Rob Jennings

Excuse the mess–we’re rebranding.

The name of our agency is a bit of an inside joke. Serious creatives in the advertising business hate starbursts. I don’t like starbursts either. And I thought that was pretty funny in 2008.

What I didn’t know at the time was that Starburst would grow from a one-person consultancy to one of the largest independent agencies in our market with 29 employees (and counting), national clients and a second office in Toronto. Sometime in the past nine years I realized that we had outgrown the name. About four years ago, I started to take seriously the idea of changing it. I consulted with some of my team members. I even registered various domains when ideas came to me or others on the team.

And then nothing happened. Well, a lot happened. We expanded our services, took on new clients and started growing at an impressive rate. (Our compound annual growth rate for the past five years is 38.2%.) I told myself we didn’t have time to work on our own rebrand and the project was shelved before it had a chance to take off.

When we moved into our new office in early 2016, I told our interior designer that I didn’t want to install any signage at reception or elsewhere in the space. “Let’s wait until we have a new logo,” I said. I was certain that moving was the catalyst we needed to roll up our sleeves and actually get to work on a new brand.

And still nothing happened. Until September of 2016, when I boldly declared that we would start work immediately on a new brand and launch it to the world in just eight weeks. We’d become our own worst client: “Start. Stop. Start again. Stop again. Wait… okay now rush.”

In the first week, everyone in the agency was engaged to identify the attributes that defined us collectively: ambitious, most of all, but also knowledgeable and fun.

In the second week, we explored our positioning: we take an agile, always-on, constantly updated and continuously optimized approach to marketing that prioritizes doing and learning over researching and planning. Act, analyze and adapt—then repeat for best results. It’s an approach we’ve honed by working closely with fast-paced retailers that demand a quantifiable return on their marketing but it’s bigger and broader than that—the principles are sound and it can be applied to any organization.

Then, in the third and fourth weeks, we started to working on names. From there, we short-listed two names: Charter and FKA.

This is Charter.

Meet FKA.

We were getting somewhere, right? But then something totally awesome happened. We were approached by two different companies to develop two new national brands.

One was a rebrand for Canadian Direct Financial, an entirely online bank and a division of Canadian Western Bank, one of our amazing clients. The other was a new brand for a company taking on disrupters like Casper and Endy in the highly competitive online mattress category.

Both projects were bigger than anything we had taken on before. Both brands needed new names, visual identities, websites, collateral and big budget advertising campaigns. More importantly, both needed to launch in the first half of 2017. Something had to give. Our rebrand was put on hold again.

Olive is Canada’s better-made bed-in-a-box.

Motive is the national online bank for serious savers.

It’s been an outstanding year. We’ve all been very fulfilled by the work and we’re proud of the results. Our brains have been steeped in branding—which brings us more or less to today.

We’re kicking off our rebrand project again. But this time, we’re doing it differently. We’re going to put our money where our mouth is by taking an agile and iterative approach. We’ll edit and optimize along the way. We’re not going to hide our process or our work then reveal it when we think it’s ready. Instead, we’re going to open it all up to the world by sharing it in real-time along the way. It’s ambitious—but that’s who we are.

BTW, we’re going with FKA.