status quo to get through these challenging months, Rooster has evolved to show that we’re a trusted, highly competent partner and the right team to help our clients to thrive.

There are windows of opportunity starting to crack open after another sustained period of serious instability, but recent years have also schooled us to expect constant disruption. We need to be ready to meet both. This is why our identity update harnesses all that has gone before, and the foundations we have built as a business. It also draws on what makes our operation great, and especially equipped to meet these new challenges. It spotlights the different aspects that make us who we are, and what we offer to clients, in a clear and compelling way. It underscores that we are more than the sum of our specialisms. It’s precisely this relentless adaptability which has seen us and our clients through several extremely turbulent patches. When constant disruption is the new benchmark for normal, Rooster now radiates a brand identity which is balanced and clear, matter of fact, and distinct. Full stop.