In our 10 years we’ve done quite a few of these jobs and we’ve learned a fair bit about what happens and what matters when you're doing them.
If you think about it, a rebrand or brand evolution is a relatively infrequent task for a marketer, so while we roll from one job to another building up a load of knowledge, they don’t. They’re apprehensive and unsure of how they should go about doing it. There’s a lot riding on it and they’ve a ton of ‘stakeholders’ who’ll be only too willing to stick the boot in if it goes wrong. In meeting these clients and developing solutions for them, here are five observations (from both sides) that are important in delivering a successful rebrand task:
1. They (clients) want to know you’ve done it before. And it worked.
Obvious, but it’s important to show them you’ve got the right experience, at the right level. I encourage prospective clients to talk to our past and current clients to discuss the project and our approach. It provides context and offers them an unbiased, independent view of our skills and abilities. If you start the conversation about logos and design outputs you’re starting in the wrong place.
2. The website’s part of the project
On at least 50% of the jobs we do in this area, clients tell us that they don’t want to include the website as part of the project. I can often understand their rationale for this (separate budgets, different internal owner etc.), but it’s such a disproportionately important brand touchpoint that it must be included in the process. Downgrading the website to a logo change is entirely wrong – the way it works, sounds and feels is as important as the way it looks. In many cases, reviewing the site as part of the rebrand process asks some difficult questions of the role the site actually plays in the wider organisation, which ultimately creates a stronger solution.
3. The collaborative process is as important as the output
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s more important. Identifying stakeholders across the business and getting them participating equally in the process is the most important aspect for the client. Every time. In our experience running a workshop, or consulting with all stakeholders separately and helping the group navigate their way through the branding process will yield the best results in the long run. Trying to shortcut or ignore this stage will definitely get you started, but it won’t be long until the wheels come off – and it doesn’t matter how good the creative execution is.
4. Be down to earth, pragmatic and use plain English
Clients need to feel comfortable that you can represent them to the rest of their business. They probably don’t want an agency of flouncy designers wanting to ‘push the creative envelope’ or ‘redefine the industry paradigm’. They want credible people who understand their commercial priorities, can talk to them and their stakeholders in a language they understand and follow a process to completion. It’s amazing how often this is overcomplicated and can lead to a feeling of alienation and exasperation with the whole project on the client side.
5. Don’t forget – the work better be good!
It doesn’t matter if it’s a small creative evolution, or a complete rebrand from the bottom up. Once you’ve been through the process, done your research, held the brand workshops, analysed the results – the creative execution had better be good. As you talk the client through your findings, explaining the decisions you’ve made, you can sense the anticipation building. The expression etched on their face is ‘just show me what you’ve got’. In that moment their visceral, raw reaction to your creative solution will be plain to see; whether you’ve hit the target or missed the mark. Having been there many times now, I can say that there’s nothing more professionally nourishing than knowing you’ve knocked the ball out of the park!