Re-Branding your Organization
We are rebranding!
The team at Venture Catalysts is finally ready to publicly announce…that we will be re-branding in 2018! This has been quite a long process, truly beginning in March of this year and we’re not done yet! There are a lot of things on a re-brand checklist, and there’s a lot of information out there on the web. We researched and scoured for hours making sure we were ready for this journey ahead.
You can do a simple Google search and find plentiful articles on this process (some of which I will reference) but I really want to reveal what this process has looked like from our small agency perspective. This process will look different for everyone, but here are some of the most common, biggest questions we had to answer:
- How do I know I need to rebrand?
- What is a brand identity?
- When is a good time to start the process?
- Where do I start?
- How do I come up with a new, unique name?
- Should I hire a branding agency?
- How do I spread the word?
How do I know I need to rebrand?
Well…it depends! For us, Kirk and a business partner started Venture Catalysts in mid-2016, and in early 2017, the agency was turned over to Kirk and the previous partner became a client. That’s when I came onboard! Our previous partner, and now a client, has remained a close confidant and coach, but this shift in leadership ultimately shifted the direction of Venture Catalysts.
Our previous partner also owns the domain and name Venture Catalysts and wants to keep it for future endeavors, and he graciously gave us until the end of the year to build up our business and re-brand. So in some cases, you may be forced to rebrand!
Shifts in ownership, such as our case, or other situations like new investors, company buy-out, and the like may force a rebrand.
Other situations that may force a rebrand could involve current events, shifts in the industry, economy, or government, or any other force that may render your current brand no longer relevant or effective. A great example of this is Instagram’s rebrand in May of 2016. Instagram shifted from a logo that mirrored a classic film camera, to a sleeker multi-colored logo that reflected the more modern digital camera’s as well as keeping up with how quickly technology is changing.
Another big reason to rebrand is if your organization is quite established (old…) and simply needs an updated identity. One of my favorite stories is Old Spice’s rebranding strategy in 2010. Old Spice is a classic American company since 1938. 75 years is a long time to be in business successfully, but this brand was well-known as being for “older” gentlemen. Old Spice showed how you can update your customer experience with new products (body wash), reaching a new generation (social media campaigns), and quippy commercials (“Smell like a man, man”) and remain relevant.
Old Spice didn’t simply create a new logo. They created a whole new identity, showing that they are still relevant and for every man, not just the older generation, by running a successful new marketing campaign.
And this brings us to…
What is a brand identity?
This article on Investopedia delves into the differences between the brand image and brand identity, stating that:
“…a company’s brand identity is what it says about who it is – the product or service it delivers, the quality it gives customers, its advantages over competing brands. The brand image, on the other hand, is how the brand is perceived by the public.”
So rebranding is a lot more than simply creating a new logo. This is a time to re-evaluate your products and services, your operations, your core values, and where you sit in the world.
For us, this looks like re-affirming our core values of service, transparency, and collaboration. We are doing much more than coming up with a new name and logo. We have spent hours researching other companies branding strategies, various core values, and diving into the type of experience we want to offer our clients.
When is a good time to start the process?
We were fortunate in that our rebrand is timebound. Knowing that we had until the end of 2017, we started implementing a plan in early April. There is no singular good time to start this process. There may a certain time of the fiscal year that will be better depending on your industry (i.e. a retail brand should probably not try to implement a brand during the busy holiday season!), but other than that, the major factors are more obscure and mostly internal.
As referenced in many of the checklists I’ve found, some areas to consider before beginning are:
- Buy-in – ensure all important stakeholders, employees, and other important figures in your organization are on board
- Identify your name – in order to begin a brand identity kit process (see below) you need a name, first and foremost! If you aren’t changing the name, move to the next step
- Calendar planning – extensive calendar planning! Pick a launch date, and allow yourself enough time to work with a branding agency (if applicable), build a new website, develop print & digital advertising, write email campaigns, plan a launch event…the list could go on and on.
- Stick to the plan – delegate, meet, followup, and launch. Everyone in the organization should be involved in the process and/or be updated throughout to keep everyone accountable to launching on time.
Where do I start?
We started with (multiple) whiteboard sessions. You can do this how you already have brainstorming sessions. Maybe your team meets in a large meeting room, maybe your board starts this process, maybe you send out surveys to your employees – whatever you do, get the ideas flowing! We began with the 5 Ws & How of Venture Catalysts. Once we knew who, what, where, when, why and how we do business, we began to form our identity, and then ideas for names came more easily.
And as always, lots and lots of Googling anything and everything!
How do I come up with a new, unique name?
Our new name ultimately came from one of these sources (nope, not telling yet!), but it took hours and hours of discussion, decision, checking domain names, domain unavailable (or too expensive), start over. It was a long grueling, process, but there has been nothing more satisfying than the moment I had that ever so sought after “aHA!”
Should I hire a branding agency?
Once we settled on a new name, we now had to decide if we were going to attempt the full rebrand on our own or hire an agency. We are a digital marketing agency, so while we use Canva, Photoshop, and other design tools on a daily basis, we are not experts in creating a brand identity. Can we create our own logo? Sure. Should we? Now there’s a different question.
We ultimately decided to contract with a brand identity agency for a cohesive process and brand identity packet. We are experts on data & campaigns and can help our clients with small shifts like updated colors or a variant of their existing logo, but we thought we should leave this entire process to the pros.
Our branding agency isn’t just creating a new logo and selecting colors and fonts. The process starts with an in-depth survey of our business. This covers topics from how we operate internally, who our clients are, what we are best at, who are our competitors, how do we differentiate from them, and my favorite question: “If your company was an animal, what would it be?” The answer was a tardigrade!
With a full understanding of our 5Ws & How, they are helping us create an entire identity, that does include logos, colors, and fonts, of course, but ultimately gives our brand a “feeling’ when you see or hear the name.
“A branding agency will support your brand, by developing an understanding of your business, clarifying your goals and objectives and communicating this in the right way to the right audience. From this information they will help provide a strategy to grow your brand and provide you with the right toolkit to embed your brand purpose, values, promises, positioning, and identity into your organization.“ ~ The Branding Journal
So from my personal experience, I would highly recommend hiring a branding agency. While this is an extra cost to work into the budget, the long-term value that it will bring to your organization and clients will make it worth it.
How do I spread the word?
This hearkens back to the extensive calendar planning. We started our rebranding process in April, we are launching in January, and in between, we’ve been working on items every week to keep the process moving forward. A big part of this is a HUGE marketing campaign. We are Silver-Level Certified Partners with SharpSpring so we are using this tool to create multiple email automations that correlate to our rebrand, our services, specials & discounts, and more. On top of that, we have created a content calendar with blogs and articles (this is the first one!) and a social media calendar.
We are also building out landing pages, creating ads, and later in 2018 adding a YouTube with videos. With these planning tools, we have a few that are due each week which allows plenty of time to review, edit, and have them ready for launch in January.
Another easy way to get the word out is to start with who you already know! Let your existing clients and prospects know about your rebrand with a memo, email, and social media posts. We’ll be doing this about a month out, so everyone can get used to seeing our new name in emails, social media, etc.
As I’ve mentioned, there’s no singular way to go about this process. Lots of research and planning are the best two pieces of advice I can give after having done it!
If you have some questions, or just want to meet up, we’d love to chat with you! Click below to get in contact with us, and when you get frustrated, here’s my daily reminder from a digital-gal:
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