In business, few things are as important or as misunderstood as “brand.” For some, from the largest companies to individual start-ups, it is an obsession; for others, it’s just a “thing,” a term perhaps interchangeable with “packaging” or “promotion.” The under-appreciated reality, for those who fall into the latter category, is that “brand” really is everything you are and everything you do. It’s something so much more than a logo and something all your internal and external audiences judge you by. It stands to reason we should take care of it, right?
Perhaps my favorite definition of a brand was by former Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley. He described a brand as being about two things. Yes, the familiar “brand promise” that influences choice and gets someone to buy for the first time but also the “moment of truth” when your laundry turns out really fresh or when your teeth feel super-clean. When that happens, that’s when both sides of the brand equation work to make a brand a better brand.
Acxiom changed ownership when it became part of IPG in 2018, and with a newly formed leadership team, we began to re-evaluate our brand. An axiom* is, by definition, a “self-evident truth.” It was time to understand Acxiom’s axioms.
Regarding the “moment of truth,” we knew our clients loved what we did for them, and we found proof. Thankfully, the tenure of an Acxiom client is usually long, but our contracts database revealed that for at least the past five years, 95 percent of our client contracts were being renewed! Not necessarily at the same value, as initial contracts usually include a design and build element, but still, we knew our clients really value what we do for them. Our first axiom is that for our clients, the moment of truth is strong.
The bigger issue was around the promise. Acxiom has been a relatively self-effacing brand over the years, celebrating our expertise in how we deliver results, through our data and technology, perhaps more than why our clients value what we do. So, we began looking for that single axiom of Acxiom’s brand promise.
When we boiled it all down, we realized that at our core Acxiom helps brands understand the customers they love and those they’d love to have. Yes, we’re masters of marketing data and technology, yes we’re passionate leaders in the field of data ethics, but what we do for brands is help them understand people. By doing so, we can do a better job of winning their trust through better marketing and keeping their trust through better experiences. After all, another axiom has, and always will be, that good businesses really understand their customers.
And so together, we had our promise and our moment of truth; we had our brand story, “Brands who love people, love Acxiom.” We help brands love their customers through understanding them, and they love it when partners help them do that; they love it that Acxiom does.
Now a brand is, as I assert, far more than just a logo, but the logo remains the undisputed centrepiece of any brand. Putting it in human terms, if the brand name is like a person’s name, then the logo is the face we immediately recognize. For about a year, we’ve been turning up the volume on Acxiom’s new story, around how we understand people so that marketing and their experiences can be better, better for brands and better for people, but our logo increasingly felt out of place.
The last time Acxiom’s logo changed was in 2013, and times were very different then. It’s not just that fashions and design styles change, it’s not just that the logo was beginning to look dated. It’s not even that it was still associated with previous ownership and associated by typeface to brands from that era no longer Acxiom’s. Today’s Acxiom has all the qualities of its heritage but is very much a company of the digital revolution, grown from CRM, now an Acxiom for all channels.
With our new story, reflecting the Acxiom for today and tomorrow, we needed to balance our image with a new logo and brand design. We wanted to carry forward our lineage featuring the ‘X’ but also wanted to develop the forward-facing chevron > that we’ve been increasingly using to emphasize moving “forward,” “next” or “play.” Our new logo is sharp, crisp and fresh in design, counterbalanced by the human imagery and warm color palate we use. As in all things data, we find “balance” is critical, balancing the needs of the business with the needs of the customer, and so it is balance we’ve aimed for in our new logo and brand design.
Most logos evolve over time, even if you don’t think they have. A little Googling of “Google logo over time” alone may surprise you. We believe we have a logo that’s right for the next part of Acxiom’s journey, but this is not a logo changed for the sake of change. Our logo has evolved through a process that’s in keeping with my opening remarks, a logo, brand story and design we hope reflect everything we are and everything we do, for our clients and for their customers – Acxiom’s axiom.
*Acxiom has the letter C in it to reflect Conway, the Arkansas city where it was founded in 1969 (as Demographics) and still is headquartered. After Demographics, the company was known as Conway Communications Exchange, then CCX, then Acxiom.