When is it Time to Change Your Brand Identity?
All too often I meet business owners who think that because they hired a logo designer when they started their company over a decade ago, they’re done with “branding” their business. For the next ten to twenty years, they’re “all set” and it’s one of those business decisions they’ll never need to make again. That may be true, to a degree, if you’re a household name like Ford, McDonald’s, or Apple, but it’s not true for the rest of us.
We tend to underestimate the power of our company’s identity and the impact it has, especially on an untapped customer base. Even great trademarks need to be updated, if for no other reason than to tell the world, “we’re not getting older, we’re getting better!”
Say you have a friend who likes his favorite suit. He paid a lot for it 10 or 15 years ago and has great memories wearing it. Is it wise of him to keep wearing it? Sure, it’s a little tight and the lapel is on the big side, but it’s “still a good quality suit,” right? Unless you have a very close friend or an enemy who’s going to be 100% honest, how will you learn that you look like a pudgy disco-king?
How do you know when it’s time to update your logo? Here are five indicators that business owners should regard if they really mean business about maintaining and building a strong brand identity.
1. You should never need to apologize for your logo.
If word ever gets back that people “just don’t get your logo,” pay attention.
If you don’t have quality logo files that maintain the graphic integrity and your logo is inconsistently displayed in various media, you are jeopardizing your brand’s credibility.
If your employees aren’t wearing the cool shirts you provided because the logo looks dated, you’re chipping away at company pride and missing an opportunity to strengthen your company’s culture.
2. It’s been over 10 years since the logo was first created.
Ten-plus years in business is a perfect time to review whether the company’s identity is appearing outdated. It is surprisingly common for business owners to think that if they change their logo, people won’t recognize their brand. Not true, if the upgrade is done well. When a business upgrades its identity, it sends a powerful message in the marketplace and creates momentum internally with employees–having a positive impact on the company’s brand.
3. The business is anticipating a move, merger or going to be sold.
Moving or adding a location requires updating everything from stationery to signage. This is a perfect time to consider an identity redesign. A merger, depending on the stature of the companies, will mandate a need for brand clarification and signify that new and better things will be happening. An updated identity is a no-brainer. When selling, any business that is going to be on the market will glean more if its identity is up-to-date and consistently implemented. It’s called curb appeal.
4. Your company has changed or grown in its offerings.
As a company grows, it evolves, and often this maturation leads to significant changes in the business. Additional product or service lines could mandate new markets, which should mandate new messages. This reason to change is the toughest for business owners to see. Often it’s gradual, taking place over time. Sadly, by the time it’s realized, the competition has dominated the market.
5. Your competitors have upgraded their brand identity.
Don’t let this happen: do it before your competitors do! Forward thinking businesses set the pace for their industry. This will include a progressive and continual analysis of a company’s brand identity as well. If your company delays in a critical updating of your brand identity and message, it’s likely your competition won’t. If your competition takes this step before you do, they look like the leader.
Midway Rotary (now Midway Engravers), a Michigan Manufacturer, updated their logo to reflect their new technology and progressive company.
PROBLEM: After 35 years, Midway Engravers had progressed technologically and decided to undergo a corporate identity upgrade. IGD was hired to update Midway’s identity, explore names, and to create a trademark which conveyed the unique attributes of their products & services.
SOLUTION: IGD created a shorter, more effective sub-line and explored representational trademarks which captured the die-cutting process during the symbol development. The new identity is now creatively distinctive and relevant to its industry.
A distinctive and credible brand identity is only one facet to a business’ success, but it’s one that everyone sees. It’s imperative to maintain your company’s identity intentionally and not just let it happen, or let it go. Failure to do so will automatically lead others to define your brand, and cost you market share you may otherwise command.
Here are three tips from golf pros that can you can use to help you keep your company’s brand above par.
- Use the off-season to improve your game.
“When we neglect the skills and behaviors we’ve sharpened, we lose ground. Which is why winter may be the most important season of all—if you take a few months off, you’re likely to lose your fined-tuned touch and have to start from scratch come April.”
– Haley Bosch, Forbes.com
What is your company’s slow season? You already know that it’s a great time for thinking strategically about your business. If you’ve neglected branding, it’s also the perfect time to schedule a Brand Discovery Workshop, where your leadership team can explore and identify what makes your business unique and how to communicate it to your ideal customers.
Take a look at your marketing material and ask some tough questions.
– Does our logo make us look outdated, small, or amateurish?
– Are our marketing & sales messages aligned?
– Do we have a style that’s unique?
– How do we look next to our competitors?
Perhaps it’s time to breathe new life into your company’s brand identity (a.k.a., your logo) and revitalize your brand.
- Get a professional to help you analyze, correct and achieve lasting improvement.
“A good golf coach will walk you through mastering a skill…pushing the development of a skill up all of the required steps, as that is the only way to achieve sustained, lasting improvement.”
– Rick Jensen, Ph.D., Golf Academy
When it comes to your company’s brand identity, a good design team will walk you through mastering your brand’s potential in three clear steps.
1) Help you discover your unique brand essence and create a custom brand profile that differentiates your company from the rest;
2) Create an identity and style that uniquely captures and communicates your dynamic brand; and
3) Enable you to keep your company’s brand identity and messaging aligned in all your communications, internally and to the world.
Getting this right makes a lasting impact and strengthens your credibility.
- Get your alignment right.
How are we compensating for a poor foundation to our game? Dave Pelz, in Dave Pelz Short Game Bible, underscores the foundation to achieving success:
“In golf vocabulary, set-up, alignment, aim, body alignment and address are all related to the same thing. In every game of golf, if you align your body improperly, your instincts will subconsciously make swing compensations intended to hit the shot in the desired direction.” So if you stand up to it wrongly, your brain knows that. And then your brain says, “You don’t want to go down that line,” and it sends messages to the other parts of your body trying to fix the fact that you are set up incorrectly. Aim correctly, and it’s easier to make good swings. Because from a good position, good swings cause good results. Aim poorly and a good swing will hit a bad shot. So you’ll have to make compensations to produce the desired results.”
In essence, when we don’t make the proper preparations and don’t stand in front of the opportunity with our body and mind in alignment, we’ll be forced to make compensations all the way through the swing in an effort to get our desired result, and still miss the mark!
As brand identity specialists, we start the design process with the correct stance & posture. It begins with a thorough process that enables us to capture your company’s brand essence. Why? If you begin the design process with the wrong footing, your result will miss the mark, or even worse, land you in a brand identity sand trap. Just as in golf, it’s about alignment, set-up, and how you approach what you are about to do.
When we have a clear understanding of your company’s brand essence, what makes you unique, who your customer is, what you do, why you do it and why it matters to your customer, we are on our way with clear aim to hit the mark with a relevant, meaningful and unique brand identity that truly captures your brand.
Business is a tough, but rewarding game. You have the potential to gain a remarkable advantage with a dynamic brand identity. Schedule the time in your slow season, work with a good professional, and get your brand identity in alignment. Your company has only one identity, make it a hole-in-one!
“We’ll meet you where you are and lead you to where you want to go. You arrive at new perceptions with unfolding solutions.” –David Stanislaw
Stanislaw Consulting serves business owners, CEO’s and their top management with collaborative enlightenment so as to develop and enhance organizational health. Leadership development, culture change and climate enhancement are the pillars for the goal of long lasting organizational health transformation.
The work began as a natural outcome of the experience and ability David Stanislaw acquired during his years in a private counseling practice, and as a founder and administrator of two counseling centers. Now, the Stanislaw team has grown to five consultants, and support staff, to serve more companies. Together, they are developing the kind of repeatable process that allows businesses to efficient, custom-tailored consultation.
What makes Stanislaw unique is their focus on serving their clients as a catalyst for transformation. Each consultant takes the role of a guest who will facilitate the client’s own exploration toward resolution and achieve established goals. This aspect of each clients’ unique role is emphasized in the word-mark that the team selected during the concept phase of the Stanislaw re-branding project.Relevance in the Stanislaw word-mark. From a Gestalt psychology perspective, the concept, principle of closure eludes to the visual perception of the natural human consciousness to capture the transformation even when objects, such as squares with gaps, have missing partial sides (e.g. the letter A).
Stanislaw’s tailored process brings clarity and insight, leading their clients to the kind of discovery that brings optimal and lasting transformation. Further, the slogan, Collaborative Transformation, allows the implied word, creating, to have meaningful interpretations and promote the productive thinking they see in their clients. Those missing pieces in the “A’s” represent the “ah-ha” moments we see from their clients. “It’s incredibly rewarding for all involved in the process.” – Dragos Tranca, Stanislaw Consultant
Execution of the path to lasting change is the toughest part. When our clients author the solution, they are far more likely to carry it out.” – David Stanislaw
“Working with the Stanislaw team was an enlightening process. We gained an elevated level of respect for their depth of understanding, pursuit of an authentic identity, and ultimate regard for the intelligence and individuality of each of their clients. Every meeting included thoughtful consideration and endearing humor!” – Linda Kleist, Identity Creative
To learn more about how Stanislaw Consulting can equip you to bring personal and organizational transformation to your business, visit StanislawConsulting.com.
A new generation coming up in the family business often signals change. George Reichert founded Reichert Surveying, Inc. in 1986, when all a company needed to get noticed was a decent-sized Yellow Pages ad. Brad Reichert, George’s son, joined the business and has been keeping the company on its technological-toes by continually adding equipment and skills that the industry demands.
Brad also was able to look at the company’s logo with fresh eyes and convinced the team that Reichert Surveying was due for an updated brand identity.
“Many of our re-branding clients are due to second generation transitions or new marketing directors coming on board. Founders don’t ‘see’ that their logo is communicating a dated look. It’s something they are accustomed to because it has been that way from the beginning,” explains Bill Kleist, owner at Identity Creative.
Getting a Focus for this Brand Identity Make-Over
The design process sought to present the company’s brand promise of uncompromising state-of-the-art accuracy and personal service to bring total building confidence. The family also has a preference for the style of Frank Lloyd Wright, who pioneered a bold approach to architecture in the first decade of the twentieth century.
The design the Reicherts selected during the concept phase, with a representational aerial view of land parcels, captures their mission for continuous emphasis on accuracy. The style gives a nod to F. L. Wright, embracing new approaches through advances in technology. Additionally, the subtle “R” for Reichert carries their solid reputation and the commitment they have always had to building relationships and personal service.
Reichert Surveying, Inc. invests in current technology and skills to deliver accuracy with personal service.
Ever increasing demand for high-tech and professional land surveyors, Reichert Surveying has been a valued resource to property owners, builders and municipalities in the Metro Detroit Area, Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula since 1986.
Both father & son, George and Brad are graduates of Ferris State, BS in Engineering. As a boy, Brad assisted his dad in the field, enjoying the outdoors, meeting the many people who knew George as a local trusted surveyor. Today, , George and Brad Reichert, along with their growing team, finds that the most rewarding part of their work is helping people find resolution to boundary disputes and providing expert consulting that brings a design concept to a beautiful reality.
Reichert Surveying is a team of experts who are committed to the integrity established the heritage of their industry while integrating new technologies to provide professional land surveying services.
- Continuous training
- Progressive skill
- High-tech equipment
- Location availability
- Work within time-frames
- Personable, friendly, knowledgeable
- Excellent reputation in the industry
To learn more about Reichert Surveying, Inc., click here!
SWOT City, A TechTown Detroit Program is hosting a Lunch & Learn
at the Grand River WorkPlace on Monday, October 12, 2015.
It will be a great time to network with dedicated business owners and talk about our favorite subject: your remarkable brand!
Register at EventBrite.com: SWOT City Lunch N Learn
This event is SOLD OUT!
Story telling is in vogue, especially in the world of business. Stories have power to engage, inspire and motivate people quickly and memorably. As creatives, we love to brainstorm. Ideas abound. The challenge is execution: bringing those great ideas to life. We had been trying to find a way to connect with business owners and help them understand the value of good branding. What better way than with a story? Here are seven lessons I learned on the way to telling a story.
LESSON 1 – Decide the Format.
We knew our story would be told on-line and we wanted it to be engaging and entertaining. We had heard of VideoScribe by Sparkol, where viewers see the illustrations created with a voice-over, and decided to give it a try on this project.
LESSON 2 – Be inspired.
In one of our brainstorming sessions, I was talking about the frustration I hear from business owners who feel unclear in how to approach branding. They don’t know where to start. To help them understand that branding is more than a logo, we use the concept of describing a brand as something organic, like a tree.
Joining us that day was one of our interns, Jeremy, a very gifted illustrator in his senior year at Lawrence Technological University. As I was describing my “frustrated business owner,” Jeremy picked up a Dry-Erase marker and drew a character on our board.
We loved the guy! The emotion Jeremy captured on his face, and his plight to grow a brand-tree that would stand taller than his competitor’s, was perfect. We were inspired. Jeremy would illustrate and, with VideoScribe, would create the compelling story we wanted to tell.
LESSON 3 – A good story has emotion.
Writing the story was my job. It should have been easy because my ideas were bubbling over. But it was more challenging than I would have imagined. Obviously, character development, plot, hero, antagonist, and conclusion need to exist in a good story, but how do I do this in a 3 minute animation? How do I set the context, tell the story and engage my audience emotionally? Emotional connection is critical.
David Hutchens, best-selling author, explains the importance of emotional connection: “Neuroscience shows that when you include emotional content in your story, it triggers a parallel emotional experience in your listener. This phenomenon is called neural coupling. … (which) makes your story much more engaging.” Through tone & language, I needed to keep in mind the way I wanted my audience to feel.
LESSON 4 – Remember the audience.
Initially, I wrote a script that would require a 15 minute animation. It was too long. It also had too much industry-speak – a lot of jargon that wouldn’t resonate with people. It’s too easy in any message we want to give, personally or professionally, to think about what we want to say rather than considering our listeners and how they will respond.
LESSON 5 – Seek criticism, not praise.
After crafting my shorter version, still 11 minutes (longer than we wanted), I did a rough audio and sent it to colleagues whom I respected and trusted would critique it with candor. Their feedback helped me red-line 5 minutes of jargon, repetition and tertiary content.
Ed Catmull describes the never-ending challenge of keeping the aphorism, “Story is King,” a reality at Pixar in his book, Creativity, Inc. He describes the work that takes place with a team of creators they’ve termed, the Braintrust. They set their egos aside and make their work open to critique. The candor and rigor of these sessions make their stories great. After my tiny effort to create and direct a rudimentary animation, now, at the end of their films, I watch the credits with a new level of respect.
LESSON 6 – Trust talent.
We hired Chris Otto to be our voice talent. He has a background in theater (U of M) and experience in Broadway productions. He has a great voice and a serendipitous sense of humor with a contagious laugh. I was glad to have him on board. In his first reading, he hacked 8 minutes out of my script! It was hard to see those 8 minutes of well-worked dialogue hit the “cutting floor,” but Chris was right when he said it would lose people and (most dreaded of all) would sound sales-y. Chris’ humor and acting skill made the storyline feel natural. Chris made Identity Creative the hero, without an explicit, over-moralized pitch.
Thanks to Chris, we were at 3 minutes for the audio. We had created a story board and Jeremy imported his illustrations created in Adobe Illustrator into VideoScribe to get the “hand-drawn” effect. At this point, everything should have been coming together, but it wasn’t. We had gaps in the visual interest of our story–big spaces where nothing was happening. Enter Matthew, our professional video producer.
LESSON 7 – Get the talent you need.
I hit a low point with this project and thought we’d invested too much on something I was ready to can. When I showed Matthew the project, he assured me that he could pull together the disjointed pieces into a story. He requested a few more illustrations from Jeremy, added those and some of his own. Matthew imported the project assets into Adobe AfterEffects. He created additional visual elements, sound effects, and music themes which added natural movement and flow.
Our web & design talent, Brad, installed our finished Brand Tree Story on our home page. Please take a look and give us your opinion with candor. I only have one rule: if you don’t like it, or some part of it, please – at least try – to explain why.
Do you have a story to tell about telling a story? Tell us!