Say hello to Razorfish

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File this one under “physician, heal thyself.” On 20 October 2008, my employer Avenue A | Razorfish shortened our name to Razorfish.

As many people know, our agency resulted from the merger of Avenue A and Razorfish in 2004. I helped lead the effort to research the adoption of a new name. Our homework showed that we do not need to use two company names anymore. Clients understand that we operate as one agency with integrated capabilities. And frankly we were tired of the lengthy Avenue A | Razorfish name.

Although both Avenue A or Razorfish would work as standalone names, we decided on Razorfish because it has better awareness around the world, which is important as we build a global brand. To give you some perspective: in 2004, we employed 800 people in the United States. Now we have 2,200 people in 20 offices in Australia, China, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Indeed, the name change is global. In Australia, where were known as Amnesia Group, we’re now operating as Amnesia Razorfish. Later on, our operations in Greater China will change from e-Crusade to Razorfish, our London office will become Razorfish, and in Germany, our Neue Digitale operations will become Neue Digitale/Razorfish. Finally, in Japan, where we are known as Dentsu | Avenue A | Razorfish, we’ll eventually become Dentsu Razorfish. Our agency in France, Duke, will become “Duke, a Razorfish company;” Here is an example of how we’re cobranding in Australia:

Amnesia Razorfish office signage

This is a significant first step toward operating as a global brand, and we’re also eliminating some identity confusion caused by perpetuating two names. I’m delighted with having a simpler name. A few reasons come to mind:

“Are you with Avenue A or Razorfish?”

“Sorry. Could you repeat your email address s-l-o-w-l-y?”

“Let me get this straight. Your Tokyo office is Dentsu | Avenue A | Razorfish?”

“AARF. Kind of cute. Like a dog.”

“How do I type that weird pipe symbol between Avenue A and Razorfish?”

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Have you ever been involved in a company renaming? What was your experience?

5 thoughts on “Say hello to Razorfish

  1. As a former Razorfish [not AA|RF] employee, let me say that IT\’S ABOUT TIME YOU MADE THE CHANGE! Congratulations.

    I was part of Coopers & Lybrand when we \”merged\” with Price Waterhouse. From the name that ended up sticking, you can tell who took first position in that relationship.

  2. I was working for a small theater company when its new artistic director decided to change the spelling of its name from Stage #1 to Stage Number One. This seemed confusing to some (what was the change supposed to mean?) and pointless to some, and it required us to buy new graphics, etc. My view is that it wasn\’t the smartest move, though it seems to have made little difference overall (apart from the expenses incurred).

    And I was working at Lee Hunt Associates when it was bought by Razorfish and had to change its name. As I was more or less a lowly peon, I have little idea what impact this had on client relations, image in the field, and so on, although I know that the original name had a good deal of recognition and cachet in the TV industry. The main difficulty I had at the time was in answering the questions of older relatives, who thought \”Razorfish\” sounded peculiar. Since then (i.e., since being laid off and moving on), I\’ve found a good deal of recognition here in New York of the Razorfish name.

  3. Brilliant! I echo Peter\’s comment. Also a former fish and it\’s awesome to see the name change. I can understand the feedback on name recognition. I still get questions as to what happened and where the Razorfish brand exists – did not know it was in so many places! In addition, sitting under the MS brand and under the multiple names, must be just confusing. I have worked with MS people that did not know what Razorfish did.

    I am also a former employee of vodafone, and part of the dutch operations that changed from libertel to vodafone. that was a worldwide change and kicked off with a big brand campaign – the how are you campaign as we evolved the name, logo, tag lines, visuals etc.. across a few months and in fact, only just formalised the final changes about a year ago when Voda purchased the last % in Libertel. Good luck!

  4. A different beast nowadays, but still a great name with a special vibe. Glad it is properly resurrected. Nothing has made me sadder than trying to answer the inevitable question as an ex-fish: \’what happened to Razorfish – such a great brand, has it disappeared?\’. I am also delighted to see the brilliant David Labar is still around.

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