You’ve weighed it up and on balance, you’re ready to start rebranding. You’re not sure if this is going to be a light-touch refresh or a full-on rebrand. So, where should you start and what can you expect?
Who do you engage?
As you’re already redoing your website, you can get your web designers to double up and do it, right?
Digital agencies are specialists, experts at what they do. They create smooth user journeys and snag-free interaction through complex content, produce user-friendly interfaces and come up with beautiful websites. They keep up to date with, and understand all the nuances of ever-advancing technology but that doesn’t make them brand strategists or brand identity designers.
Our marketing team knows their way around Photoshop…
The argument against this echoes the one above. And to quote a leading authority in the creative and digital space, David C Baker (Recourses Inc):
You don’t see a kidney specialist secretly hoping a heart transplant candidate accidentally comes to her offices so that she can nail that first surgery she’s always wanted to do.
Okay, so design isn’t the fourth emergency service but you get the point. Over time brand strategists and designers gain experience, pick up additional knowledge and expertise, and see patterns that can then be harnessed to bring you tried and tested solutions. Having someone learn on your time, experimenting with your rebranding project, is not the way to go.
Go to a dedicated branding expert
Start by bringing in an independent brand design consultant. They’ll step back, review and make recommendations on your proposition, positioning, purpose and differentiators. This will lead them towards identifying and defining what I like to refer to as, your brand essence.
Where should they start?
Your brand design consultant should begin by working on a strategy with you – one which will help you find your ownable space and will define your character. They should look at the structure and architecture of your business and make sub-branding recommendations if these are necessary.
Their focus should be on producing a creative brand idea – something designers and copywriters can hang their hat on before reaching for their sketchpads or keyboards.
Branding should never be something that’s done ‘to you’ but ‘with you’. When we work with clients, the approach we take is based around a process of discovery and co-creation, with the rebranding activity being very much a collaborative and inclusive activity.
Your brand design consultant should be skilled at working with a range of different experts, from copywriters and marketers, to photographers, web designers and videographers.
How will it work?
Here’s your starter for 10: a list of what your consultant should look to be delivering in a typical rebranding project. The elements will of course vary depending on the size and complexity of your project.
- Scope. Defining the scope of the project in a 1:1 meeting. Branding is deeply personal for founders and CEOs, and having top-down understanding and buy-in is crucial to the project’s success.
- Review. Customer research, i.e. having a handle on how others perceive you, is fundamental. Use a dedicated research consultant or, if you already have recent research to hand, hand it over to your brand design consultant for them to get the inside track on your business.
- Audit. A visual and verbal audit should take in your current brand identity, your competitors and the category you operate in.
- Facilitation. Facilitating team discovery sessions is important for unpacking your brand pillars – your purpose, vision, character, value proposition and the reasons people should believe in your offering.
- A written strategy. Producing a strategy for review, discussion and approval before embarking on the next creative steps pulls together all the elements of 1–4.
- Leading co-creation. Involving key team members in co-creation sessions and exploring objectives, inspiration, themes and concept development helps create a more complete strategy.
- Preparing the brand briefing package. Producing a brand design brief that takes in visual reference and a summary of the brand strategy.
- Direction. Offering direction on the creative design of the rebrand including the logo, colour palette, visual motifs, image style and typography.
- Creating brand guidelines. Producing brand guidelines that take in tone of voice (verbal identity) and examples of application – large format, digital and print.
- Hand-over and Review. Briefing your partners (web designers, content writers etc) on the final assets and initial application suggestions, and staying on board to review the final result.
It may seem like an exhaustive and exhausting process but it doesn’t have to be. Nor should it necessarily take a long time or cost a small fortune.
Experienced brand consultants will adapt to the parameters of the task in hand, can move at pace and will check in regularly to keep everything moving on the right track.
After all, an authentic and compelling brand identity is one of the most important assets your business will invest in. It builds trust and pride as well as contributing to the health and progress of your business.