No Small Feet
Babies’ feet? What could babies’ feet possibly have to do with the re-branding of Ambassador Consulting? As it turned out, they had everything to do with some of the early-on inspiration provided by our advertising agency. They cited the Saturn automobile company as a case study. By focusing upon the people who drive the cars they’re selling, Saturn hasrevolutionized the way cars are sold. In the Saturn brochure we found more pictures of people than cars. Our favorite was a picture of two pairs of bare feet – father’s and baby’s. This inspired us to become the “Saturn” of the IT consulting business. Hence, our branding battle cry became, “We’ve otta have babies’ feet.”
Fully inspired, we set about the difficult task of re-branding our eleven-year-old company. First, we needed a positioning statement. This is the main message that we want to continually send to the marketplace regarding who we are and what we do. Ours was that Ambassador is a solutions company, as opposed to an IT staff augmentation firm. The key ingredient in this transformation is our people, so we wanted the positioning statement to reflect this. How’d we do?
Solutions. Powered by people.
Next we focused upon the company name – Ambassador Consulting. We explained to our ad agency the rich heritage and deep meaning behind the word “ambassador.” While many firms within our industry, in an effort to distance themselves from their past, have changed their names, we felt very passionately about retaining ours. So, our creative guys came back with a recommendation to drop the word “consult
ing” from the company name. Their argument went as follows: a) it’s a generic word that doesn’t really buy you anything; b) it’s a limiting word, as some of what Ambassador does in the future might not be consulting, per se; c) it’s a neutral word, at best, with negative connotations in many people’s minds; d) it’s excess baggage to deal with from a design and layout viewpoint; e) it’s easier to brand a single word name. So, we took back all those things we said about creative types and dropped “consulting” from our name:
Solutions. Powered by people.
By this time, we’d gone through more than a few brain cells we couldn’t afford to lose and were just getting to the tough stuff – the trademark. We wanted a mark that captured the essence of the two primary words in our positioning statement – solutions and people. We wanted something very unique that would really stand out from the crowd. We quickly learned that anything within the arch, orbit, spheroid, trajectory genre would put us in the “me too” category. Most importantly, we didn’t want form without function. A cool graphic that meant nothing wasn’t going to cut it.
After cooking hundreds of ideas back at the creative ranch and presenting a half dozen or so to us, those creative guys were starting to get a little frustrated with us IT guys. At one point, they tried to foist an asterisk off as a trademark, making a trip to Pottery Barn to pick up an asterisk paperweight in a creative (albeit lame, sorry guys) attempt to close the deal. Unique? I don’t think so. Form without function? Maybe, maybe not; but did we really want to be known as the “Where’s the footnote?” company? Next…
It all came together on a fateful Friday afternoon in January. We holed up at the ad agency office and vowed that there would be no weekend until we had a trademark. While our Graphic Artist Extraordinaire tickled the Mac keys, I thumbed through design books for new ideas. I explained that our prior attempts were missing the people element that was so much a part of who we are at Ambassador. With that, the artist drew a stick man on the Mac screen. Thinking he was being cynical, I almost smacked him. Then I remembered that the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. Although his first step seemed a might gimpy to me, at least we were moving, Lord knows where.
After a couple of hours, it didn’t look like our weekend would be starting anytime soon. We were going nowhere fast while that goofy artist played with his stick man. Then it happened. While cocking his head slightly to the right, the artist said, “Here’s a thought…” With that, the asterisk found a home after all in the middle of our new trademark – the ambassador thought bubble. Don’t all good solutions start with a creative thought? But wait, the creative process is not yet complete. There’s that curious head turn again. This time he says, “What if we…” Then once again the artist turns the thought bubble 90 degrees left and we see the source of all thought – a person. In unison, we cry out, “We’re there!” Solutions plus people equals a new Ambassador trademark. The weekend’s on! It’s us, don’t you think?
Branding Update (January 2004)
During 2003, Ambassador, Inc. began doing business as Ambassador Solutions. We made this change for three reasons: 1) Having dropped “consulting” from our name in 2000, there was a lingering feeling of something missing; 2) With www.ambassadorsolutions.com as our domain name, it was confusing to do business as anything but Ambassador Solutions; 3) As Ambassador, we were frequently mistaken for Ambassadair, the Indianapolis-based vacation club.
So, for the foreseeable future, we’ll be doing business as Ambassador Solutions. If we’ve confused you with our name changes, when it comes to IT consulting, just remember the one name that we’ll never change – Ambassador.