After the incredibly tumultuous times we have experienced over the last year, it’s refreshing to set our sights on some positivity. Businesses are reopening, people are beginning to gather again, spring is in the air.
It’s a great time to reflect and ask if it’s time to refresh your branding to better represent where your organization is headed as we head into the post pandemic world.
There’s a lot of talk about branding these days, but what exactly is a brand? Simply put, it’s the perception and experience people have of your organization.
Components of a brand expression include:
VISUAL—identity, typeface, color, logo, imagery
VERBAL—tone, voice, messaging
APPLICATION—print and pixel from biz cards to billboards, websites and social media
But how do you know when it is time to rebrand? We recommend considering it when your brand no longer reflects the vision, mission or values of your organization. Or, when there’s been a shift in the marketplace, perhaps a global pandemic that had you pivot your offerings to better serve existing or even new clientele. And, rebranding can work wonders for any organization attempting to modernize and remain relevant.
Once you’ve determined it is time to rebrand, how do you know to what extent—should it be partial or total? I recently read an article that compared a partial rebrand to a touchup and a total rebrand to a makeover. This spectrum makes sense to those in the industry as well as those not in the day to day businesses of brand building. There are advantages and disadvantages of each approach and knowing when it is appropriate to utilize each is critical.
Brands that are experienced in a positive light and have longevity may be better served with a refresh, or partial rebrand. This allows one to maintain the brand equity and loyalty that has been built over the years. Bringing a brand current with contemporary colors, typeface and shapes helps ensure the logo works in all of the spaces, including digital, that it must now compete in a still crowded marketplace.
Brands that are heading in an entirely different direction, who have completely pivoted away from their initial offerings, or experienced a complete change of leadership or clientele may be better served with a total rebrand makeover for a fresh new start.
Branding impacts all involved—internally with staff or board members and externally with everyone else who engages with the brand—consumers, investors, prospects, competitors, donors and the general public. When so many will be impacted, it’s even more important to get it right, or risk the reputation you’ve worked so hard to establish.
To ensure successful rebranding it’s critical to go back to the basics and first assess where we are now, and where we want to go. At the heart of this is an organization’s vision, mission and values. A successful brand must be built with these in mind in order to establish trust and credibility and resonate with the very people with whom you wish to engage.
Rebranding too frequently causes confusion and distrust in the marketplace, so it is critical that time has been devoted to this initial assessment to make sure that you’re heading in the right direction that will set the tone and serve you well for the next decade. This is why branding needs to be a strategic process rather than a hurried, one-and-done effort. Care and careful thought must be given to how the changes will impact those who interact with you. That is not to say it must be long, drawn out process. Based on the pace at which a designer can create, this can be completed in a reasonably quick timeframe, once the homework has been completed.
Ready to get started? Great!
Here at Reed Creative, all branding projects begin with an intake form that asks the right questions to allow us to conduct an audit and better understand an organization, their purpose, target audience, as well as where they are now at this moment in time. It’s quite easily done if you exhibit a little patience and possibly some detective work, particularly if there’s been a changing of the guards and a loss of corporate institutional knowledge. But fear not, it can be done, and we’re here to help!
STEP 1. IDENTIFY
It’s important to start at the beginning, and for all branding endeavors, that’s identifying your vision, mission, values and audience. This can be done by checking your existing printed materials, your website, perhaps your human resources binder. Some clients prefer to use this as a team building experience where we assist during an interactive brainstorm session with your team if you like. Regardless of who gathers the information, it’s important to gather the right information.
VISION: What are you doing—now and in 5 years?
MISSION: How are you doing it?
VALUES: Why are you doing it?
AUDIENCE: Who are you doing it for and why does it matter to them?
STEP 2. GATHER
Next, gather all expressions of your brand. (DOWNLOAD Reed Creative’s checklist here).
Find that brand guideline, if you have one. Gather the logos you have floating around on your desktop to send with your next press release. Go through your folders, both digital and analog, and pull out examples of how your logo appears to the world such as business cards, brochures, directories. Grab all of that great swag you’ve been emblazoning your logo on from pens to parks. For your online presence, take screen grabs of your website, each social media outlet you are on, e-newsletters. (to screengrab on mac: command-shift-3, on pc: control-shift-3). Pay attention to vocabulary, tone, and voice used for your brand when speaking, when writing, when designing.
STEP 3. ASSESS
This is the part that may seem the most difficult if you haven’t been through a rebrand before. It’s where you take the above gathered information, and assess it to determine current strengths and weaknesses and plan how to build from there.
Strengths may be that you are presenting your brand consistently, which helps reassure those who interact with you. You may have a solid logo that still represents who you are to your audience. Your reason for being is unwavering.
Weaknesses may be that your strong icon is in a color palette from a decade ago. You could be suffering from an outdated website that lacks the functionality that the modern consumer expects. Perhaps your brand doesn’t reflect your focus on diversity and inclusion that’s evolved over the years. Or you could have so many different expressions of your brand that it’s unclear it is all coming from one organization.
STEP 4. PLAN
Once you have identified, gathered, and assessed, it’s finally time to plan out the next steps on how to carry out your new branding project on time, on target, and on budget. We highly recommend working with a proven, professional designer that can help you on the rebranding journey and get it right when it’s the right time to rebrand.
Not sure where to find a graphic designer you can trust with a project as important as the heart and soul of your company? Reed Creative has been helping organizations across the country build a better brand for the last 24 years and always enjoys connecting with new businesses. We are also a long standing member of AIGA, a global professional organization for graphic design. So even if we aren’t the right fit for your project, we’re connected with chapters and professional members—all dedicated to advancing design as a professional craft, strategic advantage, and vital cultural force—who have been trained to help businesses like yours take the next step.
Is now the right time for you to rebrand?
Reed Creative Owner, Lori Reed, has over 20 years of professional, nationwide experience in the graphic design industry. Her goal is to help brands make the best impression on target audiences through effective visual communication. If you found this helpful, let her know! She loves sharing her extensive knowledge and is available to speak or train your organization on the topics of branding.