Founded in 1992 by a quartet of former business and finance reporters, ergo Kommunikation grew steadily over its first decade in business, picking up some high-profile clients—its big breakthrough came when it surprised a lot of people by winning the coveted Price Waterhouse account in the German market—but always keeping a low profile itself. Somehow, ergo managed to grow into a top 25 firm in the very competitive German market—income was around ?7.5 million last year—without generating much excitement; even the firm’s founders admit that “we’re a little bit dull.”
But over the past four years, that’s been changing. The firm adopted a “balanced scorecard” approach to management and hired an outside consultant to help it think through the services that would drive value for the future. The firm focused on quality, as evidenced by its Consultancy Management Standard II accreditation. It also expanded into new areas, growing its Berlin office and picking up several high-profile government assignments, and opening an office in Munich that in its first year has already carved out a niche for itself in the media sector. All of that proved particularly helpful when the global economic crisis hit and ergo saw its core financial business fall off dramatically.
Nevertheless, revenues declined significantly in 2009, although there has been a rebound in 2010, and the firm expects to report healthy growth in 2010, and 2011 is looking even better, thanks in part to a significant assignment from the German ministry of industry and technology, which has named ergo lead agency on a variety of campaigns promoting entrepreneurship, emphasizing the importance of technology to the German economy, and attracting young professionals to work in German firms.
Today, ergo has 75 people—including seven former heads of corporate communications, journalists, project managers and graphic designers—spread across offices in Cologne, Berlin, Frankfurt/Main and a new Munich operation, providing corporate, financial and public affairs services. ergo has expertise across multiple industry sectors, from automotive to financial services, from chemicals to real estate, from media and telecommunications to pharmaceuticals, and from professional services to the public sector. And while the firm previously focused on small and mid-cap companies, it has been developing relationships with several larger clients.
The Munich office made a solid contribution in its first year, picking up several media and energy sector clients, and the political communications practice has expanded too, with a major assignment for the Federal Ministry of Economics & Technology. Other major clients include the Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees & Integration; the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women & Youth; Société Générale; UBS Deutschland; comdirect bank; Sirona Dental Systems; and Astra. Interesting assignments included work for the Chancellor’s office on migration and indication issues, and a community relations publishing project for energy giant RDW.
The firm handles pan-regional assignments for several financial services companies (Carlson, UBS, Nordea) and has teamed up with Kreab Gavin Anderson, a global corporate and financial firm with 29 offices and more than 350 professionals on five continents, which provides access to major international markets.