Paul Holmes 28 Sep 2015 // 1:00PM GMT
BELLEVUE, WA—Waggener Edstrom is refreshing its brand identity, refining its focus, and restructuring its leadership team as it prepares for future growth, with founders Melissa Waggener Zorkin and Pamela Edstrom taking their names off the door as the firm becomes simply WE.
“We started to take a look at who really makes things happen and we realized it’s not about me, it’s not about Pam, or any one individual” says Waggener Zorkin. “You can’t do it all by yourself. It’s about the team. WE is about us. It’s the power and insight that comes from the collective—our clients, our people, our partners, and the influencers we work with every day. Together, we are WE.”
The effort includes a new logo and redesigned website. Beyond the brand, however, the change reflects a new approach. “It started with a discussion about strategy and our dedication to independence. It started with a look at our offering to the market, and a focus on those areas where we have the opportunity to grow.”
Waggener Zorkin concedes that overall growth has been slow in recent years, since the firm reached $100 million in fee income (enough to rank among the top 20 PR firms in the world, and the top five independents). But she says the firm has seen impressive growth in areas such as content creation and digital and social (up 45
percent last year) and in the Asia-Pacific region in particular.
At the same time, there have been areas where the firm has been less successful, including areas such as search engine optimization and in European markets such as France and Switzerland—where the firm has shuttered offices.
As a result, the firm will be forming partnerships with other specialist companies, drawing on its culture of collaboration to offer additional service. The firm has forged a partnership with branding agency Salt, which works with brands like Coca-Cola, Disney, Red Bull and others. “Its brand expertise complements our storytelling chops in a powerful way,” says Waggener Zorkin.
The firm has also brought on more specialized partners in research (YouGov, Radius Global Market Research, Illuminas); digital marketing (The Garrigan Lyman Group); search marketing (Point It); and even a strategic futurist (Play Big Inc.).
On the talent front, Katie Huang—formerly of Porter Novelli and FleishmanHillard—has been named executive vice president, global client lead, based in San Francisco, and Heather Scott has joined as vice president, customer insights. This follows the recent appointment of Kass Sells as president, North America, and Matt Lackie as executive vice president, APAC.
The firm has also added new business from the likes of Allrecipes, Boehringer Ingelheim, VSP, Zoom+, Lucid and Kymeta, and expanded its work with ZTE, Volvo, Woodford Reserve, Safeway and Microsoft.