Chicago Shop Goes Back to School

Seeking a Stronger Brand Identity, ALT Chooses University Model
CHICAGO–The ad business continues to be a learning experience for Daryl Travis. So, when restructuring his agency, he decided the logical model to follow was that of the university.
Arian, Lowe & Travis, Chicago, this week launches a new brand identity that uses a collegiate-style logo, mascot and fight song, as well as presentation materials crafted in the form of an old-fashioned composition book.
On the surface, elements of the new identity are fun and even a bit silly, Travis acknowledged. But on a deeper level, ALT does want to cast itself as “the agency that believes in continuous learning,” he said.
“We’re talking about branding all the time, and people started to say, ‘What’s our brand?'” Travis said.
That led to the development of what might be called the University of ALT. Travis, who attended but did not graduate from the University of Kentucky, is taking the title of chancellor. Donnita Meredith was promoted to provost, the equivalent of president. Heads of the various disciplines will be known as deans. Account executive titles were eliminated in favor of planners, who will work with creatives and producers. At some point, the agency intends to offer classes on advertising at its Erie Street headquarters. The overriding philosophy: “Do the smart thing to do.”
The theme will be reinforced at “every point of contact,” said Kevin Lynch, dean of creative. “The brand message will be pervasive.”
Lynch, too, said some of the creations are a tad overboard, such as the Woody the Owl the mascot (formerly an electrician in Northridge, Calif., according to agency literature) and “Soar High, ALT” fight song. After a while, though, the goal is to have the brand well enough ingrained that such devices are no longer necessary.
“When you think of most agencies, rarely does any word come to mind, other than perhaps swear words,” Lynch said.
“The biggest advantage is, instead of just saying to clients, ‘You need to do this or that about branding,’ we’re actually doing it,” Lynch said. “I think when we get up and running with the new structure, people will say, ‘It’s a smart place.'”