A brand refresh for a brand new year?
A brand refresh for a brand new year?
Change; the one constant every business faces; while a source of pain to many business owners, it can also be a blessing in disguise to others. This article looks at how the problems businesses have faced in a year of dramatic change could be a reason to liven up the face of the business through a brand refresh, ready for a brand new year.
Change can be your friend, even unwanted change
Running a business is naturally full of challenges; it goes with the territory. When things are running smoothly, unwanted changes can be just that – unwanted. As we have seen this past year, most businesses have been hit with change at unprecedented levels. But for some, it’s possibly a blessing in disguise. It’s all too easy for businesses to ‘keep making hay while the sun shines’, and not investing in the future. Significant change can be a useful, albeit often unwanted, catalyst.
A lot of businesses simply won’t survive, because they don’t have the resources, cash or otherwise, to sustain an economic crisis for any protracted length. Others though, seek to adapt and use the opportunity dramatic change brings, to their advantage. The most notable adaptation we have seen is the move from businesses being inherently ‘analog’ in nature to expanding into digital, online channels.
The impact of change on the brand
Many businesses that are already well established online or have kept their heads above water in other ways have still had to adjust their operations. This can have a significant impact on the culture and outlook of a company, and the many aspects that go to make up their brand identity. While striving to maintain the basic core beliefs, values, and principles, such change also represents an opportunity to reflect a new outlook or market position to that held in a somewhat different business world, just a short time ago.
Attitudes have changed, certain principles in how we all work have changed, life’s priorities have changed for a lot of people. It is appropriate that business owners look closely at how these unprecedented changes will impact their brand because even in subtle ways, it will have.
But, should we change our brand?
Bringing a wholesale change to an established brand naturally has many risks associated with it. So, unless the brand is failing in other ways, such as significant sales declines because of fundamental shifts in consumer buying habits, it’s more likely that a ‘brand refresh’ is in-order.
Much history and investment are likely to exist with an established brand, and that needs to be protected as much as possible. However, aspects of the brand can be ‘tweaked’ to become more inclusive to prevailing market forces.
For instance, brand logos and tag lines can become tired and dated. Injecting new life into a highly visible brand ‘attribute’ can be a quick way to reignite interest in your business. This is because familiarity often breeds complacency. Your market may be used to seeing the same old logo and tag line, so subconsciously it’s easy for someone to blank out your brand in favour of something they haven’t noticed before. We were recently engaged by a children’s dance school to refresh these aspects of their brand for this very reason. To read more about their brand refresh, click here.
How else can a brand refresh help my business?
A common question asked by business owners is “How can I differentiate my business”.
While branding alone isn’t enough to create differentiation at a product level, it has a massive impact at the consumer level. The visual aspect of branding is all about the competition for ‘eyeballs’ in a competitive market space. Small tweaks to the visual components can have a significant impact, simply because people get used to the ‘status quo’, and so a change gets their attention. Such change represents a source of differentiation, as well as a way to freshen the appeal of your business.
If your brand operates within a relatively niche market, such as a professional services company, for instance, potential customers get used to seeing the same companies come up when searching around. This is particularly true when searching online.
In the digital environment, a search through Google will present 10 companies on page one. The brand experience begins here, with the title and description that your site presents in relation to the search conducted. The companies listed will change over time as Google homes in on the ones that best represent the intentions of the searcher. However, this is often the first opportunity a company gets to present its brand.
Here’s a simple exercise: Search Google for a product or service that relates to your business. Take a look at the companies that come up. How well do you think the information Google shows reflects on the brand represented? Try and find the page that Google has indexed for your company. If you are listed, look at the information it provides.
Sometimes, if you are really lucky, and also sometimes when you search on your own company, Google may show a ‘brand box’ to the right of the search results. This is a capsule representing what Google knows about your company’s brand and what it may stand for. As this has been produced by artificial intelligence, it’s a pretty good way to see if it’s on point.
Here’s an example of our listing.
Also, Google shows images related to our brand:
The goal here is to look at these as a snapshot from somebody that doesn’t really know who you are, and how what Google knows about your business reflects the personality of your brand through the imagery it displays and the snippets of content it pulls out about your business. Here’s how Google sees The Creative Tree’s brand.
From this perspective, we hope that you’ll realise that in today’s digital world, a brand is composed of far more than just a logo, tag line, collateral, and a website. You’ll notice from the search page, that Google has started to list out social media channels too. Each of these is presented through a headline and a short description.
Branding runs deep
A brand refresh, therefore, can be seen as potentially quite an extensive exercise. Much of this could be handled by your own personnel, but in principle, it all flows from a top-level identity – your brand’s ‘persona’ and that’s where we can help.
In conducting a brand refresh, The Creative Tree will look to challenge your current thinking about the persona your existing brand projects in relation to the expectations of the market you currently serve or that you wish to serve.
We may recommend changes to the overall look and feel of your brand – from subtle colour or font changes, the general style of images used in your marketing collateral or on your website and social media venues. We may recommend you change your logo and tag line, to something a little more ‘exciting’, aligned with the dynamics of your target market.
The point is, we won’t be changing your brand in a fundamental way, just making it more interesting to a rapidly changing market and new trends. We may also only need to do this for an aspect of your product offering – maybe to generate renewed interest in a particular product line.
In this way, by refreshing your brand, we will also be introducing a greater level of differentiation into your business.
Will a brand refresh be expensive?
The simple answer is no. As we are only working on aspects of your existing brand, it’s unlikely to break the bank. Of course, just how extensive your brand refresh comes down to you; you are in control. We may only adjust aspects of your logo, or on more extensive assignments, we may be asked to redesign stationary or key imagery used on your website, social media, or other marketing collateral – such as brochures or digital brochures.
A final thought on brand refreshes
We have all experienced significant trauma in the current business climate. The one thing for sure is that many things we have taken for granted in the past have changed. As a business, you simply can’t afford to just do what you’ve been doing, at least not in the way you project what you do to your audience, as it’s likely their values and motivations have changed too.
We stand at the beginning of a new year, a year filled with uncertainty, but also an opportunity for those resolute enough to go looking.
A brand refresh represents an opportunity to reshape how your business presents itself to an audience that’s also reconsidering what’s important to itself in a changing business landscape.