One question that I have been asked several
times since the rebranding of 141worldwide to Nitro 121 slightly over a year ago has been ‘why’? I tried to
answer this in a session with the Brief
Faculty, a WhatsApp learning group comprising marketing communications
practitioners, and I thought to share it now with a larger audience.
There are several reasons for a brand
or corporate entity to consider relaunch. For us at Nitro 121, it was three main reasons:
1. An opportunity to renew and
re-energize the team; so there is the element of internal rebranding.
2. Signal a new beginning and disrupt
the industry and marketplace
3. Evolve from our past without
The initial catalyst was that we have
chosen to play as an independent agency. This means we will build our own
independent network with other partners as opposed to ‘affiliations’. The
previous name was linked to an affiliation, so we decided to create a new name
and identity whilst acknowledging our strong history.
Having taken that decision, we asked
ourselves what we wanted to be known for.
We started with the end in mind and
set out a new vision and mission.
The new vision requires us to see
ourselves as not just an ‘ad agency’ but a ‘brand building company that
provides brand strategy and marketing communication solutions across West
Africa’. This means we will be a leading player in West Africa. The
new name and identity therefore needed to reflect this.
The relaunch process kicked off a
year before the formal public unveiling.
Even before it was announced to
staff, we had begun driving internal rebranding to what we wanted to
become. Internal rebranding is critical for success of Corporate
Because rebranding is not just about name
It is about building a stronger and more positive
perception internally and externally.
We began a name search by asking the
leadership team to come up with name options.
After evaluating many options, we
settled for ‘Nitro 121’.
selected because it speaks to what we seek to do: have stronger connections
with clients, brands, the marketplace and each other within the company.
We settled for Nitro because it speaks about energy, speed and high performance
which we will bring to the marketplace.
Nitro name was inspired by:
Nitromethane, the simplest organic nitro compound; used to fuel
high-performance internal-combustion engines. Nitro engine: engine powered with
a fuel with nitromethane and methanol. These denote energy, high-performance,
speed, vibrancy. Attributes that are part of the company brand identity.
121 (pronounced, ‘one to one’):
Connecting. Engaging. Moving from insights to communication that resonates with
target market, connecting brands with consumers, people with people, working
seamlessly within teams and with all stakeholders.
Having agreed name, next step was to do
a name check and register the name with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
Once we got confirmation that the name
was available, we began logo design and development of elements of the brand
identity. The logo had to reflect the brand identity.
The logo speaks of unending
The blue speaks to creativity
unleashed. Blue sky thinking. Strategic. Unfettered. The Yellow-Orange:
The stylish N of Nitro: Movement.
Dynamism. Ever evolving. Adaptable. The ‘N’ can also be read as
‘1-2-1’. The circles around the N: motion, velocity.
We then trademarked the name and
Thereafter we decided to have a major
relaunch event rather than just ‘sneak’ into the market. Weeks before
reveal we sent out letters to clients and other stakeholders hinting at the
change. We set up a core project team that worked with other members of
staff to drive execution of the relaunch. The team was led by 2 director-level
staff to signal the importance. The plan was tweaked as we went along. We
were open to fresh ideas.
We chose to signal significant
The elements of our new brand
identity are: connecting, unfettered, enterprising, high performing and
youthful. Everything about the relaunch event and what we do had/has
reflected these. We ran teasers online and revealed online, and produced a
jingle specific for the new brand. Race day (launch event) was a full
We chose Formula One as a
metaphor. We see ourselves as a pit-stop for creative brand building and
marketing communication solutions. Every brand that ‘drives through’ our
pit stop revs to higher performance.
Every element of a brand relaunch
should be mutually reinforcing. That’s what we have done and continue to
drive. Feedback so far has been generally positive. The challenge is to
live up to the brand promise.
During the course of your re-brand, why was it important for you to evolve from
your past without discounting it, and what reactive effect(s) has that had or
will it have over the goal of the agency?
past was ok, but we needed to build on it and elevate performance.
141worldwide reputation was strong so
we choose to leverage it. Our current communication is: ‘Nitro121 (formerly
141worldwide). My LinkedIn account reflects this. We’ve mandated all
staff to do same so that people can see the link.
you can share, what specific system is in place to guarantee the team continues
to deliver on the Nitro 121 expectation?
have revised our performance appraisals to reflect the new expectations.
Thanks for the insights. What was your greatest fear during this process and
how did you tackle it?
Greatest fear: living to the brand promise. Tackling it: keep challenging
ourselves to live up to it. Constant reminders. Rewarding those who live up to
it. Calling out those who don’t.
insightful, thank you very much. Did the rebranding process impact on staff
turnover? How did it and what measures were taken to manage it?
negatively. On the contrary, it has energized staff and gotten more interested
in working with us.
you very much for your session. I was low-key wondering why there was a name
change but now I understand. In your previous name, what does 141 mean?
I would also like to know why you
chose a training ’emotional intelligence’ for your staff.
Lastly, beyond the ‘revision of
performance appraisal’, what other internal re-branding process did you do?
one for one. 121: one to one. EI: critical to build relationships. To
drive self-awareness and awareness of others and build EQ (emotional quotient),
distinct from IQ. Drive better understanding of one another and build team
harmony for stronger performance. Emotions drive people, people drive
Internal rebranding: town halls; offsite retreat with external facilitator; open and honest conversations; reward and consequence. #nitro121 #rebranding #brands #marketing