To stay successful, your business must continually adapt to new opportunities and external influences. Your business is maturing, growing, and ever changing. As you work to keep your business relevant and adaptive, it’s important to ensure your brand reflects the real you.
So, what exactly does that mean? It means, the company image may have outgrown its effectiveness and it might be time for a brand refresh. But how do you know for sure? There are several clues to look for that could signal that it’s time for an update.
1. Your customer base is stagnant
There are plenty of ways to tell whether your audience has moved on from your businesses message, and the first is that sales remain flat. For example, existing customers are still pleased with your products or services, but you’re just not gaining ground in the market. This could be a sign that your brand has become outdated. That’s why you continue to have your loyal following, but not attracting newer and/or younger clients.
A change to a fresher more updated look may be all you need to reenergize your place in the competitive market. We’ll talk more about what that can mean later in this blog.
2. Your brand message doesn’t attract your target audience
In this instance, your look isn’t what’s turning off customers, but it’s your tagline, or the focus of your brand message. It may no longer emphasize what customers are looking for today. For example, five years ago, perhaps product durability was what was important to customers. But today, it’s more about can your company be trusted to do what you say you’re going to do.
It’s isn’t that you couldn’t be trusted before and now you can be, it just wasn’t part of your messaging because it didn’t need to be. But today, it may be what’s causing your business to get overlooked. The bottom line is, knowing what’s most important to your customers and making that prominent in your messaging is key to overcoming this obstacle.
3. Your brand no longer reflects all that you offer
Your business has changed, adapted, or expanded. Does your brand messaging accurately reflect what you offer and who you are? Make sure your customers understand what you’re about now.
For example, a local coffee joint may offer the best-tasting coffee in town, and its brand boasted that for the past 10 years. But today, it’s more about the experience. It’s a gathering place, a place to work, study, relax, meet old friends, make new friends … all while enjoying the best coffee in town. The brand messaging needs to reflect that shift in the core business.
4. You don’t stand out any more
Your brand sounds like every other company in your niche or industry. It doesn’t differentiate you from the rest, and that’s a problem. You have to find a way for customers to distinguish your busienss from the other players in your industry.
This can be a complex process because it means getting to the bottom of what your company stands for, what it can do today, and how it outshines your competitors. We’ll talk more about that later in this blog.
5. The marketplace is changing
There are times when opportunities present themselves and you just have to take advantage of it. Let’s say for example your biggest competitor merges with a large conglomerate and you are now the only local game in town. Take advantage of that opportunity. This is your chance to tap into a new share of the market that had been held by your competitor. Highlight the advantages your business offers to those customers who like the personal service offered by a local company.
REFRESH VS. REBRAND
Let’s take a moment to discuss the difference between a brand refresh and a complete rebrand. A brand refresh typically maintains a visual connection to how the brand identity was seen before. For example, the logo remains the same, but the tag line is updated. A new, updated color palette may be introduced. Or, the logo is tweaked to update the look and feel for the company.
A rebrand is considered more of a complete transformation to a new identity and brand system for the same name. A rebrand would include a new logo design, fresh messaging, a reinvented visual system and a transformed marketing program. Rebranding is more complex and demands time, attention and a deep dive into who you are now and how you want to be perceived in the future.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU REFRESH YOUR BRAND?
The short answer is as often as needed. There’s no hard and fast rule that says you should execute a brand refresh every X number of years. However, a brand refresh should be done with thought and purpose.
You want to build equity in your brand, so you don’t want to change too often. That can cause your customer to be confused, and your brand to lose its identity completely. It can also be costly. So a good rule of thumb is to limit a brand refresh to every three years, unless there is a compelling reason to do it sooner.
HOW TO EXECUTE A BRAND REFRESH
1. Self evaluate
The biggest mistake you can make is to skip this step. Before you can begin your brand refresh, you must first do your due diligence. Determine what needs fixing, what’s missing, and what’s not working. What do you want to achieve with your brand refresh and how can you reach those goals?
Find out how the market views your company, what differentiators you have, and what you might need to change to stay relevant. Survey your top customers to find out what they appreciate most about you. Reach out to former customers and find out why they left you.
2. Research the Competition
Find out what you need to do to stand out from your competitors. You’ll want to look at a few key factors to ensure your brand differs from theirs:
- Tone of voice – Is it casual, formal, or full of jargon? Does their brand tell a story?
- Taglines and key messages – Who is their target audience? What is their key focus? How does that compare to yours?
- Logos, colors, fonts, styles – What is their style? Trendy? Techie? Corporate? Inviting and friendly? How does that compare to yours?
- Value proposition – What is their key differentiator? What makes them stand out to their customers?
Once you’ve done this, you should have an idea of how to keep up with your competitors, and potentially make sure you stand out.
3. Update your visual brand
If you’ve determined your visual identity is outdated and needs an update, you’ll want to ensure whatever you change about your logo or visual identity is consistent with the marketplace and your brand position.
Look at your logo, color pallet, photography, fonts, styles, and more to determine how they show the fundamentals of your brand. It could be you need to update your colors or font. Or maybe the photography you use is too staged and not friendly. Or maybe your logo does need an adjustment to shed the outdated elements.
4. Tone of voice/messaging update
A brand refresh may not be visual at all. As discussed earlier, it can be the messaging that needs an update. Taking the findings from your self evaluation and competitive analysis, the next step is to craft compelling key messages that pinpoint your unique position in the marketplace.
The messaging should attempt to reach your key target audience with factual, as well as emotional content. It should include:
- Who you are
- What you do
- Why you do what you do
- How your approach is different
- How this ultimately benefits the client
You want to get past the tangible attributes of your company and tap into the emotional triggers — the why factor — that can’t be easily imitated by the competition.
5. Communicate and Document
Creating a strong brand identify takes the commitment from your entire team. You’ll want to communicate the changes you’ve made to your brand to your employees to ensure they understand the what and the why.
They are the voice behind your brand, promoting the attributes you claim are part of your brand identity. It’s important they understand this and take it seriously.
To help keep everyone on the same page, it’s critical that you create a brand standards guide that documents the dos and don’ts of your brand. This can be fairly extensive, but at the very least should include the following:
- Logo usage, including critical guidelines for size, positioning, margins and colors, as well as various “lockups” for all acceptable variations (color, black and white, horizontal, vertical, etc.) depending on placement and usage.
- Colors, fonts, photography styles, and graphic elements such as icons.
- Messaging, the brand voice, and other components that comprise your brand.
A brand standards guide that is enforced throughout your company helps to ensure consistency and will support strong brand recognition in the marketplace. You’ll want to update any marketing tools that use the old brand and replace them with the updated brand. This can be done immediately, or completed over time depending on the extent of your brand refresh and the costs involved.
6. Brand Launch
The last element of the brand refresh and one that is critical to the success of the process, is a plan for launching the updated brand eternally. The specifics will depend on the extent of the change from the existing brand. But it will be important to communicate to existing clients and prospects the inspiration for the change, some details around the process and the essence of the new brand platform.
As your business evolves, keep an eye on your brand and take note of any constraints that might make it difficult to:
- Attract new customers
- Stay competitive
- Take advantage of new opportunities.
Conducting a brand refresh can be a big undertaking for a business. Let the experts at cloudCreative support your efforts with a brand refresh that will help your business better compete in 2020.