Rebranding: Making a new mark
One of the biggest crises a company can face is the chance that something about the way they do business is hampering their ability to generate new customers or keep their old ones. When all avenues have been investigated, potential impacts weighed, and nothing can be done you may come to the realisation that what you could do with, is to re-brand. If you own your own business, you probably remember the process by which you initially branded your company. Perhaps you had a fantastic commercial concept and built your brand identity on the tenets of companies in the same industry, or maybe you woke from a feverish dream with a beautiful logo in your mind and had to put it to use?? Whatever started the journey eventually there is a turn-off on every road, sometimes to get where you want to be you may have to stray from your straight path.
The best way to think of re-branding is not as destroying and starting again, it should usually, excepting the direst of circumstances, be a sort of recycling keeping and improving what works, and removing only the things that don’t. This blog is just a very loose set of guidelines to help you start rebranding your business, the true fact of the matter is there are no hard and fast rules. What works for one company may not for another, but the founding principles are the same. First a warning: Never start a full rebrand because things ‘look a bit tired’. Changing brand is not something to take lightly, if you don’t like your logo any more, or how your website looks, do not think you need a complete overhaul, those things can be sorted much more easily.
The start of all projects rebrands or otherwise should be based on intense situational knowledge. It’s likely if you are rebranding you have a good reason in mind, note it down, you will be going through a lot of opinions about you company, you should never lose sight of the purpose. Speaking of opinions, why not start there. You should contact and review the views of your business, from every person you can who has and is likely to come in contact with it. It will often be surprising what you learn, modern society, even with its social connections, still has a disconnect between businesses and those who use them. Use a survey, send out emails, make calls, whatever works for you, just make sure you understand what people know of, like, dislike and would like from you. Your research should also include as much information as possible on your closest rivals, their successes and failings and allow it to guide you along a better route
Tone of voice
Once you have determined your key features, strengths and weaknesses its best to draw up a plan on how to deal with, counteract and enhance these features respectively. This documentation should always be at the forefront of the designing teams’ minds when making decisions. The first of which can be developing a tone of voice. A company tone of voice dictates how the company structure will communicate as a whole. It gives a guide, specific or broad, as to how all internal or external written or verbal communication should feel. This will likely quickly become a primary decision between a ‘corporate’ voice or a ‘personal’ voice. After deciding one way or another the full outline of how the voice should be implemented can be fleshed out according to how you wish to appear both to staff and customers. The voice will likely be implemented in all communication direct from the company to the public, client base, employees, visitors and governing bodies. This first step is broadly interchangeable with the second chronologically, but I think it works better this way round as any documentation published for subsequent phases can use the tone of voice and could be a good way to measure internal responsiveness to the change.
It’s probably the bit you’ve most been looking forward to since you had the idea of rebranding, unless you’re one of the designers! We are taught not to judge a book by its cover but so frequently we don’t apply this to our business dealings. A flashy website and an interesting logo go a long way to improve customer interactions. Creating a new visual identity is a great way to bring fresh feel to your business but remember, we humans are creatures of habit. Usually, to keep close connectivity with previous customers and aid the acquisition of new ones its best to change your logo as little as possible while still making it more contemporary AND trying to keep in line with competitor’s styles also. The rest of the visual style should ideally sync with, contrast or compliment, the logo which is likely the keystone of your overall identity. Its key at both the visual and tone of voice phases you make sure to encompass every touchpoint you have with customers and staff members, it doesn’t do to just change logos or move some images on your website but forget letter heads, memos, training videos or building signage.
As with many things the bureaucracy is what ties the whole process together. After the decision-making stages take all of the process so far and make sure it is all documented properly. This is usually compiled into a document known as a brand guideline, the brand guideline should be a document created using all of the visual and tonal corrections you have made, that itself contains detail on how to reproduce the company branding. Some of the things it should include are: –
- Company ideology
- Gamete of company colours with their relevant numeric values
- Rules around usage of colour
- Rules around usage of logo
- Company tone of voice
- Usage of and acceptable imagery
- Acceptable fonts and use with colours
- Legal copy and instructions
- Links to relevant resources
Along with any other company specific changes or key indicators that fall outside those categories. Access to the brand guideline should be made available to all employees, partners and any outside contractors or the media who may be creating or using assets related to your business.
Having performed the previous steps with diligence the final step (well almost) should be easy, but also the hardest. All that work will mean the transition to your new look company should be as smooth as possible, almost seamless. Follow the brand guidelines you created and as quickly, but thoroughly, as possible convert everything that needs converting to your new style, look, and voice. By the end of the process you will be officially rebranded, and your new journey can begin. But wait, there’s one last step …
A wise man once said, “The start of all projects, rebrands or otherwise should be based on intense situational knowledge” and now you are rebranded you are at the beginning of new journey, your next project. So, as instructed the best thing to do is to begin with knowledge. Start surveying everyone you can, by any method as discussed earlier about their thoughts on your new brand. Returning customers and employees are the most useful assets here. People are far happier working for and with a company they feel embraces an ethos they believe in and hopefully your staff and customers will reflect this if asked. Remember, in rebranding there is no end to the journey, there can always be tweaks made as and when they become apparent through your researching. Just follow the information you have, processes you’ve created, make all relevant changes to your brand guides, and the process of reinvention will forever be a more joyful and less daunting task.