So What's in a New Name, Anyway? Turns Out, Much More Than a Name...

February 12, 2014

So What's in a New Name, Anyway? Turns Out, Much More Than a Name...

Goodbye Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter and Associates. Hello CLS Strategies. When CLSers first explained to friends and clients how it was different in 1992, they often described how our company provided “strategic communications” and not “just public relations.” This mantra was true, and it worked for a long time. In our view PR was more akin to publicity and promotion, raising your voice for the sake of being heard. Strategic communications, on the other hand, meant calibrating both the message and the targets in order to help clients’ win, or at least move the dial in their direction. This may, or often may not, involve raising our clients’ profiles. Twenty years later we found CLS surrounded by many other agencies large and small, all offering “strategic communications.” We realized that our business had evolved, and that today we are much more than the “strategic communications” brand we’ve wrapped ourselves in from the beginning. It was time, we all agreed, for a refresh. So, our journey began.

For us, one guiding principle led our rebranding. We didn’t want to develop some catchy name or phrase that sounds appealing but doesn’t reflect the reality of CLS and what makes this place special. So we worked with two widely respected researchers to interview some past and present clients (of ours and theirs) to discuss what they know about CLS and how they go about selecting an agency partner. We then turned to our Omnicom cousins at Siegel + Gale to help us chart a new path. We explained to them that because CLS doesn’t specialize in a single sector or type of work, we faced a tough challenge: How do we describe our work simply when what we do isn’t simple at all? Public affairs for legislative and regulatory battles, crisis and litigation communications, corporate and reputational campaigns, foreign governments and international political campaigns...how do we stitch it all together?

It turns out, it’s not so knotty a problem when we keep things simple and approach it from the right perspective. Our clients (thank you!) were a big help. Siegel + Gale helped us focus on what our clients’ value, specifically talking less about what we offer as an agency and more about how we help solve problems. This pivot from communicating a ubiquitous menu of services to focusing on our firm’s approach toward solutions makes perfect sense, and, frankly, it’s more interesting. It ties seemingly disconnected parts of our company together.   

Conversations with our clients and our colleagues confirmed that CLS is at its best when the stakes are high and the environment is adversarial or competitive. We heard that our approach is highly collaborative, pairing experience and strategic foresight with the grit to roll up our sleeves and get the job done. But above all, one thing broke through more than perhaps anything else: vision. It comes from our dedication to learn and understand our clients’ businesses combined with our relentless pursuit of opportunity and advantage to help them gain momentum and reach their goals. Our clients have told us that what they really appreciate and value is that we “see not just around the corner, but five steps ahead.”

These are difficult differentiators to communicate on paper, but they are central to our new brand. We set out on our rebranding journey in search of a brand promise that we could deliver, not one that would require us to reinvent what makes us CLS. The good news, is that we are already living the brand. We realize that we are, and have been for a very long time, CLS Strategies. We develop and deliver unexpected solutions. We hope you agree. Read about some of our clients’ successes, which offer perhaps the greatest testament to CLS Strategies, our people, and the work that we do.

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