Re-branding might appear to be a relatively new strategy, but the concept has been in existence for centuries, with global leaders fighting to occupy new territories and mould them in their image to represent their cultures and ideologies.
While modern re-branding is much less draconian, the value of your public image has never been so important. With tastes, needs, demand and technology constantly evolving, it is imperative that businesses are able to adapt to their markets to remain attractive.
The need to stay relevant has never been so critical than in today’s digital age. Thanks to the internet, with an increasing number of social media channels, globalisation and round-the-clock connectivity, companies can no longer afford to retain outdated, confusing, mediocre or inconsistent branding.
When re-branding, it is important to consider the impact on the entire business rather than individual ingredients. A successful re-brand creates a unified and consistent identity throughout an entire organisation.
After many years presenting our proposition in the same way, we decided that we needed to re-imagine our own identity.* Having embarked and completed this process ourselves, we wanted to share some of our learning to help other organisations navigate the branding journey. Here are five tips to consider before rolling out a new brand:
What’s in a Name?
All businesses need a name, that is a given. Whether it’s dictated by personal preference, market trends or even a comical play on words, a company won’t last very long without an identifiable trading name. It is important to select a brand name that is clear, concise and not already in use to avoid trademark infringement. If you choose to rename your company, or opt for an acronym, make sure you engage with your existing customer base to reassure them that you are still running business as usual. Avoid changing trading names after a long time in business; instead opt to adapt your existing name or drop unnecessary strap lines.
Creating a Logo Fit for Purpose
Logos are individual to you and while you may take inspiration from other recognisable form factors, it’s important to create something that is distinctly you. Designing a great logo requires a mix of design skills, creative theory and skillful application. Any designer can create a fit-for-purpose logo, but truly mastering all aspects of the craft takes time. Logos should have some meaning; this doesn’t have to be obvious but should be representative and translate both internally and externally. Some of the most famous logos have hidden meanings which makes them all that much stronger.
Before starting on a design concept, market research is vital. Analyse competitor logos, particularly those of successful businesses. What works for one given market will differ from another. Even if you decide to completely eschew market trends, it is important to understand design conventions at the beginning of the process. Brands should also consider embracing an open design process like Mozilla.** This transparent method provides a window into the branding process and allows external stakeholders to have an impact on the end result.
Developing an Online Identity
In today’s digital society, your website and social media domains need to reflect a brand name and should not be considered an afterthought. There is little point in having a great brand name and a strong proposition if customers cannot find you online or, even worse, are inadvertently attracted to a competitor. When they do find you online, you must ensure you deliver the best possible experience across any device. For example, someone visiting from a mobile shouldn’t have to zoom in and out or not be capable of filling in a form because you haven’t considered your mobile audience. These things may require some third party consultation but getting your messaging right online will inevitably make you more attractive to prospective customers.
Keeping your Workforce Informed
Communication plays a huge role in a re-brand, both internal and external. Your employees are your biggest advocates and as such need to be kept fully informed when it comes to a brand redesign so that they can embody and represent the brand wherever they go. You don’t want them to be preaching messages you abandoned a decade ago. Educating your workforce about a new company strap line, image and overall identity will improve understanding and help them to adapt to change much easier and feel connected with the brand.
Getting your Message Clear
Perhaps the most important consideration for a company’s external strategy is consistency. The customer’s experience must reflect the new vision every step of the way. Sending documents featuring old letterheads, for example, can appear confusing, outdated, unprofessional and weaken the brand overall. Devise a unified approach for all internal and external communications to ensure you present a clear and concise message across all channels.
Is your shop window a ‘Harrods’ or a virtual scrapyard?
The common link between the success stories and the triumphs is that they have committed to redefining their public image and company messages over time, defiantly refusing to stagnate by refreshing their brand identities to meet the demands of their respective markets. After all, every online channel – whether it’s a corporate website, social media or video – is effectively a virtual shop window to reach and engage customers. Whether a business chooses to present itself – both on and offline – as a Harrods or an outdated scrapyard could be the difference between success and failure.
About the author: Joana Ferreira is Head of Marketing at Fast Web Media, a MediaCity UK-based digital marketing agency with over 20 years’ experience in the industry. In May 2015, the company was acquired by the mporium Group PLC and continues to work with ambitious enterprise level brands across a range of digital marketing disciplines. Fast Web Media has recently re-imagined its brand and will continue to create bespoke digital strategies, suited to individual client needs. For further information please visit: www.fastwebmedia.com