Rebranding is the mark of an evolving company; one that has been around long enough to grow and change to greater connect with their target audience. Many well-established brands that we interact with every day have a wonderful history of brand evolution; companies like Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Shell, American Airlines, and Pepsi have gone through multiple rebrands to ensure that they will withstand the test of time. It's always fun to discover the roots of brands we're very familiar with, so I thought I'd share:
There are multiple reasons a company might want to rebrand, and when considering this undertaking it's necessary to maintain enough perspective on your company and your competition to determine whether your brand is still relevant.
Making the decision to rebrand shouldn't be taken lightly, especially if you decide to do a complete overhaul. If it's a minor rebrand, then you can get away with introducing it gradually; but if you send everything back to the drawing board, it can cost lots of money to replace your brand on your website, products, advertisements, etc. Sometimes this investment is necessary for the health of your company, and it's up to you to decide if it's worth it.
Here are some questions you might ask yourself to find out if it's time for you to consider investing in a rebrand:
HAS MY COMPANY'S MISSION CHANGED?
The company you created 10 years ago probably isn't the same company it is today. A changing company is a healthy company: it means that you're growing into your market, and finding new ways to serve your customer base. However, this also means that your old branding doesn't quite match the message you need to proclaim to your audience.
The whole purpose of branding is to connect your current or potential customers to your story, and to show them how you can make their lives easier. If your current branding sends a message that differs from your real mission, then you are doing yourself and your clients a disfavor.
IS MY BRANDING OUTDATED?
To stay relevant in your customers' eyes, you must be relevant to your competition. This requires keeping an eye on the visual trends not only in your industry, but also in our culture's leading companies. Looking at the famous examples above, you notice that all of these logos have a trend of moving away from a busy, hand-drawn aesthetic and toward the more streamlined, minimal look that is considered good design today.
Sure, you can argue that sticking with your current branding ensures brand recognition, but there are many ways to successfully rebrand while maintaining your company's ability to be recognized.
AM I KEEPING UP WITH MY COMPETITION?
As I said before, it's important to keep an eye on your industry to see what types of brand strategy they're implementing. If you notice that your competition is becoming more successful than you are, maybe it's time to take a good hard look at what they're doing with their brand and see how yours measures up.
As culture and technology grow and change, customer needs also change. It's so important to know what your customers need now, today, and not just what they needed 5 or 10 years ago. Stay up-to-date with your knowledge of your industry and your customer needs, and align that with your brand strategy.
Rebranding is not a small job, but given the right care and attention, it can see your company successfully through the next decade of business.
Stay tuned for Part 2: How to Approach a Rebrand!
If a rebrand is something you're considering, reach out to me to see how I can help you through the process! Click here.
New business-owners normally have one major concern: how am I going to make money? They spend hours building a business strategy and figuring out ways to make a return on the large investment of starting a new company. They find just the right people to work with them, and just the right place to set up camp.
They know that they should get someone to design them a logo, and that they should paint their office space or shop a certain color, but perhaps they don't dedicate as much time to this as they should.
What they probably don't realize is how vital their brand is to their success (or failure) as a company.
Business owners: your brand deserves just as much time and planning as the other aspects of your company. Not only does it deserve this, but it will have trouble being successful unless it is strategic.
You might be thinking "what's the big deal about a logo?" but let me set you straight: branding is so much more than just a logo.
WHAT I MEAN BY "BRANDING"
Branding includes a logo, yes, but the logo is a single element of the entirety of your brand. Branding is a package deal: it's an entire set of elements that make up the look and feel of your business. And this is not to be taken lightly!
The elements of a brand can be divided into two sections: one being the visuals, and the other being the language.
The visual elements in a brand communicate the tone of your brand purely aesthetically. They include: primary and secondary color palettes; typography (a pre-defined set of fonts that your brand uses for everything); a defined graphic style used for supporting graphic elements as well as iconography; photography style; company template design (including letterhead and business cards); web guidelines; as well as numerous other visual applications.
It's so important for your visuals to be unified. If your visuals are all over the place, and poorly designed, then your customers will slowly lose trust in you as a company. People inherently avoid ugly things. You'll look messy, like an amateur.
The language-based elements of a brand are a little more abstract than the visual ones. This section is all about the tone of your brand. It includes the way your social media posts are worded, and how that differs from your advertisements or emails. In this section, you sit down and outline what kinds of things your company says, and how it says them. This includes your tagline as well as your mission statement.
Language is important because it proves to your customers that you really do have their best interest in mind, and it shows them exactly how they can relate to you as a company.
When the visuals and the language come together and support one another, they beautifully give body to your company and its goals.
WHY IT MATTERS
I mentioned in the beginning that a lot of business-owners are largely concerned with making money. Well, in order to make money, you need a dedicated customer base. People are more willing to invest in your product or service if they have built a deep trust in who you are and what you say to them. If you know exactly how you help your specific customers, and what pain points you solve for them, they are more likely to build trust in you over your competitors.
Know what you're about and your customers will, too.
Think about a few companies with the most established branding, ones you recognize without even needing to think about it: Coca Cola, Nike, Volkswagen, Apple...all of these companies have solid branding that resonates across the board, in all aspects of their companies. They are also extremely good at storytelling. They know how to link their brand with stories that connect with real people. In fact, a lot of their advertisements aren't even directly about their product. They present a visual or story that resonates with their viewers, and evokes a certain reaction. They then associate that with their brand to offer viewers an experience instead of a product.
Before I set out to do any sort of branding work with my customers, I first send them a comprehensive branding questionnaire to nail down their goals and mission. It's so important to have a road map before you bring a designer into the mix. We do our best to deliver amazing design, but it's important for you, as the customer, to sit down and hash out the big ideas of your brand. When you do this, it allows you and your designer to be on the same page regarding your company's goals and mission. This makes for clear communication to your customers, which is what design is all about!
If you're interested in filling out a branding questionnaire to either build a new brand or refine an existing one, click here!
Yes, we've heard it before: spending a little time now will save you hours and hours of work in the future. But it's so true! Especially when it comes to freelance graphic design and beginning relationships with new clients.
I understand the excitement that comes with winning a new client, and discovering the puzzle that you'll have fun solving for them, but it's important to first set out the project expectations in a clearly-defined document that both you and your client agree to. Yes, that means setting aside time and writing, but trust me! It will save you many potential headaches down the road.
Here are some tips about what you should include in your contract so that you have a solid agreement that you can refer back to if you run into problems mid-project:
1. DEFINE THE AMOUNT OF WORK YOU ARE OFFERING YOUR CLIENT
It's true that as designers, we hope to deal with trustworthy clients who won't take advantage of us, but unfortunately that isn't always the case. You must define at the outset how much of your time and effort is included in your price (I normally define this by project milestones), or else you might find yourself in a place where you're putting in many more hours than anticipated, and will become frustrated with your client.
I recently ran into a situation which made me very thankful that I had clearly laid out the project scope before putting in any design work. This project was a logo design for a new company, and after some communication, it became clear to me that my client didn't have very clear direction.
I put in the hard work of creating 3 design concepts, and refining the chosen concept based on my client's feedback. We got to a point where the design was nearly complete, when my client decided he wanted to scratch everything and go back to the drawing board.
Thankfully, in my original agreement with my client over the project scope, I had stated that my logo design work included 3 original unique concepts, with 3 revisions on the chosen design. I had also stated that anything outside of the project scope would be billed at my hourly rate.
Because I had this clause in our original agreement, I was able to refer back to that and get paid for doing a complete re-haul of the design. I was then glad to go forward with the project, and the client was happy to compensate me for my time.
2. ONCE THE PROJECT IS COMPLETE, IT'S OFF YOUR PLATE
Make sure your client knows this one! Have a clause in your agreement that explains that, once the agreed-upon project scope is over, your client is responsible for any further changes or implementations of your work. Also state that you as the designer are not responsible for any problems that your client runs into with the project after your work is done.
Your client also needs to know that they are responsible for any desired output. They can certainly hire you again for help with the printing process, but that is not included in your original agreement.
3. INCLUDE A CANCELLATION POLICY
Sometimes designers and clients just aren't a good fit for each other, and that's okay! Let your client know that either they or you can cancel the project at any time for any reason. However, you also need to make sure your client agrees to compensating you for the work you completed up to the point of cancellation.
Just because your client isn't happy with the work you've done doesn't mean they get the work for free. Think about it: if you call a plumber to fix your faucet, and you decide you aren't happy with his work after he leaves, you are still expected to compensate him for the time he spent at your house. The same should be true in the design world. Of course, we all aim to make our clients fall in love with the design work we provide them, but that doesn't always happen.
4. GET A SIGNATURE
Get your document signed! Whether electronically or physically, it doesn't really matter, but you need that signature to fall back on in case something goes wrong.
I hope these tips help you avoid problems that are easily preventable by writing a good, solid contract. Be sure to check back here for more insider tips and insights!