It’s a shame company brands don’t come with their own sets of performance indicators, handy stats that could track the pulse and progress of your public communications in the minds of your target audience.
Wouldn’t it be nice to pull up a spreadsheet that would show you, say, that your logo had enjoyed 10 consecutive quarters of positive impressions?
Or that your tagline had been losing ground with your core demographic since a new competitor entered the market in January 2016?
Or that your website is so out of date, poorly organized and difficult to navigate that the top three responses commonly reported by visitors were “pity,” “confusion” and “get me the hell out of the here”?
Aside from the heavy hitters who can shell out for research to measure their brand’s impact, most companies are forced to go with their guts when it comes to big decisions about how they look and sound to customers and prospects. That means businesses wait too long to make needed changes. They settle for half-steps or quick fixes. Or they throw the baby out with the bathwater, and embark on top-to-bottom makeovers that leave them unrecognizable, facing a brand-building do-over.
Brand revitalization: What is it and do you need it?
Designed for organizations who perceive shortcomings in their current branding and want to tackle them in a disciplined, systematic manner, brand revitalization is a way to retain and build on existing brand equity while identifying and exploiting new avenues for brand positioning and messaging.
The first question, of course, is how can you tell if the signs point your organization toward a brand revitalization, especially lacking any hard-and-fast benchmarks or data points?
Pick out your pain points.
An outdated brand look or feel
This might be the most subjective of the markers but the most-often used. Maybe that straight-shooting client was kind enough to tell you your logo jumped the shark in 1992. Perhaps a long-overdue website upgrade has you rethinking the whole way you talk about yourself. Or it could be that a new competitor has upped the brand ante and caused you to see your own position in the market in a fresh, and not entirely flattering, light.
Rapid audience change
There are a variety of reasons of a business’s audience might change, some by internal strategic design, some by forces out of your control. In both cases, the way your brand looks and speaks needs to evolve to reach this new constituency.
Rapid change in business focus
An expansion or contraction of your business can necessitate a change in the way you present yourself. A scrappy, bootstraps brand might not communicate as clearly as you zoom past 100 employees and $30 million in revenue. On the flipside, downsizing offers its own repositioning trials, as you make the transition from the challenged to the challenger.
Rapid addition to business focus
Adding or expanding capabilities doesn’t just open new sources of revenue, it can shift perception of your company in the marketplace. An old brand might prove too restrictive, too proscribed for a broadened business strategy and need to be recalibrated with your new possibilities in mind. And, it’s highly likely your marketing materials aren’t reflecting / communicating your new focus.
Merger or acquisition
A merger or acquisition can bolster your company’s capabilities in a particular area of expertise or add talent, technology and other advantages entirely new to your business. It could also involve a name change for your business — pretty much an automatic rebrand requirement. Or, you might be melding several organizations, all with different cultures and personalities, into one entity. How do you distill and communicate that new organization’s brand promise, both externally but internally, as well — to your brand ambassadors?
Underrepresentation of capabilities
Have you been selling yourself short? A surprising number of companies do just that — understate the scope of their capabilities. While your brand should foreground your core competencies, it shouldn’t leave money on the table, so to speak. If you’re not telling your company’s whole story, your brand positioning might be out of alignment.
We’ll look at these indicators individually, and how they can be addressed through brand revitalization, in future posts. For now, just look and see if you recognize your organization in any of the descriptions above. If you do, what’s next — what, exactly, is involved in a brand revitalization?
The steps to brand revitalization.
Whether it’s a small facelift or a total overhaul of your brand, expert advice and assistance can be invaluable as you contemplate change — or react to it. At DoubleTake Design, we take a disciplined approach to brand revitalization, one that also recognizes the completely individual needs of the organizations who come to us.
Our program includes seven steps end to end, the entirety of which is best for a company needing a reexamination of its brand foundations and a group-up rebuild as required. However, our program is easily customized for those who require less of a rethink than a refresh, a tightening and streamlining of your brand’s messaging and tone.
Here’s what our total brand revitalization program looks like:
Step 1: Evaluation/Assessment
We look at your value proposition, your positioning and other aspects of your business process to help you begin rebranding with greater clarity and identify outdated or inconsistent elements.
Step 2: Customized Creative Blueprint
Completed by you or in tandem with DoubleTake Design, our Creative Blueprint helps you hone in on your relevant target audience(s), your key attributes, messages and tone, as well as spot marketing spends and messages that aren’t working.
Step 3: Competitive Assessment
In this step, we take a hard look at the space you occupy, identifying areas where your business can create a unique brand/value proposition, and those areas that are too saturated or that no longer fit.
Step 4: Brand Refinement
Depending on your requirements, we begin work on necessary elements of your brand: company name, logo design or evolution, font and color scheme selection, voice and tagline, and other elements as needed. Based on findings from earlier steps, we’ll explore options for all deliverables and present them to you for consideration, along with our rationale for each.
Step 5: Creative Review
We will review all creative options with you, answer any questions and give you time to consider each option carefully.
Step 6: Brand Selection and Application
Once you’ve selected a concept, we refine it based on your input and, when a final brand look and feel is approved, we finalize it. If it makes sense for your organization, we will codify it in a style rule documentation (e.g. Logo Guidelines, Communications Style Guidelines). By the end of this step, your brand will be reflected in your positioning, in your logo, on your website, on your letterhead — all your front-line touchpoints.
Step 7: Enterprise-Wide Brand Translation
In this step, the brand can be extended to other company materials, including marketing collateral, website and a marketing plan.
Is your brand ready to revitalize?
No one’s recommending that you give your brand a complete aesthetic overhaul every couple years just because you want to show your customers and competitors you’re keeping up with the Joneses. That’s not good for your brand and it’s not good for your business. Decisions should arise from a deliberate brand strategy you’ve created for your company — the kind of strategy a brand revitalization program can help you develop. It can help you avoid making a change for change’s sake; brand decisions should make sense to the way you do business and the way you want to do business.
If you suspect it might be time to revisit the way your company is presenting itself to the people who matter most, take a close, hard look at your visual identity and messaging. Think about the parts of your brand that still have value and should be retained. And consider what needs a fresh pair of eyes to make the brand better represent who you are today and where you want to go.
A brand revitalization effort will naturally look different for every company. In the end, though, your company should communicate with added dynamism and clarity and purpose, and you should know who you’re speaking to and exactly what you’re telling them. Your refreshed or rebuilt brand will help your organization stand taller, helping you reach your audience more easily and effectively, and, ultimately, making a difference in your bottom line.