Branding process: audit to launch
Done right, a rebrand is not a simple or quick task. Each step outlined below, with potential actions, is integral to define the direction, build the components and then launch a successful branding or rebranding program.
Purpose, people, positioning
The foundation of an effective brand is positioning. Positioning integrates the purpose of the organization—the reason for being—with the expectations of the target audiences and the value they receive from the products and services offered.
An audit of current marketing; a competitive review; research into audience perceptions; and clarifying current positioning; coupled with leadership’s vision for the future is the foundation for brand positioning.
What’s your core purpose?
First, why rebrand now? What has changed in the organization and/or in the marketplace? What’s needed to support growth and the vision for the future? How is your organization changing to respond to market shifts? Where are audience expectations changing?
Analyze the inherent values and purpose of the organization. Why was the business founded? Why do your audiences choose you? What separates you from others in your category? How are you known now and how do you want to be known?
- Planning meeting to discuss the scope of work, future vision, current market challenges
- Identify general timeline for development and measurements for success
- Distribute, discuss and probe answers to brand positioning questions with leaders or team
- Interview leadership and leadership team, include stakeholders as needed
- Conduct brand workshop(s) for leadership and front line staff
- Define the scope of current marketing and areas to address in branding
- Identify roles during the brand process, and how implementation will be handled
Who are your people?
Who are your target audiences? What do they want and expect from you? What are they looking for that you provide? What are perceptions and misperceptions about who you are and what you offer? What’s the “trigger” or their reason to look for what you offer? How do they choose? What is current market penetration and what’s the potential? Who are potential new audiences for current or new services?
- Review current and potential market and audiences
- Develop target audience profiles and personas
- Identify the triggers, the decision process and who’s involved
- Hold workshop with customer service/sales teams, or interview one-on-one, or conduct customer focus groups
Where do you fit?
Your positioning defines what’s unique from your audiences’ point of view. When your positioning is clear and based on both your purpose and your people, you’ll have the foundation for a powerful brand.
- Competitive review and industry definition/framework
- Identify and prioritize unique key assets/features/benefits
- Integrate feedback from brand workshops and market research
- Consultation with leadership to review and refine vision and goals
Design the visual and verbal brand
With positioning outlined and key aspects summarized, creating the visual and verbal brand are the next steps in the branding process.
Messaging architecture is the verbal brand
Messaging architecture delivers a hierarchy of key messages crafted to connect with the target audiences and quickly communicate the value of what’s provided. Messaging is the foundation for all communications and establishes the framework for website content and marketing outreach.
- Discuss and determine specific audiences for targeted key messages, additional versions or layers in the messaging hierarchy
- Write and revise three to five progressive drafts, using positioning concepts already defined
- Presentation and review with leadership team and/or stakeholders
- Present messaging to staff and explain context and use
Design the visual brand
A brand is more than a logo, yet the logo is the thumbprint of a brand. Logo design or redesign is based on positioning, audiences and applications. To build the identity system we design the logo first, then define a color palette, font system and key visual elements to build the framework for the total identity. A brand style guide summarizes the components and their use.
- Determine the structure of the logo system and how to develop sub-brands or related brands
- Create presentation including a review of background, competition, industry design samples
- Develop chosen concepts with client feedback, in optional color palettes
- As appropriate, develop an online survey for stakeholder feedback
- Present and review revised concepts, choose one direction
- Present revisions to client team for final review and approval
- Develop brand guidelines and all digital assets
- Create digital book of messaging and brand guidelines combined
Additional brand components
Essential to all communications are visuals. Our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than words. Building a library of visuals streamlines creating additional communications—from advertising to social media to website. As part of the branding process, build a core library of photography and graphics.
Photography can include:
- Building and location photos
- Photos of leadership and key staff
- Team or group photos
- “Working” photos of people, tools, process
- Texture or mood photos, depending on the brand
Design elements can include:
- A series of icons to distinguish process or products and services
- Visual “trust” symbols from certifications to awards
- Additional visual elements or textures to unify materials
Identify and create the central communication tools and strategies
This is where the new brand comes to life, in the tools used every day to speak and present who the organization is and what it stands for. The visual and verbal brand is supported by the critical communication tools—from website to in-house communication to advertising and collateral.
Build the critical brand touchpoints first
Together we will determine which areas to address first, from applying the new brand system to in-house forms and communications, to signing, advertising and digital and print materials and website. We’ll focus first on the points of choice… where your audiences will take action.
We’ll create templates as needed for in-house or freelance resources to save costs and facilitate ongoing brand management.
In this phase we’ll review current marketing strategy and determine what’s needed now, what’s essential for launch, and how to get the most from the budget.
All expressions of the brand are designed for consistency, to build recognition and increase response. Consultation with the client team will identify the most effective tactics to fit the budget.
Applications of the brand can include:
- Print collateral from brochures to magazine to rack cards and mailers
- Website from the ground up or a reskin of current content
- Social media marketing elements and a plan
- Signing, interior and exterior
- Vehicle graphics
- Advertising campaign, print or digital or a combination of all
- Trade show displays
- Packaging design
- Product specific campaigns
- Sales kits and sales collateral
- PowerPoint format, stationery, forms
Introduce the new brand to all audiences
The launch phase of the branding process should include an internal presentation to show staff how to support the new brand’s messages and presentation. Provide items they can “own” such as new business cards, clothing or gift items to give them a personal connection to the new brand.
For launch, choose a gradual introduction of the new brand; or a big splash to replace the old with the new all at once. From events to signing, to ad campaigns and a “funeral” for the old brand materials, launch can have many components.
Ongoing management of the brand
Once the brand is implemented and there’s a baseline for SMART goals and KPIs, we recommend periodic assessment and measurement. Make course corrections; add new elements; introduce or replace specific strategies; all with the goal of growing response and measured results.
Ready to rebrand? Talk to us
We’ll bring new vision and an objective point of view, then guide and collaborate to build a visual and verbal brand to stand the test of time. Drop us an email to schedule a time to discuss your rebranding goals and the branding process.
December 9, 2018
December 5, 2018
February 5, 2018