Tips and Tricks

Need a Jumpstart on Your Business?


Intro by Skip Cohen

It’s Spring and along with seasonality in the demand for photography, it’s also a time when many of you are still thinking about what you need to do to jumpstart your business. If you’re doing it right, that often means rebranding. Ten years ago I shared this guest post by Leslie Hargenrader who at the time was the Creative Services Manager at one of my favorite companies, Photodex. Sadly Photodex closed their doors many years ago, but that doesn’t take away from the wisdom of this post.

And the illustration above is one of my favorites. While I’ve used it for other posts – if a picture’s worth a thousand words, then this one is well over that!

If you’re thinking about a rebrand —chances are good that you’re looking for a change in how your business (or product) is performing. The whole purpose of a rebrand is to achieve a specific business objective by altering the perceptions of your company or product. To do so, you must address the individual elements that make up the brand’s identity, controlling how it looks and feels to the world.

Why rebrand? A successful rebrand has many benefits. Not only should it help you stand apart from your competition, it should also make it easier to attract new customers who may not have considered your offerings before. It can also help certain problem areas, like closing the disparity between what you think you should be able to charge, vs. what customers think your services are worth.

A rebrand is not the solution to everything but it has the potential to breathe life and energy into a stale or uninspired business rut.

Rebrands vary in scope. For some companies, a rebrand involves a somewhat minor, cosmetic makeover of identity elements, such as logo, tagline, and brand color(s). In other cases, the rebrand is major and part of a bigger fundamental shift in a company’s ideology and direction. The rebrand may influence product design, production practices, customer policies and marketing strategy.

No matter how big or small the change is that you seek, a successful rebrand involves two things: Making informed choices for your rebrand based on research & experience (not just gut feelings & emotions), and consistent implementation of your new brand elements.

Here are 10 tips to keep your rebrand on track and implemented successfully:

  1. Get the strategy down first — As cliché as it sounds, doing your homework (a.k.a research) is essential to coming up with a solid strategy for your rebrand. Before you get carried away with the visual side of the process, you should first determine what kinds of changes you need to make. It’s common for veterans of a certain field to assume that just because they’ve been in an industry for a long time, they already know all the trends, all the competitors, and all the types of people who might be interested in their offerings. A lot of times, they are relying on old information, and may be overlooking new opportunities (or new threats). During your research phase, try to approach the industry with new eyes, even if you’ve been doing this for 20 years.
  2. Study what you can and can’t change —Looking at the external aspects of your business environment that are outside of your control, like your competitors, distribution, etc. , and also studying the aspects of your business that you can control, should give you a clearer picture of what you do and don’t want to focus on for your re-brand.
  3. Determine your strengths and weaknesses — similar to the previous point, analyzing the nature of your company or product for which you are rebranding will help you narrow down the essence of what qualities you want to convey.
  4. Write the brand positioning statement — This is a short paragraph that describes in simple language what you offer, the context of your offerings, and how your offerings stand apart from the rest. This is for internal purposes only, and will be helpful in developing marketing messaging that is aligned with your new brand.
  5. Build the brand —this is the fun part where you get to decide on the logo, colors, typography and design. Whether you are designing these elements yourself or plan to hire a designer, make sure you do things in a logical order and that your designer has a clear understanding of your objectives, guidelines, and what exactly they are expected to deliver. If you are changing the name, do that first, before anything else.
  6. Make it last – although going for a classic style might give your brand the longest shelf life, it’s not always the most relevant approach depending on your industry. If style trends are the name of the game in your line of work, you should try to pick style elements that you can live with over a 3-5 year period. Keep in mind – the stronger, more recognizable trends tend to burn out faster.
  7. Logos should be scalable and adaptable —your logo will need to be legible and suitable in a number of contexts, whether as a tiny favicon on a web browser tab, or on a giant tradeshow banner. Consider how your logo and its elements (the wordmark and/or pictogram) can be configured for a wide variety of sizes and contexts. How legible is it if you tried to fit it on a postage stamp or address label? Also, how does it look when shown only in black and white (white on black)?
  8. Selecting colors — if picking new colors for your brand, it is typically best to select one color as your dominant brand color. This keeps your implementation simpler and less costly (when printing). Colors have a lot of cultural and emotional associations. Knowing their value can help you make a more informed decision in this area. Also, it is OK to have 2-3 secondary colors that form a harmonious color palette with the dominant color. Just keep in mind that the branding should still work well in the absence of some (or all) of these colors.
  9. Typography should be legible — as much as that seems a no-brainer, we’ve seen this rule broken a number of times, with questionable payoff. If you are going to use letters in your logo, let them be easy to read. It’s just annoying when you can’t tell if a ‘U’ is actually a ‘V’ or an ‘I’ is a lowercase ‘L’. The more your customers have to rack their brains to figure out how to say / spell the brand name, generally the less likely they will make the effort to stick around or come back.
  10. Roll out your brand consistently —if you can, make a clean break of the old in place of the new. In situations in which this is not possible, give priority to contexts that have a higher public profile so that your new brand is reaching more people than your old brand. Phase out the old brand as quickly as possible to remove confusion. And finally, apply the same messaging & brand elements across the board, using your brand positioning statement to guide you.

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