On the afternoon of Wednesday, Aug. 22, LRK changed its website, its social accounts, and its logo — from the theater at Crosstown Concourse and right in front of its roughly 60 local employees’ eyes.

The event, simulcast to the architecture firm’s seven other offices throughout the country, was the culmination of a five-month effort to refine the company’s brand.

“Starting out, [we were] really straight-up architects,” said Frank Ricks, one of the founding principals of the firm. “Over the years, we began to do more related design services, such as interior design and environmental graphics. On the other end of the spectrum, we started adding services such as land planning and urban design, a full spectrum of city building and neighborhood building.”

As with many companies, what began as Looney-Ricks-Kiss Architects Inc. in 1983 has tweaked its name, logo, and messaging over the years it’s been in business.

For this latest effort, LRK hired Memphis-based DCA to help them answer the question: Does their brand accurately represent who LRK is and the path it is on?

The underlying aim is differentiation, so that the company — and its representatives — can understand and articulate what makes the firm different from others in the marketplace.

But, for LRK, there were also other, important considerations.

The first is that the company has offices in seven cities other than Memphis: Baton Rouge; Celebration, Florida; Dallas; Little Rock; New Orleans; Philadelphia; and Princeton.

Ricks acknowledged it’s challenging for the various offices to share one culture and for that culture to be perpetuated and reinforced on a daily basis companywide. They like to use the phrase “one firm,” and Ricks said they’ve dedicated a lot of resources and time to build a shared culture.

Both the brand refresh — and the simulcast — were a nod to that work.

“I think it’s important for us to do this firm-wide, because it does reflect who we are, the values we have around the work we do, how we make decisions,” Ricks said. “It’d be nice if we had the time to talk about them once a week, the things we believe or … who we are as a team.”

Another important aspect was hiring.

“These days, just about every firm spends a fair amount of time thinking about recruiting, because things have been going robustly for quite a while. There’s a lot of demand for talent,” Ricks said. “So, we wanted to ask that question, as well: Are we appealing to our future staff members?”

The process touched on LRK’s ability to build trust and relationships with its clients, its drive to push the boundaries, and its fundamental belief that egos should be put aside because “what is best for the project is what is best.”

Now simply known as LRK, the firm has also changed some of its verbiage.

Where before they may have offered “Architecture. Design. Planning,” now they are “Architects. Designers. Planners.”

At the launch, held at a site in Crosstown Concourse that LRK worked on, DCA principal Doug Carpenter described the first three things as commodities, with the tweak making the firm warmer and more human: “This communicates that you are people doing things.”

The company’s new website provides more examples of the firm’s work and a more robust search feature. But, it's still all about the people.

“We rediscovered what we said in the early days of the firm that we thought was important for us to be successful.” Ricks said. “[It’s] to respond to those things that our clients need us to address first, and then we’ll take the design side as far as we can.”

Jon Dowdle