CEO and president Marcia Miller took over leadership of StoneArch toward the end of 2017. At the beginning of 2018, she launched a full-scale rebranding effort that, she says, defined the year.
Nearly every agency employee worked on the rebranding, which took about six months. The updated website, logo and positioning were unveiled last July.
But the rebrand wasn’t just visual in nature. Miller asked staff members to think deeply about the agency’s work — not just what they loved about it and what they thought they did best, but how those feelings matched up with their day-to-day responsibilities.
“I came from corporate America and had many agencies pitching to me over the years,” Miller explains. “So I arrived here with a fresh eye to what I saw in the people and the company, and compared that to how they talked about themselves. For me, there was a bit of a disconnect.”
Perhaps to address this, a C-suite restructuring accompanied the rebranding. The most notable additions were CFO Susan Christian, who joined from device maker Teleflex, and COO Amy Wexler, who joined from her own consulting agency. The addition of the COO post was meant to bring more “rigor” to StoneArch’s operations, Miller says.
“Our focus last year was all around how we could get better at doing the work we do — about monitoring, projecting and forecasting so that we can be ready to scale,” she continues. “We had people in operations-type roles before, but never somebody at the senior level. I felt like that was necessary to get us to the place that we’re at today.”
Revenue for the year was down a tick to $9.7 million from $10.1 million in 2017. Head count similarly declined, from 40 to 36.
StoneArch’s total client number remained at 36, with the 10 accounts the agencies picked up balancing out the 10 it lost. New clients included Axogen (for six brands), Prime Therapeutics, Rational Vaccines and Hennepin Health. The agency is also counseling Best Buy as the retail giant attempts to kickstart its digital-health efforts. Baxter, MD Biosciences and NuVasive were among the departing clients.
“The role of an agency has changed,” Miller says. “It’s no longer agency-of-record relationships that clients are signing up for. The relationships are no longer as long as they used to be.”
She adds this represents significant change within the agency world. “Ten years ago you would see clients signing on with agencies for five or six years, which rarely happens anymore. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, but it’s definitely a shift from the old-school way of thinking about agencies and clients.”
With the rebranding and leadership-structure work out of the way, Miller expects the remainder of 2019 to be about putting the “new agency” into practice. To that end, she has aggressive growth goals.“As things have become more fragmented and as people are consuming media in such a variety of ways, it’s both a challenge and an opportunity to make our communication very personalized,” Miller says. “Personalized care and personalized content is following very quickly.”