Thought Leadership

The power of agency brand identity: Evolving to stay ahead of the game

Allison unveils a new brand identity

Jim Selman and Dan Whitney

Managing Director and Partner, and Managing Director Allison


Communications professionals traditionally perform quite a lot of behind-the-scenes work for brands, putting our clients’ interests first to help them establish positions of leadership in their own industries.

However, we do this most successfully when we are confident in our own brand, because we can be sure we are the best fit to solve our clients’ business challenges.

This means every so often, agencies must look inward and ensure they apply the same strategic thinking to their own branding as they do for their clients.

Allison has been on a journey of change and growth since its founding in 2001, exemplifying from the early days its innovative approach to building the profiles of organisations, including YouTube, Dropbox and WhatsApp.

We have consistently been prepared to offer services beyond ‘traditional’ media relations by exploring our clients’ largest marketing and communications challenges. When we engage with prospective clients, they might think they need help with a media relations, advertising or marketing problem. However, what they actually need help with is a business problem the marketing and communications function can help solve. To provide the best level of service and ensure a fit for our capabilities, we always strive to develop the best solution by recommending the most effective combination of services.

We are a people business, and the core of what we do is tell stories that move people from a practical understanding to an emotional connection.

Jim Selman, Managing Director and Partner, and Dan Whitney, Managing Director, Allison

Our rebrand was designed to capture and emphasise not just our long list of services and our subject matter expertise, but how these elements come together as comprehensive solutions for clients. This means thinking about the path to success for clients similar to how a showrunner thinks about the development of a hit television show. A long-running, much-loved programme touches people’s hearts and minds over the years, leading to emotional investment into the characters’ fates. To achieve the ultimate end-result – a grand finale that ties the story together – the showrunner creates multiple mini stories (episodes) that fit into shorter-term narratives (seasons) that ultimately tell a complete story (a full series).

At Allison, this correlates to each piece of work (a feature, a social media post, an ad) as an episode; each campaign a season; and the ultimate improved understanding of a client’s position and messaging as the culmination of the series.

Of course, when it comes to an agency brand, there is more to it than just effectively showcasing products and solutions. We are a people business, and the core of what we do is tell stories that move people from a practical understanding to an emotional connection. This is a vital human activity, the meaning and importance of which have never changed, though the channels through which the story moves have shifted over time.

This means before we can develop the most effective solutions, we need to ensure our internal culture thrives. We work exceptionally hard at this. When people can dedicate time to every aspect of themselves, not just the professional, they will thrive, and it shows up in the work. To that end, agencies must consider their health, wellness, entertainment, holiday, learning and development, financial, and flexibility policies to help employees feel fulfilled and secure both on and off the clock. In building workplace culture, firms must stay true to their core values by creating a positive environment where people bring a wide range of passions and skills to the table. This helps create comprehensive, impactful campaigns, the positive outcomes of which further strengthen team bonds.

Agencies should not lose sight of the power of their own brands and reputations to lift those of their clients. Firms preparing to rebrand or reposition must take stock of everything they offer; take a view on what current and future clients are likely to need; and be clear on what they are best at and the type of work that isn’t right for them.

Finally, prospective clients of any marketing and communications agency should similarly look holistically at any firm they consider engaging. An agency’s capabilities and experience are no doubt vital factors when considering a partner, but it is important to also assess the cohesiveness of the team, the advisory and consultation aspect of the work (beyond just the execution), and if the team is as excited about their own organisation as they are about yours.

Guest Author

Jim Selman and Dan Whitney

Managing Director and Partner, and Managing Director Allison


About Jim Selman As a partner and managing director, Jim oversees the business operations, growth and staff development at Allison U.K., which recently made the 2023 Sunday Times Best Places to Work list and named in PRovoke’s Top 5 Places to Work in EMEA for four years running. Jim was also included in the 2021 PRWeek Powerbook. In addition, he has a remit to work closely with the other partners to grow the global business. Jim also provides strategic counsel to a variety of clients in the region, including Reddit, IHG, Dexcom, Dow Jones, and Mars. Jim’s rich 24-year career has spanned consumer, corporate and entertainment sectors. Prior to joining Allison, he spent nine years working in various roles at London-based freuds. There, he oversaw the global corporate affairs brief for Mars Inc., with a focus on media relations strategy and activation, and the corporate communications efforts for U.K. supermarket ASDA. During his time in the consumer practice, Jim was the business director on Sky Broadcasting and worked on the Diageo, Mars and Visit London accounts. Prior to that, he ran the film team, working major U.S. and U.K. film distributors on festival, corporate, unit, theatrical and home-entertainment campaigns. He began his career at Rogers & Cowan in Los Angeles, where he worked across a combination of entertainment and consumer programmes. About Dan Whitney Dan has spent the past 24 years working with some of the world’s most high profile artists, brands and tech companies. The thing they all have in common is a desire to create stories which connect with their audience. Whether it’s music, advertising, digital strategy or influencer engagement, Dan has worked across the landscape; managing campaigns, strategies and individuals. Dan oversees integrated marketing for Allison across Europe and Asia, leading a team of digital strategists, data analysts, performance marketers, designers and producers to tell compelling brand stories. With Dan’s guidance and mentorship, the team consistently delivers creative communications programmes to solve business issues for clients in healthcare, travel, technology and many more, never shying away from challenging the status quo.

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