Eight months after the launch of our new brand, I took time to reflect on the journey and the awkwardly meta process of rebranding a branding firm.
The food was ah-mazing. Everyone was dressed to the nines. Overall, the fundraising event was a smash hit. Then, the emcee walked onto the stage and thanked those who made the event happen. I was thrilled when she announced us as a key player in this glamorous night…at first. Then I dropped my head into my hands as she butchered the name of our company. Josh put his hand on my shoulder, sighed, and said, “I told you. It’s time.”
This wasn’t the first time someone had mispronounced the name of our company. It wasn’t the second or the tenth or the fiftieth time. Josh had been saying we needed to rework our whole brand for about a month. That night I agreed. Thus, we began the intense process of rebranding our branding firm. Here are a few things I learned along the way.
1. Brands don’t last forever
Our name, tagline, and logo didn’t reflect our new services and structure. What had started with a freelance designer was now a full-service creative firm, and we needed that to be clear to our prospective clients. The tangible pieces of our brand we’re no longer serving the intangible pieces — our mission and goals. But that’s part of evolving as an organization. Even the most long lasting companies have to refresh their brand from time to time. Wendy’s, Pepsi, Ford — none of them still use the exact logo, colors, voice, or tagline they had originally.
Everyone needs to freshen up their look and review their mission and values from time to time. But certain situations may lead an organization to make changes sooner rather than later. Have your services or products changed dramatically? Has the structure of your company been redesigned significantly? Does your organization need a clean slate after some bad PR? When that happens, it’s time to rebrand.
2. One thing leads to another
Our recent rebrand was a head to toe, soup to nuts renovation. But it didn’t start that way. When creating our own ad for the fundraiser mentioned above, we realized that our tagline, visually solving problems, didn’t accurately describe what we do. That led to a conversation about whether our logo made the right impression, if our name was understandable, and if our mission and positioning were in alignment with our long-term goals. So, we started from the beginning, as if we were a startup again. We defined our mission, positioning, and personality. Then we let our visuals and voice flow out of that.
You may find that reviewing your mission statement leads to revised core values and a new tagline with an accompanying awareness campaign. That’s OK. It’s better to let these changes come organically and address them as they come, than to let them slide and hope your clients don’t notice the fractures in your brand.
3. You have to make a plan
I had no idea how many layers there were to our brand until we had to evaluate, redesign, and replace everything. Business cards, brochures, website, invoices, everything reflected our old brand. (As they should!) The to-do list seemed insurmountable until we paused and asked ourselves some basic questions. When would we run out of business cards anyway? What items are client-facing and what are just for internal use? What does our marketing budget allow? Those questions guided us as we made a launch plan.
Whether you update your vision statement or overhaul your whole look, you have to look critically at every piece of collateral and ask yourself, “Does this align with our new brand?” Once you’ve taken inventory of everything that needs to updated, ask yourself the questions, make a plan, and assign a person to run point on the execution of your new brand.
4. You might get emotional
I was attached to the name of our company, largely because it was my last name. It was special to me that I was a Schaulis and I was part of Design Schaulis. But deep down I knew it was a lot more important for our clients to easily pronounce and understand our name than for me to have an emotional connection.
Your brand is your organization’s identity. Just as you can feel a twinge of nostalgia when your personal identity grows and changes, there can be a few emotions involved in letting go of parts of your brand.
Have you gone through a rebrand? Are you wondering if it’s time for your company to take the plunge? I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments.