Defining ‘Legend’: the fusion of four Taupo agencies

Sarah Matheson

Last week, surrounded by over 70 members of its network, Taupo-based design, insight and marketing agency Legend roared for the first time after The Business Studio, Good Graphic Design, Resonate Marketing and MediaSolve came together under one roof. 

Co-director, aka lion tamer, Sarah Matheson, who shares the role with Karen Rieser, aka master jouster, says it was a natural progression for the businesses as they’d already been working together by sharing office space, expertise, talent and clients.

“We thought let’s take the confusion out of it for ourselves and our clients and create a brand that we’re all operating under that we can combine all of the services in one place and for people to come for a one-stop-shop for their brand.”

It’s now one tight team of 15, working across marketing, design, communications, data, PR and project management. There are two directors, six on the design team, five on the communications and marketing teams, one CFO and one data analyst.  

Matheson, who was previously the owner of The Business Studio and Good Graphic Design, says the journey to the new brand officially got underway in April when the creative team presented the brand, including the name Legend.

It’s a bold choice that certainly marks the agency’s presence in the market and its development came from a reflection about what the agency does for its clients. That starts with really getting to know the business and then establishing how it can best tell that story and guiding it through that and Matheson says that was the driver of the name.

And given it’s in the business of helping other businesses, Legend’s created a case study out of that journey for its clients to see what it did from a concept perspective to designing the supporting creative.

Aside from communication and marketing support, Legend also works on loyalty programmes and data analysis system, both of which serve clients throughout New Zealand and Australia.

Matheson doesn’t see its Taupo location holding it back from international business, and she says the relationships it’s built across the ditch have come about through the networks the team has established over the years.

She adds that they keep in close contact with those in Australia through a 1300 number they can call to chat away and have questions answered, talk through briefs and what their needs and results are.

“As much as people always say that with communication and technology these days it is neat to be face to face, and we do try to do that when we can, with Skype and Google Hangouts and all of these things these days, it’s not too hard to communicate is it?”

But that’s not to say its offering isn’t put to use for local businesses and she says there are plenty of businesses, like a Mum and Dad B&B, that come in and out of the agency as the need help with their websites, social media and AdWords.

Since 2008, the town’s population has grown from 33,500 to 36,200 and its annual economic growth for the district for the earlier year ended March 2016 was recorded at an estimated 3.6 percent according to the Taupo District Economic Monitor March Quarter 2017.

Business numbers are also on the rise, up five percent between March 2013 and March 2016 to reach 4,740. And while Matheson says there are enough agencies in the regions to service those local businesses a lot will still go out of town.

It may be because people aren’t aware of what’s right on their doorstep, Matheson says, explaining that first-time clients often don’t realise how much Legend offers.

She gives the example of a finance company that recently moved to the town and was looking to rebrand. The owner wanted to keep the work local and couldn’t believe he was able to be fully serviced without having to go to Hamilton or Auckland.

Matheson says the growing creative scene has also attracted young professionals back to Taupo in that they now have opportunities that didn’t exist in the past. 

While a merger of businesses may mean job losses, for Legend it meant gains and two of which, creative leader Gustav Kleingeld and PR and content specialist Sam Clemerson, came from outside of Taupo a couple of months ago to join the agency.

Like many of those in the exodus out of Auckland, they and their young families were looking for a life outside of the big city to satisfy their love of the outdoors and now Matheson says they pinch themselves that they can go up to the mountain in the weekend with their kids.

It’s one of the town’s features that are shown off in Destination Great Lake Taupo’s recent winter campaign. The digital animation video focuses on Taupo and Turangi being the ultimate base for a snow holiday.

In the campaign announcement, marketing manager for Destination Great Lake Taupo Anna McLaren said whether it be skiing, snowboarding, playing in the snow or off-mountain activities, the region has everything the South Island has to offer and more when it comes to a ski holiday.

“We have two of the biggest ski areas in the southern hemisphere on our doorstep, and an amazing array of off-mountain activities including adrenalin activities and more relaxing experiences. Soaking in the healing geothermal waters of one of our many natural hot pools after a day on the slopes is such a luxury – that’s our real point of difference.”

Despite the region’s bonuses, for all the roles Legend’s had success filling there are still some that have left Matheson thinking “gosh is anyone ever going to come along for this role”.

In the hopes of filling them, she and the team are keeping an eye out for graduates who resist the temptation to stay in the likes of Wellington and Auckland and return home with the qualifications and experience Legend is looking for.

It’s something Enterprise Great Lake Taupo is doing with the Taupo Pathways For Youth Employment Trust. Its aim is to get all young people under 25 in Taupo engaged in appropriate education, training, work or positive activities leading to meaningful employment in the district. And if that education takes them out of town, it hopes to attract them back for work.

Retaining young people has been an issue for the district and mayor David Trewavas has said a significant issue facing the Taupo District is the projected population decline by 2035.

“With the sustained loss of young adults and an ageing population, it is becoming increasingly important to hold on to our young people”.

With businesses on the rise and the likes of Legend popping up and drawing attention to the region, Matheson hopes it can be a part of the solution. She says since the launch it’s had plenty of social media attention and people are keen to know what it’s all about.

“Our networks are like: ‘What are you doing in Taupo? Tell me more’.”

The Legend team.

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