While the German engineering giant Siemens grapples with global layoffs, the communications subsidiary that it retains a minority stake in -- Siemens Enterprise Communications -- is gearing up for a major rebrand that involves dropping the Siemens name altogether.
The rebrand has been in motion since 2008 when Siemens divested the majority of its unified communications portfolio to the private equity firm the Gores Group under terms that Siemens Enterprise Communications would eventually give up its former parent’s name.
And for nearly the last two years, global marketing head Chris Hummel has been assembling a team of creative agencies that would help the company through this transition. Among these, he called former Hewlett-Packard CCO Bill Wohl, who now heads his own PR consultancy, to advise on messaging and to lead a global PR agency search.
To do so, Wohl and Hummel developed three agency criteria: deep technology roots; solid relationships with influencers; and demonstrable digital chops. Silicon Valley tech firm Eastwick Communications was ultimately awarded the bid, understood to be in the six-figures, five weeks ago. Eastwick, which takes in about $7.7m in revenues, replaces incumbent Connect PR.
“We wanted a small agency but one that also ‘had the back’ to sit in a meeting and provide counsel -- and [Eastwick] really pushed us for information, they really wanted to understand better than anyone else,” Wohl recalls. And because the firm signed on less than two months before the relaunch “they had to get up-to-speed almost overnight.”
Barbara Bates, Eastwick’s founder and CEO, adds “one thing we really tried to do was not focus on the technology -- but on its impact.” The firm will report into US-based Hummel, who is also the chief commercial officer, and Germany-based Torsten Raak who leads corporate marketing.
Eastwick’s remit involves earned media exposure, as well as advising on storyline direction and social media content. Meanwhile, the rest of Siemen’s creative network includes McMillan as the lead agency that developed the brand platform, name and core messaging; frog for product design and messaging; Horizon Media for paid assets; and Wohl’s firm for strategic messaging. Eastwick is also coordinating with Lewis PR in Germany, S2 Publicon in Brazil and Chameleon PR in the UK that are working on regional execution.While the new brand and name won’t be revealed until an online event on October 15, earlier this summer Siemens Enterprise Communications previewed “Project Ansible” as its new platform designed to elevate unified communications -- and has been promoting the concept of “harmonize now” around its technology.
“We don’t want to lose sight of where we came from,” Wohl says. “The Siemens brand is very powerful, so we when we let that go we need something bold.”
Wohl is also working with Siemens on existing customer communications, as well conveying the rebrand to its 10k employees.