VCCP’s Scott Ewings on why it’s relaunching its CX practice as Bernadette
British indie agency VCCP is overhauling its customer experience arm, VCCP CX, and hoping to grow its stature in the market under its new guise as Bernadette. Scott Ewings, its chief exec, takes us inside the revamped business and shares his gameplan for competing with the likes of Accenture Song, Deloitte and McKinsey.
VCCP has relaunched its CX practice, Bernadette / VCCP
VCCP is revamping in its specialist customer experience (CX) agency, VCCP CX, to capitalize on rising demand for digital product expertise.
The network hopes the agency, now dubbed Bernadette, will be able to pitch more aggressively for work in the CX space with a more distinct brand and additional investment.
Bernadette chief executive officer Scott Ewings says: ”Agencies often talk a good talk about partnering with clients, but very rarely engineer their engagements in a way that everyone in the collaboration is truly invested in success. Everything we do at Bernadette has a singular focus on creating not just fit for purpose products and services for our clients, but legendary ones.”
Clients of Bernadette include confectioner Cadbury's, telco O2, carmaker Kia, insurer Saga and airline easyJet.
Though Bernadette and VCCP CX before it shared many clients with the parent network, Ewings says the new identity will allow it to pursue more work that isn't dependent on a package deal.
”We’re going to play both ends of that. Bernadette allows us to go and hunt relationships and clients on our own, versus being part of an integrated whole. Though, on our own it makes a lot of sense for Bernadette to be an integrated part of VCCP. We’ll be doing both, really.”
He hopes to compete more directly with digital consultancies such as newly rebranded Accenture Song, Deloitte and McKinsey. ”We’re going after those guys because we think they’re not pacey enough.”
Those companies, he says, are ”detached from the realities of maintaining and improving a product on the ground,” while Bernadette can offer a middle ground between grand strategy and commercial reality.
”We can move leaner and smarter than the big consultancies, because we understand how to execute. But we’re more strategic and more brand focused than the boutique kind of products and service shops.”
Michael Sugden, chief executive officer of VCCP Group, tells The Drum: ”For too long digital consultancies and agencies have divorced strategy from execution. We have created Bernadette to challenge this.”
According to Ewings, VCCP CX has suffered a little in the shadow of its larger parent company. ”Nobody knows we exist out there," he says. "We’ve always been a best-kept secret at VCCP; if you worked with the agency as part of an integrated play you'd bump into us... but when were chasing down business or trying to engage the wider world on our own, people would [confuse us] with the ad agency.”
It’s time, Ewings says, for Bernadette and its 85-strong team to ”take our place among the little pantheon of agencies – AKQA or Ustwo – that you'd recognize as providing digital products and service design.”
The agency’s new name, he explains, is an homage to VCCP's own logo, which features a lone girl facing down a bear.
”In VCCP folklore, she’s always represented ’challenge’. She's taken on the bears, whether they’re category norms or problems in the industry or doing things differently. But she's never had a name,” he says. ”When we were looking at rebranding VCCP CX, we wanted something that would stand out, that would represent curiosity. We ended up looking through loads of baby naming websites and we found out that ’Bernadette’ literally means ’brave as a bear’.”
The new name and identity, he hopes, will amend that. It also marks a change in direction for the agency, away from the broad church of CX and towards the more pragmatic world of ’digital products and services.’
”Customer experience is a smorgasbord of interactions and touchpoints; it means lots of different things to different people. We want to be very specific that we’re about groundbreaking, trying to drive those kinds of legendary digital products and services. Products and service is very much a specialism within the broad church of customer experiences.”
Ewings says the agency hopes to push clients away from minor adjustments or sweeping project-based work. ”What we’re trying to do is get out of the world of small increments, of great big, grandiose, multiple year transformations that just deliver a lot of PowerPoint, and actually get stuck into questions like: what does a more meaningful purpose for breakthrough products and services look like? What does that feel like? What does it deliver? That's definitely our push and our focus.”