Brand new brand thinking

We live and work in a world overflowing with brands and selling messages. People expect all sorts of items to be presented to them in easily recognisable and identifiable packages. When you launch a new brand identity, you need to exploit every means of communication available to indicate to your community the change it represents, and to win their hearts and minds. Summing up everything that your business stands for in a consistent and recognisable brand is a valuable way of helping to achieve this.

When people think of brands, they often think of logos, jingles, or adverts

These are definitely all outward expressions of brands. But for branding to be successful, these components need to come from a consistent set of beliefs and values. These may be already imprinted on your mind but if not, think about what you want the business to achieve (vision). What beliefs and standards will guide all of your actions (values). What makes you different and special (key differentiators) and in what manner you are going to deliver them all (personality). By making a note of these thoughts, you are creating a plan that will help you, and/or a design and branding agency, to really understand how your business should be communicated through design and writing.

Building your brand’s identity

A brand is so much more than a logo; your logo will be just one part of the many aspects of the brand expression. The expression of your brand will be both visual and verbal, what it looks like, and the kind of words it uses. Visual expressions include the logo, photography, illustrations and fonts. Verbal expressions include your key messages, strapline and written communications (web, prospectus, leaflets). Either way all of these elements of your businesses language and design should work together to present a consistent, unified set of messages to your community about what you stand for. Your visual branding will need to be:

  • Consistent – the same colour palettes, typefaces and design elements should be applied across everything in the same way.
  • Flexible – your designs will have to work over objects of many different sizes, and made of many different materials. They will include everything from pens and mugs, through to badges and signage. They will also need to work well in black and white.
  • Maintained – going forward, you will need to think about who is going to act as your brand’s ambassadors, so that none of its messaging is diluted with the introduction, for example, of colours, designs, typefaces and imagery that are off-brand.

Involving stakeholders

Too many opinions delay the rebranding process and diffuse the focus needed to achieve ROI. Keep those with critical approval authority to an efficient shortlist, and assemble the smallest, most essential project team possible. Include a mix of levels – not just the directors. If however you wish to seek to involve members of the community and staff in the rebrand. There are many different ways to canvas opinion. You, or your design agency, could appoint an external research agency to hold focus groups. These can be helpful, as the views of specific sectors of the community can be sought all in a one-hour session. You could also set up a drop-in surgery. Or you could set up an online research tool, where people can log in and make their views known. Of course, the more people who are involved, the more potential there is for decisions to take longer to reach.

Live the brand

Every time you make contact with an organisation, you form an impression of them. If you get great customer service, you think highly of the business you got it from. Branding has been described as a set of behaviours, which means it’s more about the customer experience. It’s important that you map out your customer journey from the point of first contact to the last. A professionally designed logo and exquisite language will count for nothing if your behaviour and that of your staff is not also deeply rooted in the company’s vision and values. More than anything, it is the behaviour of staff that will impact on your reputation, and build perceptions of your brand. For a brand to be truly successful and undiluted, it needs to be applied consistently and policed for rogue pieces of design and formatting. Managing the consistency of application of the brand should become everyone’s responsibility, and anyone using parts of it should be well acquainted with the brand guidelines!

Market to employees like customers

  • Educate employees about the new brand, and its implications on the company and their work
  • Get leadership on board with key messages that inspire employees to embrace and own the new brand
  • Use engaging events to celebrate a launch
  • Appoint brand ambassadors that manage the application of the new brand within each department
  • View every communication with your employees as an opportunity to embed your brand values in everything employees read and hear.

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