How to overhaul your brand image

Here, Sally Barrett-Spring of reveals how the business managed its rebranding process.

Our previous logo which had set out to represent a telephone handset had been in place for around 13 years from when we were a relatively young, small business. It was our second incarnation after our start-up image of a blue cut out lady which soon fell out of favour.

We had our own reasons for taking a fresh look at our visual identity in 2014. The brand refresh has been launched to tie in with the development of a new .com site which will sit alongside the existing UK website to support our increasing international activities. The new logo will also be rolled out as part of a new look for client tools and our app.

It seemed like a new beginning in so many ways so the time felt right to take a step back and spring clean our look. This is a useful exercise for any business; to see yourselves as others see you. It’s rather like the furniture and decoration in your living room; what started out as sparkly and new can become a little tired and while you can live with it for a while, there comes a time when you have to walk in anew, recognising that you may just need a DIY SOS.

A new look doesn’t have to tie into anything in particular happening within your business but if it does there is all the more opportunity to shout about it and draw attention to your handiwork.

Our decision to change started from an initial discussion on how our email footers should look, along with recognising the need for a stand-alone icon that would work in the digital landscape, on our app and for social media. This led to a wider debate about our overall identity and so the process began to come up with something different that would work across every platform – our website, online, print, exhibition stands, letterheads, videos and photography, around our offices – basically anywhere we are visible to our customers.

We gathered a small group of us together (in a very small business, it’s useful to get the thoughts of clients and/or some impartial contacts – people with good ideas who you trust to give an honest opinion and not just agree with you!) and set about brainstorming our new look and feel. We wanted something relatively timeless, not too on-trend right now, to reduce the possibility of needing to repeat the exercise too soon.

A brand refresh doesn’t have to be a complete departure. How often have we seen familiar brands (Royal Mail, Gap, Coca Cola) making big changes only to return to the old logo with their tail between their legs soon afterwards as the new one just hasn’t resonated with the people who matter to them.

We started by picking out what we felt still works well – we liked the distinctive lettering on the brand name and the bright orange colour which makes us stand out but felt the ’headset’  icon was too nondescript as most people didn’t have a clue what it represented and it didn’t always reproduce well. This stage is the ideal time to let your ideas run free – research, sketch, play around, fiddle, but remember you need to choose an image that’s not only robust across all applications, but also reflects the impression you wishes to portray. In our case we favoured images around communication, working in harmony, hand-in-hand, a perfect fit with clients, helping them to succeed, rise and fly high. We went through a whole raft of balloons and hot air balloons before we settled on a bird to nestle and curve around the wording to hopefully depict a continuous flow.

We looked at shapes, depth, texture and colours in search of a logo with character. It’s important at this stage to think about what materials you generate and how any new artwork will work in that context. A colour palette can give you plenty of options for using the logo in different settings. We have added a hint of pink to our original orange colour and with a range of colours, now including shades of blues and purples; we have the option to introduce different colours to different client sectors.

Once designed, we asked all staff to get involved in choosing the bird’s name which we hoped would not only raise awareness of the exercise and encourage engagement but also give our logo its own personality! We had great fun and with around 300 different suggestions it wasn’t easy to decide but we finally settled on Tully, suggested by one of our new PAs as it’s the surname of our oldest, wisest PA!

If you like lists, you will enjoy rebranding as it’s only when you start to think about every possible touch point whereby your logo is visible to your customers that reality bites and your ‘to do’ reminders get longer and longer! It’s useful to create a timeline of who is doing what, by when, updating this frequently as you work through it.

In our case we identified more than 500 separate ‘logo locations’. When you start adding them up it seems a daunting task but don’t get downhearted. It’s surprising once you get cracking how you can work your way through them, some easier than others. The trick is to accept that you can’t refresh everything all at once so be prepared for a phased introduction. We started out with making changes internally right through our offices, followed by our ‘shop front’ essentials of our website and social media platforms which involved lots of pre-testing. Stage two involved working through our general printed collateral – fliers, brochures, pop up stands, business cards etc., followed by the same exercise for our main client sectors.

Don’t worry too much if the old logo still pops up here and there during the phasing-in period. Unless you are working with unlimited resources and are prepared to waste materials, there will be the odd mis-match and compromise as you catch up.  Rebranding can be costly and time heavy but planning ahead, by running stocks down and managing print runs, by only printing what you are likely to need in the run up to the change, will help keep costs and waste down. We assigned a completely separate cost code to the rebrand so we could measure costs clearly, keeping expenditure away from day-to-day marketing so as not to skew our overall figures.

Keep your new look under wraps until you are ready to unveil it on your website, through social media, in a newsletter, via a press release – however you communicate best with your audiences.  Finish off the process by writing up guidelines for the use of the new logo in the future then listen carefully and respond to all the lovely feedback you will hopefully receive as people begin to notice it!

Sally Barrett-Spring is head of creative for telephone answering specialist Moneypenny.

Further reading on branding

‘Drip, drip’ advertising can be more effective

Taking a ‘drip, drip’ approach to advertising and ensuring a brand is constantly in the public eye is more effective than one major, short-lived campaign, it is claimed.

An advertising strategy which is solely focused on one form of media may be ineffective and provide no real return on investment, comments Rachel Hawkes, account director of Elemental Communications.

She adds that multimedia campaigns can be the most efficient as they mean consumers are surrounded with a brand during different aspects of their daily activities.

‘If we see a brand when we watch TV, then hear its name as we listen to the radio, see it in the magazines we read and then see it on the internet it reinforces [its] power,’ Hawkes remarks.

Alan Dobie

Alan Dobie

Alan was assistant editor at Vitesse Media Plc (previous owner of before moving on to a content producer role at Reed Business Information. He has over 17 years of experience in the...

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