Defy’s Rebrand Reflections

Defy reflects back on everything that went into launching their top-to-bottom rebrand a year ago today on 2.15.21.

There are many reasons to rebrand but for Defy, there were two driving factors – one, to evolve the brand for better expansion opportunities and two, to become more authentic.

The team felt limited by the name “[ 2 one 5 ] Creative”, both due to its relative commonality (in this area code, anyway) and the comparatively tame impression it left on the market.

“Defy, as a name alone, has a more powerful energy,” Nik Greenblatt, Founder and CCO, says. We’re interviewing over Zoom – a familiar territory. “The rebrand has held us to be a true evolution of who we are now and…,” he looks off camera for a moment, picking his words wisely, “of who we strive to be, which is a sophisticated, mature brand.”

Executive Creative Director Kris Blake echoes that sentiment, honing in on the horizons Defy has opened for the agency, “The old name, ‘[ 2 one 5 ] Creative’, was a little limiting in how it set up the expectation that we were a regional agency.”

“Defy is more eye-catching,” agrees Emily Huddell, VP of Brand Development, “Visually, it’s a design-forward brand, and the name is a quicker get for those clients who are drawn to our aesthetic, the clients who want to push the envelope.” She continues, “As Defy, we’re putting forward something that is bold and different, and that’s shown in our brand – with Defy, we’re really aligning with, not softening, our personality.”

The brand has given the team a toolkit for both internal and external executions, providing the flexibility and freedom to create anything from internal letterheads to LinkedIn ads that better represent where the brand wants to go.

“Overall, we have become more consistent with our applications of this new brand system. This is the same guidance we give our clients and now we’re executing for ourselves,” Blake says. “The toolkit and brand system added a level of sophistication we didn’t have before.”

“The toolbox we explained in the brief was delivered at the end of the project and that’s given us the ability to create dynamic experiences for our clients and prospects,” Greenblatt says. “We’ve been able to tie the brand back to our roots. We asked ourselves who we wanted to be and it helped build out our evolved system allowing us to add more clients and assignments to our portfolio that tie back to our origin.”

Huddell recalled the new brand’s roots – a company-wide collab breaking down who the company was, and wanted to be. “I think my favorite part of the rebrand was asking the team who they thought we were and taking everyone’s perspectives into consideration,” she remembers, “That exercise really underscores that our messaging is authentic to who we are and the DNA of the agency.”

Opening up the rebrand process to the team was also Blake’s favorite part of the experience. “It was interesting to hear the team’s inspiration behind their chosen photos for the photo essay assignment we made available to whoever wanted to participate,” he says. “It was a collaborative experience based on what the name [Defy] meant to everyone.”

Collaboration and authenticity seemed to be the overall themes of Defy’s rebrand.

“We’ve expanded on so many levels.” says Greenblatt. “There were so many fresh perspectives brought to the table over the last 12 months. The team has really stepped up to learn more about their passions expanding our agency’s capabilities.”

“It’s really fun to see the team thinking outside the box,” Huddell adds. “The diverse points of view of the people on our team allow us to keep looking at things differently, and since we’re a smaller team, we can shift the agency’s direction if we see an opportunity to evolve a certain way. That’s our brand in action, right? – being open to new ideas, and taking them as far as we can when it feels right.”

Looking back at last year’s launch, the team also emphasized the critical role of communication and involvement from the full team.

“Honest and ongoing communication is important, especially through a process like this one,” says Huddell. “The team has to know where we’re headed, and why, and be meaningfully involved. That can be hard sometimes – it takes time and effort to collaborate and communicate thoughtfully – but in the end, the more you incorporate different views, the more authentic and successful you’re going to be. That definitely played out with the evolution of Defy.”

“The pandemic has caused  a lot of mental challenges and one thing I hope to continually improve on as an agency is our communication with one another,” Greenblatt emphasizes, “Welcoming additional perspectives has paid dividends and I expect it to continue too for Defy.”

One year of opportunities down for Defy and there’s no sign of them slowing down.