Twenty five years into his retirement from the agency as president, Tom Harris must have no qualms on PR network Golin recently dropping his name from its own – the firm was founded by Al Golin in 1956 and renamed into GolinHarris Communications in 1981 to recognize Harris’ contributions. Under the tagline: “Go all in” – and very aptly so – GolinHarris officially announced its rebranding into Golin in June this year at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, where it was the first agency to open the festival – and to use American actor David Hasselhoff as a case study for brand relevance, for that matter.
In its 58-year existence, the agency’s had several name changes, but this marks the first in more than 30 years. Speaking of the rebranding, Yiannis Vafeas, managing director at Golin MENA, says it is no more than a natural progression of the G4 redesigned agency model; launched by Golin globally in 2011 and in Dubai in 2012 (check Communicate June 2012, “Moving On”, page 36), the model is “not based on hierarchy or seniority, but, rather, on specializations,” explains Vafeas, comprising four communities that are globally connected: strategists for insights, creators for creative, connectors for engagement and catalysts for everything in between.
Golin’s worldwide offices were advised to roll out the rebranding within the last six months of 2014 and “now that we feel we have completely implemented our G4 client servicing structure, we decided that November would be the best time to do it in the MENA region,” says Vafeas. While the tagline and “a very bold and simple logo mirror the way we want to be seen in the market”, Vafeas affirms that it is the G4 model, in particular, that has completely transformed the agency’s operations in the region. “We’ve noticed a huge difference on both business and creativity levels, in our P&L (profits and losses), reputation and business opportunities with new clients as much as with existing ones,” he says. In 2014 alone, Golin’s won new businesses across the technology, corporate, consumer and healthcare sectors, including pharmaceutical company Julphar, 3M and big data analytics provider Teradata, among others.
Vafeas attributes these wins to G4 as much as to recent tools that have been introduced by Golin’s global network, which “have enabled us to become more creative and strategic to use the social media and digital spaces better”. One such tool, The Bright Collective, launched in May 2012, is an online platform that brings together the G4 community members, “but also people from the creative side of the market – fashion designers, illustrators, production gurus, artists, bloggers, you name it – that want to take part in the creative game. This is a pool of ideas where you post your brief, and whoever has the time and inspiration can pitch his or her ideas and concepts. We never mention names of clients on the platform, [because we don’t want the pitches to be affected by them]”. Currently, 16 people from Golin’s Dubai office are part of The Bright Collective.
The Bridge, another tool that’s been created by the firm in 2012 out of Chicago was still in the investment stage back when Communicate spoke with GolinHarris that same year. Today, it comprises 15 command centers across the world, through which Golin offices monitor mainstream, digital and social media, and, based on the relevance of the news and stories The Bridge aggregates, can then feed their clients with opportunities to speak, therefore creating real-time content with the help of copywriters, digital designers and video producers.
Vafeas is hoping to launch The Bridge in Dubai by the end of this year, with plans to pour into it “very specialized people that will introduce the team and the clients to it. Reputation can be built with a number of different channels, ideas and specialties. We want to take that seat in the boardroom of a client to be defining their ideas. And that is already happening with all of these tools and the G4 model. GolinHarris was established in the region in 2004. So, it’s also a nice coincidence that the rebranding into Golin is taking place ten years later,” concludes Vafeas.