To kick off this exciting new decade, Thwaites Communications has made a big change: we have renamed our company and we’re now called Allegory! Our founder and CEO, Emma Thwaites, talks to Alex Vryzakis about this fresh new direction, and what it means for the business, the team, our clients and our goals.
Why did you feel that now was the time to rename?
I have felt for quite a long time that the name of the company, Thwaites Communications, was too eponymous (and too long – our email addresses are legendary!). Although just for the record I love my name and always have done (it means ‘woodland clearing’ in Old Norse, since you ask). The business today is so different to the one-woman-and-her-dog outfit that I started in my spare room in 2012. Everyone in the company is so invested in it, and I wanted to create a sense of ownership throughout the wider team. That just feels more straight-forward when it’s not my name above the door. The new name will create a bit of distance from me as the CEO, which I believe to be important. I’ll never lose my huge pride in what’s been achieved, or my emotional connection to the business I started but this company doesn’t just belong to me now, it belongs to the whole team.
I’m also aware that there are quite a few small consultancies in our industry, often named after the founder(s), where it’s just one or two people at the helm. So people might naturally assume that the same goes for Thwaites but we’re now a full service agency, offering a great set of skills and capabilities and I wanted people to realise the range of our offerings.
What does the name ‘Allegory’ mean to you?
I really like the name, obviously. Our strapline is ‘unravelling complexity’ and we use lots of storytelling devices to help our clients get their message across and connect with their audiences. An allegory is a storytelling device that helps the recipient appreciate and understand a deeper meaning. That works for me in terms of how we do our work, but also who we are as an agency. There’s a lot of depth to us as people, and to the work that we do.
There’s also something thoughtful and intelligent about the word that I felt drawn to. We typically deal with technical subject matter, so we wanted a name that would represent us and our values.
In purely aesthetic terms, I also think it’s a pleasing shape as a word, ‘Allegory’. Our design partner ERGO Creative helped us fully realise that visually to beautiful effect.
The company is known for its branding work and strategic communications – what are your favourite examples that you’ve worked on?
That’s quite a hard question to answer, as there have been so many amazing projects and clients over the years.
I particularly liked our work on the Energy Systems Catapult rebranding. Their ambition and desire to create something novel was refreshing – I truly admired them for that. Another piece of branding that we’re delivering is our current work with Jesus College, Oxford, which is beautiful. That’s been an opportunity to show how you can take a brand that’s got a lot of heritage and create something incredibly modern. How you can convey quality and integrity, but still be fun and playful.
In both of these examples we collaborated with the incredibly talented creative director, Gareth Wild. We worked together on the brand and Gareth then worked to express that visually, while we developed messaging and delivered PR across multiple channels and platforms. We’ve worked in a similar way with Adrian and Zoe Philpott at the ODI. Philpott Design’s astonishing work has complemented our wider communication activities over the past seven years to give the ODI great brand impact.
What are your top tips for others who want to rename or rebrand?
- Give yourself plenty of time and don’t rush into it. You need a good rationale for doing it, and if you find that it’s not something you feel strongly about, don’t do it.
- Be collaborative when making your decision, but don’t try to please everyone and suffer ‘death by democracy’! Be prepared to make a final decision, as you’re never going to find something that everyone likes. Some people will fundamentally object, but you need to stand your ground.
- Leave yourself plenty of time for trademarking. Don’t underestimate quite how lengthy the legal process is.
- Don’t forget about your current and potential clients. Make sure the name you’re choosing reflects their experience of your brand.