The intersection of creativity and technology: Why Little Giant became Isobar NZ
Following Little Giant’s rebrand to Isobar, CEO Ian Howard talks us through how the new identity has lifted the agency’s expectations of itself and opened up access to access the network’s world-class capabilities.
Why now – what made this the right time to rebrand?
Isobar underwent a big global repositioning earlier in the year which hugely improved the way their core proposition was articulated and focused the network on delivering experience-led transformation powered by creativity.
This perfectly aligned the Isobar brand with our own philosophy in the local market. We’ve always worked at the intersection of creativity and technology and so for the first time we felt that the Isobar brand truly reflected who we are and what we do.
Part of that global work was also a freshen up of the Isobar brand identity which I think now better represents a future-focused brand working at the cutting edge of digital transformation. While I’ve never really been one to be led by a logo and colour palette, it doesn’t hurt that as Isobar, we can now also look the part.
Becoming Isobar New Zealand is also a signal of intent really. We aren’t an up-and-coming start-up agency any more. We’re an established, proven and award-winning team and it’s time for us to step up our game and move to the next level. Becoming Isobar lifts our own expectations of ourselves and gives us a real sense of ambition for the future.
How does being a part of the global agency network benefit Isobar New Zealand?
I was fortunate enough to attend the Isobar global conference earlier this year and believe me when I say that Isobar’s global network is home to some of the smartest, most talented and most visionary people I’ve ever met. To have access to people who are genuine world leaders in their field is an enormous benefit to us and one that we’re already seeing pay dividends.
The business landscape in New Zealand is also increasingly focussed on overseas markets. New Zealand now sells to a global marketplace and so being able to use our network to tap into local insights for brands looking to expand into the US, Europe or the wider Asia-Pacific region has been a real advantage for us.
I also firmly believe that clients buy into people much more than a brand, and by being a part of the world’s leading experience-led agency means we can attract more than our fair share of world-class talent to our team. Our recruitment brand has never been stronger. That, allied with the fact that people will always want to live and work in this beautiful country, means we’ve got extraordinarily talented people from all over the knocking on our door looking for opportunities. That’s a great position to be in.
While you now have global expertise to tap into, how do you remain relevant to the local market and New Zealand brands?
When I first joined Little Giant three years ago, I was clear that our focus should be on helping New Zealand businesses and brands succeed; and leaving a positive impact on New Zealand society through the experiences we design.
That hasn’t changed one iota. While I’m keen to increase cultural diversity and inclusiveness in our team, at our core Isobar New Zealand will always be experts in understanding how digital experiences can help drive local businesses forward. That means having people who understand the intricacies of our local market and rooting ourselves in the cultural currents that are shaping that.
What does the rebrand mean for the agency’s existing clients?
The aim is to provide both continuity and improvement. We continue to be the same team, united by the same shared values and working with the same sense of transparency, honesty, collaboration and empathy as we always have. Now though, we also get to seamlessly supplement our local team with ground-breaking IP, access to world-class capabilities, industry-leading global partnerships (in particular with technology providers such as Sitecore and Adobe) and on-the-ground insights from 45 overseas markets. My single biggest focus is on continually improving the outputs and outcomes we deliver to our clients and I’m confident this move will help us do just that.
What do local brands have to learn from overseas markets?
I think in general local brands more than hold their own on a global stage. If there’s one thing I think overseas markets do better, it’s prioritising the long term over the short. I’m not sure exactly why, but New Zealand businesses do seem to often get trapped in a cycle of short-termism, putting too much of an emphasis on driving short-term results without investing in the long term infrastructure to create a sustainable competitive advantage. Overseas, businesses and brands are investing heavily in ensuring they have the core technology platforms, ecosystems and products needed to drive long term success. We’re lagging a little behind here, and I think if we could take a leaf out of their book, we’d see more of our locally focussed businesses succeed in staving off the threat of invasive global competition, and more of our export businesses cut through.
What do local brands have to teach overseas markets?
So much. One thing that springs to mind is that New Zealand has done a brilliant job of turning its relative lack of scale and geographic isolation into an advantage. It’s forced businesses to think beyond our national borders and create brands that are made-by-design for a global customer base. As someone who didn’t grow up here, I find that sense of ambition genuinely inspiring and it’s one of the things that I love most about my professional life here.
As well as being acquired by DAN and rebranding, how has the agency’s offer evolved since it was first founded in 2011?
Oh my goodness, where do I start? In 2011 we were still making the transition from being a t-shirt design business to a website design business, so really we’ve come a long way in a relatively short time!
The consistent thread throughout has always been our belief in the power of both creativity and technology. On their own, each is powerful. Working harmoniously together, they have the potential to truly transform businesses, brands and people’s lives. Our technology capability has always been market-leading, and in the year since we brought Aaron Turk into the business we’ve seen our creative capability go from strength to strength. We’ve never had a stronger team than we have right now. I don’t think there’s an agency in New Zealand that has better experience design, graphic design or technology capabilities and that’s a great position to be in. Marry that with the fact that we can lean on our brothers and sisters in the DentsuAegis Network to bring fit-for-purpose expertise to the table in a fully integrated manner, and I’m confident we’re evolving in the right direction.
This story is part of a content partnership between Isobar NZ and StopPress.