Transition-metal complexes containing stimuli-responsive systems are attractive for applications in optical devices, photonic memory, photosensing, as well as luminescence imaging. Amongst them, photochromic metal complexes offer the possibility of combining the specific properties of the metal centre and the optical response of the photochromic group. The synthesis, the electrochemical properties and the photophysical characterisation of a series of donor-acceptor azobenzene derivatives that possess bipyridine groups connected to a 4-dialkylaminoazobenzene moiety through various linkers are presented. DFT and TD-DFT calculations were performed to complement the experimental findings and contribute to their interpretation. The position and nature of the linker (ethynyl, triazolyl, none) were engineered and shown to induce different electronic coupling between donor and acceptor in ligands and complexes. This in turn led to strong modulations in terms of photoisomerisation of the ligands and complexes.